Introducing #SFEscapees, an Entirely 3D-printed Public Art Project

An enigma has occupied the San Francisco waterfront for a few months now — the iconic sea lions that typically invade the docks of Pier 39 have disappeared.

But what does that have to do with my last post?

123D-ers, enter my latest project: a love letter to the city of San Francisco and the unique marriage of creativity and technology that happens here. Keeping this sentiment in mind, I 3D-printed an army of sea lions and hid them (in plain sight) throughout the city.

Should you find one of the three-inch creatures, you will notice there is a hash tag sprawled across their glossy bellies: #SFescapees. Where have the sea lions escaped to, you may ask.
 

My theory is that they’ve escaped into the digital realm, only to be materialized in plastic and placed throughout the city. So let the search commence! Once you find a sea lion (distinguishable by its unicorn horn and hash tag) upload the image and geotag it. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, pick it up and move it to a similarly visible location to keep it going. And bonus points for posting seal-fies. 

On the horizon…

Big things (or rather, big batches of small things) are happening in the Pier 9 shop... and they involve YOU! Check back in a few days for more updates. Here's an image to hold you over until then:

123D Circuits DIY Theremin Built For Bending

The Light-Theremin is back!  The first time we blogged about this project it was a buzzing-breadboard with an uncanny ability to both inspire and distract anyone within earshot. Now it's a professionally-printed circuit board designed and ordered in 123D Circuits, and yes, it still beeps and squeaks.

Another video: using the light-theremin to play a song.


How'd we get from beeping-breadboard to poppin' PCB? With 123D Circuits, of course!  We make it easy, just design your board and click the "Buy 3 Boards..." button.  Professional PCBs will soon arrive at your doorstep.

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Meshmixer 2.4: Collect the Gold, Silver, AND Bronze

 

Autodesk Meshmixer 2.4

Autodesk continued the full court press on 3D printing today with the release of Meshmixer 2.4. Most notable with this release is the integration of direct printing to popular 3D printing services: i.materialise, Sculpteo, and Shapeways. 

The integration of the printing services within the 3D printing section now allows you to print in nearly any material including food safe ceramic, jewelry quality gold and silver, and the lower costing plastics and polyamides in different solid colors to name a few. The pricing is interactive, so one can easily size up a model with the material of their choice and get an instant quote from the printing service within Meshmixer. Making the object smaller will make the 3D print less expensive, which makes it easy to bargain for how much you want to pay to see your creation made real. See the video below for a quick workflow of healing a 123D Catch capture for 3D printing in a silver material with a 3D printing service. A new playlist of videos here, called Meshmixer 101 will get you up to speed with the basics of working in Meshmixer.

 

Creating, editing and printing to any 3D printer is a breeze, especially if you have a Type A Machines "2014 Series 1" printer. Meshmixer can send prints directly to your networked 2014 Series 1 3D printer, eliminating the need to fumble around with memory cards. Thanks to the folks at Type A Machines for their collaboration!!

 Meshmixer Patterned Logo with Bunnies

 

Meshmixer also adds some powerful new Patterning techniques with this release, examples shown above, which creates a border based on FaceGroups. We've been having a lot of fun with this new technique to easily create variations of existing models in our library....CHECK IT OUT!

Easter Bunny 3D remixes with Meshmixer

Come Spring, here at 123D secret headquarters we start thinking about bunnies and Easter eggs - but also about robots and rockets. We decided to combine these interests by digging through our collection of 3D models and putting together a collection of Easter Bunny 3D mashups using Meshmixer.

We have an extensive collection of Easter Bunnies, Retro Robots and lots of other cool stuff, all of which works great with Meshmixer. So we set to work to make a collection of somewhat untraditional Easter Bunnies. We hope you enjoy them, and are inspired to try some remixes of your own!

In the middle right is Castle Bunny, protecting his carefully hoarded Easter Eggs with a castle that rolls on tank treads from one of the retro robots. Meshmixer's Make Solid feature was used to prepare all the meshes for combining. Keep reading to learn more about the rest of the bunnies.

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HIGHFIV3D: Autonomous Reassurance Device – Part 3

Part 3: Audio & Assembly Awesomeness

 

highfiv3d 123d project

I wrapped up March with this cool little project - it's a little late on the calendar, but there were some tweaks to be made.  Last time, I successfully programmed the Arduino to accept the accelerometer input to trigger audio files, and recorded some WAV files.  I tried the cardboard hand from Part 1, but it essentially exploded (due to the inherent awesomeness of my high-five, maybe..).  I decided to just bite the bullet and print it on our Objet printer, I may do another with flexible filament after all.

Once the files were cut and loaded on to the SD card, I finished the assembly of the hand with a base that could support a bunch of slaps.  I used the shear at TechShop San Francisco to get some 3-inch strips of mild steel, then a vise and a hammer to bang it into a 90-degree shape (I'll let you figure out how to get the other side).  

