Week 11 &12 Summary: Fab Lab Continued + Make-A-Thon

During the past two weeks, the class had been working different projects at Fab Lab. There were three assigned topics: Arduino, Digital Embroidery, and Laser Cutting. By the second week in the lab, the class switched to a new program and continued working with amazing staffs at the lab. My group transferred from using SewArt app to create patterns on fabric to design silhouette on materials like plastic, glass, and wood with Inkscape computer software.

Here is an example of making process of laser cutter.


This is the final look of a design on Inkscape. The piece combines both characters and graphics. The entire designing stage begins from drawing patterns or using existing ones. Then, people may edit dimension, shape, background and so on with the software. Once the design has been set, it was ready to cut.


This shows how the piece was cut with eplloglaser. Before having the machine started, the class were told to turn on fans and gas in order to prevent fire. Laser begins moving and cutting from the left upper corner and it can be adjusted to other places when it is necessary. While laser machine is warming up, we may put materials at the original starting point.


And, this is the completed piece. There was a hole on letter “A”, which was caused at the design stage.


At my fist visit to Fab Lab, it took me a while to find out this entry.



During the weekends, there were two groups of students from our class attended Make-A-Thon event held by CU Maker. Jill and Kavin teamed up with me. We named the team JKLOL? Our project is a bean-like silicon grab helper that aimed to make life easier for the elder with weak  arm muscles. It took us a good amount of time to design, research, collect data, ask professional’s opinion, and finally have it printed. During the process, Jill first came out the idea and did both hand-drawing and computer modeling for the conceptual graphs. Kavin and I joined to the discuss and helped to solve problems. Moreover, Kavin visited Fab Lab back and forth several times to make sure that our model was printed and ready.

Following are photos I took during the Make-A-Thon activity.


This is an inside look of one of the studios at Architecture Annex, which is next to Fab Lab.


The above two are Jill’s hand drawing. It looks even better on the paper.

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These two show the way we decided the measurement of our item. We started from collecting the size of each others’ hands. Then, we average the total. The results became the dimension of our first printout.


The last photo from left to right are Kavin, Jill and Dorothy. Dorothy is an expert of project design and materials choosing. Thanks for patiently listened to our presentation and answered our questions.

Overall, it seems like a week full of excitement, creativity, and work for everyone in the class.



Fab Lab – Week 2

This week in the Fab Lab I learned about arduinos. I was a little nervous at first because I didn’t know anything about them or where to begin in order to code them. I have taken an introductory computer science class, but it was awhile ago and I assumed the coding for arduinos was going to be harder.

I was completely wrong! Arduinos were nothing to be afraid of. They are very beginner friendly and a lot of the coding is available online.

Here’s an arduino for anyone who hasn’t seen one before:

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We started with the simple blink program. As you can probably guess, a small light on the arduino blinks when you run the program.

It wasn’t too exciting, but it was a way to learn the basic steps of uploading a few lines of code to the arduino to make it do something. We also ran the fade code to see the same light fade on and off.

The next step was to connect it to a led light and run a similar code sequence to make it blink or fade. We used a breadboard to connect all the wiring and the led.

Here’s the completed sequence:

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Not too complicated. It kind of reminded me of taking physics in high school. The arduino was like a power source and the wiring connected to the light to complete the circuit. Of course there was no blinking or fading in basic physics circuits.

Next we learned how to use a light sensor. It is a very similar process as hooking up the led, but the output isn’t a light, it’s a bunch readings that show up on the arduino software.

Here’s the setup for it:

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I messed around with different light levels to see how high and how low I could get it. A reading of 0 means no light, so I covered the sensor completely so no light can reach it. And I was able to get a reading of just over 1000 when I flashed a light directly on the sensor. The room lighting read between 500 and 700 depending on the angle of the sensor to the room lighting.

