Fab Wk 3: Laser Cutting

For this week’s project to work with the laser cut, I wanted to try using LED strips to create a light box of sorts. I jumped around between several ideas, but eventually landed on the idea of doing animal shaped night light/ light box.

Final result:


final hedhego


  1. First was sketching out the animals on illustrator. I tried to keep the style simple and graphic. I played around with the idea of making an oil diffuser with these wooden laser cut leaves in a jar, which is why there is a leaf on the side. Eventually that idea was dumped. The blue are the small marks for the engraving. I thought it’d be nice to add some minimal lines and textures.

Screenshot 2018-11-15 11.56.11

2. Then I laser cut a cardboard prototype of the animal (just to be safe).


3. Next was making the laser cut acrylic version.

acrylic laser cut

4.) Then I measured and calculated the dimensions for the lightbox using Illustrator.

5.) I laser cut the box using 1/8″ wood. Then I soldered my LED strip to the adaptor cable and attached it to the wood base.


6.) Lastly, was assembling it all together and making sure the light works. And it did!

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Final Wk 10: Proposal, Prototype, Production, Process

Updates on Week 10
a.) Project Proposal
b.) Schematic Diagram
c.) Diagrams for Production
d.) Timeline + Bill of Materials
e.) Prototypes
f.) Analog Input
g.) Web Design



a.) Proposal Presentation:

This proposal pdf was put together for ICM, but serves as a helpful guide of the project’s why, what, for who, and how.

Solar_Proposal_Presentation_20181113 EL2



b.) Schematic Diagram:



c.) Diagrams for Production

diagram display20181112_display_diagram_v2_frontdiagramThe below image is the original diagram drawn for the version of the house with a lamp and fan. This plan has changed. See new diagram below.



d.) Timeline + Bill of Materials: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1zA4OJrYoYLFRfl6XcdlWMDRCV-Dq8sbgWobO5o2G_kc/edit#gid=0

Screenshot 2018-11-12 15.48.58

timeline and tasks

Screenshot 2018-11-12 15.49.10

bill of materials



e.) Prototype:

Initial cardboard prototype to better understand the scale, proportions and positioning. The house is missing from this because I realized that the house would need to hide the wires of the fan and lamp as well as the Arduino.  I found a ball bearing at Canal Plastics that I thought would work great for the polarizing filters.

cardboard prototype

Here are some process photos, which include the sketches with rough dimensions.


Prototype of the house:

Knowing what to do with the house has been tricky. I did this wooden prototype but felt that it was too tall. I did a cardboard version that had an attic and an extra bottom layer so that I could hide the motor and the arduino and lamp. What I don’t like about both designs is how much shadow is created by the roof. The lamp and fan will be barely visible when seen from above. See images below.


So after doing these prototype houses I decided to switch the design of the house so that it will not have the front open. Instead, there will only be windows that will dim or light up depending on the reading from the sensor. This change was also partially influenced by this inspirational piece below. This simply and beautifully communicates the idea.




f.) Analog Input with Light + Solar Panel:

First was following along analog input to serial lab again in order to have the p5js sketch communicate with the serial connector and arduino. Below is the video for that


Below is the video and arduino code that reads the analog input from the solar panel and writes analog write (PWM) to have the LED light correspond to the sensor reading.


p5js code: https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/ryirTRP6Q

Arduino code:

“void setup() {

void loop() {
int solar = analogRead(A1);
int mapSolar = map (solar, 0, 1023, 1, 255);
Serial.write(mapSolar); //translates to binary

analogWrite(9, mapSolar);




h.) Web Design

Rough look and feel of the diagram and site is below. Steps will be revealed when the user hovers over the number icon. The motion of: photon —> electron-hole pairs –> traveling through circuit –> reunite at the rear will still continue and be dependent on how much light is showing through.

rough skin design

Fab Wk 2: Modular

For this week’s assignment to make 5 identical objects, I decided to make hexagon ping pong paddles! The final result is below.





Originally, I was planning to do five bird houses, and even got so far as doing 1 birdhouse. See image below.


I was not happy with the end result of the first birdhouse, so immediately switched to my more feasible plan B.

For the ping pong paddles, I decided to make them hexagonal because: a.) it’d be fun to make “designer-y” ping pong paddles that weren’t the typical oval shape, b.) I am not yet skilled or comfortable enough to do perfectly symmetrical rounded shapes. With that in mind, I began!

