SketchUp as a hobby

Some notes on uploading this to Shapeways for 3D printing in color …

  1. Set the model units to decimal meters
  2. Use the tape measure tool to resize the model so that the sphere radius is 0.5m
  3. Export the model as a DAE file (in meters) with these options:

Name: earth.dae

  1. Edit the DAE file to change this line:


to (remove directory):

  1. Move the earth.gif file into the same directory as the DAE file
  2. Zip the DAE file and the GIF file together named as
  3. Upload the zipfile to Shapeways specifying inches for the upload (not meters)
  4. Result … 1" diameter model of the earth in full-color sandstone:

My new project is a 19th century carriage clock. Unlike the Wankel engine that I never completed due to a severe lack of “hard” data, I have a physical model that I can reference as needed. Since any timepiece is only as accurate as its base oscillator, I’ve started with that component before proceeding with the rest of the gear trains. So far, I’ve got the case, face and hands, and the main mounting plates done:

Here’s a photo of the escapement:

The rendering needs a lot more work, but I’ll worry about that after I have the rest completed:


I wonder if you could use “sketcy physics” (or whatever the plugin is) to actually get it to work? :slight_smile:

Are you taking this “thing” apart to take measurements?

After removing the clock assembly, I disassembled the case to make the model of it. I don’t plan to go any further since I’m all thumbs when it comes to touching things (there’s a reason I only make things using a keyboard). For the works themselves, I’ve been working from photos and using my digital calipers to get accurate measurements where possible. However, most of the pieces are in places I can’t get to with the calipers so I ordered some long dividers to transfer dimensions (they arrive today). I found a really good website that has very detailed photos of what should be where and how to make it work, so I’ve been sort of reverse-engineering things as I go along. The escapement movement isn’t quite faithful to the real one, but the individual components are constructed so that it’s mechanically functional. Starting with the output shaft of this assembly, I plan to follow the natural connection of things as they progress through the rest of the gears.

I plan on using my involute gear program to accurately model the gears … in theory, when I’m all done, one should be able to oscillate the balance wheel and drive the hands and chime. In theory, at least. I suspect it would be quite a load on a physics engine to make it work.

However, since everything is neatly laid out on planar co-ordinates, it should be fairly simple to create a plugin that rotates each component about it’s reference axis while insuring the ratio of the angular movements match the gear ratios. Hmmm …

Here’s a side photo (with lots of parallax):

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I’ve pretty much finished the time-keeping side of the clock. The next step is to add the chime feature (in the red area):

The clock-works so far:


Still needs screws here and there …

Exported as an STL file and imported into MakerBot:

I doubt if the gears will turn properly ;(

There is a conical depression on the opposite side of the brass plates at each end of the gear axles. This is for the purpose of providing an oil reservoir to provide lubrication.

Editing the plate component, I created 24-segment circles and then used a smaller circle to alt-extrude the frustrum. After only a couple of these, I happened to notice how many triangles were being generated:

I ended up creating square holes in the plates and inserting a scaled component of a (pointy) cone:

This produced a much tidier result:

It also allowed me to later easily change the cone angle globally across all of the oil cups. A quick test render gives this:

BTW, if you look closely at the quality of work, you can see why this clock by an apprentice (G.H) is only worth about $300. The design is identical to a Henri Jacot clock, but doesn’t have his immaculate workmanship.

Clockmaker’s mark:

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Nice solution!
I think youl could also have used a (scaled down) “Glue to plus Cut opening” component.

The triangles due to unscaled geomerty was to be expected with radial endpoints that close.

p.s. my initials are G.H. (H.). I don’t recall having worked on that clock, …but then my memory isn’t what it used to be.

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A couple of new Marvel Universe TV shows are set in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, so I thought it would be interesting to create a scale model of the area based on building footprint and height data.

Based on feedback from this model, I’ve added the rest of the 1,000,000+ buildings found in the New York City database. Due to the amount of geometry involved, I broke this up into 72 separate models keyed to this grid:

Each building is in a separate group whose name is the BIN identifier. The BIN can be used to look up all on-line documents associated with any particular building. Each building is a “solid” and may be 3D printed singly or en masse (ground TINs not included).


A couple of months ago, when I was playing around with wrapping textures onto spheres, I created a scale model of the Solar System (~1:400,000,000) . To simplify things, I placed all of the planets in a straight line from the Sun at their average orbital distances. The images were taken from NASA websites and mapped onto spheres of the appropriate diameters. While the rings of Saturn are tilted at the correct angle, it is positioned so that it visually presents itself better when viewed from the plus x-axis.

The model is in the Warehouse:



For some time now (fifty years, actually), I’ve wanted to publish a book. It didn’t really matter much what kind of book; just something with my name on it that could sit on the shelf alongside the “other” authors.

My first sporadic starts were made when a manual typewriter was the weapon of choice and a publisher was some unreachable entity. It was a laborious task to create the material in the first place and pretty much impossible to find someone to publish it for you once you were done. You could find a printer that would charge a setup fee and print as many copies as you were willing to pay for, but they wanted their money in advance. In practice, it simply wasn’t affordable. Especially for the amateur writer trying to hit the big time.

Today, anyone can use a computer to typeset their labor of love and publish it on-line with no out-of-pocket expense. The upside of cutting out the middle man has been the explosion of Indie endeavors in audio, video, art, and printed matter. The downside has been the explosion of Indie endeavors in audio, video, art, and printed matter. When Newton Minow first warned us about the “vast wasteland,” there were only 3 channels on TV (and no cable!). Today, there are effectively billions of them and, not surprisingly, most of them are not worth tuning into.

Now there’s one more:

I had toyed with the idea of making illustrations with SketchUp and KerkyThea, but I convinced myself to focus on getting it finished instead (I tend to procrastinate, sometimes). Maybe an illustrated version someday (before my copy of SU8 bites the dust).

Anyway, if you follow the link, you can “Look Inside” the first few chapters. If you make it that far and still want to continue, then I’m sorry to say that I’m asking for money to find out the rest of the story. When I started this, many years ago, I was originally planning on putting it on the web for free. But my wife and kids insisted that I charge something, at least, for my efforts. And their inheritance, of course.

If you read the first few chapters and say, “W.T.F.?” then it’s probably not your cup of tea and there no need to spend any money. I wrote this for fun and I wrote it for me. If others enjoy it as well, then so be it. If not, well, this is why I have a day job :wink:


I came across a photo from 25 years ago and thought it was worth sharing. It’s a design for a bike rack that was installed in downtown Tempe, Arizona (USA). The software I used to model it was a solids modeler from SDRC called I-DEAS. All but the seats were made from galvanized pipe that was bent and welded while the seats were solid aluminum machined from blocks of aircraft-grade material. I look at this photo and recall some of the difficulties I encountered in making it with the solids modeler compared to how trivial it would be to now do the same model in SketchUp. And I wouldn’t need a $30,000 SGI workstation running $50,000 of SDRC software plus licensing and maintenance.


This picture is from 1989?

I think 1991

I am not that old, but I do remember curved screens. I mean, how did our eyes really adjust to that? it looks so awkard!

Before that we had even less colors, just green or orange. How about that.

Wow, that gear is amazing.

This is really cool! Congratulations! How do you wrap textures around spheres? I only do Textures on surfaces and know how to stretch textures.