Tyler Roman- Inflatables Long Term Reading Assignment (Mikesell)

For the Long Term Reading Assignment, I made sure to charge in first and grab the most interesting piece (at least to me) and was more than happy to grab

Towards a Soft Pneumatic Glove for Hand Rehabilitation

published in Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2013 IEEE/RSJ International Conference.

And a link to my bare-bones presentation.

The reason for the lack of text being the expectation that I would narrate most of the information gained from the reading.

Overall the purpose of the text was exactly that of the title. Creating a soft glove made of air-controlled pneumatic networks that when actuated would cause the hand to contract in a semi-natural fashion thus creating a cheaper, easier, and simpler means of hand rehabilitation rather than the practice of requiring the hiring expensive physical rehabilitator.

The way in which this was done was by creating soft actuators through the use of silicone.

Taking inspiration from McKibben actuators the team involved used silicone and molds in order to create these actuators based on the PneuNet (Pneumatic Network Technique).

Once the actuators were created the team spent vast amounts of time taking careful calculations in order to ensure reliability, comfortability, and safety. In order to do so, they spent a lot of time calculating and comparing results taken between the observed data and the FEM data or Finite Element Modeling data (data calculated via mathematical computation and physics). Luckily, bar a few discrepancies in data due to the nature of the measurements and further improvements needing to be made most of the results landed squarely in what was both anticipated and needed.

The actuators were then connected to a neoprene glove designed for comfortability and quick removal for safety and then tested. The tests showed the actuators working to bend the hand to grasp various objects as seen in the photos in my powerpoint.

Take away and reflection:

Overall, I really liked this paper. It was a nice extension to the McKibben actuator lab we did in Lab 3 and really showed me yet again, the versatility of inflatables and their importance in the development and furthering of modern technology. coming into this class I honestly thought that the class would be about balloons and hot air balloons and water balloons or like bouncy castles and the like and yet, time and time again I have been suprised with the artistry, creativity, and unfortold possibilities of inflatables. The idea that inflatables could be used to tackle such things as physical rehabilitation, or used as “hugging” or support type devices to tackle mental illness, was a concept I had never taken into consideration before. Truly though, the depth of research needed to calculate and understand the full utility of the soft actuator truly goes to show the diversity of the inflatable for progress in the modern age, in all faculties of life, and in ways I had honestly never thought possible.

Tyler Roman- Inflatables Lab 5 (Mikesell)

 For this lab, I partnered with Isabella Baranyk and Maya Williams to use Arduino to control and measure an air pressure sensor.

The materials used were an Arduino, Breadboard, wires, air pump, valve, power source, IP 120 transistor, diode, voltage regulator, pressure sensor, and an inflatable square of TPU coated fabric

In the lab using the materials, we created two circuits, the first being a circuit designed to cycle through various high and low states, inflating and deflating an inflatable as they change.


While I was soldering the wires to the air pump, Maya and Isabella used the digital multimeter to ensure that the voltage was correct before plugging the circuit into any power sources. Our circuit needed about volts of outside power from a secondary source which they measured pretty accurately as seen below.


When the circuit was finished we connected the air pump to the valve with some small plastic tubing and then attached the inflatable square made of TPU coated fabric to the valve and successfully inflated it, but not deflating. After a while, we realized we still needed the power from the secondary source. Once the power was connected the finished circuit could both inflate and deflate the square. In the video we recorded you can hear the clicking of the valve that shows that air pressure is being released from the system.

The second circuit we constructed involved us adding a pressure sensor to our previous circuit. Then, after inputting an Arduino code for pressure sensing provided to us by Professor Mikesell, we connected a syringe to the open end of the valve with plastic tubing. By using the syringe and a serial monitor we were able to look at and calculate the air pressure/the change in air pressure. The maximum pressure we reached was a little over 30 which is supposedly about the highest you can reach. You can see some video of this below.

