Thursday, June 3, 2010
1) How would I utilize the frostruder for the betterment of learning about technology?
2) If I use the frostruder to create my masterpieces of frost (because let's face it, they will be masterpieces) I need to have someone with a food handler's permit make and sell them.
To answer the first concern, I will be frostruding using Frank (of course). In order for Frank to create the masterpieces I have to learn how to render it in a 3D program. This is what I'll be working on this summer. Learning and making drawings so that by the Fall I will be able to create cupcakes/brownies with magnificent frosting creations to sell.
Which in lies the second issue... How am I to sell these without a food handler's permit? Quick and dirty answer would be to get one myself. It's a 28 page read, a 30 min class, and $10 in cash. I figure easing the minds of those concerned over pulled association permits is way better than the tension. :) In the greater scheme of things, this then means that if this whole "college thing" doesn't work out for me I can get a job as a fry cook somewhere. Win.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Our goal this quarter was to make something using Arduino technology. Things seemed to be moving along--we have the Arduinos, and we have this idea for wearable technology that would interface with the touchscreen Chris built. But with two weeks left and no deliverable in sight, we were all feeling a little overwhelmed.
With Beth's help, we redefined our problem. There was all this talk about computer languages versus computer programs, serial ports vs. serial proxies, Flash and Python and pygame and action scripts. And it was becoming increasingly apparent that no one had any answers. Normally, someone at least pretends to have the answers.
I couldn't make sense of anything, so with everyone's help, I drew a map of the problem as it stands now (see photo). My drawing uses an orange squiggle to indicate "translation" of data from one form to another.
On the left hand side of the photo, you can see the Infrared (IR) LEDs paired with an Arduino. The Arduino tells the LED what pattern to flash at. The pattern is associated with a particular user ID, so it conveys the presence and identity of the wearer. The IR data signal goes to an Infrared sensor, which is also paired with an Arduino. The sensor reads the IR data signal, and the Arduino interprets the data and sends it to the computer via a USB cable. A serial proxy in the computer gets the input from the Arduino, and translates the data into code that Flash can read. It's important to keep in mind that at every intersection, code is translating the data from one form to another. It's the type of code and writing the code that present much of our challenge.
Well, that and everything else.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Check out this infographic that attempts to show the learning environments that LIFE Center researchers study. I think it does a better job showing how much glorious time people have for informal learning. However, I would argue with that figure, 5.1% of formal learning environment in grad school. Maybe "formal learning environment" refers only to the few hours a day I have an instructor in a room with me.
LIFE Center: Stevens, R. Bransford, J. & Stevens, A., 2005
My group members should check out LIFE Center's page on Theory Gates and Social Learning Drivers. The theories should feel pretty familiar after engaging in the Makerbot group.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Let me preface this by saying that Frank threw up the other day. It looked like a big, green plastic tumbleweed. I'm not sure how it happened but it did. If we don't watch him he gets ornery.
My future plans with Frank are as follows:
1. Assemble a frostruder.
3. Make profit.
But I digress, so back to my dream.
A mustachioed man (an actual human) named Frank had a bowl full of Frank's tumbleweed throw up and was eating it. Frank was sitting to the side glowing with pleasure.
It was that quick, yet very disturbing.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
In an attempt to lure the children away from the Department of Chemical Engineering's silly putty exhibit (a tough act to follow!) we brought Frank out to the main lawn where he quickly attracted large groups of kids, parents, and teachers. We had some trouble convincing Frank to print outside but (thanks to Kevin's troubleshooting efforts) we soon had him producing stacks of shiny green PLA legos.
People had lots of questions about Frank and 3d printing in general. Here are a few:
- "Are they going to have these in the FUTURE?!" - excited fifth grader
- "So…what is the practical application of this thing?" - confused parent
- "How does Frank learn what to do?" - intrigued third grader
- "Why does this thing break all the time?" - bored middle schooler
- "Awesome! How come you guys get to play with one of these?!?" - jealous computer science student
In addition to showing off Frank at Discovery Days, we decided to reveal some of our other project ideas to the public. Chris (the newest addition to our group) spent some time showcasing his homemade touch-screen which we will be incorporating into this quarter's big LearnMakeCupcake project.
