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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 17:43

Though I’ve managed to miss a lot of the 3D Printing Meetups lately, I managed to make it this month, and since the speaker unexpectedly canceled, I got called into duty as a replacement.

Without a ton of time to prepare, I ended up recycling a presentation I’ve given before, about Milwaukee Makerspace and what we do there. (I did manage to update it a bit and add in some 3D printing specific content though.)

Anyway, here are my slides, which you can also find on Speaker Deck and SlideShare. And if you don’t like these, I’ve got plenty more presentations.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, hackerspace, ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 18:22

Hackaday

Recently Hackaday posted some tips about tips, which I assumed was to get more people to submit more items, and be better at submitting items. So I submitted an item, and they posted it: 3D Printed Camera Arm Saves $143.

I submitted an email with a few of the important points, and some of them got mentioned, and some of them didn’t, and then there were comments.

Disclaimer: I like Hackaday. There is often good content, and then there are the comments. Some comments are good, and some are not. They seem to have gotten better in recent times. (Hackaday even addressed the issue of negative comments in the past.) Still, comments on the Internet are comments on the Internet.

But hey, since I have my own web site and don’t just leave comments on other sites, I can post whatever I want here, including my responses to some comments.

For $7 of material — and a $1000 3D Printer — and 20 hours of design time — and several iterations and testing later — it’s a pretty slick system!

Thanks, Waterjet! I obviously ran out and spent $1000 on a 3D printer so I could make one thing. It’s not a tool I use all the time for many different things. I’m sure I’ve spent more than 20 hours in total learning how to do 3D modeling, but hey, I don’t watch sports, so I needed something to fill my time. Oh, and you don’t have to buy a 3D printer, you can probably join your local hackerspace and use one there. We have three at Milwaukee Makerspace. Yeah, I also spend my free time helping create a hackerspace. You’re welcome.

I don’t get it, is it a joke? come on, ten minutes with a piece of of wood a drill and a hacksaw could have made something less flimsy and looking nicer

Thanks, fonz! I’m still waiting for the blog post that describes the version you’ve made. Oh, what? You didn’t make anything? You just leave comments on things other people made? By designing a thing and making the files available, I’ve shared something that others can build upon. I think there’s value in that. But hey, I really do want to see the scrap wood version you’re working on. I’m especially interested in how you make hexagonal cuts with your hacksaw. Perhaps you can write up an Instructable on that.

I also learned that I’m cheap (I knew that) and I waste my time (duh) but hey, if you too need such a reminder about how you do things wrong, just post your project to Hackaday!

Here’s the thing, kids… I don’t really like watching sports, and I don’t sit around drinking beer. I spend my time learning new skills and trying new things. I make things, and if they don’t work, I try again, or I move on and hopefully I’ve learned something. I share the things I do in the hopes it will help or inspire others. If someone wants to spend 10,000 hours building a replica of the Millennium Falcon out of toothpicks, more power to them! I’m, not gonna knock them for it. In this case, I made something that is actually a useful thing, and to me there’s value in that.

stats

And yeah, being on Hackaday definitely brings traffic to your site. This was not the goal of submitting something. I actually share this stuff because I think that’s what needs to be done with knowledge and experiences—they need to be shared. This is how we all collectively learn things and (hopefully) advance humankind. Or, you know, we could just leave comments on things.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, comments, hackaday"
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AK-47   New window
Date: Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 12:30
Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, ak47, art, gun, kalashnik..."
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 17:54

RED Rail Mount

You may remember the Matte Box Flag‘s that I laser cut a while back, or the more recent LCD Arm that I 3D printed, well, there’s another accessory done now, and it took months and months to get it done. (Well, most of those months were due to procrastin—I mean, working on other projects.)

So our story begins with the RED Matte Box, which fits fine on the RED Lens, but when you slap a Zeiss Super Speed in place, the Matte Box can’t attach to it, no worries, RED sells two parts to solve your problem.

Rod Support

Universal Mount

Just drop $350 USD on two parts and you can now secure your matte box to the 19mm rods. This is an ideal solution, but as you know, I’m cheap, and I’m DIY, so away we go!

RED ONE

Here’s how it looks underneath. Those two piece attach together and let the matte box ride the rails, and there’s some latitude for adjusting the height of things. It’s nice hardware, for sure.

