It’s been fun.- Neon Shields (Kyrie, Libertad, Adina, Jessica)

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.

fresh off the press shirt

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.

Flashlight w:lens

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).

Breadboard Finalisingflashlight wiring schematic

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 rough draft

Final version of the rough draft. Early ideas were small enough to fit in your palm and were circular- others were bracelets.

mark 1

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. 

Breathe, compadre!

Shieldanator 3D schematic

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.

mk 1 and mk 2

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,

Neon Shields.

5 thoughts on “It’s been fun.- Neon Shields (Kyrie, Libertad, Adina, Jessica)

Add yours

  1. I think that your product is amazing! You’ve really taken this assignment above and beyond by going to SXSW, making t-shirts etc. I can tell that you all became really invested and passionate in this project and it is really impressive. From your blog post, it looks like your group kept its sense of humor, which is an admirable trait of any group. I noticed that you mentioned trademarking your device, was that a joke or were you serious? I think it’d be really amazing if you did manage to produce your product and sell it (does Etsy sell devices like this? Because that would be amazing.) I like the variety of photos that you included to illustrate the progress your device made.
    Again, congratulations, this is an amazing product!
    — Anjali

  2. You guys have put so much time and hard work and creativity into this project, I’m so happy for you for finally finishing! Y’all went above and beyond for your product (I mean seriously, you actually talked to REAL PEOPLE), and I think it really paid off, you made a super cool defense flashlight, and a real one at that. I’m sad that I won’t be able to rad any new posts from you (they are extremely entertaining), but I suppose I’ll have to content myself with re-reading old ones.
    -Jordan R

  3. I think all of you deserve 100 as a grade. Ya’ll did not just make a project but you advertised it and even made a website. In addition, I thought it was smart how all of you decided to divide the work among all of you in order to make sure that people who were in a specific group it was because there was their strength. As well as, all of you worked on making the actual object. You can truly tell that ya’ll did a lot of research behind your prototype. Overall, great job! I really loved the design of yall’s shirts and your buttons.

    -Dennis V

  4. This is so cool! I’ve seen you guys working on this all year and I’ve always wondered what exactly it is… and now I know. This really shows what being passionate about what you are creating can accomplish. Your product seems so close to being a real item that can be marketed in the “real” world. It also seems like you all worked really well together as a team. I think this was the ultimate goal of the project we were all given at the beginning of the year and it’s so amazing what you guys were able to do. You mentioned a piezo buzzer in this post, were you now able to find one? I know Mrs. Dadmehr has some (we used them in computer science) and they sell them on Adafruit ( I hope that helps! Once again, this project is beyond impressive!
    – Chloe

  5. What a beautiful write up and most importantly what a beautiful product. I really like every aspect of your project. I believe that the hard work you put into your design is very apparent and I applaud you guys for sticking to it. Everything about this project is so well-thought-out and it’s amazing to me all the hard work that ya’ll put in. I think it’s incredibly cool how you guys got the opportunity to go to SXSW to present your project. I definitely suggest you continue the progress of your project. Good job ladies. -Andrea C.

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