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Finishing My Rocker

August 16th, 2012

During my first week at the Lab I started my first cardboard project: the EDGE Lab Rocker.

I’ve documented the process since then of the steps that I’ve taken to finish this project.

When I left off I had the layers of cardboard for the base and the legs glued together. Once it was dry I needed to sand the edges to make sure they were fairly even. This is especially important  for the legs in order to have a stable seat.










The next step was to carve out to spaces to slide the legs in.












I then had to use a hot glue gun to stick the legs into the slots and nail them into place using dowels.









It’s starting to come together!





After nailing the dowels in, there were some weak spots in the legs. To make the weak spots stronger, I used a mixture of wood shavings and glue to fill in the holes. When it’s dry it becomes really hard.






Once this was dry I needed to sand all the edges one last time before I started a step called edging.









Edging smooths over the unfinished edges of any cardboard project. This process was sticky and messy. It reminded me of doing paper mache.

Here is my rocker completely edged and dry. I needed to sand the rough spots and smooth out any overlaps in the paper.







Once that is done it is time to prime and paint the rocker.






Overall I had a great time finishing this rocker. The most challenging part was in the beginning with cutting and gluing the cardboard. I quickly learned that selecting the right type of cardboard makes a huge difference in the quality and strength of the project.  The great thing about making projects out of recycled cardboard is if you make a mistake, it’s not costly to try again.


Projects Using Arduino

August 16th, 2012

Many of the electronic projects made at the EDGE Lab use Arduino

It is an inexpensive software and hardware package that can be used to quickly make prototypes. It is also a buildable, programmable device.

Arduino can be purchased on their website.

Here are some of the projects that Vlad and the EDGE Lab have created.

The Talking Sleeve uses an Arduino wave shield to program the words that we hear when the patches are pressed.

Musical Play Dough

The conductive play dough is hooked up to an audio synthesizer. When it is squeezed or stretched out the sound frequency changes.

Here is a link to the play dough recipe

Maze Solver

This is a little car that solves mazes. It has a sensor on the bottom that detects black lines to follow. We made a maze using electrical tape. It is programmed using Arduino to solve the maze.


Volunteer Projects

August 9th, 2012

Here are some projects that volunteers are currently working on at the EDGE Lab:

Lab volunteer Charlie decided to make a set of drums out of tall tubes of cardboard. He has tubes of different sizes and is also trying out different materials for the skin. In the picture below he used tape.












Any changes he makes to the tubes alters the sound it will make. Here he is adding holes to the side.

















Instead of using drumsticks, he decided to use something different. Here is a picture below:



















When the string is pulled the lever will hit the drum. He attached a weight at the end of the string so the lever can easily bounce back.












He eventually wants to create multiple tubes and levers of different sizes to create a range of sounds.


Yuka has just completed a small table. The first picture shows her completed table but she soon realized that it can be tipped over easily. The legs that were on the table below did not provide enough support.

table with no base












She added a base to add extra support.










She is currently working on making a holder for the many rockers we have.












The piece in the picture below will support one rocker when it is on the shelf.










Here are a few of the support shelves attached to the base.











…almost finished…








Now all she needs to do is add some dowels for extra support.

Here it is being tested












Talking Sleeve

August 7th, 2012

One of the latest projects at the EDGE Lab is the Talking Sleeve. This post will document past projects that have led up to the making of the sleeve.

It all started with this:









The blue cardboard computer stand shown above was originally created as an experiment. The EDGE Lab wanted to see what would happen when a computer that was accessible at child level was placed in a childcare setting. This computer stand was designed in a way that more than one child could access the computer at the same time. They weren’t sure what impact this would have once it was in the classroom.

An educator in the classroom noticed a high level of engagement from a student with special needs. This observation sparked the idea of a custom keyboard made specifically for this child, but it can be used for anyone that has difficulty with their fine motor skills.

The first adapted keyboard was made out of cardboard and custom buttons that are larger in size than a traditional keyboard. The keys on this first keyboard were close together. This made it difficult for the child to accurately press the keys she wanted.

Below is the second version of the keyboard with the keys spaced out more.








The different cardboard pieces would be laid out and fit around where the child is sitting.  This design also had some problems and needed to be reworked. Even though the keys were spaced out enough, the vast size of this adapted keyboard made it difficult to reach around to all the keys.

Here is one part of the keyboard hooked up to a laptop.










From this, an idea emerged that would change the use of single letters to spell out words into using whole words when a button or key was pressed. The staff at the childcare centre discussed the child’s interest in a soft toy that said words when it was squeezed. With this information, the EDGE Lab  decided to go into a slightly different direction and make soft buttons made of fabric. When the buttons are squeezed it would say its assigned word and display the word on a small screen.









Here is a video of lab technician, Rubina making the buttons:

This was a big leap that went from an adapted keyboard to a basic communicative device.

The EDGE Lab is currently working on the talking sleeve. This project builds on the fabric button idea. The goal is to create a wearable sweater that allows the person wearing it to press on different patches on the sleeve that would voice and display different words.

The sleeve itself has gone through it’s own set of stages. The picture below shows patches that were hand sewn with conductive thread which connects to snap buttons. The buttons then snap onto the circuit board.










Some tweaks have been made to this. The EDGE Lab has found a way to sew the conductive thread on with a sewing machine. Instead of snap buttons, small magnets are sewn in to the end of the sleeve to attach to the circuit board. This allows for an easier disconnection when it is time to wash the garment.

Here is a short video:

This video is only of the circuit board. The points that are touched mimics what would happen when the patches are pressed on the sleeve. This version has more words than the previous one, which only had 4 words. The circuit board has been programmed to page up or down to access more words. The voice can also be programmed to the voice of your choice.

Here is a picture of the part that connects the sleeve to the circuit board using small magnets instead of snap buttons.











Working with Cardboard for the First Time

July 12th, 2012

After watching an instructional video on how to make the EDGE Lab’s famous rocker I decided to start the process on my first day. Here is a link to the two videos that break the steps down:

On cutting
On gluing

There are many stages in making a rocker, which can take one or two days to complete because after the gluing steps the cardboard needs several hours to dry completely before moving on.










Above is the template I used and the first piece I cut.  It was harder than I thought it would be to use a utility knife to cut the cardboard in a straight line. I later learned that using a ruler to guide the knife helps to make straighter lines. I had to cut 4 of these out and then glue them together. This will be used to make the seat of the rocker.









I then had to cut smaller pieces for the legs and glue them the same way. These glued pieces are then placed under something heavy so they can dry flat. I placed mine under an old computer tower.









The next morning I was excited to retrieve my work from the day before. The two pieces for the legs were completely dried and much strong. The base however was dented from the weight of the computer tower and it was not completely dry. After consulting with Rubina, the lab technician, we came to the conclusion that not all cardboard is made alike. The cardboard that I used for the seat was a bit softer than the cardboard I used for the legs. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t continue with the making of the EDGE Lab Rocker. I will have to start a new base with different cardboard another day.