Here’s a little project that we’ve been working towards for a long time: a custom-painted leather flight jacket (“bomber jacket”) featuring the “Classic Lego Space” logo. (Yes, I totally spent years serving in the Lego space corps!) And, if you’ve ever wanted to make your own painted leather jacket — whatever the theme — here’s how to do it.
In our recent article, The Making of the WaterColorBot, we walked through the manufacturing process of the WaterColorBot, in which we make use of a number of specialized jigs, with varying levels of complexity. We also left a teaser:
“The winch is also assembled from laser-cut wooden parts. The lower part has the shaft collar that mounts to the motor shaft, and the upper part has two halves that disassemble for cord management. It turns out that the winding-drum part of the winch needs to be quite round and concentric with the motor shaft for smooth operation– smoother than we can get with the laser. We solve this with our very-most-complicated assembly jig….”
And here it is.
By popular request, we are releasing the design files for our famous 555 Footstool project.
The design is made from 23 pieces of 1/2″ hardwood plywood, laminated together, in a sort of manual 3D printing process.
While in the course of a recent project, we ended up needing a machine to perform a particular operation. The operation was one that falls squarely into the (rather narrow) set of things that you would expect a “Dremel drill press” to be ideal for. And so (1) we got one, (2) found that it wasn’t very good and then (3) found an excellent alternative: The Drill Press Plus by Vanda-Lay Industries.
Despite what you might guess from the name, our Egg-Bot kit is not just for eggs. In fact, it turns out to be a pretty freaking amazing machine for decorating and personalizing your own Christmas ornaments!
Today we’re releasing the “Eggbot Holiday Super Pak” — a set of Eggbot-ready holiday ornament designs to give you a head start. The set includes the designs above and many more. It’s free, available for download here (2.2 MB .zip file), and will be periodically updated as we add more designs.
Read on for some additional tips and tricks for using ornaments in the Eggbot!
We’re wrapping up this week’s updates on the WaterColorBot project with some notes about software and documentation.
Getting Started with WaterColorBot
One of the most important parts of the WaterColorBot’s documentation is our booklet “Getting Started with WaterColorBot.” The booklet covers the process of assembling the WaterColorBot kit, basic usage, an overview of software options, and a host of tips and tricks. It’s available on our documentation site in PDF format.
We’ve put together a setup video, walking through the steps of putting together the WaterColorBot kit. The video is strictly optional, and covers much of the same ground that the booklet does. You can watch it at http://watercolorbot.com/setup.html, or find it linked from our documentation page.
There are, at present, three primary applications that you can use to control the WaterColorBot, each of which has unique advantages.
The simplest of the three programs is RoboPaint RT, which is the one that we featured in our Kickstarter video. RoboPaint RT is a “real time” application that allows you to paint with the WaterColorBot. It’s straightforward and manual: Click on a color in the paint palette to change to that color, click on the water to dip the brush in the water, and drag the brush to paint on your paper.
With RoboPaint RT, you can also replay your drawing to make multiple copies, and save the file to open up and print again later. This program can be a lot of fun to play with and is a great way to get acquainted with the WaterColorBot. For those with good artistic skill, it can also be a remarkably powerful program.
Next up is RoboPaint, another stand-alone application written by the WaterColorBot team. In RoboPaint, you can open existing artwork in SVG format, snap the colors to your paint palette, and paint the document. It also has a rudimentary edit mode that lets you create new drawings to print. If you’re starting with existing SVG artwork, RoboPaint is generally the best of the three programs to use for a few different reasons. Most importantly, it’s good at automatically filling in large solid regions of a painting.
Inkscape, with extensions
The third primary application is Inkscape, a superb, free vector graphics editor, for which we have written an extension (a plugin) to control the WaterColorBot. Our extension provides fine grain control over exactly what will be painted, but more-or-less requires that you create the artwork within Inkscape to take full advantage of the features.
Above, the drawing used to make the Robo-painted thank you cards that we wrote about earlier this week.
Inkscape is also capable of importing artwork in PDF format (as well as tracing bitmap graphics to some extent), and saving as SVG graphics that can be used with RoboPaint. If you’ve ever used an Eggbot (and its Inkscape based driver) you might want to start here, before trying the other apps.
And if you like to code…
For developers (and people who just like to tinker with code), there are additional options:
- Direct serial control. The “EBB” motor controller board used on the WaterColorBot can be independently controlled from any environment that can send serial data to your USB ports. Its command set documentation is here.
- The RESTful API. RoboPaint includes the “CNCserver” API for WaterColorBot, documented here. You can use this interface to control the robot locally (from your computer) or remotely (from anywhere on the internet, if you enable the remote option within RoboPaint and tell the other computer what your IP address is). Currently this is a low-level API; we are working on a higher level version where you can simply send an SVG file for RoboPaint to process and paint.
WaterColorBot kits are shipping now, and we are still taking pre-orders for December shipment.