Credits to Maya Williams for photos/video


// Code to Control Valve
void setup() {
 // initialize digital pin LED_BUILTIN as an output.
 pinMode(6, OUTPUT);

// the loop function runs over and over again forever
void loop() {
 digitalWrite(6, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
 delay(10000); // wait for a second
 digitalWrite(6, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
 delay(1000); // wait for a second

//Pressure sensor code

#include "Wire.h"
#include <Arduino.h>

#define sensor_I2C 0x28 // each I2C object has a unique bus address, the DS1307 is 0x68
#define OUTPUT_MIN 1638.4 // 1638 counts (10% of 2^14 counts or 0x0666)
#define OUTPUT_MAX 14745.6 // 14745 counts (90% of 2^14 counts or 0x3999)
#define PRESSURE_MIN 14.5 // min is 0 for sensors that give absolute values
#define PRESSURE_MAX 100 // 1.6bar (I want results in bar)
float psi = 0; // 14.5 psi is pressure at sea level

void setup()
 Wire.begin(); // wake up I2C bus
 delay (500);

void loop()
 float pressure, temperature;
 //send a request
 Wire.beginTransmission(sensor_I2C); // "Hey, CN75 @ 0x48! Message for you"
 Wire.write(1); // send a bit asking for register one, the data register (as specified by the pdf)
 Wire.endTransmission(); // "Thanks, goodbye..."
 // now get the data from the sensor
 delay (20);

Wire.requestFrom(sensor_I2C, 4);
 while (Wire.available() == 0);
 byte a = Wire.read(); // first received byte stored here ....Example bytes one: 00011001 10000000
 byte b = Wire.read(); // second received byte
 byte c = Wire.read(); // third received byte stored here
 byte d = Wire.read(); // fourth received byte stored here

byte status1 = (a & 0xc0) >> 6; // first 2 bits from first byte
 //Serial.println(status1, BIN);

int bridge_data = ((a & 0x3f) << 8) + b;
 int temperature_data = ((c << 8) + (d & 0xe0)) >> 5;

 temperature = (temperature_data * 0.0977) - 50;

 Serial.print("PSI ");

Serial.print("temperature (C) ");

delay (500);

Tyler Roman- Inflatables Lab 4 (Mikesell)

The point of this lab was to create an inflatable dome which I did along with partners Maya Wang and Matthew Couch.

The materials used were a large sheet of plastic, scissors, cardboard, tracing paper, a marker, and a handheld iron.

1Then, using http://www.domerama.com/calculators/cover-pattern/ we calculated the dimensions for the gores and created a template using the cardboard. The Template was then used to create 8 corresponding gores that would be used to make the dome.



Once the side gores were completed and the resulting dome was flipped inside out we then made a base for the dome, using two pencils and a ruler to trace a circle onto another sheet of plastic. The base was then ironed onto the gores while a small opening was left for inflation. Finally, we took some leftover plastic and fashioned an inflation straw. Once the straw was done it was secured to the dome with tape since the awkward shape was not conducive to heat sealing. The dome blew up well even though the end shape vaguely resembled a soup dumping or perhaps a breast.




Tyler Roman- Inflatables Lab 3 (Mikesell)

For the second lab, we made McKibben Air Muscle actuators using balloons, a syringe, plastic tubing, some net, some zip ties.

My partners for this project were Maya Williams and Matthew Couch.

To create the muscle the balloon was strung through the net tubing by slowly inching it and pulling it through. Then one end of the joined balloon and the net tube was closed off with zip ties. The other end of the opening was attached to the plastic tube and then connected to the syringe. The final step tie of the opening with the tube using yet another zip tie. Once the muscle was completed it could be tested by using the syringe to pump air into the muscle.


Once each group was finished with their muscle we all connected our muscles to this sculpture created by Professor Mikesell and took turns inflating them causing the sculpture to bend in different directions.


Video of the working sculpture. Credits to Maya Williams

Tyler Roman- Inflatables Lab 2/Assignment 04 (Mikesell)

For this lab, Professor Mikesell brought us through the basics of creating 3D models using the Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software Fusion360 from Autodesk.

