Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Update #1

Not alone in the 3D-printing world anymore. (source)

So a couple months ago now, Discords Domain went on Hiatus. Here's an update about what's been going on behind the scenes on my end. Other mods feel free to add in what they've been up to in the comments.

Before DD can 'reboot', I wanted to customize the site quite a bit, to automate some processes and provide in general a better-quality, more reliable, more competitive site. I'm still working toward that end. At the moment, what I'd like to make is something like Website Watcher, except modifiable by everyone such that you aggregate data into a community filter-bubble. A data aggregator that really does get everything reliably would save members of the brony community a lot of browsing-time. Let me know in the comments if you've got any ideas to add to that, and I'll consider them carefully.

Anyways, programming the site has taken a bit more time than I wanted: there have been a number of distractions. The first month the blog was down, I focused on my studies in college, and on perfecting my 3D printer. I also had the opportunity to go to Harvard's Lewis Lab (check them out, they do cool things) for a while and see what they've been up to in the area of 3D-printing. Thought I might share.

First off is the mother of all 3D-printers. This beauty is a five ton granite slab with a y-axis bolted on, an x-axis levitated on magnetically-damped air bearings. and not much z-axis to speak of. That's because  She's got position control down to five nanometers and prints with such fine detail that to print anything with an appreciable z-height would take a long time. With this machine, they've printed silver nanowire arrays for touch-screens, LEDs, extremely efficient batteries and antennas, and many other neat things. And since gravity is negligible on the nanoscale, they can literally print in mid-air, given some caveats. The grad student giving us a tour wishes to eventually print out a whole smart-phone, transistors and all, with this printer. From what I've seen, they're well on their way to doing it. But I have a feeling I've discussed all this awesome stuff before, so I'll get moving.

Here's a closer look at that magnetically-dampened air-bearing. A beauty worthy of r/machineporn. No really, that's a thing.

This printer, also at the Lewis Lab, is ironically a Formlabs printer, developed at MIT, more often than not Harvard's nearby competitor.

Oh Harvard... One of the few places a student would design and build a robotic arm with like five degrees of freedom just to make a candy-grabbing game for their dorm lobby.

Aside from the really fancy printers, lots of the students print stuff almost as a hobby. The quality of their prints is impressive.

A room full of printers for the hobbyists

Anyways, all that stuff was fun, but I was ready to head home for the summer, start 3D-printing for Bronycon, and start making DD's new webpage. Oh and by the way, I'll have a vendor's booth at Bronycon:

playing around with web design and 3D printing only lasted about a week though, because I suddenly ended up with an unexpected three-week internship at a small startup, doing web design. I guess I'm too good at everything to be jobless... not sure whether that's a curse or a blessing in the context of this summer, during which I'd only planned to 3D-print and program at a leisurely pace, at home, and maybe read a couple textbooks. The internship was excellent practice for building DD though, and probably worth it in the long run.

So after that, I got another week or two of programming and printing, then my family made me go to Myrtle beach with them. I suppose it was necessary - I hadn't wound down from college yet and I was working myself so hard I got some sort of weird stress-induced eczema. But I still got back at them by finding handfuls of shark teeth.

Shark teeth, as well as my 3D printer in the background.

After that, they didn't want to go swimming much. Luckily though, most of those teeth were fossilized. Sharks were plentiful once, but people have done a good job of killing off even those species who have been around for hundreds of millions of years.

When we got back from that trip, I got right back to programming and 3D-printing. I posted a model I made on Thingiverse, which I designed because I was bored and my watch strap broke. Did some other stuff there too. More about that in the near future hopefully.

On the side, I've been trying to get my quantum wave equation model to work properly, and for small quantum numbers it did, but it quickly diverged. The energy states it outputs were supposed to be the squares of the quantum numbers. I think this is because I'm using lagrangian interpolation instead of hermitian interpolation, which would be much more physically accurate. I also accidentally added a bug in there somewhere. I think, now that I understand the quantum system better, that I may start over again. Anyways if there's anyone nerdy enough to look into that stuff, I've got the malfunctioning java code up on google docs. And since that's not perfectly clear, here's an explanation myself and a few other students wrote.

And the final thing on my end, I started up a business recently to promote development of disruptive technologies. For now, it goes by the name of "Futuralization", and for now, it is a 3D-printing service. So if you have a 3D model that you like, or you've found something on thingiverse that you might like, I can print it for you as long as it has the right type of creative commons license. Oh and Sleepy, You're hired, if you want. Just need to get the business big enough to allow for multiple payrolls.

As for the other mods, Sleepy's been keeping the site alive, Hyper, Trig and I may return to help him soon - actually Trig's been hanging out on the Los Pegasus Tribune, another site sort of like DD. And hey, Kyo's there... What have I been missing out on!? ... It's Las by the way. Actually... Is that a pun for Los Angeles or Las Vegas? 

Swatteam and Robotbob are still around, though I haven't seen them posting anything. And as for the other mods, I haven't seen Radio, Shuup, or FPLOON recently, and SB's been more focused on EqD commenting and his Twitter, which is quite good and you should check it out. He manages to get most of the news first.