Introduction: Mr. Indecision - a Small Felt Version of Yourself That Turns Its Head and Looks at You.

About: I am a masters candidate at School of Visual Arts in New York. I have a Bachelor of Design Innovation in Industrial Design from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. I am based in product design bu…
This is a tutorial on how to use 123D Catch to get a 3D scan of your whole body. Once you have the scan or "catch" the tutorial will take you through a technique to clean it up and manipulate it ready for 123D Make. The tutorial will go through how to slice the model in Make and prep it for Laser cutting. The tutorial will briefly cover how lazer cutting and integrating the componentry and Arduino to make the head turn. The tutorial will wrap up with some example code of what worked for me during this project.

Modern Day Puppet Master.

You will need:

-iPhone or iPad
-123D Catch from the app store (free)
-An assistant
-A Computer
-Meshmixer computer program (download for free here)
-123D Make (download for free here)
-Arduino Software (download for free here)

- Arduino UNO   $29.95
- 2 x Sharp IR proximity sensor  $14.95 each
- Standard Servo $12.00
- solid core wire  $2.50
- 9 VDC power adapter  $6.95
- pencil or chopstick
- hot glue gun & glue sticks
- patience & some Arduino experience are recommended for the 2nd half of this instructable.

Step 1: Preparing the Catch

For the catch of the your body you will need someone assist you.

There are two approaches to the catch, with an iphone/ipad or with a digital camera & computer. In my experience I have found the iphone/ipad method to be the fastest & most reliable so that is the method I will explain  If you would like to know the other method (which is actually very similar) visit:

For the iphone/ipad approach download the (free) 123D Catch app from the app store 123D Catch App. Then create an account & log in.

You (person being catched) should be sitting on a simple stool with enough room around them for the "assistant" (person assisting taking the catch) to walk around them taking photos keeping the catchee's body within the frame.

The environment should be as evenly lit as possible but does not require studio quality backdrops or lights.

The catchee should sit as still as possible and stare directly forwards with eyes closed.

Step 2: Catching the Body

Open 123D Catch and tap "New Capture" at the center bottom of the screen.

Taking a photo by taping the camera icon the assistant walks around  the catchee taking photos of the catchee from the chest  every  keeping the catchee's body within the frame. The aim would be to get 10-15 photos for every lap around the person and to have 3 laps; one from the floor looking up , one at the waist-chest level looking strait on, and one above looking downwards.

Once the catcher has completed the 3 laps and the image count is between 25-35 tap the "Review" button in the bottom right corner. Then tap Finish Capture button in the top right hand side.

Makerbot has some good tips on catching here. Tinkernut also has a very nice you tube clip of the whole process Weekend Hacker: Turn Photos Into 3D Models

Step 3: Catching the Head

Follow the Steps from the previous step but this time focus in on just the head. The details of the persons head is often lost in full body catches, so by doing an additional catch of just the head we can merge the two catches later to get the best result.

Step 4: Publishing the Catches

Tap "Tap to Process" & name your capture, choose a category, add tags and a description then tap submit. After the loading bar reaches 100% you can inspect the catch. You are looking for a clean hollow model, that closely represents the catchee. Any discolorations or unnecessary background can be removed in the next step. The images for this step show the interface of the computer version of the 123D Catch app which can be downloaded here: 123D Catch

Tap the export icon and select "Share to Community". Do this for both catches.

On your computer open your web browser and navigate to the 123Dapps site & sign in.

Navigate to "My corner tab" and find the model you just shared, click it and on the right hand side you will see a download section. Download the .zip file under "Mesh Package File File".

Step 5: MeshMixer - Cleaning Up the Catch

Download MeshMixer from here

Open MeshMixer and go to File > Import and find where you downloaded the .zip file in the last step. Once located select & open the .obj file of the full body catch.

Follow Makerbots tutorial on cleaning up a model here. Use the select tool (s) to brush over any background then discard it (x). Do the same to remove the stool. Then use the Inspector & Autofix Tools. This will give you a mesh to work with. Then use the smooth brush to smooth out any areas that don't look right. You can also use the volume brush tool to manipulate the mesh by dragging parts of it until the mesh is an accurate representation of the catchee's body.

 For a more in-depth explanation of this refer to MeshMixers tutorial page.

Keep Meshmixer Open and move onto the next step.

Step 6: MeshMixer - Adding in the Replacement Head (optional)

If the initial whole body catch has a usable head then you may skip this step.

Clean up the head as you did the body in the last step. To do this you will have to save your current file and open a new one.

Once the head catch has been cleaned then export it as an stl. Then re-open your 'cleaned' whole body catch Mesh.

Once open import the stl file of the head, when the dialog box asking you if you would like to open a new model or append to the existing choose "append". If it ask if you would like to re-size the incoming model select no.

Click on the head and hit "s" (to open select tool) and then "cntr + a" (to select all) the choose edit transform surfaces to move scale and rotate the head till it sits in place of the old head.

For a more in-depth explanation of this refer to MeshMixers tutorial page.

Once done select File > Export obj.

Step 7: 123D Make & LaserCutting

Download and open 123D Make.

Import the obj file that you exported in the last step. 

