Week 12

This week we got a chance to see what the MakerLab at IU was like. It was pretty cool to see how others interpreted the maker mindset and built their own space for making. Also this week everyone focused on progressing with their final semester projects. It was great to see how all the other projects were coming along and how everyone is tackling different problems in their own unique way. I really liked the idea of an auto-tuner for a stringed instrument as my pitch isn’t quite perfect enough for me to tune a guitar by hand after re-stringing it.

As previously mentioned, Pri, Steven, Toheeb, and I are currently trying to bring wheelchair racing gloves into the 21st century by enabling data connectivity and analytics. The team really has no data at the moment, so even the most basic information about stroke depth or frequency would be invaluable for training.

For our next steps, we’re working on code for the actual collection of data. We’ve already created our first mockup that is supposedly ready for basic accelerometer and force readings. Hopefully it holds through our tests this week and we can get ahead on making it somewhat presentable and into a legitimate object!

Week 11 | Reflection

It was great to be back in the MakerLab this week. Sat in the corner was our incomplete 3D printer from the Build a Printer event, which brought about a twinge of regret because I wished I had more time to spend on it. But it was still refreshing to be back in the lab, learning about new software again. This week, we were working with MeshMixer and a 3D scanner. There were two types of scanning. One utilized a more commercial type apparatus dedicated to scanning 3d objects, and the other was a peripheral for an iPad. Both seemed to work reasonably well, however the commercial 3D scanner seemed to pick up too much noise from the surrounding room and people. It was particularly interesting to see how the scanners needed to be finessed a certain way to work. Of course, the technology isn’t like the sci-fi devices we see in films that can quickly model or analyze a 3d object in seconds, but the technology still has cutting edge applications in the health industry.

It was also briefly touched on in class how Gwen, a fellow classmate had been using similar technology and the MeshMixer software to try to model the cardiovascular system, particularly the heart. Ariella Rausin was also on-site to teach us the ins and outs of MeshMixer, and gave us on a rundown on how to simplify a mesh and other functionalities.

The software was amazingly versatile and powerful, and could definitely be used for a lot of different practical applications. Especially in applying the maker mentality, making minute and large changes in iterating projects could not be easier in MeshMixer. I hope to get to work with the software more in the future and see strong applications ahead in my final project.

Week 10 | Andrew Qu

This class session marked our final week in the Fab Lab. Previously, my group had worked with arduinos and laser cutters. Coming back to the Fab Lab was a breath of fresh air for me. It was a chance to get away from dull theory work in my other classes and a chance for me to work with my hands. This week the focus was on digital embroidery. Again, it was great to see how simple it was to get a working design from scratch to a real product on fabric. I started with a personally designed logo and quickly worked it through the SewArt software. After processing the stitches and removing excess colors, I brought it over to the embroidery station and set about stitching a patch together. After a short wait, I had a real embroidered patch, ready to be adhered any blank I had lying around, be it a hat or t-shirt or coach jacket.

Altogether the process was so simple I did a second patch and started a third. In experimenting with different textures and thread colors, I quickly realized the potential for the designs my partner and I in our brand were coming up with. It would be so easy to put a couple down as mockups to see how our lines would hold up in an embroidery process. Of course, with more professional manufacturing and printing, we could do much more, but the fact that I could do a mockup for less than 5 dollars and maybe 30-45 minutes was still amazing.

While this technology in itself may not have huge implications for the future or my final project, it’s true that the idea of transferring a design from the virtual realm into a real object is highly appealing to those who’d like to personalize their belongings or create other personalized mock ups to guard their IP. Such a technology can greatly benefit anyone with similar intentions, or creatives who would like to start their own brand.

Week 9 | Andrew Qu

Earlier this week, our class took part in a Build-a-3DPrinter event. I took part in the event by helping build out the extruder head and part of the box frame. Most of the pieces from the kit were either metal or plastic, with various metal parts scattered throughout. Even though the process was a lot of following instructions, there were complexities that surprised me. Instructions weren’t always thorough, and parts were often hard to find. Additionally, sometimes pieces wouldn’t fit quite right, or required unorthodox methods of fastening together. For example, in creating the sliders for the extruder, I had to used the handle of a wrench as a makeshift hammer to get multiple wooden pieces to fit around a copper tube. Nevertheless the whole process was largely enjoyable.


