posts tagged with the keyword ‘thingiverse’

2012.12.12

CheerLCD

Here’s my CheerLight 2012 device, which I call the CheerLCD! And what is CheerLights you say?

CheerLights is an ioBridge Labs project that allows people’s lights all across the world to synchronize, stay linked based on social networking trends. It’s a way to connect physical things with social networking experiences and spread cheer at the same time.

Much like last year, I’ve opted for a small desktop display—a USB-powered computer peripheral—rather than some giant string of multicolored lights…

CheerLCD

With the combined power of 3D printing, affordable electronics, and the duct tape of programming languages that is Perl, we’ve developed a device that informs you of what color the CheerLights around the globe are, not only with color, but with words!

(Though we’ve not yet done extensive testing, the text should be legible even by those suffering from color blindness. Accessibility, FTW!)

CheerLCD

The CheerLCD consists of a USB + Serial Backpack Kit and LCD Display from our friends at Adafruit Industries. But you can’t just have a display without some sort of thingy to display the display properly… enter the 3D Printer!

CheerTree

The CheerTree was designed specifically to hold the LCD Display. I utilized Inkscape for the design of the front plate, and then brought that shape into OpenSCAD to add the base and create an STL file for printing. (It ended up warping a bit but that just adds to the charm and aesthetic of the overall device.)

I know what you’re saying, “This is all well and good… but we need to see the CheerLCD in action!” As you wish, my friends… as you wish.

There’s some code over on github/CheerLCD, and some files on Thingiverse for the CheerTree.

Enjoy the Holiday Cheer!

2012.07.25

Laser-cut wood

I was at Milwaukee Makerspace, using the laser cutter (that I adore so much) and another maker asked me some questions, and then offered their thoughts. This was nothing new, and it’s a welcomed thing. Often you’ll get suggestions or ideas for future projects (or the one you’re currently working on.)

The maker was looking at what I was doing (making a laser-cut spool) and said he would probably use a band saw to cut the wood, and find a large dowel to put in the middle. That’s definitely one way to do it.

He guessed about how much time I spent on my method, and if you count the file-diddling his estimate was probably low, and I’m fine with that.

Testing...

But hey, it’s all about perspective, right? I’m comfortable with software, and I like learning and designing things, so I don’t mind picking up new skills in solid-modeling and file conversions. These are skills I’d like to improve, as I plan to use them again and again. If I was just picking up a piece of wood and going at it with a saw… that’s not very enjoyable to me. I’m also not very good at it.

Spool

So instead of just finding a piece of wood and making it work with a saw, I prefer the process I took. I found something close enough to what I wanted, modified it to be exactly what I wanted (and along the way got help from another maker (Gary) and learned more about OpenSCAD) and after some tweaks I should have a repeatable process that will allow me to make as many spools as I want with relative ease. Since I’ll be sharing my files, it also means that others can make the exact same thing. To me this is powerful stuff, and while dumb power tools have their place, the smart tools (design software + CNC machines) offer so much more.

I’m also contributing to a community of makers who share their work, make derivatives, suggestions, and mashups of their work, and allow anyone else to do the same. I’m into that stuff, so yeah, that’s my perspective.

2011.11.14

Cow (Sketchup)

So back when I first used the MakerBot at Milwaukee Makerspace, my daughter asked me to make her a cow. (The kid likes cows!) Since my 3D modeling skills were not up to the task (and still aren’t, at least not for a cow) I found a cow in the Google 3D Warehouse and brought it into Sketchup.

It looked fine, so I exported it as an STL file and did a print. A very small print. It looked OK (but not great) and since it was small there wasn’t really much detail.

Since then I’ve looked at other files in the Google 3D Warehouse, but since most of stuff there is for screen display and not 3D printing, things tend to be very complex, at least in the well done models. More complex than might be needed for a 3D print, at least from the Makerbot.

I’m still pretty new at this 3D modeling stuff, but simplifying the model seems to be what we want. In the 2D world I’ve been doing the same sort of thing for 20 years, but in 3D? It’s new ground.

Enter MeshLab!

From the MeshLab web site: “MeshLab is an open source, portable, and extensible system for the processing and editing of unstructured 3D triangular meshes. The system is aimed to help the processing of the typical not-so-small unstructured models arising in 3D scanning, providing a set of tools for editing, cleaning, healing, inspecting, rendering and converting this kind of meshes.”

I’m mainly interested in using it to reduce the complexity of 3D models.

Cow Original (MeshLab)

Here is the STL file I created from the original cow in Sketchup, as seen in MeshLab.

Cow Reduced (MeshLab)

Here is the same file after reducing the complexity using the Quadratic Edge Collapse Decimation filter. I still feel like it’s a bit of black magic figuring out exactly what numbers to use, and what checkboxes to check, but this is what I used for this one:

MeshLab Settings

I’m fairly pleased with the results (though I haven’t tried to print it yet) but now that I’ve got a (loose) handle on mesh reduction, I’ll dig into the tutorials on YouTube from MrPMeshLabTutorials, including this one on Decimation.

