Jun 8, 2020

Apparatus of Euphonious Thinking II

This blog post is the second part of a three folded series taking you behind scenes of INDEED’s latest installation. In the second part, we deep dive into the development process and the challenges.

Samuel Swift

The marathon

Following the main ideation Sam and Vinay conceptualized a faster way to punch music notes by rearranging punches in 4 offset lines. This idea was then translated into 3D model to visualize the working and troubleshoot any new issues with fabricating and assembling.

1) Small reduced components work

Zooming in: From the big picture in mind, we all broke it into smaller jobs to be done. Step by step the components were made and tested. We started with hacking the brain reader to get a signal using Arduino nano. Then Sam, made the first punch block with a single servo which could punch holes reliably. Looking at small wins, we then made a mockup of the entire set-up using cardboard boxes to test the experience, usability and ergonomics.

Zooming out: With every small component being made and tested, our ambitions were piling up as well. We gathered some of the team-members to create an aesthetic vision of the installation with mood board as the starting point. With the vision of making the machine inside-out, exhibiting everything we could to users on how it works.

With the aesthetic vision and CAD model complete, we started to integrate the components to make bigger sub-assemblies. Minjoo took charge of scaling up the one servo punch block to controlling 30 servo blocks together. Sam built the core punching assembly with all the 30 punch blocks and Vinay started fabricating the mid-section. With many hours spent focused on our own tasks we came together after 3 weeks to integrate and assemble the top assembly.

2) Testing, failing, fixing

With integration we started to experience the first failures, soon we all turned into obsessed detectives trying to find the problems. Solving the problem was never an issue, we never ran out of ideas, but figuring out the problem (debugging) took the bigger chunk of our times. Up until the day before the exhibition we were stumbling upon issues and fixing them.

The evening before the exhibition, the punch motor burned on the venue and machine went “kaputt”. (“Kaputt” is by the way the most familiar German word within our international team. Cause it’s the best way to describe a broken thingy which needs fixing but you don’t now yet how. 😀) We went back to the workshop, still not at all in the mood to give up, calmed ourselves, started to fix the problem. The day of the exhibition, the machine ran with some cautionary breaks in between.

3) The big upgrade

We knew that the fixes we had were not enough. Two big events were coming up and we had to prepare the machine to run more reliably, therefore, we took a step back, and re-organized ourselves right from project management, to design and engineering tasks. Sam was given the baton of project manager; Vinay took charge of developing a circuit board with safety features integrated and Minjoo looked into software and integration of software and hardware.

Having a more scrum like approach helped us to keep focus. During the first project phase, we got sometimes lost in the problems and the overwhelming demands of the original concept. Stepping back and taking a break allowed us, to refocus and coordinate our work in more appropriate sprints with clear goals and mile stones. Controlling and evaluation become an integrative part of our work and approach.

We know where we were heading and each delivered mile stone could be celebrated as such.

But more about that celebration and winning moments in the next episode.

Read the first episode if you missed it.

Samuel Swift

Industrial Design

Sam was an intern at INDEED in 2019 and is a truly missed member of the INDEED family.


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