Added Flattr

The interesting thing about Flattr is that in order to be eligible to receive funds, you need to be willing to share funds.  In any case, I’ve added a Flattr button to this site as well as to my MakerBlock Thingiverse page.

Because I’m such an optimistic guy, I also just ordered an extra large wallet from Amazon. 1

  1. And tore up my ticket for tonight’s lottery.  Pretty sure I won’t be needing THAT… []

Happy Birthday to me!

On December 15, 2009 I purchased this domain name and started blogging about my MakerBot, “Bender.” 1

It has been a fun, wild year of blogging.  I started off pelting everyone on the MakerBot Operators’ group with questions, then started posting here a bit, then started posting here A LOT.

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have any tech background at all.  I just try to make up for that with enthusiasm and a willingness to (let’s say, aptitude for) making a fool of myself.  I was gushing about 3D printing the other day and one of my co-workers asked why I don’t work in some some kind of tech field.  My response was that my real dream job would be to get paid to make and do cool, awesome, and clever things all the time.  2

I’ve had a really great time blogging here for the last year and over at MakerBot for the last three and a half months. 3  I get to write about all the stupid things I’ve done (and warn people how not to ) and the all awesome and cool things other people are doing.  The comments have been especially awesome – with people offering insight, advice, and <cringe> corrections. 4

So!  Thank you for your advice and suggestions and encouragement!  With a little luck, we’ll see another post like this next year!

  1. You may notice a few posts from just before that date.  That happened because I had originally purchased a different domain name and blogged there before settling on MakerBlock.com. []
  2. Mind, doing clever things is my dream job.  In reality, I’d try to do clever things and end up doing silly entertaining things. []
  3. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too! []
  4. It’s basically been my dream job.  :) []

MakerBlock apologies

I’m not ignoring you, I swear.  I totally misconfigured my “Contact” page e-mail form plugin.

That’s not the worst part – I contributed a big chunk of the code to that plugin and really should have known better.

So, if you’ve tried to send me an e-mail, please try again.  :)

It’s that time of year – to frustrate friends and family

So, I’ve got a birthday coming up.  Getting older doesn’t bother me much – it’s really just a number associated with the number of times I’ve traveled around the sun. 1  I will gleefully relate to anyone that I’m easily the luckiest man in the world.  I’ve got a wonderful family, good friends, everyone is healthy, interesting and challenging work, and a fair amount of free time to do with as I wish.  These are the sorts of things that are truly important to me, so by any measure of success I care about, I’ve got it all.

With my birthday approaching, my family starts to ask me about what they can get me for a present.  My usual answer is, “Nothing, let’s just hang out.”  This year, I actually have a list.

As it looks like both MakerGear and MakerBot are out of the magic pixie dust that will let me print in PLA without tears, the rest of my list is as follows:

I’m rather excited about some of these upgrades.  I’m looking forward to a heated build platform for smoother warp free ABS builds.  I’m looking forward to the rainbow pack for some crazy wacky fun. 2  And, I’m looking forward to needed the extra spare parts as infrequently as possible.  :)  Since my last major repair, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy several months of carefree printing. 3

  1. It also seems to be related to the number of gray hairs that are appearing.  I rather like them, actually. []
  2. Freaking VOLTRON, remember? []
  3. I really hope I didn’t jinx myself []

Save the Stoat! Eat a goat!

Soft-pawed albino stoat of Southern Wales

Soft-pawed albino stoat of Southern Wales

I must admit, until very recently I was completely unaware of the plight of the soft-pawed albino stoat of Southern Wales.

The story of these gentle weasels is a sad one indeed.  Once these stoats roamed the great plains of the Serengeti in herds so vast the sound of their collective padded footsteps was deafening.

But, highly prized and sought after for their sweet sweet tears these animals were hunted to the brink of extinction.  Even in this modern age there is a brisk underground black market trade for sad stoats.  Now, this once ubiquitous creature has been moved to the endangered species watch list by the combined efforts of a pharamecutical industry bent upon creating ever more potent drugs for keeping these animals on the brink of despair and a growing demand for stoat tacos fueled by a surge in molecular gastronomy.

If not for the Great Stoat Conservatory in South Wales, the soft-pawed albino Stoat would have all but vanished from the face of the Earth.  Here at GSCSW these ermines are protected from poachers where it is hoped their numbers may recover… in time.

Thank you to DaveD for bringing my attention to this fascinating mammal.

So, please take the time to make some of these delicious stoat cookies and remind your friends to save the stoat and eat a goat.

