Learning to Solder

The front view, the LED’s usually flashed different colors, but when I took the picture they were both red.

In our makerbot class we learned how to solder on these simple Maker Faire boards. These were supposed to end up as a badge with LEDs that blink a bunch of different colors. I did not realize this at first so I practiced soldering on the hole that was supposed to hold the pin. So I never wore mine around I just carried it in my hands. ¬†All we had to do was make sure that we put the LED’s through the holes correctly then solder them into place. The next step was to get a thin layer of solder all over the battery pad and solder a clamp to hold the battery in place.

View of the back before I soldered the LEDs and clipped the tips
View of the back before I soldered the LEDs and clipped the tips

This project was a ton of fun and was super simple when learning how to solder, the most surprising part of the pin was how long the lights stayed powered. My LED’s kept blinking for nearly 4 days. I will probably try to solder as much as possible in the future of this class.

WeDo Chain Reaction

As an entire class we worked together to create a chain reaction using WeDo’s and the program Scratch. I worked with Jed Londrey when creating our part of the chain. We really started off slow thinking that we needed to make something really simple to make sure we would not be the part of the machine to fail. As we were brainstorming ideas we decided that we would rather had a cool part of the chain then just something that was just functional. We had to make sure our WeDo lined up with Julia Hahn and Stephanie Webb’s WeDo. We had to make sure their windmill tripped our sensor so that the ball would begin to roll on the program Scratch run on the computer.

Once Julia and Stephanie’s WeDo tripped a small arm hit the backside of a hot wheel car. Our car would roll from our table to the next table using a small bridge.

Our WeDo with a small arm that hits the back of the car

The main struggle was finding an car that drove straight down the ramp. Many of the cars would swerve one direction or another. (I don’t have a picture, but we did line the ramp with legos to lead the car straight)

A broader view of my portion of the Chain Reaction
A broader view of my portion of the Chain Reaction

In the picture above you can see the car sitting on the top of the ramp and it has to trip the WeDo at the bottom of the bridge. The car had to almost hit the sensor to trip in so making sure the car would trip the sensor was by far the most difficult part of the process up to this point.

After we finally had everything set up and had done some test runs, disaster struck. A person trying to walk under the bridge knocked the bridge off the table spilling legos everywhere. We had to rebuild our bridge and quickly because class was about to end. It was a team effort, but we rebuilt it in time. It did not work flawlessly, but it was still functional, so as the first project this was a success. If I find the video of the entire reaction I will link it once I find it.

Working with Makey Makey’s

A French exchange student trying our device out for the first time
A French exchange student trying our device out for the first time

Working alongside Gordon Granger, Jed Londrey, and Troy Roupas in our Senior Seminar class, we created using a Makey Makey board to play games with your feet. The Makey Makey’s are an arduino board that function as a keyboard for the computer. They are incredibly to use, all you have to do is plug them into the USB port of the computer. We played games like Pacman and my personal favorite Dance Dance Revolution. After doing a few test runs ourselves, we brought our product out into the a more public area of the school and had people try it themselves.

In the beginning we were trying to play games on the board and it just was not functioning how we wanted it to. Sometimes when you would hit down the up arrow would activate, making it almost impossible to play any games. Once we replaced the arduino with a new one, it worked great.

We had a lot of fun in the creation and actually playing with our device, but the best part by far was watching other people play because they were in awe that students could create something like it.

This is another French exchange student playing Dance Dance Revolution and a better view of our board

As a group we thought about what we should fix or change about our board. We would want to have made our wires less visible, just to make it look cleaner. We wanted a larger piece of card board so we could make larger pads for people to hit. We also wanted to think about a different way to ground the person playing without them holding the clamp itself.

As we let more people try it out we asked people for feedback on the board. The main thing people wanted was to be able to play with there shoes on(our device struggled when people played with shoes on). People also wished the tin foil pads that had to hit were bigger, so they didn’t have to worry about if they were going to hit them or not. They also wanted a larger selection of games to play. All in all as our third project in the class, we thought the board was a success.

Making Sweetness