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Distractions, 3D Modeling, & On18
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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 04:04 am
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titus
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Well now I've gone and gotten myself all distracted with something that doesn't feel like model railroading. For those who haven't heard of Shapeways, it's similar to previous print-a-part shops but perhaps slightly more affordable. The short version is I was initially interested in these types of sites to create detail parts however I feel as if I've gotten carried away and am now modeling entire locomotives.

Part of me wonders, does this qualify as scratchbuilding? I originally began to ponder this as if I was to enter such a model in a contest what category would it be under? Put another way is it still considered a kit if you designed the kit?

Regardless here's how out of hand things are getting. Instead of being at my work table this weekend I was at the computer, working on an On18 Hunslet loco. This unit will snap onto a Kato 11-103 chassis.

I'm still a bit wary about what this means for the future of scratchbuilding.

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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 11:16 am
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russn20
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How about a link to Shapeways? You are discovering the same problem I seem to have - more time on the computer than railroading! There are some Bandai B-Train Shorty chassis coming (similar th the Kato's) - no firm ideas yet but I'll come up with something. The Brooks Islands layout is getting about 10 more Palm trees courtesy of Scenic Express & Preiser, just waiting for dry weather so I can paint the kits outdoors. We could use a Hunslet! The drawing looks like Sketch-Up. My Autocad 2000 died recently, been working with a 30 day free trial of Autocad Lite 2012 (been doing acad for about 20 years) love it but the (min) $850 price tag does't cut it; maybe I'll go for Sketch-Up Pro instead. - Looks Great:glad: - Russ

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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 01:57 pm
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titus
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That is actually not Sketch-Up. I did try it, went through the first half a dozen tutorials or so, and it was alright. From what I found researching my 3D editor choice on the internet, Shapeways requires STL files and Sketch-Up does not have a native STL export. I also felt like it was a tool built for another purpose and I wanted something that was made to create parts for 3D printing.

Instead I chose OpenSCAD. http://www.openscad.org I know this is going sound scary, but it's not. OpenSCAD works by letting you program the shapes with code instead of creating them in a perspective view. The end result is that you end up with 3D models which you know are mathematically correct with your dimensions. (screenshot below)

Links to shapeways? Here's a few...

Teebee Models http://www.shapeways.com/shops/tebee?sg61704%5Brows%5D=10#sg61704

Koala Creek http://www.shapeways.com/shops/koala_creek

And of course, here's mine (though I just started last week),
Very Narrow Gauge http://www.shapeways.com/shops/narrowgauge

Here's that screenshot of OpenSCAD showing the code

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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 02:04 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Uhhhhhhhh--Yup------I guess


Luddite Herb  :old dude:



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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 02:14 pm
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MinerFortyNiner
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I'm with Herb on the 'uhhh...yup' part, I stand in awe...

Titus, you started out with nothing but your ideas and tools, which happened to include a computer and the technology to render it in 3-D. So you started FROM SCRATCH, no? In my mind, it's never 'cheating' to use any tool available to you for modeling. Misrepresenting something for what it's not is an entirely different story.

The digital age has created similar conundrums in the past...when digital photography and photo editing software became available, some modelers cried 'foul'. They claimed that any digital enhancements (smoke, steam, even backdrops) were 'cheating'. I never understood this point, as creativity isn't defined by the tools we use, but how we use them.

My two cents worth, that is a neat retro-look Hunslett and I look forward to seeing the model you build from its CAD design.



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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 04:21 pm
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Huw Griffiths
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There's recently been some debate about this very issue on the UK site RMweb.

Someone wanted to know if their models would count as their own "scratchbuilds" if they designed them - generated all the code - and 3D printed them on someone else's machine. Some people thought it would - some didn't.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it - you're doing all the work - you're just renting someone else's machine.


I haven't actually seen any 3D printed railway models "in the plastic" - but pictures and comments on some other websites suggest that there might sometimes be resolution issues with 3D printing.

In certain directions (and on curves), there've been suggestions that surface finish might occasionally appear a bit grainy - there has also been talk on some sites of how best to smooth / fill the surfaces on some 3D printed models. I'll obviously refrain from giving my own opinion.


