Hunkered Down

I created this art piece for my Sculpture class Fall 2013. The project was to make piece from found/made objects that had a deeper meaning. I decided that I wanted to make my entire project from scratch and I wanted to use the 3D Printer to create some of the elements. I drew inspiration from my own life and ended up making a deeply personal piece. The name of the piece is “Hunkered Down.”

The supporting “C” frame of the piece is made of extra strength cardboard. I needed something that could stand on its own and support the weight of 3D printed pieces on top. I hand sew the 21 individual pillows and affixed them with hot glue. The two figures are 3D printed. I had to sand, spray paint a white base coat, and hand paint the figures in acrylic to get the look I wanted. The tree on top is also 3D printed, sanded, base coated, and hand painted. I found that sanding and applying a white base coat of spray paint is the only way to get the plastic to take acrylic paint smoothly. I wound rope to make the noose and made each individual tag on the tree from card stock and jump rings.

This piece is supposed to reflect the coping mechanisms children employ to shield themselves from domestic abuse. The two figures, one small and one large, represent siblings together making lemonade out of lemons. The pillow fort/bunker represents barriers children create to escape from all the bad. The tree represents family and on each tag hung on the tree is a word that represents parts of life that become corrupted when a child is not raised in a stable home. The noose around the tree simply means that family can be a source of great anguish and pain that could lead to death.

3D printer enhancement

My Innovation house project is the hardware portion of my research into extending the functionality of 3D printers. For further information you can visit the project website at

Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2
Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2

Three dimensional printers have taken off in the past three years, and home models are now able to make intricate and interesting designs. As professional- and consumer-grade versions increase in popularity, extensibility will need to be addressed. This project explores the idea of expanding the normal 3D printer and adding a second range of motion. To test the feasibility of this I have built A electromagnetic crane attachment capable of inserting objects into a printed object.

Version 1 of my machine connected to the MakerBot Replicator 2
A side view of the crane arm and how it goes into the printer

The crane is based of the Shapeoko machine but features several modifications includingi a enlarged work area, a lighter frame and most importantly an arm capable of holding several tools. The first tool implemented was the electromagnet but others could easily be used. Development has begun with the Makerbot Replicator 2 but will include other 3D printers in the future. Here is a demo of the two machines functioning together.



Joystick Gaming Chair

The inspiration behind this project was to create an alternative controller to explore virtual environments, particularly to help increase the sense of immersion in that environment.  As an extended motivation, it can also be used by people who might not be able to easily use more traditional controllers, such as a keyboard and mouse, or a console controller.

This chair builds off of the work by SparkFun, and their design of a joystick, which implements two potentiometers to collect analog data about the rotation about X and Y axis.


Using XBee Modules (seen below), the chair will be able to send the movement data over a wireless network to the main computer using a Fio micro controller and an XBee USB Dongle (Nickels for scale because no one ever uses them).

Fio MicroController20140207_18224920140207_182541

With this, the joystick housing for the chair still needs to be constructed.  It should look something like the following which is based on the joystick listed above:


I have decided that a series of wood, screws, and springs would work best to modify an office chair into the joystick chair.


This chair model was chosen for it’s simplicity and the fact that it was not already pre-made, so it would be easier to modify.  Below are all of the materials I have bought to construct the joystick.  A few springs and hooks should work to keep the chair upright when not in use.  As it seen in the left image, the chair’s base is is not attached yet, so a new base for the joystick will need to be creates, as well as a new place to attach the original base.


  Materials 1    20140207_181840

For wood I decided to go with Aspen for the planks (because it was cheap and the signs at Lowe’s said that it was good for furniture) and Popular wood (what ever that means) for the dowel, which will provide the actual stick for the joystick.  As you can see from the image below, the wood will need to be cut before it can be used.  Once the wood it cut I will need to print more components so that it will act like the joystick detailed above, as well as be able to use the potentiometers.


For future, I will need to build the joystick housing and attach it to the chair.  I will also need to solder the components together where needed and finish programming the chair to work with the computer.

I will provide more updates once building begins.


The Replicator Replicates

Stetson library now has two 3D printers available for student use. If you would like to use one of these printers ask at the circulation desk. Although they are Makerbot products like the one at Innovation House, they are slightly different. These are the Makerbot 2X machines, which feature dual filament extruders but with a slightly smaller build plate. Also note the hour restrictions in the attached photo. Still, they are there to be used, so go nuts on them. When you get kicked out you can always come back to Innovation House on the sketchy side of campus.

library_printers1 library_printers2


The inspiration of this project was to create a self balancing system using a Raspberry Pi computer as the main controller of the entire robot. It was the result of a class project in Dr. Hala ElAarag’s Operating Systems. The inspiration came from a BallBot designed by the Tohoku Gakuin University. The robot showed a smooth transition throughout its balancing period, moving the ball by using 3 omni wheels at 120 degree angles. A video of the Robot is shown below:

The RapiBaBot was designed as a robot that balances itself (a basic reflex agent). The RapiBaBot uses a Raspberry Pi as the main control unit, a Polulu MinIMU-9 v2 Gryo, Accelerometer, and Compass, Big Easy Stepper Motor Driver from Arduino, and the Nema 17 stepper motors. The housing was used from an old Erector set found in Kyle Campbell’s attic, the wheels are off of a Traxxas rc car, and basic bread boards are used to connect the Raspberry Pi with the sensor and the stepper motor drivers. To connect the Nema motors with the wheels a axle was 3d printed and placed over the metal shaft of the motor. The wheels were then screwed on to the 3d printed axle.