Towards the end of the session, a rather interesting problem presented itself. We were missing a small rectangular piece. After much hubbub about where it might have gone or where we should find another one, a maker-esque solution was reached. Kyle and I measured the specs of an identical wooden piece, and modeled one in Fusion 360. We brought it up to the Maker Lab on the 3rd floor and printed a replica out in under 4 minutes. Unfortunately our time with the kit was at an end, but I’d say the Maker mentality was alive and kicking throughout the whole day!


This week’s class was one of my favorite’s so far, because not only did we get a chance to build with our hands, but we also got a chance to see what teamwork and maker ingenuity could produce. This makes me even more excited to get started on our semester project, and working with my peers in the future.


Prior to this class session, I only had an extremely basic theoretical understanding of what it meant to solder. However, it became clear that it required relatively little engineering background to become somewhat proficient with the process. Soldering is extremely important if someone wants to begin exploring DIY electronics, and is crucial to the actual creation of components.

Learning to solder in class only serves to further the maker mindset that has been so prevalent in the last couple class sessions. Students have been able to create with their own hands and use their own ideas to bring some sort of component of end product to life.

Moving forward, applying the soldering skill will be absolutely required in creating a final product in our semester project. Simple components will need to be connected and secured in a housing that could also be fabricated using skills we’ve learned in this course. Looking forward to learning more every class session!


Week 7 | Andrew Qu

This class session marked our second week in the Fab Lab. Previously, my group worked with laser cutters and found great enjoyment in getting to see a digital design come to life through rastering and cutting. This week we switched gears and worked with some arduinos. The arduino boards were simple enough to work with that our entire group caught on rather quickly. Before we knew it, we had the basic functionalities mapped out and began exploring additional possibilities with the hardware lying around us.

In experimenting with circuits and capacitive sensing, a few others and I unconsciously began ideating with regard to a semester final project. Before we knew what had happened, we had constructed a crude force sensor. However, at this point it does not directly measure the amount of force applied, but can give us implied data points regarding the distance between contacts and frequency of impacts. It was at this point when we formalized our group’s members and began actually working towards that goal.

What we experienced this week was the maker mindset really coming together I think for the first time since the start of this course. Three individuals who have had little to no previous interaction prior to Monday came together and quickly managed to come out with a crude capacitive sensor, complete with shielded assembly. This happened for no reason other than the fact that we were all genuinely interested in applying what we had just learned, and in seeing random bits and pieces of brainstorming coming together in a final output. It was truly exciting to see how we could consider alternatives to what we were doing, and immediately experiment and witness results.

This kind of iterating was only made possible because of the Fab Lab, a place I hope to go back to even after my time in this course.

Week 6 Summary Individual Assignment| Andrew Qu

Recently our class has spent much time in the fabled Champaign-Urbana Community Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab). It was an exciting experience for many of the students as this was our first time stepping in a Makerspace outside of the MakerLab in BIF. Stepping into the Fab Lab, many students were awed (or taken aback) by the elements of controlled chaos that are so typical of entrepreneurial establishments. Here are a few images to give you an idea:

IMG_6033IMG_6035 Images by Annie Guo

After a short introduction by Jeff Ginger, our broke off into three sections to learn about laser cutting, arduinos, and digital embroidery, respectively. Duncan led the session on laser cutting and introduced the group to an open-source software known as Inkscape. It’s a vector manipulation software similar to GIMP or Illustrator and super easy to pickup. After some image manipulation in Inkscape, and a safety briefing on proper procedure in using a laser cutter, we were rastering and cutting on various materials. Students were surprised to see the accuracy and speed with which a laser cutter can take an intangible design and produce a custom physical object!

IMG_20160306_233430640 by Pri Garimalla  IMG_4515by Andrew Qu

A second group was working with arduinos that day as well. Colton was very patient and thorough in guiding the students through some of the technical aspects of the technology, and there was great discussion about future implications or potential uses. In class, there were some basic activities with LEDs and motors that got everyone up to speed, and then some free-time to let students explore additional possibilities. Enterprising students would start using materials around them to create simple contraptions like a crude force sensors or wireless circuits.

