Wrapping up Making at the Makerlab

Expectations and Reflections: 

It was out of curiosity and a suggestion from a friend that made me pick this class from a extensive list of Electives I could have picked in my last semester as a Senior. I had briefly heard interesting things about 3-D printing and making almost anything you wanted from scratch. I hoped to learn how to prototype, design and apply myself in a way which I had never done before. Looking back after the semester long course I have come a long way as not only an engineer but also as someone who cares deeply about the things around us and making a difference in our community.

The Experience: 

My experience kicked off with some motivating and inspirational Guest Lectures from Jeff Gringer and John Hornick who talked about the Maker movement and where its headed. It instilled in me some kind of responsibility to be a part of the movement and make a difference in a way where I could leverage my skills as a Materials Engineer.

In the next few weeks we had an opportunity to attend a workshop conducted by representatives from the Design for America team at UIUC. I gained a deep understanding about what designing actually is and what it entails from the user and who it impacts. As a team we came up with a novel idea about using Goggle Glasses for deep sea diver which was pretty awesome. This experience helped me shape ideas during my next few weeks of the course and was fundamentally very important to the success of our tea, JJJ inc. Displaying 20170206_144220.jpg

The next week we got a chance to work with Fusion 360 which was of great use moving into our final projects. This powerful application helped us create almost any object we could think of and was pivotal in our making journey. More about this software can be found using this link.

This is the part where everything kicked off into full steam where we were not only thinking about the next big idea but also making it. Our final semester project started off with a brainstorming session, we came up with 3 issues we each faced in our day to day life and ideated some crude solutions to those problems. I learnt how much we over emphasize coming up with a product rather than solving the problem with the product in hand. Here are our initial few ideas we sketched for the final project this semester :

Week 6,7 and 8 the class spend learning and making at the Champaign Urbanas Fab lab! From learning how to code an Arduino to soldering and laser cutting plywood we learnt useful skills which we could implement while making our final project.

It was finally time to put our CADing, ideation and prototyping skills into action. Our group, JJJ inc, is designing a smart switch which can potentially pave way for cheaper smart homes and user customization. The next few classes we worked on designing and prototyping our Smart light switch. Here are some images from our initial sketches, mechanical designs and our final working switch seen as the bottom most picture.

I was so content with myself and overall really happy with the hard work, time and effort put by team JJJ inc to make the project from a mere idea to something which actually works like how we had imagined it. This class led me to belief that if you want to make something happen, there are enough resources, technology and like minded people to help you along, you just need to apply yourself and grind till you see the results unfold. I would finally like to thank Vishal Sachedva for his expertise and help!

XNihilo Project Reflection

From the conception of our idea to the final presentation and prototype, our group has grown and learned so much from this project. This project first taught us how to identify problems and do research to help understand the consumers who we are trying to solve the problem for. Then we learned how to turn that research into smart product designs for the consumer and start prototyping using what we learned in design workshops at the FabLab to bring those designs into reality. We also learned cooperation and design audits can foster an innovative learning environment and help reveal flaws in function or design to help perfect a product.. Finally, we learned that the process of bringing an idea to fruition is an exhausting and difficult process which takes time. In all, it was a learning experience that we would remember in the coming years of our lives.


Prototype 1

At the very beginning, we did a feasibility test based on the resource we could access to. The band essentially consists of two parts. One was the band and the other was the circuit. Because the band should be wearable on the wrist, we chose to use the 3D-printer with semi-flex material to print the band. For the sensor, we planned to buy a humidity sensor from the market. However, to minimize the size of the sensor, we decided to make the sensor by ourselves. The logic behind the self-made sensor was very simple. A person’s hydration level would affect the humidity level of the skin and the humidity level of the skin would affect the skin’s resistance. Thus, measuring the resistance of the skin can help estimate whether a person is dehydrated or not. None of us were electric engineering student, so we need to outsource the circuit design. Fortunately, we found a full-time staff, Mr. Rice, at Fab lab to assist us.


The first step for us was to make the sensor. Based on the design logic, we placed two copper tapes on the skin and measure the resistance between them. We did a lot of experiments to test the sensitivity of the copper tapes with different distances to find the best distance. At the end, we determined that 2 mm was the best parameter and we also made a cardboard prototype with basic circuit wires soldered together. The first prototype was non-functional but it gave us a direction to improve our prototype for the rest of our project.



Prototype 2

Prototype 2 was functional and realized our idea. We designed and cut the circuit by our hands. We also integrated the mini-Arduino controller to our handmade circuit with the help of soldering technique. One giant improvement we did for prototype 2 was replacing the LED light by RGB-LED light. RGB-LED light could flash red, green, and blue three colors, which means that we could send three different signals to our users.  As you can see from the picture below: Flashing red means “dehydration”; flashing blue means “functioning well”; flashing green means “sweating”.

Below is the picture for prototype 2

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Prototype 3

Although prototype2 is functional, it is not stable and would malfunction from times to times. Thus, we adopted silhouette technique to improve the precision. More specifically, we designed our circuit on the laptop first and then used the laser machine to print our circuit. Another giant improvement we did was the battery integration. We also designed the circuit to power both the controller and the sensor. The design could not only compress the space for the whole circuit, but also make the sensor contact the skin seamlessly.

After making our 3rd prototype, we were design audited by other teams who gave us many suggestions to improve our product. Some of these suggestions included LED blinking edits, vibrations and possibly a redesign of our product to fit as a water bottle attachment. Additionally, we prototype tested our 3rd prototype with Brandon and he had also suggest having vibrations to notify the user along with the flashing lights.