RED Mount

Once again I commend RED on publishing nice photos of their products…

RED Mount

…because it’s fairly easy to clean these up and trace them and create 2D profiles that can be extruded to 2.5D designs.

RED Mount

That’s much better! In fact, since it’s 2D I actually laser cut some wood to do a test fitting, since my 3D Printer was down for a bit when I was working on this.

Laser cut prototype

(It was a nice diversion, and honestly I just really like laser cutting things.)

Somewhere along the way though, I pretty much abandoned the idea of recreating the stuff RED has and figured I should just design my own. Maybe after the whole RED Arm debacle I realized their designs are sometimes lacking…

Anyway, I was overly complicating things, so I decided to go simple. Also, we’re 3D Printing here!

Rod Standards

Also, if making any rod-related things, I highly recommend you grab the Rod Standard Graph PDF from the OConor site.

RAIL Mount STL

This is what I eventually came up with. It’s mostly an extruded shape, but it does have some holes for the bolts including bits to lock in the hex heads, just like the Arm does. I wish I could say I just 3D printed this and that was it, but it’s far from it.

While I was working on this I was also working on calibrating the RepRap after the recent repairs, so I had a bunch of issues with things not printing as well as they should, or not exactly the right size, you know, like a 19mm hole printing at 18.673mm or 21.298mm. So I moved back to a bit of prototyping.

RAIL Mount DXF

I used the old STL to DXF trick (thought slightly modified) to create a 2D design from the original 3D file. Once I had a DXF file I could use the Silhouette Cameo to easily cut some thick paper to get an idea of size and dimensions. Eventually I was happy with how things were looking so I moved on to plastic.

RAIL Mount Small STL

Here’s the DXF file extruded to 5mm tall, with the idea being that I could print this much more quickly (and with less plastic!) that doing the full print which is 25mm tall. This worked well, and I was able to test fit it on the rods, but I was still having a few weird issues with the 19mm hole sizing.

RAIL Mount Part STL

I ended up pulling my 5mm STL file into OpenSCAD and doing a difference to subtract most of it and just leave a portion so I could print this and test the hole sizing even faster. This too worked quite well.

This all might seem like a crapload of work to get what I wanted, but there was much exploring and learning along the way, and believe it or not, that’s most of the fun in doing it for me. If I just downloaded and printed something, well, that’s good if you want a thing, but not as good if you want to learn the process of creating a thing.

RED Rail Mount

The final piece, with two 1/4″ hex bolts, some nut knobs (as seen previously), and two smaller screws and wing nuts to hold the matte box in place. There was a little bit of delamination in this print. I may try it on the LulzBot TAZ 3 that we just got in at Milwaukee Makerspace, as I think it will be a good test.

RAIL Mount

Hey, it works! It fits on the rods and holds the matte box in place. Simple enough, right?

RED Rail Mount

railmount15205

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, cameras, open..."
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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 03:14

wiki

I’ve long been a proponent of wikis as knowledge bases within organizations. Since I discovered WikiWikiWeb in 2000, I was struck by the power and simplicity of wikis. (This was a year before the launch of Wikipedia, and many years before most people had even heard of Wikipedia!)

The first wiki I launched for a company started small, and eventually grew into a tool the Interactive department used for crucial information used by the staff. Some people believe that keeping data locked up within their own notes—or worse, just inside their own brains—creates job security. If no one else knows how something works, you become invaluable. My argument goes the opposite way, that creating a wiki and sharing all the knowledge shows your commitment to the health and well being of an organization.

During a job interview in 2006 I mentioned how I left behind a 200+ page wiki at my previous position, and without a doubt, that was the one thing that brought up the most questions from my interviewer. (The position wasn’t right for me, but I always secretly hoped they launched an internal wiki.)

Inc Magazine has a nice article titled A Micromanager’s Guide to Trust, with this great bit:

At Staff.com, Martin came up with a novel solution: He created a wiki that describes how to handle some 500 operational issues.

Exactly!

