3D Printed Climbing Holds, Now With Texture

Technology enables all kinds of possibilities to mold our environments in the way we best see fit. Plenty of ski resorts use snowmaking to extend their seasons, there are wave pools for surfing hundreds of miles away from oceans, and if you don’t live near any mountains you can build your own climbing wall as well. For the latter, many have turned to 3D printers to create more rock-like climbing grips but plastic doesn’t tend to behave the same as rock unless you do what [Giles Barton-Owen] did and incorporate salt into the prints.

For small manufacturers, typically the way that the rock texture is mimicked is by somehow incorporating sand, permanently, into the grip itself. This works well enough but is often too rough on climbers’ hands or otherwise doesn’t faithfully replicate a rock climbing experience. For these grips, instead of including sand, salt crystals of a particular size were added to a resin that was formed over the 3D printed grip. Once the resin cures substantially, the water-soluble salt can be washed away leaving a perfect texture to grab onto with chalked hands.

While this might not be a scalable method for large-scale climbing grip manufacturers, [Giles] hopes this method will help smaller operations or even DIY climbers to build more realistic grips without having to break the bank. In fact, he has already found some success at his local climbing gym using these grips. The method may be more difficult to scale for larger manufacturers but for anyone who wants to try it out themselves, all that’s needed for this build is a 3D printer, salt, and time.

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FLASH.IT: The RGB LED Climbing Wall

rockWallLEDs2

[Chris] and his friends were kicking around ideas for a Burning Man project, and this is the one that stuck: a rock climbing wall with RGB LEDs embedded in the holds. The holds themselves were custom made; the group started by making silicone molds of varying shapes and sizes, then added the electronics and poured in polyurethane resin to create the casting. The boards for these LEDs are equipped with a central hole that pairs up with a peg in the silicone mold. [Chris] also solved an annoying spinning problem by affixing a bolt to the far end of the LED board: once embedded in the polyurethane, the bolt provides resistance that the thin board cannot. The finished holds bolt onto the wall with all their wires neatly sticking out of the back to be hooked up to a central controller.

The Instrucables page suggests a few ways to get the lights working, including grabbing the nearest Arduino and relying on the Neopixel Library from Adafruit. [Chris] went the extra mile for Burning Man, however, designing Arduino-software-compatible controller boards capable of communicating via DMX, which expanded the system from a simple display to one capable of more complex lighting control. Stop by the Github for schematics and PCB layouts, and stick around for a video of the wall after the break. If the thrill-seeking outdoorsman inside you yearns for more, check out WALL-O-TRON from earlier this summer.

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WALL-O-TRON, The Interactive Rock Climbing Wall

Last April, hackerspaces around the country received a gift from RedBull for their creation challenge. The hackerspace teams were charged with creating, ‘something with LEDs’ and let loose in their workshop for a chance to win a trip to NYC and build some cool stuff. Of course, RedBull couldn’t bring all the teams to the big apple and a few incredible projects were left by the wayside in their home hackerspace.

One such project was the WALL-O-TRON from Team Rabbit-Hole and home base for the Tymkrs. It’s a huge wall embedded with LEDs that turn an ordinary rock climbing wall into a game called WallSweeper – climb a path to the illuminated hold, but don’t touch the ‘hot rock’ or your game is over.

The hand holds are illuminated by over 300 of LEDs connected to a Linux PC. The sign above the wall is controlled by RedBull’s TurBULL Encabulator, and the giant ‘WALL-O-TRON’ letters are huge pieces of foam with five meters of RGB LEDs embedded inside.

A great project with the possibility of being upgraded in the future with more games. Perfect for the rock climbing playground it’s situated in.

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