ITP Blog

Intro to Fabrication - Week 3

September 20, 2018

This week we were asked to build something using laser cut components. I decided to build a custom case for the reaction timer circuit game I built in Introduction to Physical Computing by modifying laser cutter plans generated using Makercase.com. But before generating the plans, I first sketched out what the case in my notebook.

sketches

I then did a test laser cut using a generic Makercase plan.

test laser

first cut

first case

first case 2

This testing process helped me identify that the plans should be based on the case’s interior dimensions. I then laser cut case closer to my sketches.

bigger box

Oops, forget that the box needs to fit the buzzer along with the Arduino and breadboard… back to the sketch book. This time I sketched a design that was wider so the buzzer and Arduino could be above the breadboard. Making the box wider instead of longer also as the added benefit of not relying on a weaker laser when it gets to the edge of the cutting bed.

sketches again

Then I regenerated a case plan from Makercase and modified it with the appropriate engraving and holes I needed in Illustrator.

illustrator

Next, I used TinkerCAD to map out a cleaner circuit — one that could fit inside of the case.

sketches again

Then I used the laser cutter to create the top to ensure the different components would fit inside their respective holes and within the boundaries of the case.

top prototype

Once the top was tested, I then laser cut the remaining sides of the case.

remaining sides

The laser cut gods were not kind to me, when I re-ran the laser cut job the cardboard material had moved slightly.

fail

But I made it work on late Wednesday night.

all pieces

Aligning the LEDs with the case’s top and the breadboard was one of the more challenging things I’ve accomplished at ITP so far.

aligning

Finally, I had a finished product (video of Ashley playing the reaction timer game):

done

Future Thoughts

My physical computing blog post already includes some thoughts on how I would improve the game’s behavior, but here are some thoughts on how I could improve the fabricated casing for the game:

  • Use a sturdier material than cardboard so the case teeth can stick together better
  • Use a thumb-sized push-button instead of connecting two wires to play the game
  • Paint or use the white-board marker trick to color in the engraved words for better contrast
  • Use an Arduino mini powered by a battery so that the USB cord doesn’t have to be plugged into the case

Adrian Bautista

NYU ITP documentation blog.
Words are my own.