Here are a few images from Discovery Days.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
So I noticed a few weeks ago that some singer named Katy Perry wore LED shoes to some big event. So what? I mean, kids had red LEDs in the heels of sneakers in like, 1992. It's too bad the celebrity spokesperson for technologically exciting clothing is this flash in the pan. I don't mean that, I just wanted to use the phrase "flash in the pan."
Anyway a bit later, Miss LED America turns up on the red carpet in an LED dress, a New York minute after Alexis, Darivanh, and I invented the idea of putting LEDs in our 1980s Goodwill dresses that we are going to wear to the Engineering Ball on May 21st.
Meanwhile, Kevin's been reminding me that whatever you think you want to do, it's already been done. I can't keep pace with technology these days.
On a slightly unrelated note (but only SLIGHTLY), here's a link to a colorscheme designer, if like me, you can't tell what colors go well together. This tool could help you get dressed in the morning or make a pretty website or even build a better looking LED dress.
I heard that a girl in DX Arts made a dress that lights up in different parts of Seattle. It uses GPS and Arduino. It would be hard to get lost in that ensemble.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I don’t know much about what can be done with an Arduino but I have some basic knowledge of circuitry and programming in Java that might help. I grabbed one of the Arduino starter kits on Wednesday and we kicked off the learning process with exploring a blinking LED sketch. Alexis helped helped us out and explained the functions of the code. So far the code seems pretty straight forward, but I'm sure it will get a lot more complicated. I’ve started looking around on the interwebs for what the possibilities are with these things. There are a lot of crazy cool, high tech projects out there, I can't wait to start my own. For now I found some basic tutorials that I’ll be going through over the next few days. I’m going to try to learn the basic functions of all the components that came with the kit this week. I'm also exploring ways to use a touchscreen to send messages to the Arduino using the OSC protocol. I'll post an update after I have a few more sketches under my belt.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Oh yeah we added some green LED's too!
Anyway, when I first started printing PLA I was terrified, since Frank was having difficulty printing ABS(blowing up PTFE heat barrier's left and right), I could only imagine the the onslaught of damage the, more difficult to print, PLA was going to bring. Before I began down this treacherous road, I implemented Matthew's tips, from Darivanh's post, and he also donated a very handy mod for the Makerbot(see below picture).
If you look at the PTFE heat barrier, you'll see a regular 1/2" copper tube coupler, that's has a slit cut down lengthwise, then held tight by a hose clamp. Ever since I've done this mod...well I haven't blown up a heat barrier since.
So as I wait for my reprap hardware to arrive, I've been reviewing my past week, I realized that I could almost quantify an entire week of my life in a physical manner. Essentially every second of down time I had was devoted to printing my reprap, The below picture represents just over 80 hours of my life last week, combine that with roughly 24 credits of school, and you have one extremely busy week!
I didn't include all the electronics, nor did I include all the steppers, but I'm essentially using the Makerbot electronics, with Lin Engineering steppers for my projects. Hopefully I'll have time this coming weekend to put everything together and I'll soon have a working reprap, you'll be hearing from me soon when it's all done!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Today I stumbled upon a transcript from a (rather inspiring) speech given by science fiction author Bruce Sterling at a 2004 computer graphics conference.
Sterling begins by giving a brief treatment of the different classes of objects that humans have created throughout history: Artifacts, Machines, Products, Gizmos, and Blobjects. And marching after these classes of objects, says Sterling, will come the Spimes.
Spimes are objects that are "have identities, they are protagonists of a documented process." In Sterling's imagination, Spimes reveal to you information about their origin, ownership, ingredients, ways to customize, and market value. Spimes can update themselves and inform you when they need service. Spimes are open and transparent.
