Topographic Mountain Top 5 Constraints and Specifications

For my project, I have several specifications and constraints that I want to emphasize for the final product. In this page, I have chosen my top five constrains and specifications (in no specific order) to talk about.

For my specifications, I want:

1. Gentle Lighting

This was an important part of my project. I wanted to create something that was associated with emotions like comfort, safety, and calm. Something similar to a nightlight, rather than a club or concert. I want this piece to be something that I can take a moment to enjoy, and not something that becomes an eyesore or irritant. I wanted the piece to be emblematic of being inside a log cabin on a snowy mountain, and the safety, warmth, and comfort that come with that environment.

2. Cast shadows, geometric layers

This specification is mostly because I like the appearance of the geometry and layers of topographic maps. However, I feel like it also plays into the aesthetic that I am going for, and the time of day that I want to emphasize. Alpenglow only happens in the morning or the night time, with the first/last rays of sun being cast across cliffs and rocks at super low angles. With the mountain nightlife, the light emits from within the towns and valleys, lighting angles and shapes of the mountain with an appealing glow.

3. Hidden electronics

I want to ensure that all my electronics are hidden, because showing unsightly wires or battery packs will ruin the aesthetic and the scale that I am going for. I want to have a clean rendition inspired by the mountains, and some of my favorite aspects of them. I do not want to emphasize the electronics or manufacturing of the piece at all.

4. Proportionality

I want to make sure I capture the correct proportions of my subject. Since I am doing Copper Mountain, which holds a lot of meaning for me, I want to represent it well. I also don’t want to have any macro features (such as houses or ski lifts), because the total area of my piece is intended to be about 11×11 miles.

5. An alpenglow/mountain nightlife aesthetic

Finally, I want to emphasize my chosen aesthetic, which is an alpenglow/mountain nightlife aesthetic. This is important to me, because it inspired the whole project. I want to capture the beauty and emotion that each of these aesthetics has on me, and do them justice with my work.

Next, I also had 5 constraints to keep in mind for my project. For my constraints, I need to consider:

1. Size constraints

I need to consider the constraints of the laser cutter, since this is my main method of manufacturing. I must keep the size of the project within a 24″ x 32″ range, because this is what the laser cutter can take. This means that I am not able to make any super wide topographical maps, which I considered in the beginning phase after I was inspired by a work of the Grand Canyon.

2. Time constraints

I also need to consider time constraints. Since I only have a few weeks left of this project, I need to make sure that I can realistically finish it by the end. If I choose to make my project out of wood, the files that I need to laser cut will have to be updated, and split into 12 separate files (one for each layer). This will have to be completed by the Idea Forge, which will take a significant amount of time.

3. Material constraints

Similarly, I must consider material constraints. Since the laser cutter is only able to safely cut certain materials, I am limited to wood of specific dimensions, and acrylic of specific dimensions. This means that I will have to achieve the aesthetic I am going for with these textures and colors.

4. Cost constraints

I must consider the cost constraints. Since I am a full-time student, and since my laptop recently stopped working, I am working with a smaller budget than I would like. I will have to make this project work within a budget that I can afford– hopefully under around $50.

5. Stock constraints

Finally, I must consider material stock constraints. Since I want to achieve the specification of proportionality, I must choose a material whose thickness aligns with the number of layers that I am choosing for my map, and the peak altitude. This means that I must carefully choose the width of the surface area as a ratio with the thickness of each material layer (and balance that with the capabilities of the laser cutter).

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Jillian, this is one of the most striking projects I have seen. I love what you have done so far, and I think your constraints and specifications will give it even more character. I really like all your lighting ideas, but I am wondering how you intend to apply them? I also love alpine glow, but it requires a low angle for the light which you mentioned, and I don’t quite understand how you are going to do that. I was also wondering if you plan on using batteries because for something like this, I would want it lit all the time, and I wouldn’t want to have to change the batteries. Have you considered using a USB power source as it would probably provide enough energy to give the lighting effects you want. Overall, great job and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  • Gary Marshall
    April 8, 2021 12:18 am

    Hi Jillian,
    I’m unsure of the definition of specifications for this class, but usually, specs are like requirements right? Therefore, can you go deeper into the quantification of your specifications? For example what are the lumens for the light? Or what do you refer to with “super low angles” what numbers would those be?


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