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Constructing a Canopy Cruiser

July 23, 2014

squeeb bikemount

Ever wanted a cool canopy cruiser on the playa but you can’t weld or didn’t want to permanently alter or bike?  I designed this little rig to give me a solid front mount point that doesn’t turn with my handlebars.  Used in conjunction with clamps mounted on either side of the book rack on the back of my bike, this gives me a nice solid 3-point mount system that has withstood the tests of the playa for several years running.    You can build it in an hour with a jig saw, a drill, though a chisel, dremmel, or router is also strongly recommended.

The core is made from a couple pieces of 2×4.  The one that sits inside the frame of the bike is the important one.  

Put a piece of wood on the opposite side of your bike and trace the open space with a pencil.  Cut it out with a jig saw, and then use a chisel, dremmel, or router to cup them so it fits snugly into your frame  (This isn’t absolutely necessary but the tighter the fit, the better).  

The front inner piece is much like the inner one but you can be more sloppy/creative here.  I wanted my front to look like the prow of an old sailing ship so I bored a larger hole front to back and bent a piece of conduit to slot into it but you could make the hole top to bottom and skip the bend or use a variety of different materials.

The exterior pieces are 1/8″ plywood, but you could use any rigid material that can take a bit of flex.  Stiff plastics and most metals would also work.   The important part here is to make sure that the pieces overlap the tubes of the frame.   This is what keeps your prow from moving side to side.      Also make sure it clears your handlebars and any cables when you turn the wheel back and forth. 

As noted above, my riser is made from a bent piece of conduit but you could mount just about anything here in a variety of configurations. 

The assembly is held together with carriage bolts and lock washers.   I used cap-nuts on mine because I like to minimize sharp edges.

And that’s basically it.  With a solid mount point on the front that’s not getting on your way, you can get pretty crazy with what the actual canopy looks like!  Here’s the rig I built for my spouse last year.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/obscurestar/9699598756/ (That zepplayan is nearly 10 feet long!)

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Cintiq Animation Desk

April 9, 2013
Cintiq Animation Desk by ObscuredStar
Cintiq Animation Desk, a photo by ObscuredStar on Flickr.

A little carpentry and the the Cintiq 15X now rotates for better drawing. ^_^

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Cintiq 15x 18SX Pen Repalcements and Compatibility

April 5, 2013

I was recently given an old Cintiq 15x sans pen and cables. I’ll make a separate post on cables shortly. But since it took me a few hours of searching, I thought I’d condense this and post it and hopefully save someone else some time. The 15x and the 18SX can use the same pens per all info I found. I’ll be referring to the 15x as it is the only one I tested.

The Bad News:
*The Cintiq 15X pen and all compatible pens are discontinued.
*The Grapphire and Intuos pens do NOT work with the 15x.

The Good News:
*After a lot of searching. Wacom-asia has a compatibility chart here: http://www.wacom-asia.com/aptky/607/pen.htm
** In case that goes away, the pertinent info is that all PenPartner and UltraPen wacom pens should work. These are pens that begin with the model number UP-###E
** For search purposes, you want: PenPartner, UltraPen, UD Series, PL-300, PL-400, Cintiq 15x, Cintiq 18x

On ebay I wasn’t able to find a ‘Cintiq’ pen for less than $130 + shipping. However, I found a UP-719EA-00A-1 for $25. You can also be clever and note that the completely obsolete Wacom Digitizer and Digitizer II tables use the early UP series pens and those can be had on ebay with pen for less than $20. I saw some listed as little as $1 but didn’t feel like waiting for an auction to get a pen.

** NON-WACOM pens: I have not tried these but I found many people claiming that pens for Tablet PCs would work. The favorite among the people who’d tried them was the Axiotron Modbook pen. However, like the wacom pens, this too is discontinued and while they were in the $10-$25 range 2 years ago, the only ones I saw for sale were closer to $100.

So if you’ve lost your pen, exhale! You’re not completely SOL yet. 🙂

I am mirroring this post on DeviantArt to up the signal.

Coming soon: Cintiq 15x USB to Mini-din wiring schematic and replacement power supplies and a DIY instructable for mounting a Cintiq 15X in an animation desk. 😉

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Burning Man Canopy Bike

September 14, 2011

For Burning Man this year, I decided to roam into the land of EL Wire and Arduino and do some animation in the world of programmable hardware. This turned out to be a lot more challenging than I first imagined. While the coding was fairly simple, the hardware I’d chosen had a number of issues including things like lighting all of the EL Wire at once would smoke some of the components on the board.

So I spent a lot of time programming interrupt-driven PWM (Pulse Width Modulation Code) This also allowed me to control the effective brightness of the lines but flickering the various EL Strands on and off very quickly.

As usual, I took no photos of the finished product when I was at Burning Man and… It takes a bit of work to assemble. So I’ll show the prototype here in a couple of pieces.

First, the bike canopy itself The white center stripe is stitched with open overlapping ‘scales’ so that wind coming from the front will pass through them with less resistance and wind coming from behind closes them and works like a sail.

