Mounting Motors

Antonio shows the project in class.This assignment was to mount a motor to something, and mount something to the motor. I took this opportunity to fulfill a request from my mother to create a doll that holds a broom and sweeps the floor. Well, the real thing would be nice, but this was to be a funny toy.

I could not find a thing to mount the motor to, but I did manage to mount something to the motor. I have a servo on mounting brackets, and attached to the horn is a pretend broom, a real world paint brush I attached to the servo horn with fishing line.

Here I am showing it in class. 

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.


Braille Writing Board Part II

This assignment prompted us to use more than one material.

For this exercise, I cut my previous braille writing board, shown here, and included other materials.


card board braille peg board.


The writing board is a template containing cut outs for where braille dots can form braille letters. The board is 10 spaces wide, and two lines tall. I laser cut this one on red acrylic.

I bought some fridge magnets and stainless steel balls to stick to the magnets. I’d fit the magnets between two pieces of acrylic, creating a back board for the balls.

But once I had all my materials in hand, I noticed that the magnets were not strong enough to stick to the balls.

My two pieces of acrylic are held together by zit ties, so I can take them apart and try and make the device fully operational with some stronger magnets.


Acrylic braille peg board.


We were exposed in class to a number of ways to make an enclosure. From buying something from the Container Store and modifying it to laser cutting panels and using stand-offs with them. I decided I’d use corner brackets, shown here.


Corner bracket.


I began by designing a box to hold a long breadboard for a project for another class. Midway into the design I changed my mind to use a different set of Arduino and breadboard inside the box.

My box was designed to hold three arcade-style buttons at the top, and holes for wires to come out the back.


Wires coming out of acrylic box.


Each panel has carefully placed screw holes for fastening the box together.

The hole measurement is the diameter of the screw, in millimeters, plus a little room for slack so the screw doesn’t come in too tight. The holes must each be a specified distance from the edge of the material, including room for any outer walls, plus the space on the brackets before the screw holes. 

I realized in mid design that I should also not place the edge of the hole on the panels at exactly the distances I measured. I must also include a little wiggle room between the edge of the panel and the edge of the screw hole to avoid things being too tight, and not fitting. I moved every screw hole towards the edge of the material both vertically and horizontally by half of the slack distance in the screw hole.

I feel I should give an example here for this technique to be fully understood. Here is an example not using my actual numbers.

Suppose a screw is 4 mm. in diameter, and I give it 1 mm. extra space for wiggle room. In this case, I’d move the screw hole towards the edge of the material by .5 mm. which is half of the wiggle room.

In the end, when I had acquired all of the materials and laser cut everything, the box fit together satisfyingly.


View of acrylic box, includes breadboard and


This assignment was to make five of something. While an abacus is only one thing, my version of one has 21 rods that hold 5 beads each. 


I decided to closely model my abacus after ones used at the school for the blind I attended in Brazil. It turns out I brought one from there last time I went, so I can go on more than just the memory of what they looked like.

This project was my first laser cut project ever. I worked on the design with a sighted person who assisted me with drawing the desired lines in Illustrator.

I had to acquire some materials before starting the design because the design would be based off of those materials. I got some 14-gage bendable wire, (the word bendable will be relevant later.) I also bought round wooden beads measuring roughly 10 mm. in diameter, and a rubber mat to place below the beads so they don’t move freely on the wire rods.

Abacus beads loose inside a bowl.


I designed, laser cut, and glued some of the pieces together, then moved to assembly 

Antonio putting beads through wire to build abacus.


Three of my panels have 21 holes each, for holding the hods in place. This means that the rods must fit as straight as possible from one panel to the next. but I had only this bendable wire. Remember the bendable wire? This made it impossible to fit the top panel over the rest of the assembly with all 21 rods inserting into their respective holes on the top panel.

The abacus did not get fully assembled, but I’ve since purchased some stainless steel straight rods to try again.

Close up of abacus inside locker.


Braille Writing Board

This week’s assignment was to make something on the laser cutter. Measuring is key to getting out of your material the shape you wanted. I understand this, and measuring things is one of my strengths, even imagined things. I have a natural sense for taking measurements of existing things and translating them into similarly sized other things that are still on the planning stages, and do not yet exist.

My laser cut project for this week had its origins months ago when I imagined falling in love with the laser cutter when becoming a student at ITP. Oh how disappointed I was in class last Thursday when Ben Light’s tip of the week was exactly not to fall in love with the thing.