The only 3D stuff I've seen was at an engineering trade show - where a company had some mockups of proposed tool designs, in a glass case. They looked nice enough - but the mockups were to 1:1 scale and didn't have many intricate details on them. Also, the models being behind glass meant that it wasn't easy to get close enough to really check the surface finish of the models (which, for all I know, might even have been designed to show only the good points of the technology).


However, whatever the score, I'm sure these issues will improve as the technology matures.


Just for information, I don't know if these links might give some ideas of what can (or can't) currently be achieved with 3D printing:

http://www.chrisjward.co.uk/

http://www.practicalplastics.co.uk/


By the way, I wouldn't have a clue where to start with all that programming - I'm sure there's some logic to it but, to me, it just looks like an alphanumeric soup. If you (or anyone else) can work it all out, then good luck...

Regards,

Huw.

Last edited on Sun May 15th, 2011 04:32 pm by Huw Griffiths

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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 05:20 pm
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russn20
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Verrrrry Interesting! Signed up on Shapeways and will check out openSCAD . Been spending more than a little ACAD time doing On18 cars and locos (one of these days Barry at Railway Rec is coming up with a PASC&M style caboose that I designed). I also have a part-time retirement drafting job where we just installed SolidWorks 2010 on my work computer. Like the price on openSCAD a lot better. All this will probably put Woodie to sleep so I should post some WM#6 photos I took at a private Cass charter two weeks ago! - Russ

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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 05:28 pm
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W C Greene
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Like many others are thinking...Good Lord, if I had to worry about all that computerese and CAD drawing and Shapeshifting to build a model locomotive, I would rather go back to free flight aircraft or buy me another old MG to work on. The future of scratchbuilding? It is dying fast and in many segments of this hobby it is gone. Using a computer to design something is not building from scratch. I applaud those who can and do make things that way, but skills are being lost...skills like cutting out parts with a razor blade, filing to get a nice fit, making needed things, and (of course, my opinion) the satisfaction of doing it all yourself.

Bill's computer being used as a playpen for tiny kitties appeals to me far more than using the instrument to build models.

MY OPINIONS, for what they might be worth.       Woodie



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 Posted: Sun May 15th, 2011 07:11 pm
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sledhead
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I look at it this way, if you have the skills to do it, use 'em, but unless 3d modeling really interests you, don't bother as their are much easier ways to scratch build one-of pieces. It's more of a manufacturing tool. I've seen guys use laser cutters to build single structures- a process that takes MUCH more time in most cases than just sawing up some basswood and styrene. I personally have somewhat mastered and enjoy solid modeling, acad is not my area of expert expertise, and I have zero interest in learning it as I do not need to. But it could easily be vice-versa. A lot of brass scratch builders are expert machinists, but most aren't, and it doesn't seem to affect the quality of their models. It's just a different way to approach a build based on ones personal skill set.

Last edited on Sun May 15th, 2011 07:11 pm by sledhead



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 Posted: Sun Jun 5th, 2011 08:28 am
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JawboneFlats
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After many years building models on HO and HOn3, I "switched" to On30 with DCC, and I'm happy as a clam. 

Relating to this post, there are programs where your digital railroad models can become more than just real cool 3-D images. Just before I "switched" scales, I was exploring VScale railroading. That consisted of building railroads, and railroad models on a computer. I used MicroSoft TrainSimulator as the platform, MicroDem to build the landforms (very cool, digital elevation models for landforms of actual places via USGS maps), and Abacus TS Modeler to build models to add to the simulation. I created a 7 mile long railroad (in my computer) of a line in my local area that had the real topography of the right-of-way I was modeling. Seven miles in quarter inch scale is 770 feet long; few spare rooms are big enough to hold that much track. There was a lot of potential there, and quite a large community of fans developed with added content freely available via such sites as Train-Sim.Com. MS didn't support the TrainSimulator beyond XP, and that sort of killed it for a lot of folks. (Google MSTS for more information.)

Another computer based model railroading platform worth exploring is Auran's TRS series. The few train-freaks among us who don't have any available "real"-estate to devote to traditional 3-D model trains might want to look at this. I was happy to find two foot gauge Forneys and Moguls, 3 foot gauge Shays. In both of these simulations, stereo sound of the trains is all built in., as well as "environmental sounds" such as might be experienced near waterfalls, factories, meadows, etc.

FWIW,
Dennis aka JawboneFlats

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