Project Status Update – Air Filter


Our Biodesign project will be a filter that is placed on top of roofs and placed in air conditioning systems. The filter will be made from a compound of coffee grounds and potassium hydroxide that has been heated and then formed into a usable shape. The compound it able to absorb both methane and CO2 exceptionally well. Once the compound has been exhausted and absorbed the material can be used as a fuel source that burns much more cleanly than typical fossil fuels.


We have currently are awaiting some of our materials for the project but our two main components are coffee grounds and potassium hydroxide.


Coffee grounds

Coffee Grounds



Potassium hydroxide

Potassium Hydroxide


We currently have no code but we plan to have the code output information from a methane sensor for the user.  It will allow the user to know how much methane is in the air and when the filter has filled.


  1. (This week) For our project, we wish to make the compound in real life

2. (Nest week) Then place the compound into an existing air filter and have it absorb the gas

3.  (Last week) Once the filter is working we will make sensor to go along with it so that is it much easier for the public to use it

Group Member contributes:

Antonio: Help with research, programming, and designing.
Colin: Help with design, implementation, and programming.
Timothy: Help with construction, effects on world, and design.
Arturo: Help with the gathering of materials, coding, and building.


Bio-luminescence Update

This prototype shown below illustrates the bio-luminescent system will illuminate when the algae are agitated. The prototype consists of UV sensitive liquid and a servo motor acts a generalized form of actuation to disturb the system.

The prototype suggests that regardless of final concept, there is some consideration that need to be accounted for when completing the system. For example. a form of actuation that can be performed to a non-moisture form of algae. Other considerations would be to maximize sensing/actuation that reacts to a users input. Creating the notion of object-user receptive interactions.


Depending upon whether or not an algae culture in possession is able to regain its luminescent qualities, will determine time tables for testing an integrated system for dry actuation. But regardless there will be an iteration that requires a moisture dependent system.



4/12 – Present prototype, discuss design for final iteration
4/17 – Divide algae culture, test dry system, design fabrication for project
4/19 – Create code and electronics for the interactive system
4/24 – Putting system together with new culture in place
4/26 – Final touch-ups on project
4/28 – Showcase

Project Update

Our project in its current form is about air quality sensing. We want to cheaply and accurately be able to know whats in the air around you.


This currently is what we have set up wise. We wanted to make sure that the sensor that we have worked before building something for it. We plan to make some 3D printed structure to house everything for easy transport. Sadly our sensor that we were using isn’t what we are looking for. It has the capicity to detect more than one gas, but not tell the difference between them. The output range can tell us what gas is present, but many of the ranges overlap.

#include <SoftwareSerial.h>

SoftwareSerial lcd = SoftwareSerial(2,4);

void setup() {



void loop() {
int reading = analogRead(A0);






4/12 – present

4/17 – start printing the model and get additional sensors

4/19 – add additional code for sensors

4/24 – refinement

Roles :

Anthony – 3D modeling and coding

Chris – sensor research and coding

Jackson – project and conceptual development


DIY Seed Kit Update

Project by Ziyi, Cody, Inez, and Erin

Our project is about creating a cheap and easy to replicate seed planting kit for the everyday person meant to maintain different plants in different, sometimes harsh environments. It does this by balancing pH and moisture with the inclusion of biodegradable kombucha scoby.


Here is our current setup. We laser cut a box with an open top- four of the sides are wood, the fifth is a type of plastic, allowing us to hopefully view the kit once it’s planted. We had to use duct tape to plug in the holes. We are using small yet biodegradable tea bags (in the green package) to hold everything. The smelly scoby is in the glass jar for now, waiting to be minced and placed in the bag. We are waiting on the soil to be delivered in order to put the whole bag together. Tomatoes were the fastest growing, most acidic thing we could find, so they will be the seeds we place in our test run.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.15.15 PM

This is a section of the code we are using. It is the soil sensing example that we have used previously in our class. We are currently trying to work out a cheaper method to the pH sensor to keep the DIY feel, so we will most likely not need pH code but perhaps color sensing code?

Our timeline is as follows:

April 12: Prepare tea bag demo and plant the first bag

April 17: Discuss change in code and price out alternative

April 19: Set up contents for a second, ready to create display

April 24: Pretty up display and test Arduino setup

April 26: Present final project

Our group is fairly well rounded, with everyone contributing fairly similarly. Cody is an exception, with him focusing on coding. Inez and Ziyi are taking care of the scoby and visual setup, while Erin is documenting, posting, and helping all around.


