Monday, July 30, 2012

More Mini-Tools

Added a couple of hammers and a chisel to the Mini-Tool section of my shapeways store.

Claw Hammer Pendant
5lb. Sledge Hammer

I'd like to get every standard trade in here. So, I'm thinking there should be a saw to go with these hammers. A trowel for the masons.
What else? Help me out here...
Paint brush and... Come on, what else.
Some wire cutters?... Pipe Wrench?...
I don't want to forget anyone. Speak up if I forgot your trade. Labor day is coming, and I want the collection to be near complete by then.

Happy August

I feel like I'm getting a little side tracked from the moving parts projects. If you haven't seen my last posts. One of the coolest things about 3D printing is the fact that you can print pre assembled devices that have moving parts.
I seem to have more ideas than I have time. I have a whole slew of mini-tools to model still. Plus the moving parts projects. Yet I find myself making a dozen or so rings Saturday morning. Just experimenting. Nothing worth putting up for sale really, except one. It's the simplest one of all in terms of design. But, the message is tops :)

It's the "I am happy" ring.
You see, August is "admit you're happy" month. I don't know who's idea that was. But I like it.
There's too many people in my generation that fell in love with being sad.
Life's not always easy, but its certainly better than the alternative!
So, when your having a good day or you've had even a small win, ADMIT IT!
There's nothing wrong with being happy. :)

Check out my shop for more cool 3D printed items.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mini-Tool Collection

I posted two new items in my Shapeways store.
They're part of the new mini-tools collection that i'm working on.

Remember, this isnt' just some junk that i'm reselling from a slave labor manufacturer. There's no billions of these sold all over the world everyday, or in Walmart.  What you find here you won't find in a store or on any other website. I'm actually designing these things myself, and they're made per order on a 3D printer.

Also, Since anything i put on Shapeways is made to order, there's the potential for customization.
These models are too small to have text added. But, if you wanted something else made just for you, let me know. Send me a sketch, and I'll let you know if i can model it, and how much it will cost from Shapeways.
It can't be too organic looking though. Models of flowers or a bust of yourself isn't going to work.The software i'm using just isn't made for that sort of thing.

The Mini-Wrench...

The Mini-Drafing Compass...

If you want to check out all my stuff, you can visit...
My Shapeways Store or
My CafePress Store

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Raspberry Pi? Omg!

If your like me, you like gadgets. But, not the endless stream of junk that gadgets can be.
100+ new cell phone models per year is too much for me. It's like the white noise of gadgetry.
Every now and then something cool comes along.

For example when the iPhone came out. It wasn't just a phone, and it wasn't just an ipod+a phone. But it wasn't exactly a computer either. It was that thing that bridged some kind of cultural gap were technology takes a step back and says why aren't we getting anywhere? A few years pass and what we have now is wifi everywhere, smartphones are everywhere, apps are everywhere and people actually using them without much difficulty.

This Raspberry Pi isn't exactly that. But, it feels similar in a way. Similar in the sense that it has the potential to change the availability of technology within global society. It could very well play a roll in advancing civilization...or bringing it to its knees. As Uncle Ben said to the would be Spiderman.. "with great power comes great responsibility". But, when I say power, I don't mean it can crunch huge numbers super fast. I mean it's the most compact and affordable computer yet.
I mean look at this thing.. it's so small it almost seems like a hoax. But it's not.

Image "borrowed" from
A pretty good review from them BTW, worth reading.

In about the size of a cigarette pack, and for about $25, you can have yourself a fully functioning PC with a Linux OS (sans screen and keyboard). So, that means every kid everywhere can have a PC for tremendously cheap. Which, is pretty awesome if you asked me. But, so can every black market criminal and terrorist out there. It seems like in every crime drama the offender used a "burner" phone, making them untraceable. Welcome to the age of "burner" PC's. But, it's not all doom and gloom. There's going to be super geeks that will cyber bust them since all kids will grow up programming the mini PC's. It's just us poor old folk that will be left in the dust. They'll put us in Animatronic convalescent homes where their robots will take good care of us. Oh, btw, this thing is freaking awesome and I want one!!!

