Week 16: Applications & Implications

What should I do this week?

In this sixteenth week of Fab Academy, the goal is to propose a final project masterpiece that integrates the range of units covered. Although my inital idea was to make a novel cloth dryer for my apartment, due to limitation of time I pivoted the final project to a cooler one. Further learnings are listed below:

  • Demonstrate the 2D and 3D Designs.
  • Explain the manufacturing process used
  • Design the Electronics board, interface and program it
  • Think about the system intergration process and packaging
  • Prepare a schedule and proposed finish dates including contingency
  • Research about the use of the project, inspiration, requirements and cost of componenets
  • Question yourself!

Questions to be answered?

  • What will it do?
  • Who has done what beforehand?
  • What will you design?
  • What materials and components will be used?
  • Where will they come from?
  • How much will they cost?
  • What parts and systems will be made?
  • What processes will be used?
  • What questions need to be answered?
  • How will it be evaluated?

Week 16: Action Plan

WednesdayProf. Neil's class on Appications and Implications
FridayReseach about similar projects, parts etc.
SaturdayPrepare bill of materials
SundayIntrospect whether this project can be done within the given time
TuesdayReview & Mentor Feedback

What will I do?

Background Study

I hail from state of Kerala, India which is known as "Gods own Country". The state is known for its tropical climate with a backwaters, beautiful beaches, buildings with historic importance etc. Everything was going fine till 2018. On 16 August 2018, severe floods affected the south Indian state Kerala, due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flood in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 483 people died, and 140 are missing. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. The main reason behind the flood was the heavy downpour where, Kerala received heavy monsoon rainfall, which was about 116% more than the usual rain fall in Kerala, on the mid-evening of 8 August, resulting in dams filling to their maximum capacities. Almost all dams had been opened since the water level had risen close to overflow level due to heavy rainfall, flooding local low-lying areas. Research from Purdue, IIT researchers reconfirmed the fact that the rainfall was the reason for this disaster, not the mismanagament of dams. Even though rescue activites were taking place in full fledge, Over 483 people died, and 140 are missing, while The Economic Times reported that 33,000 people were rescued.

Credits: Down to Earth Media

One of the reasons for the death was improper weather alert system before the flood. In state of Kerala, people normally don't check the weather as they find it inaccurate based on the trends but this is not the case in foreign countries, were weather forcast is given atmost importance and accuracy.

So my idea is to create a table top weather map for the state of Kerala, where it depict the rainfall warnings through visual indications. In laymman terms, each district will have a LED alert system where it continuosly change it's color depending upon the data from disaster management authorities. If a district say Kochi, is predicted to receive heavy rainfall within 24 hours, the district of Kochi in the weather map will turn from green to red color. This device will always be connected to the internet and the user can easily check whether they are in risk or not just by looking. You can ask whether this alert can easily be implemented in mobile phones but, I feel this device would automatically grab your eye's attention and would be more useful in evacuation in case of heavy rainfall prediction.

Credits: Reddit

My concept is different from what is shown above, here I am concentrating to the state of Kerala alone, where the device shows heavy rainfall alerts alone which provide a much more accurate experience to the user. Furthermore, the number of cyclone alerts for the state of Kerala is increasing over the past 1 year like Cyclone Tauktae from Arabian sea and Cyclone Yaas from Bay of Bengal. In 2017 Cyclonic Storm Ockhi had killed 143 fishermen in Kerala, uprooted hundreds of trees, snapped power and communication lines, toppled hoardings, destroyed houses and damaged crops across the southern districts. The fatalities could have further reduced with the help of simple alert system which my project is focused on. The below tool gives an insight about the live wind flow across the southern part of India. Credits: Windy

Who has done what beforehand?


This product is not directly related to my idea but the working is similar to that of mine. Meticulously hand-crafted METARmaps™ are functional aviation art which blend advanced computer and print technologies to create living art worthy of a spot on your wall. The METARmaps are available for various states of US, like Illinois, California etc. but they are quite expensive. METARmaps design starts with a portion of beautifully published charts, adds a tiny computer, Wi-Fi and individually addressable LEDs to acquire and display weather data in real-time.

The latest version of this product, functionality includes: selectable Update Sweep, Wind, Gust and Lightning animations, Timed Dimming/Off control and Network connection - all controlled by using your mobile phone. But, I feel this product lack aesthetic appeal since I am planning to make a custom laser cutted and sandblasted map for the state of Kerala, which will definitely look better than a conventional cloth/paper map. For more details about METARmaps click here.

DIY Projects

There are several DIY weather maps which looks similar to the METARmaps. But they all use conventional maps which I think is not cool at all. These DIY projects are mainly for Aviation uses rather than for emergency uses. I will link some of the DIY projects below:

Credits: Rhino Offroad

Credits: Andrew Godwin

What materials and components will be used?

Item No.
13mm Birch Plywood100*100 cmFab InventoryRs.500
2Neopixel LED14 Nos.Robu.inRs.700
3Vinly Sheet10cm*20cmFab InventoryRs. 100
43D Printing PLA Filament200gFab InventoryRs. 550
53mm Acrylic Sheet10cm*10cmFab InventoryRs. 100
6Jumper Wires6Fab InventoryRs. 50
7Copper Sheet10cm*10cmFab InventoryRs. 100
8ESP321Fab InventoryRs. 500
9Resistors2Fab InventoryRs. 10
10Capacitors1Fab InventoryRs. 10
11SMD Buttons2 Fab InventoryRs. 10
13Voltage Regulator 3.3V1Fablab InventoryRs. 20
14SMD LED2Fablab InventoryRs. 20
15DC Connection jack1Fablab InventoryRs. 10
16Fevi Bond Glue1 packetFablab InventoryRs. 40
173mm Foam Board10cm*20cmFablab InventoryRs. 50
18FTDI Cable1Fablab InventoryRs. 100
19IR Proximity Sensor1Fablab InventoryRs. 150
13Miscellaneous5Fablab InventoryRs. 100

What parts and systems will be made?

Majority of the parts for this project requires fabrication. The entire map must be CNC Milled using Wood and Foam Board. The individual neopixel LEDs must be individually wired. The base must be 3D printe using PLA and closed using a laser cutted acrylic sheet. The PCB must also be custom designed, milled and soldered.

What processes will be used?

Laser CuttingTo make the base closure
3D PrintingTo make the base of the map
PCB Designing & MillingTo fabricate the main control board
CNC MillingTo fabricate the map
Vinyl CuttingTo create a sticker for the rear side of the map
Soldering & WiringTo individually connect the LEDs and to solder the components onto the board

What questions need to be answered?

  • How will you design the custom map?
  • I will first take the vector image for the state of Kerala, make necessary corrections and send it to the VCarve Pro software.

  • How does the data get updated?
  • The data will be manually updated by the user from Git and it will be pulled by the ESP32 to update the map

  • What is the input here? Is it the data or is there any other sensor?
  • The data itself is the input here, but inorder to meet the requirements, I will be adding a IR Proximity Sensor.

  • Can you complete this project within time?
  • I have the willpower to complete this before the deadline!

How will it be evaluated?

The project although seems simple, solves a big problem and would definitely be useful for the residents of the state. From my learnings building this small project, I plan to expand this to bigger maps with additional data representation. If possible, I would develop this is as market ready product for the residents of my state.
Jump to top