There are many aspects of the Pistonrobot story. I feel the proper starting point is to discuss what was the very beginning process that brought the Pistonrobot into being. For this initial starting creation event, I chose to draw the robot using a high quality 3D drawing program (Sketchup Pro). My decision to initially create the Pistonrobot as a 3D drawing file was my way to address the following concern that I felt people could have about the Pistonrobot. My concern was that people would say, “Well, the Pistonrobot is a great robot and I like the way it looks and moves, but it is not reasonable to devote a lot of time and attention to this robot…..because the Pistonrobot is impossible to create as a real item.”
I felt the great advantage of letting the Pistonrobot “exist” inside a high quality 3D drawing program is the exploration and visualization features that are a part of this drawing program. Inside the 3D drawing program, it is a very simple process to “look around and study” the robot. Whatever view one wants is available from the 3D program. Up close, far away, upside down, right side up, from above, from below, from behind. Every view one wants is easy to do. Also extreme closeup views are easy to achieve. With this visualization process one can look at the parts of the robot and simply explore to see one issue that clearly would make the robot impossible to create as a real object, and this is the issue where one physical part is occupying the physical space of another physical object. This cannot happen in real structures. Since the robot is designed to move around and to have this motion ability by the action of the robot moving its parts, then another visualization process becomes very important.
This visualization process related to the robot moving and the robot moving its various parts around concerns the issue that one cannot allow parts, as they move, to “run into” or “occupy the space” of other objects in the robot. A great visualization tool in high quality 3D drawing programs is that certain parts or collections of parts can be selected and then caused to move in the 3D drawing space of the program. This visualization process allows one to take parts of the robot that move and “put these parts through their paces” to establish that the motions of a part that are integral to how the robot will function and move are motions that do not create the following conflict: a moving part runs into another part or acts to superimpose itself into the space occupied by another part.
My thought is: I’ll create these 3D drawing files and put them on the website where anyone can download them. One can then take these downloaded 3D drawing files and open these files on their own computer using their version of the Sketchup 3D drawing program and they themselves can satisfy themselves that these prohibited object “collision” events will not happen, when the robot is moving as it is designed to move.
I discovered as a surprise to me that there is a totally different feature of high quality 3D drawing programs which is that they create files from which images can be rendered. I thought that was so cool! One can create essentially “photos” or “images” of the robot or of parts of the robot. In addition, the high quality 3D drawing programs create files that can be uploaded into high quality rendering programs (the rendering program that I use is named KeyShot) and then truly beautiful images can be created by the rendering programs.
I thought that was just fun and visually entertaining. I discovered that one can just view the images in their own right. This would be viewing the images where one is not arguing whether the robot could be created, or if it’s a reasonable project to fund, or the physics of it, etc. This was just the enjoyment of looking at visually interesting, beautiful, stunning images. Again, this was a big surprise to me. It comes close to being a process like the creation of art. Whoa!!!
As I created and worked with these images it became clear that if one was working with images for the sole purpose of just enjoying the process of contemplating the image, that optically high quality images must be what one wants to create. As you know, because of data transmission issues with websites, the websites are always pushing toward small, optically lower quality images. I’m not complaining, this allows the internet to work.
I did discover however, if one creates images of very high optical quality, that these image files are large files in the range of 30-80 mb and (at least to me) it seemed that certain types of image presentation file types made for prettier images that other types. In fact, I think the PNG type file makes the nicest looking images, just using the criteria of being optically fun to look at.
In what was another surprise to me, I discovered that the internet, at least WordPress does not seem to “like” png file types very much. Particularly large size png’s. Again, I’m not complaining, it is just what I’ve found to be how the internet works.
So, considering all these issues about optically high quality images that I discuss above, I decided to upload large size PNG files to the website and then make them available for download. My suggestion is not to try opening these large size PNG files with your web-browser because it will take a long time to open them and frequently your web-browser will decide that it just isn’t going to open these files. The process I am suggesting instead is that you download these large size PNG files to your local hard drive and then open them with an image processing program that you have on your local computer.
I decided that to allow this to work reasonably, that I would create a smaller jpg or small png version of these images and let them display on the webpage and your web-browser should be able to open and display these smaller size versions of the image. Then, as you look at the image, if you find that you have the curiosity to view an optically very high quality version of a particular image, then you can click the spot to let the website download to you the large size PNG file of the image.
There are so many parts of this Pistonrobot and I really want all of them to be visible so people can understand how the robot works. There are many smaller parts and spaces of the robot where other larger parts or structural elements surround these smaller spaces and the effect is that shadows are present and smaller areas cannot be well seen. This can be helped by altering how the rendering program handles illumination settings. I found with KeyShot I can increase the light brightness and choose a light environment that favors intense lighting.
Alas, however, with these light levels, there can be flaring and glare, but KeyShot allows one to alter the textures and qualities of the materials that are assigned to the various parts of the 3D model. For example, I used this feature to alter the aluminum metal the structural parts of the robot. I added some blue color to the aluminum and also increased its bumpiness and decreased its reflectivity so that there is not so much light flaring. I wanted particularly to do this so that the ankle could be seen to allow folks to understand how inversion and eversion of the foot are kept separated from dorsi and plantar flexion of the foot.Download 7mb This is a PNG file named: 11 30-samples-from-sketchup-v91-piston-based-transceiver-shown-in-cylinder-v9.44 (68 downloads) Download 11mb This is a PNG file named: 12 40-samples-from-sketchup-v93-piston-based-transceiver-shown-in-cylinder-v10.55 (60 downloads) Downloads 35mb This is a PNG file named: 13 60-min-render-oak-floor-added-from-v471-sketchup-22-robots-v5.31 (65 downloads) Download 45mb This is a PNG file named: 26 oak-floor-added-from-v471-sketchup-22-robots-v5.24 (68 downloads) Download 32mb This is a PNG file named: 27 view-from-the-front-30-min-render-oak-floor-added-from-v471-sketchup-22-robots-v5.44 (63 downloads) Download 43mb This is a PNG file named: 28 140-samples-grass-from-v471-grass-around-toes-fixed-sketchup-22-robots-v9.4 (82 downloads) Download 23mb This is a PNG file named: 29 cropped-by-corel-60-samples-trees-grass-from-v471-sketchup-22-robots-v15.1 (63 downloads) Download 35mb This is a PNG file named: 30 mod-v1-by-corel-from-sketchup-v451-shoulder-v4 (68 downloads)