Okay, it's all cleaned up and uploaded to Shapeways. For only $100, I can get this printed, but I'm going to design a couple of small test pieces to try out as well. So, you'll all have to wait a few more weeks for the print photos. Now that I've got the little dance with MeshLab and AccuTrans all figured out, getting a printable model is actually straightforward.
Alright! Finally, I've uploaded a model successfully. I continued to struggle with inverted normals until I figured out how to get Accutrans to fix the remaining normals. The do-it-yourself active worlds page came to my rescue when the Accutrans help files failed to load, and it turns out all you need to do is click on a couple of semaphore flags, then click on the model.
Holy cow, this was harder than it should be! Shapeways keeps responding to numerous attempts to upload pieces of my model with an error stating that I have inverted normals. Yes, I understand why that might be a problem, but in a model with some 2000 faces (on one side of the car alone), some of which are extremely small, figuring out which ones are inverted is like looking for a needle in a haystack. In fact, if you look at the model with normals displayed in meshlab, it looks a little bit like a haystack!
Ugh! I've spent most of the evening battling myself and Google SketchUp! The two of us are formidable foes.
The challenge is this: Shapeways wants a super-clean mesh before they'll attempt to print. That means normals all have to point the same way, and no hidden faces or lines.
Sadly, SketchUp likes nothing better than creating hidden faces and lines -- it works best like this. When you see the slick demos online, rest assured that the resulting model is unprintable.
Doubly sadly, when I started the model, I was seduced by the powerful gestural language that the tool provides, and quickly did things like extruding rounded shapes for the window frames (who knows how they'll resolve on the printer!), and sloping the window sill so the rain doesn't run into the car.
Well, I've learned a ton about Google SketchUp since starting on this project. Today's lesson was about groups. Now in every other drawing program I've ever used, groups were of little actual utility because in order to edit the elements of the group, you had to break the group and recombine the elements. In SketchUp, on the other hand, you can edit the group in place, which is a huge boon when you're dealing with groups of thousands of elements. For much of the past couple of weeks as I've been modeling, I've been struggling with SketchUp choosing the wrong element when I'm trying to pick things: it often wants to choose an element behind the one I'm interested in. I can now see that combining elements into groups and editing the group is the way to defeat this annoyance. The more I use it, the more I like this tool.
Anyway, as you can see, I've not modeled the ends yet, and there are a many details to go, but the car is starting to take shape.
Well, you may as well know I've started on my next Proto:87 project. It is going to be the passenger car here, which I sadly know little about except that it ran on the Pembroke Southern behind my locomotive. I believe it was a GTR car, about 60 feet long, but the number and all other information seem to be lost in time.
The meet was a huge success! Many thanks to Dave Doe for putting it together, and to Rail 2009 for being such gracious hosts.
I've posted a few photos on flickr. I spent most of the weekend demonstrating scratchbuilding techniques in styrene, and delivered two clinics.
Here are the highlights:
- There were 50 registrants from nine countries
- 13 Proto:87 layouts were in attendance, including a Fremo setup of over 40 metres in length (about a third of their total length).