Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Theremin in our Classroom

.... because every middle school classroom needs more things in it that make noise.

In all seriousness, I am proud of my students for building this theremin from a kit, then troubleshooting it until it actually worked. Now, they are experimenting with the goal of eventually producing music, instead of sounds resembling the screeching of a tortured cat.  You can read a little about the theremin's interesting history here, or watch the video about the science of how it works below:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Making Models in VR with Kodon and Gravity Sketch

Recently, I have been experimenting with making 3D models in programs called Kodon and Gravity Sketch in VR. Kodon is more of a sculpting program that you get a basic shape and from there you can push/pull/smoothen a material using the controllers of the HTC Vive. Whereas Gravity Sketch is a program similar to TiltBrush, but instead of having a colored brush, it's a 3D sphere that you can draw with. Both programs are in their early developmental stages and not very close to being a complete software but are both fairly easy to use and self explanatory.

The first program we got was Kodon. It was already on Steam and was just like downloading any other games. Once I put on the headset I thought that someone was standing in front of one of the sensors because it was flashing and almost re-calibrating. It slowed down and I eventually got used to it. Its most likely due to the capabilities of our computer not being able to catch up with what the software is doing.

Another thing that was confusing was the seemingly infinite number of menus that seem to change randomly, but after a few minutes of finding my way, I was able to navigate to any screen from anywhere. It was still a bit confusing but after fiddling with some settings I understood and was able to use the controller easily. One of the settings is turning the controller around so you can use it more as a pen than a controller. It was slightly easier to use but still had its glitches. After using this for quite a while and then seeing the final result, I concluded I didn't want to use this software on this setup again. It was quite difficult. In the end, it may not look like much, but this pig-head model is my first tangible 3D model designed in virtual reality!

Then I tried Gravity Sketch which was more so what I wanted. As soon as it booted up it was very blank. Nothing at all. But the controls were surprisingly easy to figure out how to use. In a matter of minutes I was proficient in using it. As I said before, it is very similar to TiltBrush  After finding the download button I decided to start my first real project in Gravity Sketch. Making it was very easy to do and exporting and saving was easy. My one complaint of Gravity Sketch would probably be that for some reason, all the strokes are saved separately in one model, making my arch nemesis  overlapping shells. It adds one step too many between drawing to print. I need to drag it into Meshmixer and combine all objects, however when you have too many strokes (as mentioned, due to my computer's processing power), it crashes. But once I do wait for an hour for it to load, the outcome is well worth it.  I could then print it on the 3D printer and it was a very nice model. The software is very easy to use even though its in its beta stages. - Enzo, 8th grade

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Posts forthcoming!

Welcome to our blog. We have been up to so many things over the last two years but we are slacking on our blog. We plan to start regularly posting again soon!

Please follow us by email (see the right nav bar ---> ), follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook to receive updates when we post!

...perhaps we are just embracing "historical optimization"?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Duct Tape Flowers

Duct Tape flowers are an easy craft that only require a pair of scissors, at least one roll of duct tape, and a pencil to start with. I sincerely recommend you do this as I spent 4 and ½ hours with my friends making these, my friends learned how to make them in about 5 minutes, and then we made them for the rest of our sleepover. We found them very, very addicting to make. We also found that after a hour or so, the motions become automatic. You should try this if you want a easy, fun craft to do! 
- Lauren, 8th grade
Image result for duct tape flowers

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Iteration, Constellations, and Model Clams

Both in the Makerspace and on this blog, we talk about appreciation of iteration. Every project goes through iterations, and in some cases a lot of iterations. Recently I've been working on a necklace and a modeling project that have both gone through a lot of iterations. The necklace (a model of a constellation, originally designed to test out the copper filament on our Afinia), was the first copper-filament project we'd done on the Afinia for a while, and I ran into some issues getting it to print well, as well as some general workflow issues.

At first, the printer wouldn't connect to the laptop, but that was resolved by unplugging and plugging it back in several times. This has turned out to be a fairly common problem with the Afinia, and we haven't figured out another solution yet.

Once we had it printing, the raft printed just fine, but it started to air-print after that. So I restarted it. And it failed again. And again. So I opened it up, cleaned out the inside, and ran it again. This print worked, but was the wrong size (iteration 1). So I ran it again. And it failed. So I opened it up again, cleaned it, and ran it again.

This one worked, but was missing some parts due to a software error (iteration 2). and some minor software and design issues later (iteration 3), I switched printers. Iteration 4 was quite nice, but the copper filament we have doesn't work on the Makerbot. So, back to the Afinia for iteration 5. A little analog repair work later (did you know a soldering iron can be used to melt 3D printed plastic?), iteration 5.5 was the final product.

Iterations 2, 3. and 4 of the necklace

My next project, a model for one of my high school classes, also started on the Afinia. It tipped over during  the first printing (iteration 1), so I cut off the bottom (iteration 2) and tried again. This one peeled off the build surface (iteration 3), so I switched printers again, to the Makerbot. Iteration 4 printed quite well, making this project slightly shorter.