Following the feedback provided via the design audit and the prototype testing, we had to reevaluated our acceptance criteria for our design. One of the group’s suggestions was to make sure that the user is able to realize they are dehydrated after the blinking, so we reprogrammed our product to blink 6 times and then stay red for as long as the user is considered dehydrated. Additionally, we made circuit backing must be non-conductive. We discovered we needed to make this amendment after we tried to solder the original plastic backing and it burned. Additionally, we decided to remove the fitbit so that the sensor would be able to lie flat on the wrist.


For our fourth and final prototype, Ana reprogrammed the product to follow the new acceptance criteria. Additionally, we changed the plastic backing to a silicon backing on the circuit since silicon is non-conductive. Unfortunately, during this prototyping session, we lost our original mini Arduino and had to replace it with an Arduino Gemma. Furthermore, we redesigned the band to only house the sensor.


The challenges throughout the entire project included finding time which coincided with the FabLab and MakerLab hours, failed prints due to issues with semi-flex material, time constraints and the lost Arduino. The lost Arduino and time constraint heavily impacted our final prototype because unlike the mini Arduino, the Gemma had no serial monitoring capability which had allowed us to set parameters to detect dehydration.


If our group had more time to develop this project, we would consider the suggestions given to us such as making various versions of the H2Go as well as looking at simultaneous vibration notifications. We would also try testing out different ways of detecting dehydration and different materials for a more flexible circuit and band.


From this project, we have all learned not only how to have a maker mindset, but how to utilize it, problem solve and be patient. Although our final prototype did not fully function, we knew that with time, patience, hard work and perseverance, this prototype could be fully functional. In the end, there were a few changes which we could have done but we were very proud at the effort we put in and the presentation we gave with our product.


Please enjoy our presentation and video of our project efforts:




MakerLab: Putting It All Together

This has been one of the best classes I’ve decided to take throughout all four years of my college career. It fulfilled my expectations and provided me with even more, and I’ve already recommended this course to my underclassmen classmates. When I first heard about this class, I thought it was solely about how to create 3D printing designs and operate the 3D printers. Boy did I underestimate the things I’d learn! In this next section of this post, I will provide a list of the main things I’ve learned throughout the semester.


3D Printing

During the first few sessions of BADM 395, we learned how to use a 3D printing slicing software called Cura and the Ultimaker machine to print out 3D products. We were also exposed to many open communities and sources like Thingiverse to gather creative ideas. Here’s a link to my first blog post.


Autodesk Fusion 360

Learning how to use this 3D printing designing program was both challenging and fascinating. There were just so many functions available to make the perfect design that it definitely felt very overwhelming in the beginning. However, after following video instructions and watching guest speaker, Jeff Smith, demonstrate how to use Fusion 360, it became an amazing tool. Here’s my post about my first experience with this great program.

model 1


Later in the semester, we had the opportunity to learn about the Arduino, soldering, and laser cutting at the CU Fab Lab. The Arduino is a programmable microcontroller which contains pieces of codes that execute on demand. The Arduino is then connected to LEDs, motors, and motion sensors via IO pins. We first learned how to wire the board. Then, we moved on to connecting it to a computer software and inputting codes that control the Arduino. Read more about it here.



Also at the Fab Lab, I was exposed to soldering for the first time. It required steady hands and a lot of patience but was very well worth it in the end. I was able to solder wires together and connect them to the board and LED lights. Here’s more.


Laser Cutting with Inkscape

The last thing I learned at the Fab Lab was using Inkscape to create laser cutting designs. I learned the difference between cutting and rastering and how to safely operate the laser cutting machine. I had a lot of fun putting everything I’ve learned in the Fab Lab together and creating the final product shown in the picture below. Read more here.



I cannot express how impressed I am in this Digital Making seminar and really encourage anyone, no matter your major or year, to take this course. For me personally, I’ve never thought of myself to have much to do with the area of art/design/technology, though ironically I’m a daughter of an artist. This class, however, changed my point of view on the maker world. It taught me that ANYBODY can be a maker, as long as you have a curious mind and willingness to learn and solve problems. In the future, I’ll definitely be more aware about the maker world and maybe utilize some of the things I’ve learned described above in my future career.

Semester Reflection

It seems like so long ago when I first stepped into the MakerLab that January evening. I remember that the first time, I had trouble finding the room in BIF, but it soon became a course that I always looked forward to on Monday afternoons. Sad to see it all go, but I’ve learned and experienced so much in my time here that it was well worth the time spent. After signing up for the course, I initially believed it would be exclusively about 3D printing, and a good way to keep up with my hobby. And while the course was indeed mainly centered on additive manufacturing, we explored many other related aspects. I got to experience other non-conventional uses of 3D printing, other making processes such as laser cutting, and get more intuitive with the art of the creative process in general. It’s been a fantastic semester, and I’m happy to recap it all here.

Intro to 3D Printing:

I’ve already a lot of experience with 3D printers ever since high school, which is the main reason that I took up this course. It had been a while since I had used one, but when we began to go over the basics of 3D printing everything started to flow back in. I was really excited to work with the Ultimakers as they were the highest quality printers that I have ever worked with aside from maybe Makerbots. For my first print in the lab, I printed a simple whistle.

