Hack Chat Transcript

A event log for Learning Through Play Hack Chat

The power of play, from computer games to automata

LutetiumLutetium 03/13/2019 at 20:030 Comments

Dan Maloney12:00 PM
Hi folks, slight delay while Greg gets connected...

Greg Zumwalt joined  the room.12:01 PM

Dan Maloney12:02 PM
Hi Greg!

Greg Zumwalt12:02 PM
Hello Dan, I've got spotty wifi right now hoping it will improve

ostudio joined  the room.12:03 PM

Dan Maloney12:03 PM
Looks like we're ready to go. I'd like to welcome Greg Zumwalt to the Hack Chat today. Looks like he's having connectivity problems, but we'll try to make do.

Dan Maloney12:03 PM
Can you tell us a little about your background, Greg?

Greg Zumwalt12:04 PM
I went to college at the University of Tulsa for Business. While there I worked fixing arcade games to pay the rent.

Greg Zumwalt12:05 PM
After graduation I went to work for an aircraft simulation company

Dan Maloney12:05 PM
Cool, I worked in an arcade when I was in my teens. Always wanted to get into the repair side.

Greg Zumwalt12:05 PM
After 5 years of that Tandy asked me to write video games for them

morgan12:06 PM
hey! my first 'puter was a Tandy 1000

Greg Zumwalt12:06 PM
I wrote 37 video games for Tandy Corporation, Atiari, Sega of American and electronic arts.

Greg Zumwalt12:06 PM
and more that I can't remember '

Greg Zumwalt12:06 PM
One of my first games was a game called Star Blaze for Tandy Corporation for the first color computer

Dan Maloney12:07 PM
Games have become such big productions now. Must be so different from the days with one developer or a small team doing everything.

Greg Zumwalt12:07 PM
A few games later Tandy asked me to program Tetris created by a Russian Mathemetician

Greg Zumwalt12:08 PM
Yes it is a lot different if you wanted a graphic engine I had to write it my self

Greg Zumwalt12:09 PM
If I wanted to drawn a line I had to write my own algoryth

Greg Zumwalt12:09 PM

Greg Zumwalt12:09 PM

Dan Maloney12:09 PM
Did you think up the games? Like Star Blaze, was the gameplay your idea?

deshipu12:09 PM
and there was no Wikipedia to copy-paste Bresenham from :P

Greg Zumwalt12:10 PM
When an arcade manufacturer wanted a game moved from the arcade to the computer Tandy would line me up to do it for them.

Greg Zumwalt12:10 PM
:) correct no Wikipedia

Dan Maloney12:11 PM
Ah, gotcha.

Greg Zumwalt12:12 PM
I created a few original games Varloc was one of them it was a 2 demontional chess algoryth

Dan Maloney12:12 PM


Greg Zumwalt12:13 PM
Flight Sim1 was another one I created. It was a flight simulator

Sylvester Demmel12:14 PM
Why do kids and people like to play for hours, but when it comes to school almost everybody wants it to be over instantly.

Dan Maloney12:14 PM
I always loved flight sims. Thought it must have been challenging to make it realistic without making it unplayable.

Greg Zumwalt12:14 PM
For a lot of people school isn't entertaining. But I enjoyed it I enjoyed math and science

deshipu12:15 PM
@Sylvester Demmel because games give you a sense of agency and freedom, a sense of achievement, and a sense of belonging, and schools actively work to take all those away from you

Greg Zumwalt12:15 PM
Yes, at that time my graphic engine was line based and it was the best you could do on a 1 MHZ color computer

Dan Maloney12:18 PM
I always looked at it as you're happiest when you're doing what fits your brain. Sometimes that's solving problems in a game, other times that's solving problems in classes. Usually the games win, though - they just fit my brain better.

Nicolas Tremblay12:18 PM
And controllers fit my hands better than a pencil

Greg Zumwalt12:19 PM
I feel kind of the same way it just all made sense to me the ones and the zeros all made sense. That is the way my brain thinks.

ostudio12:20 PM
@Greg Zumwalt you have been working with digital games for years now... any works on physical mechanical devices as well ??

Greg Zumwalt12:22 PM
I designed flight control systems for military, business and commercial aircraft and the training.

Greg Zumwalt12:23 PM
and 4 degree of freedom and 6 degree of freedom hydraulic motion systems

Dan Maloney12:24 PM
Stewart platforms? Those things are cool

Steve12:25 PM
Can you describe some of your hobby projects?

Dan Maloney12:26 PM
Yes, please - you seem to have a lot of automata builds.

Greg Zumwalt12:26 PM
Its a motion base that provides pitch roll yaw and heave on a 4 degree motion base and adds latitude and longitude on a 6 degree

Greg Zumwalt12:28 PM
While doing all this I collected tools so that i could do all the mechanical stuff I wanted to do.

Greg Zumwalt12:29 PM
I machine gears and parts using a CNC mills and lathes and it took a long time

Steve12:30 PM
Do you like the ease of printing gears instead of milling them?

Greg Zumwalt12:30 PM
when 3 D printers became available it became so much easier taking much less time to get from in your mind to in your hands

Greg Zumwalt12:30 PM

Dan Maloney12:31 PM
The gears I've seen on your stuff look pretty nice. How are you designing them?

Greg Zumwalt12:31 PM
I use Autodesk fusion 360 the gear add in as a template

Greg Zumwalt12:34 PM
I use the gear add in as template to which i can add spokes, hubs, threads and other attachment points.

Dan Maloney12:34 PM
I tried the add-in for Fusion 360 with only mixed results.

