Gold running shoes

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My halloween costume this year requires gold shoes. I used a combination of metallic spray paint and fabric paint on some old running shoes to get this effect.

The fabric paint went on first with a small paintbrush. When it dried it was a bright yellow color and splotchy because of my uneven brush strokes:

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I was a little worried but spray painting the shoes made everything better. The spray paint is more bronze and metallic than the fabric paint. Here’s a comparison of the two. Fabric painted shoe is on the top (ignore the placement of the cans):

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The shoes started off black so the fabric paint, which was thicker than the spray paint, “primed” the shoe. Fabric paint also dries a little flexible so the paint on the shoes won’t crack. I’m using these shoes for three days of a music festival (lots of dancing!), so I’m interested in seeing how they hold up. I’ll post a before/after pic.

Road trip planning

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Happy new year. A couple years ago, the world was full of unknowns and I used to spend a lot of time planning. Not obsessively, but enough to know, in detail, the where and whens of an event. I’d scribble directions onto a post-it even though I had a smartphone, take screenshots of pages on my phone in case I didn’t have service, and go to the ATM well in advance. As I grew used to Boston and Cambridge, that feeling was replaced by something I, at the time, called loss of skill, but now recognize as a mix of laziness and comfort. I didn’t plan things as neatly, and didn’t really have to.

This is changing as I’m preparing to move to the west coast. The first thing I’m planning is my family’s road trip, from AZ to SF. I’m feeling pretty good about the planning I’ve been doing, both the plan, and the act of planning.

Planning road trips requires a firm grasp of time and space, which translates to lots of CMD+shift+]’ing (shifting tabs) from google maps to trip advisor, kayak, plain ol’ google searches, and a google drive spreadsheet. With only my start and end points defined, I found the first steps of planning difficult, since geography and time were so dependent. The thing I found most useful was knowing the driving distances between major landmarks and cities, and using a pen + paper to shift around these chunks of time. Here’s iteration 3 on a napkin:

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I found myself drawing this basic 2×7 grid over and over again. I also wanted to accurately represent the blocks of time. When I got home, I printed out a 2×7 grid with 24 smaller segments in each day. It worked well, for Itineraries A->E, but I kept writing out the hours…over and over again. I also had to follow the lines carefully with my finger for things in the middle of the sheet of paper.

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So I updated the template a little:

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And here’s the final itinerary, Itinerary I, with everything written in.

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On sewing

 

I’ve been thinking more about sewing. I had wanted a CAD plugin that would convert a 3D model into a (2D) sewing pattern.

Here’s a few examples of ways you can turn pieces of fabric into 3D objects:

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People who have lots of experience sewing have a good intuition for these kinds of patterns. They know how fabric behaves and have used many patterns constructed from similar shapes and curves. So the fastest way to stitch some 3D object is to ask someone with experience. The fastest way is not designing a CAD plugin, especially since commonly used CAD programs do not focus on modeling organic forms. It’d be better to use a 3D modeling software like Maya.

I’m learning a lot about sewing from a project I’m currently working on. Some things I think are pretty basic, but new to me: use a colored pencil or ballpoint pen instead of a sharpie to mark cloth.

Other things I’m not sure people regularly do but work well for me: If you are hand drawing a pattern, use graph paper. I’m making lots of symmetric pieces that need to connect in certain ways, and using graph paper makes it easy to copy curves. It looks pretty sweet too. It took longer than I thought it would to find decent printable graph paper, so here’s a link to 1/4″ graph paper (no margins):

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The best thing about the graph paper is once you cut out a pattern that works, you can scan it and print more copies whenever you want. The graph paper is important for when you’re making a multi-page pattern that doesn’t fit on a small scanner bed. It’s easy to align the pattern with the grid.

Aerial photography

I’m finishing up a gig at MIT as a course staff member AKA teaching assistant for 2.009, The Product Engineering Process. One of the many things I’ll miss about the job is the cool toys we have to play with.

This semester, we bought the DJI Phantom Vision 2 drone (which crashed and we added a 2+ to our arsenal).

