But really, it’s not you… It’s me. Actually, it was Adina.
Why, you ask?! Simply put, we have all had the times of our lives, and enjoyed getting to know one another in every aspect of long term project running. This includes the nights of swearing at one another in various languages and making implications about one another’s mothers, the nights where we existed to only keep one another going in churning out one more slide….!
We took those slides to occasions such as SXSWedu, presenting in front of the school board, presenting in front of the faculty and admin at our school, our peers, to the debut Maker Faire of our school- Make-o-Rama, where we presented the culmination of one and a half semesters of balls to the walls work.
As of last Friday (the 24th of April), we presented all of our work and our future ideas. Previous to this climactic moment of colors, panic, and disco, our group had split up somewhat, where each person was working on particular projects, while we all communicated with one another our needs to meet any and all deadlines we were presented with (the 24th. Which is a phenomenal number, isn’t it?! 1s, 2s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 12s. Beautiful breakdown. You can do anything if you have the breakdown of a number, of a problem- piece by piece, word by word!).
From screen-printing t-shirts to making a Kickstarter video, from crafting and creating new buttons and designs for shirts and awards to piece-mealing together a breadboard… All the way to shoving everything into a flashlight we’ve spent months on, finally getting everything into the bloody flashlight once our supplies have come in (at last!) brought to you by our neighborhood Team TACO (Tactical Austin Creative Organization. Holy monkey boots, I need to start a Tactical Team Taco, that’s awesome.).
Above, a screen shot from the Kickstarter video, lovingly edited and directed by Adina.
At the moment, TACO is headed by a number of customer service and teaching ninja that arranged for supplies to make it to us by the 22nd. Among many of the uh-oh occasions we encountered, receiving things that had been lost, forgotten, or fighting its way out of China’s and the United States’s customs to us was definitely the biggest.
Above, the final screenprinted design (on shirt), by Paloma.
The big and bright LEDs we received (deep in the heart of Texaaaaas!), were indeed from the land to the left of the Rising Sun, and got the job DONE! We experimented with their capabilities, naturally, on one another and in a darkened room in a absurd version of laser tag. We grabbed a lens from a projector to amplify the beams, Sugru’d it into place (refer to previous posts by Adina, Libertad, and Jessica on just what that marvelous material is), and started figuring out how we would hook it up to the flashlight.
Pictured above is the flashlight head with borrowed projector cone.
We presented everything in a flashlight format- we’d finally gotten our buttons in and successfully connected them to the batteries and LEDs (though for them to function 100% of the time when you clicked them you had to hold the other end down with your finger or a popsicle stick).
Above, Jessica in her workers standard eye protection working on finalizing our LEDs and button connections, as well as the flashlight wiring schematic.
What helped us most in a project as massive as this was, undeniably, the fact we’ve known one another for quite awhile, in a personal and academic capacity. We’d like to thank the Academy… Our school, frankly, for providing so many opportunities to work on long term projects such as these to develop the skills (creative and social) to work cohesively and successfully on such a massive undertaking.
Pictured below is a generally chronological progression of our flashlight and our accomplishments.
Final version of the rough draft. Early ideas were small enough to fit in your palm and were circular- others were bracelets.
This is the final version of Flashlight, Mark 1.
Advice we’d give to anyone else doing something similar? Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board. Also- think outside of the box. The above versions buttons were too far down, the body not wide enough the cone not large enough and was too long. The spine on the bottom was too protruded and narrow.
Make going back and fixing things an exciting or at the very least an interesting thing- the more stigma attached to it, the worse time you’re going to have. Stay focused, even if your group members are driving you insane.
This is the final schematic of our final flashlight. Pictured below are Marks 1 and 2 next to each other. See the differences? Not pictured are the five different bottoms we printed.
We’re all pleased with how far we’ve come, and how successful we were in that we were able to present a (mostly) functioning flashlight at the Fair. However, there are several things we’d still like to improve and continue on- among them, see what it would take to get to market, or patent our design (revisit some of the things we learned earlier in the year). Jessica, for one, has been absolutely inspired by our experience, enough so she’s pulling myself back into the vortex of ‘what if’ and ‘how can’ and ‘why nots’ of more devices we could make, improvements made on existing ones, etc.
We all are brimming with ideas- we each enjoy entertaining the though of continuing to work together across country from our respective universities, but time will tell what becomes of Neon Shields.
The amount of work we’ve put into the Shieldinator (TM, one day!), the skills we’ve developed along the way (no, you can’t kill your group member because they’re wrong.). We were never able to find a functioning piezzo buzzer, Radioshack went bankrupt, seemingly to spite us, and we’ve each learned about the particulars of our jobs in this project- how to lead, how to listen, how to compromise when you’re all Type A personalities with great ideas. We’ve clocked a lot of man hours, we’ve dedicated quite a few memorials to brain cells and the rods and cones of our eyes we’ve probably permanently damaged “safely” handling our device.
We handmade t-shirts, we designed, printed, and expanded buttons of many varieties, we crafted a website from scratch, we produced a functional device and have a finished Kickstarter video on the Interwebs.
What grade do we deserve, you ask?
Only as awesome as our device registers on the badass scale (a solid two-zillion and seven). Only as awesome as we all register on the creativity scale (Lord of the Rings). Only as awesome as the awesomest team name ever:
TACO, NEON FRIGGEN SHIELDS. (Solid 2000, right there). Joking aside- as far as we’ve come as people, as a team, and with what we’ve created? 100. All the way.
Dolla dolla bills, y’all.
So, signing out for perhaps the last time,