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3D scanning, on the cheap

I have this friend, Mr. Bot, he always has some cool magic trick up his sleeve.  Sometimes, it's sabering the tops off of wine bottles with a wine glass.  Sometimes, it's a mobile pool in the back of his Toyota truck.  This time, it was a brand new Microsoft Kinect. 

"What's that for?" I asked him. 

"3D selfies" 


My curiosity had been piqued. 


After a half hour of downloading, installing, and fiddling around on the shop computer, the system was finally set up properly.  Some troublesome googling yielded the correct Kinect SDK, and the black box Kinect was now ready to grok all the 3D information put in front of it. 

Showing me how to use the system, Bot poked around at some scan settings, sat down in front of the sensor on a swiveling chair, and spun himself around slowly so Skanect could build a 3D model.  This is accomplished by sampling many single sided depth maps and stitching the result together (which is why it's important to set preferences in the beginning, determining the depth of field to scan).

Before configuring the system thoroughly, Skanect was able to sample at 3-5 frames per second, requiring us to swivel on the chair at about 1 RPM.  This low sample rate is due to a few variables, primarily having a misconfigured graphics card.  I'm using a nice PowerColor ATI card, but it seems that Skanect prefers the Nvidia family of cards to take advantage of their CUDA drivers.  My machine ran fine without the precisely specified card.   I've heard of Skanect running on a real flame-throwing computer at nearly 30 FPS, allowing the system to record detailed depth information in nearly real-time, and also mapped in full color!


3D scanning, on the cheap
Regardless of a little bit of lag, the Skanect software performed admirably.  One challenge with 3D models (and the resulting STL file) is continuity of surfaces.  Since STLs (and the raw data coming in from Skanect) consists soley of a very large point cloud, you can imagine that there's a few vertices which are malformed or unconnected.  Unconnected vertices pose a problem for 3D slicing programs, when the program is tracing the perimeter of a slice and suddenly sees a small but disconnected vertex, the slicing program usually vomits all over itself and forces you to tweak your model ever so slightly, which is usually a big pain when you have a million-plus vertices to inspect.  Not with Skanect, though.

Skanect has a few tools built into the software to prepare the model for printing.  In addition to unconnected vertex problems on the model, the depth of the resulting surface is also an important consideration.  3D modeling programs are quite picky about whether your model is either a surface (with no volume), or a solid model (with volume).  Depending on how you move around the scanner (you can also move the scanner around you) will determine whether the resulting model has a continuous surface, or it may miss some geometry at the top of your head, leaving you with a big gaping hole at the top of the model.  The "hole in the head" jokes get tiresome quickly, so be prepared.

3D scanning, on the cheap

Here's those "disconnected vertices" that can cause hell for your slicing program.  Luckily, Skanect contains some handy tools to solve those problems for you.  There's a "Watertight" command available which auto-magically fills in any gaps on the model, eliminating some of those missing, floating, enigmatic vertices. 

If you're using the demoware version of the software, you're limited to outputting models with 5000 faces.  That may be enough resolution for you, and it also keeps the files down to a manageable size.  Should you decide to spring for the paid version ($150) of the software, you can now save a much more complex model, sometimes surpassing a million vertices.

3D scanning, on the cheap
5000 polygons
3D scanning, on the cheap
1 Million Polygons

3D scanning, on the cheap
Striking resemblance, no?

It's hard to see in the image, but the sensor was even able to detect the fuzzy texture of my sweater that day.  The brown you see is undissolved support material (I was in a hurry to see this, and didn't wait around for the cleaning tank to finish).  The above model was well over a million vertices, and the file ended up being about 100 MB.  I never cease to be impressed with the fine rendering of organic curves by my Stratasys 3D printer.


3D scanning, on the cheap

Depending on how much of a graphics oriented computer you're using, and how well developed the slicing software is, that can put an unruly load on your computer.  Skanect also allows you to simplify the model to any number of target vertices you specify.  There's definitely a fine balance to be struck between resolution and file size.  One useful target is <25,000 faces, under which you can easily import the shapes into Solidworks, for more powerful 3D manipulation. 


