CatchUp Edition 17 - PixPlant, SLS-1 & Vistii

Page 1

catchup sketchUcation community newsletter

2013 MARCH


SLS-1 3D Scanning

with David scanner

Community Build :

Ultimate SketchUp PC with Pete Stoppel


seamless textures

table of


5 14 20 26 33 40 47 52 60


Soft Shadows

Dave Richards explain some clever post-processing tricks

CAD to CAM with Vistii

A preview into SketchUp’s latest extension Vistii.

Go Fish with SketchUp

Animate fish in an aquarium using KeyFrame Animation.

PixPlant 2 Review

A close look at the seamless texture tool PixPlant.

SL scanning with DAVID

Hands on with the SLS-1 from DAVID.

SenseFly UAV


Aerial photography and 3D terrain mapping.

The Ultimate SketchUp PC

SketchUcation members buy in bulk to save $$$$.

SuSolid Review

Breaking down the tools in SuSolid for SketchUp.


Con Docs

SketchUp as a Twitter strategy.



Introduction We’re back with a bumper issue for March. From seamless textures to laser scanning we have had our hands full testing and reviewing some essential tools every SketchUp and 3D artist should be aware of. First up we have Vistii, from creator Noel Warren, who has tinkered for over a year with the aim to bridge the CAD/CAM process with SketchUp and is now finally ready to unleash Vistii to the masses. If you are looking to get a model machined without having to fuss about with various applications then I highly recommend checking out our preview of Vistii’s CAM plugin for SketchUp. We’ve also some great articles on Soft Shadows from Dave Richards, Aquarium animations by Adriana Granados. One particular item is the ‘Community PC build’ by SketchUp Expert Pete Stoppel which is bringing big savings to US members in the market for a killer SketchUp rig. Enjoy!

Rich O’Brien

Managing Director richob@sketchucation @scfcatchup






To start with since my model is a single piece of furniture, I create a simple set for the


Then set up a scene in SketchUp for the desired view. You can create multiple scenes

model which you can see in the following image.

at this point if you wish.



In this example I am just using the sun for light but you could add other lights if you want. Send the model to Kerkythea making sure to tick the box for “Clay” since we’re not using any materials in this model. Once Kerkythea opens, make the following adjustments. For Scene Settings tick the box for Soft Shadows and click OK.


Under Sun and Sky settings go to the second page and change Sky Type to Background Color and make sure the color is black and click Finish.



Now we’re ready to make the render settings and render the image. I use Preset 08.


After rendering we have an image something like this. Save the image and we’re

PhotoMap – Fine + AA 0.3. Resolution is left at the full export size from SketchUp.

finished with the rendering application.



Open PhotoSketcher and open the rendered image. Choose the Pencil Sketch 4 style and adjust the sliders as desired to get the look you want. You can add a paper texture if you’d like. Then hit Draw! You’ll get something like this image. When you’re happy, save the image.



At some point in this whole process you should also make a Hidden Line export from SketchUp without shadows. I’m using a sketchy line style I created for this and I’m actually making two Hidden Line exports. The first one is at 3000 pixels wide and the second is at 5000 pixels wide.

NOTE: For the second 5000 pixel image export I unsoftened the edges in the curves on the background. Remember, the larger the export size, the finer the lines will appear for a given view or print size.



So now with the rendered image, the FotoSketcher image and two lines images, it’s time to assemble them. Go to your favorite image editor and open these images. Since the clay rendered image and the FotoSketcher image are at the SketchUp View size, resize the Hidden Line images to that size.

Next go to the rendered image add an additional layer for each of the other images. Set these layers to Multiply. On the layer above the base layer paste the FotoSketcher image. On the layer above that one, paste the larger of the two Hidden Line images. This is the one with the thinner lines. On the top layer paste the remaining Hidden Line image. I also adjusted the opacity for the layer with the thin lines so they are very light.



As an optional thing you can add a bit of color. I applied a “Sepia� preset for this image. To get to this point I probably have no more than 5 or 6 minutes invested in it.




nline manufacturing services are nothing new and

have become an integral part of many designers’ resources. It seems though that there are only two manufacturing processes that are readily available online: 3D printing and laser cutting. The reason for this is the CAD/CAM gap. The size of the CAD/CAM gap depends on the manufacturing process. For 3D printing, the gap can be easily bridged. Simply slice a given model through the xy plane all along the z axis and you have the basis for creating the toolpaths to manufacture the workpiece. For laser cutting it is even simpler. The toolpath is just the contour of the 2D shape to be cut.

this gap by interweaving the design and manufacturing process. Users don’t draw holes, rather they program holes. The design process

For other manufacturing pro-

is limited to what is actually manufacturable so

cesses the CAD/CAM gap can

that a user can’t create a hole that is smaller

be much wider. Conventional

than any drill bit available to the machine.

CAD/CAM applications bridge

‘‘...any solid component inside sketchup

can be now manufactured

at the click of a button with vistii...’’


Cutting edge CAD/CAM applications also have the capacity to import 3D models and automatically generate a strategy to machine them. So, this kind of evaluation can be done automatically, where are all the online subtractive manufacturing services? As it turns out, the CAD/CAM gap runs both ways. The result of these automatic evaluations always differs from the original design to a greater or lesser extent. If the user does not get the necessary feedback on the evaluation, they have no idea what the end product will look like.

bridging the gap from cad to cam with vistii


Vistii offers an innovative and promising solution to this problem. Their SketchUp plugin essentially extends SketchUp’s status to that of CAD/CAM application. Any solid component inside SketchUp can be manufactured at the click of a

Design: What the user initially designed. At the geometric level, all faces are tessellated, arc-curves removed and edges softened.