While I’m sometimes a bit too busy to do all the wiki maintenance I’d like to do, the Milwaukee Makerspace wiki has grown to become the operational manual for the organization. This is even more important when you realize that each year a new group of leaders is elected to the Board of Directors. And since the group is a “club” and not an “employer” people are free to leave when they want. (Meaning, there’s no firing or laying people off, but we do have to deal with people who just “disappear” sometimes.)

To me, this all goes back to the original idea of why I find/found the Internet so interesting. It’s about sharing information, openly and freely, with others. It’s about storing knowledge and having it easily retrievable. Wikis accomplish these things, and for that, I am mighty grateful.

(Oh, and my favorite wiki for the past fear years has been DokuWiki. Check if out if you need to implement a wiki for your organization.)

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, dokuwiki, information, kn..."
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Date: Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 14:09

STL Viewer

I use Gary Hodgson’s stlviewer quite a bit, as it allows for a quick view of an STL file in your browser, and since I’ve always got a browser running, it’s often easier than launching yet anther app just to view a 3D model.

But one of the things that’s always bugged me about it was the fact that the build plate appeared to be 100mm x 100mm, which would be fine in 2010 if using a MakerBot Cupcake, but my RepRap has a 200mm x 200mm build surface…

STL Viewer

This is much better! My models over 100mm long/wide actually fit on the build plate instead of spilling over into space. Obviously if you’re using Gary’s online version you can’t really make changes, but I just run it locally from my hard drive, so I can easily hack at it.

STL Viewer

Just go into the js folder and in there is the thingiview folder, and open thingiview.js in your favorite text editor. Line 711 should look like this.


plane = new THREE.Mesh(new Plane(100, 100, 10, 10), 
  new THREE.MeshBasicMaterial({color:0xafafaf,wireframe:true}));

(Note: It’s all one line, but it’s wrapped here for readability.)

For the part that says new Plane(100, 100, 10, 10) just change it to new Plane(200, 200, 10, 10) and you’ll get a 200mm x 200mm canvas with which you can display your lovely STL file on.

(Obviously if you’re using MegaMax you should go a bit larger, perhaps 300mm x 300mm would be appropriate.)

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, stl"
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Date: Friday, 21 Mar 2014 22:30

Desktop 3D Printer

This is the future… a 3D Printer where you work; improving things, repairing things, and creating new possibilities. It’s here today for some people.

Here’s a nice post about Brookhaven Memorial Hospital saving money and solving problems thanks to one of their employees and a MakerBot 3D Printer. Think back to the days when the first Macs came out, and people who owned them would bring them into the office to get work done. I’ve brought my RepRap into work, but more often I just do the needed measuring and modeling and then print things at home and bring them in. (Like a recorder mount, LCD arm, or even something as mundane as a coat hook.)

Once you’ve got a “toolbox that makes things”, it’s not hard to look around and see things that could use improvement, or problems that need solving. (Recently my wife asked me to fix a loose shelf, and I was actually a bit disappointed that all it took were two zip ties to fix it. I was all ready to model and print something!)

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, future, maker..."
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Date: Monday, 17 Mar 2014 12:31

embedded.fm

My new favorite podcast is Making Embedded Systems, which is hosted by Elecia White, and while it’s described as a “podcast about gadgets”, I’ve found it to be much more informative and entertaining than just talking about gadgets might be.

If I remember correctly, I found the podcast because I read about the FadeCandy on the Adafruit blog, and I was already familiar with Micah’s work (ahem) and saw this post on her blog mentioning the podcast.

After listening to episode 41 with Michah, I noticed that the previous episode featured Lenore from Evil Mad Scientist. From there I moved one more episode back for Jen Costillo talking about Bia Sport, which was also quite enlightening, and then, to top it all off, how could I not listen to Jeri Ellsworth talk about CastAR? I mean. whatever Jeri talks about is going to be fascinating, but honestly, I didn’t have much interest in CastAR before listening, because I thought it was just a gaming system, and gaming systems don’t interest me too much, but the technology and possibilities of what CastAR could be are pretty amazing.

Maybe there aren’t enough women in engineering, but it seems like the ones we do have are pretty awesome!

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, embedded, engineering, po..."
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STREAM   New window
Date: Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 03:16

stream

I love the Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt but I thought there was something missing, so I changed it to STREAM because… Robots.

Remember to stream big, my friends!

