Final Project…For Now

I’m officially as done with this project as I can be before the due date. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to wrap all of the exposed wires with electrical tape so I don’t get any shorts, which is why the blue color looks a little too green at the moment. I also didn’t have time to cut out a hole or slot or something for the wires to come out of so they are sticking out of one of the holes in the coils on the top. However, I have decided to print out another diffusor that is the same size as the bigger casing and coils that I had to print to fit this monster together and move the RGB LEDs to the bigger set of pieces that I printed. If I end up implementing this, then I will need to re-solder everything and can tape it up and cut out proper holes when I’m done with that process. I would then be able to put plain white or blue LEDs, or maybe both, in the smaller set of pieces that I originally printed out and have one Iron Man arc reactor that can change colors and be really cool and another Iron Man arc reactor for wearing as a Halloween costume eventually.

Here is the latest and greatest video of this thing put together and flashing according to the code that I uploaded to my arduino board:

Overall, I really enjoyed working on this project, even though it was extremely tedious, and am pleased with the output. Even though it’s not perfect, yet, I love it so much and am proud of myself for accomplishing this hefty task while on a time limit. I can’t wait to keep working on it over the summer and will try to keep you guys updated on how things are going, even though it is no longer a requirement for a class.

Soldering Part 2

I finally completed the massive amount of soldering for this project. I decided that the best way to connect each group of 3 RGB LEDs was to make 28 small wires, 4 for each connection, and solder them from one group of 3 to the other. This task was extremely tedious because I had to cut the wires to the right size, then strip both ends off of each individual wire, then solder it to the correct groups. Here is a picture of how I connected each group of 3 RGB LEDs.

Soldering Wires

I tested them as I soldered another group to the end to find any shorts in my circuit. I eventually got to the end and tested it out.

All Green All Red All Blue 

Once I was done with the final test, I soldered some breadboard wires to the end of the last group so I can run them out to my arduino board.


Once I uploaded my new code to my arduino board, the RGB LEDs light up blue then flash red in a heartbeat pattern.

My only two problems left are I have a small short in my circuit that causes the red to glow only when the wire is in a specific position and the casing is now too small for my diffusor with all of the extra wires I had to add to connect the RGB LEDs. I will be printing new casing and coils to hold the diffusor and the wires and checking out that short soon.

Soldering Part 1

So this week I started soldering the LEDs together. I began by placing them in the holes around the outside of the diffusor. I then oriented all of the LEDs in the same direction so I could make sure I would solder the ground prong on one LED to the ground prong on the LED next to it, and the same idea for the red, green, and blue prongs as well. I bent the LEDs prongs to the shape that they would be soldered in to fit into the casing.

Ready for Soldering

I then began soldering them together prong-by-prong and LED-by-LED. I decided to solder them in groups of three because the LEDs prongs in one group of three aren’t long enough to reach the group of three next to it.

Soldering Set-up

So, because I need 24 LEDs to light up this arc reactor, I needed eight groups of three LEDs. Soldering these LEDs together, with four prongs per LED was a huge affair that took around 2 hours to complete.

Group Positioning 

I tested each group of three LEDs as I finished soldering them with a coin cell battery to make sure I didn’t have a short in the circuit and to test out the solder joints. Once I got all eight groups of three LEDs soldered and glowing, I placed them into the diffusor and placed the diffusor into the casing. It’s a tight fit but hey, at least it’s in there.

Full in Circle  Full in Casing

The next step is to connect the eight groups of three LEDs to each other somehow, tape everything up with electrical tape, and run wires out to my arduino board to light it up.

3D Printing an Arc Reactor

I finally got everything for my Iron Man Arc Reactor printed out. It only took me a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes to print 5 hours and 15 minutes worth of printing. I started with the smallest piece called the core.

The Core 1

The core took 15 minutes to print and is very small. I printed the diffusor next with my special clear white filament.

The Diffuser 1

This print took 2 hours and 30 minutes to print. Luckily I had the Think Lab all to myself when I was printing and was able to print the last two pieces in the other printer while the diffusor was printing. I printed the coils next.

The Coils 1

The coils took 1 hour to print. I then started printing the casing, which was the last piece I needed to print. I tried printing the casing twice but both times the filament wasn’t coming out of the extruder. I then found a clog in the extruder and had to take it out before I could try re-printing it.

The Casing 1

The casing printed on the third try and took 1 hour and 30 minutes to print.

All Pieces 1 All Pieces 2

Now that I have all of my pieces printed I can start putting LEDs in the diffusor, soldering them together. and making sure they can light-up.

