Sunday 27 January 2013

We want you, for ArcheOS

In the last weeks we started again with the development of ArcheOS 5 (codename Theodoric) and I have to say that the first results are really promising, especially thanks to the work of Fabrizio Furnari and Romain Janvier.
The reorganization  of the whole system, planned by Fabrizio, is leading to a better management of the entire project. Moreover the division of the internal software in thematic metapackages (CAD, GIS, etc...) will help final users in customizing their own version of ArcheOS (in accordance with their specific needs).
On the other hand, Romain is working really hard to build source packages of the different applications, so that ArcheOS 5 will be architecture independent.
Last but not least, the 3D artist Cicero Moraes is preparing a brand new artwork for the upcoming release. If you are curious, just take a look on the preview for the splashscreen below.

New artwork from Cicero Moraes
So, what's missing now? Just you!
We need your help to improve ArcheOS 5! 

We want you, and GNU ;)

Any kind of help is welcome! Some examples? You can give us suggestions for a better software selection, or write tutorial (as well as record videotutorial). If you have some computer skills, you can package the missing applications, or develop new ones...
In any case, you can find us as usual on the developer mailing list or, even better, in our brand new IRC chanel (thanks to Fabrizio). The server is FreeNode and the channel #archeos. 
I prepared a short videotutorial to illustrate how to join our channel in a fast way.

We wait for you there ;)

Tuesday 22 January 2013

manageR, a usefull plugin for QGIS

manageR is a QGIS plugin providing a simple and usefull interface to R statistical programming environment ( It is created by Carson J. Q. Farmer ( and is downloadable from this repository: To install it in QGIS is enough add such repository in QGIS Python Plugin Installer (Plugins → Fetch Python Plugins).

One of the most interesting things is that you can take data directly from the .dbf table of the shapefile layer loaded in QGIS and process them in R environment. Usually, when I work with PostgreSQL/PostGIS or SQLite/SpatiaLite for managing attributes table of vector layers, I connect directly database with R using RODBC or RSQLite packages. But if I have to use shapefiles and their .dbf tables, manageR could be a good solution, specially for fast and simple works.

Here, I would like to present a small example of plugin's use. In QGIS I created a distribution map of Roman funerary sites in Trentino-Alto Adige region (Northern Italy). The sites (blue dots) are registered in a simple shapefile and every single point is associated to a record stored in a .dbf table. As usual, the .dbf table is divided in several columns each of which contains different attributes about sites (ID, coordinates, height, date, etc.).

I need to plot an histogram of heights above sea level to get an immediate view of sites distribution based on heights. I can launch manageR from QGIS.

At first sight, manageR is a simple GUI that includes R command line, some toolbars for managing data, graphic devices, history, etc. and several buttons to make some of the most common statistical analysis.
As I said, in manageR I can import layer attributes with button “Action → Import Layers Attribute” (or CTRL+T) and then I can select the column I need (in my case, “height”) using R language.

Typing in R command line or using button “Analysis” in main toolbar, I can select and launch the statistical function I need and plot the diagram; in my example I plotted an histogram of heights a.s.l. of my funerary sites.

This is a simple example, but manageR plugin could be a very usefull tool for archaeologists, also for more complex works. Its main advantage is that it works directly with .dbf table, avoiding the export of data or the opening of .dbf file in Calc/Excel.

by Denis Francisci

Saturday 12 January 2013

Australopithecus afarensis - forensic facial reconstruction

The Australopithecus afarensis was an hominid that lived between 4 and 2 millions of years past.

They had biped behavior and the appearence of apes.

In this post I'll talk about my little adventure to reconstruct the face of this specie. 

This work is a type of continuation of Taung Project, because the knowledge used there was tapped here, with some increase of the technic.

I have to thank to Moacir Elias Santos, a Brazilian archaeologist that took a serie of pictures of a cast skull on Museu Egipcio e Rosacruz.

 The skull used was reconstructed with PPT GUI (scanning by picture).

