Kyle France: Failure and Recalibration

This week I continued my testing and gathered more of my final materials. I made a trip to Home Depot, where I bought acrylic, wire, and black spray paint. I still need to decide on and purchase LEDs/LED strips, but most of my components are now together.

My first test was to try edge-lighting the acrylic. I painted a corner of the sheet, then masked and sanded a stripe until the paint was removed and the finish was rough. I then pointed a light into the side of the panel, and the stripe successfully glowed. I am next going to try additional sanding and scoring the edges to get a brighter effect.

Edge lighting test. The lower edge of the sanded stripe has been scored.

My second test (and biggest failure) was to score and break the acrylic into the sizes I need. The backdrop pieces will be eventually laser cut, but the base plate is simple, and too large for the laser cutters. I used an acrylic cutter to score the acrylic several times, then braced it against the edge of a table and broke it. The first break worked nicely, and mostly followed the score. My second break followed a diagonal, and strayed far from the score line… For the third break, I tried to improve my technique with a deeper score, a shorter break line, and more sturdy support for the panel. The break still did not follow the intended line b a considerable margin. Below are a couple of images showing my setup for a successful break as well as the result of a failed break.

I am still deciding if the panel is now too small to be used for the base. I may need to purchase more acrylic. The acrylic is less brittle than I was imagining, and I will likely make future cuts with a band saw or laser cutter only.

My third test was to create filters for the audio signal to divide it into frequency bands. This was accomplished with a series capacitors and resistors. This seems to be working, and the three LEDs blink along to different bands of the song. I also noticed that the microphone is not picking up ambient music almost at all from a distance. I am thinking now that I will have to split the source between the speakers and a direct audio jack into processing for the light controls.

I am still thinking about the centerpiece of my project, which was originally going to be a model car. I discovered that the model I was looking at was an unpainted kit, which I do not have time to build (even if it sounds like fun). My final experimentation was with creating shapes for landscape elements out of wire, but I have not gotten far with this.

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