Completing the Blink Box

As we come to the end of the first half of the semester, we once again, for one last time went over to the South Quad for our last class at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab. Last class, my group practiced soldering wires together to make permanent joints for the light sensor blink box. This week was about making a box or you can say like an outer covering for the breadboard to make it look nice. For this process, we used laser cutting method and laser engraving method. It is one of the many creative processes that FabLab has to offer.

We used a new software to design our boxes and customize it the way we wanted to. It was a very similar to the Adobe Illustrator software (as told by the instructor). We were first asked to open Inkscape and were made familiar with some basic tools like the Align tool, border tool, etc. Then we were asked to open google and search for our favorite animal or anything else that we would want on our customized blink box. For my custom designs, I chose a very simple design. The left side of the box has a paper plane that is shown flying and on the other side I have the initial of my first name, that is ‘A’. I wanted to make my box very clean and minimalistic as that is the kind of design I like. side to represent a field of engineering/design as I am an engineering major. The other sides just had the basic elements that all the boxes had, to extrude the LED and the breadboard from.

After this, we obtained the template for the layout of the box from a website that makes layouts for such boxes for you. We then imported this file to Inkscape to further customize it. Now it was time for us to put the images that we selected online on the layout of the box. We could only use images that were black and white (like a stencil) and also that were not pixelated too much. The laser cutter could are very precise and could only make cuts of size 0.01. Another fun fact about the laser cutter is that there are two different cutting techniques you can employ, vector and raster. “Raster tends to be used for engraving things, while vector is much more adept at cutting things out.” The laser cutters only took about 10-15 minutes to cut my entire box with the engraving, which is pretty fast compared to that of a regular 3-D printer. This is not the only thing one can do with a laser cutter. There are a bunch of other ways to use a laser cutter. Check out this website for some cool ideas!

Assembling the pieces together was kind of like a jig-saw puzzle game. But hopefully, by the end of the class we were able to put our pieces together with all the other components that we made in our previous sessions to complete our blink box. It was amazing to see that completed blink box work as I plugged it with the battery. In all, these three sessions were full of creativity and new methodologies. I would definitely tell my friends about this super creative place that is available to us on campus!

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