Design Thinking:

I used multiple CAD programs for a variety of projects ever since I got into 3D printing. And before I took the Digital Making course I believed that all their was to it was creating a model in CAD and printing it. If it didn’t work, just try again. On the very surface, it really is that simple; but if you dig deeper there is much more behind it. Every idea; every design; every creation is born out of necessity. They each have their own purpose decided by the user. I used to believe that everything I did in my creative process just came out of thin air, but in reality I was following a similar pattern. Design thinking is the basis of all problem-solving.

The Design Thinking Process

Fusion 360:

Fusion was the most complex software I had ever dealt with, and I am very glad I was introduced to it in the course. For the most part, all my designs were created with simpler softwares such as TinkerCAD and 123D design. Fusion 360 was quite the step up. It’s a complex yet vivid software the contains a plethora of tools and allows the user to operate and edit their model with much greater freedom than most other CAD programs. While difficult to get used to, in the proper hands it can create anything.

Breakdown of a mechanical pencil

The Fab Lab:

Our adventures at the CU community Fab Lab might just be my favorite part of the course. I was amazed that such a wonderful and innovative place was practically hidden on campus. Unless you had prior knowledge you’d probably never realize it was here. It was satisfying to know that there was a place on campus where makers could go to explore and innovate. It’s a place where ides flourish and become reality. Those 3 weeks we spent there, learning the different making processes (Programming, Electronics, and Laser Cutting) and being able to create our own special projects was incredibly fun and very memorable. I’m sure to remember the Fab Lab for the rest of my time here at UIUC and if I ever need anything for a special endeavor, I know where to look.


Laser Cutting

Arduino IDE

The result of all three

Art Annex 2

1301 South Goodwin Avenue

Urbana, IL 61801

3D Scanning:

Being able to scan a 3D model of one’s own bust for printing is about as old as 3D printing itself. While I didn’t actually partake in it, it was a good experience to actually see it first hand. It’s a shame we couldn’t incorporate something like it into our project, or that the desktop 3D scanner didn’t seem to work well. But they are both still quite fascinating and amusing.



Taking this course was really a delight for me. I became very passionate about 3D printing a few years ago, and was overjoyed when I found out there was a class available involving it. I got to explore my hobby again, and discuss it with other individuals who were also interested. I was able to improve upon my existing skills, as well as gain some new ones. To wrap it all up, I got the opportunity to use what I’ve gained and know to create one big final project to share with the rest of the class. Being able to see what everyone else had created and sharing our ideas was a pleasure. It’s been a fun semester, and I’m glad I was able to experience this my freshman year, which means I’ll have plenty of time to be in the MakerLab. I’d like to extend my thanks to Vishal for teaching the class, the MakerLab gurus for being so helpful, all the guest speakers, the folks at the Fab Lab, and my fellow makers who ventured this course with me. It’s been a blast!

A Reflection Of My Digital Making Experience

My learning experience throughout this course had gone beyond my expectations. Though we only had class once a week the Digital Making Seminar had impacted my thinking process and brought in a different perspective of the world. Now, I would like to describe my journey and the various learnings and knowledge I had picked up on the way.

The first two weeks were more of introductory classes, allowing all the students to have a better understanding of what we would be delving into. We immediately were given the hands on experience to create our own 3D printed object after given a quick tutorial. I had learned about various sites and chose to use Tinkercad to print out an Illinois keychain. During the class we learned about the large amount of resources (ex. FabLab) available on campus for making and creating.


During the third week of class, Vishal had brought in UIUC’s Design For America. I really enjoyed their presentation because it truly helped my group, BCC Creations get our creative juices flowing. I realized how naturally creative the human kind is, it is easy for anyone to have the ability to design products or services through the design thinking process in order to meet a consumers demand. The group had taught us through a hands-on activity to create a prototype that would benefit our customer group: senior citizens. We had brainstormed various products that would allow a senior citizen to be more at ease.

Our fourth week we met with Jeff Smith from Autodesk who was teaching us about Fusion 360, the software allowed designers to design products or services from what used to many hours to only a couple of minute. Each of the tools in Fusion 360 were incredibly powerful unlike other softwares. With the step-by-step tutorial given by Jeff, I was able to create my own version of a perfume bottle I had through Fusion 360 after the session,


By the fifth week of class I had learned about different websites and softwares that could be used for designing, now I was excited to see how this could be incorporated to my final project. We met with our groups to brainstorm needs people have on the daily and create “how can we” statements. Furthermore, we had to make sure the statements were broad enough to solve the need and we weren’t delving into finding the perfect product for the need.

Week six, seven and eight we were at the FabLab working on creating a blinky box through three steps: Inkscape/laser cutting, soldering, and coding, My group started out with learning how to use Inkscape, we were given a template of the press fit box, we learned to change the settings for the laser cutting and added designs to our boxes. Once our designs were done we laser cut them, it was an interesting experience and the laser cutter had to be carefully monitored. The next week I learned how to make the lights blink on the hardware through coding. It was an incredible experience and a great learning process for me as my core classes don’t touch computer science coding or work with hardware pieces. In the final class we learned how to solder, it was a new experience for me and I learned how soldering melted filler metal onto metal joined objects by creating an established thin layer. Overall, I had a strong understanding of how everything came together to create the box and learned how all the components could be used, which would come in handy for my final project.


