MTG Beast Token, Day 3

March 29, 2013

beast_token

MTG Beast Token, Day 3: The head’s been joined to the body and I’ve put in some facial details, including a creepy double-pupil goat eye.

I haven’t joined the horns or tusks to the main mesh yet. Now’s the time to take a step back and consider the shape of the remaining large-scale forms: mane, tail, and the as-yet undecided hooves or claws.

90 more minutes. Why 90 minutes at a time? I usually get up at 5am. By the time I get caffeinated and moving, it’s 5:30, and then I can put in an hour and a half (more or less) before it’s time to get younger Zhengspawn up for school.

If you don’t want to wait a few days to see how the Beast turned out, here’s the blog post describing the final model.

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MTG Beast Token, Day 2

March 28, 2013

beast_token

90 more minutes in. I’ve built out the foreleg and roughed out the head, but haven’t joined anything yet.

He’s fast becoming a boar-lion hybrid, in keeping with the “badass herbivore” theme. I’ll put in tusks, horns, and a tail once I’m happy with the rough form.

The mouth is open for now so that I’ll have an easier time setting up the model for posing later.

SPOILERS: The final model is a free download.


MTG Beast Token, Day 1

March 27, 2013

beast_token

This is the first in a series of posts demonstrating how I modeled and printed a Magic: The Gathering Beast token.

I’m using a lion as the base animal, but the ultimate direction I’m going is “badass herbivore.” This is modeled in Maya.

Here’s what we have after 90 minutes or so. The goal here is to start roughing out one half of the model, making sure to keep a clean, quadrilateral-only topology so that the mesh deforms properly later.

When I have the half-model done I’ll duplicate it, flop it along the Z-axis, and join the two halves.

I’ll work on the foreleg and head tomorrow morning.

If you want to skip ahead to see what the final print looks like, see my earlier post, Father Knows Beast.


Father Knows Beast

March 26, 2013

beast_token

At my kids’ behest I’ve recently started designing and printing creature tokens for Magic: The Gathering. I made this beast token at the request of a college friend who by shocking coincidence, is playing MTG with his kids.

I thought he might find the design process interesting, so each day I spammed his Facebook wall with screenshots of my progress and a description of what I was doing.

I’ll be posting the design process here on the blog over the next few days, so check back tomorrow morning to see how things got started. Not everyone lives and breathes vertices, mesh weights, and gCode, so I tried to keep the blurbs accessible to a layperson. Feel free to download and print this model, by the way.

download

No access to a printer? I’ll print you as many as you need at my Etsy Store. A half-dozen should do it for most games.

This model is free to download and distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.


Updated MTG Cat Token

March 21, 2013

cat_token

I created my first Magic: The Gathering cat token a few weeks ago and since that time I’ve cranked out a few more creature tokens.

The original token’s base was incompatible with the new tokens, but that’s been fixed meow now.

If you’ve got your own 3d printer, download the model here. The .zip file contains both the old cat model and the update.

Don’t have access to a 3D printer? No problem. I’ll print you a dozen at my Etsy Store.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.


Dualstrusion with MakerWare Beta 2.0

March 19, 2013
TL;DR summary: The UI’s handy and the MakerBot slicer is mind-blowingly fast, but I had a great deal of difficulty getting a dualstrustion to print with MakerWare.

I opened a support ticket with MakerBot yesterday, trying to get MakerWare to connect to my bot over USB. If you’ve read yesterday’s post you’ve seen the litany of troubleshooting steps I’ve already tried. Today I’m thinking maybe I’m due for a firmware upgrade, but we’ll see what MBI has to say before I fix things that are only slightly broken.

While I’m waiting for that request to percolate through the support structure I thought I’d try a workaround: printing from the SD card. I’m interested to see how MakerWare’s new dualstrustion generation works, because ReplicatorG’s method is a little kludgey.

This is MakerWare 2.0.1.211 running on OSX 10.6.8.

I’m going to print my Magic: The Gathering Vampire and Cat tokens, because I already have black and white ABS filaments loaded. One color for each token.

I import the cat and MakerWare helpfully asks me if i’d like to put the model on the build platform. Yes, yes, I would like to do that.

cat

I can command-c/command-v to copy and paste multiple cats onto the platform, and Makerware automatically places them next to each other. This is quite a nice little feature.

Just for fun I see if MakerWare will let duplicate cats off into empty space. It does.

lots of cats

The delete key rapidly relieves me of my extra cats. Next I import the vampire. The vampire and cat are cohabitating, which needs to be fixed before I can print. That’s a simple click and drag.

cohabitation

I’d like to have a keyboard shortcut for “Add,” if anyone from the dev team is reading this.

MTG Vampires are either black or red, so I need to change the vampire’s color. I click the vampire token and then the Object button, which brings up the properties of this instance.

There’s a strange, unused text field under the dropdown menu. No idea what this is for. I can’t click or type in it.

text field

Ah. It turns out this alleged text field is a white color swatch indicating the color of the model. I find this out when I go to change the cat’s color. A label would be helpful here for first-time naïfs like myself.

It’d be nice to have a double-click on the color swatch bring up a color picker. As is I have to go to the Settings button on the other side of the screen.

I go to change the color of the extruders in Settings, and MakerWare crashes.

changing colors

So. I retrace my steps and I’m back in business in two minutes.

Exporting the .thing to a file is a single click of the Make button, and I don’t have to mess with any settings here. I just choose “High Quality.”

welcome

Out of curiosity I poke into the Advanced settings. The speed while extruding /traveling seems really fast to me– I’m usually printing around 45/65 and MakerWare defaults to 80/150.

But I’ll give it a go since I’m trying to approach this software as if I’m a n00b who just unboxed my machine.

