Sebastiaan FabAcademy

Week 19 Project development

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In this final weekly assignment website page I will review my project planning and management techniques. I also will summerise my project plan.
Last year I was making my mind over my final FabAcademy project. I had several idea's. I had informed myself at Shirley Niemans who followed the FabAcademy in 2015 about the FabAcademy. From Shirley I got the information that that every week would be very tight and that my final project couldn't be to big. But I know myself a bit, I always make something big. For me the task to plan my work very well. From the moment that the date of the weekly assignments where online I looked in to it and started thinking about it, how I could implement the weekly technical skills in my final Project.

In the end of 2015 I had collected leafs in big plastic containers, to be able to test my LeafBot robot during the summer when I would finish it. If hadn't done that, I wouldn't have leafs to sweep during my testrides. Also I made movies and pictures to support my website. Some of them are even used in my final presentation movie.

When the fabacademy startet I had a global idea of my final project. But I first have waited for the first lesson from Neil. After Niel has explaned what should be done, I immediately started to sketch my idea's and started to engineer them in SolidWorks.

Almost every week in parallel to the weekly assignment I worked on the final project. For the most of the weeks I could use the weekly assignments to make a part of the final project. But specialy in the beginning weeks I spend a lot of time engineering my final project in SolidWorks. I also documented this every week by making a special website page. For this I made a special Final Project website thats runs parallel to the weekly assignment website. From the beginning I have updated weekly two websites.
Every week I looked in the weekly assignment schedule and planned my work for the next following week. I did this to plan my daily job, I reserve the machines at my FabLabEnschede and I bought materials and tooling. Sometimes I even startet working on an weekly assignment before the class was given by Niel, to be able to finish the weekly assignments on time. I knew roughly what had to be done every week by looking to the weekly schedule, and have planned my task to it. During the fabAcademy I had some problems finishing some of the weekly assignments. Every week I have worked 2,5 days for the FabLab. Some weeks are more busy then the others. Some weeks I could spend more time on the FabAcademy then other weeks. In those weeks I had a few times troubles finishing my weekly assignment. But since I had planned to use almost all the weekly assignment skills and parts into my final project, I have planned to finish the weekly assignments in the last two weeks during the build of the final project. For that reason in some weeks I have made in that week an reference to the final project website.

For me this system worked very well. Every week I knew what I had to do and my parts or material where delivered on time. I don't know if I have used a specific management tool. I have a lot of experience in making big projects in short time. I developed for my self a system of working based on experiences. The system that workes for me very well is getting as fast as possible an overview of what has to be done and how much time is avaliable. Priorities the tasks. Don't wait for the lastest moment. Order parts as soon as possible. Buy parts at a store where they are in house. So I don't have to wait long. Buy extra parts so I have spare if something breaks. Try to buy material or parts even before the weekly assignments startet. Or design parts in Solidworks before the weekly assignment startet, so I could make use the machines more efficient. Most of the weeks only on Fryday, Monday and Tuesday the machines could be used. But since I worked every Fryday for the FabLabEnschede, in the weekends the FabLabEnschede is closed and on Wednesday and Thursday I joint the FabAcademy in the Waag in Amsterdam, the machine time was limited. Also Paul had to work on an machine as well, so that resulted often in that only one day the machine was avaliable to work with. The task was also to have the digital files ready when the machine was avaliable. I have managed this very well. Also the Wednesdays and Thursdays where used very efficient. The local lessons startet on Wednesdays at 10:30am. But I left home at about 6 AM and drove to Amsterdam. Most of the time I was at 8:30 in The Waag in Amsterdam working on the last details of the weekly website. During the day I was constantly working on the Final project. Often I had to design parts in SolidWorks which I did. Between the local lesson and the Class of Niel, I often worked on the weekly assignments/final project. After the Class of Niel I drove back and arriving at about 8:15 PM to my home. On Thursday morning again leaving home at about 6:15 AM. After the local lesson I stayed at the Waag until about 6:30 PM working on the new weekly assignment and then drove home again. In this way I could make use on an efficient way of the day, without working during the nights. So the last two weeks of to make the final project I didn't had so much stress. I had made almost all the hardware and as planned I was able to focus the last two building weeks on the electronics of the LeafBot. On Monday 13 of June the LeafBot was finished and I had still Tuesday for making my final poster and Movie.

The FabAcademy was tough. My busy job at FabLAbEnschede, the distance 140 km between my home town and The Waag in Amsterdam made it not easy to finish every week all the task I had to do. I think I did very well. There are always things that could have gone better, but often I made it myself extra difficult by trying to do more than maybe needed. I would have liked to experiment more with the possibilities that are avaliable. I would have liked to try more different software options, but what I did, and can been read in my website, was the maximum what I could have done.

A project is a set of activities outside the ordinary course of business for which it is the realization of something new for clear client within clear frameworks by a team of several different specialists. Projects are by definition exciting: you're going to create something new. I have done this fabAcademy myself, but the FabLabEnschede team have followed me closely and making them also part of this years FabAcademy. I also have made use of the different knowlegde and skills of my colleges to train and help me but I also shared my (new) knowledge to them. Not only myself but my whole FabLabEnschede team has learned from this years FabAcademy. This was also a goal for me to reach.

Complete your final project, tracking your progress:

what tasks have been completed, and what tasks remain?: I have almost intergrated everything I had in my mind to do. I have made the distance sonar sensors working and designed it when the LeafBot should drive autonomously, but due to the complexity of the autonomous system I have decided to design this system later and then use the sonar sensors to prevent hitting an obstakel with my LeafBot. This is planned to build in my new designed leafBot, as discribed above. But for the rest I managed to finish it on time.

what has worked? what hasn't? Most of the things I made have worked very well. But I am having issues of breaking 3D printed parts. The LeafBot has become heavy, but I had not expected to have so much breaking 3D parts. There are even parts that suffer from creepage and deform a lot.

what questions need to be resolved? The question that has to resolve is why the fabkit is working ok and wireless transmitting data, but why is the leafBot not tranceiving this data. And how can I make the LeafBot to drive autonomously within a geometrical fence?

what will happen when? I first have a lot of task to finish in my own fabLabEnschede. But after the summer Holiday I like to work on the improved version of the Leafbot and also develop the task I still had planed to, see above.

what have you learned? The skills I have, I tried to learn more and challenged my self, but I have learned the most in the electronic production, the coding, making websites. All the weekly assignments that related to programming of eletronics where difficult for me, but I learned now the basics of it and I want to continue learning it more and more. Because for me I have noticed there is still a lot to learn. What I also learned is that there are so much more possibilities of software to created digital files. The amount of different software was realy surprising to me. It is very intresting to try to implement it also in the fabLabEnschede. I see that a lot of customers in the FabLabEnschede that they have troubles finding open source software to create there digitale files. In the FabLabEnshede we often are using student licened software, because it is part of the Saxion University of Applied Sciences. But most of the clients don't have these expensive software at home. For them it would be very usefull if they could be helped with the open source software. For now the FabAcademy has ended, but for me part 2 has startet because there are still so many possiblities to explore.

Many thanks to my fabLabEnschede team members who made it possible for me to go every week for two days to the Waag in Amsterdam. On these days they have taken over my daily task. I also thank them that they helped to share there knowlegde to me. Also special thanks to Emma and Luis for the support during this FabAcademy. I was realy suprised of the knowlegde they have.