As readers of this website know well, we focus on providing key market insights on additive manufacturing industry operators, working and collaborating with many of the top global companies in this effort. However we can also appreciate DIY 3D printing projects, especially when they are truly impressive, such as the recent Lamborghini replica and any life-size 3D printing project. This latest one brought to our attention by 3D printing celeb Anouk Wipprecht is pretty damn awesome, especially in light of this writer’s past experience as a gaming industry journalist: a functional, life-size, fully 3D printed Portal turret, created by Dutch engineer Yvo de Hass and posted on his YTEC initiative website.
For those who don’t know, Portal is a videogame that was initially created as a student project. The developers from Valve, one of the most important videogame software publishers, saw it and decided to turn it into a commercial product. The game was simple and short – a sort of physical puzzle – but it was so conceptually innovative (mostly for how it implemented physics algorithms) that it became an instant classic. The object of the game was to escape rooms through the use of a “portal gun” (that opened up portals in the walls) avoiding being shot by the automated turrets. Needless to say, any engineer would necessarily appreciate many of these elements. When 3D printing became more widely available, many also started to recreate props from it. Now that 3D printing is even more widely available, the level of the props is reaching previously unimaginable heights, such as in this project by Yvo de Haas.
This scale 1:1 turret can talk. It can see. It can open and close and aim around. It has a laser which can be aimed, and an eye that lights up. Best of all, it has 4 fully functional nerf guns that together can shoot up to 400 rounds per minute.
The turret was originally made for SHA2017 as a showpiece. “The basics were built in around 50 days,” Yvo writes, “By then, it was capable of doing everything it can do now, just worse. It was later revisited for CCC camp 2019 and finished properly.” To follow Yvo’s progress, from idea to turret, you can visit the making of part 1 and part 2.
The project required over 300 hours of 3D printing: it is an absolutely massive print, containing hundreds of parts. de Haas explains that all the smooth white parts are 3D printed. So were all of the mechanisms that move are 3D printed. Even the the nerf guns are mostly 3D printed.
The turret can open and close automatically; move around 20 degrees in all directions, both with the guns and the laser. All movements use either hobby servo’s or DC motors with potmeters for feedback. The turret contains 4 fully functional nerf guns that use flywheels to launch the darts. “The flywheels are made of quadcopter outrunner motors, and spin at 25000 rpm,” de Hass writes. “The theoretical speed of each dart is over 100km/h, though, in reality, it is probably a bit lower. Each gun holds around 18 darts and can shoot 2 darts per seconds.
The turret is controlled using an Arduino Mega for the movement, and a Raspberry pi 3+ for the talking and watching. Ultimately the pi makes the decisions, though the Arduino is the one that does all of the moving and shooting. A camera in the head can see wherever the turret can shoot, and speakers in the base allow the turret to speak.
The source files are available on the YTEC website but de Hass warns that the turret took ages to build (he has over 6 months clocked in this so far) and requires skills in mechanics, 3D printing, electronics and programming (both embedded and software). In addition, many of the parts will require some significant ability to improvise.