The RapiBaBot baisically reads an output from the Polulu sensor and decides which direction it will spin its motors based off of that output. In a more in depth sequence the RapiBaBot reads the output of the sensor, uses a digital filter called a Kalman filter to remove all of the white noise from the output, and then sends the output of the Kalman filter to the PID controller. The PID controller decides then what wheels to spin based off of the location the RapiBaBot and where the RapiBaBot is at currently.



The RapiBaBot functioned fairly well, resulting a automated self-balancing robot. Issues occured usually when soldering became a problem, many boards were fried and ruined from that. Future improvements might include a system that is a self learning/balaning robot. Also many beards resulted from this project.

Announcing the Innovation House Prize

The Innovation House Prize recognizes the most effective use of the facilities and tools at Innovation House by its members. During the spring, 2014 semester members are invited to compete for a prize by posting details of projects they have been working on at Innovation House during the 2013-2014 academic year to the Innovation House blog. Postings meeting the requirements for the prize will be eligible for one of four $100 awards. The prizes will be announced at an Innovation House reception during the Stetson Showcase on April 15, 2014.


  1. A submission must represent one or more projects with a substantial amount of work completed at Innovation House during the 2013-2014 academic year. Submissions must come from student members of Innovation House.
  2. A submission consists of two to four postings on the Innovation House blog describing and illustrating the project(s). Each posting must be at least 250 words and include at least two pictures or diagrams. The first posting must be completed between January 13, 2014, and February 17th, 2014. At least one posting must be completed after March 10th. The deadline for all postings constituting a submission is April 7, 2014. Each posting that is part of a submission must have the “IH Prize 2014” category checked.
  3. While the prize will be awarded based on the postings to the Innovation House blog, the physical components of the submission will be examined by one of the judges to verify the claims made about them in the postings.
  4. The postings that comprise a submission should address the following:

A. What was the purpose, intent, or inspiration of the project(s)?
B. How does it build on the work of others? (links are appropriate here)
C. What are the original aspects of your project?
D. What were the materials used and what was the process of construction?
E. What set-backs, failures, or dead-ends did you encounter?
F. How does the final version operate and how well does it meet your original goals?
G. What improvements or enhancements could be developed in the future?


Criteria for Judging

30% Completion of the requirements for submissions
20% Effective use of Innovation House & its equipment
25% Originality and innovativeness of the project(s)
25% Quality of the writing in the submission posts

To submit a posting to the Innovation House blog, log in with your Stetson ID and password at:

Send all questions about the prize to Bill Ball at

Announcement teaser and updates

A major announcement about Innovation House will be posted to this blog on Monday, 1/14/2014. Consider yourself teased.

In preparation for the Spring semester I have made a couple updates to the 3D printing setup. The red laptop connected to the Makerbot had died (after many years of dedicated service). The graphics card is failing. If you have any personal files on that laptop please transfer them off during the first week of classes. Then it will be fed to the wolves.

I have set up a new laptop to run the printer. It should boot into the administrator account, from which you can run the MakerWare application (the one with the “mw” logo). Please do not clutter the desktop with files. It is running Ubuntu 12.04. The administrator password is “digital” if you need it.

Since the build plate that came with the machine is getting pretty beat up, and Makerbot does not sell replacements, I decided to try to fab something. I bought some scrap 3/8″ lexan off ebay cheap (enough make 3 build plates). After lots of carefull sawing, and a bit of cursing, it seems to work. This new build plate is thicker, stronger, and much more scratch resistant than the original acrylic one. Please be careful removing it and inserting it. Start with the back clip and gently push it into place. It’s a very snug fit and I don’t want to break the clips. Although lexan is very tough, it can be scratched so let’s see how long we can keep this one from getting scratched up.

If you want to use the old build plate, I will leave it by the printer. Remember that you will need to re-level the axis if you switch from one plate to the other. I think you will like the new one much better, but I have not tried it with any really large or long prints.

The white board is accumulating a lot of warnings born of anguish. Is this our wailing wall?


The case of the phone cases

After playing it safe on the first couple of attempts at vacuum forming, a couple members gathered up their courage and put their phones on the machine. A couple of nice phone cases were the results. I’m not sure I’d drop melted plastic directly on to my phone, but it was fun to watch and I guess all’s well that ends well.


Innovation House pulls up limp


[update: power fully restored on 11/14, 3D printer working on shorter jobs--haven't fully investigated the problem on long jobs yet]

I sent the following e-mail out to all registered users of IH today:

We are having a couple of issues at Innovation House that I need to notify you about.
1. There seems to a partial power outage. This is affecting the outlets in and near the closet. Unfortunately this includes all network capabilities (including the dropcam). I put in a call to facilities to work on it (after I checked the breakers of course).
2. The makerbot 3D printer is giving thermal shutdown faults on long print jobs. We have started working with Makerbot to sort this out. I tried a 20 minute print and it was fine. Anything over a hour may not finish until we get this fixed.
I will send another e-mail when these problems have been resolved.
Bill Ball

Things happen and I hope to have a 100% operational death star again soon.



Vacuum Forming — Does it Really Suck?

It’s time to play with vacuum forming. Below is a poll. Pick your favorite date/time and I will get back to everyone with the final choice. All you need to bring with you is some roughly mound shaped object smaller than 12″x12″ that you want to pull a mold from. We will be draping melting plastic on it so no (live) body parts or highly perishable items. Or just show up and look for found items. Some ideas can be found in my earlier post .

Also it’s a good chance to get your lab safety check-off and basic tool briefing if you have not done that yet.

[update: workshop scheduled for Wednesday, November 20 at 4 pm]

If I can find my can of Instamorph we will play with that as a bonus.