Monthly Archives: May 2012

3D Scan Cleanup by Tony Buser

3D scanners are great, but they create “dirty” meshes. Overlapping points and reversed normals don’t matter until you try to print the mesh on a 3D printer. Then the slicing engine will get confused because it can’t tell where the inside/outside of the model is. Correcting these “dirty” meshes involves a lot of tools, some expertise, and a little bit of luck.

Tony Buser has provided an excellent tutorial describing his process. He takes a 3D scan, massages it through several different programs, and the result is a perfectly printable 3D model.

Programs/sites used:

reconstructme.net
netfabb.com/basic.php
meshlab.sourceforge.net
meshmixer.com
pleasantsoftware.com/developer/pleasant3d
blender.org
replicat.org
thingiverse.com
makerbot.com

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Naval Postgraduate School Crushes 3D Printed CubeSat for DARPA

CubeSat is a standardized (pdf) set of dimensions for small (10 cm) satellites that are particularly popular with colleges because students can actually test their satellites in space. Normally, CubeSats are made out of aluminum. DARPA wanted to know whether or not a 3D printed CubeSat is a plausible idea. They used their Digital Manufacturing Analysis, Correlation and Estimation (DMACE) competition as a chance to test the idea.

Test cube from DARPA DMACE challenge.

Wanna see a video of a 3D printed plastic cube being professionally obliterated? Got it, and more, after the jump…

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Open Source Ecology Recruiting Team Members

Maybe you haven’t heard about Open Source Ecology (OSE) yet. I suppose that’s a possibility.

You’re going to be hearing a lot more about this amazing open source agriculture/infrastructure project in the near future. If you want to be a part of it, well, they’re making a big push to recruit team members right now! But first, the Indiegogo.com campaign (OSE is featured in this documentary).

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Open Source USB-Based Power Supply

Normally power supplies are AC-powered, and big, so they aren’t portable. They also tend to have more power and/or features than you need for most tasks. Is that fact ruining your life? Open source hardware to the rescue!

You can find this little marvel, and fund it, at Kickstarter.

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Apertus, Open Source Cinema

The goal of the Apertus project is to create a powerful, free (in terms of liberty) and open cinema camera that we as filmmakers love to use.

That’s the vision of  Apertus, which has a significant number of contributors and seems well on the way to a “modular camera system” based on the open source cameras Elphel is producing.

Prototype Apterus camera with a tablet-PC mounted on top. By Oscar Spierenburg.

Why an open source cinema camera? Well, as Sebastian Pichelhofer explains

If you look at recent press releases from big companies you might notice the lack of real information or technical details. Marketing departments are often able to spin slightly re-worked features as something entirely brand new by making up new words, backed up with doctored images and charts which focus only on the most positive changes that seem to create the impression of great leaps in development.

For industry professionals this is a very frustrating development as they need to invest a lot of time to find out what the camera actually does by reviewing the device from each manufacturer in person or relying on trusted reviewers. Some of these reviewers are approached by the big manufacturers to create demo footage or entire films to promote their gear for them…

This is exactly why I fight for open hardware and free software: honesty. We are not afraid to explain what exactly happens inside our camera, after all Apertus is also about open knowledge and open education.

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Open-EVSE, an OSH Charging System for Electric Vehicles

Everyone should start keeping track of what Google is doing (if they weren’t already).

Just a few days ago Openalia posted about Google’s open source simulation software for planning heliostat arrays. Today it’s about the hardware and software for an Arduino shield that charges any electric vehicle (EV) off of household current.

The Open-EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) is for charging J1772 compliant EVs. SAE J1772 is a specific type of connector.

So, basically, EVs get parked in the garage and plugged into a special computer to recharge their batteries. It’s important that the wall power be carefully metered out to maximize the life of the expensive battery pack. This thing does that, but it costs way less than its commercial equivalents and it’s open source.

Today we will be interviewing Chris Howell, the driving force behind OpenEVSE.

Okay, Chris, what is your background?

  • I am a Network Engineer and have way too many hobbies… Pilot, Electronics, Ham Radio, RC planes/UAVs…

Did you have any engineering experience before you started?

  • I build networks for a living. I did not have any experience in building complex electronic circuits or programing before I started.

When did you start and when did you decide to go open source?

What made you decide to open source the project?

  • The decision to Open Source “OpenEVSE” was made because the Electric Vehicle industry desperately needed an inexpensive Charging station/ Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). The existing hardware is far to expensive ($750+) and the manufactures are taking advantage of consumers with outrageous labor costs to install the charging station.
  • My quote to install the charging station form Nissan’s partner AV was over $1200. I already had a breaker in the panel and the charging station was to be located 18 inches away.

Did you choose one particular license over others? Why?

  • Not really… The licences are pretty confusing, we just picked a common license.

Were there any tools/resources that were vital to your success?

  • The Arduino paved the way for OpenEVSE. I bought an Arduino and out of frustration with my ridiculously high Charging Station quote I decided to see if I could use it to generate a J1772 pilot signal. J1772 is the standard in use by the EV industry. It is a 1khz square wave generated by the Charging Station. The voltage drop determined the EV state and duty cycle tells the EV how much current it can draw.
  • After a couple hours with the Arduino I was able to implement the pilot.
  • Other resources that were very helpful were the tutorials from Adafruit and Sparkfun. I had to learn a lot about SMD stenciling, microprocessors and opamps.
  • DorkBotPDX is great for the many prototype boards and OHARARP for the SMD stencils.