At a price tag of $1,500 for the copter and gimbal, it’s not cheap. I think we got our money’s worth though, check out these videos:

A video editor I was working with, for this last video, explained to me that he was excited to work with the quadcopter footage because it had high production value. Why? Unless you own expensive equipment, it’s hard to film motion in more than one direction. Truly impressive quadcopter shots involve:

  1. fly the copter horizontally and vertically simultaneously or
  2. fly in one direction, and move the camera independently

The quadcopter we have has an actuated 3 axis gimbal that allows the camera operator to move it.

I liked hearing how the editor knew exactly why certain shots had “high production value.” I knew I liked certain shots instinctively, but wasn’t sure why until he explained it technically.

Pattern making in the 21st century? 3D to 2D for sewing

I’m working on a project that involves sewing and I’d like to take my 3D model (solidworks) and somehow flatten or unfold it into a printable 2D pattern. I’m sewing something that definitely does not have a pattern already and I’m running into some interesting problems I’ve found no solutions to. My model has a lot of non-linear geometry.

How do you go from a CAD model to a sewing pattern? This doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult (Apparently it is difficult, there’s actually a whole discipline to make sewing patterns, pattern making). I’ve been looking at papercraft pattern software, because that’s the next closest thing. However, papercraft does not take into account the folding and organic shapes you can create easily with fabric instead of paper. To create a sphere for example, take a look at the following:

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They’re all pretty different, right?

Here’s what I’ve found so far, an afternoon’s worth of googling. Flattery is a plugin for SketchUp that does a great job unfolding models. Really close to what I’d like and I may end up using the output with hand-drawn modifications.

If you’re using Solidworks or Rhino, there’s Solid3DTech (their website is copyright 2008 so don’t know if they’re still around) and ExactFlat which seems like exactly what I want…but it’s $30 for a 10 day trial, or close to $1,000 for the full license. Solidworks has a Flat Pattern feature for sheet metal. Rhino has an unrollsrf command for geometry where the Gaussian  curvature is zero (linear in one dimension).

There’s a few different ways I’m thinking about approaching this problem:

  1. Use SketchUp and fix up the output by hand
  2. Hack a pattern together with existing sewing patterns of basic geometric shapes (spheres, cones, etc)
  3. Screw it all and solve this kindergarden style: get some tissue paper, markers, and construct a shoddy 3D model in real life

I hope the real problem is that I’m not searching for the right key words (mapping/projections?), because I can’t believe this hasn’t been solved yet (in an affordable and/or open-source manner). I’ve only scratched the surface here, so maybe the problem is in the way the geometry is constructed itself (something something topology?), lack of integration between CAD and sewing construction methods/workflow, or the world is just keeping this from me (unlikely).

I’ll probably go with option 2 (hack a pattern together). I’m making a gift for someone (I’d like to finish soon) and I don’t have strict tolerances. There’s a lot of wiggle room and the model is fairly simple, in my quest for perfection I might be overcomplicating this. It’s a model definitely doable with method 3 (kindergarden style), but there’s something beautiful about an exact method with a polished result, something unseen to be extra proud of.

de Florez Award

Last week, the PegaSense team entered the MIT Mechanical Engineering de Florez Award Competition. I’m proud to say we won an award (second place in undergrad division) out of 34 teams! The prize money will be used to order more parts for our Alpha II prototype.

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PillowDoor

Hello. Saturday was strike for The Pillowman (we had to tear down the set and move everything to the theater department shop). I  didn’t want to throw away this door I made, but at the same time, what am I going to do with a door? So I got a picture instead.

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The Pillowman

Next weekend, April 17-19th, you should check out The Pillowman (written by Martin McDonagh, directed by Janet Sonenberg) at Kresge Little Theater. I worked as a scenic designer for the play and made the “story space” pieces (you’ll understand if you watch the play). It was my first time being involved with scenic design in a real production and it’s been pretty exciting to see my pieces used during performances!

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tools of the trade

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a sneak peak!