Week Eleven Newsletter

Project: Take Shape
Week Eleven Newsletter

Week Eleven: The Final Push

With November fully upon us and thanksgiving fast approaching we are continuing in full production mode to finish up our final build requirements on both the digital and physical sides of the experience. At the end of last week we placed a rather large order for many components left to complete the modifier input board. We ordered everything from new sensors, a television for our display, to self-adhesive mirror finish, computer components, cooling fans, hinges, pneumatic lift arms and more.

Over the weekend the team was able to host a play test at the MAKESHOP for a two hour period on Sunday morning. Planning to catch the rush of guests at the museum we arrived shortly before ten to begin our setup. At the time we had yet to receive our television display and computer so we brought along a separate computer/display cart to serve as a stand in setup. Early in the semester we had envisioned children enjoying interacting with the machine even if it wasn’t plugged in; and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday morning.

We put our machine in a corner of the MAKESHOP for two hours hoping for a few lighthearted children near our target demographic to give our machine a try. We were genuinely overwhelmed when by the end of the first hour we had nearly twenty five individual testers. Upon completion of the second hour we had reached a staggering forty seven children interact with our machine, some of which returned for multiple sessions of exploration.

Previous to this play test our earliest child was twenty one months old but this weekend we had a young girl who is a mere nineteen months old be able to fully interact with all of the modifiers we had available. Granted, the connection between the her physical manipulation and the effect it was having on the digital model was lost but we were still in a state of elation.

Early in the week we spent time fabricating the mounts to from which we would hang the television in order to provide an optimal view for our guests. Unfortunately as we completed the mounting brackets we tested the television and realized our brand new purchased was shipped as a damaged product with a crack in the screen. We quickly began the return process and received our replacement screen the very next day. This one works perfectly.

Along with the television order our computer components used to run the experience arrived. Our team spent some time assembling the new computer, updating software, downloading

drivers and continually testing our current builds to ensure the system will operate at peak performance for years to come. In our current state we require the input availability of eight USB cables that control all of our sensors, fans and input devices. Since our computer only has four USB inputs we have acquired an additional powered USB hub to successfully connect all of our components.

With the acquisition of these two items our machine is, for the first time, a stand alone unit that contains all of the physical modifiers, a computer to run the system and a large display of its own. Some additions to the machine, electronic hardware aside, is a set of hinged doors on the reverse side. There is now a top hatch that can be lifted open for modifications or repair to the television as well as two lower doors that will provide complete access to all of the sensor‘s wiring configurations and the computer console.

Moving into next week we are awaiting the completion of our parts that are being cut on the CNC router in the Carnegie Mellon Drama department as well as some custom pieces that we have sent to Shapeways, a company that will 3D print or parts in a stronger material than we can produce in house. These pieces will be some of the last crucial components left before our final assembly takes place next week.

Moving into next week we will be prepping for our final play test of the semester and polishing our machine to meet the museum’s standards. With two weeks left we have a decent amount of fabrication left to complete but as a team we feel confident in our abilities, our schedule and our potential for creating a phenomenal product.