19 - Project Development

This was the last week of Fab Academy, and was prepared for finishing our Final Projects. During this week I polished all the details of my final project and I finished the presentation slide and video. To check how the Final Project looks like and all the work it was done please check my Final Project site, there you will find everything related to my final project.

For this week we have some questions to answer and check our progress, here are them:

What tasks have been completed, and what tasks remain?

Before the presentation, all tasks were completed, I had a working prototype, but there is a lot more work to do to improve it. This is the list of tasks for the project:

  • 3D design of all parts: All parts of the Ukulele are designed and working.
  • 3D printing parts: The designs were printed and tested before the assembly, I tested different designs for the magnets for example and for the fret to test different results and get the best.
  • Electronics design and production: The design and production was done during the networking week, and this week I developed some new master board design to make it better and integrate the pull-up resistors and the bluetooth module.
  • Programming: All the boards were programmed using Arduino IDE.
  • Interface: The interface was build during Interface and Application week using Processing. During the last week I developed the part in charge of making the MIDI output.
  • Laser and Wood Bending for the body: During Wildcard week I worked a lot with the body, to create a bended side part out of flexible plywood and cut the cover shapes with the laser machine.
  • Bluetooth connexion: The bluetooth connexion was the last part I did, I decided to go for it during this development week and it worked perfectly.
  • Assembling the prototype: When I tested new pieces and designs I always tried to assemble the full project to see how it works with the rest of the parts. During the last week I didn't disassemble it to keep it perfect for the final presentation.
All this tasks where done, but there are a lot of thing to do to keep imporving it. The more urgent tasks are:
  • Design a case for the master board and the bluetooth module, to integarte all components.
  • Re-code the master boards to use the slide switch and to be able to use any Ukulele as master or slave.
  • Test new bodies, for example a 3D printed one or make one with other composites.
  • Optimize the interface code to eliminate or reduce the lag between the press of a button and the MIDI sound.
I am very happy of the result, but there is always more work to do!

What has worked? What hasn't?

Looking back, my project has change a lot from the initial idea, there are parts that have been achieved and parts that didn't, but I finally get a nice prototype and I will try to keep working on it to achieve all goals.

So, what has worked:

  • It is a portable device. This was one of the original goals, and I achieve it in a complete different way, I wanted a foldable device and finally I got a modular device, that gives you, apart form the portability solution, more options as an instrument.
  • Designed for learners. Also was one of the original ideas, it is designed to help learners with the process, connecting with another Ukulele or with a computer to improve your skills.
  • Communication between boards and devices. It was a though task, but finally I managed to have both communications, I2C between boards and Bluetooth between devices.
  • MIDI music output. This was a thing that I never would have though about, but having it connected to the computer gave me the opportunity and I think it was a major improvement.

Now, what hasn't worked:

  • Auto Tunned instrument. I didn't manage to tune my instrument automatically, I tried during the Input's week, but I realized it was a hard task to detect the vibration frequency right and tune the Ukulele. I really liked that idea, and I will try to work on it in the future.
  • Wifi connection. During the development of the project I thought a lot about the option of connecting the instrument with a web server via Wifi and be able to teach someone from any part of the world using the internet connection. Like the other one, I will try to work on it more to make it more accessible.
  • The modular body. It worked, but I have to improve the way the vibrations are transmitted to the body, to make a more solid instrument.

What questions need to be resolved?

There is a lot of work to do yet, so there are a lot of questions to be resolved. Some examples are:

  • How can we improve the sound and eliminate all the buzzing sounds?
  • How can the body be attached to the neck to improve the vibration transmission?
  • How can we get a faster communication to improve the MIDI output?
For now those are the first questions I would like to resolve to get a better prototype.

What will happen when?

In the future? I have no idea of what will happen on the future, I would really like to keep working on my project, but I would like to improve it first and try to raise some capital to keep it up. I don't know really how to do it, and I also will have to look for a new job after this 6 month's break. I totally fell in love with the maker culture and the Fab Lab's philosophy, so I will try to keep me involved in it and make it my job.

What have you learned?

Those 6 months of Fab Academy were maybe the best 6 months of my life. I learned more that ever, now I consider myself as a maker, I know ho to use all (or almost all) the machines from the lab, how to design pieces or projects and make them real. For me this is like a superpower and I am grateful to anyone involved in this process, I would like to thank all Fab Lab community for doing this possible, Neil for managing it and, of course and most important, the instructors of the FabLab BCN Santi, Xavi, Edu and Oscar. Amazing people doing amazing jobs with us!