For her day job, Amie D Dansby works as a software simulation developer, creating simulations for video games. In her free time, she’s implanting the key to her Tesla in her arm, building cordwood jewelry and cosplay swords, and seeking out other adventures in electronics and 3D printing. Amie has made a name for herself in the 3D printing community, and she is surrounded by fans when she attends the RepRap meetups and Maker Faires.
She was also popular at this year’s Hackaday Superconference, where she gave a talk on the integration of 3D printing and electronics. Amie’s work concentrates on props and cosplay, which is a skill unto itself, and you only need to look at some of the old Mythbusters, the documentary footage from ILM, or even model makers to realize this is an arcane art that takes a lot of skill. Lucky for us, Amie was there to show us the tricks she’s picked up over the years to make building a one-off piece easier than you could imagine.
If you’re doing something as a job or a hobby, you eventually come up with a bag of tricks, tools of the trade, or other shortcuts to make building the next thing easier. Electronic props are no exception. If you need a circuit that blinks some LEDs and makes noise with a speaker, you’ll probably design something once and reuse it over many projects. [Amie] is doing just this, with a technique she’s calling a ‘black box’. These black boxes could be servos connected to a microcontroller, or just a battery, light, and switch. Either way, the more you do something the better you get at doing it, and making hardware is no exception.
But for Amie, most of her insights into creating custom props and cosplay equipment are in the field of library management. Amie uses Fusion for a lot of her work, and you can get Fusion models for almost the entire McMaster Carr catalog. Having this bible of mechanical engineering at your fingertips as a 3D model is a force multiplier; not only can you model something, you can also buy the part you need. The McMaster Carr catalog is truly one of the great heros of engineering, and whoever decided to put those 3D models into Fusion deserves sainthood.
More than that, Amie is using library.io, Autodesk’s ‘datasheet to Eagle part’ tool. This is also a game changer. You’ll never have to make a part in Eagle again, and it’ll generate a CAD model too. Amie is also designing parts using parametric tools, a great technique that enables remixing of designs.
As for what she’s built, you’ve got Farscape guns and LED couture. You’ve got swords from Zelda, and stuff with gears. Amie is one of the more productive and creative talents out there, and we were more than happy to hear about how she works at the Hackaday Superconference.