Digital Making 2017

I can’t believe that it is so close to the end of the semester now! BADM 395 Digital Making is such an interesting and explorative course that I learnt so much from it. I used a lot of skills I studied at the first half of the semester for my final project and I believe that I will benefit more from the skills in the future.



3D printing

Here, I want to not only talk about how I study the 3D printing technique, but also emphasize the idea behind the 3D printing. At the second class of the semester, the director of CUC Fablab, Jeff Ginger, said, “Instead of doing it yourself(DIY), we need to do it with others(DIWO)”. I think 3D printing catch the essence of the Internet and leverage the synergy among different designers. The first 3D printing object I chose was a batman model. The model was quite complicated and would take 10 hours to print, so I had to print partly for the sake of time.


Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is one of the most user-friendly design software I have ever used. Fusion360 is a computer-aided design application for creating 3D digital prototypes. Similar to Cura, Fusion360 enables users to design prototypes or edit other’s projects. Under the guidance of Jeff Smith, an industrial designer at Autodesk, I quickly learnt how to create simple 2D patterns such as line, curve, square, and circle. Then, I knew how to use the more advanced tools to create symmetric objects. I designed a speaker by using Fusion 360.



Design with Empathy

This is not a certain skill I could use directly but it is much more meaningful for each designer than the 3D printing or the skill to use Fusion 360. Design with empathy focuses on the importance to resonate or experience others as if from within their own skin so that we could have a broad perspective about the whole issue. Then, we could generate proposals that cater to different stakeholders.


Circuit Board Design

Circuit board design allows me to create something more interesting and interactive with the 3D printing. The first study session of circuit board design is pure electric-related. I need to make a system that can automatically turn on the LED lights when the light sensor can’t detect light. The main challenge I met was to solder 3 wires together without the help of the holding tool. As you can see from the video below, the system works properly as demanded:


Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is another important and useful skills. I learnt how to use Inkscape to design the patterns or pictures first. Then, we divided the wooden board into 6 different pieces. Because I am a big fan of comic, I chose Batman, Naruto, Pokemon and Onepiece for the cutting.



Coding is the key to control the circuit/ Arduino. At first, we learnt how to control one single LED light on/ off. Then, we were required to use the single LED light to send SOS signal. The second challenge was to make two LED lights flash alternatively. The last problem was to integrate the photo sensor into the circuit and use the sensor to control the LED lights. By solving all these problems, I studied the syntax and logic to code. More importantly, I knew how to ask the Arduino to do the things I mean.


Project/ H2GO

The capstone project we did was a dehydration band. Basically, the band could measure the hydration level of the users and flash lights to remind users to drink water. The band consisted of two parts, the frame and the Arduino controller. We used the 3D printer with the semi-flex material to make the frame. To minimize the size, we made the humidity sensor by ourselves and integrated the sensor with the Arduino controller. Below are the pictures of our deliverable:




I can’t say that I will use 3D printer a lot or I will be a designer in the future, but the experience of learning all the knowledge helps me to realize that I could do much more than I expected from myself. The idea of design with empathy will be useful to me no matter what kind of job I will do. I need to consider the actual demand from the perspective of the users. Meanwhile, I also see how amazing the teamwork could be in the final project. By sharing the different skill-set, we as a team turned in a wearable that I could never make by myself alone. I feel so lucky that I chose to take this course at the end of last semester.


Team MakerLax Tie Assistant Project Reflection


The MakerLax Team consists of three members with very diverse backgrounds. Brian is a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, Peter is a senior in advertising, and Chase is a senior in business. Having three strongly uncorrelated majors allowed us to experience a wide range of perspectives throughout the semester. While at times one of us were unfamiliar with a certain part of the making process, the others would step in and help fill the knowledge void.