IMG_4396IMG_4391Images by Elaine Li

The final group of students spent the day with digital embroidery. At this station, there is the potential for smart fabrics and electronically enabled wearables. During class time, students created embroidered patches that could be ironed onto other fabrics from individually-sourced designs. Similar to the laser-cutting session, students found great delight in transferring an image from a virtual realm to the physical.

IMG_0844[2]Image by Claire Chen

Overall, everyone enjoyed their first experience in the Fab Lab. It was great to see how quickly anyone could pick up the technology in the facility and create cost-effective mock ups and prototypes. Most of us have never had exposure to the types of machinery we worked with, but by the end of the class session we had learned so much and were more than ready to come back to be exposed to even more making!

Week 6 | Andrew Qu

This week marks the beginning of a 3-session stint in the Champaign-Urbana Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab). It’s been my favorite class session by far, as not only were we allowed into a space that truly embodied the maker mindset, but also were allowed a glimpse into what was possible with the resources available to us. It also made me feel a pang of regret, not venturing out and finding this space earlier in my college career.

Duncan, our guiding hand in this lab session, walked us through the basics of a software called Inkscape, which is an open-sourced vector based graphics software much like Adobe Illustrator or iDraw. This led up to using the laser cutter machinery to raster or Because I’m fairly competent with Illustrator already, picking up Inkscape was a walk in the park and I was ready to laser cut almost instantly. Again, because my experience within the FabLab this week was so intuitive, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much I could have learned if I had discovered the people and the resources here before my ultimate semester.

Because I’m in the process of starting a clothing brand, I thought it might be a good idea to see how a potential logo would look on a physical item. I chose a remix of a the Cupertino helmet and applied it to a simple sketch notebook and it resulted in the following:


I’m pretty happy with the result, and look forward to return to the FabLab in my free time as well as the next class session. I’m also very excited to try my hand at arduinos. I’ve been in a rut so far, in trying to figure out what my semester project will be about, and am hoping that more hands on experience will free up my thoughts.

Week 5 | Andrew Qu

The last two class sessions have been primarily focused on gaining proficiency with Fusion 360. In the first class session, we started with the basics of the software and made our first 3d model, a pen tip. It was a great learning experience and led to new insights about how objects are designed as well as how those designs tie in with construction. After class, I went home and re-created the model I printed a couple weeks prior.

Skelly Keychain v1

(Head and body are separate entities)

This past week,we did more work with more complicated structures. The session guided us through the modeling of a simple lamp. By doing so, I gained a deeper understanding of the tools within the software and more complex uses.

Lamp v2

I’ve very much enjoyed these hand on experiences and am looking forward future classes at the FabLab. Every learning experience so far has broadened my horizons regarding making and creating, whether it be the introduction of new ideas and knowledge, or reaffirmation of previously gained concepts. Thinking in the terms of maker requires a large mindset change, but I feel that I am making good progress towards that end.

Week 3 | Andrew Qu

This week’s session took the form of a workshop led by Design for America (DFA). DFA is a student organization that focuses on creating local and social impact through interdisciplinary design. We began the workshop with a broad overview of what constitutes good design and the individual steps one could take to improve their own design process. It was quite fascinating to see how through a couple steps that were individually very simplistic, a comprehensive design process could be constructed, ending in a novel product.
The main activity during this workshop was an accelerated design simulation where we started with identifying a common problem where there would be a need for a solution. The problems stemmed from “Brian” a blind entrepreneur who recently moved to a new city and situations similar to his. Specifically, he found difficulty in engaging with investors in a normal manner because his disability would prompt different treatment from third-parties. We felt the core problem thus far then laid in normalizing spontaneous and planned encounters, while simultaneously tackling difficulties arising from a new and unfamiliar environment. We ended up with a wearable- digital glasses. We designed a subtle accessory that could tap into social networks and personal storage to aid Brian in recognizing faces and navigating full rooms of people.
This workshop was a learning experience that helped his expand my maker-mindset. In creation, there needs to be a balance of perspective, imagination, and objectivity. While design may seem like a simple concept, it can actually be an extremely convoluted process full of twists and switchbacks. Going forward, I now have a greater appreciation for user-perspectives and delimiting imagination in design, thus keeping objectivity and rationalism from limiting initial mockups and ideas.