Learning Arduino

I finally got my Arduino UNO in the mail and began playing with it to learn how to connect LEDs to it and code the Arduino to do what I want it to do. Because I ordered the Arduino UNO starter kit, I got a beginners guide on how to use an Arduino. The guide is pictured below:

Pic 1

The first circuit I made was connecting an LED and learning how to code the Arduino to make the LED blink. The map for the first circuit is pictured below:

Pic 2

Here is how the LED blinks after I set-up everything:

The next circuit I made included an RGB LED, which I will be using in my Iron Man Arc Reactor. For this circuit I had to wire up one RGB LED and run code through the Arduino to make it blink in different colors and then fade between a rainbow of colors. The map for the second circuit is pictured below:

Pic 3

Here is how the RGB LED acts when I wired it up to my Arduino:

The last circuit I decided to try out involved a push button and an LED. I decided to try to get this circuit working because I might be using a push button to change between different patterns that the LEDs light up in. So this circuit was great practice on how to wire up a push button. The map for the third circuit is pictured below:

Pic 4

For this circuit, you have to push one of the buttons to make the LED light up. However, if you push both buttons at the same time, the LED will turn off. Here is the video of this circuit working:

I then decided to go back to the second circuit I did and try to wire up 6 RGB LEDs in parallel. I had to Google how to wire multiple RGB LEDs together but found out it’s pretty easy. Here is the video of the 6 RGB LEDs glowing in the same pattern as they were in the second circuit I made:

After I got 6 RGB LEDs working in parallel, I decided to try to double it up and wire 12 RGB LEDs together. It was a tight fit on the baby breadboard but I finally got all of the RGB LEDs and wires in their correct places. Here is the video of the 12 RGB LEDs glowing in the same pattern as they were in the second circuit I made:

My next goal is to change the code in the second circuit and make the RGB LEDs glow in the patterns and colors that I want. However, thanks to these exercises I have a good grip on how to code my Arduino UNO and how to wire the 22 RGB LEDs I will need to put in my Iron Man Arc Reactor.

Experimenting with Circuits

The next step in my Iron Man Arc Reactor project is to play with some simple circuits. This exercise helped me learn how to make circuits and connect an LED to a battery correctly. The simple circuit I chose to make was the Klackerlaken. All you need to make this simple circuit is a bottle cap, little motor, LED, and a coin cell battery. The bottle cap is what the klackerlaken moves around on, the little motor is what causes the klackerlaken to move by vibrating the little guy, the LED is just a really fun little touch that gives the klackerlaken some character, and the coin cell battery is what allows the LED to light up and the little motor to move. The motor is connected to the battery by two little metal prongs; one prong goes on the positive side of the coin cell battery and the other prong goes on the negative side of the coin cell battery. The LED is connected to the battery by the two leads that come out of the bottom of the LED. The shorter of the two leads is the anode and lays against the positive side of coin cell battery while the longer of the two leads is the cathode and lays against the negative side of the coin cell battery. I kept both the motor and the LED connected to the coin cell battery by using some small, clear tape. I then used some clear double-sided tape to connect the coin cell battery to the bottle cap. Here is what it looked like when I finally got all of the pieces sticking together correctly:


Here is how it moved:

It mostly went in a circle but I think that’s because the LED was really big and offset the movement and the motor wasn’t exactly centered on the klackerlaken. I decided to use a 10mm LED because I had never seen an LED that big before and was curious about how well it would light up. It was awesome and I loved how my klackerlaken turned out.

Final Project Proposal

After searching the web and thinking about time limitations for this project, I have decided to make an Iron Man arc reactor for my final project. I originally found this project on Thingiverse, here, but realized there were no instructions for it. So after looking around for a bit I also found instructions on instructables, here, that I can combine with the 3D printing model from Thingiverse.

I am excited to work on this project because it will combine 3D printing, electric circuitry, and arduino coding. I will 3D print the mold for the arc reactor, making the outsides black/grey and the center piece clear to dissolve the light shining through it. I will be wiring LEDs throughout the clear piece and connecting them to each other, a battery, and to an arduino board. I will also be coding in arduino to make the lights shine in different patterns and colors. Luckily I have, almost, mastered 3D printing and will be starting that part of the project soon. I have also had some experience wiring a breadboard in CPSC 305 with some of my friends in the computer science department here at Mary Washington. You can find a review of this class, written by my awesome lab partner Kris, here. I am in the process of learning how to code in arduino through some YouTube videos I found here. I’m only about halfway through watching all of the videos in the series but am sure I will still learn a lot from them.

I am super excited to begin working hands-on with this project. I am a super nerd and love Marvel comics. Iron Man also happens to be my favorite Avenger and I have always wanted to buy some of his light-up gear but I think I will enjoy making one more than buying one. Once I finish mastering 3D printing, I will be moving on to printing the parts for the arc reactor. As Iron Man would say “you gotta run before you can walk”. Wish me luck guys.

Cardboard Robot

For our cardboard project Callie and I decided to make a posable robot out of cardboard. This is a task that seemed easy enough for us to get our feet wet in making but offered enough challenges to push us. This project started off with us drawing out the templates for each body part, pictured below:

Cardboard Robot 11  Cardboard Robot 12

Once we drew the templates we cut them out and traced the shapes onto the cardboard. We then cut out the pieces of cardboard with an exacto knife and scissors and started assembling the robot.

Cardboard Robot 5

In order to assemble the robot, we had to poke holes through the “joints” to insert the dowels that hold him together and make him posable.

Cardboard Robot 2  Cardboard Robot 10

After slowly getting his body put together we just needed the head to finish him up. Unfortunately, because we removed and reattached his body parts a lot while putting him together, we ended up wearing out the holes for the dowels so there wasn’t enough to hold him up. Therefore, he isn’t able to stand well unless he is leaning against something or is positioned perfectly. We decided that since he kept falling down and was clumsy looking we could make him into a gymnast.

Cardboard Robot 8

Obviously he has a lot of talent as a gymnast. We also decided to make him into a toy rag doll by putting a dowel in his claws and posts on the dowel to hold onto and flip him around the bar like a gymnast.

Cardboard Robot 7

So here is our final product. If I could do this project over again, I would use a drill to drill the holes for the “joints” and not wear them out during assembly. I would also cut out the body parts more precisely.

My First Time 3D Printing

After being in this Tinkering, Hacking, and Making class for a couple of weeks I really wanted to dip my toes into 3D printing. I decided to start with something small without overhangs so I didn’t have to use supports. I decided on a Spock-octopus, aka Spocktopus, that I found here on Thingiverse.

Spocktopus Thingiverse

I downloaded the .stl file onto my computer and opened it in Dremel 3D, the software that will take a 3D object and code it to transfer to the Dremel 3D printers we have in our lab for printing. In Dremel 3D I played around with the size of the Spocktopus and the quality of the build. I decided on a size of about an inch tall and a build quality of high. I ended up with a build time of about an hour and a half. I also decided to print it with white filament so I could paint it when it finished printing.

Spocktopus 1

This is at the very beginning of the print. Only his legs have been printed but I was still getting super excited.

Spocktopus 2

Here is a close-up of the print. This was taken about half-way through the print when it started to look like a Spocktopus.

Spocktopus 3

It’s almost done! the Spocktopus has a face and the distinct Vulcan ears that make it special.

Spocktopus 4

It’s done printing! The excitement is over but left in it’s wake is a beautiful, yet not quite finished, Spocktopus! The only thing left to do now is clean up the places that didn’t come out perfect and paint it.

Spocktopus 5

I was going to paint it with acrylic paint but decided against it because I was too lazy to take the time to paint it and let it dry. I also knew that painting it would be a struggle since I don’t exactly have the steadiest hands in the world. I ended up experimenting with Sharpies to “paint” it because I was curious if it would work or not and I REALLY wanted an excuse to use my Sharpies. It turned out well and I love it. Now that it is completely finished, I have a cute Spocktopus that will keep me company. Live long and prosper guys!

The Next Industrial Revolution

With the introduction of 3D printing in both individual lives and in industrial manufacturing, it is easy to see how it is affecting us as a species. Many people are captivated by how something can be created from what seems to be thin air. It seems as though we are on the brink of the next industrial revolution in the history of mankind.

“The first industrial revolution drove the mechanization of the textile industry. The second industrial revolution brought the assembly line. Now the digital revolution is here and one of the most powerful breakthroughs is 3D printing.”

-Business Insider

It was obvious from its inception that 3D printing was going to change the way we made objects, but not many people realized how useful it can actually be. With the introduction of many different types of filament (including basic plastics, photosensitive resins, ceramics, cements, glass, metals, metal alloys, and thermoplastic composites infused with carbon nano tubes and fibers) 3D printing can now be used as a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes. This is allowing 3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, to be used as a beneficial tool for making more than just plastic objects and industrial prototypes.

Additional applications for 3D printing are found all the time, including transportation assets, aerospace components, measurement devices, telecom infrastructure, and medical equipment. According to one industry CEO, the U.S. hearing aid industry converted all of it’s traditional manufacturing methods to additive manufacturing in less than 500 days. This quick transition is one of the many benefits that additive manufacturing can provide for an industry. These benefits include flexibility for change, customization, quicker set-up, fewer stages, a lower input of labor, and separate pieces can now be made in a single run. These advantages will change the way products are designed, made, bought, and delivered.