August 24, 2012

Drawing Brudders Video - the Sequel

No new Brudders this week but here's a nice substitute: Studio Sessions 4.

I stumbled across this drawing video the other day while cleaning out my hard disk. It was recorded quite some time ago and somehow I completely forgot it existed. Honestly, I don't even remember making it.

Sigh! It's true, after you have a child, your brain is the first thing to go.

- Greenlaw

August 15, 2012

Brudders at Siggraph 2012 and MakerBot Progress

Last week we visited Siggraph 2012, the big annual computer graphics conference here in Los Angeles. It was interesting to see some of the commercially manufactured desktop 3D printers available now, especially since we started constructing our own 'home made' 3D printer last week. A year and a half ago, when we bought our DIY MakerBot kit, it was essentially the only 3D printer available to hobbyists and tinkerers like us. Advances in tech sure move quickly these days.

Over at the iPi Soft booth, we finally got to meet Michael Nikonov in person. Michael is one of the brilliant developers of iPi DMC, the motion capture system we used for 'Happy Box', so I was excited to see him. We only had time for brief introductions because Michael had to speak to the press and I had to run off to pick up our daughter from her day camp at the Natural History Museum. I thought we might see him again later for a longer chat but we never managed to get back to the show.

Also of interest to us was the unveiling of Lightwave 11.5. (Lightwave 10.1 is the animation program we created 'Happy Box' in.) For us, the highlight of the demonstration was seeing Lightwave's new Bullet based cloth dynamics and Genoma, a powerful but incredibly easy to use modular rigging system. These tools are going to be incredibly useful in our current and upcoming film productions. Lightwave 11.5 is a free update for registered users of 11.0 and it will probably be available this winter.

When we got home, I started working on the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic's Stepstruder, the part that will actually print our 3D objects. Here are some of the parts on the dining room table before assembly.

The Stepstruder's body in mid-assembly.

The parts for the Stepstruder's Hot End, where the building material oozes out from.

And here's the completed Stepstruder.

Building the Stepstruder was tricky. The instructions for this part is confusing because it was apparently written by multiple users, each with his own procedure for building it. For example, early on, the instructions show you how to assemble the Hot End, a part of which includes a metal tube called the Thermal Barrier. Then, later on, the instructions show you how to use the Thermal Barrier as cutting tool for a piece of ceramic tape. The problem now of course is that this metal tube is already inside the Hot End assembly. Nuts!
Oh, well. The Stepstruder is finally built and I'm mostly confident that it's been done correctly. Moving on to the electronics now.

In case anybody is wondering, no, we hardly ever eat at the dinner table. In fact, the other half of the table is occupied by Alisa's surger and sewing machine. Sometimes I think we live in a workshop instead of a house.

By the way, this was our one hundredth blog post. Yippee.

- Sgt M.

August 13, 2012

A Bagel a Day...

...won't keep the doctor away but it sure is yummy. Just like this week's Brudders - Episode 60 'Bagel'.

'Sister' uploaded a bunch of new drawings to Sister's Sketchbook.

- Sgt M.

August 6, 2012

Kono manga yomimasuka?

Even if you can't read the title of this entry you might still enjoy Brudders - Episode 59 'Hiragana'. Alisa's Japanese reading and writing skills helped make this one special.

Over at the dining room table, our MakerBox Thing-O-Matic assembly project continues. Today we studied the instructions for assembling the Stepstruder which is the part that will actually 'print' the 3D objects. It's very involved so we're going to take a break and pick up on it later this week.

- Sgt M.

August 4, 2012

Interlude and Z Stage

This is what we saw while driving along the coast this week.

Elephant seals!

Lazy elephant seals. Don't mess with them though--they grow up to 16 ft (5 m) in length!

Fear the mighty elephant seals! They make a sound like a backed up sink but even scarier.

 This is how close we got to them.

And today we worked on the Z Stage of the Thing-O-Matic. This part has two self-aligning bearings for the two steel rods that allow the build platform to move up and down. At the top center you can see the threaded Z motor flange for the step motor.

This part was very easy to assemble but it took me over an hour because I thought the Z motor flange was missing. I double-checked and triple-checked all the parts bags and boxes before starting to write an email to MakerBot Industries. As I was writing the email I had to check on which model step motor we had and that's when I discovered that they had screwed the flange on the motor's threaded shaft. I guess that seems

Tomorrow we begin working on the Stepstruder, which is the part that 'draws' the 3D objects.

- Sgt M.

August 3, 2012

Assembling Y Stage

Today we worked on the Thing-O-Matic's Y Stage. (The Automated Build Platform we built yesterday was X Stage.) Y Stage will contain the mechanisms that make the build platform move side-to-side and back and forth. Here we just finished assembling Y Stage's belt and bearings.

This is the Y Stage housing in mid-assembly. The steel rods have been passed through the build platform and attached to the Y Stage housing. The ABP's timing belt is being attached to the Y Stage motor.

Y Stage and X Stage finished.

Tomorrow we assemble Z Stage.

- Sgt M.

The Automated Build Platform

Today we built the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic's Automated Build Platform. The ABP has a heated base and a motorized conveyor belt so we can print multiple copies of 3D objects if we want to. Here's a picture of the parts for the heater board and conveyor belt motor.

Wiring the motor was easy: a little bit of solder, heat shrink over the connector to make it pretty, done.

Sticking the foil on the heater board was a little tricky to do neatly but not too bad.

This is one of the rollers for the conveyor belt. A rubber tube had to be cut precisely to 50mm pieces to make the rollers. For some reason, the rollers attract a lot of cat hair. Moistened disposable wipes got them clean again.

Here are the laser cut parts for the body. Most of these pieces are cut from plywood and some are cut from plexiglass. I wiped the ash from the edges using disposable wipes.

Here's the body assembled with the motor and timing belt inserted. At this point I noticed that I attached the motor to the wrong side of the platform. The instructions explicitly stated that it needed to go on the left side but I was holding the unit upside-down when I read that. Oops.

All better. The faceplate makes it cool.

Fully assembled with heater board, gears and conveyor belt in place.

The dinosaur is not a 3D print by the way. We just like dinosaurs.

- Sgt M.

August 1, 2012

Unboxing the 'Thing-O-Matic'

We got a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic recently. Well, actually we ordered this 'do-it-yourself' 3D printer kit back in March of 2011 but we've been so busy this past year that we didn't get around to opening the box until tonight. Here are some pics from the unboxing:

"One of us, one of us..."

 "Open the box already human!"

 "At times like this, we wish we had opposable thumbs."

"MakerBot inside!"

Installed the software tonight, we start assembly tomorrow!

-Sgt M.