3.10. Essential Skills List

The following lab skills are really life skills and students will need to learn as many as possible to be effective in a prototyping laboratory environment. It may also be useful to refer to the Topic Area Guides section and the essential skills posts on the F14 course web site.

Following each recommended skill is a very rough list of links to tutorials; probably many will be obsolete by the time you read this.

  1. reading a voltmeter: basics of current, voltage, resistance
  2. using a lab power supply
  3. reading datasheets and schematics
  4. drawing a schematic
  5. identifying electronic components
  6. using an oscilloscope: scales of time and voltage, frequency, repetition
  7. hammering a nail
  8. using vise-grips
  9. using a bench vise
  10. electrical safety, chemical safety, eye safety, sharps safety
  11. joining wires: soldering, splicing, terminals, connectors, wire gauges
  12. building circuits on a solderless breadboard
  13. soldering through-hole parts on circuit boards
  14. circuit board modification: trace cutting, wire patching
  15. desoldering: braid, flux, heat, suction
  16. creating strain relief: heat shrink, fasteners, knots, clamps
  17. plotting data in 2D: units, labels, curves
  18. using wire ties
  19. soldering surface mount parts on circuit boards
  20. precisely reading program text (i.e., as a compiler might, without preconceptions)
  21. reading a multifile program
  22. reading a state transition diagram
  23. debugging programs: print statements, reasoning, test cases, assertions
  24. debugging programs using only digital I/O (i.e. without text output)
  25. identifying fasteners: wood screws, machine screws, nuts, thread pitches, heads
  26. drilling: handheld, drill press, plastic, wood, thin metal, circuit boards
  27. using cyanoacrylate glues
  28. using hot glue
  29. identifying material properties: strength, ductility, density, thermal mass
  30. measuring dimensions accurately: rulers, calipers, micrometers
  31. switching between English and metric units
  32. sketching physical parts in multiple views
  33. using a laser cutter
  34. modeling parts in 3D (SolidWorks? Rhino? SketchUp? AutoCad?)
  35. using a 3D printer
  36. building basic structures: mechanical constraint, beam cross-sections
  37. building basic joints: freedoms, friction, constraint
  38. documenting work: notes, sketches, photographs, video
  39. providing constructive critique
  40. iterating an idea
  41. teaching a skill
  42. using software version control
  43. using git, using apt-get, using github

3.11. CAD/CAM Resources

Online repositories of shared 3d models:

  • Thingiverse: “MakerBot’s Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things. “
  • SketchFab: “Sketchfab is the leading platform to publish, share and embed interactive 3D content, anywhere online. “
  • Google 3d Warehouse: The Google company’s database of 3d models
  • 3D Content Central Free 2D and 3D CAD Models run by the makers of SolidWorks

Online tools for CAD/CAM:

  • BoxMaker: designing laser cut finger joint boxes made easy
  • AutoDesk 123 Make: “3D meets DIY.  Turn your amazing 3D models into even more amazing do-it-yourself projects. “
  • GearMaker: Online tool for designing Gears
  • Involute Spur Gear Builder: can generate DXF files to import into SolidWorks or Rhino

References for designers:

Awesome Little Free (or almost free) Programs:

  • Pepakura: Origami tool; unfold complex 3d objects and cut out of flat material
  • Meshlab: Opensource/Multiplatform mesh manipulator
  • SketchUp: “The easiest way to draw in 3D”
  • Grasshopper: Parametric design for Rhino