A gigapan

Saturday, September 25, 2010

MakerBot arrives

We are using the Arduino GCode interpreter from the RepRap and MakerBot projects for the Macro and Micro rigs which we are automating (Jay's microscope already had serial control of the stage, so it did not need that control).

GCode is a semi-standard language for CNC (computer numerical control) machines.  It is normally generated by software, but it is 'pretty simple' to use for simple things.  For example, this code:
G00 X1.2 Y2.3 Z-1.0

Will move the X, Y, and Z axis of the tool.  You can also do interpolated movement, and control the speed the tool moves, spindle speeds, feed rates, etc, etc.

I ordered a Maker Bot, which is a robot which makes things.  It moves an object in XY and Z, and spreads melted ABS plasic on the part, in he places it is supposed to be.

This has three great applications for us.  First we can build parts with the MakeBoT; Second: we gain fluency and fluidity in the area of XY and Z control and Third: MakerBot XYZ control is more or less the same thing as we need for our Macro and micro rigs.

So the MakerBot arrived, and step one was to mix all of the parts together in order to capture a Gigapan!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Map my shiny metal a**, the past becomes the future

In 2004 Schuyler Erle and wrote up an outline for O'Reilly Associates for a book on maps.  This became Mapping Hacks.  The project lead to definitely measurable and small amounts of fame and fortune, and allowed me to work with Schuyler and Jo Walsh.

We saw it as our mission to take our software/hacker/artist/malcontent sensibilities and go and explore the World of Conventional GIS and bring back dispatches from the intersection of what temporarily became called 'Neo' and 'Paleo' geography.

Here is a wordy bit of recollection in which I try to create a cohesive arc between some of my previous thinking about mapping and my current work on Gigapans.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Project Overview

We are developing tools to support the full work flow of capturing, processing, and presenting high resolution zoomable images of macro and smaller subjects.

There are many existing instruments capable of image capture, from pocket cameras with a macro mode to manual optical microscopes, on to high end fully automated microscopes, and then to the upper ends with Scanning Electron Microscopes and more.

Some of these instruments have computer control of the microscope movement, which we can use to capture sets of images, other intruments are currently manual and we are creating kits and plans to let us automate capture.

Software and Workflow
The results from the image capture are a lot of images.  Sometimes a whole lot - thousands, even tens of thousands of images!  We are using and documenting multiple tools to help us automate the process of managing these images, and then stitching together 'focus stacks' of images, and then stitching together the resulting mosaic of focus stacked images.

Open Source
We are building on a rich tradition of work which other people have done, and we would be at a loss without that work!  So we are working to release as much as possible of our code and designs under open licenses so that other people can repeat and expand on our work.