The vistii extension can be downloaded

The stock material that is placed on the

from their site at The

machine before any work is done on it.

vistii toolbar has only one button on it

It is a cube where thickness, length and

which connects to the vistii cnc service.

width have been set to best fit material

Select a machine and material and hit

and design dimensions.

the “evaluate” button. That is it! Vistii uploads the component to the cloud where it applies its strategy and generates all the toolpaths. The result appears in Sketchup, both in the WebDialog and the model. The WebDialog shows what is essentially a product that can be added to a shopping basket like any online store. But the product also has 5 check boxes that show and hide different aspects of the workpiece that appears in the model. These are key to understanding what can and cannot be

Work: The work is the volume produced by the tool gliding along the toolpaths. Whatever it intersects will be machined away. Excess: The excess represents all the material that wasn’t removed. Result: The workpiece you can expect to obtain as a result.



1 your design...

5 performs glide operations...

2 tesselated

6 subtracting work...

3 stock is chosen...

7 ...excess found

4 ...toolpaths are plotted

8 ...the result

‘‘...sketchup is the only 3d program that

understands and values simplicity the way we do it’s as if we speak the same language...’’


Vistii allows for the evaluation of any component instance but it pays to have some understanding of machine characteristics and tools available. There are downloadable guides for each machine to help the design process become a process aimed at manufacturing. Vistii is officially in beta stage at the moment, but are actively manufacturing and have a clear view of where the company is heading. All in all, Vistii comes across as a promising solution that brings the power of subtractive manufacturing to SketchUp users’ fingertips. It is great to see a start-up bet so heavily on SketchUp as a platform for their service. According to Vistii founder Noel, “SketchUp is the only 3D program that understands and values simplicity and straightforwardness the way we do. It’s as though we speak the same language.” Check out the video opposite for more details...

Download vistii




fish with sketchup

as interior designers you need a means of animating objects in trimble sketchup. keyframe animation delivers great results quickly



Adriana’s Books


have recently evaluated various plugins for animation in SketchUp and was surprised to realize how often we, as interior designers, need this feature. That is why today I bring you a quick technique using Keyframe Animation by Regular Polygon to animate fish in an aquarium project. Even though this plugin has been mentioned in CatchUp before, I wanted to be more specific and make a short tutorial for the interior design readers. The plugins I evaluated were Proper Animation, which is free, SU Animation from the makers of SU Podium and

Keyframe Animation. The one that offered the most functions is Keyframe Animation. The plugin costs $36 ($28.80 for Premium members) and is also available on a 10-day trial.

View Online

It has the ability to translate, rotate and scale objects, animate subgroups/ subcomponents, assign Keyframe transition times and export these animation to a movie. The plugin can be downloaded from the SketchUcation Shop and you can also find easyto-follow tutorials on the Keyframe companion site.


The aquarium I used was for a seafood restaurant that I did a long time ago. I placed in the Sketchucation publication section a tutorial that shows not only the fish movements but also how I create the aquarium, the table cloths, the walls and ceiling.

As I said the plugin allows to animate groups and subgroups. Since I wanted to give the impression of a random fish movement I divided my objects into two components. A ‘Cluster Component’ containing 4 fish and a ‘Large Fish Component’ representing a single fish. I copied and scaled the ‘Cluster Component’ to create a small swarm and grouped this as below. These groups were then copied and scaled as needed.

Unfortunately the project was never built but it helped me in this case to study various possibilities for fish movements. The end result still needs some polishing, but it is far enough along to demonstrate its scope and illustrate a combination of translations and rotations. The user need only to generate different groups and then record the initial, the in-between and the final positions.

I also defined a shape that could help me to control the different positions for each group/component in each scene.


The steps you have to follow are pretty simple: • Create a scene. If you do not want to save the camera settings and want to control the ulterior view position uncheck this option. • Click on the Record button to save the geometric position of the element. • Create another scene. • Move your object to the next geometric position (the translation, rotation or scale that the element have compared with the previous scene). • Click the Record button.

You can continue doing the same process until you achieve the entire animation of your objects.

KeyFrame Animation toolbar is simply laid to allow the quick creation of animations and tweens.

Be aware that the rotation of an object happens in the direction of the smaller angle, so if you want to move 180 degrees or more the behavior will be the opposite as the one expected. For example if you want to rotate 235 grades the object instead will rotate 125 grades.


After defining and recording each scene the

time between scenes I had to break down

plugin allows to establish the transition time for

the translation movement of my big fish to

each one.

diminish the speed of these fish moving from one side to the other. Now you can start your animation as you would do it with SketchUp. This is a short video that shows the final results. As I said before it needs to be polished but in the end Keyframe Animation proves to be a great plugin for many of us.

This is another example where the fish only rotate around a center.

I would have liked the option to slow down the motion of my big fish comparing with the rotation but since you only can control the



Increase your SketchUp Material Libraries with

pixPlanT 2


ou know, I know and most seasoned users know that the default materials library in SketchUp is not the most extensive collection in the world. But SketchUp does make adding materials a painless task.

this a time consuming and laborious task. Enter



left....PixPlant a




What is not so painless is making these textures seam-

software company that has made

less so they will tile over large surfaces. You can create

creating seamless textures a simple

your own seamless textures using PhotoShop or GIMP.

process that’s fun!