While our initial ideas proved to be either too complex or out of the scope of this course, we ultimately decided on our final topic based on an article Vishal shared during one of our classes. The article focused on creating a “How Can We?” statement, which essentially stated that, in order for an idea to become a reality and a finished product, it must first meet three criteria. First, the idea needed to be narrow in its scope. Users should be able to understand the capabilities and capacity of the product without needing an extensive manual to guide them. Next, the idea should be local in its presence, meaning that the product should serve some type of purpose that fulfills a need in the surrounding community. By doing this, the creators will already be familiar with the problem and can devise more intuitive solutions. The final requirement for this product was that the answer needed to be realistic. Users cannot be expected to have advanced knowledge of programming, for example, in order to fully utilize it. Drawing from these three requirements, we ultimately decided to gear our making efforts towards aiding students in preparing for professional engagements, such as interviews, career fairs, or networking events.


The very first crude prototypes that we created were paper models. They were quickly fashioned to act as both visuals, as well as to test different shapes for our design. After we decided on one, we recreated that form in Fusion 360. Our very first print was only meant as a test for the shape that we decided to implement. Initially, we considered making the design modular in some way. Either by adding tabs for the parts to lock into, or by creating a “puzzle piece” design. Eventually, we decided to keep the design as a single unit. Afterwards, we shifted to TinkerCAD as we believed it would better for our purposes. We then printed more models to test various clip designs. After we found a suitable one, we moved to testing. The size and shape seemed fine, but it was a bit cumbersome to wrap the tie around the sturdy print. It was this that caused us to move on to the semi-flex filament for our last design. After reprinting the last model in semi-flex and testing it, we found it satisfactory and used everything we gathered to create the final product.

Final Product:

Our final product was, at first, our second to last model. After producing and testing the semi-flex model, we thought it was suitable enough to be our final design. However, somewhat last minute, we decided to improve upon it further. We decreased the dimensions, and redid the shape to make it more versatile. Physical features such as grooves and numbering were added to act as guides and “mini-instructions” to improve the ease of usage. It still is not necessarily perfect, and the print itself did not turn out that well, but it is quite an improvement on the original.

Features & Benefits:

Our final design has a thin and sleek profile, making for easy storage. It can easily fit within a pocket or portfolio. The flex material makes it very malleable and not very prone to breaking. This also allows one to utilize it with ties of varying shapes and sizes, and work it with ease. The clip is barely noticeable and and the physical structure of the design allows it to hold a tie snugly while at the same time allowing for easy removal. The indentations in the front face of the model are of different depths, allowing a user to feel around for the different steps. A number and arrow system are also engraved into the face that coincide with the instruction manual. Aside from allowing one to tie a tie around oneself, it can also be used to store a premade tie, in the event that the user foresees a circumstance for it.

User Feedback:

Overall, we found user feedback to be incredibly helpful during our prototyping phase. We had both in class feedback along with feedback from students outside the classroom. During the sessions, we were able to observe how our products were used the and difficulties that occurred. One student said, “I suggest adding instructions or some kind of step-by-step process to make using the product easier.” We took their advice and created a pamphlet as part of the packaging and adjusted the clip size and indents on our original prototype.

Future Improvements

We hope to utilize more materials in future prototypes. Semi-flex filament was different to handle and took the 3D printers multiple tries to print out our prototype, so we hope to test different types of semi-flexible materials. One feature would be to have a collapsible, modular format. The benefit would is that the user can easily remove the product once they had completed tying their tie. From the user feedback, the other suggestion we were given was to incorporate electronics into our design. The product would have an LED guidance where different sections would light up green to guide the user to tie the tie. The LED guidance would require coding and implementing a small arduino and a battery into the product.  


After the conclusion of this project, our team came away with three main conclusions from the experience. Firstly, it was incredibly satisfying to see our weeks of efforts and labor culminate in a working and usable model. One of our team members who previously was unfamiliar with how to tie a tie was able to learn how, with the guidance of our product. After seeing it be put to use, we can say with complete certainty that our efforts proved worth it. Additionally, we learned that rapid prototyping is critical to the making process, and to creating an effective final product. We spent the majority of our initial efforts attempting to make the perfect first prototype, when in reality the majority of our progress came upon the third and fourth iterations. Similarly, our team realized the immense importance of receiving user feedback. While we had certain connotations of the direction we wanted to pursue with our product, obtaining feedback from users that were unfamiliar with the making process gave us great insight as to what the average user would actually prefer.

