Now that we’ve wrapped up Technique 2012 (the latest edition of MIT’s yearbook – you should buy one!) I’ve started collecting all my old photographs from the yearbook servers. There are lots of events that I never properly examined, so it’s been a fun experience to go through four years worth of images and find all the old gems.
For a start, here are some shots from when I was a Lab Assistant for 2.007 – that’s MIT’s introductory design and robotics course for mechanical engineers.
This past Thursday featured an event called A Day in the Life of MIT – an event I helped organize. The photographers uploaded nearly 3000 pictures (as of this afternoon) documenting all facets of MIT life.
In keeping with the theme of photographic exploration, I decided to experiment a little with bokeh photography. After a brief test with an extremely boring triangular aperture, I quickly moved on to a much more aggressive cut:
I got some interesting stuff, in spite of the fact that it was literally impossible to focus with that cap in place. I didn’t have the tripod or the patience to remove the cap, focus, and replace the cap before taking each picture, but you can see what I managed below.
I received a puzzle box as a gift a few years ago, and I liked it so much that I’ve been trying to make my own. My word-working skills are fairly rudimentary but luckily my lasercutting skills are top-notch!
This box is about as simple as they come; it’s a modified version of Bruce Viney’s Cubey box that is double the size but still uses 1/8″ plywood.
So I cut the box out, glued it all together, played with it – good times, but as I already have plenty of hidey-holes it was a little purposeless. Last night, however, I realized that with classes starting again I needed a new place to stash my alarm clock to prevent my AM-self from turning it off too quickly and falling back asleep.
It’s a little cruel to early-morning Nick, but that guy’s a jerk.
The double-whammy of not much sleep and a blood donation left me fairly loopy this afternoon. Once I determined I was incapable of completing any actual work, I decided to mess around with the etching capabilities of my lab’s laser cutter (as an alternative to the time-consuming but very distinctive etching I’ve done before).
My friend Laura is a biology major who loves gifts and keychains, so I went for a threefer!
Stay tuned for more experimentations with varying power and etch depth.
This Memorial Day weekend I travelled down to Shippenville, PA, as the semi-official photographer for a wedding! I say semi-official because I made no claims as to my talent, and was in fact volunteered by my friend (and daughter of the groom) Laura.
Self-effacement aside, I think I took some very wonderful pictures. I’ve included a few of my favorites below, and you can see the rest in this Flickr set.
I’ve had these 3/8″ acrylic disks sitting in my cruft boxes for a few years now – they were the excess material from a waterjetted 2.670 robot part, and naturally my packrat nature kicked in when the professor offered them up for free. I immediately had the idea to etch patterns into the surface that would glow when the disks were edge-lit, but lacked a dremel or any workable knowledge of g-code to make the CNC mills do my bidding. My alternative effort to use a hand drill with an ordinary drill bit as dremel failed spectacularly, so I shelved the project.
Recently, however, I discovered that the CNC mill at the hobby shop can take DXFs directly! Thus, my CNC DIY etched lighting lives again. I’ll eventually make 5 or 6 of these and string them along my walls for ambient lighting, but I wanted to show off the first two out of the etcher.
So rather than try to make a new static page for every completed project I do (which I never do because I’m obsessed with getting everything perfect) I’m going to do what all the young people are doing these days and start a blog. I’m not a terribly interesting person but I make interesting things, so I’ll be featuring those.
In that spirit: 6.115 is over! For all you non-MIT types, the 6 means it is an electrical engineering / computer science class (the EE side in this case). Throughout the course we programmed 8051 microcontrollers to do all sorts of ridiculous things, like drive CT scanners and robotic arms and act as feedback controllers for variable power supplies. The actual classroom portion ended about a month ago, at which point we were all sent forth to work on individual final projects – everything from speech interpreters to pen plotters to glove-based robotic controllers.
In honor of my mechatronics roots, I decided to make a ball and plate feedback control system. After constructing the system from leftover delrin and ABS stock, I soldered IR LED and phototransistor arrays onto perfboard and bolted them to the table. By scanning through the LEDs and reading the phototransistors, I was able to determine the X-Y position of the ball on the plate. Running that through a PD controller and sending the command to hobby servos beneath the table made everything work like magic! (Or not; implementing a digital controller with coarse position measurement in assembly with no floating point math is difficult).
In case that made no sense: enjoy the video and pictures! My friend Clare posted some lovely macro shots of the various lab kits during demonstration day as well.