 A quick trip to the hardware store netted a spring, some threaded rod, a bushing/spacer and some locking nuts.  Basically, the hand/dowel will rotate around the threaded rod - which is locked in place with the nuts - a spring at the base will provide the tension for it to return to neutral.  I just used a C-clamp to secure it to a desk and watched my co-workers smack away.  A small USB-powered speaker with a headphone jack provides the sound, and I just picked up a dual-USB-plug to power it and the arduino board.

The random clips are pretty funny, I may do something similar soon with microphones.  The folks upstairs at Instructables have some pretty heavy feet, we've been scheming to provide them some 'feedback' when footsteps reach a certain decible level.  

 It's a pretty cool little thing to have on your desk - most people can't resist a high-five.  And that's good, because it's rude to leave someone hanging.

 

Bonus: Here's the raw footage of us recording the audio samples. 

HIGHFIV3D: Autonomous Reassurance Device – Part 2

(I only had a small speaker on hand, please forgive the audio)

I started working on the electronics component to the HighFiv3D machine this week. In my previous post, I went from using a piezo senseor to an accelerometer; then this week I decided to do a tilt sensor before getting frustrated trying to debounce it. So ACCELEROMETER it is...!

The first step was gathering parts. After a bit of advice from Gian Pablo and Rob, I figured I'd need an Arduino Uno, a Wave Shield and the accelerometer to start. We have some Arduinos on hand at Pier 9, but you can get everything from Adafruit, retailing for about $60.

The Wave Shield is basically another circuit board that sits directly on top of an Ardiuno and allows for .wav files to be played from an SD card. Now I can record the audio with my laptop, convert to the proper file type (.wav) and store them on an SD card for random play when prompted; in this case, when the accelerometer is moved.

I used Adafruit's Wave Shield Kit, v.1.1, for which they have a great tutorial on soldering and building the actual board. If you can solder, it's very simple. You'll need a 2GB SD card (it can't use anything larger) that is formatted - I used the SD formatter that Adafruit suggested, but Mac's Disk Utility will work. Once the board was built per the instructions, I only added some female headers to make testing easier.

For the accelerometer, the only soldering that's required is the wire leads that will run from the Arduino to the Shield/Arduino. I chose Yellow/Blue/Red for my X,Y and Z motions, black for power and green for ground (my electronics aptitude has been dictated by motorcycle wiring). Just leave a foot or so of wire slack to test the sensor.


Once the shield was finished, I started working on the coding. My programming experience is pretty limited (I once made a light blink with an Arduino, but that's about it). Fortunately, there is a HUGE community with pre-written codes (Sketches), so you can get away with not having to completely write it yourself. I pulled from Adafruit's example sketches for the Wave Shield and the accelerometer. The Arduino forums are a good resource too. But, since I sit next to him, I asked Gian Pablo to help me with the shield code first.

From Gian Pablo:

The great thing about using the Arduino for DIY projects is that it is so widely used that you can almost always find an example or project that to get you started. For this project, we used the WaveShield from Adafruit (https://www.adafruit.com/products/94) to provide audio output. It is a simple Arduino shield with an SD card slot and audio output. We connected an accelerometer, an ADXL335 on a breakout board.

For programming, we just used one of the examples from Adafruit as a starting point, in this case the Play6_HC example (http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-wave-shield-audio-shield-for-arduino/play6-hc). We wanted to modify it so that instead of reading a button press to trigger the audio response, it would respond to sudden motion of the accelerometer, and allow for some time for the hand to settle down each time (if someone gave it a good whack). This only required 3 lines of code, and then we had to make some slight changes to the rest of the program so that it would choose a random response each time.

After a couple of hours we were good to go!

The only .wav files I had on hand were from Star Wars and Nacho Libre (don't ask), so I put them on the SD card, followed some directions, and voila... my little shield was talking to me. Incessantly.

Then, with the accelerometer tuned in - I was eventually able to activate random files by hitting the sensor. I was frustrated for 2 days because I kept getting an error, but we eventually realized that the file names were too long!! With just the shield, the file names didn't matter, it just played whatever is on the card. However, with the accelerometer and randomization, the same files wouldn't play because they were over 8 characters. Once I abbreviated them, it would play perfectly.

 

 

Monday Makers: MakerKids

MakerKIds CAD'ing it up at SXSW Create

 

This past weekend at SXSW I had the great fortune to hang out with the amazing group of individuals from MakerKids. One of the few and only existing Maker Spaces designed just for kids, MakerKids was started with a magic that the only the Maker Movement can provide. Started in 2010 in co-founder Andrew Forest's garage, MakerKids has grown into a world class space for kids to get hands on experience with 3D Printing, programming, electronics, woodworking, sewing and crafting. 

