Great design, poor print

I used Tinkercad to make my latest Retro-design rocketship. The forward-swept wings, the thick fin-root nacelles, the pointy nose and the long cockpit canopy are reminiscent of the American space race design phase following the launch of Sputnick by the Soviet Union in 1957. Big fins adorned American automobiles along with an obsession over aerodynamic looks in just about every appliance.

I know why my print is lousy. It’s the temperature. My FDM printer is located in an unheated room. As such, the filament goes from cold to hot too fast and bubbles appear. I can play with my slicer program all I want, and I get marginal improvements. That’s the nature of PLA filament. But I don’t have the time and patience to fool with ABS with a weak printer. Fortunately my LCD resin printer, even when cold, never fails to impress.

Robots and Rocketships will be a resin operation from this point forward. The FDM prints will be things of utility.

American movie spaceships of the 30’s

While American rocket science pioneer Robert Goddart was busy experimenting with real rockets, the popular newspaper comic pages was serializing the exploits of space buccaneers like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.

The 30’s is one of my favorite decades for American design. Bulbus, rounded and gilded, the style embodies a sense of largess that doesn’t wilt under pressure – as neither Buck or Flash did.

Their ships of each series varied based on the antagonist or hero role. Tubular with angel-like wings, rounded nosed and bristling with porthole and glass, they embodied the bold architectural designs sentiments of the time.

Tinkercad is a pretty good tool for creating the kind of primitives that make use of rigid flow with little consideration for function. They looked awesome in both their simplicity and their overstated bravado. Here’s my quick tribute to the science fiction space cowboys of the 1930’s

Rosey Jetson had a boyfriend – Mac

You can’t really do classic and vintage SciFi robots it due service without remembering Rosey Jetson. Voiced by Jean Vander Pyl, the same actress who voiced Wilma Flintstone, she was actually characterized as a obsolete XB-500 robot who found a home with the Jetsons because she was the cheapest model they could afford.

Based on the relationship Rosey strikes up with a maintenance robot called Mac, it’s sort of inferred that Rosey has feelings…is maybe sentient? Can’t image that Mac is, as he was constructed from random parts and an antique filing cabinet by the Skypad Apartments building supervisor, Henry Orbit.

But it’s Rosey’s design that I find so interesting. She’s clearly based on the 50’s sitcom ‘Hazel‘ staring Shirley Booth. Both in the actor’s stature and costume, Rosey is the exaggerated cartoon version of Booth’s characterization of a 50’s maid in a the day of the paternal family structure. Although it’s pretty clear that the 50’s sensibility didn’t provide much opportunity for Hazel to have a love interest.

Rosey runs on only one leg, centrally positioned under her main torso and rolling on a set of casters. She has what appear to be dial knobs for eyes, that display her emotions with the pointers heading into various positions, along with the antenna on the side of her head drooping when she is sad.

If cartoon robots are of interest to you, and if you are a classic SciFi robot fan as I am, you should spend some quality time watching old Jetson’s episodes like Wedding Bells for Rosey where Rosey is highlighted. It’s time well spent.

Starter Robots…

Gort, B9 and Robbie. These are the iconic ‘scifi starter robots’. Except for the 60’s B9 from Lost in Space, Gort and Robbie are products of the 50’s – a time where science was truly understood by only a handful of academics and seriously misunderstood by pretty much everyone else.

Gort, from the iconic movie ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still; starring Michael Rene’ was a ‘humanoid’ robot. Ostensibly intended to be a form of ‘police’ force to insure that war does not break out on planets that are part of Klaatu’s confederation of worlds.

Robbie. from the 1956 move ‘Forbidden Planet’ staring Leslie Neilsen, on the other hand, wasn’t intended to travel outside of his home world, Altair IV. In fact, he was created by an unknown civilization, long gone and discovered by the mysterious Dr. Morbius, who essentially took over the abandoned planet.

Robbie is probably the most misused and abused robot in movie history. He shows up in all manner of bad scifi flicks, usually without reference to his original role. In reality, Robbie was expensive to construct and no one could resist pulling him out for more cheesy movies and even live shows. Poor thing.

If you’re interested in SciFi robots, you should start with learning about the legacy of the these three.

My First 3D Spaceship

Tinkercad is a great 3D design environment for artists. For engineering, it’s limited too kit will get in the way fairly quickly. But when I design robots, rocketship and game pieces, it is my go-to platform. It’s intuitive, quick and browser-based. And, it’s completely free. A gift to the Maker and STEM community from AutoDesk.

Here’s Spaceship 1. Took about an hour or so to design using the primitives and custom shapes available in Tinkercad. And next to it is the print that came out of my Monoprice Mini Delta 3D printer. I use a filament called Inland PLA+, available from MicroCenter.

RIP Huey & Louie

Silent Running made me sad. I was sad when HAL9000 was shut down too, but the loss of Louie outside the ship, and with Lowell detonating the nuclear charges, destroying the Valley Forge, losing Huey in the process makes me sadder. At least HAL9000 was reanimated during the movie 2010. Huey and Louie were destroyed forever, leaving the poor Dewey to tend to the biodome by himself, for as long as they last.

It’s a tough movie to watch. The three robots showing as much, perhaps if not more humanity that the people that sent them out to the rings of Saturn. Even as I write this, I don’t like writing this. It irrationally saddens me. Which means it was an effective movie.

This movie really celebrates the genius of Douglas Trumbull, ironically the technical wizard of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This first attempt at direction resulting in an enduring cult hit. Not only did he envision the interior of the Valley Forge spaceship, he named it after the USS Valley Forge, a ship docked at Long Beach, Ca. he used for the filming of the movie.

The three robots, or drones as they are called are truly ahead of their time. While they are referred to as drones, Dewey wouldn’t leave Huey’s side while Lowell was making repairs to him after he was hit by the buggy. That’s more than a drone. That’s sentience.

Lowell names the robots after Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck the triplet cartoon characters created in 1937 by writer Ted Osborne and cartoonist Al Taliaferro, for Walt Disney.

The Robot Hall of Fame has a great dedication to these three impressive representations of movie robots. Well worth read.

M4 – One ugly Star Trek robot

In the 1969 episode “Requiem for Methuselah“, the crew of the Enterprise is struck with Rigellian fever, for which the only treatment is the mineral Ryetalyn. Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy beam down to the planet Holberg 917-G in search of the substance and are attacked by the floating robot, M4, which is ultimately destroyed by Spock when it attacks Kirk for, as usual, kissing the protagonist’s girlfriend Reyna. Wasn’t a great episode, and it wasn’t a great robot either.

Let’s have a look at M4. There are three design components re-used from Nomad MK-15c from the 1967 episode “The Changeling”. As you can see in the comparison photo, M4 was essentially the far more eloquent MK-15c, flipped upside down with the box body replaced by two salad bowls stuck together.

It’s been said that DesiLu Studios was notoriously cheap and tried to cannibalize props as often as possible. That seems to be played out in this M4/MK-15c re-use. But look at it closely. They hardly tried to re-imagine it at all. Just take the part as is and stack it on.

I may try to build a Tinkercad model of both M4 and MK-15c and see how they print on both my FDM and resign 3D printers.