Ok so today is all about creating a Virtual World without spending too much money although I would always advise donating and supporting the OpenSource projects because we all benefit from them and they tend to have great imaginative and ethical origins which remain strong throughout the lifecycle of the project. Throughout this post I have added the links to the websites which will open in new tabs, if clicked, and you will see that they all have ethics and a dream at their core.
So to Generate the Virtual World / BIM solution – What do we need? (aside from a little training – all documentation is available on the websites)
Domain (£20 per year) – to have a web address like http://www.vulcansrealm.com, you need to buy it and register it on a Domain Name Service. Its all done for you and is as simple as buying a computer on Amazon.
Next we need some serious Hardware which can be upgraded slowly as required. A cloud network allows us to do this brilliantly and to surprisingly use low cost equipment to do this. So for instance you may want to spend a £1000 on a nice refurbished all in one server 64bit, 16GB RAM, 2TB disk with dual network cards — but this is not a traditional server service – its a cloud service and maybe you are starting from more humble origins
So as a cloud service, in the not too distant future, we will need a cloud resource handler. This is, In Laymans speak, what makes all the servers talk and co-operate together seemlessly. There is no reason why we can’t incorporate that from the start and use OPENSTACK and now we can change our hardware requirements to something more humble like a Raspberry Pi3B+ and I believe this is the way.
You can start with 1 and as you develop you can slowly add them till you have a small cluster of raspberry pi3B+’s. I say small, maybe you will end up with a large cluster in multiple Global locations or Hubs.
I need to test if you can just pull one memory card out of one RPI3B+ and insert into another so you can have your little RPI3B+ cloud service easily maintainable if a Component fails. I have no reason to doubt this could be the case as RPI3B+’s don’t appear to have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip and use open source Operating systems which are not intended to prevent sharing. This is one of the aspects why you can’t pull a hard drive from one windows 10 pc and put it in another.
Ok so what software do we need to make my Raspberry Pi3B+ into a cloud server, Simply put UBUNTU server (free) and NEXTCLOUD which is free for home use and companies with upto 50 employees. When you become a big boy commercial, you will have a small support package to buy but if you have more than 50 employees, a few thousand pounds is merely a round of drinks. I should add, I am happy to tag along to an open bar if anyone is offering.
So we are starting small which means we probably do not have a fixed IP address on our internet providers connection and running this from a home Internet connection like SKY, which changes the IP address each time it connects or after a period of time, so we will need to have whats called a DDNS handler. Once your device is registered on this service, all traffic that was routed to your old IP address is routed to the new IP address automatically in real time. For more information Google DDNS but a service with noip.com will typically cost £25 a year – hold on why not the free personal use option with other providers, they are for personal use and they will know what you are upto. Its the equivalent of being caught with your hand in someones wallet and saying I didn’t know. If you believe in KARMA (not the drone) you will stay above board. you can also get a whole host of other services and even your domain name from noip.com too.
Ok so we have an always connected managed server(s) in our cloud network, we need an email service to be contactable with our users and for security reasons. For this we can use hMail server (free) or alternatively you can have noip.com provide this for you but we are going for less reliance on others so lets have hMail.
To handle all the Geospatial Information we can Incorporate QGIS server or other OSGEO server products(free) so we now have mapping. Its building up isn’t it.
So we really want to get to the fun stuff and walk around in virtual space but we need to identify with the technology and with this being industrial related, lets use OpenMaint for asset management and data maintenance.
One of the beautifull things with Cloud computing is Virtual Machines, they absolutely anhialate bandwidth but NextCloud supports them and it simplifies the process so for those updating and creating the Virtual Space. Lets Install XAMP vm server running apache. php and mySQL.
We can now load,submit and run pointcloud files using POTREE point cloud viewer (free)(see next cloud docs and using docker)
For converting point clouds into mesh to be modified as models for the Virtual World physics engines, we can run MESHLAB running on a vm instance (free)
We can process the models once converted using BLENDER 2.8 on a vm instance (free) (requires good graphics upgrade, suggest a good pc and transfer the data after processing in a separate render farm but not from the realms of do-able at low cost)
So we have a dumb Virtual World now. Lets add Physics and gamifi using ARMORY3D(free) (requires BLENDER 2.8 but this is packaged with the download)
Hold on – Kubernetes why not just use this to manage the cloud instead of OPENSTACK. It is more a preference to make them work together. In laymans terms Kubernetes is the operations manager of container ships where Openstack is the shipping company. Yes the operations manager will perform the work like the company but the company also has a finance department, customer liason, Welfare, Sales etc.
We should now have an online fully interactive cloud hosted virtual world for nearly no money, reliable and infinitely upgradeable.
So What about That Pint you mentioned…………..