Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 3 Part 3

When my group next met again, we had a decently good handle on things. The work process never achieved the level of productivity or enthusiasm as we had reached on Wednesday, but things were moderately good. There was some definite down turns to our project as this point: execution/representation of our idea was poor.

First of all, we had an issue of debate on the size the plant containers needed to be, and what material form they should be. Based upon my research, I knew that the best material choice for the plant pods was clay pots, and therefore fought for it. I also knew, again based off my research, that the size of the pots was going to be rather substantial in order to accommodate the root systems. Neither of these prospects sat well with Ning, who was suitably inspired by the ingenuity of using reuse materials (pop bottles) in which to grow plants. If we weren’t growing citrus, but were growing herbs instead, she would have been right. That said, the final form that was developed was probably too small for practicality for the plants we did choose, although material wise, we decided it could and would be formed with clay. Dylan digitally generated the form within Rhino. Unfortunately, following his production of the digital form, he had to leave to go to New York (if I recall correctly) and wouldn’t be back until after Tuesday. We then became one worker down.

Somewhere in the mix of this, I was called upon by the dynamic duo of Kevin and Steven to build a sturdy framework for our solar tracking reflection device. Neither had wood studio access yet (to their knowledge), and I readily agreed to help. Together we worked out what measurements were needed, what form was best for the code we wanted to use, and what type of material would be light enough for our servos to move.

That task wasn’t too difficult for me since I had built a picture frame with 45 degree angle joints a few semesters back, and therefore knew which tools to use. As soon as I could, I put together the form. The final product, electronics included, is visible below. While we really wanted the panel to respond as reflecting light down necessitates, we ended up having to settle for merely tracking the sun. Debugging simply took too long, and we couldn’t accommodate the rest.

Following that, more miniature battles began to crop up. Ning and I were in charge of model making. The first issue to conquer was scale, where we needed to figure out the dimensions we were shooting for, as well as how many plants we could accommodate with the estimated height of the rooms. That was reasonably accomplished. Then we got into how the model should look, and we had a tiff over how to build the primary structure. I had hoped to avoid pillars on our model where there wouldn’t be any, seeing as they would detract from the important components of the model itself. Yet my proposal, as Ning demonstrated for me, was completely structurally instable. Point blank, that sucked. So I had to adjust, and pillars went in. Following this time, we went to laser cut the materials for the model, and as I cut the sheets to size, Ning did the file work. When it came time to do the large container model, however, we reached another point of disagreement. She didn’t want to take the time to cut all of the cardboard pieces we’d need to stack up to represent the form Dylan had generated. I did, but didn’t know how to do the laser work. In order to still have something while we continued the debate, we made a rough, inadequate form to be lasercut.

It looked like a trashcan. I was devastated. Yet nothing I could say or do could change Ning’s mind, despite my attempting it for the next day and half. We ended up having to use that model, and I still despise it. Moving on.

Material wise, we quickly realized we had nothing suitable to “channel the water” or hide the wires in and/or diffuse the light of the LED’s that would be incorporated in the helix form. While this didn’t bother Ning overtly, I was adamant about covering that.

Steven and I (with Rachel coming along for her group) then took for home depot where I purchased some tubing that would work for us. When we got back after our little excursion, I sand blasted a portion of the tubing for the wiring. I didn’t know it would turn grey, but it did diffuse the light, so it worked. Following that, I helped Ning assemble our lasercut pieces, and made the far too whimsical plants for our model. They’re almost too playful for the seriousness this class requires, but we needed something to represent plants, or have the model not look like anything at all.

Sometime in there I helped hash out our presentation. I don’t even know how I had time for that, but I manufactured the time.

And so the week ended.

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