Friday, May 29, 2015

Prepping For A New MakeFest

With all that has been going on here at the workshop I thought it best I get everyone caught up with what I have been working on and have been planning over the last few weeks.  I was contacted by my friends at the QC-Colab makerspace in Davenport Iowa about a MakeFest that they are putting together for the Quad Cities in mid July. I spent a few hours with them and they insisted that I display my Velomobile at the MakeFest along with some of my 3D printed projects that I have posted about here on my blog over the past few years.  
  From my home in Wisconsin to Davenport Iowa is an hour and a half drive so to get the Velomobile to the Makefest I have been in the process of designing a special cradle that the vehicle will be strapped to and transported in a full size pickup truck.  This will not be that difficult to do but the entire vehicle will then need to be covered up to protect it from the windy ride to the Makefest and the ever possibility of getting it rained on. (Heaven forbid!)  I have all of the details for the transport cradle worked out and only hope that I can get the Velomobile there and back without to much of a hassle.  Along with the Velomobile I have a display figured out with a large amount of photos to show off the building process to anyone that is interested in how it all went together.  
  Along with the photos I thought it would be a good idea to make a 1/4 scale model of the recumbent trike that is the heart of the Velomobile and have that on display as well to show off how it is propelled down the road.  So with that in mind I have taken a few photos of the model and the progress that I've managed to get worked out so far.  

Here is a good shot of the completed Velomobile in my yard.

This is what is in the inside that makes it go. A TerraTrike Tour II.  A blast to drive.  The Velomobile was designed around this trike.

I had luckily made a full sized CAD model of the TerraTrike while designing the Velomobile so now it was just a matter of shrinking down my computer model to 1/4 scale and printing it on my 3D printer.  I had never attempted such an odd shape before so I started with the  rear end of the frame and used what is called support material to get it to print correctly.  

Once I had removed all of the support material I ended up with the part you see here.  Nice detail and with it courage enough to progress further with my attempt to model the trike.

The frame by itself was to large to print in one piece on my 3D printer so I did it in six parts.  The tail end, mid section, front section, two side wheel arms, and one center connector.  Once all of these part had printed to my liking I epoxied all of the part together and lined them up as straight as possible and let them dry over night.  Once the epoxy had cured I sanded the frame down to make it smooth and painted it bright yellow.

Next came the wheels.  Luckily being only three of them to make cut down on the time it took to print all of them.  Even at that the silver rims took nine hours to print and another four and a half hours for the tires.  The rims snap into place holding the tire securely and look seamless when assembled so it gives them a nice finished look once they are assembled.

The last large piece of this puzzle was the mesh seat.  The framework of the seat was printed all in one piece using support material the same way I had printed the frame. Once this framework was cleaned up it was just a matter of figuring out what to use for the mesh on the seat.  Luckily with all of my 3D printing projects my printer lays down what is called a raft on to a heated build platform so that any part that is made is printed on the raft to hold it in place while it is being made.  Once the part is completed this raft is discarded.  The raft is the perfect pattern I needed for the mesh seat.  It was just a matter of printing a raft large enough for the seat, cutting it to size and then gluing it to the seat frame.  It as you can see turned out to be the right look and scale for the model.  

  I still need to design and print out the steering rods and handle bars to complete the model.  All of the additional parts to mount the seat to the frame have been printed so that is ready to go as well.  Once I get all of the components 3D printed I'll post what it all looks like once I get it assembled. It should make for an interesting model and display for the MakeFest in July. Due to the fact that the MakeFest is not that far off I don't think I will be able to print and assemble the entire subframework of the body in time for the show so the trike by itself will have to do for now.   I will give you more details about the Makefest when it gets closer to that time.  So if your lucky enough to be in the Davenport Iowa area you will get to see my Velomobile up close and personal. Say hello and I'll be more than happy to tell you about all the fine details of it.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blender 3D 1963 VW Beetle Is Finally Completed!

This Blender 3D graphics project has been a long and sometimes difficult effort to undertake. Not that this has been a bad thing as it has expanded my skills greatly in using Blender 3D modeling software.  I tried to make the images you see here as accurate as possible considering I did not have an actual VW Bug to look at and clear up any confusion I might have encountered along the way.  But I am again rather proud of how it has turned out and I hope you will agree with my thoughts on this after checking out the images below.

Click on image for a larger view.

One of the big problems with creating what you see here was finding out that my computer simply did not have enough RAM to handle such a detailed model without crashing Blender.  I would work on a section at a time to get everything the way that I wanted it to be only to find out that I could not render the final images you see here without a lot of effort by my computer to keep up with such a large amount of parts in the model.  Having 12 gigabits of ram I thought would surely be enough to handle it. I was wrong of course after spending three and a half hours to render just one image.  
  I did some research online and found out that I could use the memory in my hard drive as virtual ram.  I have not used my internal storage on my PC as I store everything in an external drive for safety sake.  So I made the changes needed to my computer and boosted the RAM from 12 gigs to 192 gigs!  Now my render times were down to one and a half hours for each image with no crashing!  

Click on image for a larger view.

With the new setup on the computer I was able to finish the work I had started nearly three weeks ago on the Bug you see here.  Total hours I had given up on counting but I suspect that it is close to 200 hours total not even counting trying to figure out how to render the images faster. 

Click on image for a larger view.

I am really proud of how the interior of the Bug turned out.  The dash is very accurate as is the steering wheel. As I said earlier I learned some new things along the way and with Blender that will help further on down the line when I work on my next 3D graphics project. The steering wheel that you see with the chrome horn half-ring and the steering shaft had been modeled all in one piece.  Quite a feather in my cap if I do say so to get this all to look right. 

Click on image for a larger view.