A demo of the PWM software is here:

In this demo, the code is just passing a greyscale fractal image through the 8 channels. Because I spent so much time working around the hardware limitations, I didn’t get to do the animation I was planning. Now that I understand the hardware better, I’m going to try designing a new board that can control more strands and will either not require or will offload the PWM handling so it will be a little while before I come back to the animation.

The actual animation for the EL Array will ultimately be controlled by manipulating symbols in a Flash timeline. These then export the data to a compressed file format which will be stored on an SD card and loaded into the bicycle’s onboard computer. Lots of neat stuff left to do on this project but I’m going to detour from it for a short time to work on another project in order to gain the experience required to finish the hardware redesign for this one.

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Name change

July 15, 2011

http://halfcircle.wordpress.com is now https://obscurestar.wordpress.com

After decades of a split personality on the internet, I’m trying to unify my identities under a common name.

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Anatomy

April 26, 2011

I recently took a trip to the natural history museum in New York and had a really fantastic time geeking out over the skeletons of the various animals and dinosaurs. I think I learned a tremendous amount about hip and shoulder construction and thus the locomotion of various sorts of creatures. It’s well-worth the trip if you can take it.

However, it also left me with questions. Skeletons gave me an idea of some of the movement but I kept wondering about the range of motion for certain limb designs so I came away with as many questions as answers.

When I returned home, I began looking for some good books to really help me nail down convincing anatomical movement. I’ve got a few books.

    Gray’s Anatomy

, the ubiquitous Burne Hoggarth book,

    Dynamic Anatomy

, and a few others. The only one that I might recommend is the

    Weatherly Guide to Drawing Animals

which is pretty decent, but I found I was still wanting something more in depth.

A little searching at the local bookstore lead me to a pair of books:

    Anatomy Drawing School

by András Szunyoghy and György Fehér. One on humans and a separate volume on animals. These books I feel really go into a lot of depth on all the details I was searching for. The renderings of the structures are quite good and go into a good deal of depth about the behaviors of the different types of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles. It also includes descriptions of the ranges of motion. The text information is quite terse but somehow manages to convey a lot more detail than I felt I gleaned from Gray’s (at least for my field of interest) And most text descriptions are accompanied by graphical depictions of the motions and ranges in question.

I have a few very minor nits with the books. In particular, some of the drawings when showing the various views of a bone will also switch from right to left, which can be a little confusing. Also, I with in the animals book they had included a plantigrade quadruped (such as a bear) but on the whole, these are far and away the best art reference anatomy books I’ve come across and was so moved as to write a review.

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Optical Registration of Bulk Scans

May 24, 2010

Moved recently and my animation stand is currently buried beneath boxes in the basement of our new home waiting for a house remodel project to finish before it can be put back into service. In the meanwhile, I needed to do some pencil tests.

During the move, my scanner (which had been making funny noises for a while) finally conked out, and my printer was both near-dead and no longer supported by the manufacturer so I took the opportunity to replace both with an Epson Artisan 810 combo unit. Since it comes with a sheet feeder, I thought it might be a good opportunity to check out the state of inexpensive solutions to optical registration of bulk scans.

All of these work by requiring you to black out part of the scan bed where the peg bar sits so that you get solid black peg holes to make it easy for the software to identify the location of the punches. Finding information about automatic optical registration proved difficult. There are of course many high-end solutions in the several hundred dollar range but at the moment, these solutions are out of my range.

Two solutions I did find within my price range are DigiCel’s Flipbook Lite (just shy of $80) and a free beta of a java application called ScanFix written by Duane M. Palyka.

Both applications performed reasonably well. Flipbook’s import is easier to use and it also has some built-in smarts about adjusting the contrast of the drawings to make them show up well. The only minor confusion I had with it was in configuration of the registration offset but this was quickly fixed. It also supports TWAIN libraries and was able to import directly from my scanner with no interim files. I did not invest the time to tinker around with the rest of flipbook’s features for actually creating animation since I’m already familiar with and invested in another tool however, it seemed fairly straightforward and intuitive and may well be worth looking at.

Scanfix is a little less user friendly. I had to do a bit of tweaking to my scan configuration to get files where it could reliably detect the holes. It is also in beta test and I encountered a few problems in using the optional rotations but, once I resolved these issues, it performed adequately. In addition, Mr. Palyka has been quite pleasant to converse with.

On the whole, scanning at 150DPI, the scanner imported equivalent to the fastest I could possibly photograph work on my animation stand (meaning that on average, the scanner was far faster). I even got so lazy as to write a short script to reverse the order of scanned pages so I didn’t have to resort my cels after taking them off the animation desk. Finally, the scanner does not require me to operate the camera. Throw in a stack of cels, hit a button, and off it goes. So in good situations, it’s a bit of a time saver. However, I did run into issues a couple of times where the scanner grabbed more than one page and caused me some problems with a sequence and bogged down my progress. Since this is an invisible fail until you run the pencil test, it’s a bit of a sticking point.

Still. If you’re a student or otherwise on a tight budget, both tools are worth checking out, depending on your personal needs. Though I must confess that I enjoy drawing 12 field and since my scanner does not support paper of that size combined with the scanner feed issues means that I shall not be tossing out my animation stand just yet.