We practiced creating shapes and extruding them, hollowing and shelling them, and creating holes as seen below.

Then for the last part of the lab/the weekly assignment Professor Mikesell instructed us to create a bouncy castle.

Or rather a bouncy-castle-ish space. However, I just made a rather generic bouncy castle house as I thought that was assigned. Overall I am quite happy with the way it turned out and got quite a bit of practice sketching, extruding, filleting, and shelling various surfaces.

Inflatables Final Project [Matthew Couch]

Author: Matthew Couch

Date: 2018-05-15


Here was the original proposal I had made for my final project for the class.

I went to the fabric market and asked for TPU. I guess I went to the wrong one, because nobody that I asked knew what I was talking about. In the end I showed a Taobao page of some TPU and an old vendor claimed that the plastic he was selling was similar, so I ended up buying like 200 plastic paper holders. What type of plastic it is I don’t know if I’ll ever know. Luckily it seemed to somewhat inflate and hold its shape relatively well.

After purchasing the plastic, I went to a music shop to buy reeds. To my surprise they were much more expensive than I expected (150 for a box) and in the end proved useless, because I was unable to figure out the science behind them. This is where I decided to change up my choice of final project using what I already had made out of the plastic. At this point, I had created this (used some strong tape because no place I looked had the glue I wanted and apparently people on the streets don’t have a random heat sealer laying around).

After making the base “box” of the proposed instrument, I started experimenting with the reeds to see how to get them to produce sound. Having no musical experience apart from a semester-long class of piano, I went to Wikipedia and YouTube to try and figure out how reeds were used to produce sound. After multiple days of testing with different tubes, plastic pipes, etc., I couldn’t get the reeds to produce sound. At all. So I had to come up with a different idea. While blowing up the inflatable box with nothing more than a straw and my breath, I noticed something that would lead me to the idea for the final project.

After blowing it up for a while I noticed that the plastic kept appearing very dirty. This triggered a memory back to the proposed idea in class of a lung that would have the aim of displaying the health hazards with smoking. As a current (and wanting to quit) smoker myself, the box started to look like a box of 10-pack cigarettes that you would usually buy at the duty-free areas at the airport. With the inside getting dirty, my new idea of putting finished cigarettes in came up. I want the box to represent both a lung after smoking as well as the cause of it, a box of tons of cigarettes. Being an inflatable, I had further ideas that work best in a presentation. Blowing cigarette smoke into the inflatable would not only cause it to inflate, but also leave smoke in it that would slowly seep out of the place of inflation. While the smoke may be leaving the body, the effects are still done: the lungs are dirtier, and they slowly deflate to nothing. Smoking doesn’t have an immediate impact on the lungs, but rather a slow and (at least in the beginning) unknown one. It also occurred to me to poor a little water into the inflatable to better display the slow dirtying of it. After the fact I realized this idea was horrible and the smell was unbearable, so in the future there could be a healthier way to depict this idea.

After doing this project I realized that being too ambitious can easily cause problems. First off, I have no knowledge of music. Second, my knowledge of inflatables is also not the greatest. Had I put more thought into it originally I could definitely come out with a better overall final project (rather than somewhat improvising after figuring out my original plan wasn’t going to work).

Week 7: Big Bloody Tampon – Documentation


Partner: Maya Wang

Short Description: This project is a 3m x 1m inflatable sculpture of a tampon.


For our final project for Inflatables, Maya and I settled down on the idea to create an inflatable that would speak about women’s sexuality. So at first, our plan was to build an inflatable woman. But instead of building her entire body, we wanted to only create certain parts of her body, mainly the ones that most sexualized in society (breasts, butt, legs). However, once we actually started to build the different inflatables, we realized that maybe our idea was a bit too ambitious, since giving specific shapes to an inflatable proves to be pretty hard. Thus, we decided to change our idea, and instead, we decided to build a giant inflatable tampon. Doing this, would mean that we would only need two main shapes, a dome and a cylinder. Furthermore, with this art piece Maya and I want to bring awareness to female sexual health. Female sexual health is often seen as a taboo topic and tampons are rarely found in China.


