One of the more interesting effects in 3D programs is volumetrics, which gives the ability to add mist, fog, atmosphere, god rays, and more to a scene. When I played around with LightWave and Maya in the past, I experimented with volumetrics but they came with a cost: significantly increased render times.
I started playing with some volumetric solutions in Blender 3D and unfortunately that cost has not gone away. When using full-blown volumetric effects, the render times go up 10 times or more.
In this first look at volumetrics, I am limiting my experiments to a quick outdoor scene I created, where I attempt to add an atmospheric light-scattering effect.
I started playing around with Blender 3D around the time 2.80 came out last year, and I am very impressed with the software. Although I haven’t dedicated enough time to it the last six months, I’m starting to focus more on learning the ins-and-outs of the software.
I’ve gone through some tutorials (including the entire donut tutorial, which I highly recommend if you’re trying to learn the software), so I feel pretty comfortable with the basics. Now I’m starting to play around with miscellaneous features, which will also give me more practice in the software. I plan on posting some of my experiments with Blender features here, as I learn about them.
First up: motion blur. This feature is pretty simple to play with, so I set up a very basic scene. It’s basically a light-saber, with a simple black handle and a cylinder “blade” with an emission shader.
The first thing to know about motion blur in Blender is that currently (v2.82) there are limitations with EEVEE, the real-time render engine. Although motion blur works if you want to blur due to a moving camera, you cannot blur based on moving objects. Since I want to test moving objects, I had to change the render engine to Cycles.
This is the first piece of fine woodworking I’ve done, and I am very proud of the finished result!
As I mentioned in the original post, I started with red oak plywood and boards. The vertical posts in the corners and between each column of drawers is solid wood; so are the drawer fronts, the trim, and the border around the top of the chest. The rest is plywood, although I tried to hide all of the edges of the plywood.
The weather here in the Midwest has been brutally cold and snowy, which has been preventing me from getting much work done on my woodworking project I mentioned a few weeks ago. I normally use my garage for cutting larger pieces of wood, but my garage has frequently been below freezing and often covered with salty sludge.
But I have at least finished one project: I needed to come up with a way for my wife’s new office to receive faxes even though she switched to Twilio SIP for phone. The solution I came up with uses a Raspberry Pi, custom Node.js code, and Twilio Programmable Fax for a (very) low-cost fax server that both receives incoming faxes and has a web interface for sending faxes.
The final result is available on github. Installation is a multi-step, manual process. And received faxes are stored in a Maildir format so that multiple computers can access the files through POP3 (which is probably not how everyone wants to retrieve received faxes). But the code is open-source and easy to modify, so it could be tweaked to meet your requirements if you need an inexpensive way to send and receive faxes without an actual fax machine connected to an old-school phone line.
If you install it for yourself, let me know what you think!
I finally have some free time again to spend on fun personal projects! I decided to try something a little more ambitious with woodworking, and I just bought all the wood I need.
The lumber yard pre-cut the larger pieces for me, so I could easily fit it all into my car. But since I was not sure of the exact final dimensions, I will still need to trim many of the pieces to an exact size before I can put anything together.
I have already started working this project, and I’m enjoying using my tools again! Stay tuned for updates on what I’m making!
I know, it’s been a while since I’ve been around here. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to spend any time making things at home. I have been busy with work, and that has prevented me from spending any time on the hobbies I love.
The biggest problem over the last six months has been my commute. Traveling an hour each way to work is bad enough. But it has also thrown off my sleeping schedule, so I feel tired when I actually find some free time. And if I’m tired, then I’m not motivated to do much.
Fortunately, that will change in the very near future. Within the next month, I plan on switching to a 100% remote work situation. The hours I’ll gain back each week will be great, plus I’ll actually be well-rested and motivated to start some new personal projects.
To get a small taste of my old maker hobby, I decided to browse Thingiverse for a 3D model to print. And I ended up printing this:
Remember when I 3D printed the pistol from Firefly? I finally revisited that project and finished the 3D printed pieces, turning the plastic-looking parts into a fully assembled, realistic looking replica of Malcolm Reynold’s pistol!
Watch the video to learn how I transformed 3D printed parts into my first replica prop gun!
I spent a lot of time on this project sanding the 3D parts smooth. I found the best way was to start with 80 grit sandpaper to get rid of all the print lines. Then I moved up to 180 grit to refine the finish. And finally, I moved to 240 grit or even 400 grit to really smooth out the surface. Continue reading “Finishing the Firefly 3D Printed Prop Pistol”