Wednesday, November 21, 2012

sorry it has been so long

Although this entry is a bit broken here is some of the things I have been doing and have been done by others since last time I published. Pics to follow sorry it has been so long.
The issues that I am having
Most plotting programs use .dxf so I assumed that this would be a good file to use as the input file type for the programme to rearrange the segments, and also I was hoping to use AutoCAD to plot out the patterns.the way AutoCAD finds printer drivers is that it locates them through the windows printer manager unfortunately most plotters work directly from built-in drivers from the programme that they utilise to cut patterns, so there is no Windows driver to begin with.

Issues that have been solved
Since I last wrote in this blog an awful lot has gone on, firstly the programming for the segments layouts via rapid pro has been worked on by John Foster there are some examples of what he has achieved below.
Initial STL file And here is the file that the slices derive from.
I have tried to make it as easy as possible for John however in my own confuse fashion have made it more difficult for him sorry about that. I was being a little lazy and relying too much on John's programming to try and sove both the issues with the file type, and connecting up the plotter, the file type I am sticking with SVG and I am generating these files with SVGmaker V3. I need a program in the short-term which cuts out the SVG files that I am creating. For this I am using WinPCSIGN Basic 2012

How the sheets will be laminated together.
There is also use of a piercing wheel to pierce the vinyl, helps vacuum take-hold, as vinyl is not porous.
The first models were produced with silicone spray as divider, however simple soft soap will work better when the sheets are in the vacuum press, the glue on the back of the vinyl will not stick until the liquid has evacuated the space. So the sheet will be perfectly flat before they stick together, the soft soap both acts as a divider for the glue and lubrication for the vinyl.
1. Apply transfer tape adhesive, slightly bigger than the page that is being used, to base of vacuum press [sticky side up] tape the corners of transfer tape to the press.
 2. Cut straight through the vinyl and backing paper where the guide pegs will hold pages into place, (this will be done either by the vinyl cutter or punched out by a hole cutter) depending on program used to cut vinyl.
 3. Remove unwanted vinyl by hand to first page,
 4. Apply soft soap to transfer tape (simply for lubrication on this layer)     
 5. Apply first page face down in vacuum press on top of transfer tape. Guide Pegs will be laminated on transfer tape as well.
It is important at this stage to realise that the soft soap will squeeze off from the sticky side under pressure and Pool in the gaps from the removal of the pieces of vinyl I did not want. The silica paper will not stretch under pressure and will give the vinyl the support that it needs.
6. Peel of backing silica paper,
7. Apply mould release (soft soap) to adhesive in exposed areas
8. Apply second page
9. Put in vacuum press
10. Repeat for additional layers.
When peeling off the silica backing from the page, the unwanted pieces of vinyl should come off on the silica paper. The exception to this is the screw thread, it will need unwanted vinyl to be removed by hand on every page because of the way the object meet's different layers.
11. Once all the pages are laminated together do not remove the last top sheet of silica backing.
12.Use a craft knife and cut down the silica backing, so you are cutting columns also cut down the transfer tape on the bottom row. you will end up with several laminated sandwiches, with silica paper as the top crust and transfer tape as the bottom.
13. Peel off silica paper from column on furthest right. Pickup column on  the left side and peel off tansfer tape, use soft soap and stack columes from right to left, until you have one single colume.
14. Repeat this process for segments and you will have a 3D object.
Issues that need some work
I am tired of constantly plumbing in my plotter to a computer, it never seems straightforward. Although WinPCSIGN Basic works well enough [not perfectly] I still would like an easier solution. I am investigating inkscape and an add-on called inkcut, inkcut is Linux-based my plan is to load both inkscape and inkcut onto a raspberry pi and make inkscape a portable app for my pc.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I past the retake of my exam it was a good evaluation

I past the retake of my exam it was a pretty good evaluation, with the screen reader I could indeed read the instructions independently as many times as I liked. Although I began to get a little panicky towards the end of the exam when I began to get tired it certainly cut down on the normal anxiety that I feel when doing tests, and it was more straightforward for me. I did not have to think about a person sitting next to me looking over what I am doing. I feel very pleased with the outcome however I still need a little bit of practice with the technology I am using to make the best of what it offers me.
I have also been playing around with Google calendar and using it to get focused on upcoming exams and the rest of the course, the important thing is that the system I am designing in Enham I can take with me when I leave so that I do not have two relearn or redevelop things when I am in work or self-employment. And Lorraine of Enham seems supportive and encouraging of the systems I am constructing and what I am trying to do.
After hearing some of my concerns about STEPS, Enham asked me to explain to clients what STEPS does and what my concerns were, however I declined this because I did not feel that I could take responsibility for a program such as STEPS and what it might do to people with certain cognitive issues. To begin with you need both diagnosis and treatment to deal with cognitive problems. STEPS is simplicity itself in that it is a therapy that diagnosis the same behaviour issues for everybody furthermore gives them exactly the same treatment unfortunately when you are dealing with certain individuals with incredibly complex problems that approach seems to me lazy and careless at best.
I also spoke to Steve from Solvit Ltd he explained he would get on with the programming for the 3-D plotter, and let me know what he finds this week as I was a little worried about the speed of progress.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I failed the initial exam