Project status update

Post an update about the progress of your final project. Include the following:

  • Quick summary of what your project is about (1-2 sentences)
  • A picture and description of what you have implemented so far
  • Code snapshot (upload your current code and briefly describe what it does)
  • A timeline and specific objects for what you hope to accomplish by April 19 and April 26 (showcase/deadline!) State how each member of the group will contribute to achieving these milestones.

Post your project update on the class blog under the “status update” category. These are due before class on Wednesday. Bring whatever you’ve made to class on Wednesday for an in-class critique.

This assignment is worth 4 points
1 point for project summary
1 point for a picture, code snapshot, and description of what you have implemented so far
1 point for updated project timeline and group responsibilities
1 point for bringing your prototype to class

Look , ask, learn, try

For this assignment I struggled with places and people to see that had experience with bioluminescent algae. So I had to get creative with my choices.


I first looked for a place wear bioluminescent algae was being grown. I could not find such a place so I shifted my focus to trying to order a kit where I could watch it grow. I found an instructables about how to grow your own bioluminescent algae.



I sat down with a couple of people and tried to run through scenarios with them. I asked them to envision what it would be like to be walking through a park at dusk and see a glowing pathway disappear into the woods.

Question 1

“Would you want to follow the path?”

Question 2

“If you saw a sign that said run down this path to promote bioluminescent algae growth, would you?”


I recorded some of the answer the people I questioned.

Question 1

“Would you want to follow the path?”

a few yes and maybes and one person said they would invite friends to follow the path with them so they don’t have to go it alone.

Question 2

“Would you run down path to promote algae growth?”

Everyone said they would run to promote growth.



Here is the link to the Insturctable I had mentioned earlier. I am still waiting on a few materials I ordered to be able to grow it myself.  The plan was to try to grow some myself and experiment with it.

Look, Ask, Learn, Try

IMG_5237.JPGIMG_5243.JPGOur project involves gardening and planting seeds, so I decided that volunteering at the emerging Grow House in Phoenix would be a good opportunity to learn more about gardening. At Grow House they are trying to transform the land and make it more fertile by planting multiple rows of sunflowers in the vacant lot.

look: what are people doing and saying?

At first I observed the vacant lot and it’s appearance. The soil looked dry at first before any gardening was done. I don’t have much prior gardening experience, so I was a bit doubtful as to whether they would be able to plant and successfully grow sunflowers there. The project leaders said that they have previously successfully grown sunflowers at the first Grow House and at the Valley of Sunflowers in Phoenix because sunflowers are able to grow quite well in the Arizona weather and they do not need really special conditions.
ask: elicit feedback or participation from someone in regards to your project idea

I asked the leaders of the Grow House group about our project and they explained how it is important to make sure that the moisture of the seed packet that we are designing is kept at the right level. They also said that most of the soil in Phoenix Arizona has high calcium carbonate levels  and is mostly composed of clay. Therefore, the soil is very alkaline. Also another aspect of Phoenix is that the water is quite alkaline and salty  which compounds the Ph problem. In addition, the Phoenix soil lacks organic materials, which reduces the quality of the soil structure.
try: simulate or participate in an activity yourself


At the Grow House Volunteer day I helped distribute mulch/compost in horizontal rows across the lot. I used a shovel to take mulch from big piles and then I distributed it into a straight row that was designated using a measured string. Then after the row was created, the string was pulled out, revealing a neat row.  The mulch/ compost was then mixed with the already existent earth using a special machine. This will improve the quality of the soil and allow the sunflowers to grow in the previously low quality soil.

learn: identify ‘thoughtless acts’, patterns, problems, or opportunities. you can learn from what you observed in context, or you might do a quick search to find related information online.


I learned more about the process of gardening. One of the most important things that I learned was about the quality of Phoenix soil and some of the difficulties present when trying to grow and harvest something in Phoenix. A problem is that it is hard to determine the quality of present earth, therefore sometimes even adding compost or fertilizer will not guarantee the success of growth because every part of land and environmental situation is different. Therefore, adding sensors to seed packets to monitor conditions such as pH and moisture is so essential because it allows the grower to adjust to their specific circumstance.

Inez Binkiewicz