So I’ve come across a new toy: a Dimension SST 768 3D printer! But, it was having some difficulty turning on and working. Tearing into the back of the system, I found three DC power supply boards (24V, 12V+5V, and 120V), a single-board computer, an overly-complex logic/controller board, and what’s labeled a “Power Distribution Board” which connects to all the steppers and other hardware.
First order of business was to check the power boards, which were all spot-on voltage output. Ruling that out, I needed to see what was going on during the boot process.
Thanks to another helpful blog post, I discovered that the SBC was an Ampro P5v – which was awesome, because the label for the board is buried under another one, and I couldn’t see it without tearing it all down. Didn’t feel like it that day.
From the manual for the SBC, we discover the pinouts for the video port, J5:
|10||Fused +5V Power||n/a|
I dug out a ten-pin connector with ribbon cable attached, from an old 9-pin serial backplate. Snipped off the serial port, sacrificed an old VGA cable (since there were no DB15 jacks in my junk pile), and rigged up an adapter. It works perfectly! There are also keyboard and USB and all the other I/O you could want on that SBC, documented in the manual.
Now that we’re in, it’s time to root the beast, turn on SSH, bypass the cartridge EPROMs, and make some awesome. My beloved MakerBot, your big brother has arrived!
I had opportunity to do a presentation on the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process today at Synacor. After ten years attending the Creative Problem Solving Institute, it’s in my bones, and I use it intuitively without even being aware. Always nice to circle back around to the details, and explore the details that make this such a useful tool to facilitate awesome.
The boiled-down slides from the presentation are available on SlideShare. They may not make as much sense outside the full presentation, but enjoy them!
Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.
- Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1846-1912)
That will be a reality soon, all over the net, unless you act now to stop it.
If you neglect to speak up, allowing apathy to stay your hand, I will tell you to shut the hell up when you start complaining about the repercussions of your inaction. Just sayin’.
If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed the national debate on the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act, H.R. 3261. This overly-broad bill will serve only to harm individuals, small businesses, and IT industry innovation, by attempting to legislate an artificial scarcity. Piracy will not be stopped by this method. The problems are far broader and require a deep understanding of the matters at hand. What we are faced with is an opportunity for new business models, new distribution methods, new ways of relating between producer and consumer.
The old ways are obsolete. Those that try to maintain them will become increasingly irrelevant, until they die off. I really wish the big media companies would realize this, and instead of holding on to the past would embrace the future. They have the financial wherewithal to do great things, but alas, they are proving to be fools, and will perish on the sword of innovation wielded by new players in the game.
Trust me, I care about piracy–I slave away to create music, films, and software. It’s hard work, often years of hard work. But I know that the approach in SOPA is dead wrong. Congress is clueless, because they don’t live in the tech world. It’s our responsibility to educate them, and demand they do the right thing.
Look a this Infographic! Everyone loves them.
Track your elected reps: SOPA Tracker
Read a good Forbes.com article
I would post some more links to relevant articles, but they are coming in so fast from every side it’d be futile. Get the freshest information, follow #SOPA on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23SOPA
Educate yourself. Contact your congresscritters. It’s simple to do – do something, and do it now: http://goo.gl/wFvkp
Tonight I ran across a problem using a Wacom Intuos3 tablet with Adobe After Effects CS5.5. The pen pressure would not work with the brush tool in AE, and the brush acted as if I was using a plain old mouse. Having some detailed work to do, I needed both the Wacom pen input and pressure sensitivity, which I’ve fallen in love with for Photoshop use. (Seriously – if you do any significant amount of Photoshop work, get a Wacom tablet. It’s the best money you’ll spend.)
Since I’ve had far too many years of professionally dealing with PC troubleshooting, I went through all the normal steps you might expect: uninstall and reinstall the drivers, install different driver versions, blow away the preferences file, restart Windows, etc. Nothing worked. To be clear: this is a 64-bit install of Windows 7, and I tried Wacom driver versions 6.1.6-7 and 6.1.7-3, with the latest After Effects CS5.5 updates (reported as version 10.5.0.253).