I met up and started a collaboration with Emily, at ITP, around the laser cutter even before Intro to Fabrication began. I worked with her on what is now my braille writing board by drawing out cutouts for braille dot inserts on thick cardboard. We referenced the parameters for braille writing available from the Braille Authority of North America. I mentally increased the real life dimension of the dot and the spacing between dots to something more enlarged and that would be used with pegs to form braille letters on a peg board.

I had a problem with producing the pegs. Thankfully the problem was seen and detected before I went crazy on the laser cutter with material that is less than optimal for the tool. I thought I’d have pegs laser-cut from 1/4 inch wood, then glued two layers high. I knew this was not going to get much respect from Ben Light, probably for good reasons. 1/4 inch wood is about the absolute maximum we should be cutting on the 75 watts cutter, so I was really going to push it with the material.

The initial design for the braille writing board had holes 12 mm. in diameter. luckily I had just purchased wooden beads 10 mm. in diameter, which fit my board perfectly.

My first cardboard prototype had braille cell spacings not very distinguishable from the spaces between the cells. You see, no matter how good is my spacial imagination, it is still advised to prototype, and try again.

The second time through, i had better spacing. I took one perforated sheet of cardboard from the laser cutter and glued it against a flat board of the same size to create a backing so the beads can be put in place, and stay there.

This post currently has no pictures. It will be edited to include pictures of the project for illustration 


  The first assignment for Intro to Fabrication is to make a flashlight of my own. I began this project with a trip to the junk shelf right after class on Thursday. There, I found the end piece to a vacuum cleaner I thought would make a good casing for my flashlight. There is no other flashlight in I know of made from the end piece of a vacuum, so this one should have some character to it when finished.

I visited the professor on Monday and got some tips about making the flashlight. One of the things I would use is a super bright LED so I am able to see the end result with just light perception.

Here’s how you can build a flashlight from scratch. I had a lab assistant throughout the assignment to help me solder things, since I know of no way of doing that blind without getting burned. 


9 volt battery.

9 volt battery connector.

Female plug for the 9 volt battery connector.

A switch.



330 ohm. resistor.

A super bright yellow LED.

A vacuum cleaner part as the casing.

Soldering iron.

Hand drill.


Part I

1) Strip a red wire, and a black wire.

2) Screw one end of the red wire to the female plug of the female plug for the battery connector marked with a plus sign.

3) Screw one end of the black wire to the female plug of the female plug for the battery connector marked with a minus sign.

4) Insert the other end of the red wire to power on the breadboard.

5) Insert the other end of the black wire to ground on the breadboard.

6) Run the resistor from the power column to one of the rows on the breadboard.

7) Run the LED from the same row you just plugged the resistor into over to the ground column on the breadboard.

8) Plug one end of the 9 volt battery connector into the battery, and the other to the female plug for the 9 volt battery connector. This will power the LED.

Breadboard with lit LED


Part II

Steps 1 to 3 in part II are the same as these steps in part I. I am repeating them assuming starting from a point when nothing is connected.

1) Strip a red wire, and a black wire.

2)  Screw one end of the red wire to the female plug of the female plug for the battery connector marked with a plus sign.

3) Screw one end of the black wire to the female plug of the female plug for the battery connector marked with a minus sign.

4) Solder the other end of the red wire to one of the side plugs of the switch.

The switch has three prongs, with the middle one being the ground pin, and the pins to the right and left of that for power.

4) Solder a small wire to the middle pin on the switch, then solder the other end of that wire to the resistor.

5) Solder the resistor to the super bright LED.

6) Solder the super bright LED to a black wire, then the other end of that black wire to the first black wire leading to the female plug of the battery connector.

Work space with wires soldered together


Part III: prepare the casing and install the circuit

1) Measure the diameter of the outside part of the button with a caliper. 

Image of a caliper measuring the diameter of the button


2) Select a drill bit, and mount it to the drill.

3) Clamp the casing to firmly to a table.

4 Drill a hole in the casing.

5) Drop the circuit into the casing, LED side first.

6) Push the button through the hole you just drilled in the casing. This was easier to do when there was nothing soldered to the button.

7) Secure the button to the casing with a nut.

8) Tape the battery to the outside of the casing. 

Note: it used to fit inside the casing before we soldered all of the parts together, but now it must live outside.

Final step

Flip the switch, and your flashlight will turn on.Antonio holds the flashlight in his hand