Blog Posts

Laugh Garden

Goal

Take a pile of electronics that used to be an exhibit, and give them a second life.

Challenges

The company that originally built the interactive would not return e-mails or calls, so I had to decode configuration files and wade through extraneous hardware to get things working

p_LaughGarden_04
I exposed the electronics in an acrylic-faced cabinet so visitors could get a sense of how the motion-sensing technology worked.
p_LaughGarden_03
p_LaughGarden_02_ps
p_LaughGarden_01
Hardware and software testing in the shop

Roles

SV: project management, computer config, A/V config, design, fab, install, document
Melody Often: mural design and painting (artist website)
Cole Pritchard: assisted with fabrication and install

E. Coli Muller Plot

I helped scientist Rohan Maddamsetti create a Muller Plot and supporting diagrams for his paper on E. coli evolution.  Rohan provided the raw data and we worked together to merge it together into the final diagram using Adobe Illustrator.

The paper was awarded the “1st Centennial Award For Population And Evolutionary Genetics.” More info from the Genetics Society of America.

The full scientific article: Adaptation, Clonal Interference, and Frequency-Dependent Interactions in a Long-Term Evolution Experiment with Escherichia coli

Exhibit Rendering and Sketching

Rendering

These renderings were created to lend form to exhibit concepts and sell them to funders and other stakeholders.  Tools: Adobe Photoshop and Wacom Cintiq

Water v1 copy
Concept for a new water room at Impression 5
Sound v1 copy
Concept for a Sound exhibit at Impression 5
p_DeltaDental_05
Concepts for a dental health exhibit at Impression 5
p_DeltaDental_02
Concepts for a dental health exhibit at Impression 5
p_DeltaDental_04
Concepts for a dental health exhibit at Impression 5
p_DeltaDental_03
Concepts for a dental health exhibit at Impression 5
p_DeltaDental_01
Concepts for a dental health exhibit at Impression 5
c_sketching_04
Concept for an exhibit about manufacturing, Maryland Science Center
Overview Rendering v2 WEB copy
Revised concept rendering, after construction methods and components were refined, Science & Main.

Sketching

Pen, pencil, and paper

Sketchbook

Various life drawings, ideas, and illustrations, mostly personal work

Robo Crab

(mini-project)

When I found out we were paying $200 every few weeks to replace the mechanical robot in one of our exhibits, I knew there had to be a better way.  I worked with volunteer Paul Stankiewicz to create a durable, low-maintenance, and affordable replacement.  The Robo Crab uses an over-sized motor, linear guide rail, and pivots with bushings and shoulder screws.

Above: Paul decommissioning the last of the ‘disposable’ $200 robots, before replacing it with Robo Crab

Materials cost around $200, and thanks to Paul’s generosity, it only took a little bit of my labor to manage the project.

Spectrum

Goal

Create an exhibit that empowers visitors to explore the science of light and color. See the captions of the images below for more detail:

p_Spectrum_03
Artwork in foreground created by Lansing artist Abbey Hoffman
p_Spectrum_09
p_Spectrum_05
Light Challenge component: I worked with an intern to create the meters, which measured the amount of light concentrated on the photocell. When enough light was concentrated, the meter would turn from red to green.
p_Spectrum_04
The table was designed with an array of small holes so that meters and barriers could be easily moved.
p_Spectrum_02
p_Spectrum_07
Hanging edge-lit graphics, created with the CNC router
p_Spectrum_06
Control panel for the light-painting component
p_Spectrum_08
p_Spectrum_01p
I was responsible for the electronics on the color-mixing activity. We wanted a reliable point-source LED for crisp shadows and zero-maintenance. I sourced and fabricated the LED circuitry and kid-proofed the potentiometers.
Laser SpiroGraph v1.00 DRAWING v02
Final construction drawings, created in Solidworks
Lens Play DRAWING v03
Final construction drawings, created in Solidworks
Lens Play DRAWING v03
Final construction drawings, created in Solidworks

Role

Concept designs, prototyping, electronics, final designs and graphics

Location

Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing MI

Completed

2014

Color-changing Light Mosaic

 

Goal

The Spectrum exhibit sponsor requested that we include a giant ‘Lite Brite.’  I thought that we could do even better and create a color-changing version, but the complexity and cost of the obvious solution (RGB LEDs and rotary encoders) was prohibitive.  I invented a simple mechanism that consists of 4 parts per peg (2 custom parts, an o-ring, and a dowel pin), and has proven reliable over the years.

Design and Manufacture

Each peg assembly would go through thousands of cycles, and there would be a couple thousand peg assemblies, each with a potential for failure, so I took extra steps to ensure longevity.  See the photos below for more details…

LiteBrite (1)
A Light Mosaic created by artist Abbey Hoffman as a social-media promotion
LiteBrite (5)
p_LiteBrite_ (3)
Visitor creations
p_LiteBrite_ (2)
Visitor creations
LiteBrite (2)
This testing jig was used to test the reliability of a carrier. It simulated an estimated 5 years of use. I made a small change to the design based on this testing.
LiteBrite (3)
I used the in-house ShopBot CNC machine to cut out all custom pieces
LiteBrite (4)
I tracked the parts in batches and coordinated with volunteers to conduct final assembly.
Light Mosaic Drawing v14
Light Mosaic Drawing v14
Construction drawing of a finished module. The final wall consisted of about 20 100-peg modules.

 

Roles

I was project lead, handling design through install.  Many volunteers and a few employees assisted with assembly.  My coworker Josh Smith fabricated the cabinet and installed the lighting.

Location

Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing MI

Completed

2014

Fenner Nature Center Concepts

After seeing my designs at Impression 5, Fenner asked me to conceptualize a new space to reinvigorate their aging exhibit area.

p_fenner_04
Overview of the final gallery design
Fenner Ideas v03 - Backdrop and environmental copy
A materials and finishes rendering used during the design phase.
Fenner Ideas v03 - Backdrop and environmental copy
This is a title test
p_fenner_06
Test caption added in gallery.
p_fenner_05
p_fenner_03
p_fenner_02
p_fenner_01

Build Zone

This was a very quick, low-budget project to fill a gap made by a departing traveling exhibit. Other staff developed the activities, and I designed the exhibit layout, look and feel, and environmental treatments.  The project took 2 months from initiation to completion.

It turned out to be one of the most popular exhibits in the museum.

POP

Goals

Redesign and relocate the aging bubbles exhibit at Impression 5 Science Center.  I added to the atmosphere with iridescent plastic panels that resembled the thin-film effect seen on bubbles.

p_pop_1
p_pop_6
The Bubble Tower component was prototyped by other museum staff, and I was tasked with designing the cabinet.
p_pop_5
p_pop_4
I was also responsible for the graphic system and graphic design
p_pop_3
SketchUp model

 

Roles

I served as exhibit designer, graphic designer, and assisted with fabrication and install.  Prototyping and fabrication by Cyrus Miller, Matt Hill, Josh Smith, and Larry Stump.

Location

Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing MI

Completed

2013