The two ideas I have found to be most reinforced during our weeks of research are: 1) we learn from our failures and 2) things are not as simple as they seem. I never would’ve imagined that research can be so frustrating. Based off of my experience in the “electro” half of our group (not necessarily dealing with electricity), the work seems to get harder each week. Our group was able to quickly finish the task of building a working circuit that would measure grasping force, but the rest of our goals have not been so easily achieved. We certainly had some trouble designing our experimental objects that will later be grasped during EEG recording sessions. After first designing our objects, we then had to figure out what materials we were going to use, how we were going to mount our force sensors inside the objects, and how we were going to mount the objects themselves (apparently the way we present objects to people matters, as perception plays a part in the way we grasp objects). I’ve probably sent Dr. Prosise 10 different e-mails containing redesigns of the same objects we’ve been building.
On the bright side, we’ve managed to work our way through our problems and have made some real progress. The “electro” half of our group has found a method of manufacturing our devices, and we believe that we have found a design that we can (hopefully) officially use. We also learned how to use the engineering department’s MakerBot 3D printer (which we discovered was not the best solution to our manufacturing problem). The “neuro” half of our group was able to connect our old EEG up to a computer and record some brain activity, which is a step in the right direction and also very impressive given the circumstances. As a whole, we have also learned about neuroscience and prosthetics through our biweekly journal club meetings, which is pretty interesting.
Our first attempt at using the 3D printer produced an object that was uselessly small. Sadly, when we did start to get an object to print the way we intended the build platform tipped over.