To increase the quality of the reconstruction, I used a CT-Scan of a chimpanzee.

 The skull of chimp was deformed using Lattice modifier on Blender 3D, until match with the Australopithecus skull. Obviously, the skin was deformed too.

After this, I used the reference of the deformed skin to modeling the final face.

  The following steps were the same explained in other posts.

I hope you enjoyed.

A big hug!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

From Youtube to Blender: Forensic facial reconstruction of a child mummy

This post is about a practical application of a serie of studies published here in this blog.

After I started to study about forensic facial reconstruction I saw that is much more easy to find videos of CT-Scan than the DICOM files and other tomography formats.

A way to convert a video in a reconstructed mesh was described here.

Some days ago I was reading about mummies (desperate to find a CT-Scan) and I found this post:

It talks about a child mummy of St. Louis, that lived in a range of 40 BC and 130 AD. He died with 7 or 8 months.

Inside the matter had a video with some seconds of a CT-Scan slicing. I was able to convert it in a reconstructed mesh, and after I found a video on Youtbe with more qualty and I used it to make the final mesh, used in this post.

I downloaded the video with Videodownload Helper (Firefox) and it was converted in a image sequence and after in a serie of DICOM files.

Unfortunately I lost the original vetorial file and now we have only the infographic in Portuguese version, like you can see below (but it have a lot of images, that dispensing you to read it).

To make a reconstruction with historical and archaeological foundation I had the help of Moacir Elias Santos, archaeologist of the Egypt Museum and Rosacruz, from Brazil.

The animated gif above shows the extracted frames of the animation converted into a CT-Scan. I reduced the slices to make it more didatic.

I had a serie of dificulties to find landmarks to use on the child's face, cause appear that it doesn't exist. So I use a average of 3-8 year and rescale it to have at least a reference.

I use a serie of babies pictures to draw the line of the neck and ears.

Moacir sent me a compose image with the original mummy, that you can see below.

I hope you enjoy this post. I see you in the next. A big hug!

Saturday 5 January 2013

ArcheOS 5 (Theodoric): testing Vokoscreen

One of the main problem in doing videotutorials for ArcheOS 4 (Caesar) regarded the possibility to record the desktop activities when using 3D applications. Here is my report about this topic in ArcheOS ML. As you can read, the software we chose (recordMyDesktop) was not able to record videos (just a series of screenshots) of windows displaying 3D objects (like other similar tools: Istanbul, Xvidcap, Shuter). 
Since I was using ArcheOS Caesar, I solved the problem with glc, before, and with ffmpeg, later (thanks to this post of Cicero Moraes). These two options have certainly high performance, but they are not user friendly for newbies. 
Now that we started again with the development of ArcheOS 5, I think we will need a simple tool to record video of 3D applications and maybe I found a good solution: Vokoscreen.
The video below shows a fast test I did with this software. The data comes from the Taung Project and were developed by Cicero Moraes.

With this new tool I hope that ArcheOS users will help us in doing videotutorials or simply in recording demonstrative videos of Theodoric in action.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Arc-Team's UAVP: testing the NAZA dji

Hi all,
the "Arc-Team Air Force" acquires a new x-copter. After the:
  1. Wolferl UAVP
  2. Rolf R Bakke Multicopter from
  3. Rolf R Bakke Multicopter from HobbyKing (work in progress)
we bought a NAZA dji. It is not a Open Hardware project, but a low cost solution to obtain aerial pictures. This drone has a perfect implementation of the GPS module and a revolutionary way of flight; it offers three types of control modes:
  1. Manual (M) = manual free flight
  2. Attitude (A) = free flight with altitude lock and high attitude stabilize
  3. GPS = free flight with hold final position

The movie below show how the GPS works to hold the position till the remote control gives new moving command.

We didn't try yet the RTH (Return To Home); as soon as possible i will upload a new movie about it.

"A pig who doesn't fly is just an ordinary pig."
Marco Pagot alias Porco Rosso
(Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli copyright)

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