INTERACTION LAB MIDTERM DOCUMENTATION
Project Partner: Jannie Zhou
- Project Name: BurnLess
- Project Statement of Purpose:
Our project, BurnLess, is a product that helps people who like to drink hot beverages not burn themselves by putting a LED indicator inside a cup lid. BurnLess is a lid that will sense the heat coming from the hot beverage, and it will indicate the temperature of the steam to allow the person who is drinking the beverage to know when the beverage is at the right temperature for their best liking. BurnLess resolves the problem of people burning themselves by allowing the user to know when the beverage is ready to drink so that they can avoid the pain of burning their mouth.
Initially, we researched at which temperature people like to drink their beverage and how hot is “hot” drinkable. However, we realized that since the temperature sensor cannot sense water temperature, we could only estimate the temperature by sensing the steam and taking a sip of hot water to test if it is drinkable. Despite that, we also do not know another important factor; what temperature do people like to drink their beverage at. Therefore we created three different kinds of temperature setting and used red light, blue light, and green light to indicate the different temperature setting. Our goal of this project is to make sure people understand these indicators and always enjoy their beverage at the liking of their temperature.
- Literature and Art, Perspectives and Contexts:
One of the readings that I read was “Getting Started in Electronics” by Forrest Mims. This reading helped me understand the basic components of electrical circuits and theories. My partner was listening to Nirvana one day, and the song Smells Like Teen Spirit came up, and initially our idea was to create a cup connected with a moisture sensor and a stepper motor connected with a smiley face and when water is poured into the cup, the stepper motor will raise the smiley face. However, we thought this idea did not serve a purpose because what exactly can raising a smiley face do or help the user. Then, after understanding more of “Getting Started in Electronics” we thought about using the temperature sensor. This idea is more practical and applies real-world problems and try to create a solution as we learned in the Interaction Lab class. We stayed firmly to an idea that relates to water and a cup and thought about what kind of issues do people usually face when drinking water. Then I realized I had burned myself multiple times drinking hot water not realizing how hot it is especially in a restaurant when they serve hot tea. Even though touching the cup may make you think that the beverage is ready because hands can usually withhold hotter temperature than your tongue, that is not always the case.
We dug into more research on Arduino projects that have used a temperature sensor, and we found a similar one that correlates with our idea. Instead of using a lid, the project used a coaster that senses the temperature of the cup and uses LED to indicate the hotness of the water. We decided not to use the coaster for multiple reasons. For one, our project would be too similar, and we did not want to copy it. Secondly, we wanted to create a lid because it does not let the heat escape that quickly so that people can drink at their own time and still enjoy a beverage that is supposed to be hot in the first place. Lastly, building a coaster would have been much harder compared to making a lid because the coaster is much smaller and the Arduino and circuit that he used was much more advanced. As a result, we decided to stick with making a lid.
For our project, we actually did not do much reading because the project design, components, and process are all taught to us in Interaction lab class, or we came up with our project mostly by ourselves.
- Project Description:
After deciding that we should make a lid for our project, we began to prototype and think of how to design our lid. Our prototype was using a cup and a lid from the cafe. We first wanted to test how the temperature sensor worked and how sensitive it was and surprisingly, it was sensitive enough even to sense room temperature as well as hand temperature. After knowing that, we knew sensing the heat of the water would not be a problem. We put the sensor under the lid and used the serial monitor to check the temperature. For the coding of the Arduino, we found a basic temperature sensor coding from this website, and we applied it to our Arduino. Some problems that we faced and had to reconsider our design was that we knew the temperature sensor could not get wet therefore it cannot be in close contact with water unless there is a thin layer blocking it. Therefore when we were designing the lid, I only made it half a millimeter so that it is thin enough to make the sensor sense heat still. Initially, the lid design had a rectangle box on top of the circle in order to fit the Arduino. However, after realizing that we had to use the breadboard as well, we wanted to figure out a better way to fit everything together more coherently. Then I asked Professor Leon if there is a smaller Arduino we can use and thankfully, there was an Arduino named Arduino Nano which was less than half of the size of the Arduino Uno. In our Arduino kit, there was also a smaller breadboard which was used for the Arduino shield, so we took that and connected to the Arduino Nano and all in all, the size was still only half of the original idea. Therefore we redesigned the lid as well. Instead of having a box on a circular lid, we decided to build up the circular design and try to make the diameter for the lid big enough to fit the circuit. For the LED, we wanted to make a cool design of a skull and put the LED inside the skull’s eyes so that when it lights up, the eyes will be red.