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, robotics, shirts, steam, ..."
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Date: Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 02:20

Boom Pole Mount

Recently I’ve been on a few shoots where I’m doing the audio, and if you’re holding a boom pole and trying to keep the mic out of the shot, it can be a bit difficult to adjust the recorder, which you’ve typically got resting on something nearby, or if you’re moving around, holding in your hand. Obviously I needed a “BPM” and this time it’s not “Beats Per Minute” but “Boom Pole Mount”, which will hold the Zoom on the boom pole freeing up one hand to made adjustments or, you know, help steady the boom pole. (Maybe it needs a better name, like “Zoom2Boom” or something.)

As often is the case… 3D Printing to the rescue!

3D model

I measured the second segment of the boom pole and it came in at 30.2mm in diameter, so I fired up OpenSCAD and started to design a piece that would mount to the pole. (I should also note at this point that I’m not the greatest at math.)

2D test

I thought that instead of printing a test piece I would make a paper prototype to test the fit, so I converted my 3D STL file into a 2D DXF file in OpenSCAD. I figured that wasting a bit of paper was better than wasting a bunch of plastic. It’s also much faster.

Silhouette cutting

I used the Silhouette Cameo to cut my DXF file using a page from an old calendar. (Reuse! Recycle!) Of course once it was cut I realized that I used 30.2mm for the radius instead of 15.125mm. Drat! Lesson learned, you can use d for diameter instead of r for radius in OpenSCAD.

Final 3D model

Back to the old drawing board, by which we mean the “constructive solid geometry” software. This is version 2 of the design. Version 1 was lacking the holes for the hex bolt heads to fit into on the flanges, and was a little thin. Version 2 seems to have resolved all the issues that version 1 fell short on.

Boom Pole Mount

A few bolts, nuts, and knobs (just like the arm uses) and we’ve got a pretty solid piece that I trust to hold the recorder to the boom pole with. The one thing we may need to watch out for is over-tightening the knobs, as that could lead to cracking the plastic. I can probably solve this by adding more infill to the print (it’s at 35% now) or by a slight redesign. We’ll field test this one first though, to see how it holds up.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, audio, boom, ..."
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Date: Sunday, 09 Mar 2014 23:53

Delta Robots

Sometime in 2013 I stumbled upon the blog of Sarah Petkus titled Robotic Arts. Probably because, you know, I occasionally build art robots. Sarah is a member at SYN Shop, a nice looking hackerspace in Las Vegas, and she’s been working on building delta robots for a while now. She’s got a great post about the journey from using household junk to designing and printing 3D parts to build her robots. Check out Robot Army : From Tupperware to 3D Printing.

Junkbox (Delta-style!)

She also been collaborating with Mark Koch at SYN Shop and turned this whole delta bot thing into a Kickstarter (successful!) that is going to help fund an art performance with an army of delta robots. And hey, while they’re at it, they’ll also be turning their robot into a kit through ROBOT ARMY, a new venture to manufacture robot kits for the do-it-yourself market.

I started working on a delta robot last year because I’ve got a project planned that requires one, but I still haven’t finished it. I might consider getting a kit if it makes sense to speed up my process and get to the “art” part of a future art robot I’ve got planned.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, artrobots, deltabots, rob..."
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Date: Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 11:00

Assembled Arm

In my previous new arm post I banged out a quick ‘n dirty replacement arm to hold an LCD display on a RED camera using some 3D printed parts and a few nuts and bolts.

Arm Parts

Version 1 worked, but I wasn’t totally happy with it. Iteration time! The beauty of digital fabrication using a 3D printer is that it’s easy to revise your design and try something new.

Block 1

One of the issues I had with version 1 is that things spun around too much. Even with the tightening bolts, there was more spinning happening when less spinning was desired. I ended up adding a hex-shaped hole to hold the head of the bolt in place. This resulted in less spinning.

Block 2

I then figured that if one hex hole was good, two were better! Sadly, while this worked well for the first corner piece, it didn’t work as well for the second corner piece that was held in place with the nut knob.

Block 3

No problem! OpenSCAD makes it easy to comment out a piece of code and output a new STL file. I now have two (slightly) different versions of the connecting block. Oh, I also rounded the edges a bit, which resulted in a better print, and a better feel.

