I did a lot of different things things this week.
My mind was scattered this week. In a very good way, however. There are so many different aspects of this project that need to come together for it to all work, I need to start some work on each piece so that I don’t get stranded on a critical component that ends up taking more consideration than I anticipated.
In light of this, I started the week out by making some mistakes. It was difficult to admit this after working hard for four hours, but I guess it’s good to learn from them. I started out by approaching a problem. Not a problem necessarily, but a part of the design that’s more challenging to build than the others. On the strandbeest leg, the joint that links the lower pushrod and leg itself together is an intersection of three components, as apposed to two (intersection of g, c, and k above). To build this out, while also maintaining an interest to keep the design as elegant as possible, I designed a joint that would have two slices of ham inside another end made up of 2 slices of bread. The two slices of bread look like this (I didn’t finish designing the hams):
I ended up milling the entire female part and then realized that three components on the same axis would not have the necessary rotation, unless the extremely thin flanges were extended an impractical length. I would love to have the components on one plane, but I think that the work around for the male parts would make the joint too unstable.
On the second day, I drew pictures. To make the leg the right size, I needed to calculate the correct ratios for all of the lengths and work out the angles of the triangle. It’s going to be a big beast, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out as well as I had hoped it to. When I went to cut the first triangle out of the new aluminum that arrived that day, I realized that the triangle didn’t quite fit all the way together, even when I cut the parts to the right lengths and angles. I think it’s because I chose which parts would be cut at an angle, and which would stay straight to interface with a joint piece. I then tried to model it in cad software, and subsequently ended up with a noticeably different triangle then the recipe calls for. This needs further consideration in the days to come, more modeling to get all the angles right – or else Grazer won’t be able to walk. I had to remind myself of this during that day. I’m so caught up with finishing a leg before October 9th that I lost sight momentarily of the fact that the details of triangle proportions are actually critical for the livelihood of the Grazer. Who knew triangles would be such a headache?
On the fourth day (I’ll come back to the third), I went to the Baldwin School to do a run through of my talk, and also meet some of the other presenters. I came fairly unprepared, finishing up my slides right when I got there. I had never met the organizers of the event before, so that was a great first impression… Being the most unprepared, I went last. The other presenters were simply stunning. Some of them had actually given TedTalks before, they carried themselves like they’d been practicing for months. One person spoke about the gender gap in Comp Sci fields, another woman spoke about starting a soccer high school in the US, and finally someone spoke about what creativity is and how to cultivate it. My counterpart, a senior from Penn Charter, spoke about his experience bringing STEM equipment and education to schools without it. All of the talks sounded extremely pertinent to the idea of changing the way we think about education. Suddenly I felt that what I was doing there was very important, critical to the world. I felt a sense of my project coming home. Despite that my project is still a bunch of metal bits, I felt that what I’m doing has purpose. It was time for me to get up there. Honestly, I wasn’t nervous. I don’t get very much stage fright, and that feeling gave me a confidence boost. I was confident in what I was saying, even if my project had the least substance in it, I let my passion shine through. All I need to do now is memorize it, fine tune my slides, and finish the leg.
The rest of the week was spent doing fabrication. I focussed on the primary joint component, and made a bunch of them (I still need a bunch more). I’m getting pretty quick with the CNC machine, and have developed a solid protocol for producing them. I’ve even gotten confident enough that I don’t run air cuts for the programs anymore.
Let this week be a role model for those to come. It’s been a productive one, I learned a lot, and I’m ecstatic to keep it going.
Heres a link to another designer who uses CNC technology to empower his art, the result is stunning: