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Week 19: Project Development

1. Final Project in the Weekly Assignments

Throughout Fab Academy I have been trying to adjust the weekly assignments to themes related to my final project. Some weeks it was easier that others but specially towards the end of the course it became clear how I could connect it all together. For real time information on my progress, see the trello board below:

Fab Academy Final Project

Find below an index summarizing how I applied each week's assignment to the development of my final project:

week 1: Throughout the first weeks, I have been trying to explore molecular shapes of carbon allotropes. This was especially useful when learning how to use software such as Blender or Fusion 360 as I always had a clear model in mind. This way I found out about protein data bank format which is an archive containing codes to numerous atomic structures.

week 3: I experimented with substractive fabrication tools to understand how I can integrate the shapes of carbon allotrope models in my screen structure.

week 4: I produced an ISP programmer that could be used to program the board for my final project.

week 5: 3D Scanning and Printing: I wanted to print the surface (or a small sample thereof) to project on. But by the end of the week, I asked myself: is it really feasible to 3D print a sheet that is 80cm by 100cm big?

week 7: My intention was to design and build a big structure that would hold the screen.

week 10: Input Devices: my first experience with capacitance sensors, the key to my final project.

week 11: Output Devices: This week was specially challenging in terms of the final project. I knew that my installation needed to have both video and audio outputs. Therefore I had to combine them in one single board. Aside from that, I wanted to experiment with custom board shapes. I therefore tried to fit the video and audio output within a simplified shape of a molecule of graphene.

week 12: I wanted my projection to be created with processing. Therefore, before starting the interfacing assignment, I was hoping to go through as many processing tutorials as possible.

week 13: During week 13, I again decided to make three PCBs that replicate the shape of graphene.

week 14: Since week 14 marked the start of our group project, I used these two weeks to reorganize the remaining tasks. I have however started researching different materials I would like to experiment with for wild card week. Below are a couple of tutorials.  
For conductive crystals:
For conductive fabric with crystals on them:

week 16:

For this week I tested different materials that could be used as a screens such as bioplastics or screenprinting with puffy ink. After a lot of trial and error, I realized that it would be very hard to create a controlled and measurable conductive material so I realized, I would have to go for an already existing one. For more details go to my Week 16 page.

Starting on Week 17, I worked full-time on putting my final project together. The process is explained in my Final Project page.

2. Questions

2.1. What is the deadline? How much time do I have left?

I do not know. This has never been clear for continuing students. I am just trying to finish my documentation corrections as soon as possible. At the same time, I have given myself until the fall 2019 to make a more elaborate animation and document it accordingly.

2.2. what tasks have been completed, and what tasks remain?

Please see the public trello board.

Fab Academy Final Project

As of February 2019, all the requirements have been met. I would however want to make improvements so that "Smoke Membrane" is a more solid installation to include in my art portfolio.

2.3. How will I complete the remaining tasks in time?

By managing my time efficiently, moving on when I get stuck on a task and going back to it later. By working as hard as I can.

2.4. What has worked?

- the laser-cut pocket for the electronics lid.
- the unified design of the arch.
- the graphene shape translated into a capacitance sensor matrix!
- the bridges for the copper paths of the screens lattice.

2.5. What has not?

- The 3D printed base is not as refined as I would like. I wish I would have had the time to 3D print the new three part design I made when I realized the printer was struggling with one single piece.
- Making a 3D printed screen.
- Making a screen with screenprinted conductive puffy ink.
- the animation should have taken over the whole surface of the screen.
- I didn't have time to do a life size version of the screen and use the structure I made during "Make something big" week.

Other Improvements:

For more precise touch interactions, consider using both a touch and a pressure sensor.
Design a more elaborate animation on Processing. I want to do more tutorials and carry out my initial idea: animate and project one of the original photographs of the fire.

2.6. What questions still need to be resolved?

How long will my custom PCB last especially if it must power 8 neopixels while running the capacitance sensors?
What RGB patterns and sequences coherent with the animation?
What kind of sound component does this installation need?
How do I make it the interaction more accurate?

2.7. what have you learned?

- How to stay patient when troubleshooting.
- Oftentimes, things that were supposed to work will not do so, even if I had finally understood their theory. I learnt to accept that unpredictability.
- Some other times, things that you know have errors and were thus not supposed to work, will work.
- How to find solutions to complex issues on my own.
- How to challenge myself and to overcome my mental roadblocks.
- Programming and electronics skills I never thought I would be able to understand.
- How to use machines that initially intimidated me such as the CNC machine.
- How to design and make my own machine from scratch!
- How to manage, organize and integrate cables into a tidy and clean system.
- Many more!