Week the Last: A Reflection

When I accepted the DTSF project, I expected a fun and enlightening project, probably challenging, but nothing to crazy. I was wrong, VERY wrong. This project has been an interesting one, to say the least. I had two ideas that I had considered and I went with the one that I thought would take eight weeks instead of four, turns out the one I chose would have fit better into ten weeks, the other one probably would have taken the whole eight. Looking over all my blog posts it suddenly hits me how little time I actually had for this project, seven weeks not counting time lost to workshops, presentations, and other interruptions. It’s frankly insane simultaneously long/short these eight weeks have felt and I know I’m not alone in these feelings.

This summer has all around been crazy to be honest. Not just the project, but everything I did outside of it while on campus to what I did/will do between DTSF and the semesters. I’ve learned at least a comparable amount to what I would learned in an class during a semester. I’ve learned a lot about how 3d printing works, how to program an Arduino, about prototyping, and about finicky electronics can be.

When I first tarted the project, I wasn’t really sure about anything. I had what I was going to do but only a vague idea of how. I spent a lot of the first few days just figuring out what to do. I kind of wish we had had meetings of some kind between DTSF and the end of the last semester, BUT that would have cut into the little break time we had between both. That said I figured out enough that I was ordering the base components by the middle of the week and we had enough of the parts I would use around, that I could quickly start on Arduino Programming. It was great, I enjoyed programming the Arduino and made a lot of progress. The next few weeks were something like this, planning somethings out and making progress on other parts, mostly what could be 3d printed or had around us.

Then, around week five, I started to reach some of the big humps. I’d had some bumps in the road already with the project but they soon started getting bigger and bigger, some because of how far along I was, others just out of pure coincidence. Week six’s switch failure was enough to just leave a bad taste in my mouth for a day or two. I think it sums up the challenges in working with hardware. Debugging is slower and parts you can discount in programming can break everything by just existing, not to mention the lack of compilers telling me exactly what I did wrong.

So, things I could have done better and what I’ve learnt. I’d say chief among them would have been to not delay things as much as I could have, mostly on the hardware side of things. I’ve learned that it’s fine to through somethings whether some junk part or starting over on something. I’ve learned some of the things you can do to MacGuyver together a solution to some issue you have with a project. I am now convinced that tutorials are the greatest thing we as a species have created, as in I know prefer reading a tutorial then diving head first instead of just going in head first. For example, following a tutorial and then doing the same thing again but with a small new complication, really helped me get comfortable with Arduino programming. And most of all, if you have a problem feel free to try multiple solutions, maybe at the same time if you can keep them from mixing up with themselves.

Close to end, I started to come up with a lot of alternatives of where I could have taken the project. I realized that a Virtual Reality implementation would have been quite something and fairly doable compared to the physical idea I’d gone with. Just the sheer flexibility that would have given me would have been worth it. I could have changed the scale of everything on a dime, had the cubes be anything I could image, could’ve had millions of colors for the cubes. Just some thoughts for future work.

The only part of the project that was not enjoyable was the last week. I was rushing to get as much done as I could, mostly because it took me forever to realize that the goal for this summer was not necessarily to finish, due to how little time we had. I’m proud of what I managed to create this summer, the individual pieces all work quite well, even if they don’t necessarily work well together yet.

We’ll all keep working on these projects to some extent, though probably not until the semester ends for obvious reasons. I’m just need to figure what to work on next, but I’ve got time. Anyway, thank you for reading and see you later.

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