Day 79 - 85 @ ITP: Phys Comp and Fabrication

Here is prototype design #1 for the enclosure, made in Illustrator...these measurements are not exact (I also made the back wall slightly lower, because our idea was to have the top plexiglas slide in and out of the enclosure...) I also made the sides slightly larger to accommodate walls inside which will support the plexiglas top so this box is around 2.5" high, 5.5" wide and 8.5" long. I'm also not sure if the rounded corners will work practically. Maybe some other technique would need to be used or learned to get those or at least thicker wood to begin with and then sanding. And we may need some other way to support it from the inside if there are no screws. But this is the general idea for the enclosure for our P Comp final (which I am combining with the next Fabrication class assignment, which is to make an enclosure...if I don't have all the materials in time I will make a cardboard version at least):

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 11.33.29 PM.png

And a second version incorporating Jim's feedback, this version has mostly right angle corners (except for the top plate) and a longer bottom plate to accommodate the longer irregular design we came up with (I had forgotten to make the bottom panel longer before, then fixed and edited it in again below) and added a slot in the back panel for the top plate...I'm still waiting on materials due to the shipping backup so I will be doing a cardboard mockup first then hopefully a first version of the actual enclosure this week.

Screen Shot 2017-11-24 at 3.04.25 PM.png

Update 11/24:

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I printed out a tiny paper mockup of the design and found that it is not quite right. I will need to adjust the front panel and also the length of the sides. Need to get the measurements exactly right (also of the buttons) before cutting into the wood...

Also waiting on these light up buttons for "note" + "instrument" (momentary) and "sustain" (on/off) buttons, this switch for power off, and these LEDs for the heart rate.

Light up buttons 16mm


Toggle button 13mm


Product Dimensions: 32.9mm x 13.1mm x 12.0mm / 1.3" x 0.5" x 0.5"

Product Weight: 5.0g / 0.2o

Heart LED

These arrived today! So will be able to measure.

These arrived today! So will be able to measure.



Update 11/27: 
We met on Sunday and rethought the design together. It seemed that having the protruding front panel was a little advanced to be sure that it would hold up with the buttons on it being pressed constantly, and my designs were not really that well thought out to ensure that it wouldn't break. Before we met I made the above sketch going back to the original design. I actually thought it might help to go back to the slotted design to reinforce the box which would also require keeping it square (sorry Ben, I know you hate them!!) because it seemed to work okay for the cube I made for the last Fabrication assignment, and because it would add some stability considering I didn't have a great backup plan for if it needed reinforcements, especially in the area with the buttons which will be continuously pressed and would need to be sturdily placed. I basically would like to make this very simple and durable for use after the final is over as well (and make two of them!) for us both to use and test out meditating with over the break and beyond hopefully, so it shouldn't break. So simplifying the design seemed like a better way to make sure that happens at least for this project's timeframe. I have been thinking in general about other manifestations this project could take, also with some input from friends and classmates, like making it a standalone hardware/light/sound creating piece of hardware (like a phone app but without the phone and would not be an app, but sort of light and sound driven meditation device or object) or also different instruments that could be created this way, but that would be for later on. In my time at ITP it would be fun to work on at least one musical instrument project or something that could have various iterations with a similar vocabulary or way of being built. But I digress.

Jim and I came up with a design that is very similar to the one above, but with the buttons placed on the longer panel. We will add a ridge inside and top frame for the plexiglas plate to slide in and out, thereby making it easier to open up and to fix anything with the electronics inside.

I will start laser cutting tonight (I mistakenly left it this late because I did not realize ITP would be closed over Thanksgiving week, but maybe it's for the best as some small design changes happened, and hopefully now it will be easier to complete without wasting a bunch of materials). 

I'm starting in general to think about ways that various similar things could be made with the same parts. The only more expensive part at this point seems to be the Arduino, but maybe some of them wouldn't need an Arduino Uno but some smaller microcontroller in order to work. I will leave a bookmark here to come back to that idea later.

