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 []