And, perhaps most relevant to the LearnMakeCupcake project—"A true Spime creates spime wranglers. Wranglers are the class of people willing to hassle with Spimes. And it is a hassle. An enormous hassle. But its a fruitful hassle. It is the work of progress. Handled correctly, it can undo the harm of the past and enhance what is to come."
Sterling does not, however, suggest that his vision is without menaces, without a potential dark side. I am in agreement with Sterling there. That's why I want to be a Spime Wrangler. That's why I do HCDE.
The above was written on Thursday afternoon, the day after our weekly Wednesday meeting. Discovery Days is said and done and we're on to continue our project of development in Wearable Social technology.
On Wednesday we had an impromptu arduino session lead by Alexis. The Lillypad and arduino kits had come in and we were overcome with joy. (Pictures incoming) We learned about how to program the arduino to blink. The arduinos use a programming language that needs to compiled tested then uploaded to the arduino.
With the knowledge that we accumulate in the next weeks are so, we hope to develop a system that will bring us closer to Wearable Social Technology.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
But we then went to Makerbot Madness at Metrix on Saturday (4/10) where everyone was more than helpful to help us diagnose our printing problem...While there we did manage to blow up another PTFE Thermal Barrier, number 3 if you've been keeping track. But luckily Matt told us to turn down our temperature and slow down our printing speed. This did wonders for us! Frank has been printing up a storm. I essentially spent the past 48 hours making parts and playing with Skeinforge settings. Check it out!
So what you're seeing here are:
1.75x Wade's Geared Extruder bodies
2.5x Coin-op bottle openers cut
3.5x Makerbot Keychains
1x Coin-op bottle opener
1x Deluxe Makerbot light
When I tried to print Wade's Geared Extruder (The guys at Metrix are using the same style on their Reprap)I just couldn't get Frank to lay down even layers. As you'll see in the following pictures, either the base/raft is warped or somewhere mid-print the layer get's shifted, mind you these prints take just over 2 hours to complete so it's always a fun surprise to come back and seethe slightly distorted mess that Frank creates. From what I hear heated build platforms help take care of the warping issues, and make the material strong so I don't have to use as complicated fill's to make the object rigid...we'll see though.
Warped base and crooked layers. :(
OR maybe I roll the dice on PLA
Monday, April 5, 2010
In the interest of expanding my mind and doing a better job of documenting this project I started reading two books:
Year's Best SF 14 (borrowed from Alexis) and Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. I won't know if these books will influence my participation in this project until we dig into things a bit more, but I will keep you posted. Naturally I hope I can take some decent fieldnotes now. Reading SF was about expanding my mind and trying to see the potential of technology. I can't tell if it worked.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Prior to the break, Bre came to Seattle and showed off his...shall we say "pimped out" Makerbot...making our Makerbot look quite boring. This inspired our group to try and customize ours too, so we ordered some LED's. Now I already had a few thousand LED's in my possesion so instead of buying a LED rope...I figured I'd just build one.
Yes it probably would've been faster if I bought an LED rope light...But where's the fun in that.
Along with pimping our Makerbot, we're looking at ideas of how to continue our research this quarter. A few ideas we had were, an Arduino project of sorts, building a reprap, a 3D scanner, and/or something along the lines of wearable computing. More on this later.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
In this tangle of noodles, failed rafts, and half printed objects, we have these guys
one Android head and one bottle opener....both turned out pretty nicely, but upon first use, the bottle opener failed...
At that point, everything went down hill, partly due to me and partly due to frankenbot getting tired. After printing the bottle opener, I remembered that Matthew at Metrix told us to make sure that the z-axis components were tightened, so I partially took apart Frank and tightened up the components. When I tried to print again, the plastruder kept getting jammed. The last 3 hours of my day were spent troubleshooting and trying to figure out why frank would print half of the raft then unexpectedly have the feed get jammed. I suspect something is misaligned, or not getting heated properly, so we'll be taking the plastruder apart and investigating the problem.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
As my quarter with LearnMakeCupcake comes to a close I think retrospectively about what I've learned from this group. Yay, I know how to put a MakerBot together!
The people at Metrix Creat:Space: I would list all of them but (feeling like a douche) I've forgotten some of their names and don't want anyone to feel less important than the other, because everyone helped make our learning possible. Having a face-to-face with people who have developed their version of the MakerBot with or without a kit, unlike our fancy shmancy batch 9/10 model, made for the perfect "guerilla learning" session each time we went into Metrix. They've tested their models and passed their knowledge of the trial and tribulations to us. Their demeanor was welcoming, patient and open, which increased my yearning for more. Can you imagine wanting to spend your Saturday night working on electronics in a basement? I can, and have fun doing it.
Alex, Alexis, Cristina, Kate and Kevin have been a constant source of inspiration and geekiness. Throw their names at anyone in the department and they'll tell you, "Ouch," (I'll be here all week! Tip your waiter/waitress!) then they will let you know that we have some of the brightest minds on our department.
Beth, who has led the MakerBot effort, is nothing short of the "most patient person in the world". Thank you.
I still have a video and some pictures to upload... Looking forward to next quarter.
Monday, March 8, 2010
I'm glad my introduction to Bre was face to face, and that I wasn't starstruck because that's always awkward, isn't it? When I got home, I did a Google search and it pulled up 18,700 images of Bre in like, you know, 1.2 seconds. Including this one of our research group with Bre tonight at Metrix. (We're looking off into the not so distant future when our Makerbot actually works.)
Bre told me we really don't need endstop triggers. He also wrote this amazing blog entry about sharing. I found out from Google that Bre has been a schoolteacher and puppeteer, and I would have liked to ask him about those experiences. Oh well, maybe next time. Until then, I am sure I can read all about it online.
Friday, March 5, 2010
"Ugh, that is a terrible policy!" I said.
"No it's not," Sam responded.
"Why not?" I was a bit curious how he was going to defend something so blatantly absurd.
"It's a good skill to have," he informed me. I paused and thought about it for a moment. I haven't actually owned a computer in awhile, and I really need one. I have been dreading buying one because they are always so annoying...filled with a bunch of junk that takes ages to load, plus I am always worried I bought the "wrong" one, you know, there are so many brands, plus they are so expensive and then you will probably get robbed or it will break...I have a lot of very solid reasons for not owning a computer in 2010. Finally I responded,
"Well, we should build one then. Together. You know, quality time."
In case you think this exchange is embellished or fabricated: yes, I tend to exaggerate. But this really did happen, and it wouldn't have happened nine weeks ago. What is happening to me?
Oh, and I kind of figured out how this project connects to HCDE, and how HCDE connects to what I want to do. I know everyone's really been on the edge of their respective seats about this stuff, but you'll just have to wait for my next blog entry.
One more thing...you may have noticed that I just learned how to link to stuff (where will this new-found facility with technology end? Okay so linking is not exactly technical if you're using Blogger) so I want to say thank you to Metrix for all their support and enthusiasm for this project. I'm going to be at Metrix a week from this Sunday for the intro to electronics class, you know, not that I need an intro class; could probably actually wire a house like, in five minutes, by myself. I'm kind of a natural at these technical sorts of things.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Check out Kate, Darivanh and Kevin (from left to right). Gosh, we're hot!
In other news, I had just installed the Z endstops when I came across this step:
Make endstop triggers - Endstop triggers can be constructed of any long, reasonably thin, opaque object. Popsicle sticks (craft sticks) are popular choices. You can cut rectangle of thick card, as well. Paint your triggers matte black to make them a bit more reliable.
I don't have any popsicle sticks, nor did I know I would need any, or else I would have enjoyed some popsicles earlier today. Seriously, this is another instance where I feel betrayed by these instructions. You could argue that I should have read through the instructions before starting, but that's not really how we do things around here...
