ALP – And so it begins

23 May

By Aaron Chong (Theme 9 – Plant Factory)

Monday, was well accepted by everyone. We were further briefed by our mentors on our various milestones in this project.

1) To design and build boxes meant for acquiring experimental data needed in the project, in teams of 4.

2) Plant the data and wait for it to grow.

3) Design an experience where users interact with the product which we will later design.

4) Split into mechanical, electrical, programming and designing groups for different aspects of the design.

5) Compile everything together to produce the final product.

We were told to practice our sketching and come up with the design of the boxes.


Sketch of our group’s design
(Our group consists of Avery, Weiyang, Chingyi and I)

Wednesday, after going through our designs with the mentors, each team was assigned two experiments to conduct, the variables include : growth space, nutrients, air circulation, water and soil quality. Due to the fact that different experiments might require different designs, we standardized most of the designs and made adjustments according to whichever experiment.

We started drawing the pieces out in Illustrator so it could be used to cut the wood. However, we met some supply difficulties over at the other campus therefore requiring someone to readjust the compiled Illustrator files. Thanks very much again WeiYang!


Shiyi teaching us how to use Illustrator.


10pm, compiling and standardizing our designs.


Weiyang, our tanker for the night.

Thursday, we went over to ZJU Yu Xuan Campus to have our boards cut. The cutter looks surprisingly similar to the laser cutter in SUTD without the safety panels and of course without the diode. The cutting of each board took roughly 50 minutes, meanwhile we followed Prof. Zheng Cheng around the offices where a large number of products designed by them and their students were on display. Among them were a couple of segways looking things, but too bad we had no access to their keys.

After the cutting was done, we had to try assembling them just to make sure the drawings were accurate and that there would be no error. After much sanding and whacking, the box came together quite nicely.


Our arrival at ZJU Yu Xuan Campus.


Prof. Zheng Cheng, mentor and the fab lab where the wood will be cut.


Huge wood cutter in action.


Sanding and assembling.


The first finished box!

After a few hours of hard work, we sat down with the mentors there and chatted. Upon finding a couple of guitars, Gomu and Kynaston serenaded us with their awesome guitar skills. Even our mentor joined in the fun! Plus, they had a table tennis table right outside, which we fooled around with too.


Having fun playing guitars with mentors.


And I quote Benny, “This is the sport to pick up chicks in China.”

At the end of the day, the boxes with additional designs was finished, leaving only 16 boxes left to be cut. Since they were all of the same design, the ZJU fab lab will help us cut it while we settle our other required components.

It has not even been a full week, however I feel that everyone is very much enthusiastic about our work and can’t wait for the next segment to start. We would be leaving for ChangXin on Tuesday for around 10 days. This would no doubt be an awesome experience + adventure for us all plant-factoriers. Let’s keep up the good work guys! Remember the mosquito repellent! haha

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