SF WordCamp?

I really like WordPress and was kinda hoping I’d make it to SF WordCamp this year.  Unfortunately, it is not to be.  If you’re going, I’ve got a silly frivolous request –

If you spot one of those WordPress “W” stickers, would you snag one for me?

I’m getting a new laptop (actually, I’m getting an old relatively unused laptop from someone else) and I’d like to slap an official WordPress, MakerBot, PHP, and MySQL sticker on it.

April 29, 2010 | Comments Closed

Chuck Playlist

I can’t help liking the NBC show Chuck.  A show about a nerd getting the girl?  Sign me up.

After the last episode NBC put up a “playlist” from the show.  The music from the show has been really good and I rather like several of the songs from the playlist.  In any case, here it is (mostly for my own future reference):

  1. “Heart Skipped a Beat” The XX
  2. “Swim” Surfer Blood
  3. “Rhinestone Eyes” The Gorillaz
  4. “Polyesterday” Gus Gus
  5. “Step It Up” Stereo MC’s
  6. “Tape Song” The Kills
  7. “Light & Day / Reach for the Sun” The Polyphonic Spree
  8. “California Desert Party” Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
  9. “Feeling Good” Nina Simone
  10. “Friday On My Mind” The Easybeats
  11. “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” Bill Withers
  12. “Lump” The Presidents of the United States of America
  13. “October” Broken Bells
  14. “Drunk Girls” LCD Soundsystem
  15. “Should Have Taken Acid With You” Neon Indian
  16. “My Chick Bad” Ludacris & Nicki Minaj
  17. “The Girl and The Robot” Royksopp
  18. “In The Sun” She and Him
  19. “Get Free” The Vines
  20. “I’m Your Man” Leonard Cohen
  21. “Holiday” Vampire Weekend
  22. “Love in Vain” The Big Pink
April 28, 2010 | Comments Closed

Hareware isn’t everything

With Charles Pax’s recent proof-of-concept of a motorized conveyor belt print platform, we’re going to need some software/firmware changes to make full use of these improvements:

  1. Queuing print tasks
  2. Removal/auto-wiping of the test extrusion
  3. Moving the print platform to the front/back/side of the MakerBot for ejecting the finished print
  4. Ejecting the printed part
  5. Returning the platform to 0,0,0 / center

From the video posted on Charles’ site, it looks like he’s managed #3 and #4 already.  The extrusion path around the print that we see in Nophead’s prints probably would work at #2.  I also seem to recall some (such as Zaggo?) have mounted a toothbrush head on the build platform for auto-wiping of the extruder head.

Returning the platform to 0,0,0 is an interesting proposition.  This would seem to work best once the opto-endstops are installed.  I’ve got my set of six fully assembled opto-endstops sitting in a box next to my MakerBot because I haven’t really needed them and they tend to get in the way of printing.  Although the opto-endstops have been removed from the standard MakerBot kits, I think we may now start to see them returning.

April 27, 2010 | Comments Closed

MakerBot Conveyor Belt!

Charles Pax has developed a working MakerBot motorized conveyor belt print bed.  (Is it heated?)  There’s a lot of reasons why this is a big deal:

  1. This is the fourth MakerBot “milestone.” We’ve reached milestone #1.  Milestone #2 (different threaded rods and internal electronics) and #3 (Gen 4 electronics) are noble, but not really transformative goals.
  2. Continuously cranking out parts is a way to turn a simple MakerBot into a portable factory – rather than a modest means of prototyping.
  3. Unattended printing is one of the criteria for the RepRap / Kartik M. Gada Humanitarian Innovation Prize.

Makers by Cory Doctorow

I just started reading Makers by Cory Doctorow and I’m really impressed.  He’s managed to capture the giddiness of the dot-com era in a very plausible-near-future sort of way.  I’m reading the HTML version on my ‘Droid right now, but reading the first few chapters has convinced me to go old skool and pick up a meatspace copy.

Hey Doctorow! Your evil plan of reverse psychology has worked! By handing me a free digital copy I’m convinced to buy an analog copy of your work!

As a sidenote, by making his work open source there’s all sorts of amazing things sprouting out of it – the entire novel printed on a cash register roll?  And other wild stuff you and I never thought of…

Who wants a mini-Mendel?

I like the mini-Mendel, don’t get me wrong, but there isn’t nearly the kind of documentation for it as you would find for the full fledged Mendel.  Sure, it’s a little cheaper, but a Mendel gives you nearly four times the build area.  Since the price barrier to entry into the RepRap project just isn’t that high, the bigger issues are probably going to be quality of documentation, support, skill level required, and interest.  Is there a detailed mini-Mendel construction guide somewhere?

How do upgrade your extruder firmware

Just as an FYI for anyone who’s having trouble upgrading your MakerBot Cupcake CNC plastruder firmware, the instructions built into ReplicatorG don’t tell you to unplug the TTL cable from the motherboard and plug it into the extruder board.

So, save yourself 5 minutes of frustration and googling for the answer…  and just plug the TTL cable into the extruder board.  :)

April 25, 2010 | Comments Closed

A new design and an old problem

I don’t have killer 3D modeling skills – but am able to build a reasonable model using Sketchup.  It may be closed-source, but it’s got a fantastic UI.  (Heck, Apple has made an entire business model out of this proposition).

I’m trying to design a printable nut and bolt – and have a pretty good design.  The diameter of the threads on the bolt is almost 1cm, so it’s pretty large.  Constructing spirals manually is a real pain, so I used a plugin/script for generating the internal and external helixes.  (Helixi?)

The difficulty with Sketchup is that it’s not really a 3D modeling program – it’s a sketching program that makes really good looking images and reasonably good 3D models.  The problem is that it doesn’t really check to make sure triangles are properly oriented, sides are facing the way they should be, or that it is manifold.  Oh, and when the model is small it will start making little holes in your object.

There are plugins for exporting Sketchup files to STL files, but either due to a flaw in Sketchup or the plugins, they results are not as good as what you would find in other programs.  The end result is that to get a really good STL out of Sketchup I have to design in Sketchup, export as a 3DS model, import into Blender or NetFabb, fix it up, and then export back to a fixed STL.

If you’ve got a better way for transmuting a Sketchup file into a reliable STL, please let me know!