Slide Presentation:

Semester Reflection



In my freshman year, I took a lesson in material science and explored different 3D printing techniques. I visited the MakerLab at that time but never imagined that I’ll be able to take a lesson in my last semester. After learning that the digital making class will be held in the MakerLab, I’m really excited and applied to take the class to learn more about 3D printing.

Before taking the course, I expect Digital Making will be a interesting class with extensive hands-on experience. Based on the classroom location, I thought this is going to be a class based off 3D designing and printing. I was expecting us learning modeling techniques using softwares and developing business ideas using the 3D modeling and printing.


As I take on this class, I realized that this class went far beyond my expectation. We not only gained a lot of exposures of 3D printing, but also on other useful skills that can be extremely valuable for entrepreneurship. The skills we learned include but not limited to:

  • Design Thinking
    • We learned design thinking in one of the first few lessons and it benefited me throughout the whole semester. Design thinking is a powerful conceptual tool for designers to figure out what product they are going to make and what are the functionalities mostly wanted by the users. For our term project, we used the design thinking process to determine our project idea and we all believe that it is a crucial part to the success in our project.
  • Designing Software
    • After the ideation process, the designing softwares help the designers to visualize their idea. In the class, we’ve explored several designing softwares, such as TinkerCAD and Fusion 360. TinkerCAD is a web based tool that is easy to learn and operate. Fusion 360 contains more advanced functions and is able to deliver polished rendered graphs. TinkerCAD allows users to build stuff based on the existing building blocks, whereas Fusion 360 allows users to derive 3D models from 2D graphs. Using Fusion 360 is a whole new set of experience to me. In our final project, we used Fusion 360 to build the models (although we didn’t end up using it).
  • 3D Scanning
    • As the inspirational speech from Arielle demonstrated, 3D scanning can help the designers to customize the designs. In the class, we experienced the 3D scanning process with handheld device. We are able to recognize the advantages and things needs attention from the hands-on experience with 3D scanning.
  • Laser Cutter and 3D Printer
    • I learned to use machines such as laser cutter and 3D printer to make prototypes for our design. During the lessons in the FabLab, we learned how does the laser cutter work and its features comparing to other machines.
    • In our final project, we built the housing using a laser cutter because it is fast and convenient. We also tried to use the 3D printer but we didn’t end up using the 3D printed model.
  • Coding and Circuits
    • In the FabLab, we also learned coding with Arduino. We learned how code on the screen can be transferred into the actual LED signal. Besides, we learned how to solder to realize permanent circuit connection. Both of these skills are integrated to our final project.
  • Project Managing
    • We spent a lot of time working on the project and have learned extensive project management skill. Realizing a project idea can be a iterative process that requires us to go back and think over. In addition, teamwork plays an important role in our project experience. It’s important for everyone in the team to utilize their strengths so we could use the time efficiently.
    • Getting feedback is a really beneficial process for our project. From the project audit process, we gained valuable feedback from other teams. From the project tests, we got what our end users think. Both of these processes greatly improved our understanding to the project.

Overall, the Digital Making class brought me great experience picking up new skills, working in the team, and creating incredible things. I learned different ways of thinking and making things. Although I probably won’t be an entrepreneur with my own product produced in the short future, I believe the skills I learned from the class will alter my view as a project manager or product user. What I learned from this class exceeded my expectation and I would recommend this class to anyone who are innovative and enjoy learning!

Exceeding Expectations : 3 Things I Will Takeaway from Digital Making

When I first was able to take the Digital Making course, I was  excited at the prospect of being able to work with 3D printers for the first time and perhaps learn some new types of software. While I certainly did the above, the first hand experience of creating a 3D printed product solution with help from multiple campus resources showed me the vast capabilities 3D printing as well as other digital technologies can have.  As a Recreation, Sport, & Tourism  grad student taking this course, I am interested to see how the capabilities of 3D printing can impact entire industries as well as daily life with the maker movement  .  I am very glad to have been in this class as I learned so much from VIshal, the people who spoke in class, and my classmates. Using 3D printers,  Fusion / TinkerCad/ Scanning software, and even programing  Arduinos / Rasberry Pi within the Fab Lab were all new experiences I have not had before. Overall I have 3 main lessons that stood out from my experience in particular.

