Posts Tagged ‘maker’

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the makerspace this year. One of the tools I have been working on a lot recently is the laser cutter/engraver. I am a beginner with Adobe Illustrator so that has been a challenge.

I don’t know where I first heard about it, but I kept hearing about taking 3D printer files and laser cutting them. I also then saw these fun bots made by RoboMustache at a STEAM/Maker event with my personal kids. Seriously, how cute are these little things? I put these two ideas together and decided I needed to learn to design the shapes that I would need to create my own RoboMustache-inspired closed shape in TinkerCad, which I am better at, and then figure out how to cut them.

I googled how-to change 3D printer files to laser cutter and found this directions from Make Magazine. After looking at Methods 1 and 2 and decided on Method 2, because 123D-Make is free software. Win.

I know the directions were step by step, but still it’s a lot of translating files. The more translations, the more places to mistranslate. After sorting out a few issues with depth/height of the .stl files and scaling in 123D-Make,  I had a beta version. After a few more tweaks to the TinkerCad design, I had a solid box (small on one right below). I have to say that I felt pretty proud of myself getting it all figured out. It was not hard, but there was also no one around to go to for support. Plus, I have now explained it to others.

Here are my first boxes.

Photo on 3-10-16 at 2.53 PM

The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to get the DXF file from 123D-Make to come in to Illustrator the exact size they were created in TinkerCad. I’m not sure where I am missing a setting. With scale settings to set as the files move from each program to the next (.stl from TinkerCad–>123D-Make–>export as DXF–>open in Illustrator–>scale to size–>cut) I have a lot of combinations to try, and so far I have not dedicated myself to keeping track of attempts and results.

Onward!

Advertisements

So, I have been thinking about my new year maker idea, because progress is happening!

As you may recall, the plan was to make an advice station with an old rotary phone and Makey Makey. The idea was that a student would pick up the phone and hear a brief audio clip containing a bit of advice. My plan was to record words of wisdom from a range of community members. As you may also recall, I was not in possession of the skills necessary to make this work, but I had convinced some other folks it was a good idea.

Well, there is clear progress. So far, @Mr_Fornaro talked to the students in our Python class and one of them accepted the challenge of writing the code to randomize the audio file that gets played. The code has been written and is working.

@Mr_Fornaro has been working on getting the Makey Makey connected to the phone so that picking up the phone completes the circuit. In addition, he has got an audio file actually playing through the handset. Things are in a bit of disarray at the moment, but in a good way.

Photo on 2-5-16 at 9.26 AM

So, yesterday evening I sent out the following email with the subject line of  “do you have good advice for students?” (who could resist reading that?):

Hello colleagues,

A group of us are working on an installation that will allow students to pick up an old rotary phone and hear some words of wisdom. If you have some favorite piece of advice, we would like to include that in our installation. The advice will actually be spoken by you. Here is what you can do, swing by my office some time and we will record you, which should take about a minute and a half. 

We are hoping to have voices of many adults in the Shipley community. Please be in touch if you would be willing to be recorded. I can also come to you with my laptop to record.

Thank you,

Wendy

p.s. You can also send me a .wav file (not an mp3). 

I sent this message at 5:27pm on Thursday and got my first reply at 5:32. We are a prek-12 school, and I have had replies from teachers in all divisions as well as non-teaching colleagues. My favorite response so far:

THIS. IS. AWESOME. I’m in.

So I am now the collector of good advice (file that under duties to be defined later). I love this title. I’m looking forward to hearing what people share and to seeing the students interacting with the installation. It will still be a bit before our target space is available, but I’m getting excited. Time to plan the sign/invitation/surroundings.

So, I’ve been thinking about big installation type maker/art project. My New Year’s plan is to make some sort of installation myself, or with a little help from my friends.

Here are some of my inspirations:

I have been mildly obsessed with Jie Qi’s work for some time. Her interactive painting is beyond amazing.

 

In addition, I really enjoyed the responsive art in this TED talk by Aparna Rao.

I love her frames quickly standing at attention. And, the way she talks about her work, so serious and quiet, cerebral, is such an interesting counterpoint to the playful and lighthearted work itself.

My personal family went to see the Ann Hamilton: the event of a thread exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory three years ago, and we all still talk about it. Huge swings were hung in the Armory. The swings were also attached to a large curtain that hung though the center of the long side of the space. So, as visitors swung, the curtain undulated. There was also a sound component in addition to pigeons. Not only did we enjoy swinging, but watching the curtain wave was a different and equally engaging action. People reclined on the floor and just watched, mesmerized. (There is a video on the site linked above as well.)

 

 

Recently, my amazing colleague @Mr_Fornaro visited another school’s maker space and reported that they had rigged up a Makey Makey to two flights of stairs, not just a few steps or a few places on the railing. So, as you can tell, I start thinking on a very reasonable scale. This is what I do. It does not always produce good results.

Then I remembered a fortune that I had saved. It said:

If you want good advice, consult your mother.

Putting all of this together, I had a plan to create an interactive experience using a Makey Makey, some sort of bar or rail, a number of old rotary telephones, and recordings of real advice from real mothers. I had thought that there would be a big sign or something on the wall with the fortune/saying. When I met with tired new dad @Mr_Fornaro, he was excited to help and has some experience with Makey Makeys. He also knew of some students who might be interested in the project–more friends! As we discussed, we both simplified and built-in potential for expansion. Fantastic. One of my original ideas was to include the larger school community in advice collecting. Our thought on that: totally doable.

As I was describing this to my personal family at dinner tonight we thought of a few more ideas. (Hmm, is this a family trait to plan big? Perhaps.) Maybe it’s a booth or pay phone box that says “advice from mom” or something instead of “telephone” at the top. Then we thought, maybe it’s an advise station and different phones would have different themes: advice from mom, words of encouragement, etc. Oooooh, so many ideas.

I have to say I am so excited about the prospect of this actually getting created. Plus, my conversations about the plan totally reinforce my belief in the importance of brainstorming with others. Even though I am currently working on a post about the importance of silence and prolonged thinking, I have always been a big fan of brainstorming with other people who are also interested in generating a lot of ideas and talking around the topic. The person who wants to go with the first plan/idea/thought and finish the task is not the collaborator I am looking for. However,the person who loves a good rolling around of ideas is exactly the collaborator for me.

Back to the plan. The space we are targeting is not available at the moment, but we can get stated on our first prototypes.

Any other collaborators out there have some ideas to share?

 

So, I’ve been thinking about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) projects lately. I spent some time over winter break making Chibitronics projects with my personal kids. And then I decided to introduce paper circuitry to blackout poetry.

You know how sometimes you think 2 kids or people should be friends? You see all these connections, but they don’t? It was a little like that with my Chibitronics and Blackout Poetry matchmaking; they were not friends right away. However, as they have sat day after day near each other on my desk, a friendship has developed. Here are some details.

I started with my blackout poem.

Then, I had been playing with DeviantArt-Muro and the drawing with text options. I entered my entire poem as the text and then drew with the words in the shape of exploding fireworks, since that is what “bursts of sound and light” suggests to me. I printed this, enlarged, on to various colors and qualities of vellum. I ended up with this. (many, many tries later).

poem words printed on vellum in the shape of fireworksSo, then I used the copper tape, light stickers, and some sensor controllers to make 2 circuits that light my “fireworks”. One lights in response to sound, which you can’t see in the static image; the other is set to twinkle. However, the copper tape lines and battery folds are a little distracting, I think. Plus I wanted the actual words of the poem to be more prominent.

My next idea was to create another circuit that would be on a lower layer and position the lights at the location of the words in the poem. With one battery, the lights were not lighting consistently and were not powerful enough to be seen through the paper unless they were pressed together. I tried sewing the layers together, messed up the order, removed the thread, and then realized that another battery would help.

IMG_4454

With all the layers together, here I am.

IMG_4456

Issues still to be resolved:

  • How to connect the 2 pieces of vellum? or just have one and leave the bottom part “exposed”
    • sewing, glue?
  • Do I somehow cover the path of the circuit on the fireworks lights? I find it distracting.
  • How do I piece it all together
  • Does it need some color
  • Will it sit in a frame

Any suggestions would be appreciated.