I failed the initial exam, the drawing part of the exam was easy enough, however it was difficult for me to follow instructions on the paper. I will spend some time looking at ways to make the understanding of written work with CAD easier to understand. I have been looking into ways in which I can do the exam independently, and trying to put right some of the scanning issues that I have when using an amanuensis. The first thing I needed to ascertain was what form I could get the exam paper in, I found out that it is originally a PDF document, that's ok as long as the text is not an image. I also looked at Adobe reader X which should be able to work alongside my screen reader NVDA. Martin looked at the actual exam paper using these two programs and the computer could indeed read out loud the actual instructions. This should give me the ability to scan read as many times as I like and read in what order I wish, which is something people do in exam conditions and take for granted. Adobe reader X can also be used to highlight certain paragraphs and put written notes on top of the text.

 My new space pilot came in the post, I can use some buttons on the pilot to save myself orientating back and forward from the keyboard to the mouse this is a more comfortable way of interacting with AutoCAD. I will not play with it too much until I have got the initial 2-D exams out the way as I do not want to give myself too much to do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

first exam

I had a pretty good week last week, I did my first exam. The actual drawing part of the exam seemed to be easy, and to go reasonably fast. In fact during the exam I drew an object three times not because I made a mistake but because I was working out the best way of flow. It is important to me that my drawings have a good start and finish.
I study for an exam by waiting until it is dark, turning out all the lights of my room so that the only thing I focus on is the computer screen, this gives me a lot more concentration. The only thing that breaks my concentration then is the sound of the wildlife that surrounds Enham which is a lot! If you close your eyes it is like listening to a Disney cartoon.

How the exam worked
For the exam Nick was my reader, this was fortuitous as Nick has a very clipped military accent, which made it easy for me to keep focused on what I needed to do. It is important to mention this because the quality of the Reader is essential especially during exam conditions.
There were times in the exam when I found it very difficult to cope, partly because the CAD setup on my college computer is different from the computer that I have been using to practise on, and partly because I had practised with DragonWord, speaking the commands into the command line rather than writing them but during my exam, my headset was broken so I had to do things in a way that I had not practised, which just added to the nerves. So it was a good job Nick was there, to structure my panic.
I have bought a cheap headset now, so I can use DragonWord on the college computers without too much trouble. It also became apparent during the exam that is difficult for a Reader to focus read in the way that an exam taker would normally scan read, Nick doesn't know what is of importance to me in the passage he is reading, so he can not pick out the most pertinent facts for me, which means that the process that would been done in one go by a normal exam taker, takes Nick and Me several passes before we get to the meat of the matter. This could be rectified if there was a way to get a digital exam paper, I could use a digital reader, that would mean that I'd be the position to take an exam independently, which is far more than I have been able to do in all my education.

What has happened with the 3-D plotter?
I've got in touch with Solvd Ltd, they are confident that they can carry out the work that needs to be done. At the moment, they are on the phone asking advice from another software company regarding my programme. And I explained to Steve of Solvd that it is important to get the programme done by the end of October as without the programme working, I will not be able to develop the vaccuum press, which is the hardware side of my project.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Enham - Shuffling to the left (and the right!)

Let me begin this entry by saying how supportive and understanding Autodesk have been to my learning needs, I had an issue with doing my exams on a student version of AutoCAD so I wrote to Autodesk to enquire how I could do the exams with a watermark when I needed to use Dragon word to import some of the written commands, A guy called Martin Ball came to Enham from Autodesk and looked at my 3-D plotter project! The explanation of the project seemed to go well. Autodesk also donated me a design suite of programs so that I could use them for my exam with Dragon word, this is because I would not be allowed to use the watermark student edition with my final pieces. We talked about the command line in AutoCAD and how initially I was very fearful of it, because of the written commands that you input manually and that my spelling was not up to it, however by using Dragon word it is giving me the independence to access the program efficiently, and how using AutoCAD successfully and is aiding me to use other 3-D programs which are not accessible to both my reading and writing software! We also spoke of the 3-D plotter project, and how nowadays it is difficult for me to develop 3-D objects in real life, and if the printer can be developed successfully, how 3-D programs can take up the slack of my coordination problems, and how 3-D programs can give people the ability to develop shapes and objects no matter what their disability, also by changing the way you interface with AutoCAD, can give a disabled individual an incredible amount of creative independence.