  1. Ideating and Design Thinking

My team came up with several idea solutions that could solve a problem. Going through this process of ideating to lead to a potential solution was often challenging. However being able to learn from how the process went was a really good experience. For example our team tried out a few ideas that we thought we can create a solution for, and ended up scrapping them because of a lack of need for the product or ability to create it. We eventually created a security product that does solve a need, however the road to get to that solution and idea was harder than an idea just popping into our heads. Having gone through the process and better understanding the capabilities of the technology, I believe we would be more prepared to go through the creation process again and be more effective with a product solution. Lastly, understanding the capabilities now makes it  a bit easier for me to draw inspiration on potential projects I may undertake in the future.

2. Learning through Trial and Error

From creating multiple attempts at a product  solution,  to my personal struggles using CAD Fusion 360 software, there were  plenty of times that failure would get frustrating. Although it is cliche, I learned the most when I faced roadblocks in using Fusion 360, programming Arduinos, or even soldering. It was in the moments of trial and error of multiple failed attempts to get a certain part of the product to work, that I felt as though I learned the most. Figuring out why something did not work, such as a sensor on our product, lead to me having a better understanding of the  technology / process. In this way I have a much bette appreciation for the the prototyping and testing phase of a product. While it can be frustrating due to all of the imperfections being displayed, it is also the time where your product benefits the most from the improvement in my opinion.

3. Broad  / Endless possibilities of 3D printing

Within our class we had people make product solutions which contained some sort of 3D printing. The products ranged from an at home security system, to a friendly bot that records video when you interact with it, to an object that helps individuals tie their tie, to an at home aquaponics system, etc….  The idea being that 3D printing capabilities are extremely broad in scope, which to me is an amazing part of the technology. Some products are entirely 3D printed solutions, while others may just be a tiny yet necessary part to fulfilling a need through a product.

Week 10: 3D Scanning and Prototyping

This was an awesome week in the Makerlab, as we had the privilege of getting a tutorial in 3D scanning by a former student of this class, Arielle Rausin. We had Arielle come and talk to us earlier in the year, so it was awesome to see her again and listen to what she had to say. For those of you who aren’t familiar with 3D scanning, it is essentially technology that takes a picture of an object, and then scans it with lasers. It then records how the laser reflects off the object, and uses that data to create a file that could be used by a 3D printer to create that object. One type of software used by 3D scanners is called Meshmixer, and is created by Autodesk. This is the kind of software used by Arielle, and we got to see some pretty cool demonstrations during class.

This picture, found on Chase’s blog, shows Arielle going over 3D scanning using an example file of her wheelchair racing gloves. After taking this class, she used her knowledge of 3D printing and scanning to start her very own business! The link to her shop is here if you want to check out her product.

The best part of the lesson came when we had the chance to 3D print ourselves. While Arielle made things look easy, it was much harder for us beginners to get a good scan. There were many obstacles that we did not see coming that prevented us from getting good scans at first. For example, two guys in our group had very dark hair, so we had to hold up a phone flashlight by their heads in order to get good results from the scanner. This is just one example of how this class has taught us how to think outside the box and fix problems in sometimes unorthodox ways.


Here is our teacher, Vishal Sachdev, scanning Arielle with the 3D scanner. You could tell he had been doing this for a couple years, he was a natural!


Brian Kobiernicki ended up printing out his scan, and it turned out really well! This is definitely a cool souvenir to remember the class by.

Once everyone who wanted to scan themselves did so, we were able to break off into groups and continue working on our semester projects. It was really cool to see how much progress all the teams have made over the past couple weeks, and there have been some awesome ideas for projects so far. I’ve put a couple examples down below so you can see what people have been working on.


Taofik’s team got their camera up and running and even got it connected to the computer so they could see the images on the monitor.


