Posted by & filed under Cycle Touring.

My partner has returned from Germany and she has brought with her a beautiful handcrafted CroMoly bicycle frame made by Patria, who have been building bicycle frames since 1898. This is the Ranger model which I bought last year on the German ebay, I have been waiting for it for a long time and it is finally here and I am starting to put together my new touring bike.

Here is an image of the frame:

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Here is an image of my old touring bike:

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This bike has a CroMoly Shogun SE frame, a Velotraum CroMoly fork with disk brake mounts, Rohloff SpeedHub, Magura Louise FR disk brakes(front) and HS 22 rim brakes(back), Brooks leather saddle and of course Schwalbe Marathon XR tyres. In the next couple of weeks I will be transplanting these components onto the new Patria frame to create a great touring bike.

The Ranger is a 700 bike while the Velotraum fork that I have is for a 26″ bike. After doing some test rides on the Patria with its own fork, I am looking to replace the factory fork with the Velotraum fork to make use of my disk brakes. The only thing is that I am not sure how different a 26″ fork is to 700 fork, if replacing the 700 fork with a 26″ fork changes the geometry of the bike too much then I will have to stay with rim brakes, but I am hoping that these forks will have similar lengths.

Posted by & filed under Inspiration.

This is one of my favorite animated shorts. The movement of the Monk is so comical and stylized, the minimal and beautiful design and lack of dialogue help this piece speak louder to soul. It is by Michael Dudoc de Wit.

Posted by & filed under DIY Cintiq.

While I had been busy developing the Glad Happy Feet flash game, the parts of the Samtiq have been slowly arriving. The 14V power supply for the monitor arrived yesterday and I tested the monitor, it’s working fine so I started the task of stripping the monitor. Here is the monitor before stripping starts:

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This monitor is a bit tricky to open up, I had to look for hidden screws and then pry open the plastic cover by sliding a flat-head screw driver around the case to pry it open. Here is the monitor with the face removed:

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This monitor has an external power supply and a base which has the connectors for 14V DC input, VGA and DVI. These inputs are carried through the base and the stand and fed to the main monitor case. Again it was a matter finding the screws to undo and prying open some plastic face coverings. All the above signals are fed to the monitor through one single connector which I had to carefully pry out. Once that was done the plastic back of the monitor was released.

There is some shielding which is easily removed via a couple of screws, once the shielding is off we are left with just the LCD, controller and inverter boards:

_DSC7294

All the connectors on this monitor had a big dab of glue on them, once the glue was scrapped off the connectors could be removed and couple of screws undone to separate the LCD from the controller and inverter boards:

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This is a close up of the controller and inverter boards:

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After removing the above circuit boards, things started getting a bit dicey. The LCD has a metal backing which I guess acts as the shielding but the wacom tablet cannot sense the pen through this shield so it had to go. The problem is that this metal shielding also hold things in place so I need to find some way of holding things together if I want to have a usable unit.

It took a while to strip the LCD, there are lots of metal tape and I had be careful with the LCD row/column circuit boards. I removed the backlight lamps by undoing the tiny screws on ones side and then sliding them out. That frees up some other parts but the plastic casing hang onto other parts with little tabs which need to be carefully pried open. I don’t like this prying open of plastic parts, it’s much nicer when there are screws that can be undone and the thing comes apart. Anyway this stage of the strip was pretty scary too easy to damage things. I was concentrating hard so I didnt take too many photos but here is what the LCD sheet looks like with the backlight module removed:

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As you can see in the image, there is a FFC (Flat Flexible Cable) connecting the Column driver circuit board to the Row driver circuit board. I counted the tiny connections a couple of times (and I mean TINY!) there are 20 of them and the pitch (which is the distance from one gap to the next) is 0.5mm. This is standard FFC but unfortunately the only place in Australia selling the components for making up an extension is RS and they have a minimum order of 5 or 10. So I am looking at getting this part from Lumenlab or DIY-Beamer.

So that’s where I am with the Samtiq, I will post more info as I get the parts.

Posted by & filed under General.

Ok I’m back, after what seems to me like a long detour into the land of flash advertising-game development. This was a freelance gig for glad which is using the characters from the movie Happy Feet to advertise one of it’s products. If you are interested here is a link to the game:

http://www.glad.com.au/happyfeetgame/index.html

There will probably be some little changes coming through from the client but I am hoping that is about it, it has been stressful and I am just itching to get started on the Samtiq (my home-made Cintiq).

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Posted by & filed under DIY Cintiq.

xpc_1700b.jpg

This is the first challenger to the Wacom Cintiq although it is only 17″ and I am not sure about the resolution of the tablet (the LCD resolution is 1280×1024). Here is an info page from Hong Kong:

http://www.yutron.com.hk/products/p-active/products/xpc1700b.htm

Here is a product blurb:

Detailed Product Description
The xpc-1700b,17 inch with 1024 high pressure sensitivity level, with flexible stand display angle from 16 degrees to 75 degrees,1024 high pressure sensitivity level, allows you easily to work with 2d/3d graphic images/teaching/professional graphic design/industrial design/artistic design and so man more! Experience the true and exquisiteness like paper drawing.