 Clear plastic tarp, dome calculator, ruler, handheld iron, measuring tape, scissors, red spray paint, white fabric, fan.


Building the main structure

Since Maya and I decided to make the inflatable 3m by 1m, the dome for our tampon had to have a diameter of 1m. We used the dome calculator previously used in class and calculated the dimensions for a dome with 6 gores and 1m diameter. We first prototyped a smaller version of this and it seemed fined, so we proceeded by building the actual dome that we would later use in our sculpture. We used a ruler and a maker to draw out the measurements of each dome onto the clear plastic tarp, cut it with the scissors and ironed the pieces together with the handheld irons. Next, we continued by cutting a piece of plastic tarp with the dimensions of 3.14m by 1m, and sealed it together by giving it a cylinder shape. And once we had the cylinder ready, we ironed one of its ends to the dome.

Spray painting

Our originally idea was to fill up the tampon with loads of red paper/fabric/anything red. However, not only would this have been a tremendous waste of material, but it was also hard for us to find the amount of material that we would need in order to fill up the entire tampon. Luckily, we found some cans or red spray paint in the the IMA studio and realized that spray painting the tampon was a much better idea (plus, it would look nicer). However, what we did not realize is that there were only two cans of red spray paint, and that ended up not being enough. So after finishing both cans and spraying them on to the inside-layer of the sculpture, we simply had to leave it as it was. But fortunately enough, we had started spray painting the tip of the tampon, which ended up being very convenient since we couldn’t paint the entire inflatable. Either way, real tampon aren’t always entirely full of blood, so I think painting half of it makes it a bit more realistic. But either way, it looked pretty good. We let the paint dry, and the next day we flipped the structure inside out because the spray paint was flaking and leaving a huge mess.


Finishing the sculpture

After having the main structure of the tampon and spray painting its tip, we cut a 1m diameter circle of clear plastic tarp, which served as the base for the tampon, and sealed it to the rest of the structure.

Then, we found a white sheet of fabric, divided into 6 long strips and braided them. This ended up representing the string attached to tampons. However, for the show, we decided not to attach it to the inflatable and instead, simply put it under the structure.


Finally, we inflated our Big Bloody Tampon. In order to complete this step, we created a small tube made with some of the plastic tarp and attached it to a fan. We cut a small hole by the base of the tampon and attached the tube to it so that the air could flow into the inflatable.




Overall, both Maya and I are very happy with the result. Our giant inflatable tampon ended up being a success, and people instantly recognized it was a tampon and said it was provocative. Some other people did not understand why we decided to make a tampon, but I am definitely satisfied with the end result of our sculpture. The only thing I would ‘fix’ is the spray paint issue. Although I did not want to spray paint all of it, I wish we could have had a little bit more spray paint. Other than that, I am really happy with our Big Blood Tampon.

Tyler Roman-Inflatable Class 12 Assignment (Mikesell)

Stumbling around the internet I was able to find this strange performance inflatable: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3117638/That-s-one-way-stop-children-having-sex-Creepy-giant-puppets-enact-child-birth-excruciating-bizarre-taxpayer-funded-sex-education-ever.html

Essentially what this is, is a collection(?) of massive inflatables, all of which are used to reenact a skit in which the mother inflatable is struck by a brick before dying and giving birth to a baby puppet. The baby puppet then moves and attaches itself to a singular inflated breast that is then used to squirt the audience with milk. This utterly bizarre scene is then followed by a heart coming out of the deceased mother before breaking into dance, a puppet that delivers a message about creation before being eaten, a butt puppet that proceeds to “poop” everywhere, and then finally, a mobile, walking penis that leaves its audience with yet another spontaneous round of squirting.

