Math + Making

A student blog for Math 189AH: Making Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College

Making Math with Adam

Adam Sage

I started out this semester working with Kishore on stereographic projection spheres. I had a little bit of 3d printing experience going into the project, but learning blender to make the stl models ended up being a fair challenge.

For our second project, Tia showed me how her group had made kaleidoscopes.

After spending a decent amount of time in the makerspace printing room (which also happens to house the laser cutters), I started thinking about what new projects I could do to use the cutters. Kaeshav had some experience using them, so I partnered with him and we worked on 3d representations of the mandelbrot set and julia sets made by stacking layers of cut wood.

For my next project, I partnered with Ambika and Margaret to take a look at some differential geometry, particularly Gaussian curvature. We learned about the Theorema Egregium and modeled the curvature on a plaster cast of my hand.

For my last project, I worked with Mathus on an audio-visual lights show. We wanted to make a strip of neopixels (individually addressable rgb lights) react to the output of music playing from a computer. We learned about fast Fourier transforms and used them to get the useful frequencies from the music playing to make a cool light pattern. That information was then sent over wifi to a raspberry pi pico which controlled the light strip.

By the end of the semester, I felt comfortable using the 3d printer and the laser cutter. I also have a much better understanding of how to 3d model in blender. I learned a ton about electronics (particularly micro controllers) in my light show project.

I have a few left over boards, and so this summer I’m planning to make a fully automated plant watering system. The raspberry pi can host a web server, so I want to be able to remotely control the settings of the plant waterer and check its status online.


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