We also were able to connect a led to the light sensor and told it to turn the light on or off depending on the light level (sorry I don’t have a picture of that setup – basically, imagine the last two setups on the same breadboard).

Overall, the main thing I learned about arduinos is that there is a lot of trial and error!

Just with the coding part, a lot of things can go wrong. I didn’t do much coding myself because a lot of it was online and easy to understand. But when I tried to add things in or change parts of the code, I ran into some difficulties.

Also, the arduino setups take a lot of trial and error as well. The good thing is wiring an arduino incorrectly doesn’t hurt the device in any way. I was very glad that I couldn’t break the device by running crazy programs on it because it meant that I can play around with it. Messing up was frustrating, but also expected.

I learned a lot in this class session and even incorporated some of it in my semester project, which will be posted soon!

Week 11: Frustration at the FabLab

For our second week at the Fablab, I was placed in the group that was working with the laser cutter. For this workshop, we used Inkscape to create a vector file with specifics that detailed what to cut through and what to only cut lightly. We printed out designs on wood and plastic leftover from some of the bigger jobs people had worked on. For my first few jobs, I ended up cutting out three mini globes on wood and plan to use them to make a necklace and earring set.

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Next I cut my logo out onto wood. I also had the idea to print out a living hinge bracelet, which I tried on 1/8 inch wood and immediately had the bracelet break as soon as I tried to put it on.


Living Hinge Bracelet

I figured it might be because the wood was too thick, so I tried a ¼ inch piece but I realized too late that the laser didn’t completely cut through it. L I went into the office to buy a new ¼ inch board since there were no scraps that would fit my design and started talking to one of the volunteers about what I was about to print. After a bit of discussion and showing her my broken first attempt, we came to the conclusion it was not actually the wood’s thickness that was the problem but the fact I was stretching the bracelet out too much when I put it on. I had to make the design longer to make it work! I tried a 7 inch long bracelet and it worked better but was still delicate, so I tried a 9 inch one but that was too big. By that time it was almost 8 o’clock so I decided to call it a night (I had homework to do still!), but I will definitely be coming back to figure out the just right version of this design.   Time really flies when you’re making!

Week 11 – Dabbling with Lasers

Lasers, baby. First time ever using a laser cutting tool this past week at the MakerLab and I couldn’t be more pleased with my work. I can honestly say this was the first time I had produced something that I was especially proud of in terms of the aesthetic look of my creation. I’ll explain why later.


The machinery that printed followed the same trend of other printers. That is, it used x-y coordinates to accurately vector cut and burn into the material. This technology isn’t new but I am getting the sense that it is becoming more and more available to the amateur maker in the same way 3D printers and the smart stitching machines. The fact that these machines are becoming more and more available to makers all over have great implications for the maker movement. Namely, the paradigm of making power is continuing to shift in the direction of the small guy.


Daenerys Targaryen is my love

So what did I use the laser cutter for and why am I so proud? So in honor of tonight’s season premier of Game of Thrones, I decided to print out a graphic that I made of my favorite character (and crush) form the show, Daenerys Targaryen. The process was extremely simple but it did take some toying with in terms of saving the file and setting up the printer up correctly. It took me two tries to get the above piece 100% correct. I made a slight error and didn’t vector cut a square so the art was just burned into a large plane. Isn’t she a beaut?


Birthday gifts are always a hassle, at least for me. This is why I am stoked about the above cut that I made using the laser cutter. I printed a cut of the country Lebanon with the focal piece of the national flag right on top. My dad is from Lebanon and even though this piece isn’t exactly useful for much or easy to display, I thought the wood and the burnt edges made the cut be especially meaningful considering the country is known for her great cedar trees. Look at me, trying to be deep!

I’m looking forward to returning to the maker lab two classes from now!


These weeks we are having fun experience in Campus Fab lab.

What we have played with(like stitching,lazer cutting&Arduino) are a great demonstration of how the maker movement has been propelled on very corner.

