The Future of Miss Powers - Cover

The Future of Miss Powers

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 24

After a lot of hours spent at the computer, Danny had finally finished the game version of his printer. He was now seated in front of the computer, running the game to show others what he had done. Sam, Val, and Steve stood behind him, watching the printer in the game world construct a house. They were all impressed with what he had done. It looked like a real device printing a real house.

“What do you think?”

Sam said, “I think it looks great.”

“I’m impressed,” Steve said. “That looks like a real machine.”

Val said, “I knew you could do it.”

Danny asked, “Do you think it is good enough for the sale’s pitch?”

Steve said, “It would be better as a video.”

“That’s a given. To make a video, all I have to do is put the game in record mode and let it play. I’ll have to do some kind of voice over, though. I guess I’d better get to work on a script.”

Sam said, “I don’t know if you want a male or a female voice.”

“Why would that matter?” Danny asked.

Val answered, “Construction is a male business, but houses are for women.”

Danny slapped his forehead as he said, “Of course. You’re right.”

Sam said, “You know, you might want to use a male voice for the 3D printer side of the sales pitch and a female voice for the end product sales pitch.”

“Why?” Steve asked.

Danny answered, “As Val pointed out, we’re really selling two things here. We’re selling that we can build a house that will really appeal to women. At the same time, we’re selling the idea that our invention is the only way to build that house.”

“Oh,” Steve said.

Val asked, “Is that going to be all that you show?”

“No. I plan to take a video of a residential neighborhood with rows and rows of nearly identical houses. Then I’m going to take some pictures of a Victorian neighborhood. I’ll play up the contrast in the esthetics of the two different neighborhoods, then I’ll make the segue into how I can print houses that resemble the fancier houses rather than the plain. I’ll end on the request for funding to make it a reality.”

Sam answered, “You don’t have to end it there. Mr. Carson and I are going to cast part of a house in two weeks. He’s got a guy who thinks he can make a semi-automated printer for us. You can use some of the same pictures of that in your project.”

“He’s ready to try it?” Danny asked shocked to learn this.

“He and I discussed it while we were visiting some construction sites. We’re going to manually reproduce what your printer will do. Rather than your device holding the forms in place, we’ll use some rigging that this guy he knows is building. It’ll hold everything place, but will be manually operated.

“We’re going to print a house on a one-to-ten scale. The front of the building will be five feet, the sides of the house will be two-point-eight feet, and the height will be two feet. The walls will be about half an inch thick.”

“He really thinks that he can do that?” Danny asked.

“This first attempt is going to be somewhat plain with flat walls, simple doors and rectangular windows. I might need some help printing some 3D forms that are a little fancier for our second attempt,” Sam said.

“I guess we can come up with some fancy forms,” Danny said.

Val turned to Steve and asked, “What are you doing in this project?”

“Nothing. He just invited me here to give an opinion on how it looked,” Steve answered. “To tell the truth, the whole idea of what he’s trying to do just blows me away.”

“Same here,” Val said.

Danny had put the game into a repeating cycle, so it showed the house getting printed over and over. She watched the house get printed again in the game world. She could just imagine what would happen when they started doing that in the real world.

Sam said, “I’m going to need a copy of that video to show the guy who’s building the thing for placing the frames.”

There was quite a large crowd at the cement factory. Ken Carson was standing off to the side with his hands on his hips watching the three workers messing around with the forms. He would occasionally bark out commands to the men working for him. Danny hadn’t caught their names, but they seemed to know what they were doing. Two of them were short squatty guys while the third was a string bean. It was pretty obvious that they didn’t think much of the idea.

Sam was right in the middle of the action making sure that he understood what was happening. He was wearing an old coat, blue jeans with paint stains, work boots, and a “John Deere” baseball cap. His stepfather was watching him with more than a little pride on his face.

Off to another side was George Steele of Steele Construction. He was a tall heavy set man with silver hair and a focused sharp gaze that watched everything going on with an intensity that was almost frightening. He had his arms crossed. He frowned, but would occasionally nod his head as if he agreed with what was happening.

A fourth guy, dressed up like a cowboy, was fussing with some contraption that was supposed to hold the forms. It was about as complex of a thing that he’d ever seen. Danny had no idea who the guy was, but he seemed to know what he was doing.

Another guy was well off to the side mixing cement. The mix was in a wheelbarrow and he was using a hoe to mix things up. He kept checking the consistency and adding a bit more water to it at times. He seemed to know what he was doing and everyone else was ignoring him.

There was another guy there with a cylindrical bucket-like thing, with a hose hanging off the bottom of it. He really didn’t look happy and kept muttering to himself. It was enough to attract Mr. Carson’s attention. He went over to see what was the matter.

“What is it?”

“We’ll never get the cement through this hose.”

