This is not real: lifelike renderings from Eagle files

Look at it. Just look at it! This board is a lie. It doesn’t exist (at least not what’s seen in the image here). Instead this is a lifelike rendering made from Eagle CAD files.

We’ve already seen that it is rather easy to pull Eagle CAD files into Google SketchUp thanks to the EagleUp package. You’ll get a 3D model that looks quite nice but it’s hardly photo-realistic. This process starts exactly the same way. But you’re going to want to process the SketchUp file one more time.

A program called Kerkythea does this for you. It’s an open source project aimed at producing realistic renderings. It has a plugin which will process any SketchUp model and apply the textures and shadings that look so wonderful in the image above. It’s not a one-click process, but reminds us of the mountain of options you’d find in a program like Blender3D. You’ll need to map out settings for each different material you’d like to map, but the guides found at the link above do a good job of showing how it’s done.

EagleUp pulls your PCBs into SketchUp

[Karl] wrote in to tell us about a software package called EagleUp that will import your Eagle CAD PCB designs into Google SketchUp. It bridges the gap between the two using the open source image processing software ImageMagick.

As you can see above, you’ll end up with a beautifully rendered 3D model of your hardware. This is a wonderful way to make sure that your enclosure designs are going to work without needing to wait for the PCBs to arrive from the fab house. It is available for Windows, OSX and Linux (although the last time we tried to run Sketchup under Wine nothing good came of it — perhaps it’s time to try again).

In [Karl’s] case, he’s working on an Arduino compatible board based around the Xmega. He mentions that EagleUp is a great way to get an idea of how component placement will end up, and to see if the silk screen layer is going to turn out well or not. Here’s a link to one of his test designs.

Importing PCB layout into Google Sketchup

If you’ve been spending hours with the digital calipers while designing enclosures for your circuit boards there may be a better way. [Phil] tipped us off about a new software package that will let you import PCB layout files into Google Sketchup. This way you can start working on the enclosure in CAD before you’ve populated your first board. Of course this adds to the pain of realizing there’s an error in your layout, but what are you going to do?

The free software was developed by RS Components, a European component distributor. It takes IDF files, which can be exported from most PCB design software, and converts them to a format compatible with Sketchup, Google’s 3D design software. For those who enjoy a very dry demonstration video you won’t want to skip seeing what we’ve embedded after the jump.

We’re kind of surprised that this hasn’t already been done. If it has, leave a link in the comments.

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Autodesk enters the hobby market

Autodesk aims to enter the hobby market with its offering of Autodesk 123d. If you’ve ever been spoiled by a nice CAD suite like Solidworks, Pro-E, or Inventor it becomes readily apparent that the free offerings don’t come anywhere close. At first Autodesk 123d seems to be entirely a Google Sketchup clone, and in some ways it is. Though, after a bit more exploring, the software offers some pretty advanced features, such as assemblies and constraints . All worries about it being windows only and closed source aside, it’s pretty cool that a big name in the CAD industry is taking a look at the hobby market, and overall it is worth testing out to see if it fits into your toolbox.
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Cocktail cabinet to be proud of

At a glance you might think it’s the real thing, but if you look closer you’ll see that The Distraction Contraption is an extremely well-executed cocktail cabinet recreation that hosts a MAME setup. [Sam Freeman] took pictures of the entire build process and has posted them, along with captions, as a Flickr collection.

The project started after some inspiration from this diminutive cocktail cabinet. He wanted his own version that was closer in scale to the coin-op versions that would have been found in bars a few decades ago. He designed the case to fit a 17″ LCD screen using Google Sketchup. From there, he cut out the parts and routed the edges. The controls feature buttons and joysticks, as you’d expect, but that red cap on the end works as a spinner. He tried out a few different ideas for this auxiliary control. He found that using LEGO gears to map the spinner’s motion to the axle of a mouse worked best. To give the plastic knob a better feel he loaded it with pennies to increase the mass, bringing momentum into play. The final look was achieved using wood-grain contact paper, and custom printed skins.

Fabricating a music-controlled stoplight

[Andrew] built himself a stoplight that flashes along with the music. Unlike the traffic signal we checked in on a year ago, this one’s not a reused municipal fixture. [Andrew] imported a 3D model into Sketchup, printed out the results, and traced them onto Bristol board to make his templates. He cut out the parts, used a brake for the bending, then a combination of spot and MIG welding to complete the housing. Off to his school’s spray booth for priming, baking, and painting for a perfect finish.

The internals are what you’d expect. Each light source is made up of a cluster of LEDs controlled by an Arduino. Music synchronization is handled by a Processing script that [Andrew] wrote, which you can see in action after the break.

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CNC used to make 3D video using one camera


[Gabriel] is making 3D movies using only one camera. This should be impossible because true 3D needs to be stereoscopic, with images from different perspectives for each eye. He’s worked this out by mounting the camera on a CNC gantry and programming it to make two passes along slightly different paths. He’s plotting the camera paths using SketchUp and a plugin that exports paths as CamBam files, automatically adjusting for perspective. The two videos are then merged using Stereo Movie Maker.

We’ve embedded both a 3D video as well as behind-the-scenes filming video after the break but you’ll need the red and blue 3D glasses to view the former. It’s not too much of a stretch to tweak his methods and use this for stopped motion video where one button press takes a frame for each eye. Now, who will be the first to bring us a Star Wars remake filmed in stopped-motion 3D using the original action figures? Continue reading “CNC used to make 3D video using one camera”