There's a paragraph at top of this section that explains that you don't really need endstops, but it fails to mention that endstops aren't supplied in the kit. I think we need endstops, so I am going to the store to buy popsicles.
How to Write Instructions
1. Write instructions in the imperative mood.
2. Tell the reader what he or she needs to know before he or she needs to know it.
3. Avoid imprecise language like "reasonably thick" and "a bit more reliable." What does reasonably thick mean? Can I use a piece of paper? What about cardboard, is that too thick? Why would painting a popsicle stick make it more reliable?
The super glue is half-empty, boxes have been opened, and within all our lungs there has accumulated soldering smoke. Unto blogs, posts have been made. Contacts reached. Parts lost and found and shipped and broken.
And we're not done yet.
The most surprising thing to me about this whole project is how a grad student, several seniors, and me -- a lowly junior -- can come together with our various skills, and not be "above" any other person. We're all new, I know I certainly hadn't heard of a makerBot before this, as hadn't some others. I haven't felt for a moment that what I had to offer the team was unneeded, or that our academic levels of experience set anyone either ahead or behind. I think this is a kind of educational system that just works.
Sure, it's slower. In the back of my head the whole time, I'm like, any of us could totally whip this out if there weren't 5 other folks also wanting to learn this thing at the same time. It's like 7 people all trying to swim laps in kiddie pool. But that's not the point. The point is that when it when it comes down to it, I'm confident any single member of the team could now sit down and teach another group. Easy. With significantly fewer read-through of the wiki.
There's so much potential here. It's almost staggering, surreal, when you really stop. And think. We're printing our own stuff.
I'm free from the market.
Well, at least almost.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
UPDATE: So we didn't know what the heck Kapton was. It's " polyimide film developed by DuPont which can remain stable in a wide range of temperatures" (thanks Wikipedia). The picture in the instructions makes it look like the washer with three holes in it is called a "Kapton" because there's an arrow point to the washer that says in huge letters: KAPTON. So we ordered kapton and we should have ordered a washer. Metrix Create: Space saved the day; Matt gave us a spare. Hero.
Since we can’t move forward without the replacement parts, we spent the meeting discussing data collection and potential grants for this project. Beth asked us to articulate how our project connects with HCDE, so you may see a few blog posts exploring this topic.
Also, the MakerBot group has agreed to present a poster at the College of Engineering’s open house, “Discovery Days,” on April 23rd and 24th (http://www.engr.washington.edu/alumcomm/openhouse.html). Come check us out!
Here's a picture I took of the broken (middle) filament guide, because pictures are fun:
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Making the makerbot week 3
After a small debacle/confusion last week over the assembly of the x-y axis, Bre emailed us and informed us that we had a 9th batch makerbot. This was very important because in the 10th batch many parts were changed. Today we discovered that, contrary to popular belief, the kit we had, as I termed it, was a frankenbot. As Darivanh assembled the z-axis, she discovered that she was missing the proper plates to support the z-stage on the 4 threaded rods. After searching high and low for the proper pieces, someone happened to change the assembly instructions to the 10th batch page, and lo and behold, the instructions for the 10th batch worked for our makerbot. We quickly found the parts that we needed and Darivanh, Kate, and Cristina quickly assembled the z-axis for the “frankenbot”. While this was all going on, I was wrestling with assembling the plastruder. Alex had soldered together the temp sensor and after Darivanh’s run to the AA wind tunnel (her friend who works there had a multi-meter) we were able to cut the Nichrome heating wire and solder it leads. After Alex soldered the these two items, we discovered that even though we had most of the correct parts for the 9th batch, we were missing a bolt for x y assembly, thusly we sent him on a quest for the bolt.
While he was out, and Darivanh and Katie were assembling the z-stage Katie had a question about the stepper controller. This was because the instructions for called for the installation of the z-stage caused a great deal of confusion. The instructions described the stepper controller using 2 different names. The other confusing part in the instructions was that the orientation in the following pictures was changed and the devices did not look the same. However, it only took a few moments to decipher the image and the image and help Kate on her way.
