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Emily Schlenker’s story

Molecular structure of dopamine

As blind students, drawing and the visual aspects of math and science are often dismissed as a waste of time or impossible. This totally disregards those students, like myself who happen to be visual learners. My brain thrives on pictures, in spite of the years of teachers and professors striving to cram me into the memorizer box that is assigned to blind learners.
Once I got away from so-called blindness experts/educators, I entered the real academic world. I am completing my pre-med requirements, and my physics professor and tutor both made it clear that if I wanted to do physics, I would be exposed to drawings one way or another.

Read moreEmily Schlenker’s story

About Design Archives

I am happy to share my product design experiences with you here. They may give you some inspiration on how to apply the products within your activities.

I like to use cardboard, clay, rubber bands, lego, magnets and other easy to obtain materials. You get to see this from time to time in the videos included in the articles. Especially when I need to convey my ideas to those who prepare and operate machinery for mass production, drawings and prototypes are necessary.

7.04 Mounting MDA to PC/Mac/Tablet

The MDA has the possibility to mount two different MDA directories directly to a PC, Mac or tablet.

The first directory is the MDA-upload directory. Any SVG image that you copy into this directory will appear on the upload page in the MDA interface. The second directory is the MDA-autosketch directory. Any SVG image or GPX formatted file derived from an SVG image will be sketched automatically on the MDA.

In order to mount a directory, both the MDA and the device you want to mount the drive on need to be connected to the same network. You can also connect your device to the MDA’s hotspot. Mounting a drive requires a one-time setup, afterwards the MDA directories are directly and always available on PC, Mac or tablet.

In order to mount the MDA on your device, the following setup actions are required:

  • On a PC: open “File Explorer”, select “Home”, go to “Easy Access” in the “New” section and select “Map as Drive”. Select a drive letter (like U: for upload, or S: for autosketch). Don’t use the browse option for “Folder” but enter the following in the “Folder” input field: \\mda\MDA-upload (if you changed the name of the MDA from mda to a different name, use the new name instead of mda in this command). Make sure that the box “Reconnect at sign-in” is selected and press “Finish” (if prompted for a login and/or password, type guest for both). Now the MDA-Upload directory is permanently mounted on your PC, accessible under the drive letter that you selected during the setup. When you copy or save a file to this drive, it appears on the upload page of the MDA. Mounting the autosketch directory requires the same procedure as mentioned above, with the exception that you need to enter \\mda\MDA-autosketch in the “Folder” input field. Again, if you changed the default name of the MDA you have to change mda to the new name.
  • On a Mac, the name of the MDA appears automatically in the “Shared” section of the “Finder”. Click on the name of the MDA (default mda) and click on “Connect as”, continue with “Connect” and enter guest in the name field and  password field. Make sure to tick (ü) the box “Remember this password in my keychain” and press “Select”. The MDA-upload directory will from now on be accessible from the Finder. In case you want to connect to the autosketch directory, first you will have to select “disconnect” and then repeat the above procedure, but this time with the loginname autosketch and password autosketch. You will be connected as autosketch instead of guest, although the directory will still called MDA-upload. If you regularly need to switch between upload (guest) and autosketch, do not save your login credentials to “keychain”, but instead enter them every time to access the proper directory.
  • On an iPad, you can make a connection to the MDA through the “FileBrowser” app, a free app available in the app-store. In FileBrowser, select “Location” in the bottom bar and then “+” in the top bar. Select “Computer/Network Drive” and then “Mac”. The app will start scanning, but you do not need wait for the scan to finish. Instead select “Manual setup”. On the next screen, select “Mac” and enter mda in the “Address” field (or the new name in case you have changed the default name mda). Click “Edit…” in the “User name” field and enter guest, click “Edit…” in the “Password” field and enter guest again. Enter mda in the “Display name” field.  By selecting mda from the “locations” tab, you will now have a connection from the iPad to both the MDA-upload directory and the MDA-autosketch directory.
  • On Android, an connection can be established trough the  free “AndSMB” app, which can be downloaded from the Play Store. In AndSMB select the + button in the top bar. On the next screen, enter mda in the “Hostname” field (or the new name in case you have changed the default name mda). In the “Username” and “Password” field enter guest. In the “Remote dir” field enter /MDA-upload. Leave the rest of the fields empty. Click save, and in the pop up window enter mda, or whatever other name you want the drive to have in AndSMB. By selecting AndSMB when selecting “Share” and then selecting the name you gave to the drive in AndSMB files will automatically be uploaded to the upload map.

