In A Way, 3D Scanning Is Over A Century Old

In France during the mid-to-late 1800s, one could go into François Willème’s studio, sit for a photo session consisting of 24 cameras arranged in a circle around the subject, and in a matter of days obtain a photosculpture. A photosculpture was essentially a sculpture representing, with a high degree of exactitude, the photographed subject. The kicker was that it was both much faster and far cheaper than traditional sculpting, and the process was remarkably similar in principle to 3D scanning. Not bad for well over a century ago.

This article takes a look at François’ method for using the technology and materials of the time to create 3D reproductions of photographed subjects. The article draws a connection between photosculpture and 3D printing, but we think the commonality with 3D scanning is much clearer.

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3D-Printable Sculpture Shows Off Unpredictable Order Of Chains

[davemoneysign] designed this fascinating roller chain kinetic sculpture, which creates tumbling and unpredictable patterns and shapes as long as the handle is turned; a surprisingly organic behavior considering the simplicity and rigidity of the parts.

3D-printed, with a satisfying assembly process.

The inspiration for this came from [Arthur Ganson]’s Machine With Roller Chain sculpture (video, embeded below). The original uses a metal chain and is motor-driven, but [davemoneysign] was inspired to create a desktop and hand-cranked manual version. This new version is entirely 3D-printed, and each of the pieces prints without supports.

According to [davemoneysign], the model works well with a chain of 36 links, but one could easily experiment with more or fewer and see how that changes the results. Perhaps with the addition of a motor this design could be adapted into something like this chains-and-sprockets clock?

You can see [Arthur Ganson]’s original in action in the video embedded below. It demonstrates very well the piece’s chaotic and unpredictable — yet oddly orderly — movement and shapes. Small wonder [davemoneysign] found inspiration in it.

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Pop Goes The Mechanical Ping Pong Sculpture

In the waiting rooms of some dentists or doctors, you might have seen a giant metal ball rolling around in a large glass case. While it sure beats looking through those magazines, the sculpture can’t have come cheap. But not all of us want to pay high-end prices for fun toys. As a more cost-effective alternative, [JBV Creative] built an awesome 3D-printed ping pong sculpture.

The basic concept is the same as those fancy sculptures: a ball goes up, moves through some sort of impressive range of motion as it makes its way back down, and some sort of drive mechanism pushes it back to repeat the cycle anew. The design of this particular art piece is no different. A ping-pong ball falls down a funnel into a queue where balls are slowly loaded via a 12-way Geneva mechanism. An Archimedes spiral cam charges an elastic band that yeets the ball up and out of the track and sends it sailing through the air and down inside the funnel mentioned earlier. Everything on this sculpture is 3D-printed aside from the rubber bands and the ping pong balls.

What’s tricky about these sorts of things is the precision required both in printing and in design. It needs to run for hundreds if not thousands of hours and make no mistake. Making something work correctly 99% of the time is hard, but that last 1% can be almost as much work as that first 99%. [JBV Creative]’s first attempt had a catapult mechanism and he printed and tried out several scoops, but none gave the trajectory that he was looking for.

[JBV Creative] tried a plunger mechanism, but without a counterbalance weight providing the power, it just didn’t have enough oomph to launch the ball. Luckily, holes were included in the design, so it was relatively easy to adapt what had already been printed to use rubber bands instead. An additional goal was to have no visible fasteners, so everything needed to be mounted from the back. Check it out in action after the break.

It’s an incredible project that took serious thought, dedication, and in [JBV Creative]’s words, plenty of CAD twirling. It’s a great lesson in iterating and experimentation. If your talents are more soldering-based rather than CAD-based, perhaps a circuit sculpture is more up your alley?

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Mechanical Musical Sculpture Recalls The Four Muses

Music was created by humans, but often we find ourselves creating performances with machines. [Alana Balagot] and [Federico Tobon] did just that, constructing the stunning 4 Muses musical sculpture with their combined talents.

4 Muses is made up of four individual instruments, under the command of a single keyboard controller. The keyboard can be used to play the instruments live, or alternatively, can learn from the player or be used as a sequencer. It can also act as a simple device to play back music using the four instruments.

The pipe instrument uses servo-controlled valves, which allow air from a blower fan to reach several wood pipes. The xylophone instead uses solenoids to play its 13 tines. Percussion is provided by a mechanized cajón drum, using motors to actuate mallets that strike the various sections of the box. Meanwhile, hackers will be familiar with the concept of the motor-noise instrument, which drives stepper motors at different frequencies to generate tones.

Inside, a cavalcade of microcontrollers make everything work, from Arduino Megas and Teensys to NRF24s sending wireless packets from the controller to the instruments. [Alana] and [Federico] go in-depth with their documentation, highlighting the challenges they faced putting together the various instruments and showing how the final build came together.

Built with and brass hardware and sporting a variety of exquisite wood finishes, the final result is a quartet of machines that play beautiful music composed by [Alana] herself. Musical sculptures are often a great example of the artistry possible when putting electrons to work. Video after the break.