One thing to note here. Where I originally posted an image of the connector block (before I even printed it) I made a comment about milling it from Aluminum. (Though ultimately it was decided that a drill press and band saw might be all the tools needed.) Milling this new design would probably still be doable, but until I’m sure we like this version, what’s the point? I may end up revising again.

Nut 1

And then there was the knob… The knob I had previously been using was one of the first things I ever printed on my RepRap. I’m sure I grabbed it from Thingiverse, but I’ll be damned if I can find it now. It may have been removed. Nevertheless, I didn’t love it, so I designed a new one. This is version 1, which was ok…

Nut 2

This is version 2, with a nice hull operation to give it a more rounded feel, and (probably) make it a little bit stronger. This is my new 1/4″ nut knob from now on. (Unless I design a new one!)

Parts

So yeah, a few 3D printed parts, some nuts and bolts from the hardware store, and we’re in business.

Assembled Arm

Oh, there’s also a screw in place of a bolt on the main support, because attaching it to the camera will be ten times easier with this feature, and you may also notice a slightly smaller version of the knob on the lowest mount point. This is (probably) needed to allow clearance to tighten it. (I didn’t have the camera around to test with, but I’ll find out this week if it works.)

Update: Tested it, seems to work well! You can grab the files from Thingiverse.

Arm on RED ONE

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, arm, camera, ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 23:00

The Helmet

I cut a piece of foam with a stencil, and it turned out terrible! So I tried again, and it turned out better…

A member of Milwaukee Makerspace loaned me his Proxxon Hotwire Cutter Thermocut to cut some foam. If you remember one of my previous foam cutting experiences using a drill press, that worked ok, but I wanted to try another method, the hot wire foam cutter actually designed to cut foam.

Cutting

I started with not one, but two stencils, with the idea being I’d put them on the top and bottom of the piece, lined up with each other.

Stencils

Why two stencils? when I tried to just use a top stencil with the wire cutter, the wire flexed a bit and I got not-straight lines.

Taping to foam

I attached the top of the “stencil placement guide” to the top of the foam with tape…

Taping to foam

…and then attached the bottom to the bottom, lining them up with the corner so they’d be in alignment with each other.

Spray glue

I then spray glued the actual pieces I wanted to stick to the foam with spray glue (using our spray booth!) Note that one piece is flipped upside down and one isn’t, so they match each holder.

Put it on the foam

Here’s the top piece glued into place…

Put it on the foam

…and the bottom piece glued into place.

Stencil on foam

Once glued in place I remove the top stencil holder…

Stencil on foam

…and the bottom stencil holder. Now we can cut. Hot wire goes through foam so fast I didn’t even get a photo!

Stencil on foam

Here’s the helmet cut out of foam. Top view…

Stencil on foam

…and bottom view. Yes, there are some rough spots, but the wire stayed pretty well aligned thanks to the top and bottom stencils. You just need to glide the wire along the paper’s edge. Much easier than trying to freehand a line drawn on the foam, and better results too!

You may have noticed a hole show up in the helmet. The reason for that was to feed the wire through to cut out the middle, but I forgot the wire was on a spool, so… bigger hole!

Wire

I cut a hole just large enough to fit the spool through…

Wire

…and one it was through, reattached it to the cutter so I could cut out the middle piece.

Cut

The middle piece came out pretty good… Now that’s a helmet!

Sand

A few of the cuts are a bit rough, but some sandpaper makes light work of them.

Old

Ahh, now here you can see the terrible results of only using a top stencil from my previous attempt. The wire tended to cut deeper into the bottom of the foam where there was no stencil to guide it.

New

Our new improved helmet cut with top and bottom guides is much better. And hey, now it’s ready to be cast in aluminum!

Thermocut

While the Proxxon is nice, there are a lot of DIY foam cutters that can be built with scrap materials. Ultimately though, I think a CNC cutter would be cool. Just add an XY table and away you go!

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, cutters, foam, mkemakersp..."
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Date: Thursday, 27 Feb 2014 13:43

Like Tracker Kiosk

You may remember my post about the Sir Like-A-Lot, which was a kiosk to show how many “Likes” your Facebook page has. I built it for an event that z2 Marketing had last fall. Well, with it being Raspberry Pi week over at Make Magazine, I was asked to write up a proper how-to, so there’s now a nice step-by-step description in the Project section titled Build a Raspberry Pi “Like” Tracker Kiosk.