This is the prototype for the top of our aquaponics system. There will be plants growing inside of these containers that receive water from the fish tank below. The plants will receive nutrients from the fish waste and in turn will filter the water and keep the aquarium clean, its a really cool self-sustaining system! Anyone that wants to know more about aquaponics can go ahead and follow this link here. You could also learn more about what my team did by visiting my blog post.


Charlene, Carter, and Brian’s group made a security monitor that can send text messages to your phone.  I thought this was really cool and could be something that almost everyone needs in their life. You can see more about their project at Brian’s Blog Post.

Overall, the class today learned about not only how to use 3D scanners, but also various reasons why 3D scanners come in handy. On top of that, we learned how to solve problems on the fly. For instance, thinking of a way to fix the fact that the scanner wasn’t picking up black hair showed how this class has influenced us to solve problems creatively. Also, all of the groups gained much needed prototyping experience that will hopefully help us for years to come. After all, no matter what field you go into problem solving is a huge asset and an effective method to solving problems is starting with a basic solution and then improving on it until you come up with something that works perfectly. This is the idea behind prototyping and I know the skills I have learned in this class will help all of us, no matter what we do in life after college.


Prototyping & Design Week 9 Summary

With our class moving along with our  team projects, week 9 was predominantly focused on moving forward with designing and creating prototypes of our products. Throughout the semester we have obtained a wide variety of learning experiences such as how to use 3D printing software such as TInkerCad / Fusion, how to program arduinos processing chips, and using the build capabilities at the campus Fab Lab. Having had weeks to begin to learn how use these tools allowed teams to think of ways to how they can create and improve their product design.

Testing of Hydration “Fit Bit”


In class teams sketched out first prototype designs of what each teams product is. To begin teams laid out specifically what the product does and what its purpose is. After knowing what functionality we needed out of our products, we than made a materials list of all the parts / components  that would be necessary to obtain to make the product work. The products / problems teams are trying to solve are widely varied in what they do and how they are put together. Some products need arduinos, sensors, and have to be programmed through breadboards, while others could simply be 3D printed objects to solve a certain need. Each team in our class at the very least has a sketch of a prototype, and we have been in the works to create our first fully functioning version of our products. The class is very excited to start to create tangible versions of our prototypes through collaboration with 3D printers, the Fab Lab, and many other campus resources. Depending on the teams product, some teams have to obtain a wide variety of parts from Vishal, the Fab Lab, or even just ordering online in order to start creating the prototype. For other teams their may be more emphasis on design with 3D printing and testing the product in the field. One team for example is considering  working on 3D printing custom cricket sporting equipment. They may not need to work with the Fab lab or programming, but they do need a heavy emphasis on getting the design and functionality correct for their end user.

Security System – Prototype Sketch & Materials list

Overall this week had a  significant theme of the importance of the design of our product to fulfill a need. As one of the TED talks we listened to in class stated, “Design is best as an iterative process, the earlier you invite feedback, the more chances you have to revise and improve” (David Kelley Ideo). The design and creation of the  prototype is the first step  of many  on the path to creating a successful product that end users will value. For many teams creating the first prototype was challenging in not knowing exactly what the product looks like or in some cases even works. Ultimately as Mr. David Kelley of Ideo highlights, the prototype is not meant to be perfect. In fact the prototype is simply the first step in allowing our products more changes to be improved through feedback and trial and error. Week 9 was significant for teams to begin development on creating, designing, and moving forward with creating a useful product that fulfills a need. It will be exciting to see how the prototypes are developed, and refined in this last month of the semester!

3D Printing and Music

Both of my parents are musicians, so it was natural for me to take an interest in music at such an early age. I started playing the violin in 4th grade. I continued playing in the school orchestra through elementary school and middle school. In 6th grade, my mom made me join the local church choir. Little did I know that my music “career” would take off because of the church choir. I ended up learning the guitar and bass guitar in that first year of joining the choir. The choir director, my brother and I decided we would start a Mexican trio. Click here if you want to know what kind of music Mexican trio’s play. After a couple of months, we started getting extremely busy on the weekend; we would go from weddings, to birthday parties, to even playing at Mexican restaurants. What most people don’t know is that the majority of musicians have to carry their own sound equipment. If you’re a big musician, usually the venue will provide the audio set up. This is where I believe 3D printing can excel for musicians.

