How to Make Almost Anything (MIT Media Lab)

HTMAA is an intense hands-on course I took in 2019 to learn how to design and fabricate smart systems with digital fabrication tools. 

The course is taught by Prof. Neil Gershenfeld from the Center of Bits and Atoms (CBA) every Spring. Every week each student has an assignment to learn a tool and make something with digital fabrication tools (CAD/CAM/CAE; NC machining, 3-D printing, injection molding, laser cutting); and electronics (sensors and actuators; analog instrumentation; embedded digital processing; wired and wireless communications).

Each personal journey of a student (including design, methods, designs, bugs, fixes) are documented on detailed personal records on each individual web page. This is mine.

Week 1: Idea Concepting / Modelling

For my project I decided to create a Physical Sequencer, a modular device that combines the programmatic logic of a Drum Sequencer (TR808 or Volca Beats) with the analog qualities of a percussive instrument called the Cajoun. View Page

Week 2: Designing and Cutting Materials using CNC

For this week’s assignment, I decided to design and make a press-fit geodesic dome and a flat speaker using the vinyl cutter to create a speaker coil. View Page

Week 3: PCB Rapid Fabrication & Embedded Programming

This week I designed and built an embedded programmer using PCB milling machine. The programmer can be used to program AVR chipsets. The programmer slots directly into the computer USB port. View Page

Week 4: 3D Scanning and 3D Printing

This week I created a series of sculptures using real data from sea waves. First I fetched real-time data from sea buoys from different parts of the world. Based on wind speed and sea level I created a model of the wave patterns in OF. I then “froze” the patterns and used the geometry to 3D print data driven sculptures. View Page

Week 5: Electronics Design

In this assignment I designed and built a PCB board using different AVR based chips and programmed the board to “echo” whichever commands I typed in the serial port of the board. It was a learning process about best practices for PCB board design and embedded programming. View Page

Week 6: Make Something Big

For this assignment, I decided to create parametric furniture for my kid Yuri. The idea was to create a table that could grow with his age. So I designed a parametric algorithm in which I can input his age and it generates a new desk with parameters updated so a new desk can be CNC cut to his height. View Page

Week 7: Embedded Programming

For this assignment, I started experimenting with creating paper circuits. I hacked a Brother Inkjet printer so I could print conductive traces on a piece of paper and developed a process for applying solder paste and attaching components. View Page

Week 8: Molding and Casting

This week I decided to combine advanced simulation algorithms such as diffusion-reaction with the analog technique of molding and casting. For this process I wrote a reaction/diffusion system in OpenFrameworks, I then wrote an algorithm to create a 3D volume out of the reaction to be molded and cast. View Page

Week 9: Input Devices

In this assignment I decided to experiment with vibration sensors, using an embedded chip with a piezoelectric sensor to sense wind vibration and send the results to a PC over serial. Simple, but useful and universally applicable for embedded systems. View Page

Week 10: Output Devices

This week I decided to build a simple tone generator and transistor-based amplifier to drive a speaker. The circuit was rather simple but a good lesson to learn about how transistors work. View Page

Week 11: Networking & Communications

For this week I designed and built a PCB board using the E12 WifiModule to create a Wifi Sniffer that could detect and send to a PC all active mobile phones in its immediacy. View Page

Week 12: Machine Week

This week the whole CBA section in the course teamed up to build a machine in one week. We decided to build a CNC lathe for Apples, entitled the Apfelstruder. This was a huge effort in which the team jointly built the machine mechanics, electronics, interface, control system.View Page

Week 13: Interface and Application Programming

For this week assignment I built a DSP pipeline for the analysis of acoustic vibration. Using openFrameworks the system sampled audio input and extracted features from the signal including MFCCs, Audio Spectrum, and so on.View Page

Week 14: Wildcard Week: Advanced Embedded Programming

For this week I worked on programming an ATMEL SAMD11 chip to be used for advanced applications in audio processing. The Atmel chip is a complete system in a chip that can be used for a number of IoT and sensing projects. View Page

Final Project: Thin Film Microphones

I decided to explore a final project that is closer to my TMG research topic. At TMG I have been exploring how to embed piezoelectrics in thin sheets (paper, mylar, PET film) turning them into vibro-acoustic surfaces that have the capability to act like a vibration sensor, microphone and even ultrasonic imaging device. Based on this idea as my final project I want to create a thin film that can be a bidrectional vibration input/output device. A material that has the capability to ‘hear’ and ‘speak’. View Project Page

Extra: Paper Circuits

During the class my I developed an interest to create circuits using paper. I developed several techniques for printing circuits, integrating them with connectors. This page contains a documentation of my successes and failures. View Page