FAB 6: Mounting motors.

The last assignment. And probably my worst. What I wanted to build was a box with a button and a title saying “How will your day at ITP be today?” and when you press the button, the windmill moves to a random answer.

IMG_20181217_212231.jpg

However, with the final week madness and my P.Comp project being a tangle of wires and a mess of code, I didn’t have the mindspace or energy to make it. So, I probably pulled off the worst job of all time and used hot-glue, reclaimed wood and mounted the motors with basic screws to create something that works.

I did not get time to either program the random behavior or do anything else with it. The only thing that I did in this that I was remotely proud of was to turn the circular piece of wood. I call this piece “Turning it in“.

FAB 5: Two Materials.

For this assignment, I had to use two materials that work together. I have always to build a lamp which is part silicon and wood. However, I have been working with silicon a lot lately and I decided to go with epoxy so that I could try out a new material for a change.

I wanted to interplay between the relative hardness of the 2 materials. Epoxy is fluid while wood is hard and I wanted to make something which reflects that in its form. After sketching multiple ideas, I honed in on this one.

IMG_20181201_190844.jpg

I wanted to build a lamp which had wooden supports but had epoxy in the middle which lights up. Once I had a direction in mind, I got started on the wood and making the base. Wood from the junk shelf, an angled cut from the miter saw and finishing on the sander gave me 2 pieces which were perfectly matched in form.

Using plain ol’ geometry to line up the holes.

Using plain ol’ geometry to line up the holes.

The next step was to make holes. I made a through hole in the center for the LEDs to pass through and two small holes for the epoxy to flow and harden so that it doesn’t slip. (Remember Mark, you said no screws!) Once I had that, I tested an LED strip and pared it down to size.

IMG_20181207_013243.jpg

The next step was to draw an outline and start forming the mould.

Lining the paper with plastic sheet to prevent leaks.

Lining the paper with plastic sheet to prevent leaks.

Forming the first wall.

Forming the first wall.

IMG_20181207_055645.jpg
Filling up the wooden blocks with plasticine clay to prevent leakage.

Filling up the wooden blocks with plasticine clay to prevent leakage.

Forming the outer layers and using clay to position them.

Forming the outer layers and using clay to position them.

Clamping it down.

Clamping it down.

Using hot glue and plasticine to fill up blank spaces and create a water resistant mold.

Using hot glue and plasticine to fill up blank spaces and create a water resistant mold.

Getting the poxy ready. I wanted to do multiple colors to create a marbled effect.

Getting the poxy ready. I wanted to do multiple colors to create a marbled effect.

So, one would expect that it would go smoothly right? I had the mould ready, the epoxy in a glass and it was all looking good.

But I made 1 big mistake. The epoxy I chose doesn’t play well with the plasticine I used. The epoxy also undergoes an exothermic reaction which basically made the plasticine more sticky and ensured that my structure failed on me. I had taken a small nap after pouring the epoxy and woke up to the epoxy fluid seeping all over the floor in the shop and creating a huge mess everywhere. Thankfully, there weren’t any people around as it was 6 in the morning and I scrambled to clean it before John came in. I finished all the tissues in the kitchen and the loos to mop that mess up and had to walk back home smelling of epoxy fluid and defeat.

While the end of the process was a complete disaster, It was education in itself. I hope to repeat this all over again soon and make something that really works and sets.

FAB 4: Enclosure madness.

So, this week out mission was to build an enclosure. (Rubbing hands in glee)

WARNING: Long blog-post ahead.

TL,DR: I build a box for my physical computing project. It was very pretty.

This assignment segued neatly into my physical computing project. for more on the project and it’s background, please go here.

The first sketch of the box was this:

IMG_20181206_111117.jpg

Initially, I did not have any idea of the dimension or the scale of the box. So, the first stage was to finalize the puzzles and the ergonomic size which was in line with the theme. So, I did just that and finalized the puzzles and the tentative layout.

IMG_20181206_110312.jpg

I knew that I wanted the box to be big but still fit within people’s hands. A quick test with people on different sizes on the floor and I fixed on it being about 3 feet wide. I also wanted it to resemble the control panels of old on the outside. The insides needed more careful consideration. The box had to be sturdy enough to handle people playing with it so it needed enough cross-bracing. Also, the top panel needed to be swapped in and out so that the box layout could be iterated upon and also adjust the circular screen in the center. Once the dimensions were fixed, the box was built in 2 phases:

Phase 1: Acquire the buttons, knobs and dials and figure out their mounting. This part was probably my favorite in the semester. I spent a good part of 3 days deciding on the buttons, knobs and dials and trawling through the depths of the internet in acquiring them.

Once they arrived, I spent a day playing with them and Lillian spent the time measuring every small detail of them with the callipers. Bringing them over to illustrator and we were ready to do the mounting tests. At this point, it was done on both acrylic and wood so that there was enough flexibility in the future regarding the choice of materials.

Once they arrived, I spent a day playing with them and Lillian spent the time measuring every small detail of them with the callipers. Bringing them over to illustrator and we were ready to do the mounting tests. At this point, it was done on both acrylic and wood so that there was enough flexibility in the future regarding the choice of materials.

IMG_20181206_064357.jpg
IMG_20181206_112622.jpg
IMG_20181206_113025.jpg

Phase 2: Once the dimensions were figure out, the next task was to build the box. Initially, the idea was to use hardwood but we fell back on ply as it was easy to obtain in the dimensions we needed (and cheaper too). A combination of the miter saw, band saw, sander and voila!

imagejpeg_0.jpg

Once the box frame was done, we spent a week or two play testing and getting the layout right. A week before the submissions, we started the final mounts.

