DrawBot – Giant Unicorn?

As you may know, I’ve got a MakerBot Cupcake named “Bender” and a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic named “Flexo“.  There’s really no doubt in my mind I’ll be springing for a Replicator with dual extrusion1  Thankfully, I think there’s a way for me to make use of each of my robots, in its own special way.  I figure I can keep the Cupcake rocking a Unicorn Pen Plotter, use my Automated Build Platform in my Thing-O-Matic for mass production of smaller parts, and put a Replicator to work printing new, wacky, and/or large designs.

But, why am I talking about giant unicorns?!  Sandy Noble, the creator of the Polargraph,2 just posted about how he has created a vector graphics importer for the Polargraph software.  This is some pretty amazing stuff.  The MakerBot Unicorn has several software toolpaths that take vector graphics to GCode for printing through ReplicatorG.  The end result is that a Polargraph rocking a vector graphic importer should be able to draw arbitrary shapes, without the need to draw scribbly bits.

I think it would be particularly awesome to have a DrawBot draw a frame/border and then fill it with a scribbly/pixelated drawing.  Or, perhaps, draw the outline of an object and then fill it in with scribbly/pixelated shadings.

  1. Will my extravagance know no bounds?! []
  2. Which is probably the best documented DrawBot on the internet []
January 12, 2012 | Comments Closed

Have you turned your MakerBot or RepRap into a robo-cutter?

I’m curious – has anyone out there retrofitted their MakerBot Cupcake CNC, MakerBot Thing-O-Matic, or RepRap1 with a cutting device?  I recall seeing an example of someone creating a laser cutter, but I was particularly interested in whether someone had made a cutting device using a blade.

If so, what kinds of blades did you use?  Did you create your own?  Did you use off-the-shelf replacement parts for a commercial robo-cutter?

  1. Or other DIY 3D printer, for that matter []
August 27, 2011 | Comments Closed

Love the smell of burning wood in the morning…

I just added a Relay Board Mounting Kit to my Cupcake.  It’s been a few months since I’ve assembled something from a laser cut kit, so having that now-familiar smell of burnt wood, ash, and singed adhesive…  Ah!  That takes me back to when I first assembled my Cupcake!

Anyhow, up until this morning1 my Relay Board was hanging off the side of my Cupcake by the very wires it was connected to.  In order to prevent it from shorting anything I had wrapped it in the anti-static plastic my circuit boards came in and then used electrical tape to seal it all up.  Not the best way to do things and certainly enough to prove the world at large that I’m NOT an electrical engineer…2

  1. It’s very very early or very very late, depending upon your perspective []
  2. Like I had trouble convincing people before… []
March 29, 2011 | Comments Closed

Creating an Online Profileinator

I’m always juggling multiple projects – that seems to be the mark of a Maker and/or a Maker with ADD. 1  I’m looking to tinker with a clockwork spider, an open source disc shooter, possibly an open source shooter compatible with Nerf darts, and now…  I’d like to create a web app that aids in the calculation of good profile settings.

I’ve downloaded a bunch of different Thing-O-Matic, Cupcake, PWM and RMP calculators off of Thingiverse and am tinkering with them to get a better understanding of how they run these calculations. 2  Once I understand these, I’d like to make a very simple front end for these calculations.

If you have a good idea of how these things work, please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail through the contact form.  Thanks!

  1. Which, in my experience, might just be a redundant statement []
  2. I’ve put out the call to Dave Durant to help me get a better grasp on these calculations… []
March 19, 2011 | Comments Closed

MakerBot Cupcake Ultimate Sale!

If you’ve been waffling on whether to buy a 3D printer, NOW is the time to pull the trigger.

I purchased my Cupcake CNC Deluxe kit for about $1000, shipped.  Over the following year I spent about another $500 or so on other color of plastic, replacement parts, and upgrades.  You, my friend, are in a much more enviable position.  For the next five days MakerBot is selling their Cupcake Ultimate kits for $697.  This is all the tools you’ll need (Well, you’d still need some basic things – soldering iron, etc) , all the parts you’ll need, all the upgrades (the automated build platform, the MK5 kickass plastruder, and the relay kit) you’ll need, plus five pounds of plastic to start making ANYTHING you can imagine.  Since getting my MK5 plastruder, my Cupcake hasn’t had a single problem that required any replacement parts at all.  This kit has been battle tested by literally thousands of people and is totally rock solid.

I’m telling you, my past self is SO jealous of your opportunity!!!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving my brand new Thing-O-Matic, but this is an insane deal.

Okay, I know someone is going to point out that I blog for MakerBot.  That’s totally true, I do.  No one asked or suggested I say any of this, I’m not getting any kickbacks, kudos, knickknacks or kangaroos.  I’m just a big believer in their products and service.

