Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Smart Surfaces Week

My first concern as I integrated into this course was the imbalance that adding another MSE student would introduce. This was a two ended problem; primarily it would bias any group I was in with engineers, secondly it would cause some problems for the unofficial companion course MSE 489. Mo, the single architecture member in G3 solved the first problem quite neatly for us. He made himself a strong representative of his major, we wont lack of architectural influence. Not only that but the art and architecture students seem to have a lot of common ground, the group dynamic was initially a little more like three on three. The second problem has developed well and has had little influence on the class.

On to the design considerations. The first problem solving session was mostly for the sake of defining terms for instance optimal packing. The MSE student obviously had a strong bias and all began supporting a close packed crystal structure. The prompts optimally packed spheres and holds in addition with the groups strong desire to integrate the spittle bug, mentioned in some of the background material, evoked two concepts from the group. The first was to hold spheres on a surface or in a box that made them pack optimally, the second was to use the spheres as vessels and then pack them optimally in close packed planes.  My initial thoughts took the class name smart surfaces very literally and I was focused on a flat two dimensional surface. My first concept was a flat sheet with tabs which would extend up out of the plane and enforce spheres on the plane to close packed plane arrangement. The tabs would also provide some support and allow the lane to go from level with the ground to nearly a 100 percent grade in the direction where the spheres had the tab under them. This idea didn't get any support and I wasn't very attached to it. The next concept of how to enforce a close packed arrangement was the idea of cutting holes in a box or surface in which a sphere would stably sit. This concept was developed by Carlo and Mo in rhino before the next meeting. I believed this idea showed promise since, unlike a regular vessel which would allow spheres added to it to take on nearly any unoptimal packing structure, the layers in contact with the bottom and walls would be forced to take on a close packed structure and would transmit the structure to spheres added behind them leading to a optimally packed chamber where no space was wasted. To emulate the video shown at the first class meeting we divided our group in two to develop the two concepts (spherical vessels and sphere holing box), I was on the box team.

We decided to prove the concept by building a box for ping-pong balls. The ping pong ball box was to be made to force an FCC structure coming down to a single ball at the bottom. At another meeting together Carlo an Ekta made several panels of chipboard with holes laser cut in them to force a close packed plane, a picture of this will be in my next post. At this point we reconvened as a whole group. The other three had made a sphere which unfolded like a pill bug and was made of panels. The idea had gone through several iterations and looked interesting and promising. The box idea was killed since the point was made that it was not necessarily "smart" it was simply a clever packaging idea. The consensus of the group was that a smart surface was one that could actively adapt or react to its environment using sensors or mechanization. This definition still seems narrow to me. I did agree that the box should not be the focus of the group, given that however the group insisted we not pursue anything other than our main goal and the box died completely. Not necessarily terrible since the problem of FCC and HCP phase boundaries in a large bulk of ping-pong ball occurred to me during that meeting. One more idea struck me during that meeting regarding a grid of punched holes, two overlapping grids which could align to allow spheres to pass through in a close packed plane and could then be unaligned to prevent them from passing. A picture will be shown in my next post. A problem here is that the size of the grid is limited by the fact that in a close packed plane a ball is in contact with all its nearest neighbors so to pass individually through a grid they must come out of contact and the whole arrangement must space apart eventually a ball toward the edge of the grid would not land in the proper location. I did not press the subject.

Next we began discussing the packing and how to justify optimal packing. Suggestions included hanging them in a clump, piling them, or leaving them in a close packed plane. I was not comfortable with any of these since there really wasn't any justification for them or purpose. To me the clump didn't represent close packing, hanging was ostensibly pointless, and a close packed plane did not seem sufficient. Later Melany and Ekta suggested that two spheres which had there other halves nested could be put together opening to opening making one large sphere capable of expanding into two spheres. I will put some of these photos in my next post. These "double" spheres could be put on a flat plane and take up half of the previously assumed space. I thought this was an unique interpretation of 'optimally packed' and was comforted. Furthermore since these 'double' spheres could be arranged in lines I had the idea these could be arranged into lines on two opposing surfaces and then interlocked into one close packed plane protected by the flat panes they sat on as in a suitcase. The suitcase would open, the lines of spheres would open, they would be loaded, and then they could close. However the suitcase could no longer close. I was encouraged to let this be until the Q and A portion of the presentation.

No comments:

Post a Comment