Co-founder Jennifer Turliuk Showing off her 3D printed un-reality glasses

 

At SXSW's Create space, MakerKids ran an amazing program showing youth how to model in TinkerCAD, and then 3D print live on location with a Cube 3D printer. The few that I witnessed were overjoyed and thrilled to be able to create something cool and then 3D print it. Co-Executive Director and Chief Happiness Officer Jennifer Turliuk walked me around the space and even let me assist a bit. I strongly encourage anyone looking into starting a space geared towards kids to check out the amazing work done at MakerKids. 

Tinkering away with MakerKids

HIGHFIV3D: Autonomous Reassurance Device – Part 1

During the month of March, there are a few different music-themed things happening: SXSW and more festivals you can shake a stick at (it's even Music in our Schools Month!), so we're thinking about sound and music here at 123D. There are tons of great related models in the 123D gallery that we'll be remixing and playing with for the next few weeks, and a couple of us will be focusing on sound-related projects using 123D Circuits - look for #LISTEN3D 

As an at-best-novice with electronics, I decided to step lightly and integrate Circuits with some other projects I've been wanting to try. The first is, naturally, a High-Five machine.  While it has nothing to do with music, per se, I think I'll learn a lot about the audio/electronics side and 123D Circuits.

The idea is this: a free-standing hand that you can interact with for a bit of reassurance when walking to get a cup of coffee.  When you give it a healthy palm smack, it will generate some positive words of encouragement - think "You're Awesome!" or "Oh Yeah!".  Within a cardboard-stacked hand, a sensor would register impact and trigger the audio. My first thought was a Piezo sensor in the hand, but after some words of wisdom (and a high-five) I decided to go with an accelerometer that would determine when the hand was moved, thus activating the audio output.

The Mona Lisa started out on notebook paper, btw.

The first step is building the physical hand and then we'll figure out how the passerby will interact with it - table mounted seems the easiest, but wall-mounted would be a little cooler.  I considered using 123D Catch to create a model of my own hand and arm, but while messing around on 123D Creature, I found a really great model by Mark Dollar!  It's a bit cartoonish and big, so it should be perfect.

 

 

I downloaded the model and opened it in MeshMixer to open up the fingers a bit more for a proper high-five.  Then took it into Tinkercad to work on the cut out.  I think a 1" dowel is a fine way to make the 'arm'.  I also made a little hollow for the accelerometer.  

 

Once I was happy with the cutout, it was on to 123D Make to generate the slices for the laser cutter.  I wanted to keep it close to human scale, so I made it about 9" tall.  Once cut, the only tedious bit was the fingers (hopefully they'll withstand some trauma).  

 

 

Now I need to go shopping, look for next steps and more Sound & Music posts soon.

 

 

Top 5 3D Printing Features in the new Autodesk Meshmixer

 

Autodesk Meshmixer free all-in-one 3D printing application

Autodesk Meshmixer free all-in-one 3D printing and more application.

Autodesk Meshmixer updated today with a nice all-in-one suite for 3D printing, making it the ultimate free sculpting, mixing, painting, 3D printing application out there. Most notably, when you are ready to print your multi-mesh mashup, you can click the "Print" button which loads an arsenal of simple analysis and layout tools to arrange, heal, and even print directly to a 3D printer. See the video below for an quick teaser of what is new.

 The integration with 3D printers is intended to make the process to 3D printing even more streamlined. The healing tools require no training at all and will make just about any model printable. If you want to save time and material, then you can give your model a wall thickness so that it's hollow inside. Also, the generation of support material is an artform in itself. Of course, the experienced Meshmixer users can still find their original re-meshing, sculpting and healing tools they have grown to love for that extra level of control.

With all that in mind, here are my Top 5 Meshmixer Features for anyone interested in 3D printing.

5. New feature: "Make Solid". Now you can mash a bunch of meshes together and use "Make Solid" to heal them all together into a 3D printable object. See my Danielle Steele-like book cover I whipped together below from some 123D Catch captures I downloaded from 123dapp.com.

Make Solid

Make Solid makes these 123D Catch captures watertight!

 

4. Automatic repairing (I counted 1 click!). Whether it be a messy, unprintable model or you just want a sanity check for 3D printing your refined creation. The addition of an option to automatically "Repair Selected" is an easy hands free way to make any model 3D printable. Find it in the print bed layout screen.

3. "Hollow with Wall Thickness" will save you time and material when printing. Essentially giving your model a wall thickness that you decide, making it a hollow print rather than a solid print with infill. You can visualize how thick your model is with the slick see-through representation.

2. Analysis tools: Strength, Stability, and Slicing. This unique set of tools is perfect for visualizing how your printed model will look and perform before printing it. My favorite is the "Stability" tool where I can make sure my print will stand upright. Using this, I can push the limits of how I mix and sculpt, ensuring the printed object will not topple over!

1. Print direct to your 3D printer (Windows 8.1 supported). Windows 8.1 users will have the option to print directly to their printer, bypassing the need to go through another app such as Makerware, eliminating this extra step.

Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself...its free for Mac or Windows (32/64 bit) at its brand new page: 123dapp.com/meshmixer.