If you’re in the market for a 3D printer kit and can’t get a Thing-O-Matic, these next few days are exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

December 31, 2010 | Comments Closed

Unbelievable deal on Cupcake CNC’s

Apparently MakerBot is getting ready to launch a new 3D printer and is putting their Cupcake CNC’s on sale.  I’ve had an absolute blast with my MakerBot over the last nine months.  I bought the Deluxe Kit for $950.  With shipping and taxes it came to just over $1,000.  I haven’t confirmed it with MakerBot, but it looks like their new Cupcake Starter kit is the same thing as their Deluxe kit except it doesn’t have the extra 5 pounds of plastic.  Sure, this kit doesn’t have the MK5 plastruder, heated build platform, or automated build platform – which means it’s basically identical to Cupcake kits sold a year ago.  Oh, and the Starter kit is only $650.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a 3D printer anyhow, this is your chance.  I don’t know what the new printer is, but $650 is a crazy deal for a kit with everything you need.1

  1. Yes, I now write for the MakerBot blog, but all I really do is post what I would have written here anyhow over on their blog.  I don’t get kickbacks or anything for saying how awesome I think this deal is. []
September 23, 2010 | Comments Closed

How much for that doppleganger in the window?

Suppose you had a one MakerBot and just had to have a second.  How much would the rest of that MakerBot cost assuming you were willing to design and print every possible printable part? 1  Perhaps it would be in line with the $575 laserless MakerBot Cupcake CNC kit.  Then again, perhaps it would be the cost of the $750 MakerBot Cupcake CNC Basic kit less the $50.00 lasercut plastruder parts and $200.00 lasercut body parts, which would clock in at $500.00. 2

Are you really just $500.00 away from a second MakerBot?  That’s about half the cost of a Deluxe kit!  This brings to mind an even MORE interesting question.

What would you have done if MakerBot offered this deal:  Buy one Cupcake CNC Deluxe kit and get a Cupcake CNC Basic kit half off?

Well, if you already own a MakerBot, it’s like they gave you this deal anyhow!

  1. Including a printable Y stage. []
  2. Admittedly, this assumes zero value to the lasercut external parts.  So, let’s pretend you have a box of the appropriate dimensions. []

C is for Catalyst

I purchased the MakerBot Deluxe Cupcake CNC kit – which came with plenty of tools and TONS of plastic.  The Deluxe kit came with things that you’ll need to operate your MakerBot such as the USB2TTL cable, power supply, and ethernet cables.

However, the wrenches and hex keys could be reused to build another ‘bot.  Parts printed up on a MakerBot could be used to print several very useful, and sometimes expensive, parts for another MakerBot.  The plastruder toolhead is $125.00 without the circuit board.  If you could print up the dinos, printstruder, idler wheel, and insulating retainer ring, you’re replacing all of the lasercut acrylic parts ($50.00 at MakerBot).  A persistent person could even replace all of the plastic spacers, wooden or plastic pulleys, the various wooden holders (Z rod caps, Z stage guides, X end rod caps), and probably even the  entire Y stage with printed parts. 1

Heck, if you had all of those parts you would basically just need a box in which to install them all.

Hmmm.  Anyone feel like designing a printable Y stage?

  1. In fairness, the Y stage would have to be printed up in several pieces due to size limitations. []

Why make blocks?

Making blocks with a MakerBot is almost counter productive.  Why would you want to make something out of plastic that can be used to make other things out of plastic?  Why not just print the final plastic object as a single piece all at once?

I like the idea of being able to physically play with the design of something.  Sketchup is easy to use, but legos are even easier.  I never worry about an operation that I can’t Ctrl-Z my way out of.  Plus, it’s even easier to go from idea to objection with physical building blocks.  I think it would also be a very interesting way to get around the overhang and size limitations of a CupCake CNC.

February 18, 2010 | Comments Closed

MakerBot Cupcake CNC print resolution

Some people have asked me about the MakerBot’s print resolution.  Although this information can be found on the MakerBot wiki, there’s no harm in disseminating this data. 1  Before I get into some of the technical stuff, let me just say this – the print resolution is pretty freaking good for a $750 DIY robot and it will give a $15,000 commercial printer a run for it’s money.

As a printer that can create objects in three dimensions the normal two-dimensional printer resolution jargon of “DPI” or “dots per inch” doesn’t mean much.  The printing resolution for the X/Y axes is 0.085mm and the resolution for the Z axis is 3.125 microns.  Most of the time you’re going to have a Z axis resolution of about 1/3 of a millimeter.  If you print with layers much smaller than that it will take forever to print without a huge increase in quality.

Or, to put it another way…  if you were to hand me two objects one printed on a MakerBot and one printed on a commercial printer, I’m going to ask you why the heck one of them costs $14,000 more than the other.  I’ve printed some pretty intricate and detailed stuff on my MakerBot.  As I tune it I hope to improve it even more.

  1. If you haven’t poked around the website, I highly recommend it.  There’s a lot of information about the Cupcake CNC, RepRap, fused deposition modeling, robots, and all sorts of stuff. []