Biomechanics and Catapults

Last week I had a blast teaching 13 students from the Field Museum’s Digital Learning Department the basics of the 3D modeling program SketchUp. With the help of the Museum’s Fabrication Department and their two ShopBots, the students began designing and modeling catapults after only a couple hours of training.

Catapult  10561746_10152129498952273_5227711713399092135_nimage22

Creating catapults is part of a two week summer program about Biomechanics from the Machine Inside Exhibit that is currently at the Field Museum. I had the chance to take a look at the exhibit before the class began, and it’s great! One of the best I’ve seen. It combines both physics and biology and has some fantastic examples of biomimicry. Biiomimicry is also part of our curriculum at DukeTIP . More on that coming soon.

screen-shot-2014-07-17-at-3-03-07-pm    screen-shot-2014-07-17-at-3-00-02-pm image48    image46 image44    image47 The catapults are being cut using a CNC mill this week and will be launched this Friday. You can check on their progress on their Facebook page or their WordPress page. For launch day, the students will continue to use their new SkecthUp skills to create 3D printed projectiles.


3D Scan Your Face!

Here is a quick tutorial and setup for scanning with the Xbox Kinect. Yes that is the video game system, a toy!  So for less than a $100 you can now scan your friends and anything else your heart desires.


First you need an Microsoft Xbox Kinect with USB adapter. You can buy one anywhere the Kinect purchased by it self comes with the USB adapter you can find plenty of used or refurbished ones on the market.

Next you will need a list of programs and installs to actually make the 3D scanning possible. Here it goes!

Kinect Software you will need to download and install 2 programs from here. Free

KinectRuntime and KinectSDK

The actual scanning software is ReconstructMe! Free

All of the rest of the programs are needed for post preduction of tghe actual scans for 3D printing.

MeshLab is for converting the original scan file from a .ply file to an .stl file. Free

The final program is used for cleanup of of the model for 3D printing. Netfabb can do basic trim and fill of any holes that may have occurred during the scan. Making the model “water tight” for 3D printing. Free


My head is downloadable at Thanks to Mike Moceri!

Also to make scanning a little easier print out a handle at

Bridgeport Day 2012!

The first ever Bridgeport Day was a huge success!  Even the rain was not a match for the community of the future.  It was a great site to see.  The parade at one point stretched about three blocks along Morgan with only one police escort leading the way.  The Residents of Bridgeport marched on through the rain gaining momentum as they passed by onlookers that may of had no idea what was actually happening.

The parade ended at Benton house where the block party continued for the remainder of the day.  The rain may have turned Benton House’s gym into an actual zoo, yes there was a sloth, but the event was still a huge success.  The Pop Up Pup Park even saw a few four legged friends brave the weather to have a good time.  We even got some help from past 26LAB students to help set up the Park.

A day that will be remember by all and hopefully not the last!             Link to more photos.


I recently went to an open house at the revamped Fab Lab located in the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.  Fab Labs were created at MIT and now exist throughout the world.  They were designed to allow (almost) anyone to make (almost) anything.  The tools they use include; milling machines, laser cutters, CNC routers, 3D printers, and freeware.  I was able to participate in one of their shorter 45 minute programs that showed us how to create a key chain in the laser cutter.

Is personal fabrication the future?  I believe it is, there is even a new 3D printer that is now ready for space travel.  So hopefully I will be helping the next generation learn how to use these new tools.  Here is a sneak peek at a program that I am developing for the Fab Lab.

The program will teach a brief tutorial on Google Sketchup and you will get to create something similar with a personal twist.  I also used a Sketchup unfold plugin.

DukeTIP 11: In a flash of Green!

The DukeTIP Green Architecture program this year went by in a flash.  I woke up one morning this summer in a daze and agreed to take Tabitha’s position.  I’m not sure if I ever woke up because it all felt like blur.  Let me tell you about it.  It involves  three fantastic design instructors, Chuck, Jenny, and myself and twenty eight amazing high school students from around the country.

In two and a half weeks we taught the students about architecture, green architecture, sketched, planned four projects including a house, a school, a public park, and a mixed use project with apartments. They presented, visited the Smart Home and Eco Station, sketched, snitched blackberries, designed structures with paper, toothpicks, and tape. They presented, ate Loco Pops, had fun, watched inspiring videos like the Garbage Warrior, had Socratic discussions, Skyped with two professionals, Robyn from California, and David from Singapore.  We played football, looked at a near by construction site, researched, sketched some more, napped, collaborated, learned SketchUp, created a final architecture project in SketchUp. They presented, we lectured, they sketched.

Now if you want to read it again, faster this time, it may sound as fast as it felt.  Yes, I survived and I am looking forward to doing it again.  For a slower look at what happened, checkout the pictures below.

For another perspective on how it went, view Jenny’s post.