Saturday, August 15, 2015

My first Blitz3D mini games

My first experience with programming games (actually, my first programming experience at all) was with DIV Games Studio, an awesome framework for making video games created by a Spanish company called Hammer technologies. At that time I also started learning about digital 3D modeling thanks to awesome magazines such as Jumping. I had the idea of making a 3D game, but unfortunately DIV Games Studio was designed mostly for 2D games. After some searching I found Blitz3D, a simple environment for game creation that supported 3D objects and seemed easy to program. With the help of a friendly IRC community, I managed to build my first demo games in no time.

Since Blitz3D recently went open source and can be downloaded from their site for free (instructions), I decided to recover those old games and put them on my github. Apart from a little game in Javascript, I haven't made any games since then. Lately, I've been experimenting with the popular Cocos2D platform and I hope I can get some time for Unity as well.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My first marble machine

Marble machines are one of the best ways I know of for experimenting with mechanisms such as levers, pulleys, inclined planes, gears, or cams. The one in the following video is the first one I've built:

But let's start from the beginning. During last year's Maker faire I got surprised by the skills of Denha sensei at building his own complex marble machines.

After the Maker Faire, I spent hours admiring his creations and how he checks every detail in a methodical way. I came to the conclusion that a marble machine is usually made of some of the following components:

For my first marble machine I tried to make it simple. For that reason, I only used two common artifacts: a wheel elevator and an inclined plane. For finding the centre of the wheel, I used simple geometry. However, I had to drill a big hole for the bearing to fit in. That affected the accuracy of the centre. For that reason, I had to use a small spring that would automatically adjust the distance between the wheel and the motor's shaft (probably it would have been easier if I had used brass wire for the wheel's axis instead of a bearing). The inclined plane was made using a chisel. This is the list of materials I used:
  • Geared motor: MOT114A1B 6V 60RPM 12GA (Sengoku 1280yen)
  • Gear for the shaft of the motor (Sengoku) and a rubber cover (Ishikawa-neji)
  • Balls 7mm diameter (Tokyu hands)
  • A small spring (from a pen)
  • Brass wire 1mm diameter (Radio depaato in Akiba)
  • Wood (a home center and Daiso)
  • On/Off push switch (from an junk board)
  • 2*AA batteries with a case (Daiso and Akizuki denshi)
  • Aluminium plate (Yokyu hands)
  • Bearing (from an broken stepper motor)
This is a list of tools I used:
  • A precision hand drill
  • A precision wood saw
  • Dremel 4000 with various bits
  • Tweezers
  • Cable cutter
  • Long/round nose pliers
  • Tape
  • A universal vise
  • Chisels
  • Sand paper
Conclusions: I failed many times, but I also learned a lot during the process of building my own marble machine. Indeed it was harder than what I had expected. I will try to build upon these lessons learned, and make a better marble machine next time. You can check my notes for more details.