Latest Images of the TIN TOY Construction

This construction will soon be dismantled and most of the pieces distributed to my Kickstarter backers. I've pushed this forward as far as I can right now. The hubs are working well but a better approach to the spokes is needed to make the toy viable. I have a good idea for how to do the spokes but don't have the technology to produce prototypes. Perhaps someone else can find a solution. Anyway, thanks again to all who have helped! Those who made a $50+ contribution will be receiving hubs and spokes by the end of August.

Working on 3D Printing Skills and New Connections

I'm taking a course about 3D printing which is being offered by the Make folks via Udemy. Learning a lot about finer points of 3D printing and the capabilities of the MakerBot. 

In my final project for the course I designed a little flexible ball-joint connector to facilitate attaching things to the TIN TOY rods/spokes. The images below tell most of the tale.

The part in 123D Make. The file for this is available here.

Some iterations of the design.

The connectors in place on the plastic rods.

I have a couple more rounds of building on the big model before it gets deconstructed and the parts sent out to backers. The next few posts will be about those steps.

Going Up

The TINTOY construction has been growing steadily upward.

I've been experimenting with different ways to connect the hubs at the higher levels. Stacking two hubs allows for each "node" to support up to 12 connections. 

Since tetrahedrons are very stable shapes I've been making more of those in the latest upper level additions. I recently ordered the final set of plastic pieces for the spokes and should be finishing up this construction in the next two weeks. I'll probably try a few other approaches to building in July, and then will send out hubs in early August to everyone who chose that reward.

It's definitely a fun building toy system, with tremendous flexibility, but for it to have a future, a better and easier way of making the spokes needs to be developed. I'll continue to work on that.

Plugging (actually Hubbing) Away

I've been slowly building the hub and spoke collection. It can be a bit tedious so I usually take a day or two break between bouts of hub/spoke creation. 

The t-shirts arrived last week and I'll be mailing them out in the next few days. I think they turned out quite well. Hope you think so too.

Here are a couple of photos of the kitchen table during hub/spoke production. 

Finally a couple of photos of the structure I'm building with the hubs. Next to the TIN TOY is a tensegrity structure build by my son Jamie with some old Tensegritoy kits my brother Jon found on the Internet. It's interesting to see them together. The tensegrity structure is essentially a fixed shape, the TIN TOY highly flexible and reshapable; ordered inorganic vs unordered organic.

Moving Into Mass Production (for me anyway) of TIN TOY Hubs

Mrs. Bartels has been very patient and supportive as the dining room table has been turned into a mini maker space for the production of the hubs.

I drew the line (so she wouldn't have to) on setting up the drill press on the table. That's down in the garage, with a jig for drilling accurately centered holes in the 1/2" plastic balls.

With all this in place I'm starting to produce hubs and spokes more rapidly and efficiently, so there are more toy pieces to build with! I've also had an idea for a new approach to the spokes, as you will see in the video below.

Good Progress with Prototyping

Some excellent progress with prototyping over the past few days.

After a few iterations I have a hub prototype that is working quite well. The SketchUp model of the hub is available here.

Here is a short movie that covers my progress to date.

For anyone wanting to experiment with this design, here are some specifics about the parts I'm using.

The balls are 1/2" diameter plastic of various types (still experimenting). I obtained these from (Item #s 091506, 091517, 091561)

The 8/32 Nylon threaded rod is also from US Plastic Corp.. (Item # 091841)

The 1/4" clear acrylic tube is from TAP Plastics. (Item # 23183)

The rod inserted into the tubes is 1/8" diameter aluminum.

Next step is get more efficient at producing the units. Will provide an update on this in a couple of days.

All the Pieces and Tools Have Arrived

Over the past two weeks I've been getting everything I need to start prototyping the building toy. All the components have arrived and I'm ready to begin. 

I spent a good deal of time the past few days learning how to use the 3D printer. I'm now feeling pretty competent with it. Here are a couple of images of my most recent test model.

I put together a video that shows a bit of the process, from design to printing.

Waiting for the 3D Printer

I ordered a MakerBot Replicator 2 yesterday after visiting the previously mentioned 3D printer show at the Javits Center. The show was a bit of a disappointment -small with not many vendors- but a success in that in confirmed my belief that the replicator is the best option for prototyping the building toy hub.

A few more tools have arrived. The tap and die set will work nicely to put threads inside the plastic tubes, and the digital calipers will help greatly with fine measurements. I should be able to move into rapid prototyping as soon as the printer arrives!

Gathering Supplies, T-Shirt Design, Etc..

I've been thinking a lot about how to prototype this toy most efficiently. I want to use plastic threaded tube for the spokes connecting the hubs but as yet have been unable to locate any. Some folks in the Maker community suggested I can thread tube myself and I'm going to try that. I purchased two different types of 1/4 tubing from TAP Plastics. The clear acrylic looks like it should be easy to thread. The epoxy tubing, not so much.

I've also purchased a thread tapping set from Garrett Wade. I should be able to start experimenting with these in a few days.

After investigating pricing for multicolored images on T-Shirts I decided to go with something a little more abstract. The image below will be on the shirts, with the text "LET GO OF YOUR LEGOS" just below the image.

Next Monday I head into the Javits Center to look over 3D printer options.

Getting Started

On Saturday, April 6th, my Kickstarter project was successfully funded, thanks to the generous contributions of many very kind people.

Since then I've been thanking folks, thinking a lot about how to proceed, doing research on 3D printers and plastic spokes, and getting this blog up and running.

I'm going to stop by a T-Shirt printing shop tomorrow to start the process of getting those printed and sent out to those who selected that reward.

I've reached out to the various online communities I participate in to let them know the project was funded and that I'd love input from anyone interested. Some folks have already provided some good feedback.

There is a big 3D printer convention at the Javits Center in Manhattan on April 22-23 at which I'll do some more research into 3D printers. At this point I'm leaning toward the MakerBot Replicator 2, which is popular in the education sector.