FabAcademy 2016 Dennis Conner

Quick Link: Final Project

About Me

My name is Dennis Conner. I am a teacher and lab coordinator at The Gregory School in Tucson, AZ. I have always enjoyed making things. I enjoy learning by making and for many years, I have made that part of the classes that I teach. Six years ago, I started teaching a class in which I took inspiration from the How To Make Anything classes from MIT. This lead me to learning many new skills and learning first hand about the power of maker education.


I wanted to take the Fab Academy because I believe FabLabs can have a large role in education. I have been working over the past year integrating a FabLab into our school. FabLabs can be used to support existing classwork, encourage new projects, or to empower students to find their own learning endeavor. I want to be a part of figuring all of that out.

My Goals:

  • Learn how to network better.
  • Learn to better facilitate turning ideas into prototypes.
  • Develop more opportunities to interact with other people who enjoy this work.

  • Final Project

    When choosing a final project, I narrowed down my ideas to meet the following criteria:
  • I want to use it in our FabLab as an example of various FabLab techniques.
  • I want the project to be a CNC device built
  • I want a project that helps me tell the story of why this education is important.
  • I want something that people can interact with but still have a pupose.

  • I am going to build a FabLab vending machine. The vending machine will allow users to check out(and return) tools in the lab. Update: As the class progressed, I stayed with the same basic idea, but I wanted to concentrate more on the sensors than the machine. The project morphed to being a shelf which detects users and can be expanded with more features.

    1st Class:Project Documentation & Development

    Output: This webpage.
    The idea for a project: CNC Vending Machine

    2nd Class: CAD

    Evaluate 2D and 3D Software
    Model the final project.
    Included Design Work
    Added Tutorial for Inkscape
    Overview of 2D and 3D work.
    4th Class: Electronics and PCB Milling

    Creating FabISP

    Intro to Soldering
    Intro to PCB milling

    5th Class: 3D Printing and Scanning

    Review of 3D Printing
    Review of 3D Scanning

    7th Class: Large Format CNC

  • Learn the design process for the CNC printers.
  • Make something BIG!
  • Weekly Assignment

    8th Class: Embedded Programming

  • Learn to read a microcontroller data sheet.
  • Utilize common programming protocols.
  • Overview

    9th & 10th Class: Machines that Make

  • Design a machine.
  • Build a machine.
  • Automate a machine
  • Improve and analyze machine.
  • 11th Class: Input Devices

  • Design a circuit board with a sensor.
  • Get the sensor to read out data.
  • My project is a Hall Effect Sensor reach reads out data to be displayed using Processing.
  • Overview

    12th Class: Molding and Casting

  • Design a Mold
  • Mill a Mold
  • Cast a Useful Part
  • Overview

    13th Class: Output Devices

  • My output device is just a flashing led.
    Here is this weeks progress.
  • 14th Class: Composites

  • My main project is a burlap-resin composite lab seat.
  • The first part of the week was practicing techniques
  • The second part was modeling the final project
  • The third, make the mold.
  • The final part - making!
  • Overview

    15th Class: Networking
  • I will be working with a wifi module to communicate from my board to another microcontroller.
    In my final project a microcontroller will be tracking the presence of items(tools). This will send a status update to the wifi module which can post this online or to another wifi module. I built the wireless ESP8266 board and got it to work from a serial command sent via an arduino and also just the FTDI cable.
  • Overview

    16th Class: Interfaces
  • I played with several programs. I tried getting Node.js to work with the microcontrollers in several fashion. I worked with javascript/firmata, webRTC, and Three.js during the week.
  • Overview

    17th Class: Applications
  • The goal of this week is to look at past projects and start implementing my final project plan.
  • Overview

    18th Class: Invention
  • The goal of this week is to reflect on the project and consider IP and distribution of idea.
  • 20th Class: Final Project
  • I present on June 20.
  • Here is my summary of work.
  • Retrospective

    Dennis Conner
    The Gregory School