20. Project development

Since this is the last week before our Final Projects are due, a large part of what I worked on this week was just that, my final project.

The assignment this week was a little unclear, but I think that I’m supposed to be answering a few questions about my final project while also coming up with a plan for the creation of, and the time management around, my final project.

The license that I have chosen for my project is the Creative-Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike liscense. This means that people can use my work, but they have to credit me fully, they cant use my work to make money, and they have to licence any work they do off of mine under the exact same license.


The questions that I am supposed to be answering are as follows.

-what tasks have been completed, and what tasks remain? -what has worked? what hasn’t? -what questions need to be resolved? -what will happen when? -what have you learned?

At this point, I’ve completed all of the physical work for my final project. It’s all here, it’s all made, and most importantly, It Works!! The only work I have left now is to make the Video and the Slide for my final presentation day on wednesday, June 19th.

As for what has worked and what hasn’t. Well, honestly, that’s a really broad question because every single part of my project so far has technically either worked or not worked. I’ll focus on some of the main highlights here.

Things that worked

Luckily for me, my infrared boards all worked out pretty well. The layout and the board design itself was actually perfect right off the bat, but the milling of the board would come into play as an issue later on down the road. Another thing that worked really well was the 3D printed parts this week. Most of them, except for the display box, all worked correctly on the first go, and I was really happy with how they all came out. The last thing I wanna talk about was the laser cutting. Those two parts that I cut out came out really well, fit in perfectly, and give my project a really nice touch.

Things that didn’t work

Now comes the fun part, all the things that didn’t work out along the way. Well, first of all, the project itself has taken a pretty big turn from what I originally wanted it to be at the start of this class. I guess you could consider that as something that didn’t work since it definitely didn’t turn out as expected? Another thing that didn’t really work was the 3D printed part for the display box. After about four iterations, I was able to print one that worked fine, but that’s still four 3d printed parts that just flat out didn’t work. I also had trouble with the wiring between all of the boards for a while. Whether it was a bad solder connection or just a bad jumper wire, I couldn’t seem to get away from the connectivity issues until I just used my own jumpers that I made in the end. The last main thing that didn’t really work at first was the code. My code would turn the LED lights on when I wanted it to, but then it would stay on, (Not what I wanted to happen). After talking to Dr. Adam Harris, though, I was able to eventually resolve the issue, and I was back on track.

What Questions need to be resolved

At this point, I don’t really have any big questions about the project that need to be resolved. Earlier in the week, though, one of my main concerns for the project was the eventual power supply that I would use. My question that tied into that was, “what is the collective draw of all the circuits in my project?” I wanted to know what the draw would be so that I could determine whether or not I should use a standard power supply found in the lab, (like a basic 5v 1A brick), or a custom one that I would have to make for my project specifically, (like say, 12v 4A). I measured out the circuits and did the math, and I was happy to find that my project will only use 920 mA, meaning I have more than enough leeway to use a basic 1A power supply.

What will happen when

At this point, the only things left to really “happen” are my final slide and video, as well as the actual presentations themselves. I will upload the correct Slide and Video tomorrow, on Tuesday, and I will give my presentation the day after that, on Wednesday at 9am.

What have you learned

Short answer: Allot. Real answer: Honestly I’m not sure if I could fit all of that information into just one weeks worth of documentation. Since the start of fabacademy, basically all I did was learn new things.

I had no idea what a milling machine even was a few months ago, much less how to use one. Now here I am making my own custom boards and milling them out like it’s just second nature.

At the start of this class, I really only had a vague idea as to what the capabilities of a 3D printer were, and I had only seen them in person a handful of times. Now, I’ve enjoyed 3D printing so much that I even got my own to have at home along the way.

There’s so many new skills, like vinyl cutting, soldering, and even just how to operate a CNC machine, skills that I didn’t even know existed before this. Now I’m cutting vinyl, soldering boards (surface mount mind you, not just through hole), and milling molds with ease.

I’ve learned how to work under pressure with the rapid fire assignments week after week. At first it was a beatdown, but by the end of it now I’m actually glad that I got the opportunity to work in such a high-octane environment with so many deadlines and expectations. It was definitely tough, but it was also great preparation for what college might be like in the years to come.

Another thing I have learned is how to manage my time better, and how to keep track of assignments and due dates in a much more efficient way. After 20 weeks of brand new material with just one short break in between, I’m pretty accustomed to working for longer periods of time and keeping track of lots of things at once. I’ve gotten better at managing the daily tasks that come along with Fabacademy, and in that process I think I’ve been able to streamline some of the other parts of my personal life as a side effect.

The list goes on and on. This class has really taught me so much, and going by what I knew at the start of it all, I might as well be a new person now. I remember starting the class and thinking to myself about what I would eventually do “If” I was able to complete it, not “When”. Now, here I am.

As for what I have learned specifically from just this project? Well, there’s allot of that, too.

I’d say the main thing that I learned through this project was just how to use infrared light as a sensor, as well as all of the capabilities that come with it. When you really get down to it, the actual sensor thats behind the project is an Infrared Light Phototransistor, but when you think about it, that phototransistor wouldn’t be able to do what it needs to do without any infrared light, which means the Infrared LED is really just as important. This kind of leads me to look at the Infrared circuit as a group of components that can be allot of different sensors. You can make motion sensors with them as well as presence sensors(that’s what I did), and in the broader scope of Infrared light as a whole, the possibilities are almost endless. There’s thermal cameras, night vision, infrared based telescopes, and even some art restoration. Infrared can be used to do so much, and I’m glad I got to learn how to use it for just a little bit of what it is capable of.

From completing this project, I also learned how to make my own headers and jumper wires with a crimping tool. Now, I can turn any wire I want, be it solid core or stranded, into a breadboard-compatible wire.

The other main parts of this project were made using skills that I learned all throughout Fabacademy, so none of them can really be accredited to this one single project.


I’m documenting this after I finished the physical work on my final, so it’s a little hard to come up with an entire plan at this point. I can say with confidence, however, that I have stuck to Neil’s original advice about spiral development since the beginning. In this project specifically, I started by just trying to make one Infrared circuit, then I made one board with all four circuits on it, then I made the whole array, then came the power supply, etc.


I didn’t follow a specific timeline when working on my project, but looking back on it now I can at least say what I worked on and when.

Infrared Boards (January 16th-Present) I’ve been thinking about how I would arrange and make the infrared boards since the beginning of the class basically. I didn’t actually cut out my first board until around may 30th, though.

3D Printed Control Box (May 31st) The control box didn’t take that long to make, only about a day in fact.

Molded Feet (June 4th) I milled out the mold and poured the casts for the four feet on that friday.

3D Printed Feet Mount (June 5th) I printed out the mounts after I had a few working feet ready to go.

Display Boards (June 6th-11th) I started working on the display boards right after I finished up the infrared ones. They didn’t take me quite as long to perfect, though.

3D Printed Display Case (June 12th) The printed display box was also pretty quick to finish up.

Embedded programming (June 13th) I programmed all of the display boards after I had a working case to hold them.

Wiring and Power Supply (June 15th) I came in on that Saturday to work on the power supply and all of the wiring for it.

Laser Cutting (June 17th) Laser Cutting was one of the last things I did for my final project.


Here are all of my files from my final project.

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