Recent research demonstrates the importance of prototyping to support early stage design efforts. There remains a substantial opportunity to provide tools that codify the leap between the logical objectives of the design effort, and an individual’s intuitive design and fabrication experience. This study investigates project articles on the open source, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) design repository, Instructables.com. The database contains guides for producing low cost functional prototypes. Many entries in the repository include documentation of the design process along with instructions for fabrication. Through a systematic research methodology, we extract five prototype design and fabrication principles from articles in the database. An online crowdsourced assessment enables inter-rater testing, with multiple parallel raters. This assessment validates presence of the principles in the database. A controlled study was conducted in which one of two groups was exposed to the principles. This study evaluates connectivity, successful adoption of the principles by participants in the experimental group, and resulting design performance effects. Two case studies of prototyping are also provided. Observations indicate that application of the principles positively impacts prototyping outcomes. A potential area for improvement is edge case evaluation, i.e. principles only found in a single extraordinary sample.

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