Links We Like: Apollo 11 in VR, a Guided Tour of Shenzhen, & 3D Printable Watch Parts

3D rendering of the Apollo 11 command console interior via The Smithsonian

3D rendering of the Apollo 11 command console interior via The Smithsonian

Links We Like are back after a bit of a hiatus. This week’s links embark on a virtual tour of the Apollo 11 command module that went to the moon, learn about the history and rapid development of Shenzhen from the people who live and work there, and invite you to become mesmerized by a 3D printable mechanical watch mechanism.

As always, if you’ve stumbled into an interesting link or two, make sure to share them in the comments below or on the forum. We’re always on the hunt for new content and nothing beats a good, less trafficked link. Have a great weekend! ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

Embark on a Virtual Tour of the Apollo 11

For the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. released a virtual tour of the command module nicknamed “Columbia.” Plus they made three types of the scans used for the VR tour available for download: files ready for 3D printing, files for rendering, and the much larger raw data files. There are some limitations to usage, but nothing too onerous.

Columbia is unquestionably a national treasure and has been on display in the museum since 1971. But the module has been shrouded in plexiglass, making it nearly impossible to get a good view of the interior. Thankfully, in creating the virtual tour the plexiglass was removed and high-resolution scans of the interior were taken. Along with these scans, the Smithsonian has put together a guided tour that calls out 27 points of interest within the cabin. This is a must take tour!

To begin the tour, start the rendering by clicking on this link and let the assets load. Even on a fast connection, this can take a moment or two. Once you feel enough of the rendering is ready, click on the globe icon in the top left corner of the screen. That starts the tour and will also enable forward and back icons to progress your way through the points of interest.

What’s really fascinating about the scans is that during the process, the team of researchers uncovered graffiti the astronauts scrawled on the interior of the module. It was known that Michael Collins wrote on the interior, but before the scans, few had seen the inscription near the ship’s sextant (stop 21 on the guided tour) or the mission calendar (stop 25) counting down the crews’ remaining days in space. Make sure to watch the video embedded above to learn about the scanning process from the team that undertook the project.

As you fly from one point of interest to the next, the VR tour has a weightless feeling to it and it’s easy to become disoriented. It’s as close to spaceflight as most of us will come (fingers crossed I’m wrong about that).

If you do end up printing out your own 3D copy of the command module, let the Simthsonian know about it on twitter.

Tour Shenzhen with Wired UK

In 2014, Dave, Gus, and Thomas went through in HAX, a hardware accelerator based in Shenzhen, China. They were busy making OTTO, an animated GIF camera that ultimately led to the creation of C.H.I.P.. While many people in the West know about Shenzhen as the heart of hardware manufacturing, not as many have actually visited the thriving city.

Now you can virtually visit from the comfort of your desktop. Let Wired UK take you on a tour of the booming city in Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware, an hour-long documentary tracing the early history of the city, its population explosion from 300,000 to 10 million (but the latter number is only a guesstimate, no one knows the actual population), and its current mantle as the world’s center for manufacturing electronics.

You’ll meet Andrew “Bunnie” Huang as he guides you through the Huaqiangbei markets. Bunnie first broke onto the hacking scene in the days of the Xbox. He was able to crack the encryption technology, which prevented people from running homebrew applications on the consoles that they bought. You can read all about his exploits in Hacking the Xbox, which is now a free, downloadable PDF.

Drop by Duncan Turner, the managing director of HAX hardware accelerator, for a tour of their facilities and get a peek into what goes on at a hardware accelerator. You’ll meet a startup working on a table tennis robot as well as get a brief glimpse at the old NTC haunts in the HAX office. Check out Gus’ visit to Shenzhen during the early days of C.H.I.P. manufacturing. Ah, the memories!

While this will give you a taste of the city, nothing beats actually going there yourself, or so I’m told. I still haven’t been, but sure hope one day to be writing a Links We Like post from Shenzhen, China and experience the city firsthand.

3D Printing Clockwerk

In 1801, Abraham-Louis Breguet a French horologists was granted a patent for the tourbillon. He claimed that his mechanism counteracted the forces of gravity on the movement and precision of the timekeeping mechanisms in a mechanical watch, thus making it a more accurate timepiece.

The idea of the tourbillon is fairly simple: house the escapement and balance wheel, the two main timekeeping components, inside of it. Then rotate the tourbillon inside the watch in such a way as to “cancel out” the faster and slower positions in a watch’s movement.

Since a wristwatch is never in a flat or fix position, it was thought by Breguet that the gears would experiencing different stresses depending on the angle of the watch on the wrist, and even the position of the wrist itself. The video below does a good job of explaining this, jump to the 00:30 mark.

Today, horologists have doubts that a tourbillon improves precision, yet some lavish watchmakers continue to build elaborate and fantastically expensive timepieces with them inside.

Adam Wrigley’s 3D printable Clockwerk is a DIY version of a tourbillon. Using 34 printed parts and a collection of ball bearings, shafts, and screws, Wrigley has managed to create a fully working triple-axis tourbillon. There are no dial hands on the device, rather the project is an expression of pure mechanical engineering, not timekeeping. Check out his site for a videos showing the tourbillon’s full build and background on how mechanical watches work. Best of all, if you have a 3D printer, you can print your own version.


Have a great weekend, make sure to share any interesting links you find with us in the forums or comments below.

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