Getting Started - Materials
Unlike previous assignments, I did not start this project with a clear idea in my head. I knew that I was on a budget, and I wanted to work on a ready-made container so I would not have to start from scratch.
I went to The Container Store, and bought a tin can with window for $2.99.
Already comes with a perfect circular opening. Perfect.
Next, I went to Canal Plastics and bought a small red translucent & a white acrylic panel. Lastly, I went to Tinkersphere to buy some LED mounts, a switch, and standoffs.
Sketching & Planning
I started sketching some draft of the enclosure I want to make. I thought of doing a prototype for my plan B for my final PComp project (aka Taylor Swift tamagotchi).
The white acrylic would be mounted by LED, and the red acrylic above with would be etched with an image of Taylor Swift. When it's turned on, Taylor's face would glow from within.
Measurements & Laser Cutting
Step 1 was to measure everything so I could draw the cutting /etch vector on illustrator.
I also figured out that the plastic window could be pushed off of the lid, so I decided that the red acrylic should go above the lid (resting on the opening), instead of under it.
Based on the measurement, I drew the vector paths on AI.
For Taylor's face on the red acrylic, I wanted to have a sort of religious feel to it, so I added stained glass pattern to the etch pattern.
Adapted from stained glass artwork & Taylor's line drawing by teatimetay13.
This is the file I used for cutting the white acrylic panel.
The laser cutting process was pretty straightforward (acrylic is much easier to cut compared to birch wood). I tested with cardboard and once the cut / etch looked good, I proceeded to cutting the acrylic panels.
My panels were ready, and although they do not fit that snugly (now I understand the unavoidable angular cut the laser makes), they could sit with the tin can pretty well.
I moved on to drilling some holes on the lid, installing the standoffs with the panels, and mounting the electrical components.
I used my fingers to tighten the mount and they are kind of sturdy, but I'm not sure if I was supposed to use a mini wrench (?).
This part was the hardest for me.
I figured that my Arduino + breadboard could not fit into the tin can. I decided to not use the Arduino at all.
I bought a solder perf board but I don't know how to use it (are the row/column connections the same with a breadboard?), and I was running out of time.
The LED was too small for the mount (I ended up using hot glue to make the LEDs stick).
I was terrible at soldering – but I did it anyway and got better at it (?).
I used wires available at the shop, but they're hard and don't bend well. They take up a lot of space.
Last step was super-glueing the red panel onto the lid.
In hindsight, this looks a lot like the device in Sailor Moon (used to transform the protagonists into their magical super forms) – hence, the name of the enclosure.
Learnings & What I Would Do Differently
I should have measured the depth needed for Arduino & breadboard properly.
A smaller container requires better wiring because of space constraints.
More flexible wires might be easier to squeeze into tiny spaces.
Should have used a more transparent acrylic for the etched panel .
The physicality of the final product does not really match the mood I was going for. To do: cover it with faux fur / paint the tin gold.