Check out the Raspberry Pi website for more info.
Thanks for reading, and don't steal my identity with your tiny computers please.


New Pendants In my Shapeways Store.

With all this fascination I seem to have with moving parts. It seemed fitting to make a series gear shaped pendants or key fobs, and make them Available on the 3D printing website Shapeways. All of these pendants are 25mm/1.0" in Diameter. The hole for the necklace to pass through is 2mm/0.08". The main difference in all of them is the central design or webbing.

I have some "moving parts" projects in the works to be done in WSF. But, those types of projects are a bit more complicated to design and can take a little bit longer to perfect. Before I get myself off track, I just wanted to put something up for everyone while I was plugging away on the larger stuff.

So, there you have it. A new series of necklaces. Erm, wait,I mean pendants...
I can't print a chain or string for you to put it on. :'(

First up, the Circular/Spiral Series...

Then there's the more traditional tapered web series. Anywhere from 2 to 6 spokes for the webbing..

I hope you enjoy these. For more design updates, follow my blog or check my store.
Shapeways Rithstore.
CafePress Rithstore.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Autodesk Inventor Template for Shapeways

So, if your not familiar with Shapeways. They are a 3D printing company.
Most of their available materials are priced by volume in cm^3. Except ceramics, ceramics are by surface area in cm^2. Since Inventor keeps track of these two properties (volume and area). We can leverage them to get an estimated cost of our model without having to upload it to shapeways for a quote.

For the purposes of this tutorial, i'm going to assume we are not using Vault.

So, assuming you're not using Vault, It's essentially three steps.

1) Create or open a template file.
2) Create a rule to set the iproperties
3) Define triggers to run that rule when a particular event occurs..

Step 1... Create or Edit a Template
Creating a template file is easy. Just make a new file, do whatever you need to do (Step 2 & 3), and then save it to your templates directory. But, not just yet. leave it open for now. If you don't know where the templates directory is, just run a search on your hard drive for one of the template file names, like "Standard (in).ipt".
Editing your existing templates can be more difficult. In order to edit a template, you need to set your project "workspace" or working directory to the templates folder. If you are going to edit your templates, i suggest making a project file specifically for this purpose so that you don't acidentally destroy your existing templates thinking. If you're not familiar with creating projects watch this video. If you're going to use inventor you're going to want to know what projects are and how to work with them.

Anyway, now that you have your template editing project set up, open up the template file you want to add this functionality to. probably the standard part and standard assembly templates.
I'll be editing my "Standard (in).ipt" file.

Step 2... Add a Rule
Whatever path you took in Step 1, you should have a file open read to by edited.
If not, something went wrong, and you may want to jump back up and re-read Step 1 .
So, we're going to be using ilogic rules to populate some custom iproperties. What we need to do is add a new iLogic rule. So, in the ribbon menu, hop on over to the "Manage" tab and choose "Add Rule".

iLogic - Add Rule

Enter a name for the new rule in the dialog, and click okay. (I named mine "CalcCost").

For the actual logic of the rule, copy and paste the code below into the editor window and hit okay.
IMPORTANT! If you're NOT using the standard inch template, the two lines below in bold may require modification. The end goal here is that variables cmvol and cmarea hold the value in cm's.
If you're base unit is something other than inches, you will need to adjust the forumula for the proper conversion to take place. Maybe some day soon i'll update this to auto detect the base unit and adjust accordingly, but for now, just be careful and adjust accordingly.

