3D Printer Tips I wish I knew 3 years ago

Here's how I stopped getting annoyed

While I bought my 3D printer a couple of years ago, in March of this year, it only had 75 hours of use. Since March, my counter is over 300 hours. Why? After spending some time doing the right tweaks my printer is printing crazy good. Here are some of my 3D printer tips.

Maybe you’re in the market for a printer, use one at school, get access to one through a maker space, or (like me) used to use yours for a desk ornament, these 3D printer tips are likely to help.

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Making a 3D print with the MakerBot Replicator

Recently TechShop opened up one of their shops in Round Rock which is just a few minutes from Austin, where I live.  TechShop is an awesome membership based workshop with a huge variety of tools useful for making things.  On this holiday Friday I decided to spend some time with the MakerBot Replicator.

For some time I have been looking at a mini-tripod for my camera/iPhone so I could get pictures of projects while working on them.  While browsing Thingiverse, I came across design files for such a thing.

Since this was my first time using ReplicatorG and the first time I made a 3D print, I decided not to make any modifications.  As it turned out I used the latest version of ReplicatorG (0040) which appears to have a bug.  When I extruded using the Replicator’s left extruder  the MakerBot started off the platform (as if it was using the coordinates for the right extruder).  After down-reving to 0037, things worked fine.

It also appears my Patroit-branded 2GB memory card is not compatible with the MakerBot’s reader.  Bummer.

Leveling

During the safety and basic use class we spent quite a bit of time on how to level the build platform.  It seemed like a simple enough procedure, so I didn’t fully understand why we spent so much time on it.  The first two pieces of the tripod I printed had a bit of a mess on the first layers above the raft.  After going through the leveling procedure a 2nd time, parts came out much (much) cleaner.

Left is Poor Leveling, Right is Better Leveling

Completion

This particular design took 6 prints of 5 pieces to be completed.  The total print time was around an hour to an hour and a half.  In order to attach to a camera a screw is necessary.  On the Thingivere project page, at least one individual has tried printing their own screw.  My TechShop is partnered with a Lowe’s, so i went for the pre-made screws.

Fully Assembled Mini-Tripod

Overall the tripod doesn’t really withstand much weight.  However, I think it will work for the couple of times went I want to use my camera to shoot some video or get a clear macro shot of a project.

Ready for Action!

Make joins Joshua Smith at Makergeeks.com to find out how 3D Printing Filament is made. They make their own filament from scratch and not just source it ready-made from China.

More information and pictures are available at http://wp.me/p22K2I-1Xt2.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Maker Faire 2018, Bald Engineer’s Highlights

Things James saw that were cool

The Bay Area’s Maker Faire 2018 encompasses an impressive scope of activities. Pedal-powered live music, fire-breathing machines, kids building stuff, corn dogs, fresh honey, LEDs, soldering, roaming robots, and so much more. The last couple of days I made a few posts on the things I saw at Maker Faire. In this post, I’ll summarize many things that don’t fit together, but I wanted to mention that I enjoyed seeing.

Click here to check out my other Maker Faire 2018 posts. They include first-looks at the two new exciting Arduino boards, five companies I didn’t expect to see at the show, and a photo gallery of my favorite stuff.

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DIY Battery Powered Apple Watch Charger

guypl on Thingiverse
08-May-2015
Apple Watch Charger on Thingiverse

Apple Watch Charger on Thingiverse

Using an Adafruit Charger Board,  a cut-up magnetic Apple Watch Charger cable and some 3d printing, guypl has created a DIY battery-powered charger for the Apple Watch.

The cool thing about the design is that the 2000mAh battery he used, can be recharged with a standard micro USB cable. As someone who travels often, this setup is ideal for me. One less cable to carry and a self-contained charger for the Apple Watch.

Check out the full project on Thingiverse.

 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Periscope demo: Pros and Con

My experience using Periscope, while soldering a kit

After fighting bugs, bad connections, and burned out chips your project is working–or even done. The next step? Record a video, edit it, and upload it to YouTube.

Too many steps? Then maybe you just want to do a Periscope demo. Within seconds, you can be broadcasting your project to the world.

This past weekend I tried my first couple of scopes. The first Periscope “demo” was me soldering together a Three Fives from Evil Mad Scientist Labs. The others periscope demos were 3d printing related.

When it comes to a hardware project demo, I see some challenges. Check out these five things to watch out for and, if you’re interested, you can watch my soldering Periscope demo.

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CES 2015 Highlights

This is my first year attending CES. Apparently, nobody told anyone here about the death of the trade show. As an enginerd, here is my perspective.  First, if you’ve never been, this show is huge. Huge. You aren’t just walking around 100 or so booths. This thing is spread across 3 different conference centers in downtown Las Vegas.

With over 160,000 attendees, CES was spread across three massive convention halls. Nearly every company offering electronic products were on display. From Televisions to Appliances to Computers to Automotive Electronics to Wearables.  Broken down below are highlights and pictures from the show, based on industry or application area. 

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Wolfenstein 3D on Gameboy Color

http://www.happydaze.se
23-OCT-2016

Wolfenstein 3D defined the FPS genre in a way no one could have predicted. Just like the Gameboy defined portable gaming in a way no one could have predicted. Cartridge based computing and gaming offered something that disk (or disc?) based media never could: additional hardware.

The most famous example of additional hardware is the “SuperFX” chip that debuted with the SNES game Starfox. (It was in used in others in addition to a successor.) Most NES cartridges had other hardware too: mappers, sound generators, additional ram, etc. (more…)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Awesome 3D Board (BRD) Viewer for EAGLE

Cytec
2018-JULY-18 UPDATE: It appears Peter has shut down his rendering tool. It is no longer available.
3D Render of MSO Demo Board

3D Render of MSO Demo Board

Earlier I posted a PCB Checklist of items to double-check when sending your board out to a fab. The Dangerous Prototypes blog pointed to a 3D EAGLE PCB tool from a Bulgarian-based developer called Cytec that takes an EAGLE BRD file and renders it in 3D for you.