During weeks nine, ten, eleven and twelve we focused on our project, we went through prototyping, researching, improvements, auditing and making final adjustments. Once we decided on creating our “cheap” alarm system we began the prototyping process. We researched on the components needed for the hardware as well as the software side. Then we drew up a diagram so we had a clear understanding of how the hardware would look, what the software would need to accomplish and the shape of the housing. We gathered our components from Vishal and the FabLab. Throughout the process we had challenges, we had received help from the FabLab on useful components and my friend, Alvin Wu (Electrical Engineering) to assist us with the coding and putting together the hardware. In the four weeks I had learned so much about the product we were creating, I learned how to use the Raspberry Pi, searching up code as well as the incorporation of them, how the components worked and starting up Twilio so we could send text messages to the user. Once we were done with the product we worked on the housing which was a bit difficult to make the adjustments as we started out using Fusion 360 and moved on to Tinkercad. We made several adjustments to our housing so all the components could fit inside. FInally, we began our testing process of how our consumers would use it, we added on an extra text message so users would know when the security system was on and once it turned on there would be 60 seconds before startup.


Prior to taking the Digital Making Seminar course I had heard great things about it, not only from Vishal during an advisor meeting but also from students who had taken the course or were about to take the course during the same semester. I was very excited to see where this class would take me, as I had no experience with 3D Printing and all the functions we learned throughout the course. Thus, coming in I had little expectations but I was ready to experience a different side of what IT could offer. Now, that I have reached the end of the course and reflected on my learnings and experience I can definitely say the course reached beyond my expectation. I had not expected to be able to learn so many different aspects on designing and was really amazed by all the results as well as support. Throughout the process, I learned that even though I never saw myself as being a creative mind I was still able to create a final product design that would be suitable for our consumers need. I will definitely be taking all my knowledge from this course and apply it into my future career.

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.

This is a wrap Maker Lab, you will be missed!

My Expectations and Experience:

To be completely honest walking into Digital Making Seminar, I had relatively high expectations for Badm 395.  However, looking back in retrospect I can know confidently proclaim that all my expectations had been superseded. Originally, I wanted to take Digital Making Seminar because I had very little background knowledge in 3D printing and wanted to gain a more comprehensive understanding of innovative and groundbreaking technology available today. I had envisioned Digital Making Seminar to be class that only encompassed 3D printing and different business solutions that could be formulated from 3D printing, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. This class transcended the provisional scope of my expectations for this class: we covered CAD Software, Circuiting, Arduino and Breadboards, Laser Cutting, Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping and so much more that I will touch upon in just a little bit. Coming into class, I thought Digital Making Seminar would be an excellent opportunity to allow me to gain comprehensive knowledge in the digital world but relatively unrelated to my post graduation plans. However, as I leave class I know realize that everything I learned in Digital Making Seminar is SO APPLICABLE. I will be going full-time in July doing technology consulting and the digital practice in all technology consulting practices are growing exponentially. With all this being said, I can’t wait to have the potential opportunity to explore digital practices within IBM so that I can apply skills that I’ve gained in this class to the workplace enviorment.  Looking back on this class now, I am so glad I took the opportunity to continue to expand my horizons and challenge myself as a second semester senior, make so great friends, and of course take another great class with Professor Vishal who inspired me to become an Information Systems major (and you can’t forget about the pizza either! haha).

My Learning:

CAD Software

In CAD, I learned how to utilize TinkerCad and Fusion 360 software. While difficult at first, I was able to ultimately successfully craft both the tutorial structure as well as my own personalized heel prototype in Fusion 360 after a couple of iterations and failures. While perseverance truly led me to create the prototypes, without the help of Jeff Smith and all his excellent teaching of AutoDesk Fusion 360 there would have been no way I could have accomplished the following two prototypes:

Ben's Heel

Special Water Bottle

Fusion 350 First Take

Circuits & Coding with Arduinos:

The Fab Lab was an absolutely unbelievable experience. The amount that I was able to learn in three weeks was amazing. From never soldering wires before, I was able to not only successfully solder wires but also successfully wire both an arduino board and breadboard to act as a light sensor, with LED lights indicating on a spectrum whether little to a lot light was present within a room. Additionally, I was able to get my hands dirty and do some coding in Arduino to program the arduino to have that specific functionality. While I had a little bit of coding experience in VBA and R previously, Fab Lab really gave me the opportunity to have a 360 degree view of the digital world and all the innovative steps the digital community is striving to make a difference in today’s world.



In Laser cutting and wood engraving, I learned that while the digital revolution is innovative and groundbreaking it’s always imperative to have fun with technology. And, what better way to have fun with wood engraving and laser cutting that to express yourself: Here is my arduino board circuit box with images that best describe myself:


Big Data and Its Implication on 3D printing:

For my own personalized project, I examined how 3D printing and Big Data complemented each other in today’s business world. It was amazing to see what MIT students had accomplished with data visualization and 3D printing. By printing a 3D structure of the campus of MIT and overlaying it with unstructured Twitter Data, so many powerful insights could be drawn on students at MIT:

MIT Picture

Additionally, General Electric was also utilizing Big data to help rapidly prototype some of its turbine engine parts take a look:

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.50.29 PM

Innovation By Simplicity:

Through Team Supra’s DoorJar, I learned that innovation doesn’t always have to fall in the category of groundbreaking or new-to-the-world product development. But much rather sometimes, the greatest innovations truly stem from simplicity. For instance, innovation by simplicity yields easy constructability, low costs, and room for continuous improvement without drastically increasing the price. And in turn, commercializing these innovations and bringing them to market they also have a high likelihood of generating profits for a company. And, that is exactly why Team Supra chose to create DoorJar.


