Because I joined the class from the waiting list, I came in on week 3 rather than week 1. In other words, everyone's week 3 is MY week 1.
So for week 3 we programmed a programmer. A what? A thingamabob-er that tells other thingamabob-ers what to do.
In brief, the assignment is broken down into three major components
(i) Building the Circuit Board
(ii) Soldering the Board
(iii) Programming the Board
My Experience bit by bit:
(i) Building the Circuit Board:
So as someone who has 0 experience in a lab or working with machines, even just milling the circuit board felt really difficult. In fact, I tried three times.
A. First Try
The first time I tried to mill a copper board I went with my friend Pranam. We went to the 043 Lab. And for the next three or four hours we tried to mill the boards.
At first we had problems orientating the board. Should we put the board horizontal or vertical?
Then we faced the learning curve of the software. With so many buttons and things to adjust we were never completely sure of what we were doing.
And our biggest practical challenge was getting the mill to not go off the board. Each time we millled the mill would just go beyond the board. And our efforts would be dashed.
B. Pranam Leaves
After Pranam leaves, it's just me and the milling machine. In the silence, I decided to think and sit about how we can improve on what we were doing.
It was then I realized a few things.
1. the mill ran a trace wider than we expected.
2.You needed to start orient the board in the vertical orientation.
3. You need to start in the bottom left of the board.
4. We ran into many of our problems because the boards had already been used. There wasn't enough space to run the mill effectively.
And so I ran the milling machine again. And everything went well...until the board suddenly moved around and the trace was ruined.
C. Another Try
The Next morning Pranam and I went to the CBA lab and were determined to make a board.
I told Pranam about the things I realized last night after he left. And with that we finally made our own circuit boards. In fact, we made two.
The first part of the assignment was finished.
(ii) Soldering the Board:
This was the hardest part of the assignment for me.
I went to one of the TA's soldering demos. But doing is very different from seeing.
I went to the 043 lab. And tried to practice soldering before I used one of my circuit boards.
I worked with the pins of an 'IC1.' But my soldering was awful. I had connected all the pins. And had trouble moving the solder over. Then the soldering iron wasn't hot enough.
I was really concerned about why my soldering wasn't working. Pranam's had worked out. And by looking at his circuit board I had something to work off of.
And so I went BACK to the lab hours before class, and there I realized I had been working with the wrong soldering iron.
Conclusion: The assignment was challenging to me for an assortment of reasons. Coming off the waitlist I still had tutorials I had to go through and so I was in sort of a frenzy this week trying to learn and do as many things as possible.
But in the process of trying to learn a lot. I learned, a lot. I learned how to use a lasercutter. I learned how to use github. I learned how to use a mill and how to edit a website. And I sorta learned how to solder.
Moving forward, I'd like to improve on my solderings skills and experience so that I can solder boards such as the one for this week. I'd also like to learn how more tricks for editing a website! TL;DR Learned a lot. Use fresh supplies. Work Together. And I need to work on my soldering.