Any tools that were just really cool that everyone should know about?

  • I really like the DSO Quad scope. It has been really useful for this project.
  • The electric skillet for solder reflow is awesome.

Could you suggest one really important skill people should learn first?

  • Learn how to program an Arduino.
  • Once you know what a microprocessor can do lots of ideas start flowing.

Were there any significant changes between revisions or forks?

  • No significant changes just a slow progression of improvements and added features.

How much of the project was individual effort and how much was social?

  • The hardware was mostly individual with a few suggestions from really smart people. I brought the project to the stage that I was able to successfully charge my Nissan LEAF. Shortly after I recieved an email from “lincomatic” another LEAF owner who offered to make improvements to the software.
  • Now I still do most of the hardware, but both lincomatic and I add to the software. OpenEVSE is starting to see some small contributions from the community. Hopefully more people will contribute to the project over time.

Are you anywhere close to feeling “done” with the project?

  • The project is not done but it is mature. Open EVSE fully supports J1772 and all the same safety features as the “big boys”… GFCI, ground monitoring, stuck relay detection.
  • There are a lot that can still be added touch screen LCD, Internet connectivity, energy metering, etc.

Do you plan on selling anything when you’re finished?

Has it been successfully used in a real job? By anyone else?

  • Yes, OpenEVSE is in use by owners of the Nissan LEAF, Chevy VOLT, Toyoda PiP and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Tesla and BMW Active-E owners are currently building Charging Stations. To date over 50 OpenEVSE boards have shipped.

Where do you want to take the project from here?

  • I would like to interface OpenEVSE with a Raspberry Pi to provide a rich web interface and also a graphical interface.

What do you think about open source as a philosophy? As a strategy?

  • Open Source is a great way to get people interested in a project and to spark innovation.

Do you follow any other open source projects?

  • Arduino and Raspberry pi.

In your wildest dreams, what would be open sourced next?

  • Everything…
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Crowd Funding Dump

So, apparently the JOBS Act officially sanctioned “crowdfunding” (yes it’s a real word now).

The catch is that “investors” can only work with “issuers” through the services of a “portal” which has to be registered with the SEC. What this means is that Indiegogo and Kickstarter will have some competition and we’re about to see a lot more innovative ideas pitched (more or less) directly to the public.

Anywho…that’s fascinating and all…but what will it do for open source hardware? I dunno; lets find out. Assuming there’s enough activity (seems like a safe assumption) the Crowd Funding Dump (CFD) will become a regular feature on Openalia.

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Interview With Joe Justice of Wikispeed

Simone Cicero has posted an extensive interview with the team lead of Wikispeed.

Joe Justice of Team Wikispeed

Joe Justice started Team Wikispeed and got 10th place in one of the divisions of the Automotive X-prize. He is continuing to lead his international team of volunteers towards the 100mpg future.

Here are some highlights from Simone’s interview:

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Makerbot Expands Into NY MetroTech Building

Openalia just posted a video from Ignite in which the founder of Adafruit lists off several open source hardware companies that make real money.

As if to put an exclamation point on the idea, Makerbot is expanding into a new building.

Not only are they expanding into downtown New York, they aren’t giving up their old space in Brooklyn, so they’ll have over 30,000 square feet to make more awesome stuff. As part of the expansion they’re planning on adding 50 employees by the end of the year.

Makerbot started just three years ago. Today, propelled by a rabid base of hobbyists and makers (and more than a little bit of excellent marketing), Makerbot is poised to become the “Kleenex” of 3D printers. When these little machines are as common as microwaves we might just be calling them all Makerbots out of habit.

Related Links:

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Help Wikispeed Raise Funds for the 100 mpg C3

Wikispeed is doing awesome.

The thing about open source hardware, like the Wikispeed car, is that it costs a lot more than software. For example, crash testing a prototype car costs $10,000! That means Wikispeed needs money and volunteers to join the existing international, 150 member team. With more resources, Wikispeed can produce the next generation. The Comfy, Commuter Car (C3) will be a direct replacement for your existing car.

However, it will be able to get 100 miles per gallon and you will be able to upgrade the car’s modular components so that it can grow with your needs or new technology.

Campaign Page on Indigogo

They just started their Indigogo campaign. They have 65 days to raise the $52,500 they need to get the first practical 100mpg car on the road. Major auto manufacturers can’t even mass produce a 50mpg car for $50k.

Reward Tiers:

  • $25 – your name on the car that will be displayed at the Future of Flight Innovation Center at Boeing’s Paine Field.
  • $100 – Above + thanked in a personalized video posted on Wikispeed’s website.
  • $500 – Above + get to vote on the styling of the C3 interior and exterior.
  • $5,000 – Above + training as a Certified Agile Project Manager for you and nine others, customized to your goals. This is the same Extreme Manufacturing (XM) process Wikispeed uses.
  • $10,000 – Above + vote with the Wikispeed Board of Advisors and have your name on the next 100 cars Wikispeed produces.

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