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Mathematics for Card Modelers

Mathematics for Card Modelers

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Published by: maddogandnoriko on Nov 24, 2012
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's an example of a graphical solutionfor the pyramid. Note how the triangle is redrawn at its true height.
Card Modeling FAQ
Appendix: Maths Primer for the Card Modeler
:I decided to start my designing with a model of a futuristictank from a video game, I thought it would bea snap to design becausethere are no curves, just straight lines and angles.Here is where my question arises. I am doing real well I think, mypieces fitand line up right. But it has been through much trial anderror. Many scratch builds and rebuilds.
 from Todd Spencer <lildog@inreach.com>
Anyhow, I realize it does take many test fits to design but I am lookingfor some "equations". Think of a pyramid. A relatively simple design.Say Iwanted a pyramid so high and so wide at the base. How do youdetermine the length of the side with those variables. Now before yousay justmeasure from the top to bottom, if you look at it(or imagineit) the sides are angled in two directions, out and towards you. Followme? Which makesthe longer in those directions. I hope this is clear.How do you determine the length?:I guess I'm a dummy, but I don't see what all this "math" is about !
 from Bob Santos <SantMin@aol.com>
My background is in mechanical drawing and if you can draw a side and topview of your pyramid (in actual size or any scale), you're done, you canmeasure any side or diagonal you need. In fact, add a pair of dividers andyou can draw the pattern to cut out to fold up into your pyramid withoutmeasuring anything.Here:Okay all, here comes the nitty gritty for Todd.
 from Will Hartung <vfr750@netcom.com>
But first, a couple of notes.This is best viewed using a fixed width font. Courier and Monaco arecommon.Bob Santos - It does not surprise me at all that there are techniquesand methods to do what Todd is trying to do using technical drawingtools. Paper Models have been around since...well...paper, I guess,anyway, since long before computers, calculators, slide rules etc. mayhave been consideredtools of the trade. However, when I had myopportunity to take technical drawing, I somehow ended up in the schoolband instead, so most of thesetechniques are completely unknown to me.Of course, anything but the most basic tenets of music are lost to me aswell. I didn't do well in band. I can barely play a radio.I am rather computer centric, so I look at most anything as a 'computerproblem'. So.To all of the folks helping Todd out with the Pyramid Formula, I thinkthat he is looking for something a LOT more general than a simplepyramid,though it can certainly be very helpful compared to the HighSchool Hell I'm about to dump on him. :-)Finally, Todd, I did EXACTLY the same thing you are doing right now...Ithunk up in my mind a 'tank', and tried to go about building it. I alsoraninto the same problems you have. Unfortunately, I'm now fixated onsolving the general problem of "automated" paper models, versusmodellingitself, so I never finished my tank. Alas...Anyway. For the techno weenies floating about...pull up a slate and somechalk, dig out your abacus, and we'll figger out how to create theseshapesfor Todd.The problem is that when you've got an orthographic view of an object,if the panel that you're studying is not parallel to the plane of theview, all of your measurements are distorted. Perspective views make theproblem even worse, but they are correctable. We shall not deal withthose today. :-)However, using the different side views of an object, you can prettyeasily find out the 3D coordinates of each panel you're interested in.I'm focusingon panels, because a lot of Paper Modeling is themanipulations of the panels.Granted there are some of those real nasty "puzzle views" that you seeon tech. drawing tests where they give you the top and side view ofsomething,and they want you to draw a 3D, isometric view. We're notconsidering those kind of views either. The model is in your head,mostly, and paper is just a rough manifestation of it.The problem that Todd ran into is something I bumped into almostimmediately, and I specifically designed my tank to have odd angledfaces.So, what to do?What to do is to find out where your high school math teacher lives, geton your knees and bow down in that general direction while chanting "Ishould have listened! I should have listened!". That nightmare called"Trigonometry" that everyones drags through in school rears its uglyhead for something "real".Of course, being a geek, I did listen in school, I knew trig was theanswer, but all of the details left me. Which, in the long term, isprobably worse because the solution was there, but still comepletelyevasive. Now, my friends 70 year old retired aerospace engineer Father knew theanswer, but I think anyone who had to design high performance aircraftusing stone knives, animal skins, and colored beads during theirformative adult years, would probably remember such minutae.
