Three Lakes, Wisconsin – First K-12 Fab Lab in Wisconsin

Mary Hopkins-Best, Randy Hulke, Chancellor Bob Meyer, and Sylvia Tiala were invited to by Dr. Steve Yahr to the Three Lakes School District’s ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.  This is the first K-12 Fab Lab in the state of Wisconsin.  See the News 12 story and video at:


Kinect Scanner Works with New Graphics Card!

Progress has been made.  Yesterday I installed the new graphics card that the Discovery Center ordered for us.  It was an easy install and the Kinect Scanner is working great.  We now have the ability to scan at the macro level all the way down to small.  Who wants to tackle the micro – level scanning??

Better but not good enough

I was able to download Autodesk’s Meshmixer which is compatible with 123DCatch and repairing 3D scans before printing.  I think you can also draw from scratch if desired.  Theoretically I could repair the scans of myself but note that my face really isn’t that clear.  It is interesting to note that the texture of my jeans and shirt was captured.  We need to find a better way to scan people – quicker with less time making repairs and more accurate features. 

Beam Me Up Scotty!

Today I tried once again to take pictures of myself and upload them into 123D Catch.  I did a couple of things:

  • Pictures were taken outside in the sun
  • Photographer stood back about 15 – 20 feet and walked around me
  • I taped sticky notes in various shapes to my clothes and face acting as a reference point

There still may be some tweaks but this is definitely a step in the right direction.  I will be doing more work with the image and seeing if I can clean up the mesh and perhaps do a 3D printed version of myself.


Using 123D Catch

Using 123D Catch

Kitrina, Anne and I are working to get scans of people printed on a 3D printer. We have had some luck with inanimate objects but not so much luck with scanning people. Photo A shows one of 32 pictures taken of a fountain in Prague. We are using 123D Catch (item B) to process the photos into a 3D model. This has required us to download 123D catch to our laptops. It still requires an Internet connection for processing. The 3D model is then trimmed by generating a mesh, shown in C. Finally, the object is sent to a 3D printer as shown in D. The process seems fairly simple but there are some tricks we have learned. They are as follows:

1. Take at least 20 photos
2. Make sure the subject is lit well on all sides.
3. Distance from camera to subject makes a difference – We will be trying 20 feet or so in the next trial. A four foot distance was too close as even the most minor movement blurs the image and the final stitching for the photograph.
4. You need to select an object and create a mesh twice for good rendering. The first time you select an object the item is trimmed well. However, material behind your object of choice is still rendered. Rotate around your view by 90 degrees or more and select and trim a second time. This removes extraneous background (see excess in view C) that you don’t want printed.
5. We will be looking at printing a final version of the fountain directly to the Maker 2X in upcoming sessions. We are interested in knowing if we can print directly from the pop-up in 123D Catch or if we need to download the Makerbot printer drivers.

Using the Makerbot software with 123D Catch seems like a simple enough process if we are able to get our scanning technique more refined.

Community of Practice: Community of Support

Last Thursday was an exciting day for me. Kitrina Carlson and Anne Kerber showed up to help facilitate a workshop of 20+ science teachers who were in the Fab Lab for a Thursday morning session.  Several weeks ago Anne and Kitrina were learning to use the laser engraver and the vinyl cutter as newcomers to the Fab Lab.  On Thursday they helped set up, troubleshoot, and run the machines as well as provided guidance and instruction to these science teachers.  We had the teachers make the spectrascope project we all built earlier ( and .  It was a success.  All of the teachers were able to get their spectrascopes to work     We are moving from a community of people who are being introduced to machines and their capabilities to a community of individuals who are able to operate, troubleshoot, and innovate in the Fab Lab.  It is truly exciting to see the beginnings of a cadre of people who are all able to teach and support other learners in the Fab Lab.  We are building infrastructure.  Thanks Anne and Kitrina!  

Tailor to the Audience

This is the second training session I have done in the Fab Lab.  The first was a session was completed in the summer of 2013 with a general audience ranging from high school students to business/industry representatives. Fab Lab instructors/managers came up with a set of generic projects to highlight the machines.  The audience for this learning community is different.  We are a group of faculty members all interested in a “science” as the theme to promote our expertise and interests.  In some ways this makes training easier as the projects that are used for training are selected in the hopes they will be of interest to all involved.  On the other hand, there is some pressure to pick projects that are relevant yet applicable to a wide variety of technical and scientific backgrounds.  So far everyone seems content.