I decided to do my research on 3D printing and music because it is incorporating both of my passions: music and technology. In terms of repairing a musical instrument, there is not a lot of content at the moment. There are a few but most of the items are what we can all consider accessories. Back to my point about musicians carrying their own audio equipment, one must be extremely organized when dealing with audio equipment. Audio equipment consists of dozens of cables, adapters, microphones, stands, etc. I came across a very useful article that has the top 23 3D printed items for musicians. Here are my top seven;

1. Simple Cable Clippers

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2. XLR caps
3. Cable drum
4. Mic stand cup holder

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5. Guitar strap button

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6. Volume knobs

Without getting into too much detail, simple organizational items like the ones I mentioned before can make keeping track of audio equipment a lot easier. Ideally, musicians would be printing these items as they need them. The way I see this being helpful is if a musician faces a problem but quickly solves it by creating something in a CAD software and print it right away. When doing my research, I came across a lot of 3D printed musical instruments, mainly guitars. However, I don’t think this is technology being used correctly. A lot of these guitars that I came across cost over $4,000. For that price, you can get a very nice, hand-crafted guitar. I think 3D printed instruments should be cheap to make and be used as the back-up of the back-up. I was very skeptical of the sound quality of 3D printed guitars. However, I was extremely surprised with the sound quality they produce. Click here to listen to a sample of a 3D printed guitar. As of now, 3D printers and repairing musical instruments is not that popular. It’s not that popular because there is a limited number of parts one can 3D print to repair an instrument. People right now are 3D printing mouth pieces, volume knobs, guitar strap buttons, and bridges for violins. I would argue that musicians around the world would love to see more tutorials online on how to go about repairing an instrument with 3D printed parts. This would save time and money. I personally believe that the whole point of a 3D printer is to have the ability to make something somewhat quick and cheap. Making a $4,000 3D printed guitar is not what I envisioned 3D printing and music. I do believe that as the technology advances, making more sophisticated prints will become a reality.

Week 8 Summary: Wrapping Up the Ultra Light Box and More

In week 8, we had our last lesson in the Fab Lab. Same as the past two weeks, we worked on the Ultra Light Box Project in the Fab Lab. The project has three phases: coding, laser-cutting, and soldering. Until this week, everyone has already completed two of the three phases and is ready finalize the Ultra Light Box project. Regarding our term project, we moved one step further and conducted the capability assessment.

Soldering Workshop

Solering table

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Live action circuit by Ana

A lot of us found soldering skills useful in our term projects. As Ana said, “This soldering workshop really helped me understand the use of soldering. While I was participating in the workshop I thought of how for our final project idea, we will most likely need to solder wires together. ” Soldering is an effective and easy way to connect wires together, and our team is planning to use this technique for our project as well.


Coding Workshop

Picture of Arduino by Taofik

Taofik spent the lesson in the coding workshop using breadboards to build temporary circuits and code on Arduino. Arduino is an open source micro-controller that is easy to code with. Taofik reflected that, “I got to learn more about Arduinos which was a primary reason for taking this class. I will use what I have learned to work on our semester project and will use more tutorials such as Sparkfun’s online website and tutorials and Youtube.”

Laser Engraving Workshop

Laser engraver working (photo by Chase)

Chase designed the print using Inkscape and laser-cut a box. As Chase said, “The whole process, including both the design creations and actual cutting, lasted less than seven minutes, a stark contrast from the relatively lengthy time required for 3D printing.” We learned from this workshop that a faster way of creating a box is using laser engraver.

Wrapping Up

Kenny’s Ultra Light Box

After all three phases were completed, we put the soldered circuits into the box and glued them together. Kenny reflected that “This process got a little frustrating because there were a lot of components that were coming together and a lot of room for error.” I would also agree with him since the room inside the box is tight and it is not so easy to squeeze everything inside without messing up the circuits.

