In the week following my last update I have made significant of progress on my Smart Tiles block board. Over the weekend I was ready to start milling parts and worked up the courage to use the Othermill Pro available on the floor at ITP.
The process of milling with a CNC is new to me but one of my classmates, Mark Matamoros, was encouraging and shared a link to helpful instructions at www.homemadehardware.com. On the floor Ben Light also provided helpful input about the design I had in mind. My initial plan for the board and block wood components involved 2-sided (flip) milling. Ben pointed out that alignment is extremely difficult and advised to modify my design based on this limitation. Ultimately I found a nice middle ground, still doing some 2-sided milling but with the second side only involving engraving elements in a way that could be less precise without any negative impact.
With this new design I moved to using 3D printed pegs similarly to how Braille Balls are embedded in signage.
Also this week the PCBs I ordered arrived!
Soldering the surface mount components proved to be much more time consuming than I anticipated. Also 201 sized components are literally the size of a grain of salt – see “C2” on the board below. In my future designs I will be sure to use 601 and larger components like the “C1” ceramic capacitor to the left of “C2”.
On the programming side it felt really nice to work on the interface design which I have roughed in to a demo P5.js sketch you can try here:
I still have a bunch of work to do but am feeling really good about how everything is coming along. Also there are so many folks who have been helpful that I have yet to mention! Eden Chin encourage me to stick with wood blocks for the letter tiles and I am so glad that she did! Viola He helped to translate the Chinese labels on the drill bits I ordered for the CNC. Eric Kalb most importantly lent me his tiny file, because for some reason all of the files on the floor at ITP are massive, and for that I will be forever thankful.