Developing a full stack… of Skyballs

We like solving problems. Sometimes, we make up new ones so we can solve them. Skyball Pyramids are one such case!

Last year we discovered these amazing Skyballs and decided to make them a regular feature at our conference booths. 

Canary Skyballs
They have just the right amount of heft and weight to make them genuinely fun to play with. Of course, this leaves us with the devilish problem of how to display them...

At Infosec Europe 2018, some of our team attempted to stack them in a pyramid shape.

The problem: Skyballs do not like to be stacked. In fact, they like to roll all over the place uncontrollably, frustrating the person that is attempting to stack them.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Note the use of Canary-green duct tape in an attempt to keep them in place. 

So, as RSAC 2019 was approaching we needed a better solution; something that was simple, yet effective. (We could have simply taken a bowl, but have you ever tried to fly with a bowl in your carry-on?)

Last year we purchased an Ultimaker 2+ for the office, and  since then we have printed some pretty awesome (though ultimately useless) things.
Yes Max, he missed the goal because of vision problems
Finally! A moment for our 3D printer to shine. 

The Criteria:
  • Easy and light to transport (it would need to fly with our baggage)
  • Modular (we weren’t sure of how big/small the base needed to be)
  • Simple to print (no complex connections or overhangs)
The Solution:
We created a model of the ball (measure the ball and insert the dimensions; easy-peasy) and then with Andrew Hall's help designed a ring with a simple dove-tail joint that allowed for symmetric assembly (yes, there are other fancier joints we could have used, but the design was time efficient and bulk printing friendly). 

Skyball-Ring-v1

We were able to fit 5 rings on the print-bed at a time, and whilst the print failed on a handful of the connectors (we were experiencing a heat-wave at our office at the time, so warping was an issue; glue to the rescue!), we were able to print 65 connectors (enough for an 8 x 8 pyramid) pretty quickly.
A 4x4 Base!
The simple design worked perfectly at our booth. At the beginning of the conference, we used a 7 x 7 pyramid, and by day 4, with a dwindling supply of Skyballs, we were able to reduce the base size all the way down to 2 x 2. 

Look Ma! No Duct Tape!
If you’d like to check it out, and/or use our design, you can download the STL files here.

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