Author Archive

Introduction: This is about what it takes to get things done. Every project has a life cycle and the hardest of all the stages is the materialization – the manifestation of the physical project. This is the true challenge and test of makers worth. Working on the realization of great ideas requires tools and manpower. In this instance, both were equal to the task of realizing Elena and Ivan Mitrofanova’s project “Green Spark” Tools:

Power tools

Neeraj and bek “on the grind ))”

Introduction: BCI feedback induces cortical plasticity, a basis for prompting behavioral changes, improving cognitive performance, ethics aside – neuromarketing … and on the surface test your concentration skills through gamification. In about a decade or so, interfaces like mindwave could be the obsolete versions of advanced wetware.

Test of user interface – Mindwave

The market for neural interfaces is relatively young and the relevant technologies are still growing. At the moment these user interfaces look more like prototypes  rather than the final product. It is envisaged that the technologies would evolve into more user friendly interfaces which would seamlessly interface man with virtually any networked platform. The potential for these items is colossal, however for now we have to be satisfied with the clumsy software on the phone which cannot really performs quite as seamlessly as it should.  


The course content is designed to facilitate a working knowledge of the processes and steps on production of prototypes, from the inception of the concept, through modelling and all the way to the production of the physical model.

Technologies Applied:
  • CNC Milling Machine
  • CAD Software
  • STL Conversion or Stereolithography enabled software
  • Manual design and process flows.
Intent and Purpose: The purpose of this assignment was to get acquaint one’s self with the use of machinery such as the CNC milling machine. The idea was to produce a decorative tile all the way from the concept design stages, through the 3d modelling and finally to realization of the tile by milling it in the CNC Milling Machine. Challenges: The main challenge in making an iconic piece of art is of course the inspiration. You either have it or you don’t and if you don’t, you have to get creative with the solutions. Looking through analogous works be a colossal waste of time if one does not get inspired. So sometimes, it helps to just get started with the sketching and see where that leads. Considering adequate knowledge in all aspects prior to milling, I decided to focus on the milling, with elaboration on a few technical insights that could determine success or failure with regards to achieving required results. This is especially true for novices. Therefore a section on the milling process is also appended (Appendix -1) The Product: The resulting Tile was an ergonomic piece of art and like most art, it would be east to mistake it for a trinket

Wood tile.

without function. however, even then one would still find themselves reflecting on what the purpose is, what it could mean, what was the intent, and therein lies the true purpose of art, to drive the mind forward, stretch the limits of the imagination. Appendix 1 – The Choices of End mills: For a start, there are various lengths of end mills each of which would be suited to specific purposes. Whereas it would always be preferred that the end mills be as short as possible (to reduce chatter and for rigidity), there are a whole range of other factors to consider in choosing the end mills, depending on the material being worked on as well as the material of the end mills themselves. End Mill materials:
  1. Cobalt Steel Alloy (High Speed Steel/HSS) – for softer materials
  2. Tungsten Carbide in a lattice of Cobalt (Carbide) – for harder/more abrasive materials such as Titanium
  1. HSS end mills will wear out faster than Carbide ones – Carbide is a lot harder as a material.
  2. Carbide is more brittle than HSS and therefore requires more rigidity to avoid tool failure tool alignment is critical.
  3. Ability of carbide to withstand extreme heat allows for high cutting speeds.
Geometry of the Flute:
  1. Up cut Spiral – tends to pull workpiece up. Preferred for cutting metal
  2. Down cut Spiral – Presses workpiece down. can affect chip ejection
  3. Straight Spiral – Ejects chips well.
End Geometry:
  1. Flat end mill – Best for cutting flat areas with no scalloping
  2. Ball end mill – For non flat surfaces.
  3. Corner Radius end mill – Specialized for milling corners.
Flute Numbers: For softer materials, one can use a single flute end mill since it can handle larger chip loads, however it must be considered that the higher the flute number, the better the finish, however, the chip is ejected with increased difficulty. Therefore in multi flute end mills, the feed rate is increased to prevent burning and dulling of the end mill. P.S Whereas HSS end mills seem cost effective, the lower tool life, especially in comparison to the carbide ones, can in some instances incur excess costs. It is advised that for heavy workloads, cost saving can be achieved by reducing changeover time and investing in tooling. For this carbide may be recommended when one intends to run faster and accommodate higher feed rates. On the other hand, when working with softer materials, HSS is recommended as this will reduce costs especially if the operation is not large in scale and duration.
CITY PROJECT – AUGMENTED COMMUNICATION Introduction This project serves as an ideal introduction into the vast world of Prototyping. The possibilities entailed therein are limited only by the imagination. Choices in themes were likewise developed at the discretion of the students, allowing for a more direct involvement of the student as opposed to the conventional methods in which the courses’ Project Supervisor would have directed the student in choice of themes. The Project Supervisors guidance was key in nurturing and subsequently bringing into fruition, the concepts developed by the students and for this, the teams eternal gratitude goes out to the Course Project Supervisors. In our case, the initial theme chosen was “SOUND”, and so began an exciting journey from concept inception, through several iterations, all the way to optimization and production of the final chosen prototype – An Augmented Communications’ Module. Inception With the vast array of inter-complimentary disciplines available during the first semester, inspiration for the initial concept was not a problem, on the contrary, it was narrowing it down that presented some difficulty. The choice to work with sound within specific contexts seemed like a logical starting point considering the high levels of artificial ambient noise in the environment. This choice was well justified when the subject was researched, revealing myriads of possibilities for concept development. Under the expert guidance of the Project Supervisors, the teams ideas were narrowed down and the possibilities for development were assessed.
Noise Levels analysis