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Hackaday Links: November 8, 2020

Saturday, November 7, 2020 – NOT PASADENA. Remoticon, the virtual version of the annual Hackaday Superconference forced upon us by 2020, the year that keeps on giving, is in full swing. As I write this, Kipp Bradford is giving one of the two keynote addresses, and last night was the Bring a Hack virtual session, which I was unable to attend but seems to have been very popular, at least from the response to it. In about an hour, I’m going to participate in the SMD Soldering Challenge on the Hackaday writing crew team, and later on, I’ll be emceeing a couple of workshops. And I’ll be doing all of it while sitting in my workshop/office here in North Idaho.

Would I rather be in Pasadena? Yeah, probably — last year, Supercon was a great experience, and it would have been fun to get together again and see everyone. But here we are, and I think we’ve all got to tip our hacker hats to the Remoticon organizers, for figuring out how to translate the in-person conference experience to the virtual space as well as they have.

The impact of going to a museum and standing in the presence of a piece of art or a historic artifact is hard to overstate. I once went to an exhibit of artifacts from Pompeii, and was absolutely floored to gaze upon a 2,000-year-old loaf of bread that was preserved by the volcanic eruption of 79 AD. But not everyone can get to see such treasures, which is why Scan the World was started. The project aims to collect 3D scans of all kinds of art and artifacts so that people can potentially print them for study. Their collection is huge and seems to concentrate on classic sculptures — Michelangelo’s David is there, as are the Venus de Milo, the Pieta, and Rodin’s Thinker. But there are examples from architecture, anatomy, and history. The collection seems worth browsing through and worth contributing to if you’re so inclined.

For all the turmoil COVID-19 has caused, it has opened up some interesting educational opportunities that probably wouldn’t ever have been available in the Before Time. One such opportunity is an undergraduate-level course in radio communications being offered on the SDRPlay YouTube channel. The content was created in partnership with the Sapienza University of Rome. It’s not entirely clear who this course is open to, but the course was originally designed for third-year undergrads, and the SDRPlay Educators Program is open to anyone in academia, so we’d imagine you’d need some kind of academic affiliation to qualify. The best bet might be to check out the intro video on the SDRPlay Educator channel and plan to attend the webinar scheduled for November 19 at 1300 UTC. You could also plan to drop into the Learning SDR and DSP Hack Chat on Wednesday at noon Pacific, too — that’s open to everyone, just like every Hack Chat is.

And finally, as if bald men didn’t suffer enough disrespect already, now artificial intelligence is having a go at them. At a recent soccer match in Scotland, an AI-powered automatic camera system consistently interpreted an official’s glabrous pate as the soccer ball. The system is supposed to keep the camera trained on the action by recognizing the ball as it’s being moved around the field. Sadly, the linesman in this game drew the attention of the system quite frequently, causing viewers to miss some of the real action. Not that what officials do during sporting events isn’t important, of course, but it’s generally not what viewers want to see. The company, an outfit called Pixellot, knows about the problem and is working on a solution. Here’s hoping the same problem doesn’t crop up on American football.

Mirrored Music Machine Reflects Circadian Rhythms

Interactive artist [Daric Gill] wrote in to share the incredible electronic sculpture he’s been working on for the past year. It’s called the Circadian Machine, and it’s a sensor-enabled mindfulness music-and-lights affair that plays a variety of original compositions based on the time of day and the circle of fifths. This machine performs some steady actions like playing chimes at the top of each hour, and a special sequence at solar noon.

This cyberpunk-esque truncated hexagonal bi-pyramid first geolocates itself, and then learns the times for local sunrise and sunset. A music module made of a Feather M4 Express and a Music Maker FeatherWing fetches astronomical data and controls the lights, speakers, and a couple of motion sensors that, when tripped, will change the lights and sounds on the fly. A separate Feather Huzzah and DS3231 RTC handle the WiFi negotiation and keep track of the time.

On top of the hourly lights and sound, the Circadian Machine does something pretty interesting: it performs another set of actions based on sunrise and sunset, basically cramming an entire day’s worth of actions between the two events, which seems like a salute to what humans do each day. Check out the build notes and walk-through video after the break, then stick around for the full build video.

The internet is rife with information just begging to be turned into art. For instance, there are enough unsecured CCTV cameras around the world with primo vantage points that you can watch a different sunrise and sunset every hour of every day.

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Making A Gorgeously-Twisty Sculpture, Using Only Flat Pieces

Closeup of unique pieces that make up the final scuplture.

The sculpture shown here is called Puzzle Cell Complex and was created by [Nervous System] as an art piece intended to be collaboratively constructed by conference attendees. The sculpture consists of sixty-nine unique flat panel pieces, each made from wood, which are then connected together without the need for tools by using plastic rivets. Everything fits into a suitcase and assembly documentation is a single page of simple instructions. The result is the wonderfully-curved gyroid pattern you see here.

The sculpture has numerous layers of design, not the least of which was determining how to make such an organically-curved shape using only flat panels. The five-foot assembled sculpture has a compelling shape, which results from the sixty-nine individual panels and how they fit together. These individual panel shapes have each been designed using a technique called variational surface cutting to minimize distortion, resulting in their meandering, puzzle-piece-like outlines. Each panel also has its own unique pattern of cutouts within itself, which makes the panels lighter and easier to bend without sacrificing strength. The short video embedded below shows the finished sculpture in all its glory.

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