Saturday, December 3, 2016

Are you getting in on the 3D Block Zoo?

It started when the better half of A Pyro Design, Heather, did her first 3D modeling in Tinkercad, a simple bunny that started as a default cube, followed later by a swan.

Then SparkyFace5 on Twitter made her own animals and took to YouTube to put out a call to action and, boy, has it taken off.

Thing is making an animal for the 3D Block Zoo movement is super fun and easy. Just fire-up TinkerCad, drag in a default cube, and you're going. You could do it in more complicated modeling programs, i guess, but if you're speding more than 30 minutes on your animal you're doing it wrong (in my humble opinion). I've done a whale and chameleon, and my sons have contributed an elephant and dragacorn, which is exactly what it sounds like. And in printing their models my sons learned about supports and how to design for 3D printing. I couldn't be more thrilled. They're now going back and iterating their designs to make them less reliant on supports!
Seeing how successful my kids were at it I think in the future if someone asks how to start modeling for 3D printing, I'm actually going to recommend to take a standard cube and decorate it like their favorite animal and see what happens.

So check out what people have done on Twitter and TinkerCad maybe try out your own.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What about variable width?

I had been printing lithophane maker coins... note to self, make a post about my new maker coins. Anyways, I was making lithophanes, the best settings for which are 1 shell, 100% infill, 0 top layers (since the infill covers that). Then when I switched to another print, a quarter top of a cylinder, and I changed the infill back to 20%... but forgot the shells and top layers settings, and this is the result.

The weird thing is the sides are just fine. Perfect in fact.

I recently saw a video about audodesk's varislice. When I saw the video I was like, I never print something so perfectly angled in heights. And then I print this thing. Ah well. The thing is, I don't mind variable height, in fact I love the idea of saving time by doing thicker layers where you can. But what about variable width? A lot of time number of shells is treated as a constant, as well it should be. Fewer shells is a theoretically weaker part, more shells is a theoretically stronger part. Theoretically. Someone should test this. Anyways, what if the goal was speed and minimizing material usage then layer height isn't the only consideration. Top layers generally handles this, but increasing the number of shells in the area could do it, possibly better.

I think this really illustrates that we aren't done advancing slicers at all and there's still a lot to be excited by.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dragon Razor video

Worst intro ever.

I had a whole custom thumbnail for this video made, only to have YouTube grab and even better one that I decided to just go with. I mean, that's a legitimate smile looking at this razor mid shave. Way better than what I came up with:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lessons from my first livestream

I do not recommend this video. Not my best work.

This video was an exercise in "Can I do it?" Can I live stream while modeling. And the answer is... no. Not yet. My current laptop does not have the huevos to stream and edit high poly video. I've got a couple of ideas, from a borrowed dedicated streaming rig to a whole new monster laptop. I'm putting together a shopping list right now, and I'll do my best to make it happen. I'm giving serious thought to a fund raising campaign. I want to do more of this, so I'm definitely going to look into it.

In the meanwhile, I gotta finish this Christmas project up before Christmas. As soon as I know the tree will work Patreon backers will have access to the models, and I'll release the ornaments as I make them. A kind of ramshackle advent calendar this year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I'm loving the MP Select Mini

I'm not getting paid to do this review. It really is just that good of a 3D printer. Has it got a lot of features? No. Does it have it's downsides? Of course. But so far it's downsides are no worse than I've seen in more expensive 3D printers, and at the price there's no reason not to dive in and get it.

Of course this isn't a perfect 3D printer. It still requires work. Sometimes you're gonna have to pop the hood, as it were, and it's going to take some work. One thing I didn't mention was the surprisingly manual filament loading process. For something you do so often it seems odd to me that you have to manually heat the nozzle, and manually push the filament through. That's the sort of thing I'd expect to be automated. But what do you expect for a $200 3D printer. There's still a lot that it does extremely well that can absolutely recommend this for. I mean it's got wifi! And the prints it produces are blowing my mind.