Noise Levels analyzed at various locations in Moscow

  Proof of Concept: The idea at this early stage was to present working evidence to the effect that the technology available can facilitate construction of a functional prototype. The idea was to implement core skills attained at the Technologies course to implement a prototype. The initial concept was centered around augmenting the sound experience by making it tangible, whereupon it was anticipated that applications for such a unit could be found in the field of Augmented Reality, however, results for haptic sensitivity attained upon construction of an elementary glove unit were inconclusive, ergo, this direction was promptly discarded in favor of more practical field of application.  The unit was determined to be limited in functionality, possibly due to the mechanical nature of the design (Fig – 1a & 1b). Sights were turned to Sensory perceptions for a broader and yet simpler field of application – Touch! Prototyping Logs were maintained for the various stages of development.

1a – Attempts to simulate sensation of holding an object – intended to be coupled with vibrations.

And thus began the systematic development of the Augmented Communications’ Project, through the following stages:
  1. Assessment of Concept: The concept was reassessed. It was deemed necessary to revert to first principles to find a simpler and more elegant solution. Man perceives his environment to a large extent, through touch. The entire human body is sensitive to touch, logically, we sought to take advantage of this by developing a device that would stimulate the senses of touch. With the intention of making the unit as accessible and as cheap as possible, it was decided that low tech solutions would suffice, and so Vibro-motors were selected for stimulation of the haptic sensors. (Fig 2a Vibro-motors Concept, Fig 2b – Tests on a glove interface).

    2a – Concept development

    Tests on Components for proof of Conceptual functionality

  2. Modifications on the Concept: The concept was further simplified on the basis that the hands are not necessarily the most sensitive of the human skin surface, nor is it the most convenient for stimulation by such Haptic devices. It was determined that having a glove for such an interface would hinder the normal functionality of the hand. It was therefore decided that the device would have to be something more versatile and should be deployable on any part of the body. A series of tests on the sensitivity of the skin to touch were conducted on various surfaces from the hand, through the upper back to the neck region, upon which it was determined that even though sensitivity varied, one was able to distinguish and perceive the Vibro-motors with an acceptable degree of accuracy.
  3. Iterations on the haptic Strip: The choice of a final working concept was made on the basis of its versatility. It’s suitability and functionality was conclusively established during the tests on the early versions of the haptic strip. (Fig. 3 – Haptic Strip on hand).

    3 – Silicon Strip on hand for tests on useability

    At this stage the haptic strip existed in its elemental form, this being comprised of the ICU – Arduino – Nano, the Input – output transmission and reception module – in the form of a Bluetooth module, and the Vibro-motors. (Fig. 4 – Components of the Haptic Interface). Subsequent iterations of the same ranged from the hand interface, to a strip on the arm, of which there were several versions depending on the materials chosen and of which it was decided that silicon would be best suited for the intended purposes. (Fig. 5a – Tensile cloth haptic interface, 5b – Silicon Haptic Interface)

    5a – Tensile Cloth Strip

    5b – Silicon Strip

  4. Conclusions and lessons Learnt: Not taking into account the various technical skills required to produce the prototype, and assessing the Project exclusively on the criteria of the resultant prototype, its functionality – as per intended design and its aesthetics, the prospects for future optimization of the prototype are realistic. It was likewise determined that applicability and use of such a prototype within certain contextual communication protocols was not farfetched. The intuitive nature of the patterns made for easy memorizing when the prototype was used. Further developments of this interface could be carried out in the direction of design of hardware compatible apps for devices such as cellphones and tablets. In addition, further work can be done with regards to miniaturization of the strip. This can be achieved by accessorizing the element as a part of inner ware such as lightweight vests once the strip has been thinned out to appropriate scales. In this instance, concerns still exist over the safe washing of such wearable technology, in light of which it seems appropriate to have the strip along with all electronics installed as a removable device which can be temporarily glued onto the vest or a long sleeved shirt. In such an instance, the wearable tech should merge seamlessly with the inner garment.
  5. The Prototype: 
Scope of the Assignment:
Assignment II is an assignment in which we were to make items of our choosing using the basics gained 
up to that point in time, these being the laser cutting process as well as the basics of press-fit.