Update 11/28:

I booked two hours on the laser cutter today and brought the design that Jim and I adjusted together on Sunday. The wood and buttons had arrived so I was able to measure the holes for the buttons and adjust them. I had some issues with the power settings on the laser cutter resetting a few times while printing, and also misremembering the speed once, so one or two pieces took longer to cut before I realized that this had happened. Otherwise following the settings in the document on the Desktop of the laser cutter's computer worked fine and I am getting the hang of how it works. Still want to experiment more with the wood shop, but this seems good for doing finer work like cutting openings for enclosures like this. Though it took a while to cut through 1/8" pieces, and I wondered if actually a 1/4" board would have been sturdier, and if maybe I should have used the 75W cutter to do it that way? Otherwise, the slots do fit (we flipped some pieces around to get the text in the right places), and it's a little too big for the Arduino + breadboard but also won't be sure of that until we add the inside supports for the top and all the wires, so at least it's definitely not too small. I think it would be nicer if it was more compact but that's just a visual side note and could be adjusted later for the next one.

Most importantly I already snapped off the ledge above where the top plate is supposed to go in/out, so that is a bad sign and will need to be fixed somehow or rethought design wise. I think one side snapped when I took out the piece in the slot which had been laser cut out, and the other side snapped when I was seeing if the acrylic would fit through (it did fit, but it seemed a lot heavier compared to the 1/8" Alder wood hence it breaking). Another solution would be to have a wooden top, which is definitely an option, especially if that seems more long lasting. I got this 1/8" Alder wood because it was recommended for laser cutting and also seemed thin enough to do a full box almost in a short amount of time on the cutter, but I think in the next iteration of this enclosure I will be taking into mind all the problems that came up with this first one. I also got some 1/8" Cherry wood and am wondering if that would be sturdier also. Again having more time on the laser cutter would have helped of course but everyone else is trying to finish things too for finals and a 2 hour chunk at a time seems reasonable as you are watching it and standing there the whole time... once I get a real plan I think I will reserve some hours at an off time, like 9am Saturday morning or something just to finish it properly and have extra time if something goes wrong. I think as I do more of these kinds of things I will gain a better vocabulary of tools for putting things like this together and using the right materials and steps in the process etc. On a positive note, the heart LED fits! We used the "boolean union" option in Illustrator to combine the shapes of the two sides I traced, and it actually fits perfectly now. Next we will sand down the 3 larger button holes as they are still slightly too small, but thankfully Jim has some tools that will help with this, and wiring the Arduino with the buttons and the LED and the heart sensor (which will be attached to the Arduino through that small hole under the heart shape), and programming the buttons...

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<~~~~~~~~~~~~the broken piece 

Also need to decide for sure where the Arduino will be placed to adjust where the openings will be accordingly.....

Update 11/29:

A little late on this update, but I did glue the enclosure together last night, which was a bit messy. I met up with Jim yesterday afternoon and he helped to file the holes for the 3 larger buttons so that they would fit properly, using a needle file (pictured to right!) to sand them larger it in a circular motion. It worked, but it was too labor intensive and in the future I will definitely just make those openings a little wider and keep in mind that I should size up a little bit... maybe a couple of mm?. Also maybe I should get some of these for fixing irregularities so things fit etc (I was using scissors on a few pieces, which was not ideal). These are the readings I got when measuring the buttons with the caliper: 


I did measure around the part with the threads, but it was still too small. The buttons also fit with the cardboard prototype at this size but not with the wood, I'm assuming because the wood has no give. 


The heart LED is staying in without any support at this point, which is nice! We will have to reinforce it with some glue somehow, which will close up the gaps. If it doesn't look right when lit up maybe we can also add the plastic behind as Ben suggested below, which could make it seem more solid I would imagine...

Other notes: I think the box could have been a bit smaller and less clunky feeling, also more solid feeling. And the top in acrylic doesn't look quite as integrated as I imagined so maybe design wise wood would be better for that as well. It would be great to try various iterations of enclosures that could be swapped out in different ways or used with different sounds and the same setup, in different sizes or something like this. Acrylic seems more durable but wood more fun to work with in general (except for maybe using acrylic to create see through parts/colors/having things light up/playing with colors or transparency ?) -- just need to find the most sturdy one to work with as this board snapped in a few places pretty easily after being cut, or maybe just going up to 1/4" or 3/8" (possibly from this link) would fix that. However I think I would need to upgrade to a higher powered laser cutter as it took 4-5 times to cut through 1/8" on the 50W laser cutter which ends up taking a lot of time.