posts tagged with the keyword ‘openscad’

2015.12.28

Shim

I needed a few shims to make something fit just right and I grabbed a piece of 3mm acrylic that was sitting on my desk, figuring I could easily cut it in the shop, but 3mm was just too thick. I could have tried to sand it down to the proper thickness, but at this point I would have had to cut three shims to the proper size, and get them all down to the correct thickness. (I didn’t want to use wood, as something would be sliding against the shim, and would wasn’t the best choice.)

OpenSCAD

I took some measurements with digital calipers, launched OpenSCAD, typed in the dimensions, and had a 3D object ready to be 3D printed in just a few minutes. While I did have to wait for the 3D printer to heat up, and print the pieces, I could easily do other work while I was waiting for the prints. I didn’t spend time cutting and sanding things to get them the exact size.

Sometimes 3D printing is the right answer, and sometimes 3D printing doesn’t have to be revolutionary or solve big problems, sometimes it can solve the (little) problem you have, quickly and easily, and that’s enough.

2015.12.11

Because when you’ve got a 3D printer… You might as well print things…

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

Also… OpenSCAD.

2015.11.15

Sensors

I recently prototyped a device to read cards (physical cards with printing on them) for a project. I used five SparkFun Digital Line Sensor Breakout Boards attached to a 3D printed mount and wired up to an Arduino.

Card and Sensors

The cards have five blocks at the bottom, which are either black or white, representing 1 or 0. Using ones and zeroes allows us to create a binary encoding scheme, so with five positions we use 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 for the values and can represent any number from 1 to 31.

Sensor Mount

I started by grabbing the image of the sensors from the SparkFun product page and dropping them into Inkscape (sized appropriately) so I could design the barcode part of the card, and so I could design the mount for the sensors.

Sensor Mount

Once I had a 2D design in Inkscape I exported it as a DXF file and used the linear_extrude command in OpenSCAD to create a 3mm tall plate, and then added another plate. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fast. I started the 3D printer while I got to work soldering…

Sensors

Sensors

Sensors all soldered up, mounted to the plate with 3mm screws, and wired to an Arduino via a breadboard. All of this is still prototyping stage. It doesn’t look pretty, but it worked and it was enough to test things out and do a demo.

Cards with Barcodes

Here’s an example of some card templates. Can you determine what number is being passed by reading it in binary? Since we’ve got 5 positions we can have 31 different cards… If you needed 63 cards, you would need 6 positions (and one more sensor.) 127 cards? That would be 7 positions and two more sensors. Any more than that and you might consider using the SparkFun Line Follower Array which has 8 sensors on a single board.

Card and Sensors

The total time to create this prototype was just a few hours from starting a design in Inkscape to 3D printing a piece, soldering up and mounting the sensors, and writing the code. (I also wrote a simple Processing application which read the serial output from the Arduino to display the card data on screen.)

2015.07.18

Sparkplug

Typically when I model 3D object with OpenSCAD I tend to create things that are simple and functional, but I had to create a piece that had some extra decoration to it, and wow did it slow OpenSCAD to a crawl!

I know about the special variable $fn, but I didn’t know about $fa and $fs, so I’ll have to start using those as well to see if they can speed things up. (I usually use $fn to go between “low res” and “high res” when it comes to rendering.)

OpenSCAD probably isn’t the easiest modeling software to use (unless you like writing code) but I like the fact that it’s open source, gets updated fairly often, is parametric, has lots of great info on using it, and there are a ton of free libraries for doing interesting things.

I was using Rhino quite a bit earlier this year, and while the Mac OS X version is now ready, it’s $300 for a limited time, and $500 after that, and is somewhat crippled compared to the Windows version. It can do some amazing things, so I’m still contemplating a license for it… Or I may find something else (open source, perhaps?) that fits the bill.

(I’ll probably be post more about 3D software in the near future.. Stay Tuned!)

2015.07.05

Button Guard

While plenty of people tend to print baubles and trinkets with 3D printers, I tend to focus on solving problems by designing and printing usable things. A few weeks ago I designed these Lenovo IdeaCentre Power Brick Mounts and this week I created some button guards.

Button Guard

I was working on an audio player at the museum and Kathy mentioned that it was too easy to lean back and hit your head on a button which would either restart your book, or start another book, so I made this simple guard to put on the buttons before screwing them into place. Luckily we had filament that matched the color of the enclosure, so it looks pretty good.

Button Guard

If you’re using any of these buttons and need a guard, check out Thingiverse or Youmagine. The OpenSCAD code is fairly simple, so it should be possible to modify it for other buttons if needed.

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