Maker's Lab Remote
Maker's Lab Remote
The Maker's Lab is a practical course in computer science, which deals with the development of an interactive system including its hardware and software components. The focus of the internship is the development and implementation of an exciting application based on the existing technical platforms, such as Arduino. The course uses our FabLab with 3D printer, laser cutter and 3D scanner. This makes it suitable for both the Master of Computer Science and those interested in Master of Embedded Systems and Microrobotics. Students work in groups of two or three on a practical solution for a given problem.
During the Covid-pandemic in 2020, it was impossible to hold this course in its usual structure. Thus we made changes so that the students could still tackle the given challenge in groups of two or three students without requiring physical interpersonal contact.
Unlike other years, in this year's Maker's Lab class, all student groups received the same task. To build a puzzle-box, where each side respresented an individual puzzle. Once all puzzles were solved the box was to open and release its "treasure". The box's dimensions were given with side length of 20cm.
To explore possible puzzles, we started with a "Quick-and-Dirty" prototyping session, giving the students a chance to quickly ideate a number of puzzles and check them for feasibility. Only after this pre-selection, the actual hardware-related prototyping process with Arduino-components started.
Student groups were give a basic set of components but could order more specialized hardware, if their project required so.
An early highlight of the Maker's Lab is always the Quick-and-Dirty Prototyping Session. The aim here is to create quick, simple, initial prototypes from everyday materials without getting bogged down in questions of technical feasibility. Individual functions, the entirety of the system, or even usage situations can be represented. In particular, the students should get a feeling for the three-dimensionality of the later product.
As this event could also take place on site in our laboratories the students did not have access to our dedicated collections of QnD materials. Instead, the students received the necessary supplies at home and the method was introduced in one of the regular online meetings. Here, within two hours, a short overview was given, first prototypes were developed and these intermediate results were briefly presented at the end. Since the students had the remaining material on hand, it was easy to continue developing the prototypes afterwards.
A basic set of craft and household materials was provided to students for prototyping. This ensured that all participants had access to a variety of the most commonly used QnD materials. The cardboard box in which the materials were handed out also had the same dimensions as the later puzzle box, so this could be used as a basis for prototypes. Of course, the students could also bring in other materials from their environment.
|Cardboard box, 20x20x20cm||1|
|Colored Card DIN A3||2|
|Colored Card DIN A4||10|
|Stiff, transparent foil DIN A4||2|
The core of the Maker's Lab is of course the prototypical implementation and iteration of the project with the help of various manufacturing techniques. Unfortunately, the students could not, as usual, work independently in our Fablab to gain personal experience in the use of laser cutters, 3D printers and co. Instead, they had the opportunity to prepare files for manufacturing and commission them from university staff. This way, they could still use the full scope of the Fablab and gain insight into the possibilities, but also limitations, of the different techniques.
In addition to manufacturing the puzzle box it needs to be equipped with sensors and actuators to make it interactable. Since all groups had the same task this year, a basic stock of generally required materials could already be procured in advance. Under hygienic precautions the boxes with the materials were packed and could be picked up outside the university building; for students outside Oldenburg the materials were sent by mail. Furthermore, the students had the option to order additional material specifically tailored to their project.
|Elegoo UNO Ultimate Starter Kit||1|
|Jumper wires long||30|
|Jumper wires short||1|
|Hinges with scres||3|
The IEEE Pervasive Computing magazine published our experience report on this year's Maker's Lab class titled "Making, Together, Alone: Experiences from Teaching a Hardware-Oriented Course Remotely" in Vol. 19, No. 4, 2020 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/9261236