IMG_20181211_224045.jpg
IMG_20181212_002209.jpg
IMG_20181213_100734.jpg

All ready for the show! Let’s see how this goes <3

IMG_20181217_152128.jpg

FAB 3: Shattered, does it matter?

This week’s assignment was to make something out of acrylic using the laser cutter.

Easy peasy. I have been meaning to do a Voronoi lamp for the longest time and finally, it’s time to scratch that itch. So, off to p5 I went. Now, things are much easier compared to the last time I worked with voronois and guess what? there are libraries for that now.

After playing around with the shapes and size, I brought a few patterns that I liked into Illustrator. I played around with the dimensions of my box and tried to find a cross-section that won’t have very tiny shapes that might mess up with the laser cutter.

Screenshot 2018-11-16 14.41.39.png

Once I had that, it was time to find the material. Now, my original plan was to have 6-10 colors but looking at the costs and the availability of plastics, I brought it down to 4.

Screenshot 2018-11-16 14.46.44.png

I separated the colors into individual files for each color and off to the laser printer I went. Cutting the pieces was pretty uneventful except the part where I lost a nice slab of acrylic to the 75w printer which refused to work. (The cutting gods always demand a sacrifice) and within 45 minutes I had all my pieces. (easy peasy!)

IMG_20181115_174924.jpg
IMG_20181115_182353.jpg

Sticking the acrylic was a different monster altogether. The adhesive that I had was so runny that it was making my life miserable. But thankfully, Lydia got me out of a soup and loaned her rubber cement to me which made my life so much easier. And voila, within 2 hours I had a lamp!

IMG_20181116_150322.jpg

All I need to do is find some LEDs to light it up and it shall be AMAZING!.

Fab 2: This is a drill. Repeat.

For the 2nd fabrication assignment, we had to make 5 repeating shapes of the same dimension. I was still hung up on making lamps and I wanted to combine wood and silicon in such a way that the 2 materials are interlocked with each other. My idea was to split the wood into multiple sections and then fill silicon between them as you can see in the figure below (the black area is the silicon):

IMG_20181109_141618.jpg

I wanted to illuminate it from the bottom and the angled cuts appealed to me more. I came up with the straight cut option as a backup plan (2 months in ITP has taught me that at least!) and set off on my merry way.

I found a piece of squarish wood from the shop spring cleaning that I cut into wooden blocks using the miter saw.

The next task was to create equal blocks which was achieved using a pencil, ruler, miter saw and the sander.

IMG_20181107_202531.jpg

I forgot to clamp the first piece and lost the whole piece as it flew away and smashed on the wall. Never forget to clamp the wood, kids!

Thankfully, I had extra wood and the breakage proved to be a minor inconvenience.

IMG_20181107_210943.jpg

I traced the diagonal cut shape and went at it with a band saw and sander. I got the shape I wanted but problems were immediately apparent:

1) The sander eats through tiny pieces of wood. The piece on the middle-right became smaller than the rest in no time.

2) With the diagonal cut, it becomes very hard to keep track of the perpendicular surfaces and tracking the relative position to each other.

IMG_20181107_235231.jpg

In the interest of time, I decided to go with the straight cuts and eliminate the smaller pieces once they are cut.

Measure and draw clearly marked go-no go lines.

IMG_20181108_214428.jpg

Put your trust and full attention in the band saw and sander.

IMG_20181108_215038.jpg

Cut small dowels and glue them in.

IMG_20181109_102809.jpg

Wait for a few hours and voila! You have your wood shape.

IMG_20181109_105009.jpg

I did not get any time to pour and cure the silicon but that’s next on the item list as soon as the class is done!

Reflections:

1) The first prototype sucks. ALWAYS. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. In hindsight, I should have made one and then made the others.

2) The hardness of wood varies so much that it’s not always possible to predict its actual behavior on the cutter and the sander from the sketch.

3) MEASURE TWICE. DON’T MESS UP YOUR PERPENDICULAR SIDES. DRILL SLOW.

4) Sanding eats into wood fast and measurements go for a toss. The sandpaper is slower but you are in so much more control.

Bonus picture of leftovers:

Fab 1: Welcome to the machine

For our first “Intro to Fabrication“ class assignment, we had to make a light-switch. The rules were pretty simple:

  • It should be portable.

  • It should create light.

I went through all the other weeks’ assignments and I realised that it was going to be the most open ended assignment that we have in Fabrication. So instead of working with wood, acrylic or any other material that is going to be used in the class, I wanted to use something that I will not be able to use again. I had some silicon lying around after my mid-term adventure and I was like “Why not?“. What I wanted to do was make a silicon shape that looked with no exposed electronics outside but it lights up once you touch or squeeze it.

As a first step, I cooked up a batch of silicon and added acrylic color to it to create a batch of colored silicon.

All the material in the picture above were found in the junk shop. YASS.

All the material in the picture above were found in the junk shop. YASS.

Adding the color to the silicon made it cure faster. Weird but I wasn’t complaining. Some That ITP friends pointed out a thai sweet called Khanom chan. The next step was to figure out how to cut it and that’s where I made a big, big mistake. Cutting silicon with a cold razor was a bad idea and I completely messed up the cuts.

Physically hurts to see this disaster of a cut. Ugh.

But Anyways, I soldiered on and cut a small air-pocket inside to fit the LEDs, battery and wire. the Leds were packed on top of a battery and i made a copper contact that hovers over the battery and gets connected when you squeeze the top. With some trial and error, i got it working and slathered some fresh silicon in a clamp and prayed.

4 hours later, It worked! Here’s the video:

Woohoo! Pretty satisfying except the shitty shitty cuts. Oh well, Onto the next one!