It was a good challenge, as I ended up starting from scratch multiple times, as I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any steps. Typically, when I build something like this, it’s a bit unstructured, where you install things, configure things, and finally get it working, and then realize your notes are sorely lacking. I also wanted to make things as simple as possibly, and with Perl, that’s not always easy!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Project, and hopefully I can contribute more in the future.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, facebook, kiosk, make, ra..."
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 01:00

GoScan

3D scanning isn’t exactly new, but it’s only going to get better in the future. It will become cheaper, faster, and available to more people. Those are all things that drive adoption of new technology.

I missed this video for the Go!SCAN 3D Handheld Scanner when it came out, but when I watched it I noticed something interesting. They actually call out “Reverse Engineering” as one of the applications of the device. Yes, they want you to reverse engineer things!

Reverse Engineering

I think this is a big deal… Reverse engineering isn’t (or maybe wasn’t) typically something companies would promote. Intellectual property, lawsuits and litigation have often made reverse engineering something you don’t talk about, so it’s cool to see it mentioned directly as a feature of a product.

If anyone has a Go!SCAN 3D Handheld Scanner I’d encourage you to take it apart and reverse engineer it. :)

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, 3dscanning, e..."
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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 22:00

I’ve made elbows before, and while I should be making hands, I ended up working on a new arm this weekend. Rather than do all the work and just show the final thing, I thought I would do what I did with the MMPIS and post as I start a project so you can see all the steps involved.

RED ONE

As you can (sort of) see in the photo, the camera has an LCD display that is attached to an adjustable arm. You can even look at it while talking on the phone! The nice thing about the arm is that by twisting just one lever, you can adjust it to any angle, and then lock it down. The terrible thing about the arm.. is, well, everything else.

RED ARM

The arm held up to over 4 years of use (and abuse) but finally failed. Things wear out. It happens. I asked one of my camera rental guys about repairing it and he said “Can’t be done, just toss it.” So… Challenge Accepted!

I basically had the arm fixed, but then something else went wrong. It’s sort of a cascading effect with multiple points of failure. If one part doesn’t work, it affects all the parts, and nothing works. We fabricated a new rod, slightly longer than the original, to compensate for the wear on the original rod, but we had to remove a part to do so, and then that part wouldn’t stay secured when you tightened it. It became a vicious circle of fix it, watch it fall apart. Crap! (I still have one idea for fixing it, thanks to David Bryan. Once parts come in I’ll try that fix as well.)

Since I couldn’t reliably repair the arm in a timely manner, I decided to create a replacement. The nice thing about building camera accessories is that you get a lot of mileage out of existing off-the-shelf hardware like 1/4″ nuts and bolts.

Block

I fired up OpenSCAD and started designing a connector block, with the idea that 1/4″ bolts would be the “arm parts” and the blocks would be the “elbows”. There’s a slot to allow for the block to flex when tightened. I’d also be using those little hex nut knobs I use all the time.

Pieces

Once I had the parts printed, I used an X-ACTO knife to clean things up and trim things down. I also used a 1/4″ drill bit to clean up the holes a bit, and a vise to push the nuts into the knobs. All the metal and plastic bits in the photo probably adds up to less than $7 USD. (And there’s a lot of extra pieces here!)

New Arm

Here’s the assembled arm holding up the LCD display on the camera. It does indeed work, but we’re going to call this ‘version 1′ as there is definitely room for improvement. Still, it’s a much more functional arm than the broken one held together with gaff tape.

New Arm

I started making some notes on what worked, and more importantly, what didn’t work, for the next version. Again, the great thing about 3D printing is that it lets you go from an idea to a finished product very quickly, and then to iterate again very quickly. If I just count my time designing and assembling things (and not the time to print the parts) this is probably less than 90 minutes of work.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, 3dprinting, camera, mount"
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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 13:24

Ignite Madison

The second Ignite Madison happened on February 12, 2014 and I was there… and if you weren’t there, you can still see the video of me talking due to the magic of the Internet!

