Some Progress

I went in to school today to work on the physical part of the project. I had an aesthetics critique, where I decided that I wanted to make it 1980s style vending machine.

Jessica suggested rearranging the front to look more pop machine like.

It was determined that a lightbox with a logo was needed. Similar to the 7up pop machine in my research. Logos don’t take me long to create, but I had to pick a word that was positive (like pop machines) with a sinister meaning.

Current state:

2013-02-02 16.00.50 2013-02-02 16.00.59

The Miracle of Polycarbonate

I remember working with plexiglass is 2nd year, when I made a wood and plexiglass dog feeder.

I didn’t have tools, had to get a utility knife, so that I could score and snap plexiglass. If not done properly, the plexiglass would crack.

I also know that plexiglass is expensive. I talked to Jessica about it and she said to look into Polycarbonate (Lexan), which is virtually unbreakable. The guy at Home Hardware told me that a Ryerson student last year had done a project with a camera underneath a piece of lexan and flung a hammer at it. I’m assuming it worked out?

They sell it at Home Hardware and I made sure to pick up a sheet. Apparently, this can’t be scored and snapped. I’ll have to figure out how to cut it, apparently a table saw can cut it and I would like my plexiglass to be straight. I’m terrible at cutting straight lines.

We’ll see, maybe the workshop can cut it for me. If not, I’ll carry it back to Home Hardware.


The Lexan cut amazingly well with a normal table saw blade that was set a little higher. It didn’t crack and it’s now straight and the right size!

Premise & Aesthetics

The greater the need, the greater the sacrifice

Visual References

1950s: vintage font heavy, minimal, cone legs

1970s: laminate, woods, white, black, dark browns

1980s: laminate, plexi, plastics, woods, white, blacks, PVC trim or metal trim

It’s all about the material

I’d gone to Home Depot and gotten Plywood. I was going to go early with somebody, but they bailed and that meant a cab ride back on my own.

The closest Home Depot is at Gerrard Square (1000 Gerrard St. E.). It’s about a 30 minute streetcar ride, Gerrard & Pape are the intersections. The Zellers is now a Walmart there and I haven’t gone in a while.

I had a shopping list of things, but knew I wouldn’t physically be able to carry that much. Plywood was significantly more important because Home Hardware doesn’t sell large pieces of plywood and Canadian Tire doesn’t sell them at all. I knew that I wanted the box to be about 5 feet tall and about 2 feet wide.

I made sure that it would be a realistic size, but still fit through doors and be a good height. I’m about “average” height and can gauge what is “eye-level” (I can’t read that word without a Southern accent in my head).

Some random guy walked by and said in Cantonese that I was a really smart girl. This particular Home Depot is on the brink of East Chinatown. There’s a strong male chauvinistic attitude towards hardware and power tools. I always get asked if I need help at hardware stores.

The workshop was open today, which was why I made the effort to go to Home Depot. I have a critique Friday and I want to make sure I get everything setup. I’m hoping to get the physical almost done.

Joseph was very nice. The 1/2″ plywood was a little thinner than he liked working with, 5/8″ would be better. We used wood glue and a staple gun to make the box structurally strong. The glue main bonding material and the staples were acting more as clips. The staple gun was very easy to get the hang of. It took about an 1.5 hours to finish putting the box together. It had a top and bottom. I decided to have an opening in the back rather than a door, since I plan on having the box against a wall. Of course, the wood wasn’t cut straight at Home Depot and part of it was off, so the thing isn’t perfectly square. Joseph built a shelf for me, which seems to be working great. I’ll be gettings bolts to attach it to my project.

I had to run to work for a few hours and I needed to get the measurements of the lcd screen and printer. He helped me cut rectangles into my box.

The box is pretty light and a decent size. I might still get casters, so that it’s more vending machine like and easier to move.

I had a meeting with Jessica today and she suggest that I do a bit of visual research. I need to figure out how I want my box to look. I need to look into genre and style. Pop machines, time period. Jessica suggested I look into sci-fi and pay attention to details down to the bolts.

I’m currently wood filling all the terribly unsmooth surface. Should have gotten more expensive wood.

College and Spadina (aka Computer District/Geek District)

The internship had me over at College and Spadina, picking up electronics.

I realized that Home Hardware (on College and Spadina, where Factory Direct used to be) is cheaper than Creatron. It’s full of bins and can sometimes be overwhelming. It always takes me a while to find the same thing again, but the resistor and diodes and transistors are all very neat. I think if I had a basement of electronics, it would probably look the same.

Hopefully, I have everything I need for my project and will be finalizing my design today.

I’ll be going to Home Depot this Friday to get plywood, so that I can use the workshop and build my vending machine.

Buttons, buttons, and arcade buttons

I looked into the industrial grade buttons and they are over my budget. I know I’ll need extras. These buttons are more than $7 each and they require an additional trigger (microswitch) add on with LED, which is about $12 each. Each button will be over $20 (including shipping). I’ll need about 9 and extras.

I’m looking into arcade buttons instead, they’re about $3 each including the microswitch and RFID. If they can ship it soon, for my critique.

FC Surplus Canada

I opted for Arcade Buttons from eBay from the US. Usually arrives in Canada 1 – 3 weeks, so I’d still make the deadline. 10 buttons in total came to about $30 (including shipping), so it’s a lot cheaper. They’re going to be blue with LEDs and microswitches.

Research on RFID

I noticed during the User Test the issue with my RFID reader. I wanted to check the distance of the Parallax RFID reader.

I looked into other possible RFID readers:
Mifare RC5222 [Resource: MiFaire, Arduino Starter]
Sparkfun, shield
Innovations Reader ID-12

Parallax RFID Reader is suppose to be able to communicate with RFID tags with 2 to 5 inches, which is definitely more than I need. [Source: RFID Reader Distance]

Apparently RFID readers can be increased with a coil antenna. Resource: Extending RFID Reader Range

I can add a remote antenna to the Parallax RFID, but the reader isn’t mine. I also wouldn’t want to hack a $40+ reader. A possibility: [Source]

Due to time constraints, building my own RFID Reader looks out of the question.

Resources: Arduino – DIY RFID Reader | Hackaday – Build your own RFID Reader | MAKE – Build a RFID reader

It’s possible it’s the aluminum foil that is causing the RFID to not be as strong. It apparently only effects slightly. Resource: Aluminum Foil Does Not Stop RFID

Resource: Difference between 13.5 MHZ and 125kHZ RFID Tags

Clarity & Realization

The third proposal was absolutely amazing to my project. I felt bad not having really done work during the Winter break, but it was a break that I needed.

I drew out a storyboard, had a diagram of the installation, and now I know what I want to do with my project.

I want to keep the sterile medical environment, but it does cause the user to feel disconnected, like a number in a system.

A cooler will hold the real organs that are sealed and ready to scan.

The vending machine is representative of buying. It also allows the project to function without supervision.

The vending machine will be crossed-over with automated check-out machines.

Carrying over the barcode, scanner, and receipt printer.

The organs have preserved well. Had to change the alcohol a few times, no it doesn’t turn red anymore, just a slight yellow. This means (according to the internet) that the organs are completely preserved. They’re a little harder, but pretty much the same. They also don’t smell as bad.

I’ll have to focus on making an intuitive design, interfacing, and aesthetics.

The vending machine will be made of wood, moving away from foam core, and I’ll be getting pushbuttons on a white vending machine.




Things to figure out

  • Ask for a guest critique
  • Recode
  • Get plywood
  • Figure out Premise
  • What is the idea?
  • What is the conflict?
  • What is the result?
  • What is your stand?
  • What will be on the receipt?



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