Overall, the message seems to be about sexual education, but the strange display has brought about reactions of fear, joy, and disgust from children and adults alike.


Final Project: The Saturn Voyager | Maya Williams

 Title: The Saturn Voyager

Date: 15 May 2018


Concept: Inspired by the ship’s of past Afrofuturists including Sun Ra and George Clinton, the Saturn Voyager was constructed as a portal through time and space. It has descended on Earth to spread the gospel of Afrofuturism and challenge us to unwrite a future that looks too much like our past.

This inflatable is both a spaceship and a screening venue. On the day of its presentation my short film Whose Myth are You? was being projected on the outside of the dome. Find the video below:



  • Mylar
  • Clear Plastic
  • Scissors
  • Sealing Iron
  • Tape
  • Tracing Paper
  • Ruler/measuring tape

Construction: The Saturn Voyager is a 2.96-meter dome composed of 12 gores. In the final version of the ship, nine of the gores are made of mylar (obtained from space blankets ordered on Taobao) while the other three gores and the floor are made of a clear plastic material.

Initially, I drew different sketches of what the ship would possibly look like while also looking online for examples of designs that I liked. Once I settled on actually doing a dome shape I used fusion 360 to create a model of what I would kind of like to create. I also made a miniature dome as practice to understand the dynamics of creating a dome.

Once I was ready I started preparation to create my actual ship. I was able to find out the gore size I needed using an online gore calculator. I drew and cut out a singular gore frame from a piece of plastic and used this to trace out the 12 gores that would be used in the actual project.

When working with the Mylar I first attempted to heat seal the sides by using an iron set to 225 degrees with a piece of baking paper in between. However, this did not work as it either did not heat seal the officers or would burn through the material. I later attempted to iron at 175 degrees without the baking paper. This created a very week seal so I reinforced all of them with tape. For the plastic, sealing at 150 degrees with a piece of tracing paper in between worked just fine.

For the base, I cobbled together various pieces of plastic to form a circle of the proper circumference since there was not plastic large enough for the task. A mylar tube was created and attached to a fan and then inserted into the ship and taped around its edges to inflate the ship. A doorway was also created by first cutting a slit on one side of the ship and then taping a sheet of plastic coated mylar along that cut to act as an envelope.

I made two iterations of the dome one that was 50/50 plastic and mylar and then the final version.


On the day of the show, the ship was set up in its space assigned and a fan and small blower were attached to it. With the door slit the fan alone was not enough to inflate the dome, however as we were inflating the small blower burned out, thus the death of the dome. Not giving up hope a length of rope was stretched across the space and the top of the dome was taped to the rope partially propping it up. This clearly didn’t give the ship it’s full effect but it did allow people to still enter the space.

In future iterations of this, I would definitely want to be able to test the fan out sooner. And if I was disregarding cost I would likely choose another material besides Mylar. It simply doesn’t feel sturdy enough to build something people are supposed to walk in and out of.

Inflatables Presentation (Isabella)

My presentation text was Jacobo Krauel’s Inflatable Art, Architecture, and Design (2014). While most of my classmates’ texts were technical research papers that were difficult to read and summarize because of their specificity, my text was an anthology of several hundred inflatable projects over a span of many years, and was difficult to summarize because of its lack of any core narrative.

To work with this challenge, I chose to single out a favorite or exceptional project from each chapter. I gave a summary of the project as it was described in Krauel’s book, and tried my best to add some of my own insight or opinion along with some photos of each work. My favorite out of the many, many inflatable pieces detailed in the book was actually a movement of quasi-amateur extreme ballooning. Like the house in Up, extreme ballooning involves harnessing many high-quality balloons to a person, usually seated in a chair, who calculates the wind speed and direction to determine the optimal time to begin the ballooning session. The ballooner carries a pellet gun to shoot down and pop the balloons when they are ready to come down. I love that this movement is about finding the most low-cost (although the balloons and helium do work out to be quite expensive), democratic, and empowering way to get individuals into the sky.