Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Half Bot, All Boat.

To me, there are few pleasures in the world better than tooling around in any variety of small, quiet boat. Last summer, I threw together version one of this boat. It was a MinnKota Endura 30 Trolling motor crudely mounted to the boat with a couple 2x4s, and connected to a group-27 lead acid battery (weighs about 40 lbs). I really enjoyed the ability to quietly cruise around the lake, lazily sip a beer, and watch the shoreline drift by.

Last winter I decided version one was successful enough that I would dare to improve it. My design constraints were to extend the boats range to about 20 miles and add a second motor to balance the thrust and push the extra battery weight. In my nerdiness, I also figured it would be prudent to drive the boat with some sort of joystick, opening up the option for autopilot in the future. Lastly, I need to walk the boat to the water (0.3 miles) on a portage cart and launch and retrieve it by hand.

In this image, I have a blow-up of one side of the motor mount. A Hitec robot servo is mounted with a sprocket from ServoCity to drive a 1/4 inch chain that turns the motor. I give great thanks to McMaster-Carr for their copious pictures and documentation that help guide me through purchasing many parts without having to send back all that many.

It's all controlled with a servo driving program for the Arduino that listens to a wii nunchuck for steering commands. One of the hardest challenges was sorting out how to cram all the driving control into the minimal tilt sensor, joystick, and two buttons offered by the nunchuck. The motor speed control is via a robowars motor driver originally designed for battle bots.

Here is a close-up of the servo mounted in the slider blocks used to tension the chain.

In July, Hannah and I put the boat to the test with a two day overnight to a nearby camping spot. The total trip was 20 miles, and the boat performed great! We used to live on a boat and took it up and down the east coast of the US. Since then, this was the first time I felt we were able to capture the magic of cruising again. I don't know of a better way to arrive in a new place than by water.

One my favorite aspects of this arrangement is the cart. The winch and heavy duty casters were late additions to the aluminum ladder back bone. The cart setup is fantastic though, allowing me to manage the boat, weighing about 220 lbs (~100 kg) single handed. In designing the power system, my greatest fear would be that the 125 lbs golf cart batteries needed to achieve the range I desired would make it near impossible to handle. The winch is certainly required, but it works well and I hope to use this cart design for pushing more boats in the future.

UPDATE:: If you are not familiar with the wii nunchuck I use to drive the boat, check out this quick entry here with a movie to see it working.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

iPhone Games

As a portable game system the PSP is a lot better than the iphone. iPhone games will never reach the fun factor of games on the PSP. There's just not enough buttons :-)

iPhone Games

As a portable game system the PSP is a lot better than the iphone. iPhone games will never reach the fun factor of games on the PSP. There's just not enough buttons :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm Looking For Work/Internship!!!

Golly gosh! It's been quite a while since my last post, sorry guys!
I've been ultra-busy with my major project for 3rd year uni lately. The good thing about that however is that I have a bit of new design stuff to show. Awesome!

So apparently all this hoobla over my NES coffee table has caused quite a bit of publicity for me and it has come to my attention that apparently the Herald Sun is going to be writing an article about my coffee table in the Tech Liftout of tomorrows news paper (holy fucking shit! AWE-SOME).

Which gives me the perfect opportunity to upload a whole pile of design works and stuff now, so hopefully tomorrow when everyone in Melbourne reads the paper, some person in some design studio somewhere in Melbourne (dear lord please let it be some awesome studio like Qube Konstrukt or Iloura) will read my blog, see my current work and think "hey, this guy is cool, we should totally hire him or something!"