But the level of skill and attention to detail needed make



What is particularly surprising is the ease of use and shallow learning curve needed to create

Pixplant is available for both Windows and Mac

textures from just about anything.

enviroments as a standalone application or a fil-

The application is laid out in an easy to

ter to be added to Adobe Photoshop (Windows

understand manner. It uses a tabbed system


to swap between seamless texture generation

It is priced at $195 for a full licence and $79 for an upgrade to an existing licence. There is also

to 3D material generation. Anything loaded into PixPlant is immediately available in both tabs.

an option for multi unit purchases that offer sub-

If you already have some seamless textures

stantial savings and an educational package

you can move straight to the 3D materials tab

where a licence is only $95.

and generate the neccessary maps instantly.

I tested PixPlant 2 on a Windows 8 64bit ma-

But seamless texture generation is where Pix-

chine and having the ability to run it in 64bit en-

Plant shines. The actual process is managed

viroment did make a difference when dealing

using sliders and marquee boxes which is a sur-

with high resolution images.

prising approach.

But, more to the point, what exactly does it

I would have expected a more involved system

do and how does fit in an ArchViz or 3D Artist

but after a few minutes of play it soon became


apparent that this method allows a user to largely stay with mouse input only.

What does it do?

Images can be added by various means - imported, drag ‘n’ dropped, pasted from clipboard or by ‘Find Online...’. Once added you can straight click ‘Generate’ to see a result.

PixPlant 2 generates seamless textures from

Pixplant will never NOT generate a seamless

either a single image or a series of images. It

texture but in most instances you will need to

can also generate Normal, Specular, Diffuse

perform some level of tweaking. This is all done

and Displacement maps from these images to

within PixPlant so no need to fire up an image

be used in photorealistic rendering applications.

editor to crop, straighten or adjust things.


How does it do it?

defined you can begin to get down and dirty with generating your first seamless texture.

As I mentioned Pixplant uses sliders and marquees to help you to dial in to the result you need. Got a texture skewed at an angle that you would love to use in your current project? No problem just use the ‘Straighten Seed’ feature to select the area you want to straighten and PixPlant spits back a fully adjusted image.

To generate the seamless texture you need to adjust a couple of sliders and click a few checkboxes. It really is that simple. ‘Equalize Seed’ allows PixPlant to uniformily adjust the color and light of the loaded image. Meaning any variations in the pattern are reduced to give you a better visual result.

Need to define a particular area in which to generate a seamless pattern from? Just use the ‘Seed Pattern’ option. This is a nice feature to have especially when an image may contain elements that are not needed in the seamless generation process. For instance, some type of decorative floor tiling that you would need to isolate various areas.

‘Seed Scale’ will scale the result either bigger or smaller than the loaded image. And finally, ‘Extra Seed Symmetry’ allows Pix-

Once an image is straightened and a pattern is

Plant to look at variations of the loaded image


and improve the result if the image does not

that contained areas which, when you generat-

contain repeated elements.

ed a seamless, were really noticeable when the

PixPlant can either generate a seamless texture vertically (great for woodgrain), horizontally (for bricks) or in both directions (for just about anything).

image tiled. By masking these areas you can immediately remove these artifacts from contributing to the seamless results. Below you can see the loaded image on the right

Speedwise PixPlant is fast. I mean really fast. It takes mere seconds to generate a result on

with the areas I needed to not be processed masked in black.

lower resolution images to a minute or two on

Overall, the seamless creation portion of Pix-

higher resolution images.

Plant is pretty solid. An easy to use and power-

To top it all off you can mask off areas of your

ful toolset well executed.

loaded image/s to prevent certain elements to be included in the result. Say you had a texture


Wait...there’s more! As I menioned earlier PixPlant is no one trick pony. It is also the friend of the 3D visualization artist by also creating all the maps you need to make your renders pop! It adopts the exact same method using sliders and checkboxes. It is a little bit more involved but still pretty much straightforward. Each map, whether normal, specular etc., share what is called a ‘Common Surface Settings’. These are some generic values that affect all the maps and influence the amount of detail on the map surface.

There are also dedicated parameters for each map. So your have optimal control over the depth of diplacement,the intensity of the normal and specular maps and the lighting of the diffuse.


the verdict

Andy Orban of Orban Design is an architectural visualization


freelancer and uses PixPlant....

+ Low learning curve

“PixPlant 2 is a very useful addition to my workflow, what’s most

+ Fast results

helpful to me is its speed.

+ Reasonable price

With a reasonable source image,


you can get a nice seamless pattern in just a few minutes. In con-

Cons: - Complex patterns require as much work as you would in PhotoShop

trast, I might typically spend half an hour to an hour in Photoshop to create the same type of map.

- Windows only support for the PhotoShop filter edition

I also find the automated normal/ bump/ specular maps to be an-

- Online Library is lacking content Overall, PixPlant have succeeded in giving users a tool to transform imagery into seamless textures but maintain the realism of the image. is a robust, user friendly and powerful tool for any 3D artist. If you need to generate seamless ArchViz assets quickly then it ticks all the boxes. .

other great time-saver. I do find it has limits with more complex patterns like random stacked stone, but for things like brick, tile, and rough patterns, it does a wonderful job. Pixplant is a worthwhile addition to my texturing toolset.”

