As cooler weather approaches, I will be getting back to s/w development on my Xbee control system and doing some more character modeling for 3D printing. The Xbee stuff works quite well, however there are only hooks in for the configurable portions. The Attiny 1634 processor has 256 bytes of eeprom for non-volatile storage, I want to leverage the code into getting the various control limits and settings from this instead of hard-coding everything per device. I will also implement a new network message to program the client devices via a web page interface, this should make setup and tweaking of each device much more user friendly.
As for the 3D character modeling, I have found a potent set of freeware tools that I am currently working through the learning curve on. In particular Blender has a somewhat non-standard interface but once you get the hang of it, not too bad. (see various posts below for more reading on this). It has some really neat options too, including cloth physics (draping clothes over 3D people, etc) and can also load bvh motion capture files to apply animations to your creations. While I don’t specifically use animations for my 3D printing, selecting a single frame as a basis for a pose is quite handy. Make Human is the other freeware package, it’s learning curve is actually quite small. You just move a set of sliders to create human 3D mesh objects, you can select gender, age, weight, height, etc, quite cool.
Another hobby/business that is coming along well is the airplane. One Seven Two Mike Echo now sports a newly overhauled 320-E2D engine with new mags, a startek starter and the 160hp STC upgrade. She really flies great now, MUCH noticed improvement in performance and a few more knots in cruise. Really sweet. Now she just needs to rent rent rent so I can pay for all that! ha.
I am also trying to finish up the first section of my outdoor train layout, I have the frame built and am currently experimenting with concrete scenery shell techniques (ala Disney magic mountain) and it’s coming along nicely. I don’t have much time left before the cold will become too much to cure the concrete (actually sand/topping finish mix) so I’m putting most of my effort there. My plan is to get the basic scenery shell done and lay the track into the ballast so I can do some research on how the whole thing survives the winter. Ah, engineering, I do love it so!