Once this has all been selected, the computer generates the script – this can take anywhere from a minute or two, to hours for a really large, complex model. I then load the resulting file on an SD card and print from that in the printer – you can connect it up to the computer, but I have found it much
Those of you that follow me on Facebook or Twitter @nealasher will be aware that throughout the winter I read a lot of science articles – usually about ten every morning until my mind has warmed up a bit. Of the many things I’ve been following with interest is the evolution of the 3D printer. This is one of those items I’ve mulled over getting for myself, and I may yet buy one (though a quadrotor, satellite watch and underwater camera are first on my shopping list). It was, therefore, great to see that one of my fans, JeffPerkins, has a 3D printer and has been posting his progress with it on Facebook. It was even more enjoyable to see him having a crack at the prador, so I asked him if he could do a post on that here.
For the sake of coherence, I thought I would restrict the pictures to just the crab print, as it gives a better idea of the process using just one.
I have included a picture of the design stage – adding the bits together in Blender (a 3d design and animation program). I pull the different pieces in there to re-size, rotate etc and weld together. Once done, I export the final piece into a .stl file, which is pretty much the standard for transferring models between programs for 3d printing. .stl comes from “STereoLithography”, and the file type can be used across many types of printers and laser cutters.
I then load the .stl file into ReplicatorG – this is one of a number of programs that take the model file and convert it into GCode, which is the scripting language 3d printers use to make the prints. The model can be re-sized and rotated about to make it fit on the print bed better as necessary. From there, you generate the GCode, selecting things such as the speed of printing, the amount of infill (a lattice support inside the structure, 10% gives good support and saves a lot of time and plastic, as opposed to making a solid model). The temperature can also be selected here, and this has a lot of bearing on print quality because differing plastics require different temperatures to print well – even different batches of the same plastic can require slightly different temps for optimum printing.
less fiddly to print from the card and not connect the printer to the computer at all. Not all printers offer the SD card capability, unfortunately.
From there, the printer prints! I had crabby print upside-down after the first print. I tried with him the right way up but failed badly – the legs came off mid-print, things were getting warped and it was a mess. It printed well upside-down, the only unfortunate thing being that the support mesh leaves a lot of marks on the surface it touches. For a really good print I am going to have to configure it to print right-side-up and have the support structure leave the marks underneath.
But that is the joy of 3d printing! It is a technology very much in its infancy and in the experimental stage, and even an unsuccessful print is a good print, as you can always take something away from it to improve the next one.
I hope the above info and the pictures is of some use to you, and the sort of thing you were after.
Let me know if you want anything else and I can send it off. I will be doing a lot more work on crabby in the next few weeks to convert it into something a lot more like the Prador descriptions in your books, hopefully. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Thank you, Jeff.
It’s getting colder and wetter here on Crete and I’ve been doing less of the Kayaking or swimming that kept me occupied in previous months. I know, of course, that many reading this will say, ‘Well get fucking writing then!’ I will, but I simply cannot engage with it yet. As I’ve mentioned before, you have to care.
So anyway, Kostis, the barman at Revans who wears a T-shirt for which he should be beheaded on the front steps of the nearest library, seems to have a love of the superheroes.
Often he’ll wear another T-shirt with the logo of one of these guys and declare, ‘I am Batman today,’ or ‘I am Spiderman and I will collect the empty glasses with my web!’ Mad as a box of frogs. Anyway, I’ve taken a liking to freddo cappuccinos of late and these will often have decorations in cinnamon on top of the frothy milk. In Revans the decoration is simply a heart. Only later did I learn this is because that is the stencil they have in the barrista device they use to put on the cinnamon.
At one point I said to Kostis, ‘You really need to have the Batman bat as a decoration.’ A week or so back, perhaps a little reluctant to go out on the kayak because of the lack of blazing sun, I got a picture of that bat up on my Ipad, drew it on a piece of cardboard and made a cut-out. This sort of worked, but not very well.
Next I was shown the stencil for the heart and the sprinkler device it fitted in. I took my cardboard cut-out home and used this as the basis of a stencil made out of the lid of a face cream pot. This Kostis and Yorgos tried out, but the holes clogged almost at once. I realised that the plastic was too thick and thought about some stainless steel I had at home. I took the plastic stencil home, redrew the bat from that on graph paper so I could get the proportions equal, then tried to make the stencil out of stainless steel. Failure. The stainless was too hard and the Dremel drill I was using was blunt after about four holes. I threw everything in the bin then went down to the sea.
In Makrigialos the sea was too rough for kayaking, or swimming and, after one beer, I was bored. I came back to the house thinking about other materials I might use, took a look in my shed and immediately found a nice thin piece of aluminium, made the bat stencil out of that and took it down a few hours later. One way round the stencil clogged, but the other way round it didn’t. I think this had something to do with the countersinking.
So now, in Revans Bar, you can get a Batman freddo cappuccino. It may be the only one on Crete, or even the whole world!
Really, I’ve got to get a life.
