This week, we continued our work with our final projects. However, we added something a little different this time, in that each group was assigned to audit another group’s design. This was different from our usual group sharing in that we actually had the chance to sit down and really delve deeper into another group’s work and vice-versa. This allowed each group to properly and efficiently critique another design, as well as receive feedback of their own.
Our group was first paired with JJJ Inc., who are currently developing the smart lightswitch; a smartphone-operated device that uses an application to control a motor to operate a lightswitch from a distance. While it may seem relatively simple, the amount of effort and creativity they have put into it is astounding. They designed their own laser-cut casing and have incorporated an Arduino into their project, making full use of the skills they gathered during our time at the Fab Lab. Their project is based off efficiency and aesthetics. Being able to turn the lights on or off from a distance with only a smart-device is something many people would adore, and adamantly use. And the enclosure they’ve created for their device looks neat, as well. It appears to operate perfectly and serves its purpose. Quite a unique and expertly done take on a classic dilemma. One “issue”, so to speak, that we did foresee however is that it is somewhat bulky and maybe arduous to install and/or remove. Also, their design, as it stands, only works for traditional light switches. Dimmer/rotary switches can’t really be turned by the motor. However, that could definitely be something they could create/improve if they ever choose to take the product to market. Perhaps by making two different designs or adding some features to their existing one.
We also received some much-appreciated feedback for our design. JJJ Inc. recommended that we add some physical grooves to the tie helper not only to make it more flexible, but as a method to make it easier for the user to determine where each end of the tie may go. They also recommended that we perhaps look into resizing the design and maybe changing the thickness. All good suggestions, but we recently just printed an edited version of our prototype in semi-flex filament, which should mitigate most if not all of our issues. After testing this prototype, we should only need to make a few more adjustments to the design to ease use, but the overall structure and plan of the project is complete. It’s been an exciting semester; we have all gained some very enhanced skills that allowed us to create these projects. I’m looking forward to seeing what we all have produced.
Version of our design printing in black semi-flex filament
During this weeks class we were given the task to audit two different teams on their final projects. One of the groups we audited was working on the hydration band. We really liked their progress as we had watched it from early on, now the band isn’t specifically geared for Fitbit users but for users with watches. They created a band and they intend on adding the hardware into the band where it has lights reminding the user to drink or replenish water. I think their idea is great, we all tend to forget to drink water even when it’s right in front of us, so it would be a great way to remind us to take care of our bodies. We had given them ideas in regards to the flashing light as some users may find it to be excessive or hard to see if in the sun. We recommended trying out vibrations rather than blinking lights.
After we had audited the groups we began working on our own projects and taken into account the feedback that were given to us. Some of the feedback we got was in regards to the placement of our product especially in regards to pets that consumers might have that the sensor may be able to sense and think it was an intruder. Other suggestions we received was being able to automatically turn on the sensor by sending it some sort of signal instead of having to turn the power on the product itself. Another recommendation we received was reminding the user to turn on the system before leaving the house, we tend to have a lot of things to do before leaving apartments so its understandable to forget. The group had mentioned trying to incorporate an external calendar into the system, so if it ever had “break” on the calendar the system would know to remind the user to turn on the system. All these suggestions were really great and we definitely took them into consideration. However, some of the suggestions would be very difficult to incorporate in this first prototype as we believe the best way to go about many of the suggestions would be through creating an actual application that the user could use if they wanted to change the phone number attached to the system, the location of the system, the amount of time before the alarm turned on after being powered, etc.
We had our first housing printed out and we were able to place our hardware in, we realized that the sensor and power hole needed to be shifted and made bigger. Thus, we reprinted the new housing today and will be picking it up the day after. Once we started printing the housing, we decided to continue testing our sensor, so we would be able to ensure it would work when we did our prototype testing. The system had worked great today, it sent a text around 55 seconds after start up that the system had started and immediately sent a text when the sensor sensed any motion.
Sensor hole needs to be enlarged.
Power hole needs to be shifted.
Testing our sensor.
This week was all about getting other’s opinions of our product. We had the opportunity to split into groups and present our product. The other team then listened to us and gave us their opinion on our project. This actually gave us some great insight and the feedback that they provided will prove invaluable in the next couple weeks as we are finishing up our project. We also got the opportunity to look at some other groups projects and see how their progress was going.
The first group we were paired with was working on a door stopper that would attach to your door and slide out when you wanted to make sure your door didn’t close. It was a really cool idea and hopefully the feedback we gave them will help them out down the road. They were still on their first prototype so there was some problems such as how much shock the piece holding the door open could absorb. However, their group figured out that by using a more flexible material that could absorb more shock, the piece wouldn’t shatter as easily. I thought this was a really smart adjustment, as well as a cool demonstration of all the kinds of materials that 3D printers are able to use.