Spare parts

The last week has been a fruitful one for me, at least as far as printing things on my MakerBot is concerned.  I’ve designed, created derivatives, printed upgrades, updated the firmware, installed the latest (super sweet!) RepG, and even performed some maintenance.

One amusing and useful experiment was the serial production of the Z Axis Wobble Reducers by MakiYoshida.  Using my current settings I printed one.  Then I installed it and printed a second.  The second was a visibly better product.  I installed the second and printed a third.  The third was no better than the second.  I installed the third and printed a fourth.  I then installed the fourth… and didn’t bother to print with it.

Right now I have two of these wobble reducers installed on the front right and back left Z axes.  Installing one on the most warped rod (front right, for those of you playing at home) helped significantly.  Installing the second on the back left helped a little more.  Installing the third on the back right didn’t seem to make much of a difference, and may have been worse than the second print.  I didn’t realize why until I tried to install the fourth Z axis wobble reducer.

Once all of the wobble reducers were in place I found that the entire Z stage was too mobile – and would easily shift from left to right and back and forth.  When you have no wobble reducers one or more warped Z axis rods will force the entire stage out of whack.  When you have four wobble reducers, there is nothing keeping the Z stage steady.  Thus, the optimum number is between one and three.  However, I noticed that having two diagonally across from one another gave me enough wobble reduction to improve the print, but not so much flexibility that it could get pushed around in the middle of a print.

Part of the problem is that this particular wobble reducer will allow nearly unimpeded side-to-side motion.  However, these wobble reducers are also fantastic at compensating for a badly warped rod.  I suspect that mixing different kinds of wobble reducers might be my best bet.  I’m not really that interested in installing one of versions that requires precision rods, since it’s just one more thing I have to source for my MakerBot.  Ideally I can mix and match these two types of wobble reducers to improve the overall print.  The Z-axis floating arrester appears to keep the captive nut more … captive than the Z axis wobble reducers I have installed.  This may provide the exact combination of rigidity and flexibility I need to optimize my print quality and minimize layer shift as I print.

The upshot of all of this, and the reason for the post title, is that I now have two Z Axis Wobble Reducers by MakiYoshida that I’m not using.  Do you need one or two of these and feel like saving yourself the print time?  If so, drop me a line.

Botmill.com – NOT COOL

Okay, you had a robo-blog.  That’s fine.  Nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I’m appreciative for some of those posts and blogs you pointed out to me.  You apologized profusely, though I don’t there’s a need to apologize for a robo-blog per se.

However, since then your robo-blogs have gotten worse.  The one associated with 3D-Printer-Parts.com, which links back to your site, is collecting anything and everything with the words “made, make, printer, 3d, 3-d” et cetera.  Oh, but that’s not the worst part.

Botmill is stealing the entire content of other people’s works and not providing any attribution.  That link is to one of my own posts (and not a particularly interesting one) copied whole cloth and posted in your own blog.

Make up your mind – do you want to be a blog aggregator or sell robot parts? There are tons of aggregators out there.  Not many are very good.  The ones that are have a real person picking and choosing.  The robo-blogs are basically packed with irrelevant or useless content.  Turn off the robo-blog and drop the fake secondary sites.  Rather than stealing the content of potential customers, why not write some of your own content.  How about posting some information about your own products?  Or some innovations of your own?  Stolen content doesn’t help you with customers, hurts your Google PageRank, and actually causes ill will.

Why not take a page from MakerBot and MakerGear?  Have a contest, give some stuff away, write some interesting things, ask them for help, show them you care, involve your customers, and form a community.

I failed in convincing someone to buy a MakerBot

It was going pretty well, actually.

  • MakerBlock: “Yeah, listen, I’ve got no technical skills – it was basically a bolt together system.”
  • Dude: “Seriously?!  So, what, when you’re ready to print you just send it an STL file?”
  • MB: “Um, well, not quite.  I have to take the STL, make sure it’s printable, convert it to GCode, and then convert it into an S3G file, and for maximum resolution/quality save it to an SD chip which I then put in the ‘bot and then…  Hey, where’d you go?”

The fact that it’s not yet a USB plug-n-play system kinda scared him off. 1  I’m confident we’ll get there some day.  And, even if we don’t, I’m still having a hell of a time.

  1. Well, that and I heavily suggested my ‘bot could violate any of the three laws at any moment… []

Shopping list

I’ll need a few extra things to get going:

  • Superglue for the idler pulley and bearing
  • 3-in-1 oil for the rods (I need to clean the threaded rods).  It will be a little bit of a pain to pull them out of the MakerBot, but I want to make sure I’ve done everything I can to make the robot work properly.
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Daft Punk