As you may remember, pretty soon we’re going to be officially opening the Robot Open Hardware Initiative (ROHI). Basically, if you make open source robotic parts and share them with Digilent we might send you some neat swag. You’ll all hear the official rules soon.
Tinkercad is a free, online-based 3D design software that’s easy to use. Since it’s web-based, you don’t have to download any software and all of your designs are stored on your online account. That’s the main reason I like using it. I can start a design on one computer and pick up working on it on another computer. You can also set designs either as public or private in case you have a design you aren’t quite ready to make public.
I have made 3 Instructables using Tinkercad. The first post covers how to use the align tool in Tinkercad. The align tool allows you to align things by edges or by center. I find it is one of the most useful tools. The align tool is located in the top right of the screen on Tinkercad. The align tool shows you the options with the little black dots. If you hover over one of the little black dots you can preview the align before you commit to it. Of course, if you do commit too early, you can always undo it.
In my Instructable I go through how to align horizontally, vertically, and by depth. In each of those options you can align by either side and by the center. Below I have the Align horizontal step as an example. Align center is on the top, align left is on the left and align right is on the right. The grey dots indicate how it is aligned already.
The second Instructable covers using the ruler tool, the single most helpful tool in Tinkercad. In this Instructable I go through how to measure both negative and positive distances with one object, how to measure differences in two objects, and how to measure with one object inside another. Below you can see measuring with negative distances. If the ruler tool is on the right side of the object it will measure a negative distance. The ruler acts just like a 2 dimensional axis where positive is to the right and up.
If the object is to the right and above the ruler tool. Then you will be measuring a positive distance.
The best and most life changing feature of the ruler tool is the fact that you can type in dimensions. This means no more dragging to get exact dimensions. As you can imaging trying to get 1.34 by dragging the corner is not easy.
The last Tinkercad Instructable is one you’ve read about in a previous post, the 3D printed cookie cutter. This takes SVG images and extrudes them to make a cookie cutter in any shape you want.
The last Instructable in the collection is my Instructable on Repables. Repables is an online repository of 3D models. It is where I store and share my final parts. You can upload the part with a description, instructions, and a revision number. Once you upload a part to Repables it can now be referred to as a Repable. If you want to share your part with Digilent we ask that you tag Digilent in the Repable. This Instructable will tell you how. You can view all of your Repables in one place, on your account page.
Here is the first step in making a Repable. You have to upload the files. You can upload any file type but I recommend the STL (3D model) file and a picture.
You can also add instructions to your Repable. Anything important someone might need to know to successfully print and use the Repable. Then there are the tags. The only way to search on Repables is by tags. So if you want someone to find your part, the more tags the better.
So that you don’t have to go looking all over the place, I’ve grouped all of these Instructables into one collection. Also in that collection is James’ post on Blender, in case you decide not to use Tinkercad. You can read about his Instructable here. Even if you have no experience with 3D printing, start reading these Instructables and soon you will be designing and printing like a pro. Keep checking the blog for the official ROHI announcement and video!