006.1: Creeping Up to Testing

I am slowly creeping up to being in position to begin on the next draft of the paper — the first to cover everything in the outline — but first I need to get a testable version of the system in place, so I can start on my testing month(ish). This weekend's work towards the latter has been a real case of two steps forward, one step back: after a lot of bugs and just trying to compare settings in Xcode, I got a release version of the app on the test phone (my old iPhone); at the same time getting the hardware into a prototype that I can carry around with me has become an ongoing series of errors.

The joints on the previous test version of the app came undone. (Soldering wire to wire is always prone to failure it seems, even with the heat-shrink protecting it.) To work on it, I had to destroy the plaster that was currently wrapping the motor, and in doing that, I managed to break the motor as well. Then when we went to remove the old wire from the prototyping board at the base of the Bean, we realized we don't have a desoldering pump, which makes removing solder from the through-hole board challenging. So now I am the proud owner of a desoldering pump.

The next difficulty in making a testable object that can stand up to some travel is what to do about adding the new motor. Most coin motors have very short leads. I found some with longer leads and ordered them, but they are going to take a few weeks to arrive. In the meantime, I have ordered some braided wire to try to attach to the short leads. A sailing friend pointed out boats are full of braided wire because the flexibility keeps them more resilient, especially on something that moves as much as a boat. I will give these a shot tonight. An alternative plan is to use the Othermill to cut a board on which I can mount a motor and button, and then wire these into the Bean's prototyping holes.

The virtue of this second approach is that it will mean I can also start testing the new molds I need to make for the next iteration of the object. I will make a new, slightly larger and slightly deeper mold for the object itself — enough to hold the mounting board and a Bean, even if I don't put the Bean in the first one — and then a wax mold for the silicon backwrapper / button plunger. On this I will also drill a standalone plunger piece, so I can stick that in the object plaster while it cures. My plan now is to go into the Fab Lab at school next Saturday armed with files (and a Wes for company) and not leave till these are all milled. Then I can get the wiring and plaster set up.

Wes is helping me model a case for the Bean to protect it during this external testing, and with luck we can print that, too. Otherwise, cardboard and cotton might have to suffice for the first test protection. Based on the destruction of the motor this weekend, sticking a Bean into the object — with protection or directly into plaster — should probably wait until charging is solved.

So, I am getting there — more slowly than I prefer, but moving. And I have a hardware plan for the week. In the meantime, I am going to seed the app with some real memories and push out one more version to the phone.