NYC Elevation Map by kylemcdonald – Machine Halts FTW

Now...lets just see...where am I? Brooklyn!

MakerBot Artist-In-Residence Kyle McDonald is already an expert in mapping objects with point clouds given his extensive work on structured light and 3D scanning with a Kinect via Processing. But he is also exploring another kind of mapping — grabbing topological1 data and 3D printing it with a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic.

He’s not the first to attempt this — Lake and Mountain Topography and Mt Everest are other notable examples from the Thingiverse kingdom — but his hack makes the topography easier to read.

He uses the g-code command M1 machine halt2 to pause the print to give you time to switch filaments. The results are a two-color topography where the critical elevation gain above the bottom color of filament is easier to read. Works great for sea-level topography where the transition maps to an easy to understand reference elevation. ((Though I’d love to see some sea trenches!)

This hack only works on a “tethered” MakerBot printing RepG at the moment, but is worth the hassle:

  • The topographical data is freely available here.
  • Generate the STL with Kyle’s custom app here.
  • Then search through the gcode for just before the M101 command for the first G1 command including the z-height where you’d like the transition, and drop an “M1” on its own line.
  • I’d suggest sandwiching a “20mm up, 20mm” down waiting position script around the M1 command to keep from oozing while you fiddle with the filament, but you should code to taste.
  • If there is an active M101 command you will be extruding while you switch filament! You need to find a sweet spot between an M103 and an M101.

Kyle was standing somewhere just above the thumb when he took this picture!

Error - could not find Thing 8611.
  1. From topology to topography []
  2. that might be vanishing as an option soon []
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One Comment so far

  • Dithermaster
    May 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    With constant RPM of the extruder motor, it’s a known amount of time from the top of the extruder to the bottom of the hot end. For my MK5 w/ DC motor, it’s 140 seconds. If ReplicatorG’s countdown timer is accurate, it could count down the seconds to a specific layer and tell you exactly when to snip the filament and insert the new one. The printing process never needs to stop. You could even have multiple color changes, and each would get a countdown.

    Here are two models I printed this way (although lacking a countdown timer, I had to guess):

    This would be a great addition to RepG…



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