Design Thinking & Rapid Prototyping:

Lastly, Design Thinking & Rapid Prototyping are two crucial concepts that I learned in class that will be carried over in my life post graduation. Realizing how design thinking and agile software develop framework (which I was fortunate to work in this summer) go hand in hand was truly a unique experience as well to see how applicable the concepts we were learning in Digital Making Seminar truly applied in the real business world. Rapid Prototyping opens opportunities in manufacturing to medical to renewable energy to software development and so many other industries, and I honestly cannot wait to have an opportunity to utilize rapid prototyping again.


Personal Professional Development & Growth:

Lastly, the greatest thing I learned in this class cannot be quantified by a subject title or concept. But much rather, Digital Making Seminar taught to continually challenge myself, expanding my horizons, and keeping my mind open. I remember all the times I walked into Fab Lab and thought to myself “no way can I solder wires together”, “no way do I know how to circuit arduino board and I definitely don’t know how to code it”, “I have no experience in Fusion 360 of CAD software how can I possibly be good at this?” But it’s because that I had the courage to try and challenge myself that I was able to solder wires, circuit and code and arduino board, and even help build DoorJar’s prototype in TinkerCad. By keeping my mind open in the future and my hunger for learning, there are so many opportunities in life that will be opened for me in my future.

BCC Creations – Door Sitter: Our Experience in Making

Our journey of creating the Door Sitter was challenging yet intuitive. Though the three of us in BCC Creations were not engineers, we had used our resources, research and knowledge to create an efficient product.


Prior to choosing to create the Door Sitter we went through a couple of ideas in our brainstorming process. We had first started out with identifying problems that were occurring in our own lives or to those around us. Vishal had stressed on using the Design Thinking Method which was a problem-solving process that allowed us to build up ideas with no limitations. Our first idea was based on our teammate, Carter’s experience with the recreational facilities on the U of I campus. He had noticed how many of the sporting balls were not at the correct PSI and having a decide to test it rather than manually doing it would be efficient. Thus, we decided to create a product to regulate a sporting balls PSI and pumping the ball to the correct amount. However, the more in-depth we got and furthered our research we realized that the product itself would be very complex and the pricing of it may not be suitable for the target consumers. Furthermore, we thought the product would worsen the problem and reduce the efficiency and we wanted to create a product that would be beneficial for more consumers.

Our next idea had helped lead us to our final idea, a Chores Alert System. We thought it would be useful to those in the dorms with roommates, they would be alerted through a text whenever a chore needed to be accomplished. Though we all liked the idea we had continued brainstorming for more possibilities which led us to the Door Sitter. All three of us lived in apartments and had the realization that when we left during school breaks we had no way of checking for breaking and entering which had happened to many of our friends. So we came up with the idea of creating an affordable yet efficient alarm for an apartment that would be able to detect an intruder and sent a text message to the roommates of the apartment.



Once we finished brainstorming and settled on our problem to solve, it was time to determine how we were going to solve that problem, and how we could actually make that solution work.  Fortunately for us, we had the MakerLab and Fab Lab at our disposal, not only for the physical components but also their expertise.  

We knew that we wanted to 3D Print the housing for the system since we were familiar with the MakerLab, knew we could have multiple iterations, and the general low cost of 3D Printing.  Before we could start designing the housing, we had to know what physical components our alarm system would need to function.  Only after we settled on the technologies and hardware we were using could we design the housing.



Initially, we planned on using an Arduino since we had used one and had experience programming it from our Blinker Boxes during our time at the Fab Lab.  We thought we could use an Arduino with a bluetooth module to send notifications, but later decided to use a Raspberry Pi with Kootek Wifi adapter from the Maker Lab.  To detect motion, we used an ultrasonic sensor from the Fab Lab.  This allowed us to detect motion within a specific range that we were able to physically adjust to about 10 feet at a 120 degree angle.  We also picked up male to female jumper wires to connect the Raspberry Pi, sensor, and breadboard together.  We powered the device through mini-USB rather than a battery, and ultimately decided against the piezo sound buzzer.  To interact with the Raspberry Pi, we used a keyboard, mouse, and monitor from the MakerLab.



Once we acquired all the hardware for the security system, it was time to make the system actually work.  We first had to load an operating system (Raspberrian) onto the device so that we could put in the Python code.  We were fortunate to have Charlene’s friend lend us his technical skills with the programming.  We used Twilio as a service to send the text message notifications to our phones when triggered by the motion sensor.  To design the housing, we initially started using Fusion 360 since we had used it for the tutorial homework and our in class workshop with Jeff Smith, but we instead used Tinkercad for its simplicity.  Although it is a relatively simple program, Tinkercad provided all the functionalities we needed, with far less complication.  

The entire “making” process flowed very well.  As the software was being programmed, we were simultaneously physically putting the hardware together.  Once we knew how much space the hardware was taking up, we were able to design, print, and refine the housing.  The MakerLab provided a great meeting place to work on the project together in addition to supplying the Arduino, wifi adapter, keyboard, monitor, power cord, and mouse.  The Fab Lab was also a great outlet to receive advice from and supply us with the sensor, breadboard, and jumper wires.

