Priceless Paintings – Scanned and Printed in 3D


When we think of works by Van Gogh and Rembrandt, most of us remember a picture, but we aren’t accustomed to seeing the actual painting. [Tim Zaman], a scientist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, realized that the material presence of the paint conveys meaning as well. He wanted to create a lifelike reproduction in full dimension and color. While a common laser-based technique could have been used for depth mapping, resolution is dependent on the width of the line or dot, and the camera cannot capture color data simultaneously with this method. In his thesis, [Tim] goes into great detail on a hybrid imaging technique involving two cameras and a projector. He and his team eventually used two 40-megapixel Nikon cameras in conjunction with a fringe projector to capture a topographical map with in-plane resolution of  50 μm, and depth resolution of 9.2 μm.

We can’t find a lot of information on the printing process they used, other than references to high-resolution 3D printers by Océ (a Canon company). That said, [Tim] has provided a plethora of images of some of the reproductions, and we have to say they look amazing. The inclusion of depth information takes this a big step further than that gigapixel scanning setup we saw recently.

Check out the BBC interview with Tim, as well as time lapse videos of the scanning and printing process after the break.

Continue reading “Priceless Paintings – Scanned and Printed in 3D”

‘conus’ mixes media, math and mollusks


We love art installations that use technology in ways probably never before considered, and Moscow media artist [Dimitry Morozov] has done just that with ‘conus’, which reads the surface of mollusk shells and translates the data into real-time audio and video. These shells are unique; their pigmentation generates natural cellular automata. (If you’ve never heard of cellular automata, Conway’s Game of Life is a good example, where a rule set determines whether a cell lives, dies, or regenerates.

[Dimitry’s] installation uses homemade digital microscopes to scan the naturally-created cellular automata of several shells, each rotating on its own disc. As the shell spins, the scans from the microscopes are fed into an algorithm which transforms the signals into data for multiple audio channels and three video monitors. You can watch the mathematical translation of the biologically-formed patterns in a video after the break.

Check out the MSP430 game of life shield for another example of cellular automata.

Continue reading “‘conus’ mixes media, math and mollusks”

Retrotechtacular: The history of ANSI and ASCII art

retrotechtacular-bsides-ansi-ascii-art-talkThese slides may not be the style of character art you remember from the days of 2400 baud modems; they’re more advanced than what was out there in the beginning. It turns out there is still some life left in this art subculture. For this week’s installment of Retrotechtacular we look in on [Doug Moore’s] talk on the history and survival of ANSI and ASCII art given at this year’s BSides conference.

ASCII is still a common character encoding so chances are you’re already familiar with it. ANSI on the other hand is a rather confusing term as it’s been lost in obscurity when referring to character sets. In this case it refers to a set of extended characters which is better described as Windows Code Pages.

Most of what we know about the ANSI art scene is from watching BBS: The Documentary (which is on our ten best hacking videos list). We certainly remember seeing the vertically scrolling art after connecting to a dial-up BBS back in the day. But understanding the factions that formed around the creation, bundling, and distribution of this is art is fascinating. [Doug] does a great job of covering this history, sharing side-by-side examples of the shunned practice of “ripping” another artists work. This image is actually not a rip. Later in his talk he discusses the continued existence of the subculture, showing what a modern take on the same subject looks like.

If you’re merely into the technical the first half of the video below is worth watching. But we bet it’ll be hard not to continue to the end for a side-trip into art history.

Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.

Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: The history of ANSI and ASCII art”

Printed machine does nothing until the heat death of the Universe


A 2:1 gear reduction slows down a spinning shaft to half speed and doubles the torque. Repeat this a few times, and you’ve got a ludicrous amount of torque moving too slowly to see with even precision instruments. That’s the idea behind [Jeshua]’s project, a Printed Machine partially embedded in a block of concrete.

[Jeshua]’s build is a replica of one of [Arthur Ganson]’s kinetic sculptures. [Ganson]’s machine uses 50 sets of gears to reduce the rotation of 200 RPM motor more that 200  quintillion times. The final gear in the sculpture is embedded in a block of concrete, waiting to be freed by either erosion of the concrete block or the sun going nova.

Instead of metal gears, [Jeshua] used 3D printed gears in PLA. After assembling them on a stand, he cast concrete around the final, barely moving gear. It’s an impressively useless build that will turn to dust before the final gear makes even 1/10th of a revolution. This machine could have a longer life if it were printed with ABS instead of PLA, but with the time scales we’re talking about here it won’t make much difference.

Street Art Bot

Street Art Bot

For the Deconstruction decentralized hackathon, “The FABricators” from Fab Lab Tulsa built a Street Art Bot. The robot drives around and dispenses liquid chalk in a pattern to make sidewalk art.

The FABricators’ robot is based on an electric wheelchair platform. Attached to the base is the hardware for dispensing chalk, which is controlled over wifi. The operator drives the robot around the area to chalk, and chalk is deposited in the right pattern.

In order to ensure the art is chalked correctly, the robot’s software needs to know where the robot is at all times. This is done using a camera mounted above the area and a fiduciary marker that localizes the robot. The tracking is done using the reacTIVision library.

The robot was built to be expandable, and in the future they want to add multiple colors, or even multiple robots printing simultaneously.  After the break, check out a video overview of the project.

Continue reading “Street Art Bot”

Dead motherboard wall hides an LED marquee


[Jared] is a computer technician so he has no problem getting his hands on broken motherboards. It looks like he tends to save the more interesting colors and has finally found a use for the waste. He built this wall art which also acts as an LED marquee.

He came up with the size and shape — 18″ by 48″ — because it meshes well with a sheet of MDF. The outline allows for a grid made up of 2″ square pixels arranged seven high and twenty-one wide. The top and bottom rows will serve as a frame for the lights, which still leaves the five pixels necessary to display characters. From there he started wiring up the LED array, which is shown in the testing phase in the clip after the break. Each pixel is cordoned off by a frame of basswood which [Jared] fabricated on the table saw. The project is finished up by cutting the motherboards down to size and mounting them with threaded rod and nuts. The board chunks are not transparent but they’re smaller than the grid so the LEDs will make the edges glow.

This reminds us of the motherboards used to mimic stained glass from several years back.

Continue reading “Dead motherboard wall hides an LED marquee”

Most useless machine: building elevator edition

[Niklas Roy] calls it his Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine, but we know it for what it truly is: a building-sized most useless machine. You’ll remember that a most useless machine is a bobble that uses clever design to turn itself off once you have turned it on. This does the same thing with the elevator of the WRO Art Center in Wroclaw, Poland. The one difference is that it continually turns itself on and off.

He rigged up a pulley system that travels through the stairwell of the building. Whenever the elevator door on the top floor opens it causes the call button on the bottom floor to be pressed. The same thing happens when the elevator reaches the ground floor. But he didn’t stop there. Since the device is just wasting electricity whenever the elevator moves without passengers in it, he added a meter to track the loss. It’s the guts of a printing calculator strapped to the inside of the car. Every time the doors open it adds to the total.

You can see the installation in the video clip after the jump.

Continue reading “Most useless machine: building elevator edition”