The pros far outweigh the cons. You can download a trial which has a 30 day evaluation period or purchase a licensed copy at $195 over at




making of a masterpiece


DAVID SLS1 LASERSCANNING DAVID-SLS-1 scanner uses Structured Light technology, to produce 3D scans in a matter of seconds.

A little over 2 years ago

ment. The results were

we spent some time with

impressive but the level

the original DAVID scan-

of involvement was high.

ner Starter Kit. A functional and easy to use home laser scanning solution. But the technology at that time meant the scanning process was slow and it also meant spending time in a dull to dark

Since that time the team behind the DAVID Scanner, DAVID 3D Solutions, have released their latest addition to their 3D scanning Portfolio. The DAVID SLS-1. 34

What is SL? SL 3D scanning, otherwise known as Structured Light, is a means scanning

For this review I decided to use a 10” replica of Michelangelo’s David. As you can see in the opposite images the end results was a good return for the work involved.

objects using a projected striped pattern

I did have to do some polygon decima-

from a projector and reading the result

tion in Blender as the actual result was

using a camera.

too detailed to use in SketchUp. Below is

The SLS-1 comes with all the tools need-

the raw scan in Blender.

ed to perform these scans without the need for any supplementary hardware or software. SL basically works by pulsing a series of light patterns at the object and building a mesh from this. In comparison to the Starter Kit which involves painting a laser over an object’s surface there’s a huge leap in time saving and ease of use. That being said, setup time intially, for those new to 3D scanning can be somewhat slow. But once you refine the process you would be ready to scan an object within 5 to 10mins. The hardware included to do the SL scanning is substantial. An Acer K11 projector, high quality camera, Hahnel high adjustable tripod, 2 calibration studios and the DAVID software on a USB device.



The scan... The SLS-1, as mentioned takes some time to setup but you are walked through the process with a supplied User Guide. The hardware assembly is straightforward and the only real head scratching comes when you have to do a bit of physical measuring of objects and distances between projectors, cameras and objects. Once your are ready the DAVID scanning software looks after most things. Projector and camera calibration does mean fiddling with focus rings and aperture settings but it takes longer to type that sentence than it is to do it. When everything is dialled in you can start the scanning process. There isn’t much to do other than click scan and rotate your object on completion. For a full 360 degree scan I found anything between 8 to 12 rotations gave the best results. In the top image you can see the object in the calibration studio, then result of the each pass and finally the completed ‘fused’ mesh.


To take your series of scans and compile them into one mesh the DAVID software has a system called ‘Fusion’ which will automatically align and heal any holes in the scanned mesh and export the result to either .obj, ply or stl. Ideal if you plan to go the 3D print direction.

The Verdict Pros + Fast + Accurate

You can also choose to export each scan separately to do further work in applica-

+ Ease of Use

tions of your choosing.


Another element to ‘Fusion’ is that it can

- Expensive

also capture textures and apply these to the scanned meshes. I did play with this

- Software can crash at times

somewhat on other objects with mixed

Overall, the scanning and mesh tools in

results. It is not flawed but when dealing

the DAVD software are excellent. It ca-

with lighting and reflections it can get dis-

ters for someone that wants to grab a

continuous with obvious changes in tex-

quick scan all the way up to highly de-

tures from scan to scan.

tailed scans.

The most impressive area is the speed.

In terms of accuracy and speed the SLS-

The SLS-1 takes less than 4 seconds to

1 is a crowd pleaser. The build quality is

scan. In comparison to the Starter Kit,

high and the bundled software gets the

that is 10 times faster and a 100 times

job done.

less involved.

You can currently buy the DAVID SLS-1

Also the difference in scan resolution be-

at €1993.25 including VAT plus shipping.

tween both means the SLS-1 is 5 times


more accurate.

by Rich O’Brien





Many of our regular readers will remember the article I did on Gatewing’s X100 in Catchup Edition 10. This UAV has a fantastic specification but at the time of review I was not able the pin-point an exact retail price. I later learned of the price and decided that it was most definitely only for large firms with big wallets. UAVs hold a fascination for me and when time allows I like to play around with my low cost iPhone controlled Parrot AR Drone 2.0, a wi-fi quadricopter. While searching around the Net for the latest news on the AR Drone I came

will be possible to pre-program automatic

across the Parrot USA site which an-

movements, travel direction, pan and crane

nounced their to be launched GPS ena-

to produce great looking video. Needless

bled Flight Recorder allowing geoloca-

to say, I put my name down for further in-

tion. Coupled with ‘Director Mode’, it



While reading through the AR Drone

senseFly is also working with another

USA site I happened upon an interest-

Parrot Group partner, Pix4D, which has

ing announcement, ‘senseFly profes-

has developed a suite of software which

sional UAV from $8,999‘. I immediate-

can create a flight path and take 2D

ly linked to the SenseFly site and was

geotagged images and then process

pleasantly surprised to discover details

them into 3D maps. When senseFly’s

on the eBee, a new UAV to be launched

UAVs are allowed into civilian airspace,

at the beginning of 2013.

there are a myriad or uses:

On further investigation I have learned that the Parrot Group have partnered with senseFly and invested $5.3 million to help senseFly grow. I understand their plan is to develop a high volume manufacturing capability and fund rapid growth and new product development.

- Aerial photography - Mapping - Mine and quarry surveys - Emergency response - Agricultural and cattle monitoring - Remote sensing - Surveying (general and archeological) - Urban and regional planning - Infrastructure management

The eBee is the first such product from this joint venture. The 3’ wingspan eBee can fly for 45 minutes in 45km/hr winds, and will enable users to take their own aerial photos and produce precise ortho-mosaics and 3D models.

For drones like the eBee to be feasible, civilian airspace needs to be opened. Then the sky begins to offer unique perspectives to view and understand our environment. I feel it won’t be too long before aerial images and data can

Unfortunately the US is excluded from

be captured at low cost, anywhere and

the global network of resellers because

at any time without the use of complex

of FAA regulatory limitations. The eBee

infrastructure or long preparation times

is being targeted at the special needs

and then transformed into accurate

of mining and surveying professionals

and useful management tools, maps

because of its wind resistance and ro-

and surveys.

bustness, high precision 3D image processing and mission planning software.


“We are witnessing a revolution whereby

flying drones are no longer exclusive to the military but are quickly spreading into the civilian world.

Carry-on luggage size The eBee has a modular design, allowing the wings to be disassembled and stored with the central body and all its

In 2010, Parrot surprised competitors and

accessories in a small case. In fact the

fellow researchers alike when they hit the

case is so small and lightweight that

market with their iPhone- piloted quadri-

you can even take it as cabin baggage.

copter for filming and gaming. The same year, senseFly revolutionized the job of

Very easy to use

surveyors by providing fully autonomous

The eBee is lightweight enough to be

flying cameras capable of producing pre-

launched by hand. It is fully autono-

cise 2D and 3D maps within minutes. Both

mous during its entire flight. When it

companies are focused on developing

comes to landing, the eBee can either

very lightweight drones with the strong

land in a circular clearing or, when

belief that this is critical to their use by the

space is limited, use its advanced

public at large – far beyond the military”,

ground sensing technology to make

says Jean-Christophe CEO and co-found-

a fully autonomous straight-line land-

er of senseFly.

ing. The included eMotion 2 software

What’s in the box?

,emotion-2, lets you plan, simulate, monitor and control the trajectory of the eBee both before and during flight. With simple drag&drop actions you can designate the area to be mapped, generate a flight plan and with a single mouse click you can update your mission or return the eBee to its starting location.


3D processing With its 16MP high resolution camera, the eBee can capture images with a ground resolution of 3 to 30cm per pixel. Areas from 1.5 to 10km2 can be mapped in a single flight depending on image resolution and flight altitude. The eBee package includes Postflight Terra 3D (a fully automated 3D processing desktop software powered by Pix4D). After the initial data check in the field (overlap control and low resolution orthomosaic), Terra 3D automatically creates a precise geo-referenced orthomosaic and digital elevation model (DEM). Advanced users can further optimize their models through operator defined ground control points and seamlines.


Specifications 96cm wingspan with 630g take-off weight

Up to 3km radio link

16MP camera, electronically integrated

Covers up to 1.5-10km2

and controlled

eMotion 2

Lithium polymer battery with 45 minutes of flight time

Ground sensor and reverse engine technology for linear land-

36-57km/h (10-16m/s) cruise speed


Up to 45km/h (12m/s) wind resistance

Postflight Terra 3D*


If the indicated price range of $8,999 is accurate I think senseFly have a winner on their hands. Okay we won’t see one laying around every architectural, engineering or surveyors office but I feel its well within reach for the ‘one man show’ that wishes to professionally get involved in aerial photography, orthomosaic production and 3D terrain modelling. You should check out this video to see how portable and quick it is to use the eBee. by Mike Lucey


SketchUcation are now SketchUp Pro Resellers and for a limited time we are making available, to eligible SketchUcation Premium Members, a discount of 20% off the full price.



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The ultimate

sketchup pc pete stoppel builds the perfect pc for sketchup and rendering


have been looking all over for a good

So I have approached them with a propo-

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sition with the aim to source a saving

ny as I have had several built by many

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chasing in bulk. The result? Yes, but

Some have been good and others not so

only to those living in the United States.

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They were very helpful on the phone and

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I researched them on the net and compiled a series of reviews and ratings and I checked with BBB (better business bureau) and all the customer comments were exceptional.

gaming rigs and in our case a machine that will be powerful to handle all 3D modeling, video compiling, animations, rendering even GPU based rendering, this is the best all round rig at the price available.


In the build

ply and couldn’t be happier with the results. It’s very quiet even under load and the voltages stay very stable even with overclocking.

Chassis Antec 302 - Is one of the best sub $75.00 chassis available with top front panel connections, and can accommodate this build physically and thermally without any problem.

