MakerBot Digitizer and the History of 3D Scanning

Written By: S. Sparkman Spark Maker UNT Junior Media Arts

One of the tools available at The Spark is the MakerBot Digitizer. This device allows a user to take an everyday item that will fit on the scanner turntable and capture its likeness in 3D. How this scanner work is using lasers to project lines on the object, then a camera with a filter captures how the laser light deforms to the model. Slowly the model rotates on the turntable, and the camera captures every new line segment. In software, the different lines are stitched together, and your 3D model is complete.

Although 3D scanning may seem very new and high-tech, the idea and the technology has been in development for quite a while. 3D scanning started in the 60s thanks to new computing technologies. This type of scanning was very much in its infancy and took long hours for a not that great result. Later decades in the 80s and 90s when computers were developing faster. The push for a 3D scanner by the manufacturing and animation industry was at its highest. New techniques like line scanning used in the MakerBot Digitizer gave the scanners a better resolution. Faster computing and more memory space allowed software to capture more data and better details. Today, some of the best 3D scanners can capture the smallest detail up to thousands of an inch, all in full color.

Serger 101 Series – How to thread

How to thread a serger 

This may look intimidating but once you’ve done it and learned it, it is rather easy.

But here we go! Threading your serger starts with your thread! Since sergers feed the thread through the machine faster than a regular sewing machine; using spool caps and thread cone inserts are a must. Also, note that not all your cones have to match. If you cannot afford 4 cones of thread wind 3 bobbins with that same color and use those.

Now, pull your thread through the fully extended thread tree, and the thread guides above the tension disks.

Pull your threads through tension disks making sure they are well seated between the disks. I find it faster to do this for all 4 threads at once since I’m short and I have to stand up to reach the thread tree.

Here is the order you should be threading your loopers in;

1) Upper looper
2) Lower looper
3) Right needle
4) Left needle

***Note: Threading out of order will cause thread jams.

Turn your handwheel toward you until the upper looper is accessible.
Then, using your tweezers pull the thread through the eye in the upper looper.

Now the lower loopers, this one is personally the worst, but you will get through this I assure you!

Pull the thread through the lower looper thread guides.

Turn your hand wheel until you have access to the thread guides that are attached to the lower looper and pull your thread through the guides.

Now turn your handwheel until you see the left edge of the lower looper peeking out.

Use your tweezers to grab the thread and thread the eye or thread guide on the left side of the lower looper.

Now, using your tweezers again, bring your thread back to the right side of the lower looper.

Now things get a little tricky because we have to keep turning the handwheel to thread the lower looper, it’s easy to get the lower looper thread under the upper looper arm. This will cause the thread to jam every single time.

Also, we need to make sure the upper and lower looper threads do not cross.

The best way to do this is to turn the handwheel (always toward you) until the lower looper is above the upper looper. Then thread the lower looper. 

Pull the thread through the lower looper thread guides.

For this, pull out the small ‘threading lever’. Position the thread so it’s just resting against the lever as shown.

Push the lever back into place while holding the end of the thread.

Thread the eye of the lower looper, making sure not to cross threads with the upper looper. In other words, make sure that the lower looper thread is over the upper looper thread.

The lower loopers are done!

Threading the needles is the easy part. Thread the right needle first then the left needle second.

Make sure your thread is well seated in the tension disks, then run it through the thread guides.

Then pull the thread through the thread guide in front of the needle bar and then the needle.

Also before you get serging;
Just like with a sewing machine, I find it’s easier to start serging with a small piece of fabric under the presser foot– it helps keep the thread from being pulled back into the machine. After that, you should easily be able to make a thread chain.

If none of that made any sense here is a video tutorial.

Written By: T. Bruner

-Stay tune to the next post for general advice and a FAQ-

Lego Mindstorms Robotics

The Spark has a large array of robotics for all ages. Today, I’m going to touch on our Lego Mindstorms Kits. The recommendation age range is 10+ but it can be a good introduction to people who may not know as much in construction or coding.

The construction part is straight forward since it is Lego and their instructions are kid-friendly, but you do have to pay close attention to the picture on how they change. On the coding side, it is block code like Scratch and there are tutorials online through UNT LinkedIn Learning if you want to do self-learning.

Other than that, you could set up a consultation with the Spark and we would be more than happy to help you. There are several building options with the kit. Some can be more for recreational use such as the Elephant, but it can also have a more functional use like building a color sorting robot or a robot arm. With all the built-in examples from the Lego Mindstorms software, they do include the code for the robots, but that does not limit you on editing the code to make it your own.

Written By: B. Johnson

An Intro to Photography

Photography is a unique form of art, as it is both instantaneous and relatively new compared to mediums such as drawing or painting. These days almost everyone has a high quality camera on them at all times, and it’s as easy as ever to start honing in your image making skills!

To understand how an image is made, let’s first look at how a camera operates. There are three elements of an exposure or image: shutter speed, aperture, and sensitivity (or “ISO”). A perfect exposure or image balances these elements to make a photo that is neither too bright nor too dark. Shutter speed controls how long the “eye” or sensor of the camera is open to the scene it’s capturing, measured in fractions of a second. This effects motion blur on a moving subject. Aperture refers to the size of the hole through which light enters the camera.

On most smartphones this is a fixed size, but on professional DSLR cameras the size of the hole can be adjusted to allow more or less light through and changing the “depth-of-field” effect on the final image. This is a powerful effect that allows the photographer to isolate the background from the subject by shifting it out of focus, blurring it. Sensitivity or ISO effects how sensitive the sensor is to light and effects the grain or noise on the final image. These are the three elements of every photograph, and learning how to adjust them to your liking is a good first step to making amazing images.

Smartphone cameras and other types of digital cameras are most commonly used on an “auto” mode, where the camera decides how best to balance the elements of your photograph. While this is the fastest and certainly most convenient method, auto mode takes away most of the control the photographer has on their final image. Try testing out the three elements by switching your camera to manual (M) mode, where the photographer has control of every aspect of the camera. Smartphone users can find a “pro” or manual mode on many popular apps (such as VSCO), but note that aperture will most likely be fixed and unchangeable. Start by changing the ISO, bring it up to ‘6400’ or as high as it will go and change the other two elements to balance the exposure. Notice how suddenly noisy the image appears. Next set the ISO as low as it goes and change the shutter speed to 1/15. Take a photo of something moving and pay attention to how motion blur comes into effect. Those with a DSLR can change the aperture and see how it effects the background of the image when taking a photo of something up close. With these techniques in mind, it becomes much easier to troubleshoot an image if it isn’t coming out how you’d like.

Photography, like most everything else, relies on practice, practice, practice. Challenge yourself by taking your camera off auto and start making images. You might be surprised by how differently you take your photographs!

Written By: M. Heins