Dim cmvol As Double 
Dim cmarea As Double 

cmvol = iProperties.Volume * 16.387064
cmarea = iProperties.Area * 6.5416

iProperties.Value("Custom", "CeramicWhite") = (cmarea * .18) 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "CeramicBlack") = (cmarea * .19) 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "CeramicColor") = (cmarea * .20) 

iProperties.Value("Custom", "WSF")         = (cmvol * 1.40) + 1.50 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "WSFPolished") = (cmvol * 1.75) + 1.50 

iProperties.Value("Custom", "Stainless")       = (cmvol * 8.00) + 6.00 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "StainlessBronze") = (cmvol * 8.00) + 7.50 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "StainlessGold")   = (cmvol * 8.00) + 9.00

iProperties.Value("Custom", "Silver")         = (cmvol * 20.00) + 30.00 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "SilverPolished") = (cmvol * 20.00) + 35.00 

iProperties.Value("Custom", "BlackElastomer") = (cmvol * 2.00) + 3.00

If everything went according to plan, there was no error message, and we are ready for the next step.

Step 3...Set your Triggers
This is the last and arguably the easiest step.
An event trigger is just a way of associating our rule with some mundane action that we perform so that our rule runs without us having to run it manually. For example, if we want it to run every time we save the document we link the "Document Save" Trigger to our new rule. Now every time we save our document our Shapeways estimate is updated. So, without any further delay, click "Event Triggers" (it should be next to "Add Rule" which you clicked earlier.). What you're presented with is a list of events to choose from.

iLogic - Event Triggers
Highlight and event in the list, and click the "Select Rules..." button at the lower left of the dialog.
Check off the new rule you just created and hit okay. Repeat that for any of the other events listed, and you're rule will run any time that event occurs. Time to Save the template, because we're all done.

Now, go right click on your part in the browser and check out your new custom iproperties!!

I hope you enjoyed this and will find it useful.
I know i do (find it useful)!!
Oh btw, check out my Shapeways store!

Shapeways 3D Printing

There's something that's just totally awesome about printing in 3D. It gets even MORE awesome when you can print moving parts. Yes, I said moving parts. It opens a whole new world of possibilities. Theres a few companies online that will do it for you if you happen to have a model you need printed, and some money to put down for it.

I first saw 3D printing about 5 years ago and it was impressive then. But it still had a ways to go before it was a viable medium. At the time, it was basically an inkjet printer that sprayed water onto a bed of plaster of Paris. After each pass the bed would move down and more powder would be added. On goes the water again, repeat, repeat. The end product though was still brittle and easily damaged. While in many cases the process hasn't changed much, the materials have.

Shapeways and ponoko both offer similar materials such as glazed ceramic, stainless steel, silver, sandstone and a variety of plastics. Here's a link to the Shapeways materials page if you want to check them all out.

One product in particular really takes the cake though. On Shapeways it is called "white strong and flexible" this is the one where you can print moving parts and living hinges. On ponoko it goes by the name "durable plastic". It's actually nylon, so it's slippery by nature. Great for moving parts. If you do decide to design anything be sure to follow their design guidelines and check out the forums regarding moving parts. Lots of tips and tricks there.
Theo Jansen Strandbeest on Shapeways

The creatures created by Theo Jansen which I mentioned a few days ago have also found a home on Shapeways. Tiny versions of the massive beasts can now be printed and brought home. If you're not interested in making one out of junk in your garage.

I actually made one of my own in Autodesk Inventor.
I was hoping Mr. Jansen would let me share it on Shapeways as well. However I haven't received a response from my inquiry just yet. If I don't hear anything soon, i may try another method of contacting him. I put a small screen shot of my "beest" below. It's still a work in progress. i have the main chasis complete, but the engine has not been modeled and attached yet.

rith's beest chassis in progress  - - -  rith;s beest leg design.

Each product has a different cost basis and setup fee. Next time, I'll show you how to set up a template in autodesk inventor to give you a live estimate as you model.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cynacism and Poor Spelling

So, I was running a search on my hard drive this past Sunday.
I was looking for a particular .ai file. So I did what most people should know enough to do. I went to START > Search (I'm on a PC if you had not already guessed that). You would be surprise how many people don't know how to search for a file on their PC. Then if you try to tell them what a wildcard is. You generally get one of two looks.
 One is the eyes glazed over, hypnotic or catatonic look.