The second group we assessed was making a fitbit for hydration. This device would tell you when you were dehydrated, as well as give you friendly updates to keep drinking water. I found this one especially cool, particularly how they got the sensor to get information back to the Arduino and tell the wristband how often and what color to blink. I am also very impressed at how they learned to make this electronic piece in such a short time with no background.
At the end of the day, we got some minor adjustments but our aquaponics system is looking pretty good and everyone seemed to like it! The next week should include the finishing touches on our project as well as preparation for our presentation on May 1st. I can hardly wait to see our finished product!
This week, we conducted project audit for two teams. We first audited The MakerLAX’s project, the tie helper. They have several highly finished model. They are going to use a flexible material in the prototype. We believe that they are on the right track to achieve their goal. Another team we audited was the Team Zerott and their robot designed for the MakerLab. They have completed a significant amount of programming using Raspberry Pi. They’ve also designed and created a decent body with wood board to cover the wires and boards. Overall, both teams are under the right track of completing their prototypes.
Our team also made huge progress for our own project — the Smart Light Switch. Based on our experiments in last week, we decided to use a cross-shaped arm instead of gear. We connected the arm to the motor, and connected the motor to the Arduino board. Then, we connected the bluetooth module to the Arduino board. We found a smartphone application that allows us to control the motor to rotate through bluetooth. This app saved us a lot of hassle.
For the outer box, we’ve created two versions. One is to laser cut one using wood board. We consider this as a “economy” version since it is cheap and time-saving. However, it might need to be larger than needed. Another version we created is the 3D printed box, which is more time consuming but more polished. Both versions allow customization. After testing our motor using the light switch in MakerLab, we found the position to install the motor. Next, we will be mounting the motor to the box. Overall, we are one step from finishing the product.
The curation of our idea from concept to prototypes to fulfilling the design requirements has been a journey. With that being said, our product contains a lot of parts and materials to come together, from acrylic from the Fab Lab to 3D printing at the Makerlab, to clay pebbles and then lastly a fish. Our project combines technology and biology to form a symbiotic balance and that is where some issues may arise.
We received some great constructive feedback this week with a design audit partnered with another group and from there we determined that an increased in depth to the modules will allow for healthier plants overall.
This week we were finally able to use the 1/4″ x 12 x 24 sheets of clear acrylic that we will be making our fish tank from scratch with silicone sealants as well. After some trials and errors with the laser cutter, we were finally able to cut everything to size but fear it will not be cured in time for the prototype review with Vishal on Monday. With that being said, our next hiccup came from the 3D printers failing to complete our prints in a timely manner. This week we encountered our 2nd failed print and each of our prints take 10 hours and so time is of the essence when it comes to creating the aquaponics modules. Our team has been working tirelessly when it comes to designing and putting together this product. With the help from the Fab Lab and the Makerlab, we are slowly able to achieve our vision.
There are hiccups along the way but we know we will be able to complete this in due time, but we constantly remind ourselves that Rome was not built in one day and for us to deliver our product we have to realize that an attention to detail is essential.
Our next phase of achieving our vision is putting the fish tank together with the use of the 1/4″ clear acrylic sheets and aquarium approved silicone sealant to ensure that the tank is waterproof. Due to scheduling conflicts and the allowable time for the tank to cure we were not able to complete the tank on time due for the class for Vishal’s review of our model. However, we were able to use a simple plastic bin to simulate our tank until we have it finished during the final presentations. This week proved to be a difficult week for us due to the complicated nature of the project and how many pieces are coming together. But we were able to reprint our modules to ensure that it is of the top most quality. Our project has been a test of many moving parts and the culmination of it coming together is very exciting but also nerve racking as our goal is to have our product 100% ready within the week.
A quick recap of what we did during the past weeks: we are designing a dehydration band to remind the users to drink water. In the last week, we have successfully tested our customized sensor on the regular Arduino and we also generated a hand-made circuit.
This week, to improve the precision of our circuit, we made a silhouette-cut circuit. It looks very beautiful, right?
To make sure the mini-controller, a mini-Arduino, connect smoothly to the silhouette, I needed to solder the pin to its corresponding copper tape. I had to be extremely cautious because the signal for each pin was independent from others. If I soldered two pins or two copper tapes together, the system would malfunction. In other words, the dehydration detection band could not detect the humidity level of user’s skin properly. Then, I needed to place two mini-resistors on the side of the mini-controller. Once again, to ensure the connectivity, I needed to solder the resistors to the circuit. The picture below was the motherboard of our Dehydration Band. Next we would integrate the sensor to it.