This week the makerbot made a significant amount of progress, and it looks more like a working product than ever before. Hopefully everything will continue fairly smoothly and we’ll have a working machine in no time.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Morgan was our instructor that evening. He introduced himself as an EE graduate at the UW (Yay!) and loved teaching and it shows. Morgan was able to place all knowledge based material on a level agreed by the class. He made it a point to ask if anyone had questions about the material discussed. More importantly when he answered it was in a manner that was encouraging and comforting. Although this was an introductory class he did not speak down to us and tried to walk us through any trouble we might have.
The class progressed by simple configures on a bread board (using a tool kit provided by Metrix, including wires, resistors, etc...) to a more complex structure. 4 or 5 electronic configurations total.
Some of the students had trouble lighting the LED and Morgan, with his understanding tone, ensured us that we would personally receive help from him. I had the toughest time with my last configuration. Alexis, another classmate, and Morgan were assisting. Keeping the other classmates in mind, and without rushing me, he was able to walk me through each step without a demeaning tone/manner.
Metrix, yet again, has surprised me (in a good way). Morgan was an EE "nerd" and he was so personable. Morgan, if you ever read this... You're awesome! Electronics has always been an inaccessible realm of knowledge for me and this class has definitely squelched my fear of learning more. Though I'm almost positive I'll still have some form of electronics blow up in face.
I put neodymium magnets into the wooden building platform and the Y Stage pieces using the allen wrench and pushed the magnets into square holes within the pieces. The magnets are cube shaped and golden in color. Not on the “shopping list” was super glue. It is used to keep the magnet in the holes.
Alex has assigned Cristina to pull parts together in an organized fashion; gathering the materials of certain parts of the Makerbot. The pieces are laser cut onto wooden boards and we take them apart by pulling them up from the board, like a jigsaw puzzle.
As I was helping Cristina gather the materials, we were having a hard time distinguishing the difference between the different nuts and bolts. Would be great to have them all labeled without having the time consuming task of looking it up online.
Alex gave me the assignment of putting the body together. I used the wiki for instructions and the parts list. The parts of the pictures list were different and only afterward did I read the note that stated the pictures were from an earlier batch and may be different. We marked the nuts and bolts bags, because they were not clearly marked.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
As I sat and chatted with one of my teammates--at the same time trying to carefully follow some online documentation for the Makerbot--I realized that I was feeling much more more relaxed and willing to enjoy the process of collaboration than last week. No time for social anxieties here--Christina and I had a very concrete and shared goal: construct the X stage. Alex and Kevin worked on building the Y stage, and Darivanh (after being kind enough to set up a computer in the corner to help the rest of us record our data) built the outer frame of our Cupcake. By the end of today's build session, we all looked pretty damn proud of ourselves.
After finishing up all of that, Christina, Kevin and I decided to go to this month's Dorkbot meeting--conveniently held on the University of Washington campus. There were some interesting speakers tonight: Dominic Muren (an industrial design professor at UW), Willow Brugh (director of Jigsaw Renaissance, a makerspace in West Seattle), and Matt Westervelt (who we met a couple weeks ago on our field trip to Metrix: Create Space). The three of them talked about 3d fabrication, makerspaces, and the do-it-with-others (as opposed to DIY) ethic. At the ten minute break, one of the organizers mentioned that there were five times more people in attendance than usual. I felt like I was witnessing the seeds of some sort of revolution.
I'd heard about Dorkbot before, but was always too afraid to go. Meeting new people--especially those who strike me as particularly intelligent and creative--has always been kind of scary for me. But, aided by the presence of my teammates, I managed to work up the courage to check it out tonight--and I'm glad I did. The overwhelming sense of warmth, community and excitement I experienced at Dorkbot soothed any remaining nerves I might have had on the way there. The values that everyone in the (extremely crowded) room seemed to share were infectious and inspiring. I left thinking about the importance of cultivating sustainable and creative communities, making learning fun, and taking time to enjoy the process of creation as much as the product.