There is a lot that has happened and I need to get my head around some of the issues that have been thrown up in the last three weeks or so. I have been awarded a grant to work on the 3-D printer from Enham which is fantastic. It gives me the chance to finish off the programming that needs to be done.

I have approached 4 separate organisations to look at this as I want to get it finished by December if possible. I have given an initial brief to Autodesk, I have also put it on and of course Solvd in Basingstoke, and the American Virtual Printer Driver

I had a cognitive assessment done in Southampton Hospital, the results shocked me a little bit, but it did explain some of the issues I've had in the workplace, both in getting jobs in the past and keeping them. The lady who carried out the assessment also said with the level of brain damage I have she would normally send me for treatment however because I've been born with the damage, treatment could not put the issues right. I was very glad to get a cognitive assessment. So much of thinking says you should concentrate on what an individual can do, and that may be true, however people tend to neglect what an individual cannot do and from the disabled point of view that is just as important.

I needed a way to complete at least some of the initial exams as I have not been able to enter my exams since I've been at Enham and even though I have developed the way to cope with the CAD exams with Dragon word I have not yet been able to put the theory into practice. And this has made me feel helpless, Martin my lecturer got in touch with the people who make Dragon word to explain that Enham would need a version of their software to assist me in the exam process, this has just arrived and so I will set up a speech file next week, and this should be what I need to complete the exams independently.

It is also important to mention that as well as feeling helpless for the time I have been at Enham (although achieving a lot) some of the systems that the scheme has offered me, such as STEPS and the lecture on Disability awareness have made me feel incredibly inadequate and rather than given me empowerment have done quite the opposite. The STEPS course is interesting in the way it gives people a system of thinking and visualisation which enables their goals, but the way my process of thinking differs from an able-bodied person, in trying to put STEPS into practice it just ended up filling me with despair. (See cognitive assessment).

The disabled awareness training ignored the issues entirely about being disabled and the difficulties that it brings, trying to gain full-time employment. They showed us a video about a bloke who was just diagnosed with a disability and how he coped with it.

It also talked about the Disability Act and how this Act is supposed to aid a disabled person into work. The bloke in the video didn't have much relevance to me because through my eyes I am not disabled, I was born like I am, I have not known any difference. The Disabled Act if you look through it piece by piece, apart from being very pretty statements, has nothing that can be backed up in a court of law. This makes me angry because the course is only words, the Disability Act is only words and yet the lecturers sell it to us as if it is a panacea to all disablement and disability related problems. There is no real understanding of my issues or the issues of any disabled person nor an understanding of how little support in law there is for us. It takes a lot more than saying you ‘deal with disability’ to deal with disability.

To try and make myself feel better, and develop a connection with my learning, I have bought myself a present of a second-hand mouse [HP 3DConnexion Spacepilot 3D SpaceNavigator CAD Pro Mouse] which should help me with my coordination issues and the way finding commands on the keyboard breaks my concentration. I don't want to struggle with CAD if I don’t have to! And it will be first-time I've acting on some of the issues raised in the cognitive assessment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I went to a company called Airpress and spoke to a guy called Peter Hoggard , we spoke about the press he sells, and developing them for the 3-D plotter process of mine. Both in the stacking of the laminates and possible degassing of resins. The meeting went very well and some of the technical questions I had were answered and we also managed to narrow down what vacuum press would be the best for me!
I also went to the programmers that I am using to develop the programme for the 3-D printer to return the computer to them. I borrowed back the computer for a meeting I had with Autodesk and I will let you know about the what happened as soon as I have digestive it myself.

Monday, July 2, 2012

CAD is not coming as easily

I am really enjoying my time with Enham, CAD is not coming as easily as I hoped however my lecturer is helping me develop ways around the reading and interface issues that I have with AutoCAD and slowly it is starting to tie itself together.
I am trying to develop systems both for my own learning and research and to try and finish off the 3-D is important that any systems I use to work, I can take them with me when I leave Enham. One of the most difficult things I think about being disabled is there maybe systems to help you in life in a certain organisation or environment but as soon as it ends it is like a rug being pulled from beneath your feet. And anything that has been achieved in Enham I need to repeat for myself, whether that's in employment or self-employment. Sorry the blog has been intermittent lately however I am spending all my time trying to work out CAD and as soon as stuff happens I will let you all know.