My biggest gripe is that at this price a lot of beginners are going to have this 3D printer at the beginning of the year and a lot of them, like my parents, are going to kind of get blocked. There are hurdles to overcome and this printer doesn't do much to help you over those. But again, what do you expect for a $200 3D printer.

I've found a guy named Tyler who is producing an excellent set of videos to get you up and running with my MP select printer. So if you need some tips, check him out. There's also a great reddit and facebook community. So you're never alone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Time Lapse Decoder Ring Video edited in YouTube

Warning: None of my comments below come by way of condemnation for the actions of any individual. If you feel personally attacked or need to defend your actions or attitudes, that's not coming from me. Just sayin'.

This video was a little bit to bump up my video library, a little bit to use some footage I didn't want to waste, and a little bit to test out YouTube's built-in video editing capabilities. Yes, YouTube as a built in video editor that allows you to take videos you've uploaded and edit them together, add sound, and even insert pictures. It's not robust, but it's fairly easy to use. However I came away from the experience with more negatives than positives.


  • Fairly easy to use
  • A large selection of CC videos and music resources that's easy to browse and add


  • No editing uploaded videos. Uploaded videos can be used in edited projects, and are whole new videos when they're done. (No fixing a crappy upload after it's out there)
  • After uploading, editing, and processing I probably didn't save myself much actual time vs editing, processing, and then uploading
  • Banner text is very limited, only 2 lines at a time
  • Monitization isn't on by default on edited videos
  • Uploading pictures are organized oddly and I can't figure out how to edit the "albums" they're uploaded into
  • Inserted pictures can't be scaled or resized, only "pan and zoom"ed
  • They pretty much ignore the CC license on the resources they provide
That last one was pretty big in my mind. (Can you tell by the bold font?) They give you a bunch of CC resources, but then do not enforce the license or aid you in even attributing the creators of the works. No banner placed for you in the video, no text added to the description, no pop up that says "be sure to attribute the creator of this content, here's the text you need to display somewhere...", nothing. I was only able to add the correct information because I purposefully sought out a piece from their library by my favorite CC music composer, so I had the license information on hand from my other videos. The average user would not do that, and YouTube is helping them no do that.

I know I go off about CC licenses quite a bit, and most people don't care about it, but I do. When a creator puts something out with the CC license on it, it's not because they don't care about what they've done, and it's not because they don't value it. Well, maybe that's why, but that's on the long tail end of reasons why someone would release something CC. More likely it's one of the following reasons:

  • Philanthropic desire to share what they've created with others
  • Resignation that a mooching audience is better than no audience
  • Hope that a brand can be built without the vast resources required for a traditional PR push
It is amazing that we live in a world where someone who doesn't have a lot of capital can use the labor of others to create something, without spending a penny, and add to the world, maybe even becomes successful down the road. 20 years ago that would not have been possible. But just because there's no cash register or bouncer at the door doesn't mean that there's not a price tag supposed to be on there and a cost to be paid. The CC license, when applied to the work, outlines the cost of the use of that item. Ignoring that means you didn't pay for something you're using, and not paying for something that isn't yours is the very definition of theft. Yes, it's not "stolen", but it's still theft.

Now, like I said above, this doesn't come by way of condemnation. Theft is a strong word, but I don't blame people for doing it, really. This is certainly a unique case where theft is so easy and so casual it can be performed without willing consent of either party. No one is actively removing a price tag. But they are, inadvertently, saying that they created this thing, presenting it as their own, that was in fact a collaboration. Again, the ability to do this didn't exist 20 years ago. It's a new problem.

But if I were condemning anyone the blame would go to YouTube for taking a library of objects, ignoring the price tag, and telling others "here, use these". That's not right, YouTube. You're the root of the problem. 

If YouTube fixes this, and I listed a few ways they could above, then this entire post will be pretty much nullified. I hope that happens.