Feedback & Testing

Given that security product solution is heavily user dependent, receiving feedback and testing the security “door sitter” was vital to allowing us to make adjustments to make the product function properly. The initial tests we ran ourselves focused on getting the device to accurately function as we created it. Functions such as the sensor detecting motion, ensuring the programmed Python sent the text message to a phone, and even connecting to wifi internet connection were processes that were refined by our testing. The range at which our ultra motion sensor detects motion was one capability we spent hours adjusting on our product. The ultra motion sensor has the capability to detect motion for a  120 degree 30 feet radius. We ultimately adjusted the sensor to only detect within 8-10 feet after much consideration about how our product is practically used. Since our the product is meant to run perpendicular with the entryway of a door,  we did not want it to trigger a false alarm from movement far away. Taking  practical considerations such as false alarms, how the product is used, and what makes most sense for the user were our primary goals when testing the security door sitter.

Furthermore, we tested the door sitter ourselves, collaborating with class members, and finally our team member Brian had his roommates test the door sitter within their daily routine. The feedback we received focused on two aspects of the door sitter. Firstly, where to install the product was something that was not intuitive to users outside of our team. It was not necessarily clear what location to velcro the door sitter box worked best. Another point that was brought up with the door sitter sensor location, was “what if a user has pets such as cats in the apartment? Would that trigger false alarms? “.  We resolved this issue by creating an installation instruction manual, that would be given with the product for users who purchase the door sitter. The instructions tell the owner to use the provided velcro to put the door sitter on a wall perpendicular of the entry way that the user wants to be detected. It also has recommendations such as to install it high above if a user has pets.

Secondly, our classmates suggested that a user could easily forget to arm the door sitter before leaving there room / apartment.  Our product is currently armed by simply plugging in the power cord. As in once a user wants their residence to be monitored they simply plug in the power, and after a 1 minute delay there motion sensor is monitoring the entry way. Although we could not figure out a low cost way to arm and disarm the door sitter remotely in the event that a user forgot to power it on, we did create a notification system that texts a user to let them know the system is on. This way a user can know based on their message history that the security system is armed, and the text message becomes a part of their daily routine

The feedback we received was generally positive, in that the Door Sitter was helpful in providing peace of mind and information regarding college students area of residence. Most importantly the critical feedback we received was beneficial, because it led to us improving our product by making it seamlessly fit into a user’s life.

Final Product

Our final product The Door Sitter, provides a solution to the need for low cost residential security. The Door Sitter is a personalized sensor set up by door(s) or window(s) to an apartment/house. When the Door Sitter is armed, it functions as an alert security system by immediately notifying resident (s) if and when there is someone that has entered  the interior of a home.  The Door Sitter notifies resident(s) when motion is detected via SMS  text message, so that they are aware of what is happening within their residence and can alert authorities if need be,The customized 3D printing housing unit and instructions makes the Door SItter easy to set up with velcro, and more importantly keeps users mobily connected to the security of their home by knowing if and when someone has entered. Our product effectively monitors and notifies users of activity in a home. The immediate information the Door Sitter provides, gives users peace of mind knowing that they do not have to worry about a break in when they are away from their residence. Furthermore  if there is a residential break in,  with the alert system residents now have the information to be able to respond. Door Sitter can solve a need in that college students and property owners,  have  the ability to respond to a residential break with a low cost option for a security system.

Certainly, the BCC team learned quite a bit this semester in terms of the capabilities and process of solving a need through 3D printing,  While we are satisfied with the progress we made in creating our own effective product that can help solve an everyday need, we also know that the product is far from perfect in terms of taking it to market. Do to the cost we did not pursue the potential of adding a camera to the Door Sitter. We do think finding a low budget camera to add to the exterior of the housing unit, would be useful in allowing a user to know not just that there is someone in their residence but who. Finally the actual cost of our product is a factor that we need to analyze more if we wanted our product to be on the market. The door Sitter costs roughly $50-$60 per unit with the all of the components. The feedback we received from our presentation suggested that even if we sold the Door Sitter at cost for $50-$60, that price tag still is  a bit expensive for our target market of a college student. In our research we found that most in home door monitors are high tech and range from $120-$250. So while the Door Sitter would be a low cost option in comparison to what most security systems entail, we may want to pursue alternative components in collaboration with Jeff Ginger at the Fab Lab to make our product less expensive given our target market.

Overall our team BCC creations, made a product that solves a need with the Door Sitter. We worked over several  project ideas, learned new softwares such as Fusion 360,   and went through many iterations of the  design making process to create a solution. Using 3D printing and the Maker / Fab Lab to create a functioning and tangible final product,  was beneficial in providing our team hands on experience of the capabilities of this technology and the  maker movement.




Team IJK Summary Post


One of the first weeks of the semester, DFA (Design for America) came to our class and talked to us about the design process, specifically design thinking. We learned that when coming up with a new product, one should not first think of the product. Instead, they should think of a problem they have encountered that could be solved with a product. After they have identified a problem, they could then come up with possible solutions and eventually pick the best option.

The problem that our group identified early in the year was that many college students encounter great levels of stress throughout the year due to adjusting to living on their own, as well as grades. Our group set out to find a relatively low-cost solution to this problem, as many college students won’t have a lot of money to spend.

Design Thinking

Possible Solutions

After brainstorming in class one day, our group came up with three possible solutions that could help reduce levels of stress in college students. The first was a stress monitor that could measure some sort of bodily signals, such as blood pressure, that could signal that you’re stressed. If one’s blood pressure got too high, the sensor could let you know that you’re getting too stressed and that you should take a break. However, this product had no real way of relieving stress, only identifying it. Our second idea was a product that would allow students to have their own garden indoors. We did some research and found that gardening has great effects on people. We knew that many college students wouldn’t have large yards to garden in, so we wanted to make sure that it could be done indoors. Our last idea had to do with meditation, which has also been shown to decrease stress levels in people. We were thinking to possibly make something that could help facilitate meditation for someone.

