The abandoned project
A project abandoned

For a little while now, I had been dropping some hints here or there in comments on youtube and posts that I was working on what was surely going to be my biggest project to date. This project was unfortunately abandoned. Not because of difficulty, finance or anything like that (those would have been incredibly high though), but quite simply because someone else beat me to the punch. Or I should say, their project was similar enough to mine that made me loose my drive.

The project was going to be an electronically controlled GLaDOS!

The plan was to print a replica of GLaDOS (which would have approximately come to around 12 inches) and combine 3D printing with traditional model making. The model would have been functional in the sense that I was going to design the electronics so that GLaDOS could move via some motors, there was going to be an audio unit for sound and there was going to be some other components such as LEDs and OLED screens to further enhance the piece. The plan was to have some controls allowing you to select some preset scripted scenes where GLaDOS would act out those scenes from Portal 1 or 2, complete with accompanying audio (for instance the intro scene in Portal 2 where she gets re-activated). You would finally be able to plug in a separate "control pad" that would allow you to manually move her (when I say "control pad", I don't mean anything as nice as a 360 control pad. More like a piece of strip board with some rotary switches!).

[A render of a rough GLaDOS model made during the planning stages; this model isn't 3D printable]

So the bar was set pretty high in this project but more importantly, I had the motivation for it. Over the course of several months I had put together a 3D basic model in Modo, but not one that was 3D printable. This was more just to gauge how things would work. I had also been gathering some pieces that I would need for the project (spindle motors salvaged from some old hard drives that were being disposed of) and bought myself an Arduino to act as the brains of the project. I put together a very basic prototype with cardboard and some electronics (just basic movement at this stage), but progress was going pretty slow. I didn't have as much time as I wanted to spend on the project and there was also a learning curve as I'm not a hardware specialist (my main occupation is software development rather than hardware related).

So the weeks dragged into months and then it happened. A chap on the internet going by the name of "Dragonator" put together a very nice model of GLaDOS for those with home 3D printers to download and print out for themselves (Thingiverse link). His project was different than mine in that it was a ceiling lamp. However he did make the piece moveable via servos (as I was planning to do). There was no sound modules, or preset scripted scenes that it would act out (it was all manually controlled) but his model was very accurate in appearance and looked very nice. When I saw this, I lost almost all motivation. I had been beaten to the punch! I can't blame Dragonator and it is a fantastic looking piece, but this for me put the final nail in the coffin and I decided I wouldn't be continuing with the project. I generally like my projects for myself to be unique (as they tend to be quite costly) and this felt too closely matched to what I had been planning on doing and to a good standard too.

This left me in a predicament. I had some electronics I specifically purchased for the project but lost almost all motivation for the project they were intended for. Luckily I never ordered the 3D prints (not that the model was ready for that) which tends to be the most expensive part. I wanted to wait until I had the electronics more finalised as that was going to be one of the most difficult parts for me. So I sat down and tried to think up another project. One that I could use these parts for, something that I would be motivated to do and of course, something no one else has done yet.

... and I'm happy to say I thought of one!

The project ended up being the bench from Dead Space. It may not be as elaborate as GLaDOS, but it fit the bill. I can't recall ever seeing anyone else 3D print one of these, it was something from a game franchise I love so the motivation is there and finally it was something I could use the servos and OLED modules I bought on. A new project was reborn from the ashes of the dead one! You'll find a post to this project on my website!

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