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3.5 Group Project- Computer-Controlled Cutting

This week, Avery, Charlie, Nidhie, Scott and I were tasked with testing different parameters (kerf, speed, power, frequency, rate, and joint type and joint clearance) of the laser cutters in the CLS Fab Lab. Wednesday afternoon, we got to work with this task. We were all involved in all of the tests– discussing them, setting up the tests, and interpreting the results. I was actually really proud of how well we tackled the work and completed each test. During this very long evening of work, all team members also met with Dr. Adam Harris to discuss our final projects individually. As each member went in and out of the laser cutting testing, we were quick to bring each group member up to speed.

At the start of the testing, we discussed the comb that Dr. Gershenfeld mentioned in the weekly zoom meeting. We knew that we needed to use Fusion 360 or SolidWorks to design the comb, and we split the group. Half of us looked for documents on the Internet that are used to test parameters of the laser cutters, and Charlie and I started to design what we thought was the “comb” test. As Charlie began to design, I started to look for and test the file types that could be utilized in taking a file from Fusion 360 (.dxf) to Corel Draw (.svg–what our laser cutters use in the CLS Fab Lab).

I first tried to find an online file converter. I found this site and this site. The first site did not work, and with the second site, I was able to convert the file from .dxf to .svg, but when I went to open the .svg in Corel Draw, the file was blank and had an error message on the sides. I found out that Microsoft has an app that can convert a .dxf to a .svg. When I tried to download this app, it was more involved than I cared for, so I abandoned it.

Charlie mentioned an extension that we could purchase for Fusion 360 to convert the file. We all agreed to go in and purchase it. Before purchasing, Charlie suggested we search to see if SolidWorks would be able to create an svg. Charlie then logged onto his SolidWorks account and pulled up the cube I had designed. As he did this, I went onto the Internet again and searched “can solidworks export svg files”? I clicked on this site, and it led me to this page (a site where the guy created a macro to convert solid works files to svg files).

At this point, we felt like we were traveling in the wrong direction. We switched to fusion 360 for the sole reason that Charlie was more well-versed with Fusion 360. We also were able to export the file as a .pdf from Fusion 360.

I was the first one to meet with Dr. Harris, and I gleaned a lot from that meeting. My biggest concern with my final project is in obtaining SpaceX launch data, programming the ATTiny with the code, and getting the launch sequence started in the project (using code). We conducted an Internet search together, and I realized that launch data from a few different websites could be “scraped” and utilized. I also discussed the mechanical movement of my rocket’s launch sequence, and again, I was reassured that the horizontal rail with vertical lift system could be utilized as planned. However, Dr. Harris informed me that my project needed more inputs. We discussed this for a few minutes, and later (after Dr. Harris spoke to Dr. David Taylor), we decided that a good “input” to my final project would be to get my grandson to somehow interact with the device. I do think this is going to be a more difficult piece of the project.

When I left the meeting with Dr. Harris, I met up with the group in the laser cutting room, where Charlie and Scott had the focus test set up on the Epilog Fusion Pro-48 laser cutter. I was able to join in on the testing of the focus parameter and help collect the data for it. Avery then joined us in the focus testing, and from there, Nidhie and I began testing with the power parameter on the Fusion Epilog M2.

To see the summation of our work, please visit this page on our site.

Before any members of our group could add our gathered data to the group website, we all had to clone the respoitory for it. As I worked to get this set up for the group, I was not able to determine the correct path. Avery– who is more well-versed in computer programming– took over and created the branch for the group. We were all sent a link for us to copy and enter into the command prompt (or powershell). I spent the next three days working on the other aspects of my weekly assignment.

Today (Monday), Charlie and I sat down together to work on our group site. As we both began to open the software, we realized we both had issues with using the correct link to clone the repository. We called Avery, and she was able to talk Charlie and I through our issues. However, I had a fatal problem accessing my own individual website again through Visual Studio. Somewhere, I was not logged out of one branch, and the communication to the other branch was no longer acessible. I decided to “Uninstall” Visual Studio (which I am learning to love!), and to “Reinstall” it. When I went to reinstall it, I was getting an error message that Visual Studio could not install because of a particular (previous) file still existing. As I read the error message out loud in my office, colleage Zack Budzichowski overheard me and said “I know how to fix that”. I thought he was kidding, but indeed, Zack was able to show me what the problem was. I was able to follow to the problematic files location, and simply renaming that file with “-old”, the Visual Studio App was able to be reinstalled. When I started working again, I realized that there was a new function in Visual Studio where file insertion names are actually now autofilled. This is incredibly helpful– especially with images.

With the newly installed Visual Studio, I was able to upload the information that I was responsible for our group– DPI and frequency.

Last update: February 18, 2022