Kuan Liu - Mon 11 May 2020, 12:13 am
Modified: Mon 11 May 2020, 12:13 am

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Theme: digital sensation and creative learning

Goal: Aiming to teach elementary children about environmental protection and sustainability in their everyday life at home. Creating a gardening terrarium to teach children about doing good things so it would give water to the gardening; otherwise, it would produce smoke and kill the plants.

What have you achieved in the last week towards your prototype goals?

I got the rocks I need from the park and I started to build my Terrarium. Growing my mini mints from cutting but before that, I would need to soak them into the water. Then plant them later when the roots grow.

In the technical part, I am still working on my smoking. I managed to light up one wire that could make the smoke; however, it was too hot and lit up the cotton or it was too long and the voltage is not strong enough. I am not sure if I didn’t have glycerol on the cotton. I also was trying to get the temperature sensor working and show the information on the LCD screen.

The interview with the elementary student and our team gathered 20 questions. We hope we could get at least three user interviews by Friday.

What are the last-minute tasks you need to complete before prototype submission next Monday?

I had most of the material for building the terrarium but I haven’t put them together and hoping to have the smoke effect working.

What are your concerns/needs in regard to getting those done?

What my concert would be hoping to get all the parts working and putting together, making the video, and writing the report. I think it seems like I am concerned about everything.

Prototype building process

Temperature sensor

On Thursday I finally got the LCD screen working YAYAY!! Hooray!! :)

To me, this is an improvement and good progress. Even though I didn’t write the code myself, reading the code, it’s a challenge for me. I used Arduino before, but when I don’t know how to fix it or modify it for my needs, I tend to get back down. The feeling of anxiety starts growing on me when I don’t get anything, especially when the deadline is close by. At that point, I didn’t have an intention to learn or tried to understand it step by step. Still, I would still try to make it work for the sake of turning in the project.

This time, I want to enjoy it while I am doing it. I still feel anxious when I don’t know how to make it work. But I kept telling myself to stay calm and kept looking for a solution. At first, I had no clue why it’s not working. I kept going back to the board overview since everyone on the Youtube tutorial had slightly different modules. Most people connected the LCD on the breadboard, but my breadboard was too small, so it won’t work. Testing back and forth, Ben told me I could place it right on the top, and it would be easier and fewer wires. It still didn’t work. I tried to connect the wires to the LCD directly, yet it still has no sign at all. I thought I could test the LCD to make sure it was not broken. From there, I know the LCD is working, and I should set the LiquidCrystal lcd to (8, 9, 4, 5, 6, 7), and I also tried turning the potentiometer in the top left to adjust the contrast of the LCD. Then I realized what Ben told me about setting the LiquidCrystal lcd code to (8, 9, 4, 5, 6, 7). I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that my code was wrong when Ben told me what I would need to change and check. I guess after working on it for too long my mind was not functioning.

I was initially wanted to use this in my prototype but I will put a hold on it for now after I refining my concept a bit.

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Smoke effect

I finally finished making the smoke machine. It took me a Long time of trying to figure out what was between the voltage, current, and resistance and testing out 5 different wires from soldering the wire to each edge and testing, connecting, and reconnecting to the battery. It’s a lot of work, but I am enjoying it. However, I felt I didn't have enough time because my parts didn’t arrive until 30th of April. I am worried that I would have less time to work on it. Anyways, I finally got it to work this week. I am so happy.

In this Friday tutorial, I shared what I had with tutors, and Clay suggested a better way of building my smoke from a YouTube link. I gave it a try since I ran out of ideas and still didn’t find a way to have cotton surrounded by the nichrome wire. Clay told me that I would need to cut the nichrome wire shorter to make it work. I was a little bit skeptical about it because I was afraid if I messed it up, I won’t have the material to make it again. Most important was that I was afraid I won’t make it on time for the deadline for the video. If not give it a try, then I wouldn’t even know if it would work or not. It ended up helping me a lot, and I spent all my time in the tutorial session building the smoke machine.

Thinking back from disassembling a hairdryer and testing all the nichrome wires’ resistance using multimeters. I went through a lot of trial and error but at the same time, I am glad that I had learned some new skills. This is my first time disassembling electronic stuff by myself and I succeeded in doing what I was intended to do. This is fun and cool.

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Temperature sensor


smoke effect