The past three weeks have been a great experience that inspired the class of new perspectives on creating things. As John reflected, “It was really cool to be able to learn so many cool technical skills over the past three weeks, and these skills will prove handy later down the road not only in finishing our semester project, but in future classes and possibly in my job down the road.Learning skills like these can help me turn my ideas into real products that I could sell. With tools like these the possibilities are endless.” This project gave us a lot inspirations on how should we utilize these tools and skills in the future to realize our ideas. Together with the design thinking method we learned earlier in the semester, we are better equipped to start the projects off.

Project Capability Assessment

In prior weeks, we went through the process of brainstorming and narrowed down our selection for our project ideas. After the taking lessons in the Fab Lab for the past three weeks, we developed better perception in the feasibilities of our term project. Thus, we conducted project capability assessments that make sure we have or are able to obtain sufficient capability for our term project. Each team has described their ideas detailedly, evaluated on their project needs, internal capabilities, external capabilities, and source of information.

If, last week, all the projects was still on the conceptual level, all teams have delivered one or more convincing plans this week. In week 7, Team JJJ Inc. illustrated the idea of a simplified smart home device. “Many homes have light switches which operate mechanically by simply moving up and down when subject to an external force. Our product would allow the user to remotely turn the switch up and down using a simple bluetooth device” This week, Team JJJ Inc. described two ways of realizing this idea: one is to use a motor that pulls up and down strings, and another is to using a gear to rotate the switch. Other teams also came up with plans with great details. Based on these plans, they recognized their needs in capabilities.

The internal capabilities are the skills and knowledge that the team possess. Many teams included the skills they learned previously in this class. For instance, Team BCC Creations mentioned that their soldering skills will be needed for their project. Other teams including The MakerLAX

The external capabilities include other sources of help, such as the local labs and other individuals. A lot of teams included the resources that were introduced to us during the class. For instance, Team Zerott included materials provided by Vishal, Fab Lab laser cutter, and the MakerLab 3D printer. Team

Overall, this week we wrapped up our project in the Fab Lab, and we are ready to apply what we learned from the Fab Lab to realize our ideas. Stay tuned for more updates on our projects!



Week 8: Last week at the Fab Lab

This week’s session marked our final week at the Fab Lab. Our time spent here was memorable and it’s sad to say that this is our last class time here, but the skills and know-how gathered here were quite memorable and are sure to last us quite a while. To conclude our 3 week journey, everyone participated in their last workshop to finish our light boxes. For me, it was finally time to code.

Having finished all the hardware aspects of the project, the last remaining task was the most integral to the box’s function: its programming. The Arduino itself is a powerful tool, but it cannot be used to its full potential without working with coding. The capabilities of a programmed Arduino are only limited by its user. Being an electrical engineering major, I’m required to have expertise in programming. Most of the programming that I currently do is in C programming, which is what the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is based off of. I don’t really deal with the actual custom Arduino software much, however, so it was good to get some practice with this.

Arduino Software Application

We began with the basics, making a simple LED blink. Then we gradually moved on through the Arduino language to where we would be able to design a program that would make the light box behave as we wanted it to: as a light sensor with LEDs that activate accordingly to the level of light. The Arduino IDE is custom built for the various modules that Arduino produces, and as such their certain commands and implications available only to it and not in conventional C programming. We began creating slightly more complex circuits on a test breadboard preparation for the final step of the project.  We were allowed to play around and “hack” the programs provided to us so we could get a better feel of the software. This also allowed us to customize each of our light boxes to our preferences. We could select which LEDs would light up and in what order, the amount of light exposed to the sensor which would cause it to send signals to the LED, and so on. Relatively small adjustments, but those little differences were what allowed us to differentiate our final projects from each other. We finished compiling our code and assembled our boxes that we got to take home as a trophy for our weeks of work.

Test circuit for the final project

The long awaited finished product

It may have taken place over a few weeks, but our time spent at the Fab Lab seemed relatively short. I cherish the skills I’ve gained here and the memories of the fun I’ve had these past few weeks will last my lifetime as a maker(i.e. the rest of my life). We’ve come quite a way from our first session here, and our final class projects as well as our abilities as makers have certainly benefited from it all. The Fab Lab was such an amazing experience: I loved being surrounded not only by all the amazing technological tools and processes, but by other inspired and talented people as well.