It struck me that the pen was working much like a mouse, I could gleefully get motion and clicking, but no pressure, tilt, or any of the good stuff. Remember, this is only in After Effects; the pen worked fine in Photoshop. During one of my uninstall / reboot / reinstall iterations, I noticed that Windows picked up the Wacom Intuos3 as a mouse, but of course nothing used the tablet features because there were no drivers installed. So, I checked the Device Manager, and found that there was a generic ”HID-compliant mouse” installed for the tablet. I verified the Vendor ID, and also unplugged my regular mouse to be certain it was the tablet. It was.
This made me suspect that perhaps After Effects was binding to a mouse driver before it got around to the Wacom tablet driver, precipitating the pressureless performance of the pen. I reinstalled the latest Wacom drivers, and checked back with the Device Manager, and found this:
Notice that there are at least four devices associated with the Wacom Intuos3 tablet, which I highlighted in yellow. Two of them, under the Pointing Devices grouping, seemed very mouse-like, and probably serve to drive the pointer around. The other two, listed under Human Interface Devices, smelled a bit more tablet-specific, and probably provide the pressure, tilt, and other fun stuff to applications. This is just a guess on my part.
Going ahead with my theory that AE was binding to the wrong device first, I wanted to force After Effects to find the tablet drivers before the mouse drivers. I disabled the two Wacom mouse driver entries (which prevents the pen from moving the pointer, by the way), then launched After Effects, and finally re-enabled the two Wacom mouse devices.
It worked! Lovely, glorious pressure sensitivity! I could brush my roto masks with finesse! Retouching became fun instead of a chore! The promise of the pen was fulfilled! Oh, happy day.
My guess here is there is a bug on the Adobe end of things, whereby AE is binding to the mouse-flavoured drivers in lieu of the tablet-flavoured oens. I’ll go file a bug report with them shortly, and hopefully it will get cleared up in the next release. But for now, we have a workaround for the Wacom pen pressure not working in After Effects for the Brush tool:
- Disable the two devices: Wacom Mouse and Wacom Mouse Monitor
- Launch After Effects
- Enable the two devices disabled in the first step
- Scribble away!
And there we have it. A working, if annoying, method to enable Pen Pressure in After Effects!
Update: After you do this, if you use Wacom’s mouse on the tablet at all, AE will switch back to mouse mode and not use pressure with the pen. So, keep the mouse away from the pad! You can use a regular mouse just fine, but the tablet mouse will switch things back to sucky mode.
Desperation leads to crazy solutions. I had a nice shot lined up down a narrow crawlspace, but the foreground end of it was pitch black. We had no lights, no genny, no power, no battery-powered lanterns*, nothing. The way the sun and windows were angled made it impossible to bounce any light to my actor. But I wanted the shot! With nothing to work with, what could we do?
I needed light. Anything would work. So I gathered up as many cellphones as I could. Now, we aren’t talking modern phones with handy LED lights on them (oh that would have been nice…) – what we had were old, small phones. A Motorola RAZR, and two Blackberries, and one other brick phone I don’t recall. I had a brave assistant stand just outside of the frame, and hold the phones up over the actor’s head. We had to time it right, by hitting keys on the phones to wake them up, get them into position, and roll camera before the backlights blinked out. It’s not easy holding four phones at once!
Dim, tiny backlights. Framed so I could have them eight inches from the target. They threw just enough light that I could see my actor’s face, but I wasn’t hopeful that the camera would. We’re talking a 1/3″ chip HPX170. Amazingly, it did get something! Just enough. But noisy as hell, down there with all the muck.
Thankfully, there’s Neat Video. It is saving shot after shot right now, and I’m loving every bit of it. Fantastic bit of code! Highly recommended. For the end result on this one, I ended up doing a split-frame, with very heavy noise reduction on the left, and less on the right so as not to crush all the grain and texture out of the wall.
Remember when layering masks like this, to avoid a line where they join, select “Alpha Add” as the upper layer’s transfer mode in After Effects. This gets the alpha channels to add together properly, giving you a seamless result. It may not be perfect, but it’s pretty darn good, and good enough to save the shot and make it work in context of the rest of the film. I’ll call that a win!
We pulled a lot of tricks like this for Binary Samurai… I can’t wait until it’s done!
* As a side note – I have a Coleman lantern that is powered by eight D-cell batteries and sports a 13W CFL bulb. I wrapped half of it in foil for a reflector, and it makes quite the handy bit of extra light in those remote locations when we are without the luxury of a genny and grip truck. Wish I had it around for this shot!