Monday, April 30, 2012

Test Drive of SightSpace for iPad

So I finally broke down and got an iPad. Or let me rephrase - I finally got a second-hand iPad 1. I'm having a great time with it, and while it's mostly been a productivity killer (I'm getting addicted to DrawSome and jigsaw puzzle apps), I did try something work-related.

Last year I read about SightSpace 3D on the official SketchUp blog. It's not free ($15), but the nice people at Limitless Computing gave a free evaluation copy.

SketchUp doesn't work as a modeling tool on the iPad, at least not yet. So while you can't build or change models, SightSpace enables you to view them. This would make the job of an interior designer or contractor a good bit easier - carrying out a lightweight tablet on the job while "taking a spin" around the proposed design.

SightSpace works on the iPad, iPhone, and Kindle Fire. I didn't try it on my Fire or iPhone - I wanted the big-screen look! 

One thing to note is that SightSpace reads only KMZ files - the native format for Google Earth. Models that are geolocated are uploaded to the 3D Warehouse automatically as KMZ files, but you can save any SketchUp model as KMZ, using the File / Export menu.

SightSpace can read KMZ files from the 3D Warehouse, or models stored on the iPad itself, or models emailed or in DropBox. For my test I downloaded a 3D Warehouse model of the furnished house from "The Simpsons" TV show, saved it as a KMZ on my own computer, and uploaded it to the 3D Warehouse. (To upload a KMZ file into the Warehouse, use the "Upload" link at the top right corner of the 3D Warehouse landing page.)

With SightSpace open, I clicked "Load" and found my model:

(Models that appear in the 3D Warehouse with a "view in Google Earth" link will appear in SightSpace as "View in SightSpace 3D.)

This is how the house appears in SightSpace. Pretty cool! You can orbit by dragging one finger, pan by dragging two fingers, and zooming (as you might guess) is done with the two-finger "pinching" or "spreading" movement.
 If you're an interior designer, you want to get right into the house and look around. So you zoom in to approach a wall or window . . .

 . . . and keep zooming till you're inside.
Orbit is the default set of motions, but you can also use the "Look Around" tool similar to the one in SketchUp itself. 
 Using Look Around means dragging with one finger to simulate turning the head, or looking up or down. Two-finger dragging simulates walking side to side.

Until you get used to the movements needed to get to the view you want, you might find yourself zoomed in too closely to a wall or couch, hard to make your way out to a familiar spot. So a double-tap is like Zoom Extents, very useful!

The bookmark icon at the top enables you to save a view. This is another great way to set orientation points. You can open your list of bookmarks via the large bookmark icon at the bottom of the app. The camera icon at the top enables you to save a view as a photo in your iPad's photo library, easy to email. And the "i" icon opens the Help.

One thing I didn't get to try is the Augmented Reality - this only works on the iPad 2 and 3. This enables you to situate your model within real Google Earth terrain. If your model isn't geolocated you wouldn't need this, but if your project is a shopping mall or museum, it's invaluable to view it in its "natural habitat."

For design pros, the $15 seems like a great deal - you will find yourself using SightSpace pretty often, and wowing your clients. If you're a teacher or professor looking to evaluate SightSpace, you can get a free evaluation copy to see if it'll work for your lesson plans. As more schools become iPad-friendly, I envision seeing SightSpace making inroads with students who will LOVE it.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Cool Sketchy Physics Model, by a 7th Grader

A few weeks ago I received a neat model from Toronto Middle School teacher, and SketchUp enthusiast, Geoffrey Winship. It has a gear box that raises and lowers three fun Pac-Man characters. I made a little recording of how I played with it, including speeding up and slowing down the various motors.

Middle school kids building simple motors and gears to make a fun machine - if they had this when I was in school I imagine a lot of us might have ended up on different carer paths!
Here's what Geoffrey wrote about this project:
In the Toronto District School Board, at Essex Public School, design and technology is alive and well in Mr. Winship's Science class. Each year, students in grade seven learn about building models using wheels, axles, and cams. Students design the model and then actually build it using saws, drill presses and other power tools and hand tools. The general problem is to design a child's toy that turns rotary motion into linear motion. Each student is also required to hand-draw the model showing orthographic and isometric views. For this project, students could also produce a supplementary set of sketches using Google SketchUp. Bonus marks were given to students who could use animation to drive the model. This model was designed by a grade seven student who was introduced to SketchUp for the first time this year. Grade seven and eight students are given lessons in 2D and 3D drawing using SketchUp and given opportunities to develop their skills. The first time he used SketchUp, this student produced drawings of a vehicle that he built in the shop. This is the second model made by this student, his first using Sketchy Physics, and is an accurate representation of the real cam toy.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

An Open-Source Mind

I like this recent piece by my friend and tech blogger, Phil Shapiro. As a mom I've seen how my own kids bend rules, or make their own rules, by collaborating and compromising, sometime peacefully, more often after fighting. But this is how we learn to think outside the box!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Monday, April 9, 2012

What's Coming in our April Projects?

I'm really excited about this month's Projects of the Month!  I'm introducing my new favorite SketchUp plugin: Sketchy Physics (which is free), and also including a project involving Google Earth.

I want to get lots of you to try Sketchy Physics, so the subscription is ON SALE this month - for just $20 you get a full year of projects, 3 per month! (Normal price: $36.)

Sketchy Physics Domino Run

This fun project shows you how to create a basic domino run, using Sketchy Physics to define the play table and each domino. Set them up, then drag the first domino into the second one to start the run.

I used the method from this project to create a longer, fancier run - check out the video below to see it in action! 


Waterfall House 
It's been a while since I wrote up something on the interaction between SketchUp and Google Earth. The UI in SketchUp 8 is a bit different than in previous versions, so this project shows how to find the exact spot you want your model, get that spot imported into SketchUp, and place your model on it. This particular house sits atop a waterfall, so you'll also have to make sure you're getting the right elevation on the terrain.

Sierpinsky Triangle
This particular fractal is famous in 2D, and this project shows how to create it in 3D, starting by copying a single tetrahedron into a 4-tetrahedron pyramid.

By using nested components, aided by the Outliner (SketchUp's very handy but little-used component organizer), you can easily grow from one pyramid into many, and even add some artistic embellishment!
You don't want to miss out on this set! Sign up for Projects of the Month, at the special April sale price of $20!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Specials: Two Great Deals!

For the month of April, we have specials on two of our items -you don't want to miss these!

GeomeTricks 13-Book Set (PDF) - Over Half Off at $49.95!

Normally priced at $109.95, this 785-page set of SketchUp project books is not just for math lovers! You'll make mosaics, round and spiral patterns, fractals, amazing 3D solids, and much more, learning and using crucial geometric concepts including symmetry, tessellation, scaling, and duality.

This set comes as a single, printable PDF - no locking or licensing.


SketchUp Projects of the Month - Just $20!

Reduced from $36, this subscription includes 12 months of projects, three projects going out each month. Every design topic under the sun is covered, including reader requests! The April projects introduce Sketchy Physics with a fun domino run - you'll become addicted just like I am!

Another April project combines SketchUp and Google Earth to place a house above a waterfall.

Don't let these deals pass you by!

GeomeTricks 13-Book Set (PDF) for $49.95
SketchUp Projects of the Month for $20

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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