Xp-pen series graphic tablet can be run under microsoft compliance software, such as pixia, photoshop, illustrator, painter, paint shop, corel draw, etc. Support window98se/me/2000/xp. Xp-pen graphic tablet is the excellent tools can fully satisfies customer requirements for sure.

This is all very new and it has just been advertised on export sites but it shouldn’t be long before individuals can get their hands on them. The price, if you buy at least 10 from the exporter, is US$585 which is reasonable but I still like the idea of building my own.

UPDATE:
The tablet resolution is 2000lpi according to these specs:

http://www.p-active.com/product/lcpt/xpc1700.htm

Posted by & filed under DIY Cintiq.

I’m excited to announce that I will be starting work on a home-made Cintiq which I am calling Samtiq. :)

A little bit of background first. Cintiq is a product from Wacom catering for artists, animators and designers. It is the same as a drawing tablet with the difference that you are drawing on the display so there is a direct connection with what your hand is doing and what eye is seeing. With a normal tablet your hand draws while the image appears somewhere else and that creates a slight disassociation for the artist. This is an innovative product and my praise goes out to Wacom for developing it but with a price tag of almost AU$4000 it is out of my price range . Hence in the next month or two I will be attempting to build a similar unit from parts that I can get my hands on. Here is what the real thing looks like:cintiq.jpg

It all started about a week or two ago when I found this link http://bongofish.co.uk/. It is quite amazing what Drew has done and I will be attempting to learn from his experiences and building my own Cintiq.

Drew has also made a forum where people who are taking on this fascinating project can share ideas and knowledge: http://forum.bongofish.co.uk/index.php

My aim is to have a finished product which looks like this
Genndy
(Yes that is Genndy Tartakovsky!)

Since I want to build the Samtiq into an animation desk I have decided that a 15″ display size is the most suitable. For that size screen I would need a tablet which 9×12. Any bigger and I will lose the functionality of being able to turn the animation disk to work at different angles. Although the active drawing area of the tablet is only 9×12, there are various circuit boards around the active area which result in the physical tablet dimensions to be about 13×17. For a time I was considering a 12×18 tablet which was going cheap but that is just too big and would have been impractical. So I have decided that 9×12 is the size that I will go with and a 15″ LCD screen.

After reading all the info on the Bongofish forums about suitable LCD screens, so far (and it is very early days too, only 3 or 4 builds as of 31 Dec 2006) it seems that the first criteria is that the power supply needs to be external because the tablet sensors are affected by the proximity of the power supply. The second criteria is that it has minimum problems with relocating the circuit boards which drive the LCD panel. There is a huge resource for finding a suitable LCD at Lumenlab. This forum is dedicated to building home-made projectors from LCD screens and they have accumulated a lot of data on which LCD panels can have their circuit boards easily moved (they call them FFC issues, FFC are the flexible cables which connect the circuit boards to the LCD panel. If an LCD has FFC issues then you have to do some work before you can move it’s circuit boards out of the way. For this project the circuit boards need to be moved out of the way so that the tablet circuit board can sit flush against the back of the LCD panel. In the DIY projector case they want to get the circuit boards out of the way so that they can light the LCD from the back and then project the image onto the wall via a lens).

After much searching through LCDs on ebay, I have purchased the following LCD:
samsung152t.jpg
It is a 15″ Samsung SyncMaster 152T, which was the top of the range of the 15″ Samsung monitors when it came out about 4 years ago. It only does 1024×768 which might be a problem but it will be good enough to start with. I have a Sharp UXGA 15″ which can do atleast (1280×1024) but that needs to have a controller purchased for it. So I am starting with the Samsung and if the project is useable I will look into getting the controller for Sharp panel.

The monitor should arrive next week, unfortunately it doesn’t have a power supply ( 14V 3 Amp ) so I will have to find that before I can get started.

On the tablet side of things I am looking for a 9×12 in the Wacom range the Intuos3 9×12 goes for AU$500-600, so I am considering different options, one of which is the following: http://www.uc-logic.com/products/products_pf1209.htm
This tablet has the same specs as the Intuos3 at a fraction of the price although I dont think the drivers will be as good as Wacom’s
There is a seller on ebay that’s selling this item, it is in the states and the shipping charges are a bit annoying but I might go that way if there is no other way.

So stay tuned while I get all the pieces together for this fascinating project.

Posted by & filed under Actionscript.

Today I started working on a new daily animation piece which required a scroller. One thing led to another and I started writing a scroller class in Actionscript 3.0 working with Flash Professional Public Alpha. I wanted a scroller which could attach itself to any graphic and create two instance on each side of the original and then scroll either to the left or the right. For best results the graphic will have to the same size as the stage and an empty MovieClip can be used to position the resulting scroller on the screen.

After a lot of fiddling around I found that using the EnterFrame event would result in jerky scrolling so I started using the new Timer class in AS 3.0 and that gave better results although the is still some jerkiness. You can see in the test below, use the arrow keys to change the parameters.

If anyone is interested in the source, drop me a line.

scroller_as3.zip