The final model

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Importing a 3D scan or STL into Fusion 360 for the Othermill

This is just a quick tutorial on how to import a 3D scan or STL file into Fusion 360 for Othermill, or any other CNC mill. Ends up, you can't just import in if it is made out of triangles and not quads. The easiest way to test this is to import and right click and see if it gives you the option to  convert to B-REP Surface. If it doesn't we have to go the long way to get it into Fusion 360.

1. Import the OBJ file into Autodesk Remake.  Remake is made for editing scans and other similar files.

2. Next we need to edit the file down to just what we need to do this use the Selection tool and then right click and select Delete. Next we need to fill in all the holes, which you can use the Fill Holes tool for.  

3. After that we need to decimate the file to less than 30,000 triangles (or decimate it to less than 10,000 if you are doing this on a laptop). This is for performance reasons after you get into Fusion 360.

4. Export as a OBJ file for Fusion 360.

5. Import to Fusion 360, using Insert Mesh

6. Next, Right click on the mesh, and click convert to B-REP
Now you have a Fusion 360 model which you can edit and mill on the Othermill. To read one way I've used this process in my own work, please visit my blog post: 3D Scan to Chocolate in 48 Hours.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Scan to Chocolate in 48 hours

This weekend's project is to create chocolates in the shape of my art teacher's face. My goal is to do this in less than 48 hours. The basic process includes the following steps:
  1. 3D scanning of the face
  2. Design chocolate CAD file
  3. Export design for Othermill
  4. Mill into wax
  5. Create silicone mold
  6. Pour chocolate
STEP 1: 3D scanning of face

To start out I needed to capture my teachers head in 3D. To 3D scan something there are many options, like using 123D Catch, and Remake both utilize your smartphone or DSLR camera to create 3D scans. I opted for an easier option using the Structure Sensor. It is a sensor that clips on to the back of an iPad. I choose it because it takes me 1-2 minutes to scan a head instead of 5+ minutes for 123D Catch and Remake. To scan somebody with the Structure Sensor all you have to do is walk around them then the app, ItSeez3D, processes the data and produces a 3D model. I then uploaded that file to Sketchfab.

STEP 2: Design chocolate CAD file

Now that I have the 3D model the next step was to bring it into Fusion 360. I thought this step was going to be easy. I was so wrong. 

I first tried importing it just as an OBJ file but Fusion 360 didn't like it. I went online and found different ways to import OBJ files. When I finally got it imported, the CAM part of Fusion 360 didn't work on it. So back with more googling, I found I needed to convert it to a B-REP Surface.  The steps I used to accomplish this are:
  1. Import the OBJ file into Autodesk Remake.
  2. Decimate the file to less than 30,000 triangles (decimate it to less than 10,000 if you are doing this on a laptop).  The number of triangles refers to the number of flat surfaces that make up the curved mesh--it is like the detail level of a 3D printer. (Read more about triangles in models here.) We need to make the number of triangles lower so the model is easier to process. 
  3. Export as a OBJ file for Fusion 360.
  4. Import to Fusion 360, using 'insert mesh'
  5. Right click on the mesh, and click 'convert to B-REP'
You can read more about how to do this here.

STEP 3: Export design for Othermill

Now that it is in Fusion 360, I started the CAM process. CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacturing, in this context it is telling the othermill how it should mill your part. This is similar to the slicing process for the 3D printer. This process was arduous because I only decimated it to 25,000 Quads and I was running on my laptop. I finally got fed up and just exported it for the Othermill, but in my haste I forgot to add a finishing process so the first version didn't turn out well. After I had a good night's sleep, I started running it on my desktop which is much faster and has a dedicated GPU. I am not going into much detail on how to use the Othermill with Fusion 360 because they already have a great tutorial on it. I choose the Othermill because it is easy to mill once you have the design and file.

Now back to the design, I wanted to make little faces of my teacher, I settled on making four of them. I copied the model four times and then moved on to the CAM process. You can view my file here.
For the CAM, I used an Adaptive Clearing tool and a Parallel Tool for the final finish. Next I exported it as a .gcode file for the Othermill and put it into the Othermill software.

STEP 4: Mill into wax
I connected the purple wax to Othermill with Nitto Double Sided Tape (available at OtherMachine Co or other suppliers). Nitto tape works extremely well, much better than double sided tape. Then I started milling. The milling took 4 hours to complete.  I  decided on using a 1/16 ball end mill, because 1/16 would give me enough detail, and want it to take more time. 1/16 bits also rarely break unlike smaller sizes.

STEP 5: Create silicone mold

Now it is time to pour the silicon. I use silicone from Other Machine Co, mostly because it is rated as food-grade. I mix the orange and white in equal parts in a cup, then pour it into the mold, I let this set overnight.

STEP 6: Pour chocolate!
To melt the chocolate I used a double boiler, and then I used a spoon to take the chocolate and put into the silicone mold. I then put it in the fridge to set. Some tips for if you want to mold chocolate use some parchment paper on the top of the mold to keep it flat.

Hope you liked this blogpost please like/follow our blog.

--Sam Schickler

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Our 3D Data From the Advanced Light Source - an Update and VR!