Week 7 Summary: Building on Our Skills in the Fab Lab

In Week 7 of the Digital Making Course, our community of Makers once again ventured over to the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab. Similar to week 6, our class broke into our three groups to work on the next rotation in making the Blinker Boxes. However, since we were already familiar with the layout of the building and the resources available to us at the Fab Lab, we were able to hit the ground running. Once again, our three groups were split up to working on Coding with the breadboard and Arduino, soldering the electronics, or designing the press-fit boxes for laser engraving and cutting.

Our time in the CUC Fab Lab serves many purposes. First and foremost, it provides us the opportunity to practice skills that can help us with our own making endeavors. It is especially helpful for our project groups to develop a diversified skill set that we can utilize on our semester projects. The workshops at the Fab Lab also familiarize us with the technologies and physical tools available to us. Learning from the staff also helps us get a feel for the greater Maker Community and hearing about their personal projects helped us understand their skill sets and how each of them may be able to help with our projects. Finally, spending time in our own Maker Lab, the Fab Lab, and with all the staff and volunteers gives us a better idea of the Maker Movement that is revolutionizing businesses across the nation and around the world.


Team Supra’s Concept

As we keep going through the semester, we are rapidly approaching the design and prototyping phases of our semester projects. All of the project teams are refining their “How can we” statements while defining the actual problem they are looking to solve. Our first project idea submission was due on Wednesday of Week 7. To give you an idea on some of the concepts the class is working on, Team IJK is trying to help college students decrease stress by using indoor gardening. Team XNihilo is attempting to have busy professionals or college students drink more water. The MakerLAX is hoping to “help teenagers, young adults, and anyone else who struggles” tie a tie properly. Team Zerott is trying to improve patient satisfaction at hospitals. In Week 8, the project groups will be moving forward based on the feedback they have received. Once again we will be submitting our “How can we” statements, but this time we will include a concept details, key components of the solution, the capabilities of team members, outside resources for skills and fabrication tools, and any information resources identified.

Odelia Code

Odelia spent this week in the computer section of the Fab Lab code the Arduino for the Blinker Box. Odelia said, “This was my first time actually seeing a computer board up close and I was definitely quite surprised by how it looked. Personally, I thought that it seemed quite fragile and easily breakable. However, it was quite sturdy and it could hold quite a bit of force. Along with the Arduino board, the following things were included.” After setting up the circuit and trying to adjust the code, she found working with the light sensor was the most difficult part of the lesson. I think many would agree, as the range of values corresponding to which LED flashed depended on the specific sensor and how bright the part of the lab you were sitting in was.

Chase Soldering

Chase spent the class time in the electronics section of the lab soldering his LED’s together. Reflecting on the class , said “the instructional course ultimately proved to be very time consuming and required incredible delicacy, there is little doubt in my mind that this is a crucial tool in any maker’s arsenal of building tools.” For many in the class, this was their first experience with soldering. However, we all were able to pick up on tips and tricks such as using the “helping hands” or tape to hold wires down while soldering multiple pieces together. By the end of class, Chase and his group mates were able to wire the LED’s and sensor into the Arduino he programmed in Week 6 and the LED’s flashed as planned! Finishing off his post, Chase, like many, said he hopes to “incorporate soldering in some capacity” into the final project.

Kenny Design

The final phase of the Blinker Box is the making the press fit box. Kenny wrote about using the free Inkscape software to design his box. By taking images from the Internet and vectoring them using the Trace tool, the images became compatible with the laser. Kenny chose artwork from one of his favorite designers to put onto his box. Once it was finished, he said, “It was very rewarding to be able to see something you design on a computer come to life in a matter of minutes. There was something satisfying from watching it go back and for until your vision comes true.”

Kenny Box

All of our blinker boxes are coming together as we build on our skills at the Fab Lab. Week 8 will be the last class session in the Fab Lab but many of us will be back to work on our projects. Happy Making!