12.03 Configuring Network

The upper part of the Network setup page shows information on if you have a wired connection or not. It will alsoshow whether you have a WIFI connection, showing the network name (SSID) of the WIFI connection if you do. If not, it will mentionthat the MDA is working as a WIFI hotspot.

In order to establish a wired connection, simply connect the MDA to your network using the ethernet port at the back. Upon turning on (or rebooting) the MDA, the MDA will configure itself to use this wired connection. For this, it is assumed that your router acts as a DHCP-server (which is the default behaviour for a router).

As mentioned above you can see whether the MDA is connected to a WIFI network or not. If so, you have the possibility to disconnect from this network. When the MDA is not connected to a WIFI network, it shows the available WIFI networks. You can select the appropriate network, and by providing the network credentials (either password for a home network, or user name and password for an Enterprise network), your MDA will connect to this network.

On the lower part of the Network setup page you can change the name of the MDA on the network (default is mda) change the name of the WIFI hotspot network (default is mda-hotspot) and change the wifi password of the hotspot (default is 12345678). You also have to provide the two-digit country code here (see chapter 7.03).

Note that there is no need to change the MDA’s name or hotspot name in case of a single MDA. This only needs to be done if there are multiple MDA’s on your network. In this case the MDA’s should not have the same name nor should they broadcast the same hotspot SSID’s.

01. TactiPad – General characteristics

Until you have the TactiPad laying on your desk, and the drawing tools in your hand, you won’t really know how the TactiPad feels and what it looks like. Of course, holding it in hand is not always possible. That’s what this detailed description of all parts is for.

The TactiPad is a drawing board with which you can make raised line drawings as VIP (Visual Impared Person). Or others can make raised line drawings for you. The drawing happens on a thin plastic sheet placed on a rubber subsoil.


Working with the TactiPad

Upon firmly pressing the sheet with either a pen or any other pointy device, a raised line will develop. This is a very old technique, which makes use of the so-called ‘emboss’ effect, meaning the plastic sheet will be stretched by the tip of the pen. The transformations can not be undone. In other words: don’t bother bringing your eraser.

Drawing a tactile line with a ballpoint

General characteristics

The TactiPad is made of plastic, so that it won’t feel cold. The corners are rounded. The size as well as the measure designation are based on commonly used values. The use of the colors black and yellow provides us with a good contrast between different parts. The Tactipad is flat, and therefore easy to take with. Two grooves have been made at the backside, to make it possible to hang the TactiPad just like a picture frame.

Using the grooves at the backside, the TactiPad can be hung like a picture frame

Drawing surface of the TactiPad

The surface on which can be drawn, has exactly the size of an A4 paper sheet (29,7 x 21,0 centimeters). The surface exists out of a 4 milimeter thick rubber layer. Below this layer is a thin metal plate. Around the drawing surface is a 3,5 centimeters wide fame, in which a groove and a measure designation are placed.
At the frontside of the TactiPad (with the stands pointing to te back), the bottom layer has been shaped inwards, as compared to the frame. By placing your thumb under the edge, and pressing on the drawing surface with your fingers, the frame can be lifted. When closed, the frame exactly surrounds the drawing surface, and is just as high. The plastic sheet which is used to draw on measures 34 * 27 centimeters, and is tightened under the frame since it’s larger than the drawing surface itself. To keep the TactiPad closed, two flat magnets are placed on the corners of the drawing board, pulling the frame and drawing surface together. This way the sheet is held in place.

The opened frame

02. TactiPad – Frame characteristics

The frame

The TactiPad has rails on each of the four sides of the frame. In every rail two moveable knobs are mounted. You can attach the different TactiPad drawing tools to the knobs, and slide them along the rails. The measure designation, which is at all sides of the frame makes it possible to position the tools precisely. Grooves next to the drawing surface indicate 5 centimeter distances. The semi-circle hollows along the rails indicate centimeter and 0,5 centimeter distances. The hollows on the inner side and those on the outer side of the rail have the same width but are lined up differently. This allows you to measure 0,5 centimeter distances.

