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The UCube: Design & Print 3D Objects by flipping switches

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This instructable goes through how to design and print a variety of 3D models using a system called the 'UCube'.  
Note:  I would love to eventually publish detailed instructions on how to make your own UCube, but since the design is still changing and improving, this post will gloss over a lot of those details and focus on how you can model and print 3D objects just by flipping a few switches.

This project was designed and built at the Craft Technology Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder: http://l3d.cs.colorado.edu/~ctg/Craft_Tech.html

Here's a brief video overview of (some) what the UCube can do:
 
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Step 1: The Basics

The UCube has two parts: the physical modeling board, and the complimentary software.  The modeling board consists of a grid of sockets into which vertical poles are placed.  The poles have switches on them that, when plugged in and activated, send an (x.y.z) coordinate (from an Arduino) to the software on an attached computer (written in Processing).  

The software then displays the active points on the computer screen.  From the software, there are several actions you can take to form shapes and models.  You can take the convex hull of the shape (imagine wrapping a piece of paper around the set of points, and that's pretty much the convex hull), the wireframe of the convex hull, make a spline through the points, and create a path through a sequence of points.  There is also an 'edit' mode whereby you can tweak the vertices of your model to include points outside of the normal point grid (off the integer lattice).  When you're satisfied, you can export your model as an .STL file and print it on a 3D printer.

The pictures in this section follow a simple use-case for the UCube: defining the vertices of a model on the physical interface, selecting the convex hull of the active points through the software, exporting the .STL file of your model, and printing it out on a 3D printer. 

The next sections will go through more complex modeling techniques and features of the UCube system. (You can do much more than make a cube). 


This is a great idea, good work!
I love unusual takes on 3d design like this. Very different! Keep it up!
very nice
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