Internship at Metalworks – Week 7 [6 July to 10 July 2015]

Work has gotten a lot busier this week. I’ve been tasked to handle a project individually, so I’ve been spending a lot of time on it. Reflecting on 7 weeks at Metalworks, I felt that I’ve become a lot better with handling & reusing old code, coming up with ideas for projects, and researching on how to turn it to reality. This week and this coming week will be the test of whether I can push a project through. It isn’t a big project but I’m counting on small steps to learn and improve.

Monday: Electronics – soldering, proto-boards
Tuesday: Wiring
Wednesday: Make circuitry more robust
Thursday: 3D Printing first iterations, Processing (to play videos)
Friday: Processing code editing, 3D Printing iterations

Tearing Down and Starting Again
Something I gotta get used to re-do things even when they’re going well. I have a tendency to get attached to what I’ve created and create my own inertia to budge from my current path. But there’s a limit to inertia. I built the circuit above and wired it pretty well to function how I wanted it to, but it didn’t fit exactly to the specifications of the design I was required to build, so I had to tear it down. But before I did, I did small iterations with each part of the circuit to make sure I knew what I was doing, and I was quite happy with the results.
In one of the iterations, my supervisor thought of using USB ports to join up the pieces together, and it was a great idea. I had originally used a different configuration to achieve the same effects, but thinking about it, the USB port would really do it. Well it took a while to realize that the name USB does really have a proper meaning to it. Like its called Universal Serial Bus. Serial because it transmits serial data, and bus, because it joins up electric circuits. In mainstream, we often toss around the word USB freely, but it does so much more than simply shift folders around from one device to the next. With a little hack, I managed to create these kinds of connections and get them to work. Being able to throw away old ideas and use new ones isn’t a revolutionary idea, but it is important.


It’s important to iterate, but even more so to iterate properly. 20150710_100220
This is what I tried at first. An ambitious attempt to go all out at once, which was obviously not going to work. Almost nothing fit. I then worked on smaller iterations, and got the pieces to fit, one by one, along the way discovering certain principles of 3D design, like how much room to give holes in design, and how to make each iteration less time-wasting, like really sizing down on the amount of PLA I’m using. These were all really important, and I managed to get them to fit in the end. Yay! \^o^/

01 Casings 02 Casings

Reusing old code

This project had been done before, and it was important for Metalworks to do it again to build a good repository. Unfortunately, the code wasn’t very well documented, and the old hardware had been torn apart, which is why I’ve been working on it. So I had to reuse old code. It was hard at first. Processing was written in Java, and I hardly have any good experiences with Java, so I was a little hesitant, but my supervisor ran me through the code once and that was really important. On hearing the explanation, I quickly dove into the code, and commented out the document into parts so that I could understand it easily, and hopefully others too. I wrote out explanations for ambiguous parts of the code that I couldn’t catch immediately, including some “under the hood” events. All this seemed important so that the code that I’ve edited and written is more reusable for the next person who may use it.

I found Processing interesting, and in about a day I managed to write a class, make split windows, display text, play a video, and read serial inputs. I’m happy with my progress, and it allowed me to focus on the 3D prints for next week.

Wrapping Up

The act of creating really excites me. I get really motivated whenever I get the chance to create something I can call my own. I dove in, got sucked in, and now there’s no turning back. I’m going to keep exploring, keep making, and make the most of my time here. As I was thinking, it is rare to have the chance to deal with hardware, and rare to have great support from my team mates, and I will be pushing on from here. yaaaa!


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