Long week

It’s been a long week and I’ve been very very glad of this weekend.  Unfortunately, a big fat chunk of this Saturday was also devoted to work-like stuff.  I didn’t get a chance to design or print much this month.

Once I get some time, I’d really like to get a MakerBot heated build platform.  The only problem is they’ve been out of their SMT kit for a while now.  And, without the SMT kit, I can’t assemble the HBP kit, so I won’t need the new relay kit.

Should I pace myself?

This blog is as much for me as it is for anyone else. 1  When something occurs to me, I type it up and click “Publish.”  However, this means I’ll go days without a single post and then have a flurry of half a dozen posts.  Some of my posts languish in draft form, half-notes, jottings of ideas, etc. 2

Help me out here.  What’s better – if I pace my posts – say one a day – or just have them published as they occur to me with random gaps?

As a loyal reader, what do you prefer?  Come now, both of you can chime in.  <crickets>  Bueller?

  1. Well, the ads for other people.  I’m not allowed to click on them. []
  2. Seriously, though – how in the hell did I write more than 100 posts in February??? []

A MakerBot Cart – like this!

Now, THIS is a MakerBot Cart

Now, THIS is a MakerBot Cart

This is a picture of Mattpr’s setup. 1  This is an incredibly great setup for a MakerBot Cart.  Indeed, it’s the sort of thing I dream about.

FYI, Matt – it took me longer than I care to admit to get your “my all Rush mix tape” joke.  Me, a guy who named his MakerBot “Bender.”  I may have to bite my own shiny metal ass.2

  1. Dude – you’ve got an all rights reserved license on your Flickr page.  If you wish, I’ll take out the picture – just let me know. []
  2. Interesting side note about my ‘bot in case anyone is keeping score at home – I painted the underside of my MakerBot silver.  This way it has a shiny metal assplate. []

ADD and TLDR

This post could easily have been titled “inverse relationship.”1

I tend to think I’ve got a form of ADD.  It’s better than saying I’m impulsive, excitable, or impatient, right?  In any case, I read and blogged about Capolight’s post on creating models from images without reading the entire thing.

The Google Sketchup instructional video he included in his post was great.  Basically, it helps one create an object from a photo with some kinda fancy Google UI stuff.  I wish I had known about that a lot earlier. :)  What a cool feature!

I suppose I could have titled this “RTFM” too…

  1. As in when you have ADD you won’t read anything and everything is TLDR… []
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Creating models from photos

I thought this recent post from my new favorite materials science and RepRap/MakerBot blog, Capolight, was great.  He summed up in one succinct post what I wanted to convey and probably didn’t convey with my verbose diatribe about my process for approximating facsimiles of props by tracing photographs in Sketchup.1234

((I’ve mentioned the Case of The Purloined Pig before, one of my favorite origami anecdotes.  Basically, contemporaneous invention is the result of funny little quirks in the universe.))

Capolight’s method is essentially the same as the one I described recently (only, as I mention, he does a much better job of it):

  1. Import a photo into Sketchup
  2. Trace image
  3. I spun my tracery and Capolight extruded5
  4. Scale newly created object to measurements
  5. ???
  6. Profit!
  1. You may officially now refer to me as an “insufferable word stretcher.” []
  2. To quote River Song, “Spoilers!” []
  3. Hey!  Remember that one post where I didn’t make any references to Doctor Who at all???  Yeah.  Me neither. []
  4. Crap.  One of my favorite actors, Maury Chaykin just passed away.  I really liked that guy. []
  5. Which is OH so much more appropriate, given our intended media. []
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Off topic

Like just about everything else I write, this blog is about 70% on topic, 10% attempts at humor, 10% frivolity and nonsense, and about 10% completely wildly off topic.  This mix is completely unintentional and yet ridiculously consistent.

This is one such off topic post.  I just finished watching the Doctor Who season finale.  I was a teenage Doctor Who fan in America.  Back then I only knew of about three other people who were aware of and appreciated the show.  But, this new series reboot and this season in particular are really good.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled nonsense, frivolity, and sad attempts at humor.  I may talk about MakerBots and RepRap stuff too later.

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My favorite easter egg for robots

Via Cathal Garvey, Jonty Wareing of Last.FM Tweeted:

Time between committing my very favourite sci-fi easter egg and it’s discovery? Five months. http://last.fm/robots.txt (@Muz found it)

I case someone removes this later (like the source code for the Newsweek Konami Zombie attack story…), here it is:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /music?
Disallow: /widgets/radio?
Disallow: /show_ads.php

Disallow: /affiliate/
Disallow: /affiliate_redirect.php
Disallow: /affiliate_sendto.php
Disallow: /affiliatelink.php
Disallow: /campaignlink.php
Disallow: /delivery.php

Disallow: /music/+noredirect/

Disallow: /harming/humans
Disallow: /ignoring/human/orders
Disallow: /harm/to/self

Allow: /

Freaking sweet.