My fear of going to Dorkbot sort of brings me to what I hope to get out of participating in this project. Obviously, the goal is to learn how to build a Makerbot. But it's also a little more than that. For me, it is about learning to be fearless, both in terms of my interactions with other people and the things I choose to learn and do. I'm tired of being too scared to engage with the world in the way I want to, and this project seemed like a great way to kickstart the process of reversing that fear. I want to be able to be a part of the community of learners and doers that exists right around me. So that--and getting to play around with some seriously cool technology--is what motivates me to come to this little windowless lab every week and sort through nuts and bolts of various sizes.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I also know they'll all read this at some point.
Hang on. I'm going to ask them a question.
"Raise your hand if you're having fun!"
5 hands raised. Actually four. One responds, "Me! I can't raise my hand because I'm twisting." Twisting wire, that is.
Now I'm going to stop writing about them. Because let's face it -- it's kind of weird.
But we've got data collection processes in place, lots of photographs uploaded, and multiple collaborative workspaces in the cloud. It's interesting to see the need for new collaborative tools emerge as our work processes change.
We're on the cusp of completely destabilizing the world's economy as it exists today. Seriously, it's ridiculous, and yet completely enthralling. And it's happening now, all over the country, in cafes and garages. In research groups and basements.... one soldiered OptiSensor at a time. It's incredible, and yet even I can have a hand in this new Industrial Revolution of sorts.
It didn't really hit me until we got the components, a rather intimidating assortment of odds and ends to be quite honest. Each in their own bags, the future awaiting to be assembled. Immediately, I wanted to dive in! To grab a bag and have at it, some may say this is evidence of a vein of recklessness in me, I'd like to call it a Spirit of Adventure, but regardless of my personal inhibitions there was also the group to consider. I guess I realized in that moment that we're all trying to learn, and to accommodate each of our goals is going to be tricky but necessary.
Huzzah to the builders of tomorrow's builders! =)
Monday, February 1, 2010
Our last meeting reminded me of a reality TV show: This is the true story of six strangers picked to inhabit a windowless room and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start building a MakerBot.
It’s one thing to order a MakerBot kit, unpack it, and decide for yourself how you want to proceed. It’s quite another to negotiate building a long-ish term project with six other people.
A couple group members wanted to dive right in—that is, grab whatever parcels they fancied and set to work immediately. Other group members objected to this method, on the grounds that the goal was for each of us to gain literacy (of a sort) with each component of the MakerBot.
In the midst of it all, surrounded by plastic-wrapped bundles of hardware, I realized I wasn’t sure what my own goals are for the project. Do I want to be able to make a MakerBot from start to finish, all on my own? Do I want to be able to share technical skills I have learned? Am I interested in acquiring technical skills, or am I interested simply in articulating how I acquire technical skills?
A little background about me: In my house, if a light bulb burns out, I declare the lamp “broken.” If the battery in my watch dies, the watch retires to my junk drawer forevermore. To be perfectly honest, “defragging” sounds like something you do to get rid of a Fraggle infestation.
I know, I know… as an HCDE Masters student, I need technical skills in order to be competitive in the Real World. And so far I’m still figuring out what skills I need, let alone how I will acquire those skills. Community college coding classes? Electronics for Dummies? Informal tech communities?
At this point, my goals are best described by a HCDE buzzword: emergent. But the task of defining and pursuing my goals is rather more urgent.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Building and Soldering
We weren’t quite sure how to begin; there was no instruction manual. Nothing in the box indicated a starting point. We decided to pull up the wiki and see if that would help. I remembered that we needed items from our “shopping list”, which included: a soldering iron, some soldering material, wood glue, and tape. Kevin mentioned that he had a soldering iron and some material in his office, which he retrieved. I asked the main office for some tape. When I returned we scanned through the wiki for a starting point. To get to the guide on the wiki we clicked on the ‘CupCake CNC’ link at the top of the left-vertical navigation bar. The “Before You Build” link is on that page and houses the list for our “shopping list.” There were some sequential material regarding the materials, but everyone was so excited to start the building that we jumped ahead to the electronics assembly.