The gauges and the radio are correct for the model as are the knobs for the dash.  The face of the radio and gauges I was able to manipulate on to the surfaces of the model using Blender.  This process is called UV mapping.  It sounds technical but really it is a simple process once you get into it and see the end result.  Simply put it wraps a picture on to an irregular shape to make it look very realistic.  Worth the little effort it took to figure out how to make it work and look this good.

Click on image for a larger view.

In this image the tire tread shows up nicely along with the overall shape of the rear of the car. I really like the reflections in the chrome and of the fenders and body panels. This was all done in Blender using what is called Environment Nodes.  Again a fancy name for putting your model into a dome shaped image of the outdoors and having it reflect sunlight and realistic images the way a real car would in the real world.  Another nice feature in Blender that gives the model a more realistic look.

Click on image for a larger view.

In creating the VW Bug computer model I had to download over 70 photos of the inside and outside VW Bugs of this era the real in order to create as accurate an image as possible.  For the most part I am very happy how it has turned out and like any project there is always room for improvement.  The interior for the images you see here is near perfect and as long as I am not trying to get more detail of say.... get images of the engine compartment I am good with it all.  I could spend another 100 hours in the model if I really want to get nuts over it all but I figure there is really no need as I have accomplished what I have set out to do and for now my expectations of how I wanted the car to look has once again been exceeded by my efforts.  So smiles are in order for the day. Enjoy the images and I'll continue posting new Blender projects in the future as they pop into my head.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Blender 3D 1963 VW Beetle Is Nearing The Finish Line

Long and happy hours of work have rewarded me with great progress on my 1963 Volkswagen Beetle Blender 3D project.  More research had to be uncovered online to figure out what bumper mounts were correct for the model along with simple things like the window trim and radio antenna.

As you can see from this photo above the detail that I have in the computer model has turned out very well.  I am surprised that I was able get everything as correct as it is so it is a good day for my Blender 3D efforts. 

I had to figure out the bumper mounts from all the photos that I had found online.  I did remember that my older brother had a 1959 Bug and the rear bumper did stick out like what you see here.  Mainly because it had to so that the rear engine hood could be opened up for servicing.  With these photos you can see the remaining work that I still need to do to complete the computer model.  There is no interior at all yet in the vehicle so that is my next order of business.  I have complete photos of the dash, seats, and door panels so hopefully it will not be a big deal to get everything put in and to the correct scale for the model.  Once all of this is completed I will start working on something a bit more interesting for the rest of the images other than a white semi-reflective floor.  I will have to ponder on this a bit to come up with something before my final post on this project.  Stay tuned for the final update once I've got everything modeled to my satisfaction. In the meantime enjoy the latest updated photos.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Blender 3D 1963 VW Beetle In Progress

After having completed my Blender 3D Bugatti project I was in need of another interesting challenge. This has brought me to my latest endeavour. 

 I have been working on this model of a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle over the past week or better now.  I have never owned one of these cute little cars but like the Bugatti am getting an interesting close up look at what makes an early Bug tick. 

As you can see from this view of my Blender model of the Bug I have gotten quite a ways with my efforts in it's creation so far.  As with anything the more you work on something new the more you learn and get better at. In Blender I am learning new things along the way which helps my modeling and improves my knowledge of this great software. 

The next step in this model will be to finish up the outside of the car with bumpers, wipers, windows, etc.  After that will come the task of making the interior.  Luckily I have come across a vast amount of photos online of this car so it gives me a lot of good reference material to work with.  Like the Bugatti model that I completed the Bug will also have a large amount of hours put into it. I suspect that it will be in excess of 100 hours once I have completed it to my satisfaction.  But this is just a guess at this point as I have not tracked the hours for this Blender model. Once I have the Blender Bug completed I'll put out another post on how it all went and let you see how it all looks. 

  For more information about Blender 3D software go to their site listed here.  The software is free and I have been using it for around 15 years now without any problems of it hurting my computer. It also runs on all kinds of computers from a PC to Apple and then some so whatever you have for a system it will run on it. Great fun to create what you see here and there are also a ton of tutorials online to get you started making your own masterpiece.  Try it out and see what you can create!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cedar Rapids Iowa Mini Maker Faire Part Two

As promised in my last post I have completed editing of the footage that we had shot at the Cedar Rapids Iowa Mini Maker Faire that was held May 2nd.  In the second and final part I talk with the builders of a full sized Dr. Who Dalek, another builder of an augmented reality topographical map and finally a builder who is developing a 3D printed prosthetic arm for a friend in need.  Interesting stuff to see and actually talk with the builders first hand.  Enjoy part two of the Maker Faire video below. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cedar Rapids Iowa Mini Maker Faire Part One

Today I was in Cedar Rapids Iowa for their third annual Mini Maker Faire.  I have attended this fair since it started and this year I decided not to display what I have been posting on my blog but rather take my video camera along and talk with some of the other participants and see what they have been designing and making.  I want to give a big thank you to my friends Ben and Keith from the QC-Colab makerspace from Davenport Iowa who helped me shoot the video that I have posted here.  Without their help this would have not been possible.
  The Maker Faire this year was in a different location than where it was held last year and so it was a new experience for me once again to attend this event.  I really enjoyed being able to talk to many more people than I had in previous years simply because I was not manning a booth showing off what I had created.  So the one and a half hour trip from my home in Wisconsin to Cedar Rapids was worth the time and gave me a chance to do some cruising in my Mini Cooper on a nice warm spring day at the same time.

  The interviews that we had shot gave me enough material to put together two separate videos .  Below you will find the YouTube link to part one of these interviews and I think you will find them interesting to see.  Some very creative makers were at the fair again this year so I am happy to be able to share the experience with you.  Once I have part two edited I will post it as well.  This should be in the next day or so.  In the meantime enjoy part one.