Monday, February 19, 2018

Bringing It All Together

After months of planning, experimenting, and exploration, we are finally ready to put all of our hard together into a final project. Last week we began work with our 6th-grade students to bring their laser cut project boards to life with the help of Bare Conductive Touch Boards.

We started the process by introducing our students to the touch boards, giving them time to look through the kits while we explained our vision for the final product. Next, we planned out where we would connect the boards using conductive paint. Each student traced their touch board on a central space within their design and penciled lines from each connection to the area they would like to highlight. This was helpful because they were able to notice areas where the lines overlapped and fix their work in pencil before the conductive paint was laid.

We decided to start small with 5 different touch points for each board. The boards allow for 12 but that is a large amount and we didn't want to overwhelm our students. With 5 connections we had the ability to skip sensors on the board so every other will be connected. We figured this might give us a little bit of wiggle room and make using the conductive paint less of a challenge. 

Included in each starter kit, along with the touch boards, was a set of stencils. We used the stencils paint connecting points to each sensor. Since we decided to try to connect the Touch Boards on the back, we set them aside to dry before tackling the paint on the front.

While the paint dried we got to work on creating sound clips. Our students have Chromebooks and have had experience using Voice Recorder Online. It isn't fancy but for our needs, it worked perfectly.

The hour we had with our students flew by! By the end of our work session, we were finally able to see their final projects taking shape. We are looking forward to getting the Touch Boards programmed and everything in place over the next month. Stay Tuned!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Printmaking meets Technology

One of my personal goals during the Ignite a Maker program, is to create a sketch, upload it to illustrator and figure out how to raster engrave it into a piece of wood, ultimately creating a wood cut print for printmaking. That is just what I started to do last weekend. Carrie and I went to the Generator, and after discussing it with Caty and the volunteer at the front desk, we easily used the laser cutter to engrave my sketch into first cardboard, then wood. Instead of using color mapping, we simply used layers on illustrator and sent it to the laser cutter twice (hiding layers that we didn't need). We couldn't believe how quickly and effortlessly the whole process was. Forget color mapping. Layering is the way to go!

We ran out of time, but we know for next time you can engrave the image multiple times for a deeper and deeper cut without it getting smokey. 

Now that I know how to make my own block prints, stay tuned for some new prints. Printmaking meets Technology! 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Have You Checked These Three Things?

Laser cutting is never as simple as hitting the print button. After spending hours creating a design and preparing it to cut, it can be frustrating when a cut doesn't work out as planned. Last week Jenny and I spent some time cutting boards for our 6th-grade students' passion projects. We started with what we thought would be our easiest project but were soon scratching our heads, unable to get it cut.

Lucky for us, Brian, our studio neighbor, was available and able to troubleshoot with us. There are many variables in laser cutting but Brian suggested checking these three things first:

1) Is the line size correct?
2) Has vector or raster been checked in the print setup screen?
3) If using color mapping, has the button which saves the information been hit?

This simple but effective list of questions fixed our issue and got us back on track. Thank you, Brian!

This board is cut!
Next step- A Bare Conductive Touch Board will be coded
and added to create an interactive experience.