Period Paper Signal

In this week – and final!! – project for Intro to Fab, we were assigned to use a motor. Thus we were supposed to make a creation that moved using servos, DC motors, Steppers and other examples showed in class.

When I heard about this assigned homework I reminded of a project I heard in the beginning of the semester called Paper Signals. Paper Signals is a Google Voice experiment that explores how physical things can be controlled with voice. The creators designed a few examples of paper controllers that track things like weather, Bitcoin, rocket launches, and more.

For the experiment, they fabricate the small signals with paper and use servos to create the movement once the data APIS connected to the Google Voice triggers it. As I really liked the approach of this experiment and I am really excited about connecting online digital data to offline physical computing objects, I believed it was a great prototype to try and decided to purchase the materials and got started.

The Paper Signals Page is very straightforward. They give you a very nice tutorial on how to download and connect the data. They also provide the PDF of the templates to create the paper fabrication. So my first action was to recreate one original Paper Signal as an example.

So I recreated the countdown.

For that I printed the Paper Signals  pdf templates and cut it.

Also, I assembled the Adafruit Feather with the Micro Servo and put the code and its libraries together. They had a bug in their Arduino code so at first it wouldn’t compile, as you can check below.

But with some help from Mathura (thank you!!!) we fixed it. It was just a matter of declaring the requested variable that probably was deleted by mistake from some user on Github. Below you can check the added void.

And it Compiled!

And then I was ready to put it together!


For a second step I aimed to create my own Paper Signal. So I thought: paper signals are supposed to inform you, in a cute way about relevant data. So what is a very relevant data that I would like to be warned or informed about in a daily basis?

If you are a human being and you have an uterus, you will or had or probably have a couple of days in the month when you get your period. For most of this fortunate people who have an ovary, this time of the month comes along with pain, discomfort, hormonal changes: meaning a lot of variables that negatively affect your humor. This, if you live with someone, this person also has to live with your mood during those days.

So I created my Paper Period Signal!

A paper signal that is connected to my Google Calendar and, when I set my period days (which usually is set for 2 days before that because of PMS), is able to inform everyone who sees it about it!

For now I put together the physical part (customized from the original Rocket paper signal template), and am working on getting my GCalendar Api to replace it in the following part of the code, replacing the rocket launch date as you can check below.


Experimenting with different fabrication materials

For this week’s intro to Fab assignment we should use different materials and combine it into something. I have already created a similar assignment when I worked in my repeatability one, in which I built tiny succulent vases, combining cement with wood (that you can see in the image above). Thus, this time, I was excited about trying to work with metal.

Due to time constraints — finals — I was not able to go to  Metalliferous , the metal and metal tool supply house recommended in class. Accordingly, if I still wanted to work with metal I would have to find another way to get my material. So I started thinking about everyday metal objects that we use in our life. And what is the first think that pops in your mind? Cutlery.

So I started researching different ways to use cutlery as a source of material, and I was impressed by how many different things people create from this “ready made”. A lot of jewelry such as rings, earrings and even necklaces; portrait frames, sculpture animals, and so on. In this search, I found a really cute set of forks that were bended to look like human hands, and I thought this was a fun challenge to do for this week’s assignment.

I purchased at home depot 4 forks – as I was aiming to make at least one I believed it was better to play it safe and get some extras. And went back to itp’s shop to get started. I tried bending it with pliers, which worked ok. I broke some forks in the process, but I still got two well bended. Still, I needed to bend it even further as my idea was to bend it in a way that it would seem that the fork was making the peace sign.

So, the shop staff recommended me to use the clamps and use my weight to bend it while the fork was been hold by the tool. That helped me bend it further. I also had an extra “fork tooth” from a fork that I broke earlier when first trying with pliers – the secret about bending these forks is to actually do it gently and slowly, otherwise they break – so I decided to glue it in the fork adding a “fifth finger” to it so it could look more like a human hand. I used superglue for that.

Because of the bending marks and a bit of the glue that you could see in the metal, I sanded it and painted it gold.

While it was drying I started to think about the holder of the fork. I found a good chunk of leftover wood in the shop and cut it into a small piece. As I wanted to place the fork inside the wood, Ben – our intro to fab teacher-,  recommended me to cut my wood holder in half, measure the fork and sand it with the “drill sanding machine” until it had this space to fit the fork and then glue those two pieces of wood back together. And that’s what I did.