6/28/09 7:01 PMMathematics for Card ModelersPage 1 of 8http://www.cardfaq.org/faq/maths.html
where sqr() is the square root. Try this at home boys and girls, itworks just ducky.He was an easy reference. Another reference was my 15 year old AlgebraII text book that I still kept around. Generally, I find text booksfairlyuseless as they are designed to have a teacher supplement them,and seem to make it difficult to find important information quickly bythe student (likethe formulas for exams, perhaps...). But I persevered,and managed to figure it out. It was just like riding a bicycle, exceptI kept falling off the damnthing. Now, my handy reference that I keep nearby is, of all things, "CliffsQuick Review - Trigonometry". Cliff notes for math. GREAT book. Theyalsodo Physics, and Geometry, and all sorts of things. Ask yourfavorite bookseller for details.We'll deal with a generic, 3D triangle that is not parallel with eitherplane that you've been able to draw. (The techniques work everywhere, ofcourse, but if you just drew it...well...anyway). If the shape you aredealing with is NOT a triangle, then you need to break it up intotriangles. If the shape issome kind of conic section (like theEnterprise Hull, but, say just a piece), then you are free to run awayscreaming into the night, as I'm not dealingwith that here. Or, you canchoose to make it into a whole bunch of triangles. But, while that maysolve the problem, running away into the night ismuch more satisfying.Step 1: Determine the lengths of the sides of the triangles.This is easy. Pythagoreans Theorem conveniently expands from twodimensions into three dimensions. I would imagine it would even work forfour dimensions, however this isn't TIME-MACHINE-L, so we'll stop there.Given two 3D points (x1, y1, z1) and (x2, y2, z2), you can find thelength of the line by:
length = sqr((x2-x1)^2 + (y2-y1)^2 + (z2-z1)^2)
We will call the lengths of the triangle A,B, and C. Also, we willassume that A represents the longest of the three lines.We will also call the angles OPPOSITE the lines a,b, and c respectively.
|\C |b\ A| \|a_c\B
Pardon the art, but I wanted to get the idea of opposite angles clear.Step 2: Solve for 'a'.This is a nice step, because it solves for the largest angle of thetriangle, and it is unambiguous. It will reveal immediately whether thetriangle is anacute ('a' less than 90 deg.), right ('a' equals 90deg.), or obtuse ('a' greater than 90 deg.).To do do this, we will use what is known as "The law of Cosines". TheLoC states:
A^2 = B^2 + C^2 - 2BC cos a
Where, as said earlier, A, B, and C are the lengths of the sides of thetriangle, and 'a' is the angle opposite 'A'. This relationship holds forall of theangles, not just 'a', but I won't list those.So, going to the year before Algebra II and using Algebra I, we solvefor 'cos a':
B^2 + C^2 - A^2cos a = -----------------2BC
Once we know the cosine of 'a', we can use the what is known as thearccosine, or acos, or cos^-1. Essentially, this is the function thatwhen given acosine will return the number of degrees that created thecosine.Filling in the variables, and using the arccosine, we now know what theangle 'a' is for the triangle. One down, two to go.Step 2: Solve for 'b'Here, we go to the brother of the LoC into the "Law of Sines". The LoS isrepresented like this:
sin a sin b sin c A B C----- = ----- = ----- or ----- = ----- = -----A B C sin a sin b sin c
Basically, the ratio of the triangle leg and the sin of the oppositeangle is the same for all of the legs in a triangle. Whoever thoughtthis stuff up was pretty durn crafty.So, we will use this capability to solve for 'b'.