The other is more like they may have just poo'd their pants, but aren't quite sure yet, sometimes with a hint of internal hemorrhaging. We all have our weaknesses. I am terrible with English (my native tongue). I'm sure that people have read my emails and have imagined me as a caveman behind a keyboard. In fact, a certain English teacher nicknamed me "run on sentence". But I digress...(sp?)

I never did find the file I was looking for. I don't even remember what it was I was looking for, or why. Instead, stumbled onto some artwork that I had prepped and was ready to upload to CafePress for me to open up a shop. So I went ahead and did just that. Apparently now they offer a premium type of shop on a commission basis. In other words, it's free until you sell something. When you make a sale, then they take their cut of what you sell. No out of pocket costs for hosting, etc.
Not a bad considering what the premium shop is compared to the basic shop. The greatest benefit in my opinion to premium is that you can make "collections" of designs. With a basic shop each design was its own shop. Pretty lame. I suspect that's why I never opened a shop all those years ago.
At any rate, I now have two collections online at my store.

 The standard "soul and vessel" which is essentially my trademark image. I've been drawing and painting them since high school. This is just a single anonymous soul in a single vessel.

Then there's the "Hi Zombie" which I made all those years ago and recently re-discovered just in time for the approaching zombie apocalypse.

Check out my Bio for links to my other stores.
Like the one on

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Math, Art and Science.

Growing up, my father taught me many things. An appreciation for the practical use of math was one of them. I didn't appreciate having to do basic algebra and geometry problems when I could have been playing Nintendo. But, knowing a little algebra and geometry proved to be more useful than a couple of calloused thumbs. Even more so now that I use it in my job as a designer.

To me, design is not all about making things pretty or cool looking. Design is about solving problems. Solving the problem is always my first priority. Making that solution elegant and unique or send a message is just one of the cool things you get to do in the process. Knowing a little math, geometry and maybe even a little physics can help a great deal in finding the solution. The process of finding a unique solution is an art form in itself.
Many artists use scientific process without giving science any credit. They do experiments, try new things, analyze the results and form hypotheses. Then based on the results they experiment further.

Having said all that.
Be sure to check out all the videos on YouTube of kinetic artwork and sculpture such as this one .
Also be sure to check out Theo Jansens creatures at
The photo below does them no justice. You need to see them in motion.
If that isn't art, i don't know what is.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Maiden Voyage

My first post.
I think my best bet to start this puppy off, will be to spend some time looking through my old works.
Often times looking back is the same as looking forward. The things that have influenced your life will permeate through your work.I'll start somewhere in the middle and move every which way as time goes on.

The following link is to my wifes website which I was made to design to her liking.

It's not exactly a showpiece of cutting edge webdesign but the Gerbil Color Codes page was an interesting project.
I used scripting in Photoshop to vary the hues of various layers to produce the various colors of the mini gerbil icons (seen here). Then there was the programming of the Gerbil Genetics page was even more fun. It takes the input of the parents genetics and displays the statistical probably of the offsprings phenotypes (aka. Colors) It was written in php 4 and took quite a bit of research to get running. Each gene slot controls a particular trait. Eye color, hair color, skin color,etc.. These slots are called a loci. Each loci stores two genes. One from each parent. These genes have one of a variety of attributes. For example, the human eye would have brown, blue, green, etc. Note that the genes in capitals represent a dominant trait. Meaning that trait will pass to the offspring sort of by default. For us humans it's far more complicated. But, for gerbils, it's easy peasy. To visit the genetics page click here.
Thanks for reading :)
End transmission...

Image of the mythical mariachi gerbil...
Exact genetic makeup unknown.