Before, though, I realized it was better to cut the fork. So I cut it using the metal saw to fit better into my wood holder. I also painted the wood holder black, and that’s how I made my fork-peace&love-metal&wood-sculpture.


Music Player Enclosure

My assignment for intro to fab in the past week was to create a concept of an enclosure for a project.

The enclosure should have a function and buttons for manipulating it. As I am really focused on working in my final for pcomp and icm I knew I wouldn’t have much time to focus on this project. Besides, one of the main things I am working on my final is actually fabricating the cardboard dollhouse that will be the scenario of it. Thus, I have been already spending a lot of time in the laser cutter.

Accordingly, to get away from the laser cutter and do a simple yet useful enclosure I got a simple plastic box at Thinkersphere.

I specifically liked this box size because you can fit a considerable amount of important things in it, such as breadboard, Arduino Uno, a battery, a speaker and still have space. To create the buttons, I also got an on/off switch (you can’t never have too many of those), and used two potentiometers from a previous project. I used the ruler to draw where I wanted to place the holes.

And now it was time to use the static DrillBid – is this the name of the machine? -, and I was doing it for the first time. How exciting it was to get away from the laser cutting for a bit and be able to do it manually. I was really happy with the result and surprised by the simplicity of the process. I was done in about an hour. Wow.

So now I could add the buttons and use my Music Player Enclosure as I wish!


A really simple project, still I found out important new tools and resources 🙂


ITP Students Final’s Laser Cut Souvenir

We are all going crazy over our final projects for Intro to Physical Computing and Computational Media. At least I am. Coming up with ideas, thinking about its execution, starting to develop it…Giving up and thinking the first idea is dumb or is really hard to accomplish in the given time. Thinking about a second idea…going back to the first one…wait, did I hear a third idea? It is indeed a challenging process.

Therefore, for the laser cut assignment I decided to create little keychains to give as fun gift for the class, or, if I achieved to produce more, even to distribute to ITP students.

I had a spare thick (6mm) acrylic sheet that I bought at Canal Plastics when doing my PCOMP Midterm. Since I had spent a considerable amount last week on my succulent vases (which I glued yesterday and I will be updating the final results later today in last week’s post), I decided to create the keychains from it.

I was curious to see the issue Ben, our teacher, mention about creating multiple tiny things in the laser cutter. The laser cutter (the 75w that I worked on because of the thickness of the material) has an x of 0-32 and y of 0-20. The closer from 0, the stronger the laser is. Therefore, If you use a sheet that is 18×12 (like mine) to create the keychains, chances are the ones located in the 5×5 will be fine, engraved and cut, while the other ones will remain unfinished and have to go through a second/third/fourth/… laser cut process.

So I created my files in Illustrator, using 0.1px black for what I wanted to engrave and 0.01 red for what I wanted to cut. I tested it on a cardboard. I wanted to test two sizes and ask people which size they would prefer to use as a keychain.

Everyone liked the small one better.

Then, I tested in a scrap sheet of the same material that I had.

And now it was time for the official test. My first aim was to cut my whole acrylic sheet for the tiny keychains. So, besides setting the cutting lines to cut the keychains I also set it to cut my whole acrylic sheet after two vertical roles of the keychains. I decided to do that in order to avoid the failing Laser Cut issue that Ben mentioned.

Throughout Laser Cutting, I had to repeat several times my process. I pressed “go” to engrave about 4 times and would have pressed more if it wasn’t for the time – I booked 2 hours but was still running out – and had to press go 4 times.

For my surprise, the keychains placed in the bottom of my two vertical rows were not ready by the time I had to leave the machine. Only the keychains placed in the top 8in of my vertical row were actually well engraved and cut. I imagined that doing two rows vertically and so on would be enough but at the end it wasn’t.

Still, I got about 11 ok Keychains (I booked an emergency 30 minutes before class laser cut time so maybe I can have 17 by the time the class starts to be able to give it to everyone). And, mainly, a couple of lessons to keep in mind: Laser cutting can take a lot of time, always book waaay more time than you think to work on the laser cutter and, mainly if you are working in the production of many tiny objects, keep in mind the x and y power factor and that you will have to deal with that while creating with it.

To finalize, I used a sharpie pen and a marker to fill my engraving with a black color. I bought a lot of keychain holders from Amazon, you can get 100 units for $5. It didn’t turn out exactly how I expected but, well, embrace your process 😉


Repeatability Succulent Vases

For the second week’s assignment for my Intro to Fabrication class, we had to create 5 identical objects. The aim was to learn the process of creating replicas.

