ModiBot on YouTube

After meeting with Drew Bennett from the other day, he suggested posting a video of me putting the newest kit together. That dude is smart about the blogsphere, so I threw one up. I guess I’ll see if I can drop this into my Hex model page on Shapeways, also.

Back in action!

10 months since my last post!?! Yeesh, you’d think that I could at least get something posted once a month. I guess its not like I haven’t been busy- Mentoring with the Sproutel team at Betaspring on their incredible Jerry the Bear product, put out a really fun (if not entirely successful) Kickstarter campaign, set-up […]

Girls Rock Coloring Book Update


Got an email from Jeanette Numbers today that the ‘Women Who Rock’ Coloring Book that I contributed to is selling like CRAZY. The cool part is that my illo is featured heavily in the promo video for the book. It was featured on NPR in an interview with Cyndi Lauper.

Here’s a couple of stills from the video, which you can catch on YouTube. The book itself is selling on Etsy and goes to a great cause. Really great to see a kid coloring it.

The Illy Espresso Capsule Rocket Stove

Illy Rocket Stove

Ever since I heard of a rocket stove, I’ve wanted to build one. Essentially, its a hyper-efficient way of cooking using minimal fuel, basically twigs. Pretty amazing. So, when I saw the Illy coffee capsules at L’Artisan Cafe next to Modmama (shameless plugs), I figured it was a great way to salvage some trash and see if I could build one.

Generally, it didn’t take long. The hardest part was cutting the canister in a controlled-enough way so the fits were nice and tight (still not as nice as I was hoping). Its great to have it finished, but the anti-climactic part of the equation is that it uses ashes, yes ashes, as an insulation medium. So now to try it out, I either have to burn the hell out of some wood over the winter or figure out who I can mooch some ashes from. Guessing that getting them to save them for me will be harder part.

So, if you know anyone with a lot of excess ashes, send them my way.

ModiBot Core figure kit Ver1


Stoked! Last night, I finished putting a whole kit together, posted it to Shapeways and ordered two full figures. Oh, yeah.

Matched up the parts pretty well (all with new X ball design, open sockets, and cruciform shafts). Just noticed that I didn’t cruciform the wrists on my hand parts, but that will have to wait for now. Threw the knife and sheath in for good measure. We don’t want to have a figure without something to do.

These will show up on or around the 13th. From there, I’ll start focusing more on accessories and the outer build system. My rudimentary 3d skills have gotten me this far, but the next round will be a bit tougher, using softer and more complex mechanical and organic shapes. That’ll be a fun thing to sketch on over Xmas break.

I’m going to drop one in Wyatt’s stocking. He’s been pretty interested in how its all evolving, but frustrated that he can’t play with all my proto parts laying around on my desk.

Check out the pics!

Complete posable figure

Highly poseable!

Big Balls. That’s a problem.

Another round of parts. This time I upped the ball size to create more tension in the joint. That definitely worked, maybe a bit too well, so I’m going to bring the ball back down a bit. The one nice and unexpected side effect of the bigger ball is that as the grit wears out of the joint faster, but it still keeps a nice amount of tension. The ball becomes shiny and, I’m guessing, also wears the interior of the socket down

Let’s see. What’s new in the pics?  The arms have the new cruciform post design to minimize the material usage. Which seem to still be fairly robust. This nylon material from Shapeways is pretty nice. I haven’t had any breakage so far. Maybe I should try to break something just to get a feel for the amount of pressure it takes.

The other new thing is the the newly designed forearms. These are Xevoz-compatible (the future ‘ModiBotX’ body), but also have a smaller wall thickness on the wrist socket. The hands shown are from last round and still have the smaller ball (and shorter shaft design that didn’t work or look as well on the original forearms with the larger sockets. The tapered look is great and the wall thickness doesn’t seem to creating a breakage problem. Something to pay attention to over time.

The only other thing is the new ‘X’ cuts in the ball. These are intended to create some ‘give’ in the ball and seem to be doing their job. I’m somewhat wondering if this design will cause more wear in the joint. I’m prepared with a couple other options if this becomes a problem.

The posability seems pretty damn good. I’m getting a lot of travel out of the elbows. Much better than many of the ball joint figs on the market (it helps that he’s so skinny). I’m not quite sold on the current ankle design, but it mostly seems okay.

I guess the next phase is to start to assemble an entire kit. I’m going to push farther to reduce the material in the figure. Maybe cut some material out of the sockets with a pass-through and try the cruciform design on the other parts to see if they maintain their integrity. The cruciform is a bit ugly, but my goal is to get an entire figure down to $10 cost of material from Shapeways. I think I have a long way to go. The big shift will be to modify all the parts so I have a full Modibot Core body kit and a full ModiBotX body.



Vs. Battle! ModBot vs Uncube!

ModiBot Uncube

All this focus on Modi and I forgot the cute little Uncube that came from Ponoko the other day. The material seems fairly durable, but the wall thickness feels like it might be prone to breakage at the edges.

This was a fun ‘sketch’, but I think I need much more ‘Un-‘ in my Uncube. I’ve got a few more sketches that i want to explore. I keep coming back to a concept that houses swatches of different 2d materials- like cut felt, cork or magazine clippings or whatever. That might be a fun item to test and perfect using Ponoko since they have both 2d and 3d capability.

Knife (Machete)


Finished a knife the other night. Pretty pleased with how it turned out, but… I just put it in context to the figure. Pretty damn big.

Sooo, I suppose its a bit more like an Appleseed tactical ‘sword’ or machete at this point. Still had fun doing it.

Possible improvements


Since we’re running with this whole ‘constant beta’ mentality that is being discussed a lot in the start-up world, here’s a few new updated parts. I’ve already shifted many around, taken some down and hopefully made the system better and robust at every turn. Kaizen has worked out pretty well for the Japanese, right?

I built up the balls a bit and redesigned my compliance slots in the ball to see if they add anything. The sockets tend to flex to create compliance, but I wanted to see if this makes any difference. After playing with all the parts tonight, i think the new ball size might be too large, but we’ll see. Parts should be here on Dec 2nd or so.

What else? Oh, yeah, material efficiency. I cut a couple parts down a bit to see if making a cruciform cross section makes the shafts less sturdy. K’NEX use a cruciform shaft, so I think its worth the try. We’re probably saving pennies, but everything helps.

So, in addition to some new upper arms, torso and hip, I redesigned a forearm. Mostly because they were just too damn ugly, but the added bonus was that I cut a sizable amount of material out of the design. I also created a very small, thin-walled socket for the wrist. Its pretty teeny, but hopefully still robust. When they come in, I may try to tilt the socket a bit more to let the wrist bend more naturally. I moved the socket on the feet and you can see from my last post that the feet actually have a pretty good amount of travel. I’m pretty pleased with the new design, now I need to work it into the ‘diamond’ configuration. I’m guessing it won’t be as pretty as this design.