Cyrozap's Tech Projects

Computers. Circuits. Code.

My Current 3D-Printing Status

Hardware upgrade: After wiring the 8-pin CPU power connector to go to the relay board and connecting my Cupcake's new PSU, the machine no longer skips steps in the Z-axis nor in the extruder and the heated build platform and extruder nozzle heat up in a more timely manner. My reasoning for wiring an 8-pin CPU power connector to the relay board was to ensure that the heater elements would have enough power and not take it from the steppers. I'm pretty sure this works because the CPU power is on a separate rail from the normal connectors, but it may also just be because everything isn't running off the same strand of connectors any more. It really is a nice power supply and I can really appreciate the engineering and industrial design work that went into it. Anyways, to finish up, I just need to cut a large hole or a series of holes in the bottom of the Cupcake's wooden "PSU shelf" so when I put it in, the power supply will have a way to draw in air for cooling. Then, I'll be able to close up my Cupcake for a while.

Software upgrade: I'm still on ReplicatorG 34 because it's what I'm familiar with and is the latest supported by my Gen3 electronics, but that doesn't mean I can't improve the slicing speed! Just today I managed to install PyPy, a really fast python interpreter that has been shown to make slicing go 4-5 times faster. For instance, Brainy Walt now slices in only 6 minutes on my Core i7 MacBook Pro where before it would take around 30-45 minutes. This is really great because now I can try out new settings without having to wait forever for Skeinforge to re-slice things.

Here's a tip for those of you trying to install PyPy and tkinter-pypy on OS X Mountain Lion (and possibly Lion): If you get any ld errors about missing tk8.4 or tcl8.4, just find the "setup.py" file in the tkinter directory you're installing from and change the versions to 8.5 for both of them. Also, if you get any errors similar to that regarding X11, first make sure you have XQuartz installed, then run ln -s /opt/X11/include/X11 /usr/local/include/X11 in a terminal to symlink the X11 includes so the setup.py script (or whatever else) can find them.

RepRap status: Now that I've pretty much fully repaired my Cupcake, I can work on my Prusa Mendel without any guilt. All I need to do with it is figure out some temporary wiring scheme to test out the electronics and steppers, then I'll fit the heated build to the Y-axis plate and start trying out Slic3r.

Power Supply Perils

After 3 years of faithfully supplying power to my MakerBot Cupcake, the power supply has finally died. Every time I switched it on, it would turn right off. That's not bad for 3 years of use, especially considering that I probably started using too much power when I switched to a stepper extruder with power resistor heating with the MK6 upgrade. I've already found an amazing new power supply for it, but it has an air intake on one of its larger sides, so I'll have to cut a hole (or drill a bunch of tiny holes) in the MakerBot's bottom panel. This is in addition to the work I'll have to do on the back panel to get the power switch to fit.

Almost there...

All I have left is to wire up the power supply and attach the heated bed!

Any Recommendations for Prusa Mendel Parts?

Progress on the RepRap has slowed to a crawl and it's really bumming me out. Building from kits is SO much easier than sourcing the parts yourself. I've probably gotten the final cost estimate into the $600-$700 range by now.

Anyway, I need your help. I just need to print out the new X-carriage, get some M3x25mm bolts, buy some MDF for the Y-stage, and get a hot end. However, I don't really know what to get. What are the recommended dimensions for the Y-stage (LM8UU bearings)? What's the best hot-end for 3mm PLA that I can get in the U.S. for a Wades extruder?

Feel free to comment with your suggestions!

RepRap Prusa Mendel 8mm Rods

A week ago, I bought three 3' lengths of 8mm smooth rod for my Prusa Mendel because I wanted to use LM8UU bearings. After receiving the rod and cutting it, I've fond that they make a huge difference in reducing play between the linear bearings and the rods. With 5/16" rod, you could feel the bearings wiggle. Now there is no wiggle at all! If you're building a "United States customary units" Prusa Mendel and are ordering online and might use LM8UU bearings now or in the future, get 8mm rods. They're only a $1 more each on McMaster-Carr, so it's not a huge expense.

tl;dr: Get 8mm smooth rods. They're the best.

Those LM8UU Bearings Sure Are Noisy!

Well, the cheap-o linear bearings work! However, they are quite noisy (not unexpected). Unfortunately, I have to print a new set of parts that incorporate the LM8UU holder design to get them to work well with the machine.

Cheap-o LM8UU Bearings on Ebay

Today, I bought some linear bearings (against Spacexula's recommendation). I got the 12 el-cheapo LM8UU bearings on ebay for $18 because I figured they might work better than brass bushings. If they don't, $18 isn't a huge loss. I heard there are some small issues with the cheap bearings, but I think I'll be fine.

While I wait for the bearings to arrive, I will be cutting the threaded rods down to size and I'll begin assembling the machine.

It has begun...

Well, I finally pulled the metaphorical trigger and bought the hardware for my SAE Prusa Mendel. It's so exciting! I probably overpaid ($73.88 + shipping), but it was nice to get everything all at once from McMaster-Carr (I don't have a hardware store near me that sells the rods or belts). Once I get the hardware (sometime next week) I'll start building the frame.

Things are getting interesting...

Maker Faire NY 2011 Was Awesome

Well, it was! I met some really cool people this year and it's always great to put faces to names.

I was amazed by Andrew Diehl's "Fablicator" and the double-tall Ultimaker—these things are game changers. I can see the Fablicator directly competing with 3D System's lowest-cost pre-assembled printers and MakerBot's pre-assembled Thing-O-Matic, and it's really an amazing deal considering the Fablicator is made out of aluminum and it includes a computer with all the software pre-installed.

A lot of people have been saying that I'm getting great quality for a batch 5 MakerBot with a DC extruder. I think so, too, but I would love it if it was better. I believe the majority of my printing problems are due to my use of the DC gearmotor. With a stepper extruder, I would be able to get much finer control over the flowrate, thus fixing a lot of my perimeter adhesion and excess infill problems.

I posted the pictures I took at the Faire on my Picasa Web Albums. Bonus feature: I geotagged most of the pictures using my DIY Nikon GPS.

Making a Prusa Mendel

I've decided to print as many parts as I can to make a Prusa Mendel. Hopefully I can make enough parts so I can just ask some people to make the parts my CupCake can't make. Currently, every object I make has too much perimeter material—parts designed to interlock don't fit. I've tried to fix this in Skeinforge, but right now I'm adjusting my belt tension to see if that helps. My CupCake fails on large prints, so I'll need help on those.

The goal of getting my MakerBot was to get it to make a full set of working RepRap parts, but it never has. This has made me a bit sad. So, to remedy this, I'm going to calibrate my bot to the best of my ability (and maybe get some help from others in the 3D Printer Village) and print as many parts as I can. Wish me luck!