Final Project Progress

Fall 2017 | By Casey Evans

“The best way to do things is to do them.”

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Summary photo caption!

My plan is to create a puzzle box. That is, one of those boxes that you have to solve the puzzle of the box in order to open. I think I will use the different aspects of the course to create a series of puzzles that contribute to opening the box and giving the box features that warrant taking the time to figure out how to open it. I selected this idea because it sounds manageable and I've always liked clever puzzles. And boxes. Boxes are great. I also think this box will be useful either for myself or as a gift. I really want everything I make in this class to be useful in some way. That's just who I am. Very practical and not wanting to waste things. I wish I could be a touch more creative but I'm pretty slow in that regard. Maybe this class will help me to find avenues where I am more expressive. We shall see.

Progress Check 1

10/1/17 So, I've been pretty caught up getting adjusted to MIT and intimidated by how smart and driven everyone is. I feel like a slacker amongst these gods. That was the point in coming here to an extent but it's more "extra" than I expected. Anyways, my first steps towards my final project was the planning and CAD work I did week one, which you can see on the Week 1 page. I think my next step will be to start thinking more about how to combine the elements of the whole course into the one project, especially so that I may be able to start tying my weekly projects into my final project. I'm all about efficient time management. I know quite a bit about embedded systems but I'm not sure what I'd want my box to do. Lock? Tell time? Pandora's box a decision like an 8 ball or something? I think there's a networking aspect that's supposed to be included. Maybe it could be like a music box radio?

10/4/17 Preparing: So the "make something big" might be a good time for me to make the box itself. I'm not sure if it's really big enough to count--but I could make it so. I could make it a box to be a metronome and tuner and store like 3-4 "sample songs" that I can play for reference while I'm practicing. Then I could just carry the box with me when I go places. Perhaps it could even be a music stand of sorts. Except that I already have plenty of those. But it could just be that the lid can posture up and have a lip on the outside. That'd be pretty nifty. Let's see, inputs and outputs. Well outputs could be sound in an audio jack (no speakers!). Input could be buttons to select metronome/tuner/reference song. Sweet. For networking then I could put things in a certain folder online that the box can grab from? I'm not really sure how networking works yet.

Progress Check 2

10/10/17 I decided to add a buzzer to this week's PCB to get a feel for how they work in case I want to actually make a metronome. Then I could use this board. I decided to also include a switch to turn on and off sound and still have an LED blink in case I wanted to test in a populated area. It's a feature that's on commercial metronomes as well. I realize now though that I didn't create a very effective design. I should have had both the current limiting resistor and the LED before the switch but I only have the LED before the switch and then two separate resistance paths. It's an artifact from thinking that the switch would just create a short, not actually flip between two paths. I had thought I would need to keep the resistance in the branch high enough to be non-negligible so that the buzzer (an 8 ohm resistor) wouldn't go off when the switch was shorted. As a result I had paired the current limiting resistor with the buzzer rather than the LED. Oh well. I may be able to fix that by getting creative with the board...or, looking at it again I should probably just suck it up and redraw that corner of the board. I'd also intended to make the chip in the shape of a music note but let that fall through because it required more effort than I thought I had time for back when I hadn't yet gone past EDS' open hours. In retrospect, it's also a bad idea because it would use quite a bit of copper that would be unused (mostly in the stem of the note). So a square is great. Maybe a cool shape like Niki did, but squares are also great and modifying in Paint is easy and I don't need to prove anything there.

10/11/17 I decided to redo the schematic since it would be easy enough and well worth the work. So you can see more on that on my Week 5 page.

Progress Check 3

10/16/17 I'm trying to add a secret compartment to the bookcase to keep with the "secret agent" theme. I'm also going to try to get a draft of the box up. The only problem is that the box I'd imagined would use normal woodworking rather than computer aided cutting (at least as a 2D process). As a result I may modify the final project to just involve my bookcase. I'm also considering switching to some kind of design assistance thing like a backlit table or something.