Dan Maloney12:34 PM
Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough...

pranshu10112:35 PM
@Greg Zumwalt how do you ideate your projects and come up with concepts

Greg Zumwalt12:35 PM
What were you having difficulty with?

Dan Maloney12:36 PM
I think it was the initial learning curve, honestly. I sort of jumped in without really understanding what I was doing.

Steve12:36 PM
@Dan: Were the gears binding? I find that most online gear generators create an exact size gear, but it usually needs to be bade slightly smaller for 3D printing.

Steve12:36 PM
made slightly smaller

Greg Zumwalt12:37 PM
sometimes I see a pieces in a museum piece. Darth came from a museum piece. And hummingbird was inspired because my wife likes humming birds I get my ideas from different links i see or want to create.

Steve12:38 PM
I generate gears using Gearotic and set the tooth size to 48%. This gives 2% backlash and runs smoother for printing.

Greg Zumwalt12:38 PM
Yes, I use the calculated pitch radius plus .4mm with a .4mm nozzle.

Greg Zumwalt12:39 PM
sorry no links but things I see

Dan Maloney12:40 PM



While on a recent family vacation (all 26 of us), the wife and I took the family members to a variety of attractions, one of which was a museum with a fascinating automata. The kids and grandkids suggested I design and 3D print a version of the automata using Darth Vader as opposed to the generic figure of the museum piece, and "Darth" is the result.

Read this on Hackaday

Nicolas Tremblay12:41 PM
A remix of this with the death star would be great

Dan Maloney12:41 PM


Let's Bring Back the Age of Automatons

Long before the concept of A.I., as we know it today existed, humans started building machines that seemed to move and even think by a will of their own. For decades we have been building automatons, self-operating machines, designed to resemble humans and animals.

Read this on Hackaday

Greg Zumwalt12:42 PM
I and get asked many time to create all sorts of things i.e. Fablab asked me to design a boat for them.

Greg Zumwalt12:42 PM
thanks for the pictures

Dan Maloney12:44 PM
Those parametric print-in-place hinged boxes are pretty cool too. I've never done print-in-place - how does it work?

Dan Maloney12:44 PM


Designing a Parametric "Print in Place" Hinged Con

The eight different size and color 3D printed "print in place" hinged containers appearing in the cover photograph of this tutorial do have one thing in common; they were all printed from a single Autodesk Fusion 360 model using "parametric modeling".

Read this on Hackaday

Greg Zumwalt12:45 PM
Primarily the design has to be self supporting

pranshu10112:45 PM
@Dan Maloney @Greg Zumwalt @Steve how do you guys plan movement in your automata . I mean its one thing to get the stuff to move but do you also plan the flow of movements to convey the mood. For instance a robot although it moves might not look like a person walking .... is it just experience and intuition based ?

Greg Zumwalt12:46 PM
In this example the hinge sockets and hinge balls were designed with user specified tolerance to account for print accuracy.

Greg Zumwalt12:46 PM
It was my first 100% parametric design

Sylvester Demmel12:48 PM
My view on games is, players learn a lot about the game their characters and properties. I think the reason game playing is so much fun is that it is demanding for the player, problems that are in the reach to be solved by the player and then getting rewards - that keeps your motivation alive.

Make it too demanding or too easy and the motivation will be gone very fast.

Why not use the same approach from the games to teach something usefull ?

What is your thought on this?

Greg Zumwalt12:49 PM
I watch people and animals as they move and I use fusion 360s joint animation to build and test my models using parametric modeling I can adjust a few parameters and fusion rebuilds the model instantly and I animated it to see if I like it

Dan Maloney12:49 PM
Kind of blows my mind that articulated parts can be captured together like that. Saw a print-in-place parallel pliers today that was kind of amazing.

Greg Zumwalt12:49 PM
before fusion I wrote my own modeling software to animate Saber.

Greg Zumwalt12:49 PM
So I gained a real appreciation for Fusions joint and animation modeling.

Dan Maloney12:52 PM
Fusion joints and assemblies are a HUGE time sink for me. I've spent hours trying to get an assembly just right, for no real reason other than learning ho to do it.

Greg Zumwalt12:53 PM
Did you see my 2 gear demonstration that I recently published on YouTube?

Dan Maloney12:55 PM
The floating pinion demo?

Dan Maloney12:55 PM


Greg Zumwalt12:55 PM
No its a simple 2 gear tutorial how to animate joints in fusion

Dan Maloney12:56 PM


Greg Zumwalt12:56 PM
yes that's the one

technolomaniac12:56 PM
@Dan Maloney feel free to reach out to me if you need help with joints.

Dan Maloney12:56 PM
OK, good - I like tutorials. I'll take a look

technolomaniac12:56 PM
It takes a little getting used to, but once you do it’s actually super powerful

Dan Maloney12:57 PM
@technolomaniac - Thanks!

Greg Zumwalt12:57 PM
it shows you the use of spur gear add in and revolute joints and motion links.

technolomaniac12:57 PM
Just feel free to email me at work, it’s first name . Last @ autodes

technolomaniac12:59 PM
We can screen share and I can show you some tricks.

Greg Zumwalt12:59 PM
My wife reminded me of the time a little over 2 years ago I came screaming that it was too complicated and 2 years later I'm still learning

Dan Maloney1:01 PM
I can see that our "official" time is almost up, so I want to thanks Greg for joining us today and showing us around some of his projects. You've had an interesting career and it looks like you're not slowing down in retirement, which I respect immensely.

Feel free to continue the chat as long as Greg wants to hang around. And don't forget to stop by next week for Quinn Dunki talking about how to set up a home machine shop:

Dan Maloney1:01 PM
Thanks Greg!

Sophi Kravitz1:01 PM
Thanks Greg!