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MakerBot poll take away

Here’s what I take away from this small poll:

  • People initially get interested in MakerBots because of a general interest in technology, the thought of making their ideas real on their own desktop, and because they just find MakerBots cool.
  • While far and away the most common anticipated use of Thingiverse is for toys, games, and puzzles – this doesn’t really reflect the uses people intend for their MakerBots.  If we were to put MakerBots into these people’s hands we’d see1 tools, replacement parts, and inventions as often as we saw designs for new toys.
  • Lots of people design things in 3D, but not many of these designs are ever uploaded to Thingiverse.
  • The three biggest obstacles to people getting a MakerBot are, in descending order, money, waiting for further improvements, and then doubting their own MakerBot building skills.

If you truly don’t have the money or a way to save up, there’s not much that can be done.  However, if you are one of those who doesn’t have the money yet, but does have surplus time there may be hope.  If you can lay your hands on the money for a MakerBot, you can crunch out parts for Mendels and Mini-Mendels.  While the prices have fallen significantly, the selling point of these parts is still a lot higher than the cost of plastic plus electricity and wear-and-tear on your robot.  Your robot can pay for itself.  In fact, if you have a good enough idea you might even be able to open an Etsy store, your own storefront, eBay store or something similar selling prints of your ideas.

To those of you who are waiting for improvements – don’t.  Yes, the MakerBot will be getting continually more awesome as people contribute to it in the future.  But, no one is going to stop working on this open source project any time soon.  They are going to be incredible improvements for years to come.  Your MakerBot is essentially obsolescence-proof.  Yeah, you might want to purchase an upgrade here or there in the future – but you don’t have to.  You can be the person who figures out a simple solution to an existing problem you find with the MakerBot and you can fix it.  I have zero expertise when it comes to electronics – but I’ve uploaded a few small improvements2  You just aren’t going to know how you can help yourself and others with this project unless you jump right in.  Your MakerBot will never be obsolete. 3  Irrespective of improvements, I can tell you right now that building, designing for, operating, and even repairing a MakerBot is just plain fun.  Don’t rob yourself of a fun weekend, just go purchase one right now4

Finally, to those of you who think you don’t have what it takes – I wasn’t sure I did either.  Assembling it really is on par with putting together Ikea furniture.  Go to the wiki, look at the build pictures, and read the instructions and troubleshooting guides.  Once assembled it will take a little bit of work to get running – but there are lots and lots of people out there who will help you.  Why not find someone nearby on the MakerBot map and e-mail them?  Lots of us have websites and blogs – we’re happy to talk about our MakerBots. 5  There are also regional groups and hackerspaces.  I don’t know for sure, but I strongly suspect if you get one and no one at your local hackerspace has one yet, they’ll be falling over themselves to help you get it operational.

Look, if I can do this, so can you.6

  1. Assuming they do as they intended… []
  2. My X and Y axis tensioners. []
  3. Look, if it happens somehow – well, just build a RepRap with it.  The RepRap is specifically designed so that each generation can build the following generation – you’re guaranteed an upgrade path. []
  4. Oh, and get the Deluxe kit.  You won’t be sorry. []
  5. Hell, I can’t stop talking about it. []
  6. Oh, and, to those of who whose parents were killed by awesome robots…  well…  not to worry.  As soon as I print up a few more upgrades, my MakerBot will be ready to finish the job. []

Pick a path

I’m dating myself a little here, but do you remember those pick-a-path books from years ago?  Basically, you get to the end of a chapter and you’re given a few choices.  Depending upon your choices you are sent to different areas of the book and can get drastically different endings.

Yeah, this post really isn’t about that.

Can a MakerBot or RepRap be converted to a Pick and Place CNC? 1  I suppose if you did you would:

  1. Need to install a camera
  2. Have to write a bunch of nifty software
  3. Have something that can feed the MakerBot2 the electronic parts
  4. A solder dispenser
  5. Have a little arm that picks up the electronic parts, rotates them3 as required, and deposits the electronic parts
  6. Can the HBP get hot enough to reflow?  I suspect not – otherwise it would fry it’s own electronic bits.

This doesn’t seem far fetched to me.  Let me rephrase.  It doesn’t seem far fetched to me that someone with programming and electronics skills could develop attachments for the MakerBot or RepRap that would work as a Pick and Place.

Update: I hit publish and then remembered a moment later I wanted to attribute VoxelFab with reminding me about Pick and Place machines with his recent post.  Thanks man and congrats on the new blog.

  1. Showing my ignorance:  Are pick and places CNC’s?  They certainly seem like they would be computer numerically controlled… []
  2. or RepRap []
  3. or the board []