The process of 3D printing is fast gaining popularity especially with regards to prototyping where it has become a must have component if one is to make a prototype. Having a prototype printed out is essential to the process of design since it helps to actually feel and see the item being prototyped. In anticipation of various items to be used in the "City Project" field, I chose to focus prototyping on components related to the "City Project"

Duration of 3D printing Process.
Depending on the complexity of the item being printed, the process can either take just a few minutes, to several hours.
Iterations 1 - 3 of Palm bracelet along with knuckle ring component

Model of Component – Palm Bracelet

The modeling of the above captioned palm bracelet was subsequently instrumental in determining the ridiculousness of our initial assumption both in terms of utilitarian inconveniences as well as ease of use, not to mention the fact that it just failed to serve its purpose. Subsequent modifications forced the team to think more organically. This hands on approach enabled the team to acknowledge and understand the scope and limitations of the technology in use. Depending on the task at hand, I was able to optimize and subsequently better choose the means with which to make each respective prototype component.
This outside the box approach to the prototype (heck, the box was thrown out entirely) was one of the issues in that it presented a steep learning curve to me personally. 
The optimization of the design is enhanced by the fact that the item becomes tangible and it can be tested (if printed to scale). This is one of the few shortfalls of the virtual environment and simulations in CAD software as a whole. 
The printing process is also limited by the dimensions of the printer used. For instance, the Ultimaker 2 Go has a build volume of 120mm x 120 mm x 115mm. 

Materials Used:
Printing was done on Ultimaker 2 Go, using PLA (Polylactic Acid) which as it turns out, is one of the more commonly used 3D printing materials. The model was saved in STL format and was prepped for printing using Ultimaker Cura.

Ultimaker 2 Go

Lessons Learnt:
The prototyping process is made much easier with the use of 3D printers.
The choice of materials (of the prototype) should be taken into consideration during the printing process.
The use of a resin laser 3d printers is a more accurate method of 3D printing.


Assignment Parameters:
The assignment was to construct a tower using press fit laser cut modular pieces with a dimensional 
limit of 150mm on the length. 

Modular patterns were restricted to 3 patterns or modular units.
Laser Cut plywood

Modular Units for Tower Structure

Pre-Design - Conceptual approach:
The concept was based on attainment of the maximum height without compromising the structural 
integrity of the tower frame. with these two parameters as the basis, it was evident that 
additional stability could be attained by the use of a cross-pattern of "beam" structures. 
Horizontal elements were left out. 

Iterations and Re-Design:
In line with the initial concept of simplicity, there were few iterations between the initial 
design and the final version.

Assembly of Tower

Fully Assembled Tower

The initial design had stability issues due to the initial proposal of framing the beams using 
continuous interlocking. This made the initial design heavy. Whereas the interlocking pattern 
was maintained for the base in order to keep the structure stable, the interlocks were discarded 
at the subsequent upper levels, making the structure lighter and allowing for attainment of 
increase height.

Cutting & Assembly:
Cutting out of the modular units was done using a laser cutting machine.
The cutting process took about 45 min.

The Team

Whereas the final product was a product of active team work on the part of all team members, 
the cutting work was conducted under the guidance of the course supervisor Ivan Mitrofanov 
since at the time non of the team members could conduct the cutting works independently.
Arduino. The programming of Arduino is essential to the prototyping process. It forms the neural network of most if not all commonly used prototypes. A wide range of applications can be and are being developed using the Arduino platform. It serves as an ideal introduction into the world of prototyping of electronics. The basics of programming for the Arduino were elaborated and demonstrated with the ease and simplicity as only one proficient in the subject can do. For this, credits go to the tutoring staff on the subject for a first rate and most efficient skills transfer in my personal experience. This can be attributed to the hands on approach as well as an open door policy that facilitates enquiries in the event that one is not clear on the process. It is as close as one can get to a one-on-one experience with the brilliant minds that facilitate this course.

Blink command on basis of audio input

I started programming for Arduino in the standard way, with the blink command. However, the simplicity of the programming language and the ease with which one adapts were instrumental in enabling quick transition upwards to the more complex stuff. The possibilities are endless and the only limiting factor in this instance is the imagination of the inventor. However, it should also be taken into consideration that the sensors used and other components such as transistors, resistors capacitors, to mention but a few may vary in price, size, efficiency. The Learning Curve. Like most novices, the idea of programming electronics seemed quite novel initially, but that was only before I was able to bet a full understanding of the way Arduino works and the possibilities that it opens up. The rest was a matter of curiosity and an insatiable appetite for Making Things. This made an otherwise steep learning curve much more effortless to overcome. The skills thereby attained are applicable in the real world for solving a wide variety of issues both within a home environment as well as on the larger scale within the City. The skills attained were and continue to be instrumental in the search for solution in a wide variety of City-wide and domestic

address: 20 Myasnitskaya ulitsa
(metro stations ‘Lubyanka’ and ‘Kitay-Gorod’)
Moscow 101000 Russia

phone: +7(495)772-95-90 *15026