Almost everyone has, at one point in their lives, experienced the pain of slipping on black ice. This could be a story that your friends constantly make fun of you for, or a silent embarrassment you keep to yourself (and your neighbors who saw the whole thing). Slipping on black ice is definitely something that conjures a vivid image in everyone’s mind, and it was for this reason that our team felt such a connection with Jenna when we first interviewed her. The first time we met our mentor, Jenna Fesemyer, was during a large group interview our class conducted at the Disabilities Resources & Education Services (DRES) building. Our entire class was present to hear Adam, Arielle, Jenna, Ron, and Ryan talk about their frustrations. Jenna shared with us the story of a time where she slipped on ice immediately upon exiting her car and lamented the fact that she could not even wear boots for more traction in situations like these. We found out that the boots heavy weight prevented Jenna and other prosthetic users from wearing them as their residual limbs are not strong enough to carry too much weight. During our team discussion the following week, we decided to try to find a way for Jenna to increase traction without adding to much weight, and Project Solestice was born. Solestice’s goal is to create an attachable shoe tread that can be used to travel in a variety of rough terrains, with our first focus being on icy terrains.
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Step 1: Gather All Materials
The materials you will need consist of:
- Baby Powder
- Flexi-Filament (or other molding compound)
- Hot glue sticks (approximately 10)
- Popsicle sticks
- Room temperature water
- Shoe/sandal with a tread patter you are satisfied with
- Velcro straps
Tools you will need access to:
- Clear plastic container
- Exacto knife
- Heat gun
- Hot glue gun
- Measuring cup
Additional materials you will need for the electrical component:
- Aluminum foil
- Arduino Uno
- Copper tape
- Mylar (Arduino comes in it)
- Code from tinyurl.com/potfoil
- USB C cord
Step 2: Setting Up the Shoe
Get a shoe or sandal with the desired shoe tread that guarantees the best grip possible. After you have obtained the shoe, you will want to remove upper part of it from the out-sole. If you have a sandal, this can be achieved through using scissors to cut the straps. If you have a shoe, use an exacto knife to remove upper part of the shoe.
Step 3: Mold Creation
Next, create a mold. For this step, you will need the clear plastic container, popsicle sticks, measuring cup, room temperature water, and the mold filament. Follow the instructions on the back of the filament (or whatever molding compound you are using) container. Use the popsicle sticks to mix the mold. Make sure to mix until the consistency of pancake mix and work fast as the mold hardens after a few minutes.
Once this is done, you will need the out-sole and baby powder. Pour a generous amount of baby powder onto the sole and dust off the excess. This is crucial as it will allow the sole and mold to separate without it sticking. After this, carefully put the sole into the mold mix. Make sure to apply a small amount of pressure, but do not push too far so that the sole hits the bottom of the container. You will want to leave a small gap between the sole and the container. Make sure to hold the sole in place for about 3-4 minutes, and reference you molding compound container for the best results.
Now, here comes the fun part. Gently pull the sole from the mold. If, for whatever reason the sole is sticking, use the excato knife to carefully separate the two. Pat mold dry it will be a bit moist.
Step 4: Filling in the Mold
Plug in the hot glue gun(s), and allow them to heat up. To test if they are ready, try to see if a little bit of glue can be used to create a small bead on a tile or other heat resistant material. Once you are sure that the hot glue gun(s) are ready, begin filling the mold with the hot glue. This will be a very timely process. Make sure to put a little bit more glue around the edges so that the sole concaves a little bit.
Be sure to measure the amount of material you are putting in the mold. This is more easily done if you try to fill the entire sole before going for your desired thickness.
Step 5: Smoothing Everything Out
Now, it is time to use the heat gun. Please handle with care! Use the heat gun to create a smooth sleek surface for a shoe to rest on via passing the heat gun over the top of the sole (while it is still in the mold). Make sure to use the heat gun as little as possible, as it melts the mold and the plastic container a little bit.
Step 6: Creating Attachments
Next, you will be attaching the Velcro straps. You should have both short and long straps. The shorter one will be placed in the front and longer in the back. Cut the loop side of the strap and hot glue it to the side of sole. Repeat this step with the longer strap and place towards the back and heel of the tread.
Step 7: (Optional) Electrical Component
This step is optional for if you completed the electrical portion of this project. First, load the code into the Arduino. Next, you will be attaching the pressure sensor and LED indicator to the tread. You will want to place a piece of foam between two pieces of copper tape. Following, add connectors and seal with the mylar covering. In order for a flush fit, you can carve out a small pocket for the pressure sensor to rest in the tread. Finally, attach the LEDs to the heel Velcro strap with a hook, and you’re good to go.