Intel DX79SR - This board, for the money, is one of the best available and capable of handling up to 8 SATA devices, multiple video cards, and is backed by Intel - World class support! - Rear Panel I/O is laid out like so:

Cooler Master Silent Pro 850 watt - I have personal experience with this sup-


CPU Chipset Intel i7 3930 - Socket2011,

Memory - The memory listed is very spe-

6 core (12 threads) @ 3.2Ghz

cific for the X79 chipset. The memory is certified by Intel for maximum stability &

capacity. It is tested with all other types CPU Cooler Gelid Tranquillo - Excellent cooling capabilities, more importantly the mounting is very secure and is well balanced, not to cause additional stress on the motherboard. It’s hard to tell from the picture but the fins are actually dimpled giving it a significant advantage to the competition.

of memory that aren’t on the certification list including Mushkin, Kingston, G.Skill, & Patriot. When all the slots on the board are populated with uncertified ram running over 1600MHz speed very strange and inconsistent things would happen, including not booting, showing a memory failure, and in some cases not recognizing all the installed ram. Having the Corsair vengeance memory set this way 4 x 8GB give the user 32GB of memory with the option to expand to 64GB without hassle.


to offer a quality product, and stands be-

Primary SSD Boot Drive - Samsung Pro 840. Samsung is the best option for this configuration. Also has a 5 year war-

hind it! This particular card offers a back plate to stiffen the card as well as a nice array of monitor connections.

ranty. Prices will vary based on size you

Optical drive LG DVDRW - Plain Jane

require either 120GB, 250GB or even the

no frills, but reliable and cost effective.


Operating system - Windows 7 profes-

Secondary HDD - Western Digital Black

sional 64 Bit– I am still recommending 7

2TB SATA 6.0GB/sec – Excellent quality

over 8 at this time until 8 releases their

drive and fantastic customer service.

first service pack to fix any compatibility issues. Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit would not be ideal for this configuration due to its memory limitation of 16GB. Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate lift the memory restriction allowing one to use up to 192GB of memory.

Video card EVGA GTX 680 4GB - The thing to know about video cards is that

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by Pete Stoppel of 50


SU Solid is a bit of a sleeper in the vast world of

We got the chance to test the latest v1.1

plugins. Developed by David Malnar, it was origi-

build and were pleasantly surprised at

nally aimed at woodworking users that needed to

how effective it is.

analyze and tidy up models that were heavily intersected. Now it has morphed into a 3D Printing related tool that claims to make turning anything into a solid...

Opposite you can see the toolbar. This can be broken into 3 areas with the first area concerned with analyzing and fixing geometry in SketchUp. Everything is co-

When I originally laid eyes on SU Solid

lour coded so after analysis SuSolid re-

a few months back it was not the pret-

ports back therrors using a really simple

tiest tool. The instructions on the site


were confusing and the whole workflow seemed a mystery. It was a cacophany of colours and mouse clicks that really did not explain what it was doing and how it

As you can see, PINK means solid whilst RED, Blue and YELLOW mean there are various types of edge errors in the mesh. Click the related icon on the toolbar and

operated. David has since refined the tool and addressed some issues users raised.

SuSolid resolves the issues. It really is that simple and in most cases it works flawlessly.


SUsolid is very useful in finding problems in my model preventing geometry from being solid. It also helps to fix some of the problems automatically. Its not magic - you need to start with a reasonable model - but the tool makes short work in deleting stray lines, patching holes, and other menial tasks associated with making a model 3D printable.

Surprisingly to me, SUsolid even quickly fixed some errors that I wasn’t able to correct using my old manual methods. The Balance tool is a nice touch, useful for estimating the weight of the model after it has been made solid.

Marcus Ritland -


As with most error detecting tools you are bound to run into problems that result in a cycle of error correction. This is really apparent with the Close Holes and Fix Distorted Faces tools.

SuSolid tends to try too hard at times to resolve geometry that is perfectly fine and is already reporting as solid. With the Distorted Faces tool seemingly fixing one problem but introducing another series of errors that when fixed result in another distorted face issue. I tended to stay away from this tool as it did not affect the end result which was to make a non-solid solid. In the image to your left I have analyzed a selection of groups to determine what is not a solid and to overview the errors it is returning. As you can see there is one particular area that has a number of errors from Single Edges to Holes. To target just this item you select it and run Analyze again to perform the fixes needed. On the opposite page you can see the BLUE errors (coplanar edges) took 2 clicks to remove. Fixing the YELLOW error (inside edges) resulted in the RED error (single edges) and fixing this returned a solid.


SuSolid does go above and beyond on the visual feedback. Edge errors are highlighted, non solids are shaded a different colour and it all does make sense on lighter meshes. But when things get denser it can become a bit of a mess to determine where the errors are. Overall the analysis and fixing portion of SuSolid is well thought out and implemented. Whilst not perfect is does do an incredible amount of work that would very labour intensive by hand.


There are also tools that will group



and divide entities that share a common internal faces into separate groups. These




trying to disassemble areas from one another and target specific areas for further analysis. The Divide tool can cause SketchUp to become unresponsive but this is a common result when you ask SketchUp to perform any intensive process. The Intersection Check tool will display all the intersections between solid groups and components. It is a non destructive tool but, like the Divide tool, over large selections it can take time to return a result. These 3 tools are a type of pre-check for the Analysis tool. They allow you to group geometry and if there is any internal faces you can divide it further into more groups.


The final area is to do with assign values to your solids and reporting weights. The toolbar




to assign a material type, weight and report the result for each selection. It is a useful feature to determine



weights of your solids but in the build I had there seemed no way to assign separate






return an overall weight. This I felt would allow the user to get a very accurate result when dealing with different materials.

The Verdict Pros + Visual + Ease of use

+ Well executed Cons - Can create errors from fixes


- Poorly documented

Overall, SuSolid is certainly headed in the right direction. It does save you a lot of time and even though there are elements that introduces errors if properly approached you can get the desired results quite quickly. You can purchase SUSolids for â‚Ź22 from or download the free version with limited tools.


new in the shop

PLUS - SHOPs now AVAILABLE FOR PREMIUM Members powered by


s we continue to roll out new features on we are very pleased to be able offer shops to skilled Premium members.