Select method - Stacked Slices

Find out the size of your laser cutting bed. If you have access to a laser cutter use those dimensions if you want to have it laser cut through a laser cutting service such as Ponoko they have 0.197 inch thick available at 31" x 15" ($68.59). Keep in mind that smaller thicknesses will result in more cutting files to reach the same size final model. Since I have access to a 24" x 18" bed laser cutter I brought my own  felt from McMaster Carr a sheet of 1/4" soft grey felt 72" x 12" cost me $29.93 and I was able to cut it down with a craft knife into 3 sheets of 24" x 12" to fit into the Laser Cutter. 

Input the sizes of the sheets of felt you will be using.

Then choose the size of your final model. I chose a height that equaled a quarter scale version of myself and gave me 3 sheets of felt required to cut it out.

Then export files as .eps and either send to laser cutting service or cut as you normally would on a laser cutter you have access to.

Step 8: Cleaning & Assembling the Felt

Once laser cut the Felt will smell terrible, but it can be dry-cleaned or you can gently wash the edges to remove almost all of the smell. See an excellent article about it here.

Once clean use the engraved number indicators to order the pieces and use the solid-core wire to thread pieces together. You may find the holes do not always line up but the solid-core wire should bend nicely to fit.

Twist the feet closed but leave the head open. You will be taking some of the pieces back off to cut and insert the components in the next step.

Step 9: Testing the Components

In this step you will need:

- Arduino UNO   $29.95
- 2 x Sharp IR proximity sensor  $14.95 each
- Standard Servo $12.00
- solid core wire  $2.50
- 9 VDC power adapter  $6.95

Solderless Breadboard (optional)
Clay or Bluetack

Connect the black wires of the 2 IR sensors to Ground and the red wires to 5v. Then the yellow cable of the left IR sensor to A3 and the yellow cable of the left IR sensor to A2.

Connect the black wire of the Servo to Ground, red to 5v and white to pin 9.

Use the clay or Bluetack to hold the base of the servo in place and the IR sensors to the servo wheel.

Upload the following code to your Arduino Board and test. Code is based on ArdBot's Line following Robot Code, more info here.

 Simple Pan Tracking with 2 IR Sensors
 Requires Arduino IDE version 0017 
 or later (0019 or later preferred)

#include <Servo.h> 

Servo servo;            // Define the servo
const int lineLSense = A3;  //Define the Left IR Sensor
const int lineRSense = A2;  //Define the Right IR Sensor
int degree = 90;        //Starting point of the Servo

int irReflectR = 0;
int irReflectL = 0;
int thresh = 200;    //You can adjust this threshold to manipulate the range of your IR sensor readings.

void setup() { 
  servo.attach(9);  // servo pin D9

void loop() { 

  // Read reflective sensors
  int trav = 2;
  irReflectL = analogRead(lineLSense);  
  irReflectR = analogRead(lineRSense);
  if (degree >= 180){
    degree = 179;
  if (degree <= 0){
    degree = 1;
  if (irReflectL >= thresh && irReflectR >= thresh) {
    Serial.println("on line");

  if (irReflectL >= thresh && irReflectR <= thresh) {
    servo.write(degree + trav);  // veering off right
    degree=(degree + trav);
    Serial.println("veering off right");

  if (irReflectL <= thresh && irReflectR >= thresh) {
    servo.write(degree - trav);  // veering off left
    degree=(degree - trav);

    Serial.println("veering off left");

  // If line is lost try to reacquire
  if (irReflectL < thresh && irReflectR < thresh) {


// Motion routines for line following
void line_forward() {

void line_slipRight() {
  servo.write(degree + 5);

void line_slipLeft() {
void line_spinRight() {
void line_spinLeft() {

Step 10: Inserting the Components

Using your IR sensors as a guide carefully mark out with a sharpie where will go. You want them to be embedded enough into the face that they will hold firm but have clear fields of vision. They will work best if they face slightly outwards rather than being parallel.

Remove the layers of the head and upper body keeping them in order. Using a craft knife cut out sections for the IR sensors in the face. Then either punch or cut a small hold down the center of the head to allow for the pencil/chopstick & wires. Assemble the layers with the IR sensors in place and then push the end of the pencil/chopstick into the head, to provide a "spine." Re-thread a new solid core wire to hold the head together & use hot glue to carefully fix the IR sensors in place, but not the pencil/chopstick, yet.

Cut 1/4" x 1/4" square holes down the center of the neck and upper body (square holes are easier to cut with a craft knife). This will allow the pencil/chopstick to turn as freely as possible.

Similar to how the IR sensors were cut and inserted do the same for the servo in the mid section of the body. Cut another hole down the back of the servo for all the wires.

Take the pencil,chopstick out of the head and when the servo is in place use a 2 part quick set epoxy glue or generous amount of hot glue to hold the pencil in place. Be careful not to get any glue on the shaft of the servo. 

Re assemble the layers back on to the solid core wire and when you reach the head cut the pencil/chopstick to size and hot glue as you push it into the head to fix it in place.

Then cut a section for the Arduino allowing holes & spaces for the wires to connect to the Arduino.

Wire up & connect the Arduino. You can keep this in place with a few hand stitches through the felt if you need it. Connect to power and test.

Step 11: Troubleshooting & Debuging

If you have problems with the code a good place to start is the Arduino Reference Library here.

If you have problems with the Catch try another location, camera or shooting technique.

If you have problems with MeshMixer refer to the tutorials Page here.

If you have no problems well done! You now have a miniature version of yourself that looks at you!

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