Data Visualization Animation of Student Scanned Sample - a Claw!
The Advanced Light Source is a synchrotron, a facility that speeds up and then bends an electron beam to produce high energy x-rays. The x-rays are used by scientists to image different samples. The 8th and 7th graders at our school have gone to the ALS for the past two years and participated in different projects, including x-ray tomography and crystallography.

Data Visualization - a Feather

Based on these experiences, I wanted to delve more deeply into 3D data visualization.  In particular, I have sought to learn how to use Avizo, which allows much more advanced image processing than FIJI (the open source alternative).  One big obstacle was cost: an Avizo license sells for $5000 -- with the education discount.  I emailed Avizo and requested -- and received -- a free trial.  When I looked online for video tutorials on how to use Avizo, I could only find one or two videos. During the trial, I made several tutorial videos of my own.  I then asked Avizo to extend my trial for as long as I continue producing high-quality tutorials. They agreed and it has been a great partnership. I have now made 15 videos, which are hosted on my YouTube channel.  Currently, my tutorials have over 3,500 views and 9,450 minutes watched. 

Our School Director Trying Google Cardboard
Working our booth at the 2015 San Mateo Maker Faire, I was able to explore other makers' work and became interested in Google Cardboard, a virtual reality viewer that uses cardboard, a few lenses, and a cell phone (and app) for viewing. I saw an opportunity to use the Cardboard to display the 3D models of our class data from the Advanced Light Source in a way that would foster a compelling learning experience. I asked the people at Google’s booth if I could have the extra Google Cardboards at the end of the Faire. They agreed. When I returned home with the Cardboards, I did some research and found an app called InsiteVR, which I have used to display the models. I started off sharing the project with my teachers and fellow students.

Meeting with Scientists at the ALS
Soon after, I contacted Dula Parkinson, a beamline scientist at ALS who has been a critical supporter of both our school's work and my independent projects.  We met and talked and he is now planning to put Google Cardboards in the lobby of the Advanced Light Source to showcase for the public the amazing imaging work that is done at the ALS!

I also played around with OpenDive, "free DIY 3D VR glasses by using your 3D printer, a non-commercial project by Stefan Welker" and was able to print out my own set on our school's Makerbot!

Dive printed and ready to be assembled - just add cell phone!

I plan to continue my data visualization work and since its announcement in May 2015, have been interested in learning more about working with Google's Jump

- Sam S (9th grader in the fall, BPC Maker Club intern)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Carbon3D's CLIP - truly a breakthrough in 3D printing!

This is truly remarkable. I first heard the news last week from 3DPi (read their comprehensive article here).  Inspired by the T-1000 from Terminator 2, Dr. Joseph DeSimone and his team have come up with a truly revolutionary idea in 3D printing.  Check out this video (at 7x speed). It's so fast, they printed an object (which would take up to 11 hours using traditional 3D printing methods!) DURING the 10 minute TED talk!

They call it CLIP - Continuous Liquid Interface Production.  And it grows  parts instead of printing them layer by layer!  (more on this later) Take a look at the micrograph (right) - the image on the right is a traditionally 3D printed part with layers, on the left - CLIP!  Plus, CLIP is 25-100 times faster than traditional 3D printing.

Dr. DeSimone, CEO and Co-Founder of Carbon3D, says, “Current 3D printing technology has failed to deliver on its promise to revolutionize manufacturing.  Our CLIP technology offers the game-changing speed, consistent mechanical properties and choice of materials required for complex commercial quality parts.”

So, how does Clip work?

For now, I'm quoting right off their website, and will add as we learn more.

CLIP is a chemical process that carefully balances light and oxygen to eliminate the mechanical steps and the layers. 
It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV curable resin. The build platform lifts continuously as the object is grown.
The heart of the CLIP process is a special window that is transparent to light and permeable to oxygen, much like a contact lens. 
By controlling the oxygen flux through the window, CLIP creates a “dead zone” — a thin layer of uncured resin between the window and the object.** 
This makes it possible to grow without stopping. As a continuous sequence of UV images are projected, the object is drawn from the resin bath. Sophisticated software manages the entire process by controlling the variables. 

** We are very interested in learning more about this "dead zone" - it is tens of microns thick and an area where it is impossible for photopolymerization to occur.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Carbon3D website, another article, or (highly recommended) watch the recently-released TED talk below!


UPDATE 3.26.15: has a story about Gizmo 3D, a company that says they too "are working on a super fast SLA style 3D printer, which may actually one-up the Carbon3D system, as far as speed and print quality go."  Read more here!

Just for fun, here is the Terminator 2 video clip shared in the TED talk. (in Spanish...?)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Our New Cube Take #4

Our new cube recently started malfunctioning again. We saw that filament was coming out at 1.52mm instead of something closer to .4mm. Luckily we still had our old Cube that we have yet to return (oops) - that one has a malfunctioning control board. Since the extruder on that old Cube still worked we thought why don't we try to replace our new cube's extruder.

We took this project to our after school 6th grade 3D printing club. Where we started, trying to figure out how to get the extruders off. As it turns out the extruder is only attached by 2 screws that we could easily take off. We took off both extruders 1 from each cube 2 and swapped them to create a FrankenCube. We tested it out and it worked.