I had three major ideas that I have been batting around since I started thinking about "What Am I Going to Make?" The three ideas are as follows:
1. This idea came from my boyfriend, who is an avid juggler. I... am not. He always wants me to pass clubs with him and I can't do it very well. He was like, "Why don't you make me a juggling robot that could pass clubs with me?" I laughed, but then I started thinking about it. Could it be done? The mechanics of the throwing arm alone seemed daunting, not to mention the catching and then the feeding of the caught clubs to the throwing arm. In talking with my instructor, he led me to see that making JUST the throwing portion of the robot would be enough for this class and that the other portions of Juglore 3000 could be built at a later date.
2. This idea came from my daughter, who recently graduated with a BS in Biology and seems to collect animals. I occasionally inherit an animal or two and I get lazy taking care of them. In the past, I have taught AP Environmental Science, where a very common project is making self-sustaining ecocolumns and then I started thinking about the hamster cages that have tubes connecting them together to make multiple spaces for the hamster to go. I thought, can I combine these two ideas? Could I make a self-sustaining, or even mostly self-sustaining animal habitat?
The more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. It would definitely be able to incorporate most, if not all, of the skills we would be learning this year and offered the best options for incorporating electronic inputs and outputs. I could have the habitat monitor such parameters as temperature, humidity, pH, and light levels and adjust as needed. I could have multiple "rooms" that could have different characteristics to support different animals and plants. There could (and should) even be decomposers that would break down waste and organic material.
3. I have been an avid gamer for decades. My family loves board games... My game of choice is Dungeons & Dragons, which I have been playing since 1984. I would love to make a gaming table that would be collapsible and would fit on top of any existing dining room table. There would be many opportunities for using the skills that we will learn each week in this class, such as molding and casting cup holders or dice holders, building the table, CNC cutting parts for the table, etc. Where I get stuck on this idea is how to incorporate the electronic components. What would they do? Some ideas are character sheet management, random number generation for dice rolls, terrain mapping, and melee management. I am really attracted to this idea but a bit overwhelmed about this piece of it.
My final concept idea is closer to the self-sustaining animal habitat mentioned above, but that really turned out to be way beyond the scope of this project. So, I decided to still create an animal habitat, only this one will be to house a reptile (most likely something along the lines of a leopard gecko) and will respond to external stimuli. Currently, the thinking is that there will be an installed ambient light sensor that will turn on a habitat light when the ambient light drops below a certain level. This will serve as a proof of concept for potentially doing something like adding a thermistor so that a heat lamp or heating pad could be turned on when the temperature drops below a certain level.
In order to plan for this project, I spoke with a biologist/herpetologist about the necessary requirements for different kinds of reptiles. (I chose a reptile habitat because I am quite familiar with them as we have owned several and their housing requirements are less "fiddly" than those for a small mammal or aquatic animal.) Below, see the notes I took during this discussion.
After this, I began sketching out designs and brainstorming what I would make and how I would implement the different parts and synthesize as many of the skills from the weekly modules as I could into this project. Please see the Notes, Planning, and Process page for the rest of the process!