We already mentioned that Premium members can already get tons of free and discounted content in the shop from models to textures to plugins. Now we’ve extended the offer to include a shop space to sell just about any SketchUp related content. Got LayOut scrapbooks that you want to sell or share with other Premium members? Maybe you’ve a glut of models you have built up over the years? We have already attracted some of the top SketchUp users from around the world who have helped us build a system that allows Premium members to share content

with one another or sell at a discounted rate. To be eligible for a shop you must be proficient with SketchUp products and be able to provide sample content that you plan to sell. To find out more about the details you can read our EULA and Term of Service. As an added bonus we’ve teamed up with Sketchfab so you can display your models in glorious 3D. Sketchfab recently updated their user account to allow unlimited uploads of up to 50mb per file and we’ve added the Sketchfab viewer into our shop. You can contact us directly if there is anymore information you need.


$ 20 Garden Pack 40 SketchUp optimized models for use in exterior ArchViz scenes from top 3D artist Pete Stoppel.

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SketchUp as a Twitter Strategy - Part 3 At first glance, social media can seem overwhelming, addictive, and incredibly time consuming – especially if you’re a project manager working in today’s competitive construction industry. Some might even believe that this new media is only good for constructors (or designers) with nothing better to do except read self-promoting babble in a constant banter of misinformation, mixed with spam and uninformed hype. But they have it wrong.

Social Strategies

In fact social media is what many call “a rich canvas of context,” where messages are linked to brands (aka companies and projects) with stories, events, and transactions visible in real-time conversations that bring valuable insight to project management. It is the way to see the big picture, but it is also a way to eavesdrop on what your competitors are doing. Mining public information, reading posts, and searching keywords and tags helps build strategies for working in the ever changing landscape of the construction industry. In particular, the simplicity of Twitter brings out unguarded exchanges that are telling when seen in the context of a stream of tweets. This includes discovering inadvertent security breaches by marketing staff and employees about current or pending projects. Reading the stream, or timeline, of almost any company’s twitter account brings insights that come with patiently gathering long-range intelligence, generated spontaneously by thousands of short messages. You might think nothing substantive can be said in 140 characters, but add links and pictures and these seemingly Here are some of the Twitter accounts we innocuous little posts begin to reflect regularly read for strategic information: a group consciousness and it doesn’t @Sketchup @AGCofA take long to recognize and evaluate @ReedConstrData @ConstructionMag the collective thoughts exposed by this @Ind_today @GreenBuildNews media. The deeper understanding that @ConstructionNews @edcmagazine @CT_mag emerges from a series of tweets is in @PauleyCreative @constructmgt fact what makes Twitter valuable as a collaborative tool.

Social Security

Security is particularly important to control when posting anything on the internet. Everything, even inadvertent and quickly deleted disclosures, casual comments, or photographs are immediately captured, tagged, and available for future searches. They literally never go away. Most important, there are companies and organizations, like ours, that understand the strategic value of an almost forensic analysis of the data floating around the internet about people, projects, and companies. William Gibson likened this to sifting through the leaves of a forest, gathering information not from one leaf, but all of them as a collective whole. In fact, it’s the unintentional exposures that make it particularly important to keep the information exchanged between team members absolutely private. For reasons many already know, project management is not a public forum. Using Twitter for project management therefore starts with an understanding of the importance of establishing clear policies along with firewalls to guard or even moderate every tweet. Twitter security is simple to set up, but difficult to control in a corporate environment because it is such an immediate, spontaneous, and personal media.

Strategic Searches

A recent survey showed 65% of UK architects and 11 out of 15 of the top homebuilders use Twitter, with 94% finding it useful for a variety of tasks, including keeping up with information and news, networking, and maintaining a strategic awareness of the construction industry in general.

Twitter Basics

Tweet: Account address, @ProjectName. Hashtag: #KeyWord, to view related posts. Mention: @Mention refers to another account. Lists: Divides account into categories. MT: Add to modified tweet, not a code. RT: Add to Retweet, not a code. Message: DM or D, direct message. Blocked: Follower blocked, do not show. Timeline: Account or chronological list of tweets.

5 Twitter Security Tips 1. Setup separate Twitter accounts (and Lists) for each project for better control. 2. Protect your tweets by making sure each account is set to Private (geo-locations off). 3. Assign a moderator, not to moderate, but to monitor trends in the tweets. 4. Setup invitation only lists or groups within the account to correlate information. 5. Have a clear social media policy that includes specific Twitter protocols.

Chrysler fired this employee for mistakingly tweeting this to a public corporate account

It’s important to keep in mind that Twitter is a double edge sword. All tweets are searchable through Twitter, Google, Bing and every other search engine out there. Once found, tweets can be culled, sorted, and sifted by #hashtag, @ Replies, RTs, headers, @Mentions, and text, unless the Twitter account is specifically set for Private viewing. The value of these searches for both internal communications and strategic data mining are clear. Internally there are trending developments, individual and company profiles, collaborations, mentions, startups, and training activities that keep team members informed. At the same time, when viewed externally, tweets put a face on tweeters, including the personal traits and opinions found in occasional disclosures about project preparation, special tools (like SketchUp), or proprietary approaches to problems that may be critical to a successful proposal. The trick is to follow webpages, email, blog postings, and comments to tweets that connect subcontractors and project affiliates whom may respond with deeper insights.