A few notes: Doing an Ignite talk requires a lot of practice. You’ve only got 5 minutes! I’ve given plenty of talks, and when you have a bunch of slides, and a bunch of time, and no specific timing to stick to, it’s a breeze. But, add in 20 slides changing every 15 seconds and it gets a bit more difficult.

I managed to go slightly off-track twice, but in the end, I think it turned out OK. I won’t be hitting the professional speaker’s circuit anytime soon, but I am glad I did it, because, as you’ll learn from my talk, learning, sharing and inspiring are the things that drive me to make.

Enjoy!

If nothing else, I’m glad I could help out the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Dane County by taking part in the event.

Oh, and check out the other presenters for the evening, they were all great! Thanks for the interesting evening, Madison!

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, ignite, ignitemadison, ma..."
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Shoot RAW   New window
Date: Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 13:24

Occasionally I have a conversation with someone about whether you should shoot JPEG or RAW with a DSLR. I almost always shoot RAW. There’s a time and place for JPEG, but I avoid those times and places when I can.

Here’s a great example of what you can get when shooting RAW. I was walking through our kitchen and saw these mourning doves through the window. Well, through two panes of slightly dirty glass, on an angle, uphill. I fired off a few shots, and this was the best one I got.

Before

This photo is sort of terrible. I mean, the shot itself is useable, but we need to coax the awesome out of it, which you can do with a RAW image.

After

Here’s the results after tweaking the sliders in Photoshop. (You can view it larger on Flickr.)

From what appeared to be a terrible shot on the camera screen was transformed into a totally useable shot on the computer screen, through the magic of shooting RAW!

Shooting RAW is like shooting on film, which is why we say we have to “process” the image. Converting the RAW image is akin to developing film. (And yes, there are alternatives to Photoshop for processing RAW images, it’s just the one I tend to use the most.)

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, photography, photos"
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Date: Sunday, 16 Feb 2014 17:49

GE reveal Light Bulb

I received a GE reveal® LED Light Bulb and was asked to write about it. Besides being given the light bulb, I was not compensated in any other way. Also, I’m sort of a lighting nerd. I use lighting at work for photo and video production, and I’m very particular about much of the lighting in my home and office.

If you want to see some of the typical comparisons, check out the GE reveal® Lighting page. The info I’ll provide below is a bit different.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

This is a standard compact florescent light bulb. I sort of hate CFL bulbs. I find the light they produce quite terrible, and the big clunky base of the bulb is annoying. From a design standpoint, I find the spiral ridiculous. I do like the energy saving potential of the CFL bulbs, and we do use some around the house, but overall I hate them.

Standard Light Bulb

This is a standard incandescent bulb. I love these bulbs. They tend to produce a nice quality light, and they are cheap, and the design is beautiful. When I think of a light bulb, this is what I picture. Of course, these are quickly becoming illegal (sort of) and being phased out. Sadly, at some point in the future, you won’t be able to buy incandescent bulbs in the United States anymore. Sadness!

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

This is the GE reveal Bulb, which, design-wise, is close to an incandescent bulb, which is nice, especially if you have shades that go directly on the bulb. (Yes, older lamp shades did have a metal clampy thing that went right on the bulb. I still have some of those lamp shades.) One of the benefits of this bulb is that it matches the physical shape and size of the old incandescent bulbs. That’s a big improvement over the CFL bulbs.

Lighting Difference

As for the quality of light, it’s a pretty nice light. I found it to be just a little cooler than the incandescent bulb… in a good way. I definitely like the light it produces. The LED bulb gives off a great light! Slightly better than the incandescent, and much better than the CFL.

One little annoying thing about the design is that you only get light from half of the bulb. I know this is due to having to shove all the electronics into the other half of the bulb, but I can see this causing issues in some situations where you actually do want light spilling out in every direction.

Old Time Light Bulb

I decided to put the bulb into place in my painting room where I’ve been using an incandescent bulb. Now, our house is old, and the light sockets are old, and this old incandescent bulb has been doing the job fine, probably for years and years, but…

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

When I put in the GE reveal Bulb, it did not work. I tried a few times. I also pushed the bulb up against the fixture, and no luck. It’s worth noting that the socket is a bit wobbly, but the LED bulb just did not work. Maybe there are some sockets it won’t work in?