As I have just moved to a new apartment and I am really looking forward to fill my place with plants, I thought right away of making vases. Also, since in my last project I only used paper (besides the circuit to make the lantern), I wanted to challenge myself and work with different materials. Specially materials that I have never worked before.

I love this “Pinterest” concrete vases. And it seemed interesting to work with concrete. As I also wanted to test my skills Miter Saw and wood – since it looks a bit scary but at the same time cool to play with. In spite of that, by working with copper tape last week I really got into the idea of bringing to my house something with copper color. There is something about this industrial style that is very visually appealing.

So the first idea was to create a concrete square shaped vase, with a wood square bottom as a base. This wooden base, I would spray paint – something I also have never done before – with copper color spray. And the result should be similar to the picture above.

Step 1 – Getting the materials

There are a considerable amount of youtube tutorials and blog posts on how to make those vases. This one was my main reference.

As I googled where to buy concrete, Home Depot was the first answer. So Friday I headed to the store where I purchased my plants ( I was lucky to find tiny ones so I could make the small square shaped vases I wanted ), a high piece of wood – that had the width to fit the tiny vases and have spare space for the concrete borders, a pre-mixed bucket of refined concrete, Copper color all-materials spray paint, and Gorilla Glue, to glue the wooden bottom to the concrete in the end.

Step 2 – Making the mold & adding concrete

I spared my Sunday afternoon to make this project. In the video tutorial it was mentioned that you needed 24h to take it out from the mold, and 48h for it to completely dry. So I thought that by doing it on Sunday I would be safe.


For this assignment we were not able to use the laser cutter. Therefore, to make the mold I did it first on Photoshop, printed it in regular a4 paper , cut by hand. I chose a cardboard from ITP’s shop cardboard shelf, and, as I was really worried to make a stable mold (in the tutorial video one of the errors the Youtuber mentions is that at first she used a very light cardboard and thus it collapsed) I made the questionable choice of picking a thick one – later you’ll understand why.

I out the a4 paper mold on top of it and cut 5 molds of cardboards with a knife. I assembled the little squares, and also, being afraid of it collapsing, made a really safe enclosure with the Glue Guns and tape. This may have also been a questionable move.

After that, I put vaseline in the insides of the vases. Also, I got the little plastic vases of the plants to use it as the holes to put my succulents in. I added the concrete and everything came together. Now I just had to let it dry, and hope for the best.

Step 3 – Getting it out of the mold (after 72h and still not dry) & making the wooden base

Since Sunday, I kept checking everyday on my five concrete baby vases to see if they were ready to come out to the real world. This was when I noticed that was something wrong with what I did with my mold: I made it so still, stable and enclosed that there was barely space for air to come in. Thus, it wasn’t drying. So Wednesday afternoon I decided to take it off and let it dry without the molds, even if with this I had to embrace a lot of imperfections since parts of the concrete would glue on the cardboard, that was really hard to get off.


Meanwhile, I made the wooden bases. And it was incredibly fun and successful to work with the Miter Saw – at least something was working out!


So this is how my not yet dry vases were looking so far:


I sanded the wooden squares to ass paint and spray painted with my new favorite color.

Step 4 – Waiting for it to dry and hoping for the best

My plants are still homeless, but I’m sure the concrete WILL dry at some point and they will be soon sitting in cute copper trendy industrial like vases.


[to be continued…]





[Halloween Inspired] Angry Trump Paper Lantern Coffee Cup

In Intro to Fabrication class we were assigned to create a lantern.

The constraints were the following: it has to light up, have a switch (on/off), and be portable.

So…What is the first thing you associate to portable once you are a 2-month-old-newbie New Yorker? Paper coffee cups, of course.

Once my idea was to create something simple and fun, I decided to use it as base for my lantern. Here, despite the rush of the city, we are all immersed in the fun Halloween vibes. And, at the same time, the not so fun ,unfortunate new wave of restrictions for legal working immigrants (that may actually impact me at some point in the future). Therefore, it wasn’t hard to think about adding a sarcastic and scary  Trump image to my project.

For that, I needed a 9V battery, resistors, LEDs, wires and copper tape.

Besides that, I just printed a b&w scary Trump face and glued it in my coffee paper cup (nothing like recycling!), cut holes in his eyes and replaced by my LEDs.

I cut the copper tape and the top of the plastic cover of my cup, making a switch.

And that was it!

No drills or laser cutters yet…. but their time will come Muahahahah 😉

Happy Halloween!