Stressed Picture

Research on Plans

We decided to go the indoor gardening route after seeing all the positive effects gardening had on people. Some of the research we found is listed below, there are a ton of benefits to gardening!

A University of Michigan study showed that gardening increased memory retention in subjects by up to twenty percent. It has also been shown to positively affect concentration both at home and at work. Tasks that were performed under the influence of nature also were performed with greater accuracy. This is because nature stimulates both the senses and mind, which improves mental cognition and performance. All of this research showed our group how gardening could truly serve as a powerful stress-reducing agent. After we saw this research, we knew that creating a product involving indoor gardening was the way to go.

Final Solutions

After surveying the various options at hand our team decided to pursue a solution that allowed students to do indoor gardening in small contained environments like apartments or dorm rooms. Our innovation on this indoor gardening system was the idea to make the growing of plants modular, therefore you could plant as little or as many as needed. The modular holsters for the plants would be placed on top of a fish tank to make a makeshift aquaponic system. The aquaponic system would allow for easy maintenance of the plants, fish, and the entire ecosystem. Perfect for a college student with little time on their hands.

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Prototyping Process

The prototyping process went through three phases: low fidelity paper prototype, cardboard, and finally a functional product. The low fidelity paper prototype was meant to figure out if this could be done at all. To see if our product could exist in 3D space and allow our team to easier visualize what our finished aquaponic tank might look like. The paper prototype helped us with the sizing of pieces. Next, the cardboard prototype served as a sturdier paper prototype that helped our team figure out what realistically made sense for the stacking of modular pieces. The cardboard prototype helped us learn that four pieces were most likely the ideal number. Finally, we made the functional prototype. The functional prototype was extremely useful for testing the product in an open environment to get feedback and improve it before making the final finished version.

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Testing the Product

To test the product we purchased a bin from the store and placed our acrylic lid on top with water going through our modules to replicate what the product might look like and function like. Overall, it was very useful for showing it to our two users. We asked questions ranging from how they felt about it to what they would prove about the product itself. From this, we were able to compile notes about the product and moved forward to figure out how we could work on improving the product from what we had.

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Challenges Encountered

There were three main parts in which our team encountered the majority of our problems: Fusion 360 modeling, 3D printing, and building the aquarium itself. For the Fusion 360 modeling, it took a lot of work just getting up to speed with the software. The software itself is quite complex and can make quite complex shapes in a matter of minutes. Once we learned the software itself we went through quite a few iterations. Getting it to work well with exporting it to a 3D printer posed some difficulties with getting the shape just right so each modular piece would perfect stack on each other. The aquarium, on the other hand, took a different nature of the issue. Getting the materials proved quite difficult and a lengthy process given the amount of acrylic we needed for our project. Through it all though we were able to create a good product and learned quite a bit through all our product iterations and learned a great software and where to find a great campus resource in case we ever need to build something again.

Interview Results

Through the culmination of rapid and iterative prototyping, we now knew the direction we were heading towards when it came to fine tuning our project.  Therefore, once we got to our prototyping stage we were able to formulate a questionnaire to interview our test subjects, Ian Szetho and Anthony Bermeo.  The survey that we conducted revolved around the functionality, aesthetics, likes and dislikes and finally how they would improve the product.  

We conducted the interview with Ian first and he thought the prototype worked well.  However, the aesthetics of the design was negative for him as our prototype was primarily a plastic bin for the fish tank as the acrylic was not ready, which gave the prototype a cheap vibe.  Ian, however, did find the design to be very soothing and relaxing.  He also liked the modularity of the product as one can upgrade it with more or fewer plants as needed.  Overall, he enjoyed the relaxing and modular characteristics of it but disliked the aesthetics of the prototype. Next, we interviewed Anthony Bermeo and he believes that he can see himself using the product in his home.  He provided some details about how he disliked the pump noise as well as the aesthetics of the bin.  Surprisingly even though Ian found the noise soothing and relaxing it seemed Anthony saw that as a negative. Saying the noise was little too loud and something that he would definitely change for the final product.  At the end of both interviews, we knew we needed to fine tune our product and so we decided that we needed to increase the quality and aesthetics of the products and identify an optimal power level for the water pump to minimize noise levels.


Final Product

After taking as much constructive feedback as we could accumulate, we were able to meet the demands of our testers by constructing the tank out of acrylic and tweaking the motor speeds.  Our final product is essentially emulating nature in a compact ecosystem.  This combined tabletop ecosystem is basically a self-cleaning fish tank with a self-sustaining indoor garden.  Our main goal was to provide a relaxing tool for dorm rooms and students that wanted to engage in light gardening.  We believe that we were able to develop a product that emits a tranquil ambiance as well as provide indoor vegetation for students all year round.



What We Learned & Conclusions

The process of creating our own product from the conception, to prototyping to user feedback taught us a lot about the human-centered design process.  The ability to go back and forth to fine tune a product means that it will perform as anticipated as well as fulfill its duty.  The prototyping stage really enabled us to make our product better with each step with trial and error.  The tools such as laser cutting, 3D printing, Fusion 360 and everything else we used helped grow our knowledge base and can be applied to numerous future projects of our own.  From rapid prototyping to acting as a drivetrain for innovation, 3D printing has the ability to shape the world and we believe that our project is one of many examples of its limitless possibilities.

