Sailfish + Print-O-Matic = Wow

dutchmogul's Keep

dutchmogul’s Keep

Last night and tonight I have been tinkering with Flexo, my Thing-O-Matic, to install Jetty’s Sailfish firmware update.  The setup text is very helpful, but not particularly optimized for a Thing-O-Matic with a MK6 extruder.  I also found that I had to heavily modify the “start.gcode” and “end.gcode” to keep my bot from shaking itself to pieces. 1

However, the results of combining Sailfish with ReplicatorG’s Print-O-Matic are impressive.  Dutchmogul’s Keep, pictured above, was printed with a layer height of 0.15mm, 10% infill, all with a stock 0.5mm nozzle.  That’s the very best resolution I’ve managed with my Thing-O-Matic, ever.  At 0.15mm thick layers, I have a difficult time seeing the layers if the model is more than 6 inches from my face and the ridges on the vertical parts is difficult to discern with a fingertip.

Now that I’ve finished that print I think I can push my ‘bot’s print resolution farther.  I’m willing to bet I can print down to 0.10mm layer height if I re-applied the Kapton tape and did a better job of leveling the print bed.  Also, one of the acknowledged challenges with 3mm filament based extruders is the pressure buildup that can lead to imprecise plastic deposits when dealing with non-contiguous parts. 2  Dialing in the Skeinforge “Retraction” or the Sailfish “Deprime” settings dialed in would really help with complex prints.

  1. The default “start.gcode” tried to home to the XY maximums and Z minimum – where there are no endstops.  The default “end.gcode” did the same thing for some reason.  I also had to modify the “start.gcode” so that the print head was better positioned for starting a print. []
  2. By this, I mean that when you’re printing two or more features that are not connected, say for example a table that is legs-side-up, an extruder will naturally ooze a little bit of plastic as it travels between legs, leaving a thin spider web like strand.  The “retraction” setting in Skeinforge is used to combat this, and does so fairly effectively in the case of a stepper based extruder.  That setting reverses the extruder motor quickly just after the print head leaves a leg and then quickly moves extra fast forward as it gets to the next leg, which prevents the spider web effect. []

Was This Made on a MakerBot?!

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2010: A Christmas Carol

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2010: A Christmas Carol

Netflix has nearly all of the “new series” Doctor Who episodes available for online streaming.  As a guy who grew up watching the show, having it on tap is just plain awesome.  Unfortunately, Netflix does not carry one my favorite episodes ever – the Doctor Who Christmas Special from 2010 entitled, “A Christmas Carol.”  You can’t get the DVD from Netflix and you can’t watch it online.

Thankfully, Amazon does have this episode in their video library.  Watching it just now I noticed something at 44:44 – a small model of what appears to be the Empire State Building.  The screenshot appears above.

So, what do you think?  Does that Empires State Building look as if it was printed on a 3D printer?

The worst part about SaaS

And... that's why you don't hack the core

And… that’s why you don’t hack the core

Since I recently gushed on about how wonderful it is to run a SasS business, it’s only fair to share with you a downside.1

This morning I quickly checked my small-side-business SaaS site before heading off to work, only to find the thing that people actually pay to use was not working.  Dropping everything, I quickly started hunting through code.  I haven’t changed a single word of core logic on the site in about six months, so there’s no reason this problem should be occurring.

Except that whenever WordPress asks me if I want to update, I immediately do so.  Sometimes really minor changes to WordPress functionality create huge tangles of CSS and HTML, as it did in this case.  Once I tracked down the problem I quickly hacked together a solution and uploaded it back to the site. 2  Thankfully it’s now working as well as it did before I found this problem.

Because my site has been working so well for so long3 I’ve been loathe to build a better design for the logic.  In the very long run, it will save me time, but in near future/short run of a few months all it will do is suck up time without demonstrating a tangible benefit.  I suppose being less prone to breakage is a tangible benefit, but I spend less than 2 hours a year dealing with minor problems like this.  The prospect of spending two months rewriting and then rechecking code to save 2 hours a year doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment.

Frankly, what I need to do is come up with some other tangible benefits that when added with the existing fixes I need to perform will have a more tangible4 benefit, and then jump into building them all.

  1. I don’t know where the original picture comes from, but I got it from this website. []
  2. And, really, it’s a nearly unforgivable hack.  Rather than figuring out how to fix the problem in the plugin, I commented out the newly-bad code and hacked that same code directly into the website’s theme.  I know, I know…  nearly unforgivable.  At least I didn’t try to hack the core.  []
  3. The core logic of the site has been essentially unchanged since about 2008. []
  4. Read: immediate monetary []

Pantsless

Is it just me or it a bit breezy here?

Is it just me or it a bit breezy here?

Ever have one of those days when nothing goes right and you can’t find your pants? 1 Yeah.  Me too.

On the plus side, I’m working to make a cool new printable model.  :)

Also, word of advice.  Never search Flickr for the word “Pantsless.”  Ever.

  1. Photo courtesy of Klara []