I should also note that I weighed the three bulbs, because I was curious about the weight. The compact fluorescent bulb (the largest I have in the house) weighed in at 6.4 ounces. The good old incandescent bulb was 0.99 ounces. (Yes, it was less than an ounce!) The GE reveal LED bulb was a whopping 7.3 ounces. That’s a heavy bulb! I can see this causing some issues if you’ve got a lamp that may already be top-heavy. I guess if we’re moving to a world were we have to convert high-voltage AC power to low-voltage DC power in every bulb, that may be the price we pay.

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

I moved the GE Reval bulb to another socket and it worked fine. This light also had a metal shade on it which would normally reflect light down, but since the GE reveal bulb doesn’t really shine light up due to the half-bulb design, the shade probably doesn’t do much. But hey, the bulb worked… that’s good!

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

The good news is, the GE reveal bulb is suitable for damp locations, though it does warn that it is not for use in totally enclosed luminaires. This will limit where you can use this bulb. Even though incandescent bulbs can product a lot of heat, they can also stand a lot of heat, like inside your oven! The electronics used in an LED bulb are sensitive to heat, and may not survive being in an enclosed fixture. (And yeah, never use one in an oven!)

There’s one more feature of the GE reveal bulb I’m really excited about… it’s dimmable! Yes, there are dimmable CFL bulbs, but none of the ones I have are dimmable, and the ones that are seem to be pricey. Incandescent bulbs excel when it comes to dimming. I put the GE reveal bulb in our bathroom fixture and it did indeed dim. It did not go as dim as my incandescent bulbs, but hey, it did work. I then tested it in an X10 controlled lamp, and the results were much better, though there did seem to be a slight flicker at the lowest setting.

GE is marketing this bulb to people who want to have beautiful light in their home (or elsewhere) to “reveal” the decor and surroundings, and for that, I’d say this bulb does the job. It provides a lovely light, and is well designed. A quick search online revealed this bulb to cost about $20, which is ten times what you might pay for an incandescent bulb. Of course the LED bulb should be more energy efficient, and should last much longer. In theory.

So that’s my review of the GE reveal® Light Bulb. Pretty much everything in this review had to do with testing, evaluation, and my own opinion. Now that’s all of that is out of the way, I’ll put the bulb into place and give a real-world test for a while, and then if I have new insights, I’ll share those as well.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, bulb, leds, light, review"
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Date: Saturday, 15 Feb 2014 11:00

TnT

Recently I was working with an artist, I mean a real artist. Someone who can work on a giant canvas and create something from nothing. Well, from nothing but ideas, and maybe some imagery. There’s gesso, and pencils, and paint and brushes, and a heck of a lot of time involved, and at the end is this amazing piece of artwork that just makes you happy when you look at it.

Art is pretty amazing when it’s done by talented people…

I was busy shooting photographs and I mentioned to the artist that I really liked her work, and admired the talent and skill it takes to create it. She then said “Well, I wish I was technical” and by this she was referring to my skill set. It weird to hear that, because even though I’ve been using computers for over three decades, I tend to forget the amount of technical knowledge I have. I think there’s a few reasons why.

First, everyone uses a computer nowadays. Well, not everyone, but chances are everyone reading this does. I was using computers at home when most people were using Sony Walkmans because CD players weren’t around yet. Of course the vast majority of people just use computers, but don’t really know how they work, or how to program them, etc.

Second, since everyone uses computers, everyone uses the web. I helped build the World Wide Web. Nowadays every jackass with a Facebook account and a blog is a “Social Media Consultant” or something. Oh, and everyone can build a web site. I wrote all the code for a large corporate web site nearly 20 years ago. That seems weird, but it’s true.

Third, I tend to hang out with people who are like me, meaning, people who know a lot about computers, and who know how to build the web. I like most of these people, they’re awesome, but you tend to forget that you know stuff 90% of the population does know when you hang out with that other 10% of the people who also know the things you know. That’s a strange dilemma.

Maybe I’m just a frustrated artist? I have all these technical skills, and on occasion I can be creative, but I often feel that I’m lacking in artistic focus. It’s all very strange, but I’m finding ways to deal with it.

Author: "Pete Prodoehl" Tags: "Uncategorized, art, talent, technology"
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