Scanning On The Cheap

[Will] recently stumbled across the MakerBot Digitizer, a device that’s basically a webcam and a turntable that will turn a small object into a point cloud that can then be printed off on a MakerBotⓇ 3D printer. Or any other 3D printer, for that matter. The MakerBot Digitizer costs $800, and [Will] wondered if he could construct a cheaper 3D scanner with stuff sitting around his house. It turns out, he can get pretty close using only a computer, a webcam, and a Black and Decker line laser/level.

The build started off with a webcam mounted right next to the laser line level. Software consisted of Python using OpenCV, numpy, and matplotlib to grab images from the webcam. The software looks at each frame of video for the path of the laser shining against the object to be scanned. This line is then extracted into a 3D point cloud and reconstructed in MeshLab to produce a 3D object that might or might not be 3D printable.

This is only [Will]’s first attempt at creating a scanner. He’s not even using a turntable with this project – merely manually rotating the object one degree for 360 individual frames. It’s extremely tedious, and he’ll be working on incorporating a stepper motor in a future version.

This is only attempt number 1, but already [Will] has a passable scanned object created from a real-world thing.

3D Printed Stick Shift Handle

3D printed gear shifter

Here’s a silly hack for you guys. Turn your head (or anything else really) into a stick shift handle!

All jokes about vanity aside, [Haqnmaq] has outlined an excellent Instructable on how to take 3D scans, manipulate them, and make them 3D printer ready. He’s chosen to use a Microsoft Kinect (one of the cheapest 3D scanners around) combined with some low-cost 3D software. He’s used both Skanect and Reconstructme with great success, which both have free (albeit slightly limited) versions. The model he used for his stick shift was actually taken at the 3D Printing Experience in Chicago.

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Geodesic Structures that aren’t just Domes

Geodesic structures

[Brian Korsedal] and his company Arcology Now! have developed a great geodesic building system which makes architectural structures that aren’t just limited to domes. They 3D scan the terrain, generate plans, and make geodesic steel space frame structures which are easy to assemble and can be in any shape imaginable.

Their clever design software can create any shape and incorporate uneven terrains into the plans. The structures are really easy to construct with basic tools, and assembly is extremely straight forward because the pole labels are generated by the design software. Watch this construction time lapse video.

At the moment, ordering a structure fabricated by the company is your only option. But it shouldn’t be too hard to fabricate something similar if you have access to a hackerspace. It may even be worth getting in touch with Arcology now! as they do seem happy collaborating to make art like the Amyloid Project, and architectural structures for public spaces and festivals like Lucidity. Find out what they are up to on the Arcology Now! Facebook page.

Would this be perfect for what you’ve been thinking about building? Let us know what that ‘something’ is in the comments below. Continue reading “Geodesic Structures that aren’t just Domes”

Kinect + Wiper Motor + LEGO = 3D Scanner

[Christopher] from the Bamberg Germany hackerspace, [Backspace], wrote in to tell us about one of the group’s most recent projects. It’s a Kinect-based 3D scanner (translated) that has been made mostly from parts lying around the shop.

There are 2 main components to the hardware-side of this build; the Kinect Stand and the Rotating Platform. The Kinect sits atop a platform made from LEGO pieces. This platform rides up and down an extruded aluminum rail, powered by an old windshield wiper motor.

The Rotating Platform went through a couple of iterations. The first was an un-powered platform supported by 5 roller blade wheels. The lack of automatic rotation didn’t work out so well for scanning so out came another windshield wiper motor which was strapped to an old office chair with the seat replaced by a piece of MDF. This setup may not be the best for the acrophobic, but the scan results speak for themselves.

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Hackaday Links: January 19, 2014


[Nick] wrote in to tell us about his first blog post. He’s showing off a PWM LED driver he build around a 555 timer. This project uses a lot of basics; some 555 experience, PCB etching, and surface mount soldering. We’d like to know more about the blue substrate on his circuit board!

After seeing the BOM spreadsheet with KiCAD integration a couple of weeks back, [Vassilis] sent in a link to his own Excel-based Bill of Materials helper. We’re wondering if anyone has a similar tool that will work with Open Office?

While we’re on the topic of downloadable documents, here’s a reference PDF for all types of DC measurements. The collection is a free offering from Keithley. [Thanks Buddy]

Since you’re brushing up on your knowledge you may also be interested in a free online microcontroller course offered by UT Austin. They’re targeting the Tiva C Launchpad as the dev board for the class.

This website seems to be a little creepy, but the teardrop shaped 3D printed music box which is being shown off is actually rather neat.

Hackaday Alum [Phil Burgess] threw together a point and shoot camera for Adafruit. It’s a Raspberry Pi, camera board, touchscreen display, and USB battery all rubber banded together. The processing power of the RPi is used to add image processing effects which are shown off in the demo video.

We don’t own a DeLorean. If we did, we’d probably follow the lead of Queen’s University Belfast and turn it into and electric vehicle. [Thanks Jake]

The 3D photocopiers are coming. Here’s a hacked together proof-of-concept from [Marcelo Ruiz]. After laser scanning the part is milled from floral foam.


Crowdsourcing plastic model kits


Flexiscale, the company that crowdsources and crowdfunds model kits, made a showing at the World Maker Faire. We’ve seen their work before, but this time we got to touch base with [Chris Thorpe] and get a handle on the future of user-requested model kits.

Right now there are over one hundred proposals for what Flexiscale should do next. They’re mostly narrow gauge railroad locomotives and rolling stock, but [Chris] tells me they’re looking to branch out into larger projects including American locomotives as well as planes, ships, and buildings. This is a really, really cool project, and if you’re into models at all, you should at least be aware of what Flexiscale is trying to do.

If you have an idea of what Flexiscale should do next, write up a proposal. I made one for the PRR GG1 electric locomotive, and if enough people support it, [Chris] will scan an engine and make a kit.

3D Printering: Scanning 3D models

The Makerbot Digitizer was announced this week, giving anyone with $1400 the ability to scan small objects and print out a copy on any 3D printer.

Given the vitriol spewed against Makerbot in the Hackaday comments and other forums on the Internet, it should be very obvious the sets of Hackaday readers and the target demographic Makerbot is developing and marketing towards do not intersect. We’re thinking anyone reading this would rather roll up their sleeves and build a 3D scanner, but where to start? Below are a few options out there for those of you who want a 3D scanner but are none too keen on Makerbot’s offering.

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