Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weld Plugin

Weld is a free, easy to use SketchUp plugin that's useful on its own, and necessary for use in other plugins which I'll detail later (such as Flightpath). In a nutshell, Weld combines a chain of segments into a single object.

You can get this plugin from Smustard. Once you download the RB file, place it in the Plugins folder of your SketchUp installation. Weld will then appear in SketchUp in the Plugins menu, but you might want to set up a keyobard shortcut for it, if you'll be using it often.

Here's how I tried out Weld:

I made this building footprint, and the curvy line at the bottom is comprised of 7 tangent arcs.

When this is pulled up, there are vertical edges corresponding to the endpoints of the tangent arcs. (Of course, these edges can be easily smoothed with the Eraser tool, while holding the Ctrl or Option key.)

Going back to the orginal footprint, i want to join the 7 arcs into one curve. So I selected all of them (just the arcs, not the face or the straight lines). It may be hard to see, but the arcs below are highlighted in blue, meaning they are selected.

Activate Weld by choosing Plugins / Weld from the main menu (or a keyboard shortcut). You'll be asked if you want to close the curve (no), and create a face if possible (also no).

After Weld runs, the chain of arcs is a single object. If you check the arc chain's object type in the Entity Info window, you'll see it's identified as a curve.

And now when you pull this up, the front face is smooth - no vertical edges.

What would happen if the entire chain of edges surrounding the 2D footprint, including the straight edges, were welded into a single curve? After pulling up, you'd have no vertical edges anywhere, including along the sharp corners where you'd expect to see edges.

You can always create edges where none exist, either by drawing them with the Line tool, or by unsoftening them (display hidden edges, activate Eraser, and go over the desired edges with Shift and Ctrl / Option pressed).

Another case where you might want Weld: the Follow Me tool. In the example below, the circle will go along the path which is comprised of 5 lines and 1 arc.


Without Weld, the Follow Me results are divided by edges at each segment.

If Weld is used to combine the path into one curve, the resulting Follow Me is entirely smooth.

Give it a try - what the heck, it's free!



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Monday, April 26, 2010

Magformers: My New Fave Toy

I just got back from NCTM (more on that later), and had a short opportunity to cruise the exhibition floor. At a regional NCTM conference last year I bought some Geofix shapes for my kids, which they and all their friends have loved ever since. I was hoping to get some more, but the Geofix folks weren't exhibiting this time around. (All my mom-friends who requested Geofix will be disappointed, sorry!)

However, I found Magformers, which I think I like even better. They're a bit pricey, but so far worth every penny. I have 5 kids ranging from 9 to 3, and we've all spent the last 3 days spending over an hour per sitting building awesome models. So far we've mostly made models shown on the Magformers website, including:


My three-year old came up with this one on her own:



I need to order some more triangles now...


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New: GeomeTricks Bundle

In response to teacher requests, and in honor of NCTM where I'm presenting later this week, I've combined all 13 GeomeTricks books as a single bundle (in PDF format).

Purchased individually, all 13 books total $139.95. The bundle price is $109.95. And from now until May 20, the bundle is offered at the sale price of $89.95.

If you teach geometry, want to learn geometry, or are a math enthusiast, these books contain hours upon hours of fun and interesting projects. You'll learn all about tiling and tessellation, fractals, regular and irregular polygons, mosaics, symmetry, and Platonic and Archimedean solids. All in step-by-step, illustrated tutorial format, great for all levels of SketchUp users, for both Mac and PC.

I'm offering this set in PDF only; printed books are still available ala carte (I have much less price flexibility with printed materials).

Enjoy!


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Geometry Video: Cube, Tetrahedron, Octahredron

As I detail at length in the book Basic Platonic and Archimedean Solids, there are many relationships between three of the Platonic solids: cube, tetrahedron, and octahedron. You can start with any of these shapes and perform a few simple "tricks" to get the other shapes.

Yesterday I created a new video to demonstrate one of these tricks: how to create a cube and use it to create tetrahedrons and an octahedron.



The detailed, written version of this project is included in April's Projects of the Month.



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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Here's What's Coming in Our April Projects

In a week I'll be sending out the April projects to subscribers. Haven't signed up? Well here's the link - still just $36 for the year (a trifling $1 per project)!

Color Contrast

In the checkerboard below, which yellow is darker - the squares near the top or the bottom?


Of course the yellows are all the same, but the colors around them make them look different. In this project you'll learn how to make this checkerboard model and play around with the colors to get some interesting color contrasts.

Basic Animation

By adding at least two scenes to your SketchUp model, you can easily produce an animation, like the one below. This project will show you how.

video

Cube, Tetrahedron, Octahedron

If you've studied basic 3D geometry, you're probably aware of the relationship between these three Platonic solids. This project will show you one way to get tetrahedrons and octahedrons out of a cube (though there are many ways to do it).

Sign up for these amazing projects!


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