Sculpting in VR


My wife sells 3D printed sterling silver jewelry (Nün&Noot). She currently uses a combination of clay and digital sculpting tools to design her very organic pieces.


We recently had the opportunity to try sculpting on VR, using the Vive and Kodon, which was the only VR sculpting app I could find. Kodon has a lot of promise, but it’s very early stage and lacks some crucial features. I really hope they keep working on it and it matures into a productive tool. Anyway, it was seriously fun.

Here is a video of my wife in action.





How to digitally produce a long exposure picture without a tripod or ND filters

Lets say you hiking in the Canadian wilderness and come across a fantastic waterfall. Of course you don’t have a tripod with you because they are big, heavy and generally a drag. Long exposure shots of waterfalls are fantastic, while regular shots are mostly boring. What to do? Here is the solution.

Step 1 – Shooting

Set your camera to manual exposure time, aperture and white balance. Select a shooting mode that will allow you to take many sequential pictures. Frame your shot, and take 20 to 30 pictures. The more the better, but no need to go crazy. You can do this freehand. No need for a tripod, a big rock or anything else. Here are six sample pictures, you’ll need more.


Step 2 – Layering

Fire up Photoshop, and load all the pictures into a single image with lots of layers. You can do this manually, or using the File > Scripts > Load files into a Stack option.

Select all the layers by clicking on them, or Select > Select all layers, or Ctrl-Alt-A

Go to Edit > Auto Align Layers and Choose Auto as the alignment mode.

Step 3 – Stacking

Make sure all the layers are still selected. Go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object

Now do Layer > Smart Objects > Stack Mode > Mean and you’ll get something like this:

IMG_9984 (Custom).jpg

You can also experiment with different Stack Modes for different (and weird) results (Median also works well).

That’s it! This also works for simulating very long night exposures and star trails, and much more. Have fun.


Building a laser engraver, Part 4

I added two cooling fans, and properly focused the laser unit. The major remaining tasks are building an enclosure and figuring out a software tool chain. I suspect the latter will be the hardest part of this project.

Here is a laser cutting torture test, full power at 1000 mm/s. Feel free to jump to the end of the video to preserve your life force.


An overview of the 3D printer Kickstaters – Part 1 – The Disasters


A list of 3D printer kickstaters that were successfully funded and what happened to them afterwards.

Complete Disaster

RigidBot 2013 ,  $335

RigidBot raised over $1,000,000 on Kickstater back in 2013. The design seemed solid but that wasn’t enough. Some backers got their printers but reported poor performance and a slew of technical problems. On September 2015 the company folded, stopped shipping printers, stopped issuing refunds and ignored all communication since then. The Kickstater comments page still has people clamoring for a refund, which will probably never come.

Peachy Printer   2013 ,  $100

One of the most spectacular disasters on this list, Peachy Printer raised a lot of money (over 1m from kickstater, indigogo and government funding) back in 2013. They then went on spending most of the money on salaries and a house. Yup, one of the founders allegedly stole over $300k and built a house. They announced the theft with the most bizarre video and cringe-worthy video I’ve ever seen, including melodramatic background music and super sad faces in closeup. A few days ago they released a video of a flimsy ad-hoc printer in action, showing almost no progress compared to their KS prototype, after 18 months and $1,000,000 spent.

Pirate3d, Buccaneer  2013 , $247

Raised almost $1.5m, Pirate3D delayed shipping again and again, and eventually announced that not all the backers will get their printer. Amazingly, they are still selling printers on their website.

FLX.ARM  2014 , $1800

Featuring a unique SCARA-based 3D printer, they raised almost $90k on KS. Over a year later, there are still updates but the printer itself is nowhere close to shipping. Also, there is a reason why nobody makes SCARA 3D printers, it’s just a terrible design choice for this application.

Phoenix3d, EZ3D  2013 , $349

Raised almost $110k in 2013, went bankrupt in 2015. Very few backers got their printer.

iBox Nano  2014 , $189

Raised over $450k in 2014, they actually shipped “printers” but they didn’t really work. Terrible software, poor hardware choices, super slow. They tried a second kickstater that failed to fund.

Pegasus Touch  2014 , $1750

A kickstater From Full Spectrum Laser (a company that I have zero love for and that is very hostile towards makers/tinkers and loves DRM) ran this KS and raked in $819k. Many backers did not get their printers, those who did are reporting major issues. The company has since stopped all communications via their KS page and are heavily moderating their forums. Just like their laser-cutters, this printer must be online-activated and if you buy it used you need to pay a transfer fee just to use your device. No thanks.

David, Sculptify  2014 , $2745

A printer that was supposed to run on pellents instead of filament, they raised $110k back in 2014. Very few backers (if any) actually got their printer and the company has since quietly vanished.

Helix3d  2013 , $4750

One of the highest priced printers on this list, Helix3D tried (and failed) to make what was basically a scaled up but otherwise very standard reprap. over 100 backed, but not all printers shipped. I am unsure if refunds were issued, the company has since shut down.

CobbleBot 2014 , $299

I’m afraid to write anything about CobbleBot.
I’ll just drop these links here:

Over 10,000 comments on the KS page





Building a laser engraver, Part 3

After a run of bad luck with L-Cheapo units (kudos to their excellent and responsive support) I decided to get a much more expensive JTech Photonics unit. I bought the 2.8W laser, due to the smaller dot size (0.18mm) compared to the 3.5W, and the price difference.

The JTech unit is superbly built, their documentation is excellent and you can tell a lot of thought and planning went into the board design. At $335 I expected nothing less. There are very few players in this market, if you want a cheap laser you can buy the components off ebay and build it yourself. Be warned though, blue diode are super sensitive to static discharge and it’s really easy to destroy a diode just by holding it wrong.

I mounted the laser board next to the Azteeg X5 that is driving the engraver, hooked up the power, connected the TTL line to the Azteeg fan PWM output, and it works.

Here is one of the first cuts I made:


I still have a lot of issues to solve, I need to wire the cooling on the laser diode, which will considerably extend it’s lifespan and also allow me to drive it with a bit more current.

The software toolchain is also a major headache, the vast majority of free software for converting vector to gcode are inkscape plugins, none of which seem to work reliably (or at all). I’m currently experimenting with CamBam, but this also only kinda works, since it was not designed for laser cutters. You have to use post-processing on the gcode to make it suitable for a laser cutter. More on the software in an upcoming blog post (Part 4).


WaxCast by MakerJuice, first results

I’ve recently started a small jewelry business with my wife (NunAndNoot), she is the designer and I’m the technician. Our biggest struggle is to reduce the cost of making our items, and to do so I need to be able to 3D print the items at home and cast directly from the prints.

Enter, WaxCast by MakerJuice. I’ve tried several castable resins (including B9 and FunToDo), and so far WaxCast has been the best to print with. Detail is great, and support break off easily and cleanly. I still don’t know how well it actually casts, that will be tested next week.

I’m currently printing at 4s exposure time at 50um layers, 6mm Z travel and slicing using the terrible Creation Workshop (still can’t find any alternative that actually works with support structure).


Here is the latest prints, notice they have a few random bad layers. I’m still trying to figure out where those comes from. Any ideas?