Firstly, two weeks ago, my job was doing arduino stuff, which I’s posted on this site:

It’s our “strong friend”, you guys remember? lol4head



And last week, we were doing stitching. Honestly, I didn’t find that interesting to me. However, after seeing what you guys made, I realized that was just my shallowness.I can still remember the stitching machine used by my grandma. She doesn’t have digital aided software at her time which made her work last long for a whole day to complete while we are able to finish this in a few minutes.

Do compare my work with yours,lol:



Merely a wolf silhouette:(


Finally this week, we are playing with Lazer(Fire)



Mr.wolf!!! again:)

Stitching of the Future

The Fab Lab proves itself “fabulous” yet again. This week we did digital embroidery with Jessica. To start, we found a picture online of a silhouette. I chose a picture of a tree. We then uploaded the photo onto an application called SewArt where we could play around with the color and size. When we were finished putting our own touch on it, we saved it as an embroidery file. It was a fairly simple process.

The sewing machine then inputted the image and was able to copy the pattern onto the bobbin. If multiple colors were used, the machine would tell you what color was needed to make the design and you would put in the thread.

One thing I struggled with in the beginning was threading the machine. I couldn’t seem to get it on the hook that pushed the needle up and down. After I figured that out, it was smooth sailing. The progress of the embroidery is shown below:


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All in all, I really enjoyed today’s class; digital embroidery is pretty cool. It is much faster and takes up less physical labor than hand embroidery. However, there are some drawbacks such as not getting a good quality design. For instance, there was someone who tried to make a playing card and it had too much small detail that it didn’t show up well. The design processes are a bit different, but I think the digital method is much easier.

Stitching @ FabLab!

Do you know the company brand “Brother”? Yes that company that sells printers. I thought they only sell desktop (paper) printers? However, they sell printers that “print” using threads!

At the UIUC’s FabLab you can find multiple of these printers! One of these I used today!

  1. The first step was to find a picture you wanted the printer to stitch. It should not have to many details. I started with a simple drawing of two hearts.
  2. We loaded that picture into the program SewArt. A software that converts a jpg, png, etc. into a specific file format for the printer.
  3. Basically we used the tools “Color Reduction” and “Merge Colors”. That is because we don’t wanted to stitch 250 different colors. We tried to simplify the image to use about 5 different colors.
  4. Then we saved the file using “Stitch image” and Fill and Auto-sew Color.
  5. The file is then loaded to the printer, which appears as disk on the computer.
  6. The file will then appear on the printer’s display. And you can start sticking!


Week 11

This week we had a class at a wonderful place called FabLab. Essentially, FabLab is a maker place with many resources such as 3D printers, 3D scanners, sewing machines and many other cool things. As I understood, FabLab is divided into 3 sections: 3D printing, arts&crafts and electronics.



So, this time again I worked with arduino at the electronic section. This time I learned two very cool things that can be done with arduino. First, I learned how to install a sensor chip. I made a light bulb to turn off when I cover the sensor and turn on when I don’t cover the senser. The second feature of arduino that I learned was the sound. I installed a sound device on arduino which later I connected to a senser device. So, I was able to control the level of the sound by placing my hand closer or further from the sensor.


Next time at FabLab I am looking forward to try making something new. Hopefully will learn some skills that will be helpful for Make-a-thon and develop some ideas to get a head start.

Week 11 Reflection

We had class at Fab lab this week. My assignment was to create a relatively simple pattern on fabric with auto-tension sewing machine. It began from choosing a picture of outlined subject or drawing one with computer. Then, importing it to Embroidery Lettering Software. The software can be used to edit patterns, which includes coloring, changing dimension, adding tread styles and so on. It is a user-friendly process, but with a few  minor issues. For instance, I had to clear all and start all over again if I made one misstep at the thread styles stage. The following are photos of my project:

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This is one of the best experiences I had in the class. Looking forward to visiting  Fab Lab again.