- I am currently in my third year of BA:Animation & Interactive Media (Multimedia) at RMIT University.
-I am proficient in Maya as well as well as After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, Flash, Dream Weaver etc. etc.
-I am preferably looking for a 3D modelling job, since that definitely seems to be my strongest skill.
-I live in Essendon, about 20 minutes out of the city, I only have two days uni this semester, and once I have completed that (with flying colours hopefully) I will be looking for full time work in this field.
- My email address is

Anyway, while I'm here, I better show of some of the stuff I have been working on lately. I'll put everything in chronological from most recent to least recent.
At the moment I am making a motion graphics piece about the history of video games for my major project for uni.
Here are a few of the models I have been working on which will be part of it (p.s. Most of these models aren't quite finished yet, there's still a bit more detail to add to them):
First up is an Enzo Ferrari which will represent the move to more realistic graphics towards the end of the piece:

Next is the Super Nintendo I modelled yesterday morning, I'm still trying to figure out how to adjust the luminance depth pass in Maya to create depth of field in after effects;

I also modelled a NES earlier in the week, there's still a fair bit more detail to add to this model yet:

Just a quick render of the Playstation 1 I modelled today (really need to figure out those problems with final gather that create the crappy smudge look around some edges):

Here's a little vinyl toy-style mario kart I made, he's only a simple model because he is only going to be on screen for a second or two:
That's All I have to show for my major project work so far, I've been working like 13 hours a day every single frkn day of the holidays doing about 25-30 models all up, but these are the only ones I've textured so far.

So, onto some older work I have done.
This was a simple little character I did for an animation project last semester for uni, his name is Derek!:

Last year we had to design a brochure for one of the classes based on a company called Ideolab, this was mine (that's my awesome motorbike there too, it took like half an hour to get the damn number plate off to take that picture!):

Here is a website I did for a programming project last semester too:
Here is some motion work that I have done in the past too!:
I did this last year for a motion graphics project, here is the youtube link: Visual Effects Project: Dream

This is a fun little short film that me and my friends made last year called Cops on Bikes, it follows two renegade bicycle-riding cops called Hannigan and Callaway as they venture to bust the biggest drug lord on the west side; Don Vido.
I can't say the story itself is all that crash hot, but it was a good chance for me to get to play with filming, lighting and editing etc. and playing with colour grading:
(here's the youtube link: Cops on Bikes)

And last of all, here are a few drawings that I did a while ago:
This is a T-shirt I made last year when my cousin Ben died, in memory of him:

And this is just a random drawing I had done a while ago about loyalty and friendship:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

iphone apps that look cool

Well, the new iphone app store is on-line, and I am browsing it. I don't have an iPhone yet, but the app store is the most exciting part of the new phone. So far, some of the most interesting ones to pop-up are:

- Melodis. search for music. in particular by singing a tune, or holding the iphone up to a speaker playing the song. Shazam does this too.

- Sound Machine. funny and simple sound effects machine. applause, laughter, zoom away. great example of super simple ap

- A bunch of instrument tuners that work from the microphone

- A full drum kit. predictable, but I'm still psyched for that.

- Nearpic. shows you pictures from panaramio that were taken near where you are standing.

- Signal Scope. A realtime oscilloscope to take input from either microphone or accelerometers. nice. very nice. Same company also makes a signal generator. This is the kind of stuff I want to be seeing more of.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Giant SNES table Phase III: Button Construction and painting

Its a long one guys... I'll add comments later. I still have a little ways to go, though its all wired up as well. I'll post pictures of the wiring next.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Brushed Metal Toolbars in Java

I've been working on a Swing application under OS X. I recently became a bit frustrated with the ugly, Java-style toolbars that it was using. They fit in well for Windows, but not on the Mac. So, I did a bit of searching and found the following two links for making Java applications pretty under OS X, one for Control Styles, and another for General Integration Issues.

I couldn't find any built-in solution for creating OS X Brushed Metal toolbars (like the ones in Mail, Pages, etc). However, with some layout help I was able to create a similar effect by using two buttons; one for the icon (segmentedCapsule) and the other for the text (segmentedCapsule with a null border). This is the result:

Not too bad for a Swing application, eh?

The only down side is that this is not a "proper" way to create this effect. In addition, the button text doesn't have a correct drop-shadow, and the interaction between the text and the button when you click it is not quite the same as OS X. However, it's much better than the default Java toolbar.

As a side note, I should mention that although this application uses Swing, it is written entirely in Scala.