After finishing all the circuit wiring, we realized that in order to power the circuit, we still had to connect it to our computer which did not make sense because cup lids should not be required to connect it to a computer. Therefore I asked Professor Leon again if we had something that could power up the Arduino without connecting it to a computer. He showed me a battery with one red and one black wiring that is almost the same size as the small breadboard we are using which contains 5V of power. After knowing that the battery works, we moved on to printing our first design of the lid. After waiting for almost 3 hours, our lid came out too small. The breadboard was not able to fit inside the lid. Therefore we had to make a bigger one. Since the design had three circular layers, we made each layer just a bit bigger without changing the bottom diameter of the lid because the 3D printer can only print a 10x10cm design.
Another problem we ran into was the design of the skull. The first skull that we printed was from Tinkercad’s resource box, but after printing it, it was too small and not hollow at the bottom. Therefore we went onto a website for a 3D print called Thingiverse and looked up designs of skulls. We found a cool design with a hollow bottom and decided to try it out. After printing it, the skull was still not hollow even though on Tinkercad it was. The problem was that in Tinkercad, when a design is hollow, they use support to support it but since the skull was so small, the support was much stronger, therefore, it was not possible to use the skull. Not only that was a problem, but also the LED light was not strong and bright enough to see it through from the skull’s eyes. Therefore we ditched the idea of using a skull and decided to put the LED light design aside first.
When the circuit is put together, we realized that the wiring had a plastic rectangular box-like material wrapped around the bottom of the circuit and the problem was that if we had to put the lid cover on, it would be too high and that material is not bendable as well. Therefore we had to cut wires and solder it with the LED and temperature sensor as well.
In our first user testing, we did not have enough time to print a top cover for the lid to hide the circuit, so we created a prototype with a cardboard box to cover up the circuit. We made a small hole on top of the lid so that the LEDs could show. During the user testing, we got some feedback like using different LED color to indicate the different levels of the temperature of the water or that we should have a design on top to indicate hotness instead of using a skull. These were all excellent feedback from our project, and we took account of everything that was given to us and tired our best to adjust our lid.
After user testing, we decided only to pick a few adjustments that needed to be made because of the short amount of time we had. The first thing we did was redesign the top cover of the lid so that it can close up. I made the circumference much bigger without changing the size of the bottom base. During the 3D print process, it took four tries to finally made the top cover. During the first print, the printer just stopped and did not print anymore. Both second, third and fourth print failed due to the machine itself got caught up with other wiring and moved the whole print. After taking almost a full day to print, the top cover was printed successfully, and we did not need to readjust anything else. The next step for us was to find a way to design the cover for the LED. We thought about just making a sphere out of transparent 3D print material, but the material that IMA lab had was not a suitable material to use. We then decided to take the concept of Beauty and the Beast of putting a glass over the flower; however, we could not find any material like that and did not have time to go out of our way to find one. We then decided to wrap the LED with gold paper and made it look like a flower that lights up. That was the last touch to our project.
The night before our presentation, our project design fell apart due to two main reasons. The first reason was that our second temperature sensor broke. Because we have been bending the sensor so often, the wire eventually broke off. Even though our main component broke, we quickly recovered it by getting another temperature sensor from our friend and was able to continue with our project. A lesson that we learned was that we had to be careful when handling with our components; they are more fragile than they look. Another reason which was the biggest reason was that the battery did not work anymore. For some reason, whenever we connect the battery to the circuit, it will continuously light up the LED light and not change the LED color according to the temperature. Initially, we thought it was something wrong with the coding. Then we connected the Arduino board to our laptop, and it worked fine. Then, we thought it was something wrong with our circuit connection. However, we knew our circuit was fine as well because when we connected to our laptop, it worked perfectly. At that time, it was late with no fellows around so we could not ask anyone for help. Therefore we came in the next day trying on two more different batteries, and it was the same result. As a result, when we presented our project, we had to use a USB cable to present which was not something we wanted to. The battery not working at the end was the downfall of our project, and if we only had more time, we could try to figure out what had happened to it and ideally reach our project goal.
5. Project Significance:
I believe that the significance of our project is that if it worked successfully and given more time, it could be a product for everyone to use. Most of the time when we create a project for class, it is mostly only for the class purpose only. However, BurnLess is a product that had high practical usage, and it benefits people. When we first began our project, we expected to create an all in one lid without connecting to other power sources. I am more than proud to say that we did accomplish that goal but it had also failed on us at the last minute. However, my partner and I learned valuable lessons from this project, and we did not get upset by it just because it was not what we wanted for our presentation.
Our product is intended for individuals who drink hot beverages but often burn themselves by not being careful enough or just rushing to drink the drink. Having a lid that can indicate the readiness of the beverage can help by allowing the individual to do whatever they have to do without having to check if their drink is ready continually. Moreover, it also shows the different temperature setting so that they can always drink their beverage at the temperature of their liking.
- Project Design and Production:
-Arduino Nano board
-3 220 Ohm resistor
-1 RGB LED
-Lm35 Temperature Sensor
-3D print materials
For this project, we used the Arduino Nano board instead of the UNO because we did not require many analog pins or number pins and we needed the circuit to be as small as possible. We connected the Nano board to the small breadboard that was given to us in our Arduino Kit and left enough to space to fit in 3 spaces for ground pins and 3 for 5V power. For the wiring, we mostly had to use wires that we had to cut ourselves rather than the ones that were provided for us because the plastic around the bottom of the wire is not bendable and it would also make the lid too tall. Therefore as a design aspect, we decided to use bendable wires. In order to connect the wires and the temperature sensor, we had to solder the wire to the sensor. When we were soldering the wire, for some reason, the soldering machine was not heating up, so it took a long time to solder the wires without burning the temperature sensor by accidentally touching it. We also soldered the RGB LED with each wire connecting to a 220-ohm resistor so that the LED does not burn out. After putting it all together, we were able to bend the wires and cover up the whole circuit with the lid cover. We did not try any other methods or designs for the lid based on time, so we could not try different concepts. However, even though we did not try other methods or design, I liked the lid we designed and the functionality of it. Even though it might look a little bit bigger than the usual cup lids, it had to be like that because of the circuit.
The purpose of our project is to ensure that each individual when drinking a hot beverage, does not burn themselves while still enjoying a hot beverage. Our project was a successful project because for us, the coding worked, the circuit worked, and the design was nice and clean just the way we wanted. We compacted every element of our project into a lid only by the size of 10cm x 10cm. What did not work out though was the battery that we used. Ultimately it did not work with our project, and even up until today, we are not entirely sure why it happened and what caused it not to work all of a sudden. Throughout this project, the battery was not the only problem we ran into. The first design of the lid was too small, two of the temperature sensor broke, we tried to print the top cover of the lid four times which took up most of the day, and the wiring of the circuit was too big. Through these problems and mistakes, we learned some valuable lessons as well. For me, the most important lesson that I learned was to appreciate what engineers, developers, and designers do to make up a small piece of technology. We learned that it is challenging to build a circuit that is physically small. Moreover, the also takes a couple of times to reach our project goal, and in the end, we did not even reach the goal we were trying to achieve. Another lesson was that sometimes, things just fell apart. Like our battery, it fell apart on us at the last minute when we did not expect it to happen. Lastly, we learned how to spend the minimal time to create a product and prototype by making the 3D print process shorter or using quick sketch ideas for the design. Ultimately, if we had more time, there are improvements we would like to do. For example, be able to use the battery successfully and also be able to charge the battery without taking the top lid off. We would also want to make the design slimmer and sleeker as well as adding more visual designs. Through these improvements, I feel like our project will be much better and even something that could be sold to the market. So far, we have not seen a product like ours, and we feel that if everything worked out perfectly, it could be something that is useful for people in their daily life.
-our first prototype
-first print of our lid
-then it got ruined
-the lid was too small to fit the circuit
-bottom of skull was not hollow
-The design for user testing day
-final design of our lid
-coding for the Arduino
-final look of the project