Intro to Fab Week #6 – Final Project [Ferris Wheel]

For the final project, I decided to do a Ferris wheel. The idea just pops up in my mind immediately when I know we will do a servo/motor project for the final. I think Ferris wheels are really pretty and romantic and that’s the reason I decided to go with it.

I first looked up on youtube for some hand-made Ferris wheel tutorials. I decided to use wood to construct the Ferris wheel.

I first get all my materials, which include: two pieces of 12”*12” (6mm) plywood, two wood sticks (1/4”), a 6”*10″ wood board as the base of the Ferris wheel.

I design all the construction parts in illustrator according to the size of the materials I bought:

I first build the Ferris wheel:

Then I referred to this youtube tutorial to run the wheel using a DC motor. Basically it uses a robber band to connect the dc motor to the wheel and use the power of the motor to force the wheel to rotate.

However, I find my motor not working at all. I think maybe 1. the power of the motor is not enough or 2. the friction is too large.

I then go to professor Light for help and with his help, we figure out that: yes the power of the motor is not strong enough and the friction indeed is too large.

To fix these problems, we change the smaller dc motor to a larger one(stronger), we also replace the holder of the wheel to make a wider space for the wheel to rotate — the friction is significantly decreased.

I got my wheels to run for the first time:


I feel like the speed is just too fast, so I think I should figure out a way to slow down the speed.

I later find a tutorial that teaches people to control the speed of a motor by using a transistor and a potentiometer. (I used a tip-120 transistor and a 10k potentiometer).

I succeed in controlling the speed of the dc motor:

And I can turn it on and off!

I solder everything together later.

Then I make some paper boxes to resemble the carriers on the Ferris wheel.  However, even if I am able to control the speed of the motor when the speed is slow, the wheel cannot really be triggered. So I somehow have to stay with the crazy speed. Anyway, it looks pretty cool. Maybe we can call it a “death” Ferris wheel. 🙂

Take a look at this crazy thing:


Great thanks to professor Ben Light!

Youtube tutorials save my life:

How To Make DC Motor Speed Controller

How To Make Your Own Paper Box – EASY!

Ferris Wheel Powered By DC Motor

Intro to Fab Week #5 – Moonlight

For this week, I made a lamp(light) using all kinds of paper (tissues, brown bags, cardboard, and paperboard.  My idea again comes from my favorite handcraft maker who I gave credit in week 2.

My progress:

  1. Materials:

I cut one circle to be the base of the lamp, a circle ring to be the front side. I also cut two square-shaped slices to be the side part of my lamp.


I cut another piece of circle board (all circles are the same size) using hardboard. I taped/glued brown bag paper onto it, wrapped tapes around it and glued multiple layers onto it.  I painted it later to create the “moon”.


I then tried to create the structure of the lamp, but I found it particularly hard to tape everything together. Following my fellow Amitabh’s advice, I decided to cut another set of thick materials and attached my previous black circle shapes onto the thick materials and use hot glue to pull everything together.

I cut a hole on the side square paper slice to let the string lights’ wire out and I finally got my moonlight.

Intro to Fab Week #4 – Enclosure

For this week, I decided to build an enclosure for my pcomp project, which is a mp3 player.

The project demo:


I bought a wood container in the Container Store. I tried to dig different holes on the box based on the design of my project. I used the drill press to drill two smaller holes for the switches and one larger one for the speaker. Before I store everything into the box, I tested the circuit, and it was working. However, after I soldered everything and taped the buttons and speaker to the case like this:

the soldered part broke. So I ended up with my encloser which does not technically work. This is actually the first time I felt that it is so hard to fabricate things. When circuits are included, it is so easy to mess things up. I really hope that I can gradually become better at this by practicing building more things more often.

Intro to Fab Week #3 – Laser Cutting


For this week’s laser cut project, I made earrings and an earring hanger.

I have this idea of self-design accessories since a long time ago. And when I got to know laser cutting technique a few years ago, I had always had the idea of cutting some accessories. I am very glad that I use this assignment to become the step one of realizing one of my many “dreams”.

I bought plywood and earring making supplies from Blick, designed everything using illustrator and cut the sketches on two different days (because I know I will make mistakes).