(Of course I still wish MeshLab had an Undo function.)

Oh, and if you really want to 3D print a cow, this recently added to Thingiverse cow is probably the one you want. :)

2011.09.22

weaponiverse

I’ve written before about how Thingiverse is awesome, and it still is… but there’s this discussion going on which I thought I’d mention…

First of all, if you use Thingiverse, I’m sure you’ve read the Terms of Services page, right? And if you’ve uploaded something, you’ve probably seen these rules:

  • Designs must represent a real, physical object that can be made.
  • Please only upload designs you’ve created or participated closely in creating.
  • You may upload open-source/copyleft designs if you provide attribution.
  • No pornographic or sexually explicit designs.
  • Please don’t upload weapons. The world has plenty of weapons already.

Now those seem reasonable and… WAIT A MINUTE!!! What’s that “Please don’t upload weapons” bit?

And oh how the debate has raged… I think you need a Google account, but you can see some of the discussion on the Thingiverse list. I’m not worried about my highlighting this, because the big guys already mentioned it over on Boing Boing. (Their readership is slightly larger than mine I assume.) Luckily, there are many experts, and each one left a comment!

I’m not going to choose one side or the other, but I just wanted to point out that the magic of Thingiverse isn’t in allowing you to upload and download files, or in the ability to leave comments or type up a description… The magic of Thingiverse is in the community. It’s in the users. From a technology standpoint, I don’t see anything that would prevent another site from doing pretty much the exact same thing.

So here’s my ideas: Weaponiverse

Tip: As of my writing this, weaponiverse.com is still available! Update: weaponiverse.com is live!

Don’t take this as my siding with the anti-weapons people. Or as siding with the weapons people. I’m siding with the DIY people. If Thingiverse isn’t doing what you want (allowing you to publish weapons, or being unclear about it) start your own damn site. Or post the files on your own blog, or put them on USB drives and hand them out. Remember, Thingiverse is run by people. (I assume it’s these two people.) At the end of the day, it’s their site. Just like Facebook is controlled by Facebook, Twitter is controlled by Twitter, etc. Thingiverse is their ball, and they can print it out and take it home if they want to…

But don’t let that stop you. If you want to share files (legally) go for it. That’s what the Internet is for, right?

2011.09.04

Drew's MakerBot
Drew’s MakerBot

We had a great demo at the Milwaukee Makerspace last week when Drew demoed his MakerBot Cupcake, and if you don’t know by now, the MakerBot is an affordable 3D printer that squirts out hot plastic based on 3D design files you feed it. If you’re not much of a 3D designer, you can browse Thingiverse for some good stuff.

Holder
Holder in 3DTin

Our old pal Pehr was also there, and he brought his MakerBot too, and when we were talking about 3D design software he said “Just go to 3DTin.com” and then we did…

The interface was a bit confusing at first, though admittedly I’ve never been able to get very far with 3D software. I did manage to design this thing I’ve called a holder.

Holder
Exporting Holder from 3DTin

Once I was done with the design, I was able to export it as an .stl file to my desktop. (There are other export options as well.)

3DTin itself is a simple to use 3D design application that runs completely in a browser. You can use it for free, or for $4.99 you can pay for the “premium” version, which gives you a few more features and hides the ads. I can see playing with this a bit more, or even having the kids give it a try. Meanwhile, I still need to dig into tools like Sketchup, or maybe Blender.

Holder
Holder in ReplicatorG

After exporting an .stl file, I loaded it into ReplicatorG to take a look at it. Once in ReplicatorG you can scale, rotate, and move the object as desired. Once I had it centered and scaled properly, I saved the file to an SD card and handed it to Drew to stick into the MakerBot. (As I understand it, you can also just print directly to the MakerBot via USB cable.)

Holder (raw)
Holder (fresh from the MakerBot)

Once the holder was complete, it looked like this. You can see the strands still in place left from the printing process. These are from the print head moving between the two sides.

Holder (clean)
Holder (cleaned up)

Here’s what the holder looked like after I trimmed off the strands with an X-ACTO knife. This is obviously a simple object, but so far the process of designing it and printing it was well under an hour.

Holder (close-up)
Holder (close-up)

Here’s a close up showing the strands from printing. Commercial 3D printer have much higher resolution, so you don’t really see these lines in the objects they create. Supposedly the MakerBot can be tweaked to run slower for better resolution, but for many purposes, this is still good, and pretty darn impressive.

I’ve got some idea for other things I’d like to design, but for now, you can grab this Holder from 3DTin, and while I had no clue what it would be good for when I designed it, it does seem to work to hold an iPhone in landscape mode, or even as a business card holder.

Big thanks to Drew for the demo and the help in getting started on the MakerBot. I can’t wait to get some serious time with it at the Makerspace.

Oh, it sounds like we’ll also have some good 3D printer action at BarCampMilwaukee6 if you want to come and check it out.

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