Frame corner with  knobs and measure designation

The origin for the measure designation is located in the upper left corner (when having the hinge pointing to the left or back). The edge of the frame is 3,5 centimeters wide. The diameter of the knobs measures 2 centimeters, and they are placed 1 centimeter away from the outer edge of the frame.
Door de folie met de hand glad te strijken verdwijnen de rimpels

Measure designation

For measure designation in centimeters, 9 millimeter wide semi-circular hollows have been made on a short distance from the edge. They create points between them, each with a distance of 1 centimeter to the next. With those points, it becomes easy to read the exact distance per centimeter. Because the hollows are semi-circular, the distance per 5 milimeters can be read in the deepest point of the hollow. The measure designation can be found at all edges of the drawing surface and on the drawing tools. An exception is the round edge of the protractor. Here the points between the hollows don’t indicate 1 centimeter, but indicate the angle in steps of 10 degrees instead.

Measure designation along the frame the of the TactiPad board

Knobs and holes

Black ribbed knobs can be moved along the rails by (un)screwing them. The knobs are 2 centimeters wide and 8 milimeters high. They can be removed by totally unscrewing them. To place a knob back in the rail, place it on a random place in the rail, and slide it all the way to the outer corner, dragging the nut along. Here the knob can be screwed back again.
The drawing tools have holes and wide grooves, to fit around the knobs. By fixing the knob and putting the tool over it, the tools can be tightened. With partially unscrewed knobs, the tools can be moved smoothly across the drawing surface.

Slide the nut to the outer corner of the groove to screw the knob back in

04. TactiPad – Storing everything

The TactiPad with all its parts can be stored in a case with a handle and a shoulder strap. A special compartment is available for storing the plastic sheets. This compartment is closed by a velcro strap which prevents the sheets from moving during transport. The compartment is below the inner side to which the ruler, set square and protractor are attached using rubber bands. The same rubber bands also keep the compass’ base in place, as well as the frame for the reciever of the TactileView digital pen.
The compass branch, a pen and possibly the digital pen are held in a small compartment.
The Tactipad, the tools and the sheets stored in the case

The branch should be placed with its point and spike flat on the case. There is also a pincushion, in which a number of pins can be stuck. The drawing board itself goes into another compartment, which consists of a frame which covers the grooves with the knobs, but leaves the drawing surface uncovered. When the case is inwardly folded, a velcro band keeps it closed. The drawing surface remains uncovered when the case is folded outwards so that, when the case is carried with the shoulder strap, you can draw while traveling.
With the case folded outwards you can draw while traveling

02. TactiPad – Drawing tools – The Ruler

The ruler

The ruler’s width is 4 centimeters, and it reaches 43 centimeters long. With this length,  it stretches diagonally all the way over the entire drawing surface. At one end of the ruler, a 2 centimeter wide round hole is made. In the rest of the ruler there’s a 2 centimeter wide groove. The hole and groove function to fixate the ruler in any direction across the drawing surface, by screwing the knobs.

Using the round hole and grooves, the ruler can be fixated around the knobs

The groove gets interrupted twice; for solidity and as recognizable points two little ‘bridges’ have been made which cross the groove each at a distance of 10 centimeters.

Little slots indicate the 5 centimeter distance in between. The ruler has a measure designation on both sides, for a length of 35 centimeters. When horizontally or vertically placed, with the hole over a knob, the zero of the ruler is on the edge of the sheet. For drawing a line at a precise position, take in account that the rulers edge is 1 centimeter wide.

When horizontally or vertically placed, the zero is on the edge of the sheet

03. TactiPad – Drawing tools – The set square

The set square

The rectangular 45-degrees triangle has the same measure designation as the drawing board. The two short sides have a measure designation of 10 centimeters, while the long side has a measure designation of 14 centimeters. An indication on the middle of the long side makes it easy to draw a perpendicular.
There are four holes in the set square for fixing it over the knobs. The round hole in the 90 degree corner fits around a knob.
By putting one of the short sides of the triangle aligned with the edge of the frame, the set square creates two angles on the board, one of 90 and one of 45 degrees.

Met de korte zijde langs de rand van het bord vormt de driehoek hoeken van 45 en 90 graden

On one centimeter distance of the edge, in the middle of the long side of the set square, a round hole is made. To the left and right are two oblong holes. When putting the middle hole and one of the others over a knob, an angle of 30 or 60 degrees can be made by turning the set square to its extreme position.
By alligning the short side with the frame, the set square makes a 45 and 90 degrees angle