“Creating means living.” ― Dejan Stojanovic, The Shape
We’ve always loved making things, from the workbenches and furniture we made for our first home three decades ago (including the desk I still write from today!), to literature and art, to building projects like Red Bull Creation and Instructables. Making and re-making is the genesis of Eureka! Factory, the heart and soul of our families and friendships, the lifeblood of our being.
Where some friends gather to watch and talk about sports, our friends gather to make things, and talk about making things, and to wonder how things are made. When “Making” became a “movement”, we were delighted to find our core beliefs trending! It was finally cool to be curious.
So when Boca Bearing Company asked us last fall if we would be interested in doing a build project for them and then showed us the project they had in mind, we jumped at it.
Boca Bearing is one of those amazingly insightful companies that recognizes that the power of a brand is in the relationships it builds with its community. But instead of building their customer base through traditional advertising, telling people how great their product is (and honestly, what’s not to love about ball bearings?!), Boca Bearing not only shows them. but encourages their customers to show each other through social media and their website.
They celebrate the fishermen who use their bearings in reels, the racers who use their products in their buggies
and cars, the FIRST students who use their bearings in their robots, and the builders and creators who use bearings in their drones, inventions and mechanical devices. And they also use build projects like the one they invited us to do, to showcase interesting and unusual projects that use bearings. In short, they have an active, creative customer base in which we feel right at home!
The Scan-o-Tron build is unlike any we’ve taken on before. The parameters we were given were to build a 3D body scanner, based off the Thingiverse Scan-o-Tron design, that would showcase bearing use in the turntable and elsewhere, and would be easy enough to take to conventions and exhibit.
First, we had to familiarize ourselves with the Scan-o-Tron. The Scan-o-Tron, with its suitably scifi name, is a 3D scanner that utilizes a Kinect device to make a 3D image of an object, in this case, a person, which can then be 3D printed. The basic design calls for a turntable platform on which an individual can stand while being scanned by a Kinect operated from a trolley device.
We brainstormed some ideas for a modular design for what we affectionately termed “The Bocatron”, AKA “Scan-O-Tron”, and toyed with some ways of automating the trolley on which the Kinect would ride. The crate came together pretty much as designed, but the automated trolley turned out to be more challenging. The timing belt tended to slip due to the length of the trolley (7 ft.) . So we applied the KISS principle, removed the stepper motor and timing belt, and replaced it with a manually adjusted counterweight system that works beautifully.
It’s taken some time, and we had to build between library projects, robotics, writing a book (Makerspaces in Libraries, Rowman & Littlefield, July 2015), collaborating on community programs like Homebrew Hillsborough and Women in Technology, and Gulf Coast MakerCon planning.
But this past weekend we made some successful scans and were delighted by how ridiculously fun it is to make 3D scans of ourselves! The process, like most build projects, from design to construction has been instructive, personally fulfilling, and very satisfying.
Oh, and the bearings? They’re everywhere in our Bocatron: in the turntable, the Kinect trolley, and counterweight system, and in the cart castors.
You can see the Scan-o-Tron in action – and try it out! – at Gulf Coast MakerCon on April 18th, at the Florida Fairgrounds, where we’ll be joining a lot of other folks passionate about the joy, power and economic promise of Making!
Update – The Scan-o-Tron at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015: