Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Cube, Celestial Circuits and a Wild Ride

There are more than one type of crazy people in the world.  There is the true crazy that can usually be found in just about every family.  And, then there are the "delightfully crazy" that are just plain WAY out there when it comes to life.  These are the truly creative people.

Sooner or later you are going to come to understand that I not only like hanging around with those that fall into the delightfully crazy category... I LOVE to hang around with them.   I cannot even begin to tell you how these friends have expanded my world in just about every direction!

One of these friends is Steve Bress of Celestial Circuits.  And, he recently asked me to turn one of his space related designs into a functional object using the Cube printer.

I want to tell you about it.  But, before doing so, I want to give you a little bit of background about Steve.  I first met him back in the early 1980's when I needed to find a game programmer.  Astrocade, the maker of the Bally Professional Arcade, for whom I'd worked, had been among the first casualties of the early round of video game console manufacturers.  So, I'd designed some children's activities which had been picked up by a publisher and needed someone to program the various version.

In the mid-1980's I was the designer and he was the programmer for what we believe was the first professional desktop video application for the PC, which was marketed as the JVC Video Titler.  This led to our designing and programming Pinnacle Systems first video product... a video effects generator.

Around that same time, another of those delightfully crazy friends of mine, John Perkins, asked me to join him on a project for Hasbro under Nolan Bushnell's company, Axlon.  It was to be video game based on video tape.  The game's code name was NEMO and while it never came to market, there is actually proof of its existence in this video.  John Perkins found a way to embed multiple images into a single videotape.  In the meantime, Steve Bress attacked the need for multiple sound tracks (Beyond two) in an entirely new and wildly creative way by combining and decoding quarter waves.  Very cool stuff.

Moving on from there Steve became involved in the private space industry and, working with a company called Lunacorp and Carnegie Melon University,  Their idea was to put a rover on the moon that people could control from earth from motion platform chairs in museums.  Steven Bress designed the electronics and systems that communicated between the rover and the motion platform chair.  To test the electronics, a warehouse was set up with a simulated moon surface and I would sometimes get to "pilot" the small remote control vehicle that represented the full sized rover.  It was a blast.  Every rock, hole, hill and valley was sent back to the chair for a fantastically fun experience.  It's too bad that Lunacorp folded before the rover was parked on the moon.

Steve has continued to be involved in all kinds of space related activities.  One of his latest projects involves building a system that can be used by students and others to capture real-time data from model rockets as they are fired.  He needed a capsule that could be placed into the rocket and hold a  small circuit board in place. He asked me to refine his original design and print out a few as samples.

I used Moment of Inspiration to create the design.  It's fantastic for this kind of project because it is so precise and yet easy to use. Here is a screenshot of the final design that we ended up using.

Celestial Curcuits' Circuit Board Capsule

While it may not be all that clear in the above image, the capsule consists of 4 parts.  The main capsule has two halves and the halves are held together by two rings that have extensions that can be clipped to fit the rocket body.  It's fairly small and had to be printed to precisely fit a non-printed item, the circuit board.

Over the next few posts, I want to talk about are the design decisions that were made to optimize the part for printing on the Cube.  And, as usual, a primary goal was no raft and no supports.  I have to deliver the parts to Steve this evening.  So, the next installment will have to wait a bit.  I learned a great deal with this project and want to pass what I've learned onto you.

Here is the design as it will look put together.

Completed Part

I will give you one hint.  Notice that the rings look larger than the circumference of the two halves.  But, in actuality, they fit very tightly in the printed part.  There is a reason for that.  And, I want to discuss those reasons in deep detail.

In the meantime, try to find one or two delightfully crazy people with which to associate.  One has no idea where it will lead when you open your life to delightfully crazy people! 


  1. I assume the "reason for that" is the same thing I've been dealing with. The Cube does a great job on outer diameters and dimensions, but with holes, or inner dimensions, it's not as accurate. I've been in contact with Cubify, and they said they're working on an accuracy software/firmware update. I hope it comes soon. I've had to enlarge a lot of part dimensions just to make it print correctly...but it's still just trial/error.

  2. Good to hear from you Ryan,

    My next entry will focus on this issue, that is common to ALL extrusion printers. The printer cannot tell whether an edge is inner (as in the circumference of a circle) or outer (As in outer perimeter of an object).

    The only place where this can be addressed is in the SOFTWARE, in which it might possible to be programmed to identify inner edges and make adjustments for at least most of the situations. And, I don't know how that is handled in most of the software packages that create the p-code that drives the printer.

    But, it does make for an interesting and helpful discussion no matter which 3D printer is used.