Alex and Kevin led us in building the assembly. There were six boards we needed to build and there were six groupmates so we all grabbed a board and with Alex’s guidance we were able distinguish the names of the pieces and how they fit onto the board. We followed the link shown on the wiki and piece-by-piece each built the assembly. Some of the questions that arose were:
- “Is there a wrong direction to putting in the resistor?”
No the resistor could be placed in any direction as long as each is placed in the correct holes.
- “How do we know which resistor goes where?”
The wiki shows us the correct order. The resistors are distinguishable by colored stripes.
- “Which end of the LED goes in where?”
This was the most difficult issue we dealt with (besides where to start and how to choose a leader). As we scrolled down, there was a step on the LED. The instruction mentioned something about the short wire of the LED being adjacent to the flat portion of the silkscreen. We did not know what that meant. Alex looked at the board and noticed that the white print on the board has a flat portion where the LED is to be placed.
Soldering could now begin. Kevin checked on the soldering iron that plugged in before we started but returning to it he realized that it did not get hot. The plug was in, so Kevin jiggled the plug and for some reason it started getting hot. As Kevin worked on the soldering iron, Alex noticed that we just set up 2 extra assemblies. We only needed 4 of the assemblies and needed (2) 3 pinned assemblies. After having some trouble taking the 2 extra assemblies apart, I helped Alex with that board since I had nails.
Kevin was able to show us how to solder the pieces to the board. This is done when the soldering iron is hot. Kevin and Alex assured us that if a mistake is made while soldering fixing the solder would require merely taking the bad solder off and redoing the solder. The metal parts of the pieces that stuck out from the board were bent to avoid falling out of the board when soldering. Placing the board upside down; metal pieces sticking up, Kevin used the wire (which we were told is made of led and instructed to wash our hands afterward) by touching it against the metal and melting the wire onto the metal piece creating a metal bond. Kevin also instructed us to breathe out as we are soldering to avoid breathing in the fumes and to cool the melted bond. Alexis was able to try her hand at soldering and received praise by Kevin for her clean soldering.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints the remainder of the group was not able to solder.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I am an all around geek. Luckily I’m in the HCDE undergraduate program which lets me dabble in all things technical, from ideation to creation, I have some technical skill to help the process along. I am personally vested in ubiquitous computing and it’s implication of the loss of privacy, interaction design, self-directed learning, and the social impact of current web technologies (alteration of social dynamics). I also have an unbridled passion for anything technical and mechanical, I love to watch and figure out how things work. Let the Makerbot madness begin!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
We want to advocate for making things rather than consuming them. Creating culture rather than passively bystanding. Figuring out how to get some technical chops when you come late to the geek table.
This is actually a research project by a group in the Human Centered Design & Engineering department at the University of Washington. We're affiliated with the Design for Digital Inclusion Lab. This post is being written by Beth Kolko, director of that lab.
This is a project that is about both research and education. It grows out of my desire to better understand innovation, which in turn grows out of many years of fieldwork around the world and studies of how people adopt and adapt technology in places ranging from Liberia to Uzbekistan. Over the next few months this group of students is going to build a CupcakeCNC 3d printer, master the art of making things with it, and teach other students how to make things -- and they are going to document their journey. They're not especially technical (although 3 of the 6 claim to have at least held a soldering iron before), and they've got only themselves and the Internet to lead them. Together we are both researchers and study subjects, and we'll be participant-observing ourselves.
But this isn't about methodology. It's about discovery. And with luck, it will also be about learning a little more about how people learn complex skills, how they open to innovation, and how education can respond in creative ways to new models of inquiry.
Also, it's about fun.