1.) Draw a template for myself in illustrator. The sizes were based on an online template I found. However, that version was much more curvy and made for a CNC router. I just needed the dimensions.

Screenshot 2018-11-09 10.59.16

2.) Then, I printed the paper out, traced it on the wood and began cutting the overall shape and the rectangular handles individually. I used the bandsaw to cut because the wood I got (1/8″ plywood is very soft). When I used it on the chop saw, too much of the wood would disappear.


3.) I then cut the handles and created an angle using the sand blaster. I tried to create the same angle for the handles by sticking an angled piece of tape to the machine. See image below. Not sure if there was a better way to do this (there probably is).



4.) I went to Canal Rubbers (amazing store, btw!) to get some rubber for the ping pong paddles. It’s so great over there! They have so many choices, tons of colors, and knowledgeable people working there. After my trip there, I started to cut and glue the rubber to the ping pong paddles. I first traced the ping pong paddle onto the back of the rubber. Then I used rubber cement to glue to stick the cutouts onto the wood.

It was so fun to do stripes and different colorful designs for it.



5.) After gluing the rubber, I stuck the 2 handles to the sides using wood glue. I taped it together to have it dry nicely. In hindsight I should have clamped it down.

6.) Then I sanded  the handles. Some of them I used the sand blaster to sand, which I now think was not the smartest thing for me to do because it made a weird groove when I sanded too much. So, I then hand sanded it to create a nice smooth paddle. Below is the result.


PCM Wk 9 Final: System Plan, Timeline, Materials

Solar Energy Learning Table


I aim to create an interactive learning table that explains how solar panels work and how energy is converted into electricity.

Specific Points to Communicate:

Main objective: Learn about the science of solar cells and how it can impact our lives if we incorporate it into our lifestyle.

1.) Science of solar cells: how light is turned into electrical energy through the use of semiconductors.

2.) Prove that solar energy can impact our lives by symbolically showing how much energy a rooftop solar panel will generate for a small size house.

3.) Show the effect of light on solar cells by altering the intensity of light through polarizing  filters and rotation of light. Show schematic of what happens scientifically when light hits the cell.

4.) Provide a thought experiment: what if the sun were red, green, blue, purple? Which color would give the most or least amount of energy?

5.) Show the way battery storage works and how solar panels can still run even when there is not sun. This will be achieved by having a battery icon that users can select to power the house even when there is no light that shines.


solar display diagram


b.) Timeline:

Week 9 (10/31/18 – 11/07/18):
–  continue user interviews, gathering info, and experimenting (PCM)
–  run light + filter experiments (PCM)
–  finalize content (what I want to communicate) (ICM)

Week 10 (11/7/18 – 11/14/18):
–  build the circuit and connect with p5js sketch(PCM)
–  prototype fabrication of display (PCM)
–  finalize idea and design of display (PCM)
–  finalize content, design and UI of website (ICM)

Week 11 (11/14/18 – 11/21/18): 
– combine fabrication, circuit and website (PCM)
– continue fabrication (PCM)
– continue programming the website (ICM)

Week 12 (11/21/18 – 11/28/18): 
– combine final components – finish! (PCM)
– finish the website (ICM)

Week 13 (11/28/18 – 12/05/18):
– final
– user testing
– tweaks based on user testing

Week 14 (12/05/18 – 12/12/18):
– final final
– documentation



c.) Materials:
(More details will be added)

  • cardboard for prototyping
  • wood (still need to figure out which kind)
  • polarizing filters
  • color filters
  • white LED light source
  • 2 or 4 solar panels
  • led light (for lamp inside house)
  • dc motor (for fan inside house)
  • iPad


PCM Wk 9 Final: Light + Filter Experiments

Experimenting with Lights and Filters

1.) First we prepared our equipments, filters and notes. Equipments include: a laser pointer, an LED flashlight, polarizing filters, solar panels, color filters.

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2.) Next was experimenting with the polarizing filters to manipulate the amount of light that passes through. Polarizing filters may give us more range than neutral density filters, but this can’t be determined until the neutral density filters are tested. See video below.


3.) Using a multimeter we tested how much voltage was being generated by the solar panel under different lighting conditions (with and without color filters).

a. Solar panel under normal room lighting and under white LED light

b. Solar panel under white LED light with different colored filters, starting from the colors with larger wavelengths to shorter wavelengths (red, yellow, green, blue, purple). The yellow and the blue turned out to be generating the most voltage.

