Computer-Aided Design

During this week I have tried to work with different software used in computer-aided design process. I tried following products:

2D raster software

GIMP ported to different OS freeware graphical editor software. It's very popular and used for working with images as one of free alternatives to PhotoShop of Adobe. I used it to post-processing all of my images used in this lab.
I started all my projects by drawing models and scanning them. Later I tried to use scanned images as background images for 3D modeling process and as demonstration of ideas of my projects.
Imagemagick is very powerful tool used from command line by me for image processing. All resizing, identification, conversion are passed via this tool. Ported to different OS and free.

2D vector software

Good free vector graphics editor. Ported to different OS and may use many formats in input and output. Quiet not very intuitive... So installed, tried, but not fully adopted yet.
2D autocad-like free software. Installed tried, but finally selected QCAD instead it.
Great free cad software. Has big community, open API that permit to script and some (looks like not free) add-ons and interfaces to simplify many tasks and to interface to machines.

3D design

Great commercial software. Initial training done inside our FabLab. But finally not selected by me for the moment as the main 3D software. Not very intuitive on my point of view.
Greate capacity procedural 3D software add-on for Rhino. Since few weeks exist on MacOS X. Main problem of Rhino and Grasshopper IMHO is that interface is very OS oriented. So the very big difference between interface MacOS X and Windows. So different that many training are becomes not useful at least for the beginners.
Great software. Many sketches exist and can be integrated.
Autocad Free software. Very intuitive, big quantity of objects.
Free 3D design tool. Selected by me as the main 3D tool for the moment. Has big community of people that use it and share knowledge. Able to import from main formats. Has a great engine and physics engine. But some bugs exists and sometimes deeper knowledge required to use correctly objects from the beginning.
Like a Grasshopper it is a procedural, scripting add-on for Blender. Many meshes and functions exists. But required some experience to work with.
Nice scripting 3D software. I tried it for simple models and it looks great.


model (draw, render, animate, simulate, ...) a possible final project, and post it on your class page

As practical work for this week assignments I decided to model in 2D and 3D two things in one of my backup projects "Science toys": Fog Chamber and inspired by Wednesday presentation - Galactic compass. The reason of working on backup projects instead of main is that I have not yet clear view of what it should look like and how to resolve many problems related to size, flexibility, non-intrusivity, waterproof and so on. So I let my main project in stand-by during today assignment and concentrated on backup projects.

During my work on assignment I did draws and scans for 3 backup projects. Then I created 3D models for 3 projects and 2D models ready for laser cut (I hope so :) ) for 2 projects (it was quiet similar so not a big change between). Below you will found more details about results.

Mock up and 2D raster images manipulation

I started for all my projects making the mock-up on paper in 3 different view - top, front and right. And scan it. This scan I tried to use in my modeling software (initially I used it as a background and I tried to tune the 3D model objects to be closest possible to my mock-up). Then I used GIMP to crop canvas and rotate images (and sometime to split them on several).Then I passed imagemagick on it to resize images to web format.

Soil moisture sensor view top

Soil moisture sensor view right

Soil moisture sensor view front

Oxymetric glove ring (sensor) 3 point of view

Oxymetric glove controller 3 point of view

3D modeling

As I told early: design of my oxymetric glove is absolutely not stable yet, so I decided to work in 3D modeling on 2 of my backup projects - Science Toys and Soil Moisture Sensor.

For the Science Toys project I was fascinated by the idea of the "Galactic compass" that I have heard during the Neil's session of the Week #2. I did not reviewed video and did not search for the source project, but I decided to realize by myself (as well initially I found this very fun and not very difficult to realize... probably I missed something.. :-) ). So I did my version of "Galactic Compass" that basically the equatorial mount (it should not have a high weight... and looks like alt-azimuth will be more difficult to realize because looks like we will need to heave gear based rotation and long wires.. ). I used for modeling the Blender tool, it's nice but I did not have 100% of success with it on animation part (looks like that I have created too thin model and it fall down instead of rotating properly).

First steps with only the controller box and fixation columns.

Final first version of design for Galactic Compass

The second part of my Science Toys project is the Fog Chamber. So I decided also to make it 3D modeled. It more simple model (I basically started by this) but with light inside.

Fog chamber in rendered view.

Also I did 3D model for the head part of the Soil Moisture Sensor project. This is a top part that will receive the sensor, network communication, controller and battery part and will be installed in the champs. At the bottom there is a place to install the sensor to capture the humidity level under the surface.

Rendered version of Soil Moisture Sensor head.

2D vector modeling

Two of three modeled projects during this week have a box at the bottom. This box is required to store and protect controller. I imagine that this box in both cases can be done using the plywood and can be produced on laser cut machine. I looked around the tools I used to understand what we can do using the CAD applications and found one that could be really useful in this approach. So I draw two models for boxes. Each time it created using 6 part that can be connected each to another. And some of parts have a technical holes that will be used to fix the plexiglass or the fixation columns or will be used for placing the LEDs.

Galactic compass controller box.

Fog chamber box

All media files (in big formats) are accessible here