“It’ll go through,” Mr. Carson said.

“And if it doesn’t?”

“We’ll try something else.”

“If you say so. This is as good as it is going to get.”

“I’m just waiting to hear that everyone else is ready.”

Danny watched the action thinking that it was a far cry from an automated system. He wondered if it was always this chaotic pouring cement. Looking around at the others, he decided that none of them seemed all that surprised by what was happening.

There was a bit more activity while the contraption that was to hold the forms was set in place. Now that it was altogether, Danny could see what it was. He was rather surprised because the thing looked remarkably similar to the animation that he had done. The guy started working on assembling a second one, the one that would be placed in the interior of the building. This one didn’t take as long to put together as the first one. With some help from Sam, he got the devices into place.

All of a sudden all activity came to a halt. Everyone stepped back from what they had been doing. There was a device outside to hold the forms and one inside to hold forms for the interior of the house. Forms were attached to the bottom and everything looked like it was ready to go.

Mr. Carson said, “Let’s try it.”

The guy with the bucket and the guy mixing the cement got together. A shovel full of cement went into the bucket. The guy with the bucket held it up over the wheelbarrow and looked at the end of the hose. There was nothing coming out of it.

“It’s not working.”

Mr. Carson picked up a round piece of wood and tossed it over. It was cut to be the same size as the inside of the bucket. Smiling, he said, “Use that as a plunger.”

Sure enough, when the guy pushed down the plunger the cement started dribbling out the end of the hose. It took a bit of effort to get it to flow.

He said, “It’s working. I owe you a six pack.”

“I’ll expect it on my desk, tomorrow,” Mr. Carson said.

“This is awkward as hell.”

Mr. Carson chuckled. He said, “It’s going to take three people to operate that. One to hold he bucket, one to push the plunger, and one to guide the hose. Figure out who does what.”

The next thing Danny knew, they were filling the forms with cement. When they got the form poured, the guy with the contraption flipped another form to rest atop the first one. Sam stepped in and placed a lattice made of coat hanger wire to serve as rebar into the form. The pour continued, moving up the house an inch at a time.

When it came to the windows, they had to stop the pour to put in place a different set of forms to create the rectangular holes. Danny had no idea who had made the forms, although he suspected it was Sam. Regardless of who did it, he was impressed with what he he could see of them. It took about forty-five minutes to pour the entire house from floor to roof, less the roof of course. They had gone through six buckets of cement in the process.

Now that the pour was finished, everyone stepped up to the result to examine how it had gone. It wasn’t perfect, but considering the scale at which they were working, it was pretty damned good. At least, that was the general consensus.

Danny had taken pictures of every step. It was neat the way the diminutive building slowly rose into shape. Those pictures were going to be the finishing touch for his sales presentation.

The workers all headed off to clean everything.

The young guy who was dressed like a cowboy came over to where Danny was standing. He held out a hand said, “Hi, I’m Chuck Steele. Are you Danny Markem?”

“Yes, I am. It’s nice to meet you,” Danny said while shook hands with the man. Then he added, “I’m impressed with your machine.”

“Thanks, I borrowed the ideas from your animation.”

“You improved on it,” Danny said.

“I worked quite a bit with Sam in developing the forms. He worked with my Dad to come up with how the rebar can be managed. He also worked with Mr. Carson on pouring the concrete. He’s really into this project.”

Danny nodded his head in agreement and said, “He’s been talking about taking charge of the pour.”

“I’m a senior in mechanical engineering with a specialization in robotics over at the university extension. I understand that you’re a student over there, too.”

“That’s right. I’m majoring in computer science with a specialization in software engineering.”

“I’ve heard that they are expecting that program to do well,” Chuck said.

“I think it will.”

Chuck held out a metal trim channel that was a foot long, an inch wide, and an inch deep. He said, “This was essentially Sam’s idea, but I had to make it work. We used this trim channel to make the forms. I basically cut a piece of wood to size and such that it fit inside the channel. I held it in place with bolts through holes in the side. As you can see on the back side, I’ve welded an arm to it that attaches to the form control piece.

“We’ll want to try to make a more ornate exterior. I think if Sam 3D prints the pieces so that they fit inside this, we can use them as forms. The metal will bear whatever load the cement puts on it.”

Danny looked over the metal trim channel. He said, “No problem. I’m sure that Sam can take the lead on making the forms.”

Chuck said, “I know he can. He came over with a case of play dough and spread it out in a thin wood box. He printed up a bunch of forms and pressed it into the play dough to see how it looked. We made some scenes from the African Savannah. They looked so real that you wondered when they would jump off the cast. Imagine a dress store with an Eiffel Tower, cast as a relief in the cement, guarding the door. We can cast that stuff in cement right on the walls of those grotty little square buildings people use for businesses. We can change the atmosphere of our daily lives.”

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