Skeinforge is the default slicer for High quality. The slice starts OK, and then seems to hang around 66%. I’ll give it a few more minutes and then try again.

I come back three minutes later and the slice weirdly jumps back to 33%. Two minutes later it does some “Weave” business, then a print-to-file step, and finally it’s done! Total slice time, about 15 minutes.

Remember I can’t print via USB yet, I’m exporting a .s3g file and then printing from the Replicator’s SD card slot.

The first layer looks like this:

fail

It looks like some piece of software, either MakerWare or Skeinforge, forgot to take the cat offset into account when building the gCode for this print.

So I try it again with the MakerBot slicer, which slices so quickly at first I think something’s wrong. It takes literally less than 30 seconds.

I believe that somewhere between 1.0 and 2.0 the in-application name of this slicer got changed from Miracle Grue to MakerBot Slicer. This is disappointing.

This print, too, failed in exactly the same fashion, so it’s not Skeinforge that’s the problem. I’m looking askance at you, MakerWare.

So I move the cat over a little bit, to force the geometry to change in the reslice.

nudged

Also, as long as I’m here I’m going to drop the travel speeds to something I’m more comfortable with; the machine’s rattling violently at the default speeds. Here’s the result, still overlapping.

fail

I’ll try one last time with plenty of distance between the models printing at 45/65 travel rates.

fail

And finally I get something close to a decent print.

final

The vampire printed fine, but there are little bits of black filament embedded in the white plastic– I have no idea how they got there. They don’t look like they rubbed off the left extruder head, and they don’t show up when I print models with a single extruder.

My hunch is that this is an atypical dualstrusion print– maybe I had such a hard time because MakerWare thinks all dualstrusion prints are intended to be fused together and not two models separated by a lot of space. I can’t say for sure.

It’s disappointing. MakerWare’s got a lot of promise but it’s not going to be a regular part of my workflow for a while.


MakerWare 2.0 Beta: First Look

March 18, 2013
TL;DR summary: I was all excited to check out the performance of this new software, but couldn’t connect to my Replicator Dual even after extensive troubleshooting. I’m sticking with ReplicatorG for now.

This is MakerWare 2.0.1.211 running on OSX 10.6.8.

The download: the DMG for this called the MakerWare Bundle of Awesome; MBI remains lighthearted even in its mundane business details. I’m downloaded and installed in less than a minute. So far, so good.

The first thing I notice when I launch the application, even before the “What’s New” dialog, is that they’ve replaced the old gradient background with a subtle cityscape.

welcome

The software asks which MakerBot I’ll be using today. I’ll just select my Replicator Dual, now second from the bottom in the drop-down menu, and continuing its descent into obsolescence as progress trudges on.

The first thing I want to do is turn off the cityscape. I’m used to design applications that get out of the artist’s way– Photoshop, Maya, Illustrator, all these give me the option to eliminate geegaws and focus on the work at hand. I’d like an RGB 161,161,161 background, please.

I click the settings button in the upper right. No luck there, but it’s nice to be able to change my object display colors. So I go to MakerWare->Preferences, hoping maybe there’s some advanced settings there. Nope, it opens the same dialog.

I can’t find a place to turn the background off, so it looks the the cityscape is here to stay. Moving on.

Before I can print anything, I’ll have to connect to my Replicator. The broken USB cable button in the lower right looks helpful, so I click it. I get a notice that my Replicator Dual isn’t connected, and an option to “Export to File,” which I assume lets me save my bot settings.

not connected

I poke through the menus, looking for something that’s obviously “Connect to Machine.” Can’t find it. Must be an autodetect? I’ll quit and restart.

MakerWare starts up and some status boxes appear and disappear telling me that the Replicator is connected *and* disconnected. Don’t blink, you might miss it. The bot still doesn’t appear to be connected, since that USB cable icon is broken.

UI Design tip: the “sheared cable” icon might imply that the cable’s just really, really long; a less ambiguous visual cue would be a big red X over the icon.

Twenty years of talking relatives through hardware problems over the phone tells me the next logical thing to do is power cycle the bot.

The bot chirps its happy startup song and I see the same connected/disconnected status boxes fade in and out. As far as I can tell, I’m still not connected to the bot.

Sometimes the USB ports on my laptop get a little fussy, so I’ll try moving the cable around. Same results: still a disconnected Replicator.

So I click the Help button. It’s all UI help. Useful, no doubt, but not in my present circumstance.

help screen

I had some trouble with MakerWare 1.0 and the conveyor background services, so I’ll try turning those off and on again. No good.

Now I reach way way down into my troubleshooting bag of tricks, into the late 80’s. Turn everything off and on again, and restart from scratch.

Still no connection between the software and the hardware. MakerBot’s support page tells me to go to Services->Restart background service. I’ve done that already, but OK, let’s give it another go.

Still no connection. Just to make sure I’m not a complete idiot, I quit MakerWare and hop over to ReplicatorG to see if I can connect there. ReplicatorG connects instantly, so this is definitely a MakerWare problem.

Ok, big guns. Go to Terminal and ps -ef | grep conveyor. Find the conveyor process and kill -9 it, so I can restart it from MakerWare. This is the Unix equivalent of taking off and nuking the site from orbit.

Go back to MakerWare and restart the service. MakerWare crashes after a few seconds of spinning beachball. Maybe kill -9 was a bit much.

Restarting shows me a services error.

services error

ReplicatorG still works.

I try an uninstall/reinstall, using the uninstaller provided in the disk image. I’m back to the broken USB icon again.

Meh. I’ll try a workaround tomorrow, printing from the SD card so I can evaluate the UI and printing experience. In the meantime I’ll get in touch with MakerBot Support and see if we can’t figure out what’s up.