I’m out in Crete now having spent the first three days here weeding and digging over the garden, cleaning the house and sorting out and passing on, either to neighbours or an animal charity, Caroline’s remaining belongings here. It has been hard, again, but I expected that. On day four I took my first walk – a six mile circuit up into the mountains behind my house then back by road. Today’s walk was a mere five miles, but if you consider about one mile of that was roughly on the level while the rest was two miles down a staircase then two miles back up it…
But more on that later. I’m going to catch up here with some pictures from my house in England and how I’ve Sullivanized it. First off here are the ‘frames’, though no actual frame is involved with these Perspex thingies.
Here are the pictures unpacked from their tube and laid out on the bed to flatten out.
Here they all are now in their frames.
And here they are up. These ones are in my living room.
While these ones are in my bedroom.
The picture of the Skinner is directly opposite my bed. As I mentioned elsewhere I prefer my monsters to the real kind. Will it give me nightmares? Well, at the moment I find that my main nightmare exists when I wake up and remember that everything that happened from June last year really did happen. Frankly I would prefer the running away from the Skinner variety.
Bella Pagan at Macmillan informs me that Jupiter War is out in paperback on the 10th of April. Copies have arrived there even now and very pretty they look too.
Here’s something from the excellent Jon Sullivan, whose website is here:
Penny Royal III is now past 60,000 words and progressing nicely. I’ve felt the need to do a Chandler-esque ‘walking in a man with a gun’ … well, sort of. I also decided to ramp up the weirdness and bring in some out-field elements. The man with the gun was the Brockle from my short story The Rhine’s World Incident and those other elements are a colony of piratical extremadapts and an Atheter starship. Not quite sure what I’m going to do with that starship, but I’ll think of something. I’m having fun here but perpetually having to go back and alter things. I guess a decent analogy of how things are running is the whole trilogy as a rope and I’m busily trying to weave together the frayed end.
Meanwhile I’m happy to see that my story The Other Gun is the cover story for Asimov’s April/May issue. I guess this means a cover picture for the story and it’ll be the second time that’s happened. Here’s was the first for Alien Archaeology in which Penny Royal and the Atheter mechanism first put in an appearance:
Today I also received a package from one Blaise Gauba who is a model maker. Here’s his website for those of you who might be interested.
This sculpture is cast in solid white bronze and the original wax sculpture he made (obviously to make the mould around) took him a year an a half to make in his spare time.
Etsy Shop Page: http://www.etsy.com/shop/blaisegaubasculptor
Facebook Artist’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/BlaiseGaubaSculptor
Personal Webportfolio Page: http://www.artbronzehardware.com/
This is the kind of thing you get for being someone’s favourite writer. Mr Crane? Well, not quite. This looks like a steam punk version of the Borg.
Thanks to this guy/gal for letting me know that Penny Royal has been spotted visiting a Norman Mooney exhibition…
NYC based artist Norman Mooney makes works that are at once physical and metaphysical. His works explore the elemental and cyclical synergies of nature. Materiality, pattern, scale and experience are key concerns within his practice. Although he works in a wide array of materials his massive burst sculptures are completely jaw dropping. Radiating from every angle these incredible explosions shimmer and shine like a star far off in the galaxy. (via)
Here’s a little taste of what some fans get up to when you’re not keeping a careful eye on them. I’ve been asked to name a starship simulator and to provide some tongue in cheek names for some airships, which I’m glad to do. The starship simulator could so easily be Schrodinger’s Box out of The Engineer (esp. when you look at that caravan). I’ll hand over to Paul Mackay now:
HMAS Absence of Gravitas is a 1969 Carlight Cassetta caravan with a ‘victorianised’ interior. We have used a back projection system to project from outside onto the interior front windows so it actually looks like you are in the gondola of an airship with the horizons:
The control linkages use miniature potentiometers to feed control inputs into the sim which runs into a PC running Flight Sim 2004 with an airship mod. There is a navigator’s station (uses a real map as location is real world correct and can plot routes using it). The engineers panel has 4 separate throttles which can all be set independently, useful if you want to chuck in a failure or fire scenario. The helmsman controls the nose pitch and engine angle (as they rotate up and down in modern airships). There is usually a captain as well.
Big brother is moving towards constructing a second sim that will be able to run several different software packages – i.e submarine, starship or airship. The problem with the caravan sim is that we can’t bring it indoors whereas the second sim (that we would like you to name) comes in collapsible sections that can be erected in pieces.
The second will run a package called Artemis http://www.artemis.eochu.com/ which is a multi station starship bridge simulator hoping you might be able to come up with a name for the starship sim. (see diagram above, its only half finished).
As I said earlier, we we run a gift shop at shows…we make and sell merchandise related to the sim – mostly my steampunk jewellery but also things like pewter cast airship keyrings, badges etc. We are also hoping to commission a poster of lots of scale drawings of various ‘ships of the line’ – all imaginary airships as if we had this whole alternative historical backstory, with the ‘Absence of Gravitas’ as just one of the fleet. We were wondering if you wanted to give us a few tongue in cheek bombastic airship names as well – think I might have to call one of them ‘Penny Royal’ if you don’t mind.
Anyway, just thought you might be interested in the sort of stuff your fans get up to when we aren’t waiting for the next book.
We have some masters getting 3D modelled in Holland at the mo, then we make silicon moulds from them and use them to cast models in pewter to sell to punters. The sims have to pay their way in the diesel etc. to get it to shows, we don’t profit much but it pays its way.
Regards and can’t wait for more writings