Project Management Tool The value of Twitter becomes increasing obvious after a few days of production, but any idea that Twitter is just for sending, sorting, and searching messages, misses the fact that Twitter is a collaborative tool, especially when photos, library images, and links are added to the kind of discrete information exchanged in real-time in an ongoing process. The goal is to direct group consciousness into group thinking through interactions within a well defined team. This begins in early programming and grows as members are invited into the project’s account as “privileged” followers. This means, the value of Twitter is the media itself. Participating in a series of concise tweets is like feeling the pulse of the entire project team, mashed together into a project long stream of consciousness, that is visible in the flow of precise messages, retweets, and comments, supplemented by scans, photos, video, illustrations, and model images that carry their own perceptive insights.

Twitter Clients

Mobile apps for Twitter vary widely in what they can do. Some are simple and straightforward, while others take a manual to understand completely. Choosing the right app comes down to the one that makes it easiest to immediately access and tweet an image from a library, phone, or tablet.

SMS sends tweets with images and video to accounts using short codes -- 40404 in the United States. Contact codes can be found at Twitter. com. Once the code is synced to the account, text messages are sent and immediately posted to the account. It’s as simple as texting and remains our preference.

Crowd Source SketchUp Here’s the point, when a Twitter group starts with a few people, say the project manager and a principle, they begin a direct exchange of ideas that lasts long enough to work out the direction of basic programmatic issues. As this initial interaction develops, others are invited to join the group, slowly, almost organically. New team members are then invited into this private group to support specific needs, where they can review tweets as insiders, as part of the team. There they are able to see the evolution of thoughts, adding context to other project related documents, and begin to contribute their own ideas – 24/7. They then remain in the group as long as they are able to add value to the team.

Twitter has an app that is even simpler than SMS. Start the app and a menu bar at the bottom of the interface shows four icons: “Home” for your current timeline, “Connect” to track Interactions/ Mentions, “Discover” as the search menu, and “Me” for settings and profiles. Click the New Tweet icon in the upper right corner to tweet and add a picture, video, or library image as you compose your text

Tweetdeck was acquired by Twitter in May of 2011and works pretty much the same way as the Twitter app. Names have been changed to Home, Me, Inbox, and Search, but now you swipe horizontally to access adjacent screens. Image tweets are currently limited to Library Photos and Take Photo, no videos, which eliminates process captures (though videos could be sent via YouTube).

See our books at

Construction models are important because they are at the visual core of these exchanges from the beginning. Site utilization model images, photo overlays, massing studies, designs, and engineering are gradually mixed with spreadsheets and schedules, along with member comments that have evolved through an exchange of images and ideas. Three dimensional images thereby represent the evolution of the project not as a series of prepared presentations, but as part of a continuous flow of interactions, thoughts, and “social” exchanges. In this, line drawings become three-dimensional groups and components that then transform into shapes and documents as the result of a collaborative effort.

How Oreo Culture-Jacked The Super Bowl (with a timely second screen tweet)

In other words, collaboration stems tacitly from the flow of comments, micro-posts, seen through the immediacy of a social media. The objective is literally to visually “crowd source” the project from its inception, deeply embedding “buy-in” for team members as a key part of an invited group. In these interactions, ideas are therefore not staged in a meeting, report, proposal, or rendering, but evident as a project that continues to be shaped in an ongoing conversation. In the end, construction models become the focal point that guides a collaborative effort that continues through construction, into facilities management, and finally warranty service long after the structure is finished.

HootSuite adds more complexity. Its menus are Streams instead of Home, a Search function, Stats, and Contacts. HootSuite also makes it possible to manage lists as categories of followers. Use the Compose Menu for tweets, with images limited to Take Photo and Choose From Library, again no video, except through YouTube.

Posterous was also acquired by Twitter last year. It’s the most comprehensive of the Twitter clients -- far more complicated than necessary for most project managers IMHO. Instead of lists, Posterous uses Spaces to divide content. Each Space is actually a micro blog and website. Text and images are posted through tweets, emails, or directly with the Posterous app. The advantage of Posterous and its Spaces is design and customization, allowing long descriptive text along with a range of photos, videos, and illustrations. As a management tool, it’s not a lot different than a blog where every member of the Space can contribute content.


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SketchUcation Winter College A Basecamp for Europe


I have mentioned the idea of a SketchUp Winter School here in Europe on a number of occasions to over the past few years. Now, in light of the number emails that I have received from EU based SketchUp users. it looks that it won’t be a SketchUp Winter School, but a SketchUcation Winter School... I am now in talks with parties that are experienced in this area and from what I have learned so far a SketchUcation Winter School could well be one the cards, all be it a joint event with another 3D app support group. Date wise we are looking at Jan / Feb 2014 and it will be a one week low cost, fun filled, skiing / SketchUp and other software training event for approx.. 100 attendees, 30-40 SketchUp users. The cost for the full week, half board (accomodation, breakfast and dinner) will be in the region of ₏600. The destination can be reached via RyanAir and other low cost airlines. Extras would be ski equipment hire and of course some beer money. If you have never skied before, I envy you as you will experience the eureka moment! Even those with leg problems will enjoy the sledging ...... I could well be spending some time in that group ;) Interested folks can email me.

Contact Mike Lucey


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