For those of us on a budget, there's always MeshLab

An interesting command to know in MeshLab to change the face count of your model is "Quadratic Edge Collapse Decimation".  This command allows you to simplify your mesh to a target number of faces.  You lose some resolution in this process, but also may lose the unwieldiness of a humongous file.  This allows you to reduce the resolution on a model to the point that you end up looking like Max Headroom, glitches and all.

3D scanning, on the cheap

MeshLab also has some limitations for opening unwieldy files, so keep that in mind when you initially export the model from Skanect.  I've found it's easier to reduce the size of the file when initially processing the scan, rather than upon exporting the STL. 

Come by the shop sometime for a 3D printed selfie.  In the meantime, stay tuned to part 2 when we test the dimensional accuracy of the scanner against known references.

Bonus: if you're an LA / OC local, the Long Beach Public Library has a free 3D printing studio open during the week.  I HIGHLY recommend that you swing by and check it out, that's where I made the green print above.  The entire process from scan to print to walking out the door took about an hour.  They also have a seat of Solidworks on a public computer there (!), as well as some other powerful photo and video editing software.  It's a great way to get started with the scanning / printing process without spending a single dollar. 
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Metal Lathe

Late last year TOG took delivery of a new toy…. a brand new metal lathe. At about 600Kg, it’s probably the heaviest bit of equipment that we have in the space. We had some fun getting it in the door……and yes we did measure the door before we ordered it Metal Lathe . A bit of heaving and ho’ing with an engine crane and we soon had it up on its cabinet stands. We spent a few weeks assembling it, reviewing all the accessories and getting it all tested. We have 3 and 4 jaw chucks, live and dead centres, steady rests and a number of other tools and accessories.

We’ve had some great instruction from one of our members relatives. We’re now slowly beginning to use it. Our crafters kindly made a nice protective cover from some spare vinyl. The lathe is a great addition to our workshop . We have a brand new MIG welder on the way too, thanks to one of our regular workshop user/members.  We even have a CNC Mill in our sights too….right Ed Metal Lathe .  Drop in and have a tour of our workshop. You can see all of our tools and equipment. More pics here…..Lathe Pics

 

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Open source, laser cut, maps Workshop – March 9th, 2015

What

In this workshop we will be making a the files (SVG) to create a laser cut wooden map from open data. We will be following an updated version of this (award winning) instructable I created last year
http://www.instructables.com/id/Laser-cut-wooden-maps-with-public-data/1

I will describe where and how to get open data archives, what you can do with these archives, what kind of data is available, and how to convert the data into useful formats that are not provided. I will also be going through the basics of mapbox while converting shapefiles to svg files. We will then use inkscape to clean up the output from mapbox and prepare the files for a laser cutter.

We will NOT be cutting the maps on VHS’s laser cutter. We will be generating the files needed for the laser cutter. These files can be use to make your own wooden map on VHS’s laser cutter or from a 3rd party like http://www.ponoko.com/laser-cutting or makerlabs

Please install the following software before the workshop.

Remember to bring your own laptop*
I am a windows guy, I will do my best to help people on other OS’s but if you can install a VM with windows on it to make things easier.

Where:
Vancouver hackspace, 1715 Cook street.

When
Monday, March 9th, 2015 @7:30pm till 10ish

Who:
Limit of ~10 VHS members only
RSVP here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/open-source-laser-cut-maps-workshop-tickets-15907821723

Bottom liner: Steven Smethurst (funvill)

More information: https://talk.hackspace.ca/t/open-source-laser-cut-maps-workshop-march-9th-2015/1517?u=funvill 

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Crashspace BFF Qtechknow Kickstarts Qduino Mini: Arduino Compatible + Battery Charger & Monitor

Long-time friends of CRASH Space will remember Qtechknow from the Intro to Arduino class he taught for us back in 2012. As the CEO of his own company, the inventor of numerous useful and fun products, and the teacher of numerous technical classes and events, Quin is now 14 years old.

Quin is a brilliant and passionate member of our community who emobodies everything we love about the maker ethos. (I mean, seriously. He had the personal drive and ambition to seek out and learn the basics of electronics and how to build custom circuits on his own… and then used that knowledge to make a fart-gaguing hat.)

So why do we bring up Qtechknow now? Because he has a kickstarter going for his latest and greatest invention: The Qduino Mini!

Crashspace BFF Qtechknow Kickstarts Qduino Mini: Arduino Compatible + Battery Charger & Monitor
Back it! Back it! Back it! Back it!

The Qduino Mini is the first tiny Arduino compatible that has a built-in battery charger & fuel gauge. It’s Arduino-compatible & 100% open source, hardware and software meaning that making and programming your first circuit is a breeze. Hardware is hard, so we decided to make it a little bit easier. The day that the first Qduino Mini ships, all of the design files, including EAGLE board files, schematic, and code will be released under an open source license

ERGO node at Nova Labs

Nova Labs is now hosting a cosmic ray detector from Project ERGO.

ERGO (Energetic Ray Global Observatory) is a distributed sensor network based on inexpensive appliances which detect charged particles (cosmic rays) at each node, and report data back for analysis.  The appliance is a small, self-contained unit which contains a Raspberry Pi, GPS (to report the node’s location and keep ultra-accurate time) and a Geiger counter tube as a particle detector.  It’s connected via Ethernet to our network, and uploads data to a giant database that researchers can mine for patterns of cosmic ray activity.  There is an interactive map at http://data.ergotelescope.org/map/google_earth but it looks like our location hasn’t been updated yet.

More to come when we’re updated on the global map!

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Sandymount Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe  returns to Sandymount on Saturday 7th of March 2:00pm5:00pm. The event were expert volunteers help you repair everyday items and talk you through the process. The event is totally free.

Bring along your broken items and learn how to fix them alongside expert volunteers…. anything from stereos to suitcases, lamps to laptops, chairs to chinos and plates to parasols.

TOG will be making up part of the team of volunteers on the day. The event takes place in Christchurch Hall, Sandymount.

 

 

Classes and Collabortion leads to Happy Makers

If I could summarize a makerspace with one phrase, it would be a, “place to share you skills.” This post lists a few ongoing classes and collaborative build efforts at our space.

Electronics 101

Held for the first time last night, Marvin was excellent enough to teach Electronics 101 based on the lectures found here. A lot of our class attendees have can built circuits using existing schematics but don’t always understand the theory. This class hopes to bridge some of that gap. The class will be held every other Monday for the next 3 months. Next class should be on March 2nd at 7PM.

Arduino 101

Lance and Chris have taught two Arduino 101 classes in the last 3 months on Saturday mornings using the excellent Digilent chipKIT Uno32 boards donated by Microchip. Details are on the wiki. The class starts from what an Arduino is, helps you with IDE installation, and you upload your first program to blink an LED! Watch out for upcoming 101 classes. I have heard whispers of an 102 offering as well…

Blacksmithing: Make your own Trivet

This class first describes, “What the Hell is a Trivet?” Then over 3 hours Dan walks a beginner through safety, forge operation, and basic blacksmithing. In addition to these awesome skills, you end up with a unique gift for a loved one. More details here.

Glass Etching Workshop

This multi-skill collection class is one of my personal favorites. After Pete’s initial class offering, Lexie has taken on the torch. In this class, you learn how to cut your mask in vinyl. You learn the software and hardware skills required to operate a vinyl cutter. You transfer the vinyl to a glass mug and sand blast the exposed areas. You end up with a beautiful product that also makes a great gift. Class details here.

Tesla Coil Build Club

A few members will start meeting on the second Sunday of each month to make a Singing Solid State Tesla Coil. The build will be based on this style. We’re all looking forward to see what they come up with.


I will list a few more classes in another post.  Not to mention, there is so much learning, teaching, and collaboration that goes on every single day. So come on down and learn from us or teach us something.