10/17/17 Hmm. I couldn't think of anything in time to get it on the sheet this time. I think I'd want nicer wood anyways. I should stick with a box since that's what I've been planning. But the ShopBot won't contribute. Perhaps I will talk with Gavin or another TA about the actual specifications for the final project. My roommates have spoken: I will be making a lamp. It will change color according to our TV remote (assuming I can get my hands on a logic analyzer) and respond to touch using a vinyl cut circuit with sensors down the length of the lamp stand. One of their suggestions is to make a setting that cycles through colors, like "party mode." We'll see.

10/18/17 Just to help out for the IR stuff - here's a link to my repo from my microcontroller class in undergrad. It's certainly not the best but it's in a very similar style to how I did this class so--here's the link. It's a private repo at the moment so I'd have to ask my old professor if I could make it public. They keep the projects the same throughout the years so it gives away possible solutions.

Progress Check 4

10/31/17 Happy Halloween! So on the lamp--I looked up some LEDs that are battery operated online--not really sure how to integrate them with a microprocessor, I've only ever done little lights before with clearly defined unpackaged leads. But I definitely want a quality light to fill the room. Also thinking laser etching on the circle boards that make up the stand (I have sketches). I'm thinking of three size sequence of circles (3" 6" 9" 6" 3" and so on). The top would have an Atlas holding up the lightbulb. Or maybe a cameraman with a light slung on his/her shoulder. It's hard to think of things that can be created with a 2.5D process. Maybe if Atlas is wearing a toga it'd be easier, but then I'd have to learn how to do mesh editing in a semester, which I certainly don't think I am capable of doing without failing in some other aspect of my life. I could also just make a lampstand from Zelda with a lantern on it. The Zelda lanterns are nice and symmetrical. I can still laser etch (raster) the sides. Except it would be kind of short. I did find a rupee STL and a half rupee STL! I could do that instead for now in molding and casting and try to find something else to incorporate into the lamp. Maybe I could make a Sisyphus rolling a stone up a mountain. I found some other pictures of art deco lamps I could try to replicate. We'll see.

Art deco lamps:

[staring.jpg] [cat_lamp.jpg] [candle.jpg]

11/8/17 Um so clearly the Atlas men didn't work out. I'm thinking plate casting may be a good idea after all. One plate per roommate and there's three of us and they can decorate the top, though I was interested in demonstrating the reusability of the molds. Things to consider thinking about. Also I did some research on lights to use both battery powered and corded. I'm thinking battery may be best but brightness is huge so I'll keep looking into that. Color changing I found in a toilet seat of all things. LED may be the most promising. I could do a trail of LEDs up the stem of the lamp that are adjustable (make the lamp fun to play with) either using switches or sensors. Maybe if you get close they "shoo away" to the other side of the lamp. Just throwing around ideas still.

Progress Check 5

11/14/17 Shirin told me a plain lamp is not complicated enough. She suggested an app to control the lamp via bluetooth. I think that sounds awesome! Also ideas for the design: beaver balancing a ball/lamp on its nose, wood tree with a drystone beaver at the bottom, temple of time with an Ocarina. I should also do the week breakout but I need to finish this week's assignment first (machine building).

11/20/17 Breakdown:

  • Introduction and Computer-Aided Design: This will be inherent in the design.
  • Project Management and Computer-controlled Cutting: Cardboard flexure around the bulb. Vinyl cut built in circuitry for microcontroller battery.
  • Electronics Production: I will be printing my microcontroller board.
  • 3D Scanning and Printing: 3D printed battery holster.
  • Electronics Design: On off switch. I will be designing my board.
  • Computer-Controlled Machining: The podium for the bulb will be machined.
  • Embedded Programming: The microcontroller will be programmed.
  • Molding and Casting:
  • Output Devices: Lighting (enough for a room).
  • Machine Design: I don't think this is needed, but I should ask.
  • Input Devices: Bluetooth reciever. Slide switch for master control.
  • Interface and Application Programming: Application interface for bluetooth phone control.
  • Networking and Communications: Bluetooth with phone.
  • Composites:

11/29/17 So tired. But like...MIT App Inventor. Cardboard flexures. Peter Pan. Neverland. Sleep.