Computer Science 3710

Ray Tracing Software Project

Golf Ball” Satellite Receiver

Colin Langhorn

For my project, I decided to model the satellite receiver that is located behind the water and environmental building on campus (Picture below). I am working towards a GIS major and this building is very unique to me as it receives SPOT satellite imagery that I have been using throughout my studies. The building is quite interesting as it looks like giant golf ball sitting on a pedestal, which I thought, would be fun to try to model.

At first, I was learning how to use Blender by watching various Youtube tutorials on the internet. The software was very impressive and powerful but a little too complicate for me. Being a fan of Google, I made a switch over to SketchUp to model this building. The Google community for SketchUp was great and filled with lots of videos and help forums about learning the software. Once you get the basic idea of the software and get used to moving the camera around your model, it became much easier to focus just on the building itself. The software did seem to be missing a bunch of features at first but there are certain tricks in SketchUp you need to learn. For example, drawing a 3D sphere was not simply an object you add, you had to create it starting with a 2D circle. The picture below shows two drawn circles perpendicular to each other. Once this was set up, you use the “follow you” tool that would fill the rest of the circle to get your round 3D sphere. Once I learned how to start with a simple two-dimensional object and building on it the rest went quite smoothly for the most part.

The hardest part of the project was trying to get the sphere to match the shape in the photo. Trying to line up the exact camera angle from the photo taken and in the software proved more difficult than what it seemed. I would rotate the model a little bit and then, the sphere would look wider or a little off from the camera picture.

The photos below are the final results of my model. With the help of Photoshop, I managed to paste the texture from the photo onto the walls on the building. I tried to get the hexagon shapes for the sphere but dealing with round edges proved to be very difficult so I left it out. The trees and flat grass background were provided through the SketchUp’s 3D warehouse, which is filled with user-made objects that anybody can use.

In SketchUp you can add coordinates to your building and preview it in Google earth. The image below shows where the satellite dish exists in Lethbridge, with the view of the Whoop Up and the high-level bridge in the background.

Overall, this project was a lot of fun being able to create a building from just a picture. It did take some time to learn SketchUp but once I had the basics down, the hardest part was dealing with myself and being too critical about details and accuracy.