Making things and Pressing Buttons: An Internship

I’ve started looking at some of the finer details. Rather than a separate indicator light and knob, why don’t we combine them? When we get down the track of the traffic light, and some students cant tell which colour is which, why not add some embellishments to differentiate them?

After trying our hardest to design something that was ergonomic for hand-holding, I stepped back and thought about how these devices are going to be used; in the classroom. I searched for images of coding in classrooms in Australian schools and almost all of them were on linear desks, side-by-side with computers.

In many cases, there was very limited space between computers for additional materials to be placed. Our Input and Output module would need to compete for space, not only with our Commander module, but the computer screen, the computer tower, the keyboard, the mouse, and a paper work sheet.

My new ideas were all centred around this desktop context:

And models ensued:

The guys are getting pretty close on the hardware side of things. Below is a ‘breadboard’ layout where they plug in all the elements they need to test if they’ll all work the way they want to. Once they’ve tested it, they solder it onto a tiny circuit board.

Looking at the elements on the breadboard gave me a chance to think about how the knobs, dials and switches would actually look and feel within the design of the modules.

After measuring the internal knob from the breadboard, I thought it was time to try making a resin dial to sit over it. I’ve made silicone moulds before, but it was super expensive, using art-store silicone. This time, I tried a cheaper option: instructables.com/id/Worlds-easiest-silicone-mold

It worked pretty well, given the cost, and now that I’ve used it I know that it’s more flexible than Pinky Sil and needs to sit in a secure casing before jamming an object into it.

I’ve spent a lot of time researching lights, switches, dials and buttons during this project. Searching through electronics catalogues is boring. BUT! Once we bought some to try out and I was able to touch them and click them and play with them, I got pretty into it. I’ve got some sexy new buttons on order to try out real soon 😀

I’m pretty happy with the shape of the Input Module, so I played around with a bunch of different button configurations:

Hopefully in my next post, I’ll be happy with the shape of the Output module and be able to play with some LED configurations.

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PS. Thanks for all the support. I shared my blog mainly to help relieve me of confusing conversations – I’m so stoked by the amount of positive feedback I’ve gotten. You are wonderful!

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