I have begun my second year of Product Design as BSc student which I was quite nervous about because electronics were a significant part of the module hence I didn’t feel very comfortable at the start. However, I wanted a challenge and knew I enjoy hands on work, making working prototypes and discovering new materials and different ways of combining them to achieve incredible things.
When I have attended the first BSc lecture I didn’t even know what an Arduino was, let alone the coding language and all the electronic components that come with it. The first few lectures were a struggle, we got to know what the Arduino was and discovered possibilities of the small computer. We covered theories which stand behind the Arduino and how the computer works in order to then be able to use it in our own projects when we create our working prototypes.
I found the understanding of the language used for coding very hard at the start of the program, it was a stressful time but the practical workshops which we had were extremely useful and aided my understanding of coding. Starting off with simple codes and very few commands, then building up from there and adding new components to the circuit and expanding the code were a great way of learning the basics of the Arduino. It was a very enjoyable way of learning and it has definitely made me want to explore that field of technology more. For my field module I have studied the fab field module where I have experimented with the Arduino more.
Studying Electronics where I have gained knowledge about PCB boards thanks to studying software called Fritzing I now understand the possibilities of for example fitting in a lot more components on to a small PCB instead of using the Arduino for a working prototype perhaps because the Arduino, although is a very small computer it can still sometimes be too big for certain products, such as a remote for example.
After completing our group assessment during the festive period I felt relieved but happy that I have gained new knowledge and skills. The assignment was challenging but working in a group has definitely helped achieve the end result but it has also allowed me to learn from other students and vice versa.
When we have returned back to university it was time to begin the mechanics module which I felt more comfortable with. I thought that it might perhaps be less challenging in comparison to the electronics module, however, I have underestimated it. This module was also very interesting and involved plenty of practical workshops where we would discover and learn new theories through simple exercises in the studio such as making card bridges and testing different constructions using the same amount of the same material in order to find the best solution.
This module made me go back over and refresh my maths knowledge which is necessary as we have learnt new equations as well as going over some basic ones to refresh our memories. The lectures were well structured which helped with the understanding. We would cover a new theory, look at examples, and then put the theory into practice and see if the hypothesis is correct. This has worked well for me and I feel like I have gained a lot from those lectures which will hopefully help me in my future career.
If I compare myself to myself from last year studying Product Design in general not BSc focused. I feel like my designs are much stronger in a sense that now I focus not only on the aesthetics of the product, But I push myself to think what production processes would be used to manufacture this part or a product, what material shall I use for the best properties which I require, how will the product work? Before I would think of possible ways in which the product could work whereas now I actually strive make my design become reality and I think about mechanisms and electronics that could potentially be used in order to develop my design.
One of my favourite assignments was when we had to build a half a metre long bridge using only pasta and glue, we were not allowed to use any other materials or fixings. This was a challenge because pasta is very brittle and the bridge had to be able to hold a three kilogram brick. The construction had to be light but be built such way so that the weight could be as light as possible. I have succeeded and my structure did withstand the brick.
For my final assignment I had to design and manufacture a working prototype of an automatic dog food dispenser as a pair. This has definitely been the most difficult assignment because we did not only have to focus on the mechanics of the dispenser but also the electronics and aesthetics. After carrying out research and coming up with a few designs we have focused on a design that we would like to develop and we have worked out the mechanism which we were going to use pretty quickly, however, connecting the electronics and all the parts together was a whole different task, We begun by getting the individual parts working separately such as the servo motor, potentiometer etc. and we have then moved on to arranging the code. After a couple of days of struggle we made the code and the servo motor and the timer worked.
When we have assembled our dog food dispenser it worked perfectly for about 2 turn and then stopped because the ‘wheel scoop’ for the food was not attached well enough to the servo motor. This mistake made me realise how well everything should be planned and well thought about before beginning the production stage. I would like to now experiment more with 3D CAD models and be able to simulate the stresses on the product in order to make sure that the product won’t be faulty and that the fixing will not break.