Building my little Simple - 2014 in review

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So in 2014 my distraction de jour turned to 3D printing. Printers were over $1000, however, after building up my own CNC machine, the only real difference between a CNC & printer is an extruder instead of a spindle. A basic extruder and hotend was still going to cost over $100 plus delivery. So I started thinking, how hard could it be to build one?

Over the winter of 2013/2014 I started building my own extruder. 

I think I was making slow progress - they look simple enough, but there is some decent engineering in those things to keep the filament flowing smoothly. 

Late spring 2014, I started noticing 3D printer kits dropping below $400. After some research, the choice narrowed to the Printrbot Simple and the QU_BD OneUp (which was attempting to break the $200 barrier).

The Printrbot was out of the gate sooner and worked out a number of manufacturing/shipping logistics. It was getting decent reviews as well. And so in May 2014, I ordered a Printrbot Simple makers kit from Adafruit.

Much to my chagrin, Printrbot soon after announced a major upgrade to the Makers kit. It is still $350 from Printrbot ($399 from Adafruit) but comes with belt drive (not string), all 4 steppers are large (not a small Y stepper) and a metal probe for leveling the Z-axis against the table (much like the way the pcg-gcode autolevels the mill for isolation milling). Oh well. Ce la vie.

The printer arrived and a few days later (about 6 hours of assembly), I had my first print.

Now, the order of objects to print for a married man is well understood:

    1. First off are a few calibration prints to work the bugs out.
    2. Next is something to appease the wife and prove this isn't just a toy.
    3. Third is parts to make the printer better.
    4. Finally you start looking around the house for problems you never knew you had to solve.
    5. As a bonus, if you're lucky - you may even get hired to print something for someone else.

Since then, I have upgraded my printer:

    1. added active cooling to the extruder (prevents jamming)
      1. Extruder Cooling Fan on Thingiverse
    2. belt drive on the X-axis - slight increase in size to just over 100mm
      1. X-Axis GT2 Belt and Extension on Thingiverse
    3. belt drive on the Y-axis - no dimension increase, just more stable
      1. Timing Belt GT2 for Y-axis on Thingiverse
    4. enlarged the Y-axis with a no sag upgrade (over 200mm now possible)
      1. 300mm Y-axis No Sag on Thingiverse (My rods only allowed for just over 200)
    5. Printed strong X-axis / bed holder to enlargethe X-axis to over 200mm
      1. X Axis upgrade on Thingiverse

I am now printing fairly large and complex things with my little Simple - including a 6 speed transmission (PLUS reverse!).

If Flickr allows it - here is my brag book.

And no show is complete without a blooper reel.

Let's see what distracts me in 2015!!!

Restore Zippo Ziplight Lighter Flashlight

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My dad has a special Zippo flashlight from his company's 50th anniversary. It stopped working a while ago, and after contacting Zippo, found out the Ziplights have been discontinued.

With nothing left to lose, he let me open it and try and fix it. Opening it was surprisingly easy. The two halves are not glued, melted or sealed together. They just pop open.

The two batteries inside are very skinny. Much smaller than AAA. But I figured I'd seen them somewhere before. Sure enough - there's 6 of them in a regular 9V battery.

After cleaning the contacts and replacing the batteries, it works again!



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Meta-meta-meta projects. (or how I spent my evening...)

I was going to build a multi-LED (light) status indicator. I scavenged a bunch of surface mount LEDs from an old server, and then needed to sort them by color. So I pulled out an old prototype, adjusted some components and started testing them one by one...

I think I have ADD, I never did start that status indicator.