STOP PRESS: PS: As of tomorrow, the 27th December, you can buy the Matter and Form 3D scanner from Jaycar in Australia for AUD $999, a saving of AUD$500. BRILLIANT BARGAIN.
Read the review below. And you can buy online at www.jaycar.com.au
There is a major addendum to this story below… and this IS important…
After waiting for months – 9 to be precise – I finally managed to get the part I needed to make my Skywatcher telescope operational again.
The telescope – a 650mm Newtonion reflector telescope – was a present from Jacqui to me when we first got back to Western Australia just over 4 years back, and later sadly, by accident it got knocked over and the focussing mechanism was damaged.
This was about 6 months into the COVID dramas last year, and the Australian distributors, TSA informed me that there would be a large delay on getting the spare part due to the Chinese factories simply not able to produce these sorts of goodies in a reasonable time frame.
Anyway, last week it turned up and I reassembled the whole thing, and it is working perfectly. Except for a small, but annoying irritation.
The lock on one of the tripod legs has gone AWOL and so moving the beast around is difficult with a single leg flaying around the place; the whole scope assembly with counterweights etc added is no lightweight either.
The locking mechanism is an 8mm fine threaded bolt with a plastic “key” head. The bolt part was a bit tricky to find as Mr Bunnings didn’t stock that type and I eventually ended up at a company called Konnect who had them off the shelf.
So all that remained was the plastic “key” part.
Which leads me nicely to the Matter and Form (MaF) 3D scanner, available from Jaycar stores (where else?)
Priced at $1499, this unit contains a scanning head on a pair of threaded rods and a turntable. Allowing scans of up to 25cm height, a diameter of 18cm and a weight of 3Kg, it is ideal for smaller hobbyist tasks and for the home handyman.
And of course there are innumerable other uses that probably go into the realms of copyright breaking so I won’t go there …
The scanner is connected to the Mac / PC via a high speed 2.0 USB B cable as used by most printers. I substituted the original with one of my own as I found it was too short for practical purposes.
To create a scan, the Matter and Form scanner has its own software package called MF Studio. Available for both Mac and PC, this software lets you perform multiple scans of an object placed on the turntable to create a composite model that can be exported as an STL file for 3D printing or as other file types such as OBJ for further manipulation in a package like Blender or in my case, Cinema 4D.
The stated accuracy by the way is said to be +/- 0.1mm which is pretty impressive.
The key to a successful scan as I found, is lighting.
Let me explain.
When setting up the scanner, you need to go through a calibration process using a supplied calibration card placed vertically on the turntanble. This takes about 10 minutes and may, as it did in my case, fail in the first few attempts for some reason.
When actually setting up for each scan, you need to “fine tune” the laser reader for this specific scan so that you end up with a solid vertical green bar showing on the subject. This is done by setting the aperture of the scanner correctly with a slider, along with the right amount of ambient light and it coming from the right direction.
It takes a bit of trial and error as a scan is not a rapid process and it may take a few goes to get it right. I suspect practice makes perfect in this case.
Thankfully, a Quick Scan option lets you run a sort of trial to see how accurate it is going to be.
A second slider lets you further fine tune if texture and colour matching is required, but I found I will rarely use that option. You can also set the minimum mand maximum heights of the scan head for each scan as well as the amount of 360° rotation used.
When all is correct, clicking the scan button starts the process. As the scan proceeds, you can rotate the image in real time to get an idea of how it is all coming together.
As I said, this is not a quick thing, and my initial scan of the key head for the tripod lock took nearly ¾ of an hour. A subsequent further two scans were needed to “fill in the holes” so to speak”.
Addendum: Matter and Form has pointed out to me I used the “version 1” system to perform this scan. By switching to Quickscan, which I wrongly assumed to be a sort of preview system, a different laser and part of the software is used and what took 45 minutes was down to mere minutes.
(The object here is a “Sonic Screwdriver” from “Dr Who ” and was my first attempt – a tad ambitious perhaps.)
Once a set of scans is completed, you then merge them to make the completed object. There are cleaning tools to remove any stray points the scanner may have picked up in the process as well as cropping tools.
The scan creates the 3D model using what MaF call the “Point Cloud” and is essentially a representation of the model using pixels as against vectors as used in 3D software.
You can view the completed object as a Point Cloud or as a Mesh with texture.
The scanned image can then be exported as a Point Cloud file in PKY or XYZ formats or as a Mesh using STL, OBJ, DAE, PLY or gITF2.
I found the scanner to be quite easy to setup and use, but the downside is you will need some practice to get the best from it. My advice is to get a nice simple object and simply have a play on a rainy afternoon (or in Western Australia at the moment where it is 40 degrees C +, a nice airconditioned room).
In the box MaF supply a “plastic toy” for this very purpose, in my case a little yellow rubber duck. This is also used in the very good tutorial shown below. The website at https://matterandform.net/ too has a lot of information and tips to get you up and running.
Play around with different lighting and apertures and make a note of each setting for each scan, and this way you’ll get an idea for future more complex scans.
This is not a dissimilar method to the tutorial I wrote a few years back on understanding depth of field coincidentally.
So how did my key lock go? In truth, as I needed it pretty quickly in order to try and get some shots of the “Christmas Comet”, I used Cinema4D to make a quick and dirty one, but I aim to master this scanner for some ideas I have in other areas.
So yes, it is on my shopping list for Christmas… If you want to buy one, then you can order online at https://www.jaycar.com.au/desktop-3d-scanner-v2-with-quickscan-software/p/TL4420 or any Jaycar store should have one in stock.
PS: As of tomorrow, the 27th December, you can buy the Matter and Form 3D scanner from Jaycar in Australia for AUD $999, a saving of AUD$500. BRILLIANT BARGAIN.