On the first day, I did a cutting test. After spending a whole hour near the laser cutter, this is what I got:

Only after I made this pair of Pikachu earrings that I realized I have to cut two pieces that are symmetrical to each other(I cut two exactly same pieces), otherwise when wearing the earrings, one earring will show its backside instead of the front (which we want).

Later I thought because I own zero copyright of any Pokemon character, and it is kind of boring if I just do Pokemon characters — I decided to do some of my own designs. However, I did find this picture to be the foundation of my sketches so I would like to give it a lot of credits. (I am not able to find the original designer though).

I explored a lot of different patterns, and some are like these:


Then I also designed the earring hanger. The AI file looks like this:

The final shape is a romantic coincidence indeed because I didn’t measure my sketch well (again, I was using a 4-inch-wide wood board and the diameter of my circle is 3.93 inch, I thought the size would be perfect). I ended up shaving the bottom part of my circle off. So I just decided to slightly change my design and created the shape you see in the picture.

Intro to Fab Week #2 – Flower Holders


For this week’s assignment, I made five flower holders using include wood, glass test tubes, nails. I really like simple and neat furniture style and as I am still in the progress of settling down and adding more furniture to my apartment, I decided that I want to create things that are not only for this specific assignment, but also some items that I can keep in my room for long.

As I looked around on the internet and tried to find some inspiration, a post from one of my favorite handy-craft making accounts (做个东西) on Weibo (Chinese ver. twitter basically) intrigued me. In this post, the blogger taught people how to make their own flower holders by using drills and wood. And the product looks pretty beautiful.

A screenshot of the blogger’s tutorial

Inspired by the blogger, I decided to make some flower holders that I can use to decorate my room.

How I make them:

Step 1: Design & Prototyping

Unlike the blogger, I decided to make each flower holder only has one test tube. I imagine it to have a vide of a small painting. I grabbed some wood from the junk shelf and built a wood frame as my first prototype. Because I was yet not very familiar with all the tools in the shop. Building the prototype helped me to get to know the tools much better and also contributed to my further fabrication.

I made a little frame with a little guy as my first prototype and by doing that I got to be more aware of things include:

  • The metal saw EATS a lot of wood! Be careful about that
  • C-clamps sometimes are much useful than the push-kind clamps
  • Cut one piece and measure again — do not do all the measurements at once.

Step 2: Getting Materials & Fabrication

I got test tubes from Amazon and wood pieces from Blick Art Store.

All other tools (except some drill bits) are borrowed from the shop.

While constructing the holders, I encountered a problem that I did not know how to drill a 5/8 inch hole on my wood pieces when the largest drill bit I have is 1/2 inch large. With the help of some second-year student workers, I solved this problem by using a 5/8 inch drill on the drill press.

After three days of working and I finally got them all done! With some flowers, those holders actually look pretty nice.



Inspiration/Idea: Weibo@做个东西

Hand Model: Tong Wu @ITP



Intro to Fab Week #1 – Build a Flashlight

Before I started to think about how to build a flashlight, I considered what makes a flashlight. For me, a flashlight is a lighting tool that can be switched on and off. So there needs to be a light and a switch. Therefore, I was looking for solutions to create my own type of light-with-a-swift flashlight.

I looked up on youtube for some inspirations, but I ended up in Autodesk circuits. I especially searched up the term “blinking LED” and referred to (many thanks) to build my actual flashlight.

So basically I used an Arduino UNO and a cable to be my “switch”, and the computer or any kind of mobile power supply is the power supply of my flashlight. I used Arduino to write a very simple code, basically triggers the electricity to go back and forth in the Led so that is why it would blink once the power is on. I also used a 220-ohm resistor to prevent the electricity being too high.

Here is a breakdown of how I actually made the flashlight:

Step 1: Circuit Diagram/Code

As I said, I referred to to built my circuit and wrote my code. I used tinkercad then to build my own circuits.

Step 2: Build it!

I used two wires, a cable, an Arduino UNO, a LED, a 220-ohm resistor and a breadboard.

Write the code, upload it to Arduino and run it!

By the way, I also made something like this: