February 29, 2016

It was love at first sight when we first saw our new and improved HANDL device with a total makeover in brand new housing.  Seriously, it’s like night and day, are we right?

BeforeBeforeAfter!After!

Finding the right housing for HANDL has been a true innovative process, complete with problem solving and trial and error.  First, our team worked with our 3D printer in attempt to create a casing that would house all inner-components of HANDL, but we had some issues sizing the device.  From there, we began collaborating with Bekum America Inc. to create an aluminum case that Bekum is willing to help us create at their machine shop.  Bekum and our engineers designed a structure comprised of four pieces that will then be assembled.  As of now, we are using the plastic project box, seen above, as we wait for our housing to be constructed!

Speaking to Bekum about HANDL casingSpeaking to Bekum about HANDL casing

In other engineering news, our group that is using camera (OCR) technology to zero the dial has been programming our new Raspberry Pi, the small computer we are using for our camera technology.  This process has involved writing a python program that determines which numbers appear in the picture taken by the camera in order to orient the device and zero the dial.  Our other engineering group has been working hard toward successfully zeroing the locker dial by using a laser and reflective tape placed over zero on the dial.   The engineers have successfully programmed the laser by wiring up a simple circuit consisting of a resister, photo resister and wires.  From here, our engineers manipulated the basic program to read light levels and find zero from a reflection by assigning a light threshold, which means that when the light gets bright enough, or reflects off of the reflective tape, the device would know it is at zero and could then perform the normal program to open the locker.   At first, our engineers planned on using infrared reflective tape with an invisible laser, but working with infrared technology proved to be very complicated, specifically figuring out the correct angle and reflection point.  Now, we are using a 5v DC laser with mylar tape, or essentially mirror tape, that doesn’t spread our laser beam.  Our engineers then drilled through our casing and mounted the laser and photo resister within the HANDL device.  This technology is functional and ready to display when we showcase the HANDL device at our Mid-Grant Technical Review this Tuesday, March 1st!

Using a fog machine to work with the laserUsing a fog machine to work with the laserLaser technologyLaser technology

What makes building our HANDL device really rewarding is when our team is able to share our device and project within the community.  Two experiences really stood out to us this month as some of the best we have had as part of the Williamston High School InvenTeam.  First, our team presented to Peckham Inc. on February 5th.  Peckham is a nonprofit organization that aids adults with disabilities in gaining independence and self-sufficiency, specifically through competitive job training and opportunities.  We had the opportunity to speak to three different groups about Project HANDL, and we even brought some lockers and were able to show off the HANDL device in action.  Speaking to and receiving feedback from a potential user base helped us gain insight into specifically important aspects of our project and issues to be addressed, like the portability, usability, and speed of the device.  What was really cool, though, was the positive reaction we received after we presented.  Speaking to people who could have used our device in school, or in the case of Peckham, at the workplace, reminded of us of why we started our project and the impact we are looking to have.  Our team is very grateful to Peckham for a meaningful and rewarding presentation experience.

Robert, Justin, and Anna speaking at PeckhamRobert, Justin, and Anna speaking at PeckhamKepler, Ethan, and Emma speaking at PeckhamKepler, Ethan, and Emma speaking at PeckhamGetting inventive in transporting our lockersGetting inventive in transporting our lockersThe team at PeckhamThe team at Peckham

Additionally, the WHS InvenTeam was invited by State Representative Tom Cochran to speak at the State Capitol on February 16.  Our team presented to a group of about 13 state legislators, including Representative Cochran and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.  We discussed the potential impact Project HANDL could have in schools in not only the Lansing area, but also across the country.  Speaking to Representative Cochran and Lt. Governor Calley and receiving official recognition for work on Project HANDL was humbling and awesome, and through this experience, the WHS InvenTeam was also featured in a clip on WILX Channel 10 News -way cool!  Our team is very proud and grateful to have had this experience.

Anna and Kelley speaking at the CapitolAnna and Kelley speaking at the CapitolThe team with Lt. Governor CalleyThe team with Lt. Governor CalleySpeaking with Lt. Governor CalleySpeaking with Lt. Governor CalleyThe team with State Representative Tom CochranThe team with State Representative Tom Cochran

Coming up (this Tuesday, March 1st!) is our Mid-Grant Technical Review.  It’s hard to believe that it is already here, but we are so excited to share the InvenTeam program and Project HANDL with the Williamston community.  Preparing for our MGTR has kept us very busy, from sending out additional invitations and determining the layout of our meet and greet and presentation to making informational packets including programs, fliers, maps, and feedback forms for our guests.  Additionally, each group (engineering, finances, and communication) has been responsible for creating a display of their work to share during our meet and greet and preparing for our formal presentation.  We are also thrilled to have Lieutenant Governor Calley, whom we met at the Capitol, as a keynote speaker.  Lt. Governor Calley is a big supporter of Autism awareness and acceptance in Michigan, and has been very supportive of our project. 

The WHS InvenTeam is super excited for Tuesday and can’t wait to share all about Project HANDL!  Check back soon to hear all about our Mid-Grant Technical Review, and in the meantime check out our February video!