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!  

If I Can Solder, So Can You!

Over the last week, Dr. Sylvia Tiala taught us how to use the circuit board mill and software to create our own circuit boards. With our circuits cut out, we started soldering the components for a flashlight to the boards. I’ll admit – I was nervous about working with soldering equipment for the first time. I study communication and don’t have much experience in working with these kinds of tools. Thanks to a patient instructor and some practice, we successfully assembled our boards – and the lights worked! (Pro tip: Put the soldering iron in the hand you write with!)


It took a few final adjustments – including taking the battery housing off and re-soldering it to the board – but we were able to get the circuit boards into cases. It was a good exercise in problem-solving!


Here’s the final product. Not bad for a girl who got a C in shop class. If I can do this, anyone can!



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.

Herding Cats: FabLab Summer

This blog documents the efforts of a team of faculty spending a summer learning to use the equipment in the UW-Stout Fabrication Lab.  The long term goal is to establish a FabLab Community of Practice and broaden the impact of the FabLab Potential outcomes of the community of practice will be new funding streams and more immediately, tools (such as environmental probes, microscopes, etc) that can be used in K-16 education, citizen science, and much more!

UW-Stout Discovery Center FabLab

UW-Stout Discovery Center FabLab

Let there be light (waves): Creating a Spectroscope in the UW-Stout FabLab

Dr. Sylvia Tiala trained us on the safe use of the Vinyl Cutter and Laser Cutter today.  You can learn more about the basic machines of a FabLab here:

To keep us engaged (and satisfy our narcissistic side), she planned to have us create spectroscopes with the laser cutter and write our names with the vinyl cutter to label our individual spectroscopes.

L-R, Dr. Ann Kerber and Dr. Sylvia Tiala making Spectrascopes.

L-R, Dr. Ann Kerber and Dr. Sylvia Tiala folding Spectroscopes after using the laser cutter to create the templates.

In addition to learning how to safely use the equipment, we learned how to troubleshoot software and hardware issues!  We also learned that the laser cutter would always beat scissors in a race.

You can see below that the final products were a huge success, though my skill at transferring vinyl lettering needs a lot of work.

Next up: 3D printers and Chocolate Faces!

Spectroscope with iPad Mini

Spectroscope with iPad Mini