When a Door Closes a Window Opens (even if it is holographic)

Just a quick note: after the sudden but not totally unexpected demise of the refence forum in holography, www.holographyforum.org, (see here the explanation of this proccess), a new forum seems to try to get its place, and hopefully will, if egos allow.

The new forum is www.holoforum.org and Ahmet deserves a big THANKS for putting it up. Best luck with this new adventure! At the time some long time contributors to the old forum are registered there.

I also want to thank Colin (Kaminski) for his constant effort over the last few years, first setting up the original Network54 forum, then the holographyforum, then the holowiki… and constantly kindly answer all questions from newcomers, spending lots of time on us.

Here is one of Colin’s holograms from his web site as an homage and thanks…


Mermaid by Colin Kaminski

Mermaid by Colin Kaminski

Where my CNC and this blog both come back to life…

I finally got around to refurbishing my CNC machine and set it to work for real! This is not the place to discuss the project I am working on, but let me say it is what the CNC machine was created for originally… and the machine seems to behave even better than expected.

The modifications were mainly in order to increase speed. So first thing was to support the leadscrews as shown in this photo:

My CNC Refurbished and ready to work!

My CNC Refurbished and ready to work!

This allowed me to improve the speed by a small amount by reducing the leadscrew whipping, but it was not enough to make the machine useful for the big tasks ahead! So I asked at the official Rockcliff Forum and got the right answer: just power the motors with higher voltage, and so I did! This has taught me two lessons:

– I traded speed for precission: I got motors with too small a step and leadscrews with too small a pitch for my needs – I should have been more serious about my needs, I just jumped looking for precission while I did not need that much, and gave speed for granted! A coarser set-up (less steps per turn in the motor and a longer pitch in the screw) would have served my needs regarding accuracy and would have granted me much higher speed. At the moment, I have to stick to this set-up, since changing any of those elements would be too expensive. Too bad. Lesson 1: Think about REAL needs first!

– Now, the solution provided in the forum was great, but I should have been able to get there myself… Lesson 2: Try, and keep trying new things!

Now, a short video summarizing in less than 3 minutes the work of two days… still in testing phase but using the real model (driven by Mach 3 demo on Windows XP)…

Posted in cnc

Where my HTPC comes to life

So, after much pondering and googling and guessing, I got myself my little nice HTPC…  I considered the much praised WD-TV gadget, which in fact I had the chance to test and is a nice piece (smooth mkv HD videos play).  But even though it has been hacked and extended with custom firmwares that add wifi, torrent and more to it, it seemed not what I was looking for… I think I had just got too used to enjoying XMBC.

So I decided to build a full blown, though tight on budget home theater – PC (my HTPC)This is what I made it from:

  • Mainboard: Zotac ION-ITX-A. So, this is a small (mini-ITX factor) board, that includes out of the box an Atom 330 processor, Wifi and external power supply. It is also loaded with an nvidia graphic card of the 9xxx series (I think it is 9600), great for GPU video decompressing, with HDMI out. Detailed specs here
  • 4 GB DDR-3 memory
  • 1 TB HDD (yes, well, I love it…!)
  • Old keyboard, mouse, and MCE remote from an old HP PC.
  • Sound via a simple 2.1 system


Regarding the software, it was clear from the very beginning that I would use XBMC. This open source media center is available in many flavors… I tested it in this particular machine under Windows XP and Ubuntu 9.04, and kept both with dual booting.

Under Windows XP everything works fine, except the remote (funny, it is a Microsoft MCE remote and I was not able to run correctly -tries evenghost, and some other pieces of software), and of course, 720p and 1080p videos are jerky at best… why? The XBMC for Windows does not support GPU decoding of movies… yet? (a DirectX port seems to be in the making, but…).

Second try: Ubuntu 9.04 and XBMC following this guide designed for the Asrock 330 PC, based on the same ION architecture. It worked, remote and all in my first try. So it is what I am using now! Great 720p and 1080p performance. I am using the Transparency! skin with custom backgrounds, and all my movies and TV series info and covers automatically scraped by XBMC itself.


Just a word of caution: this model has external power supply, and no on-board connection for other power supply, so if you find a nice ITX case for your HTPC, you might as well get it without power supply… it will be useless (yes, well, I will try mine for my CNC, so I can get all the electronics in a nice small aluminum case, replacing my current ATX power supply).

CNC or I know what you did last summer…

Well, this is what I did… my CNC machine… It has a cutting area of A3 times 10 cm in depth. The only drawbacks are that it is very noisy, produces lots of dust and it is really sloooooow…. So I am in the process of upgrading it with a holding case to reduce noise and dust and with new threaded rods that are supported on both ends, not just at the motor end as they were.

To the video and some links in this post I add now some pictures:

  • Raw materials
  • Imagen005

  • Basic frame built
  • Imagen002

  • Details of the motor / rod coupling
  • Imagen086

  • The finished monster
  • Imagen004

  • You can see the rod unsupported on the right, which I am extending now to the frame to hold it there with a bearing, so that I can reduce whipping and vibration, and hopefully increase speed
  • cnc-001

    Posted in cnc

    Where choices need to be made…

    Eduard Punset states that the overwhelming availability of choices present in modern life is a hell of a stress factor and an important cause of unhappiness. Man, he is right!

    At the beginning of the DIY-Cintiq (I should really get a name for mine!), many choices need to be made, and they are difficult to deal with at times: I found a great offer on ebay for a wacom table, but quite a large one: 12”x18” for 50€ total, and I could not refuse it (I know there are far more offers in the US, but post and customs costs to Spain cause you to lose any possible gain). Also I got a very cheap compaq 15” monitor with external power supply for 40€… I got it because it is the only one I could find at surplus dealers with external power supply.

    Now I am sitting with a 12×18 tablet (well, still awaiting for it to arrive!), and a 15” monitor, half the size of the tablet (9”x12”)… and I face three possible options:

    1. Build with what I have: I would have half the tablet for the monitor, and the other half to map to the main screen… it seems nice, but maybe too big an not very practical. Also I need to check the jittering compatibility of these two !
    2. Search for a larger monitor that could fit better my current tablet… problems: cost and difficulty finding larger monitors with external power supply…
    3. Search for a smaller tablet and use my current monitor… uuuumh…
    4. Get both non-jittering monitor & tablet from a friendly guy at Bongofish…
    My Wacom Digitizer II - UD1218

    My Wacom Digitizer II - UD1218


    The bottom-line: read before you buy… this thread would have helped a lot. But to tell the truth, it is stupid why I get confused by measures given in inches instead of meters… why? They are just numbers, equally comparable… some strange wiring in my mind forces me to try to convert them to meters and compare there in an “unreal perfect ethereal world”, instead just compare 12 to 12 and 18 to 9… Punset might write a whole new book from this…

    “If you build it, he will come”…

    Ok, not the most literary quote here, but if it rings the bell, then we are aboard the same boat…

    So, who many times you think, “oh, it would be great if I could build a […], wouldn’t it?”. Just go and google it, chances are someone has already thought about it, and yes, surely built it too, and even have a nice forum set up full of wonderful people willing to share and help.

    Well, how about building a Wacom Cinquit

    Cintiq screen - pressure sensitive pannel...

    Cintiq screen - pressure sensitive pannel...

    The thing is a beauty, but just a bit pricey for just a whim… maybe Art & Design pros can afford it, but not me! I will do the googling for you, and the site to go is definitely Drew’s DIY Cinqit page… and his forums.

    Anyway, isn’t it too much of an effort just to get a tablet PC?… not quite, since Wacoms are much more functional than just a mere tablet: they are pressure sensitive among other wonders… In any case, it is a little overkill if you are not a pro in Arts… hell, I don’t even draw!… but you know what?, it seems so much fun to build one, and I am sure it makes a great present for someone who works in arts.

    So, here I go!… this is not a project for the faint hearted, though: we will be seeing the guts and most likely corpses of LCD monitors, pen tablets and the like… take out your weapons (let’s say s screwdriver and soldering iron) and let the game begin!

    In which a new adventure begins, not knowing where it will take us or how long will the journey last…

    As stated in the  about post, I will be including info on different projects I have  been doing and hope to keep doing in the next months.

    First one I want to include is a DIY CNC machine built from plans purchased from Rockcliff… here I post two videos of the first cuts… The model is scaled up from the original plans, which has caused some problems: the threaded rods that drive the motion are not supported in one of their ends, and this makes the rods bend a vibrate too much, so at this moment the machine is torn to pieces to upgrade it with supported rods, which will hopefully allow me to increase both, stability and speed. I am also planning on builing some kind of isolaion enclosure to reduce dust and noise, which are a no-no when you don’t have a workshop and use an spare room in your downtown flat.

    First video, just trying out the machine…

    Second video, trying the 3D carving capabilities:

    Posted in cnc