B sin asin b = -------A
6/28/09 7:01 PMMathematics for Card ModelersPage 2 of 8http://www.cardfaq.org/faq/maths.html
So:Again, we will use the arcsin to find the actual angle for 'b'.Step 3: Solve for 'c'.This one is easy. We already know 'a' and 'b'. We also know that alltriangles have 180 degrees in them.Therefore:
180 = a + b + cc = 180 - (a + b)
Voila'! QED even! Now, to jumpstart your heart after dealing with all of that, a fewpoints.1. Perhaps asking Bob about how to do it using a compass and a rulerwould be a better technique :-).2. If you have a programmable calculator, this math is real easy to do!You don't even have to know much about programming the calculator, asmostare really very good at memorizing keystrokes so that you canrepeat them over and over, which is what you'd like to do. IMHO, gettingthis done isyour best bet as calculators are disgustingly handy thingsto have compared to a computer.3. Finally, here are some formulas for a real simple spreadsheet thatyou can try. It should work with any spreadsheet program you've got,they're all pretty similiar for such simple math. I'm going to assumeyou know how to enter a forumala into a spreadsheet cell. We'll use ninecells.
A1 = A (as above - you'll enter these. This is your triangle)A2 = B "A3 = C "B1 = ACOS((A2^2+A3^2-A1^2)/(2*A2*A3))B2 = ASIN(A2*SIN(B1)/A1)B3 = 3.14159-(B1+B2)C1 = B1*180/3.14159C2 = B2*180/3.14159C3 = B3*180/3.14159
After you've entered the final side of your triangle, you should havethe degrees of the angles in the C column. Remember, these are theoppositeangles. For whatever historical reason, scientists andengineers like to deal with Radians, rather than Degrees, so mostcomputer trig functions work with Radians instead of Degrees. The Bcolumn is your answer in Radians, but none of my protractors measurethese, just Degrees. So, the C columnconverts from Radians to Degreesfor us automagically. Unless you are careful, you may have a similiarproblem with your calculator. Manycalculators have "modes" that tell itwhether to work in Degrees or Radians, so you'll have to check yourcalculator manual on how to verify thesemodes.As a simple test, your spreadhsheet should look something like this:
| A | B | C |+-----+-----------+-----------+1 | 5 | 1.570796 | 90.00008 |2 | 4 | 0.927295 | 53.13015 |3 | 3 | 0.643498 | 36.86978 |
Basically this says that in your everyday 3-4-5 right triangle, this isyour solution. Make it a point to round your degrees, its only paper youknow.Sorry all for the length, but I wanted to go into detail about how theproblem is solved, as knowing how to solve the problem is usually morevaluablethan the solution itself.Also, it would not surprise me that there is a more efficent way (therehas to be in fact) of just taking the 3D Plane (a triangle in this case,but generallyany 3D plane) and running the plane through atransformation that rotates it onto a plane parallel with one of theaxes. The trick is figuring out whichangles to rotate the plane by.This is what a programmatic solution would do, and it would work for anypolygon, rather than just triangles. But, it alsoinvolves mutliplyingmatrices together and other ugly things.:O.k. the first sentence got me! are these points,(x1, y1, z1) and (x2,y2, z2), the visual length or theactual length? hopefully not actualbecause that is what we are trying to find. How do I arrive at thesemeasurements?
 from Todd Spencer <lildog@inreach.com>
:Oh, for wish of a greasy table, hot chocolate with whipped cream, a dimflickering yellow candle, and a paper napkin with a pen. You'd get itin a nano-second with such advanced tools. Computers have beendesigned this way.
 from Will Hartung <vfr750@netcom.com>
Instead, we're stuck with e-mail. :-)
|\ /|| | \ / | | 2Z | X | Y ^| | / \ | | / \
6/28/09 7:01 PMMathematics for Card ModelersPage 3 of 8http://www.cardfaq.org/faq/maths.html

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