(Someone’s hand is holding the sensor)
Because we needed to place the integrated circuit into a 3D printing band in the end, we had to attach our customized sensor on the back of the motherboard, where the sensor could contact user’s skin. At first, I only used the slim copper tape to connect the sensor to the motherboard. However, resistance detector displayed that there was no connection at all. Then, I realized that I still needed to use solder to solder the sensor to the motherboard. Next, we chose a small button battery and soldered it to the mother board. As you can see from the picture below, this is the final version of our prototype. After the last four weeks’ multiple attempts and three experimental prototypes, now we are so close to the end of our project.
In the following week, we will import the tested code to the mini-controller and place the integrated motherboard into 3D printing band. Then, we will do the final prototype-testing and make trivial adjustments.
This week, we took a break from actually working on our prototype, and stopped for some constructive criticism on it. Professor Vishal assigned each team to another team that was similar or used similar ideas/ materials in their project. The teams sat down with each and provided an overview of the current design, and how it was currently functioning. The team that was critiquing would ask about the design, the issues that needed to be resolved, and other questions as well.
Our team was evaluated by JJJ Inc. They realized that our design was very complex, and overall they didn’t have a lot of suggestions for us. They understood that our prototype was already on track. However, they did suggest we should keep our ultrasonic transducer would be better than a button because an ultrasonic transducer would be more interactive and impressive. Our team was also evaluated by Professor Vishal. Professor Vishal told our team to focus more on the internal hardware versus the outerwear. Although Taofik is the one managing and coding for our project, Professor Vishal pushed and encourage Tiffany and me to understand the terms and functions of each of the technical components within our droid/bot.
After the evaluations, we continued to work on our projects. Many of the suggestions that both parties pointed out were important and logical. Obviously, as a team we need to take these suggestions into consideration and figure out if we will use these suggestions.
It is hard to believe that there is one week left before our final presentation. All the teams have come a long way from their first prototype. As per our group, we have been very busy in making the final testing circuit, 3-D printed band and the program for the software. When it comes to functionality all three three parts work perfectly on their own all we have to do is put them all together and start with the testing part.
Additionally, for testing, we have convinced our friends to test them for us. We would try to test the product for three types of dehydration. The first one being hydration when you are sweating, the second one when you have not had water for long and are actually dehydrated and lastly when you are perfectly hydrated. Our team cannot wait to test out the product as we are very excited about making it possible for each part to work. Furthermore, we got and gave helpful feedback on our existing prototype and our plan of action for the final product. We got some useful feedback for our product. One of the groups told us that instead of making the LEDs blink throughout it should blink 2-3 times as it would be very annoying to have it blinking while we are in class or in some meeting. Adding to that, we thought of making the LED blink 3-4 times and after that have a constant light. This is because there are chances that people might miss those three blinks.
We even critiqued other teams’ prototypes. One of the teams that we gave feedback to was making a security system that would send a notification to your mobile phone if someone entered your house. You can have this on your main door. It works with a motion sensor. The idea is whenever it detects motion it will send a text message. I enjoyed giving feedback to other teams prototypes as it was nice to hear other ideas that teams had.
According to me, the feedbacks allowed the groups to get a different perspective on their products. It also gave a sense of how the users would want to change the product and what would benefit them more. We will definitely incorporate the feedbacks we received and hope to make the product that can be used by everyone.
As we near the final presentations and showing off our final designs our team is assembling all the parts needed to finish our aquaponics model. We’ve been working towards creating functional pieces for the modular plant holders. Last week we finally finished a final design that we think will work well for holding the plants above the fish tank. Kenny and I also worked on creating the actual fish tank for the fishes. The acrylic just came into the Fab Lab so we paid them a visit to try and cut out more of the sides. The visit was very successful as we were able to print out a couple of the sides for our project.
After that we began working on 3D printing a tubing that will help connect our own fish tank to the tube that will run through our modular plant holders. That in itself wasn’t too difficult. We also designed a spout for the water to come out of the containers into our modular plant holders.
Kenny and I also began shopping for prototype fish containers in case we wouldn’t have the final acrylic fish tank ready. We purchased a plastic bin from Wal-Mart to substitute in and hold our fish/water. This will be useful in testing before we work on sealing a whole fish tank. We’ve also begun looking into what type of fish to get as Kenny will be keeping the fish tank to take care of it after we’re done with the project and the semester. Our team also began shopping for vanities for the fish tank to make sure it has a good aesthetic appeal. We bought some blue stones that should give the fish tank a good look. We’re also looking to get some good pebbles that will fit our design for the modular plant holders.