Mudd Makers Part III

Hi all, welcome to the third installment in the Mudd Maker series. These blogs are about interesting projects Mudders have built in their free time. Check out the previous blogs Mudd Makers and Mudd Makers Part II!

I myself have taken to laser cutting wood this semester. It all started with a stray piece of plywood laying around in my suite (this happens if you live with several engineers) that was being used as kind of placemat. I thought it was rather plain looking so I decided to stick it into the laser cutter in the machine shop and spruce it up a little. A die-hard game of thrones fan, I etched maps of the North and South on the front and back of the wood. Because I had several pending assignments looming ahead of me, I naturally decided to spend more time on this arbitrary piece of wood, and I applied a semi-gloss protective finish to the wood. From there this laser cutting habit has become a prime method for procrastinating.

Ben Baral – Ice Skating Freelines

Ben Baral is a freshman from LA. He recently made freelines for ice skating! If you don’t know what freelines are check out my previous Moving Mudders. He describes the process below.

At the end of last semester, I went ice skating, and after I got back, I was practicing freelining with a friend. I said to him, “What if someone made freeline ice skates?” and he told me that it was a terrible idea. He did some research, and they have been done before, so I decided to try to make some of my own, and I learned a lot about ice skates in the process. I went to Paul Stovall, the head machinist, with a sheet of stainless steel and a 2D drawing of ice skate blades, and he cut them for me on the school’s waterjet. I machined some aluminum brackets with a 3/4″ channel on the mill in the shop, drilled some screw holes, and milled some spacers that were precisely the right thickness. I drilled some screw holes and put the whole bracket assembly together. Then, I made the base: I printed out a to-scale drawing of my design in SolidWorks and traced the lines and marked the screw holes onto some wood. I then used the SawStop to cut a rectangle of the appropriate dimensions and rounded the corners on the belt sander. Next, I used the drill press to drill the holes and countersinks, and finally put the whole thing together! Over spring break, I took them to an ice skate shop to get them sharpened, and now they’re all ready to go!

Pedro Sandoval – Math Games App

Pedro is a sophomore from San Francisco. Believe it or not, he made an app that makes math fun. Read his description below.

Arithmetical is a math app built for students. The application’s games promote memorization and retention of important mathematical concepts that will continue to appear in future studies. Whether you look to become faster at converting 1101 (base 2) to 13 (base 10), factoring 315 into primes, recalling where the 5π/3 lies on the unit circle, or finding the sum of 19 + 23 quickly, Arithmetical can help you reach your goals!

I built Arithmetical using Xcode 8 and Swift 3.0.2. For Spotify Integration, I used Spotify’s open source iOS SDK. Apple’s GameKit was also used to maintain a global leaderboard for all currently available games. It’s designed to used as a study tool, but over the next few updates, I will try to make the app more user-friendly and intuitive for a younger audience. I also intend to create new games (possibly focused on matrices, modular arithmetic, or trig identities) and head-to-head challenges.

App Store link

Flora Xia – Custom Nano-Tank Aquarium

Flora is a freshman from Cupertino. She decided to make a tank for something a little more exciting than fish. She describes the project below.


It’s a small 2.5 gallon mason jar from Anchor Hocking + brackish seawater + a bunch of crushed coral for the pH. I started this over winter break, bought most of the materials, and had to lug about fifteen pounds of crushed coral in my luggage back to Mudd.

Because it’s a mini-ecosystem in itself, I couldn’t actually get the shrimp until Spring Break. (They’re a bit more delicate than malaysian trumpet snails, which have been known to survive a rinsing with bleach) The tank had to cycle itself first and establish a healthy nitrogen cycle to get rid of harmful ammonia. There’s a bit of documentation in the opae ula shrimp forum I did about my tank progress.

For the lighting system, I have an Arduino set up and connected to an Adafruit Neopixel ring (12 RGBW LEDs). I actually had to learn how to solder wires for this, so I guess I got some learning out of this project. It’s currently coded to run on a 24 hour cycle, with sunrise at about 7 AM and sunrise at about 7 PM. For most of the day the LEDs are on full power, but between about 7:30 PM and midnight they run at a medium blue , and then from midnight to 7 AM they run at a very dim blue to be moonlike.

Evan Khan and Vai Viswanathan – Game of Life Chip

For their final project in Introduction to Digital Integrated System Design, Vai and Evan built the Game of Life onto a chip. Fancy stuff. There’s a simple description below but there is also more documentation at CMOS Game of Life.

For our E158 final project we designed, built, and routed a chip, from the transistor level, that displays Conway’s Game of Life, a simple cellular automaton. We also built a PCB which supports the chip we designed.