Full Presentation Slides: http://bit.ly/2pQX1yc

Team Supra Project Reflection – DOORJAR

With only approximately 8 weeks time, Team Supra sought to rapidly research, design, prototype, and bring to life a prototype that would effectively fulfill a business need, bridge a gap in consumer needs, and ultimately turn profitability for a business in the long run.

Ideating Process:

In the Ideating Process, Team Supra wanted to identify a business need in a consumer segment that was comprehensively understood. As Veronika, Olivia, and Ben are all college students, Team Supra decided to evaluate college-aged students who were living on a budget in a house or apartment. After observing consumers’ behaviors for a several days, Team Supra pursue a household trash compactor:



Team Supra agreed that trash is a common college struggle especially with full utilization of trash bags. Thus, Team Supra set out to create a trash compacting device that allows for greater trash bag “storage volume” to be achieved, leading consumers to have cost savings and environmental wellness at a reasonable price. However after receiving feedback from Professor Vishal, we realized that 8 weeks was not enough time to construct a product with numerous variables such as cost, size, and strength.


Refocusing & Designing with Innovation By Simplicity

Team Supra decided to tackle a new problem that commonly occurred at the Maker Lab: faulty door stops. Thinking of all the times students were locked outside the classroom, We challenged ourselves in creating a device that would efficiently ajar the door. With a very complex previous prototype, Team Supra was inclined to develop a resounding solution in a simplistic way. We realized that simplicity yielded easy constructability, low costs, and room for continuous improvement without drastically increasing the price.


We began by taking time to understand and explore the market. It became evident that the vast majority of doorstoppers sold between $5 – 15 (with premium stoppers above $20) and were all made of rubber material. Team Supra also met with Fab Lab to gain criticism on our idea. Fab Lab recommended a product with some form of a base that could attach to the door near the door knob with some form of a sliding mechanism that would allow for the locking position to turn “on and off”. While Team Supra initially hypothesized utilizing magnets to attach our device to the door, Fab Lab’s expertise made it evident that no household friendly magnets would be strong enough to sustain the impact of the door.  Additionally, Fab Lab recommended the employment of a wood coated in rubber resin or semi flex material for the actual stopping block portion of our product.


Prototype One

Using TinkerCad, Team Supra was able to create the following prototype:

First Prototype Team Supra 4.9.17






From our first prototype, we realized we really liked the shape of the base and the handle attached to the base. The handle allowed consumers to easily slide our product from “on to off” and the base could hold our “stopping block”. However, we realized that our first prototype had nothing to prevent the sliding piece from detaching from the base and was too small and brittle ultimately resulting in breakage during testing.


Prototype Two

After analyzing our results of prototype one, we decided to increase the surface area, density of base & block, and overall thickness of our prototype. Additionally, we added a bar to prevent the block from sliding out. And here is a video demonstrating progressive success from our prototype:

IMG_5593 (1)

After achieving progression, Team Supra decided to perform testing to reaffirm the consumer need for our product and also verify the usability and ergonomics of our product.

Quality Assurance and Consumer Testing

Using google forms, we created a consumer experience feedback survey to be completed after the consumer had personally experienced and utilized our prototype two.


Our survey questions centered around the following topics: demographic information, problem solutioning, aesthetics, ergonomics, applicability, durability, and willingness to purchase. Additionally, we realized the necessity in random sampling and ensured our sample had participants of all different years, majors, and household incomes in school. And, our key consumer insights were as follows:

From a scale of Not At All(1) to Absolutely(7), it becomes evident that our whole sample agreed that our prototype solution solved the current business problem.


Additionally, we saw that overall our product was relative easy to use, but there was an opportunity to enhance the attachment experience.




Our participants believed that our prototype could sustain impact from the door as and stay stationary. However, we did see a small discrepancy in Doorjar’s impact sustainability and impact stability (or stationing capability) and realized keeping the prototype base stationed to the door could be an area of improvement.


Lastly, our results show that our subject participants were relatively happy with our product and most were relatively willing to purchase our product at an average price of $7.73.

Prototype 3





In our final prototype, we made the base material out of PLA, printed the block material out of semi-flex, and printed it with a 40% infill. And our final product proved to be even more successful than the previous attempt.

Next Steps & Time Constraints

With only 8 weeks, we were forced to stop our prototyping efforts and prepare for our final presentation and wrap up for this class. However, had we had more time we would have pursued four additional features. Team Supra would have potentially utilized clear plastic or acrylic to enhance aesthetic appeal for Doorjar. Dual functionality would be added giving DoorJar both ajaring and locking functionality. Bluetooth functionality would have been implemented alerting consumers when their doors are fully locked and open and some unique attachments could also have been added to the door.


In terms of bringing DoorJar to market, Team Supra did some due diligence and was able to prove profitability margin of 23.35% with Doorjar. This was derived from a $5.94 cost per unit (PLA and SemiFlex material costs researched and labor, utilities, and building costs estimated) and a $7.75 retail price that was proven through our feedback survey. Lastly, Team Supra segmented its implementation plan into 4 unique categories. Initial Capital Investment would seek funding for our project in order to purchase 3D equipment, hire employees, and pay building costs. Relationship Development with Suppliers would ensure low raw material prices and overall low costs for the product. Commercialization begins the creation of our product seeking for opportunities to cut process inefficiencies, cycle flow time, and identify bottlenecks within the process. Marketing & Sales ensures awareness of the our product and that Doorjar remains successful with a loyal consumer base being relentless built.

Click here for our google slides!!!