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4.) Following the same procedure as above, we tested the amount of current that was being generated by the solar cells.

a. Solar panel under normal room lighting + white LED light

b. Solar panel under white LED light with different colored filters, starting from the colors with larger wavelengths to shorter wavelengths (red, yellow, green, blue, purple).

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What we discovered: the color filters block out some of the light. The yellow filter blocks out the least amount of light. The red is the largest wavelength so its frequency is the lowest. This information correlates with the amount of energy that it generates.

f.) Using analog read, we were able to find out and translate the solar panel’s energy with ASCII.

Screenshot 2018-11-06 01.20.28

analog read screenshot


circuit for connecting solar panel to analog pin

Here is the code that mapped the sensor value from 30 – 400 to 0-1023, so we could get a more accurate reading.

“// Analog Input from LED Light to Silicon Solar Panel

int mapThis;

void setup() {

void loop() {
int sensorValue = analogRead(A0);

//to have a wider range and higher sensitivity
// map 400 (our potentially highest reading) to 1023
mapThis = map(sensorValue, 30, 400, 0, 1023);

//prints out ASCII

*** Next steps are to connect the readings to a p5js sketch so there is a visual to help illustrate the readings, do the Synchronous Serial Communication lab, and use the flux sensor. To be updated by soon.


*** Full disclosure: for my research and experiments with solar energy and light, I am learning from and collaborating with Dr. Sardashti (Kasra), a material scientist and applied physicist, whose has done research on solar cells.



To do list for this week (10/31/18 – 11/6/18): 
a.) figuring out what to communicate (user interviews)
b.) gaining inspiration from a math or science museum
c.) researching + experimenting with different light conditions + filters
d.) doing the synchronous serial communication lab
e.) drawing a new diagram of the interactive table
f.) building a prototype house (also for fabrication)
g.) creating a timeline/ game plan / materials list
h.) meeting with experts, itp professors, and residents in this field

ICM Wk 8: Media

For this week’s assignment to create a sketch that uses external media (sound, images or video), I decided to do a piece using a song and the video camera.

The final code is here: https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/SkKJAW0hm

Below is a video of the piece:



This time around, instead of sketching out my plans for the homework, I decided to go off script (shocker)!  I had no plans going into this particular piece – I  just tried to have fun with it. Lately, I’ve been feeling uptight and pressured to get a lot right and learn a lot fast that I decided I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to make sure my ICM final code matches up with my initial sketches. I’m sure there will be a time and place for making sure that I can execute what I intend to, but honestly, I wanted this to be fun to make and cathartic (keeping in the spirit of ICMadness).

With this in mind, I took two of my follow-along codes from one of the Shiffman’s Coding Train videos and messed around with it. Here is the video camera code that I started off with: https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/B1ZSY8Tn7

I also had my follow-along code from the sound tutorials:

These tutorials all use the same song: “Juju” by Ras. I’ve been obsessively listening to it lately. Even after this homework assignment of listening to it chopped up and rewinded via p5.js, I’m still not over it!

So from there, it was an unpredicted progression of trying to improve the sketch to my liking. The general idea is that these sliders control both the visuals and the way the song is played. For instance: 1.) the volume correlates with the saturation of colors, 2.) the height shifts in placement (and was supposed to correlated with the panning between left and right, 3.) the speed correlates with the width of the copied rectangle.


See code and videos below:

a.) https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/BymqO2anQ



b.) https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/SJWvX6anm



c.) https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/ryw0bJAnQ



d.) After a certain point I just stopped tweaking, because I felt like all my changes were minor and not making a big difference.

The final code is here: https://editor.p5js.org/elinsterz/sketches/SkKJAW0hm


I have to say I really had a lot of fun with this one. Instead of banging my head up against the wall (at some point) like I normally would. I just went with the flow and got lost in listening to the song and trying to make it something as visually soothing as it is sonically. It was a nice change to not force myself to get it “perfect” and “right” this time. And I have to say I personally enjoyed messing with the song settings to change the graphics. I should do more of these music + graphic + code mix ups. This was a healthy break before the final!

PCM Final: Research + Resources

Ongoing list of research links, videos, images related to solar energy and light:
(this will be updated constantly)