Picture of Rapid Prototyping!
You may have heard it a dozen times, but unless you have done it yourself, you probably do not know just how amazing rapid prototyping can be! Save costs in the long run and walk away with better solutions!

Start Rapid Prototyping today!

Step 1: Observe

Picture of Observe
Before new ideas can be explored, it is important to study the weaknesses of current designs. In most cases, start by asking experienced people about their own observations with a device. What are the current design's shortcomings? What parts of the designs are most likely to break? What features of the current design do you they the most important? A similar line of questioning should also be asked to yourself after each prototype is made. Observing the way current designs work is the springboard off which to conceive new ideas.

Look carefully at the simple tools around you and you are sure to find dozens of subtle design choices that make them more effiecient and intuitive to use. Notice the little ridge on the "J" key to allow the user to re-center their fingers without needing to look down at the keyboard.
von rad5 years ago
Rapid prototyping is a subset of RAD: Rapid Application Development.  This in turn is a subset of any one of a number of AGILE development methodologies. Your diagram needs 4/5 steps which you mention in the body of your text. 

AGILE is a constant state of development (AND audit).  In my world OBSERVE is DISCOVERY or ANALYSIS depending on the rev - BRIANSTORM is DESIGN - PROTOTYPE  is BUILD which does not include specification.  AGILE resource have experience in lieu of specification-based  methodologies, yet there is a full paper/ etrail,  Road Warriers (consultants) of age make the best AGILE developers. They are not kids out of school - they are required to prepare Enterprise solutions (in my case) based on experience facing an audience of multi-disciplinary carnivores, virtually every day.   They are required to understand the details of the projects from field to table and redeign standing up in front of upper management and heads of every operational department (the DANCING BEAR routine). 

After build It requires a RELEASE with a predetermined (or all H*ll breaks loose - picture shotgun blast to twenty diet coke torpedoes fed mentos as an energy release) FEEDBACK mechanism.  

Then it starts again: Analyze-Build/change- release- feedaback (Italian) - start at the beginning.   If a multi-disciplinary team, I can see DESIGN. 

water is that an amp in the picture? sorry about the link my computer did it randomly
That's not an amp. An amp would be much larger. And although this idea is very clever, it's extremely practical (especially if you were to use an amp, lol). here are 2 reasons for impracticality:
1. Noise: moving parts make noise, but this makes more
2. Safety: moving parts can hurt someone, but in order for this to work well it would have to be loud enough to bust your ears

But I must say, very creative. 9 out of 10 satisfactory experiments are trial and error, so keep it up. And rock on... \/, (oo) ,\/
lunarpanel6 years ago
Hey Adam, it could also be nice to add an 'evaluate' step in this process :)

also, about cable driven fingers, this nice cable driven gadget created by prototyping master Marvin Minsky http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy8mzH-H6tM

and also this nice ultimate hand machine

ivanirons7 years ago
Good instructable. Got me thinking a bit. I want to know more about the cable driven fingers up there.

Rapid Prototyping Info
hedgiehog7 years ago
did it work?
Azure_Rose7 years ago
Nice instructable. Now, how about one about how to make that nifty elacoil? I found your MIT page and the instructions there, but couldn't quite decipher the drawings. I myself am involved in a national, competitive robotics organization (www.usfirst.org) and would rather enjoy to understand how those little spiffy actuators worked on the inside. Thanks!
adamkumpf (author)  Azure_Rose7 years ago
The Elongation Actuation coil (Elacoil) is actually pretty simple. It's literally just latex tubing and a spring. The hydraulic line used to drive it is filled with water and actuated by hand with a cheap syringe. By placing a piece of flexible latex tubing down the center of a 1/4" O.D. light-duty extension spring, pressure applied to the latex tubing pushes the sidewalls of the latex into the inner walls of the spring and then proceeds to elongate the spring as more pressure is applied.
Oh I see, similar to an air muscle. Thanks! Oh, one more thing: on your hand manipulator, your elacoil seemed to arc in a rough estimate of the bending-of-a-human-finger. How did you accomplish this curvature?