The example board I have above is a render of my MSO Demo Board. And I have to be honest, it looks much like that one! (more…)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Isolated Engineer

This week I am moving! So I asked Andrew from Crash-Bang Prototyping to fill in. While not a tutorial, he has a very unique perspective on engineering, being that he lives in Africa. After reading his outstanding post, make sure you take a look at the excellent AVR/Microcontroller tutorials on his blog.

James and I were talking over e-mail the other day, and he said that he felt isolated living in South Florida. Isolated? You should try living in South Africa, James – Then you’ll know what isolation is!

Not only do we spell “neighbour” incorrectly and watch sports matches that take five days to complete, but we also don’t have overnight shipping from the Digikey or Mouser, or Maker Faire NY, or Solid Con or… a whole lot of other things. So just how lucky are makers who live in the States or Europe or China, and what’s it like living 10,000 miles from Silicon Valley?

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Prototyping quadrotor arm mounts with MakerBot Replicator 2

While practicing the Quadrotor‘s motor mounts on a Shopbot gave me experience in how to register two sides for milling, I didn’t want to invest the time required for the arm mounts.  So I decided to make use of the MakerBot Replicator 2 to print physical samples in PLA.  Time per piece went from about an hour to about 15 minutes.

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Custom Made Quadrotor – Overview

Status:  Active, In Progress (Updated: 4/18/2013)

Abstract

Pictures:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmiyc/sets/72157633185131473/with/8653034709/

This Quadrotor project is a collaborative effort between Mike Kurdziel and I. The unique twist on this collaboration is that he is located in Menlo Park, CA and I am in Austin, TX. We’re collaborating remotely while doing most of work on the TechShop locations in each of our towns.

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Building a custom Quadcopter from scratch

A couple of years ago I started looking at what it would take to make a quadcopter.  At the time, I only had the limited tools at the Austin hackerspace available to me (which I don’t think even has a space anymore).  So I shelved the idea since I didn’t see a time effective way to make any of the components.  Fast forward to a few months ago when I joined the TechShop in Austin.  Now I have no excuses to not make a custom Quadrotor.

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Roadmap to v1.0

0.1:
– Basic Libary Support
– Basic Playlist Support
– Integrate the coordinate converter utility

0.2:
– Initial gpsbabel support. Upload/Download
– Expanded GPX support (geocache namespace support)
0.3:
– Actual Syncronization

Somewhere in 0.3 – 0.9:
– “Sync to iPod” for Paperless caching
– Nested Playlists.
– Feedback system (e.g. type of unit being used)
– Check for updates feature
– Google Maps integration
– Copy / Paste -> Parse pocket query emails
– Getting Started Wizard/Assisant

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IBM’s 2010: 5 for 5

From the company that brought us, “There is a worldwide need for no more than 5 computers”. IBM is announcing 5 Innovative Technologies we will see over the next 5 years.

In summary they are:

  1. 3D Communications
  2. Batteries that use air to recharge
  3. Citizen Scientists (Sensors Everywhere!)
  4. Personalized Commuter Information
  5. Smarter Energy Grid

EngineerDog explains why stressed plastic turns white

engineerdog.com

 

Polymer Crazing via engineerdog.com

Polymer Crazing via engineerdog.com

Ever notice when you over-stress plastic, the stress points tend to turn white? The color or type of plastic doesn’t seem to matter, does it? So what is going on? This awesome post from EngineerDog explains why stressed plastic turns white.

If you’re starting to work with ABS on your 3d printer, it will help to understand what is happening to the polymer chains. It’s a process called crazing.

One good reason to learn about crazing is there is a way to fix it. So check out EngineerDogs’ explanation for more.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Need a G-code Viewer? Check out this Open Source CAM Simulator

CAMotics.org

gCode Viewer: Camotics

A gCode viewer is essential when doing anything with a CNC. Knowing where the tools is going to run can mean the different between a failed cut and a broken bit. Or let’s say you’re trying to debug some gCode scripting, no need to wait an hour to find out you messed something up. That’s where a GCode Viewer can help.

There are several on-line options that let you upload files and see them in a 3D view. However, if your CNC is setup like mine, there isn’t a good internet connection available. Camotics, formerly the unfortunately named OpenSCAM, is a cross-platform open source gCode viewer / simulator.

Most recently I used it to debug some gCode that pcb2gcode generated from a Kicad board I am working on.

Check out more about Camotics on their site: http://camotics.org

(more…)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How a Brushed DC Motor works and how to use them

This Addohms Electronics Motor Tutorial goes into the third dimension. Using a 3D model, we show what makes a brushed DC motor, well, a “brushed motor.” (Hint: It’s the brushes!) Then, as usual, we break down two simple ways to control them with a microcontroller like the Arduino. You can use a single BJT Transistor (remember those from #10?), build a discrete H-Bridge to go in both directions, or use a popular H-Bridge chip like the L293D or L298D. (Notice the ‘D’!)

Tutorial Contents

The video starts with a couple of (mixed) motor examples. Do you know what a “stator” or “rotor” is? If not, that’s okay because that’s one of the first things we explain. After that, we add part like the commutator and brushes to make the Brushed DC Motor. After that is control with a transistor and an explosive reason you need a protection diode. 🙂 Then we show how an H-Bridge Works. Lastly, the advantages and disadvantages of this motor type.

You can see the full Brushed DC Motor Tutorial on YouTube or on the AddOhms page.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”