Friday, December 6, 2013

bladeRF-car designed with DesignSpark Mechanical


A bladerf-car? Yes, somehow. In between my bladerf-project I played a lot with DesignSpark Mechanical, free 3D software.  And now in Holland there are fablabs. What is fablab? Fabrication-laboratory. A workshop with machines like 3D-printers and a laser cutter. Somewhere in the corner is a reprap busy reproducing itself… I am excited.

In the beginning of my career, before being a retired engineer, I was at the start of the computer age. My first job was maintenance of a PDP8 minicomputer. Later, many years later, there was my first PC with a 10 MB hard disk! 10 MB. Incredibly that an average hard disk now is at least 1TB, that is 1000 GB and 1 GB is 100 * 10 MB! So an average hard disk in a laptop (!) has a capacity of 100.000 times my first 10 MB hard disk. The same with memory, the same with transfer speed, the same with…

These times are incredible times. A few years ago I saw the first regular use of LEDs. Now I have a little pocket flashlight with an enormous amount of light. Ok, my old big maglite with 4 D-cells is still in my car if I need to impress someone. The 4 D-cells in an aluminium case impress more than the light of the small lamp inside that maglite however…

There is a new phenomenon: 3D printing. It is not new at all, but there is a breakthrough now. I feel that again I am at the start of something new, something that will change the world.

So, the last few weeks I was playing around with DesignSpark Mechanical. It is free 3D software. With it you can draw 3D objects and produce .STL files. Those files contain the info that a 3D printer needs to 3D print what you did draw with your 3D software. You can upload the file to a printer shop and some time later you get the stuff in real hardware in your postbox. Or you buy or build a 3D printer and print your creative work at home!

Have a look at and see what others designed!

About 35 years ago I designed a car made from plywood. It was a kind of puzzle. But once you slide all the pieces in place you have a car to play with. I redesigned that same car with DesignSpark Mechanical. Just for fun and just because you can. I think I am gonna take a piece of Trespa and take it to the fablab. Then I might use a laser cutter to make this car into a real thing.

The car:

And a more or less exploded view:

How to put this all together?

First you take the left side (linkerzijde)

Now first take the bakdeksel (cover of the the rear area) and stick it in the left side:

Not take the right side (rechterzijde) and put it in place:

 Now is the time for the front plate (frontschot), you slide it upwards in place:

At last: the bottom plate (bodemplaat). This is a little tricky: you have to place it at the underside:

 of the car, push it upwards:

 and then slide it forwards. The result:

Or in the original perspective:

Now we can slide the window (voorruit) on its place:

And the roof (cabinedak) with result:

Finally the last two planes called tussenschot and achterschot:

As you can see these last two planes lock the bottom plate, and finally, there it is, the bladerf-car:

Some remarks:
I designed the car from a plate with a thickness of 6 mm
In DesignSpark Mechanical I named the various parts, so they can be separately designed
I used mostly Select and Pull during the design
It is very handy to select a surface and then choose Plan View to get a plane to draw upon
With the pull tool you can remove parts by dragging backwards
If you want to design something like this: study, do and perform all the tutorials and videos you can find on the Internet
it is really difficult at the start, but at the end you draw with ease and confidence!
Use points, lines, rectangles and construction lines: you can delete them selectively when not needed anymore
This car is a very simple example with flat planes, DesignSpark Mecanical can do a lot more!
I did not laser cut or 3D-print this design. I expect some problems: perhaps the gaps should be wider, a fraction of a millimeter. And may be there are errors in this design…
So, not any warranty, but don’t be afraid: do try this at home yourself!
I am in no way involved with DesignSpark Mechanical, the software is free and I am just a happy old retired married satisfied customer, really!

The example above was an attempt to design something (the blue ring) to connect a circular LED light (the yellow thing) to the rectangular frame of a microscope (the orangish thing)
I wanted to 3D print the blue adapter but it proved to be a lot easier just to take a piece of plywood and a jigsaw…


At the end of the year, more than ever, I like to look back in (my) history. Because of my age there is more past than future! But the present is interesting enough, so I tend to stay in the present every day as long as I live. The last few weeks I was distracted from my dear bladerf-project because of DesignSpark Mechanical. I took that side path and enjoyed it a lot. I hope you enjoyed it too!
If you want the STL-files of the design of the bladerf-car: just send me an email and I will be more than happy to send it to you.

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Whatever!

Que le vaya bien!