Saturday, July 31, 2010

How many different ways can you mess up a Z axis? 9 so far.

Brutis, my Mini Mendel rework is coming along nicely.  Because all the parts are so small, I can change the design, print off the part and attach to my test frame 20 minutes later, then throw the off part into a vat of Acetone to punish it for it's insolence.

I have settled on a different form of idler than I have ever seen for the Z axis, hope it works once I cut my belts.  The motor bracket floats on 2 parallel threaded rods, one only attached to the Z base, one that is the frame side bar.  To tighten you will just  tighten 2 wing nuts to move the motor bracket further from the Z base.  It's a knock off the Mendel Z Leadscrew Base with Motor Belt Tensioner by nicholasclewis, but in 2 parts instead of 1.

I was going a complete different direction with the X trolley, then I saw the rhys-jones's Mendel Multi Extruder Carriage.  I will have to rework my trolley (that's why you don't see it in the pic) because his would add 10+ mm in the inside capacity of the trolley.  Might just be enough to put the extruder on top of the trolley :).  Considering this project is only concerned with making a self replicating printer, if I only have 70 - 80 mm in the Z axis I don't care as long as it can print all the Mendel parts.

My run of trouble free printing ended.  My hot end started acting up.  Funny thing was Rick over at Makergear got a little perplexed, because he had never seen PEEK have a flowback issue with ABS, and all but demanded I send it too him to let him take a look.  So I sent him my hot end and went to a backup.  There's something profoundly embarrassing about letting another person look at your nozzel, but I think my constant issues with the Mk4 hot end has finally made him snap (he claims that his hot end is Gremlin proof, we shale see :)  He has never seen Gremlins like mine..

Also I just ordered the Power Resistor Heater Block from Makergear (hot end the Nophead way baby!). I personally didn't like his ceramic heatercore, fire cement and I just don't get along (which hurts because everyone else who uses them LOVES them... go figure), and the workings for a new hot end (big head nozzel, barrel (turned down on both sides?  never seen that), and a new PEEK thermal barrier.  Wife and kid will be out of town next week, so it's just me Makerbot, and my 3 half finished Mendels. 

In other news HeeksCAD just released version 0.14.0, and this one is great for our community.  Now STL don't cause the huge memory leak, or crashing if you hit undo.  I have managed to run it now for 5 hours straight without a single crash, also the colors look a little better.  Dan & his group did a lot of work on this one.

It warms my heart to see Tony Buser has really ran off with my Printable Filament spool over at the RepRap wiki.  I like how he has made the sides stronger, and moved it over the Openscad,  Can't wait to see his setting under his Mendel!

If you ever get bored and want some good reading, check out the Recent Changes at the RepRap wiki.  They are now up to like 20-30 updates a day, there's a lot more than just Mendel instructions over there now and days.  Ohh and check out the Wolfstrap, and Eiffel repstraps.  Those projects are quickly becoming the new and improved Mcwire.

That's all for this week, well besides did you see Adrian's Ninja electronics set?  I swear I didn't know it was even possible for a RepRap to be that quite.

Edit  Just saw this. MSC industrial has PFTE tubing CHEAP, like $2-3 a foot cheap.  Lots of other goodies over there also.  Good job tesla893 over at the reprap forum!  Edit further..  PTFE tube bearings for a buck?  God they have EVERYTHING cheap.   I am in heaven.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Death by Wife

I am SO dead.  I purchased 6 foot of the PTFE Tubing, and a 6 foot stick of 6mm smooth rod without consulting the wife 1st.  $40 will be noticed :).   Even though I don't plan on using my Mini Mendel, other than as a base for my own build, I am going to start uploading videos to Youtube of the build, and I don't feel right not doing everything by the book if other people are going to use it to help them build.

 By the end of next week I hope to have a fully assembled Mendel, & Mini, and a 1/2 completed Brutis.  Let's see how far I get.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A week like no other.

The gremlin which has resided within my Makerbot for the last 7 months left my printer and started eating other random pieces of tech in my office. My camera stopped working, (I think he had help from my 3 year old). Then a few days later when i tried to do an updated HeeksCAD tutorial I found my microphone was busted. But the good think is now my Makerbot is working PEFECTLY. When I say perfectly:

-Makergear Heated Build plate heats up in 5 minutes flat to 115 and stays within 5 degrees no mater what I do. The other thing is it gets hot enough to not need sanded Kapton, which makes the parts look like glass, sweet!
-TeamUSA has created a mod of RepG17 to allow you to use the raftless script in RepG, this is the best way to print raftless. It slows down the feed rate on the 1st level, allowing you not to pull the printed parts off before the Kapton bonds well to them. It can be found here
-Filament has not stripped once since I installed the Makergear idler wheel and Makerbot Mk5 worm gear.
-I have not had to touch my plastic once since I installed my Printable Horizontal Filament spool. It just works. :) Here is a little tour of what it looks like and how to put it together.

-After installing the filament spool I found that the filament tube was coming close to my 2nd Thermistor that is plugged into my extruder board. I got concerned with it was putting stress on the plug and board so I went ahead and moved the extruder board, temp sensor board, and Makergear High output control board onto the side of my machine. While I was at it I went ahead and installed plugs on all my wires, so next time my extruder fails I will not have to mess with anything electric besides 3 plugs. Here's how I rewired it.

-I finished these Mods on Friday of the week before last, and worked all weekend. On Monday morning I got back to messing with my Makerbot, and something amazing happened. My Makerbot never broke. I managed to get though all of a Mini Mendel in less than 19 hours straight through. I then started printing Mendel. I got all the way though to the last 3 plates on Friday. So I managed to basically print a Mini Mendel, and a Mendel in the same week! Eventually I decided to move from the Aluminum plate that Makergear includes with their HBP to a Stainless steel one, allowing me to pop parts off the builds like MakiYoshida's build plate, I do want to know how he keeps from smaking his clips into the Z stage. Also I wanted to be able to swap the build plate faster so I altered my start.txt and end.txt to allow for a modified production G-code (cool side note, now that RepG has profiles you can have multiple start and stop.txt, which is all sorts of awesome)

Now when a print ends the end.txt runs "G1 X0 Y0 z100 f1000" moving my extruder out of the way of my swap. It also leaves the Build plate & nozzle hot. I then just unclip my plate, replace it with another steel plate (the plate gets up to temp in about 2 minutes), use the control panel to drop 50Z manually (while confirming my temps), recenter, Zero, and build from SD. Start text is still basically the standard HBP start.txt. Here is a video of me doing the swap. Ohh a little hint, put an X on your Build plate (under the kapton) at the true XYZ zero of you Makerbot. Remember we don't have access usually to all 100mm in the Y axis,

I did my 1st International sell last week to a Gentleman in the Netherlands. Shipping was $45 dollars, and after we shipped it he had to pay some sort of fee to reiceive it. I will not be shipping international again. That was horrible.

Another mistake I made was trying to order Gearmotors directly from Kysan. I figured "heck, They sell the makerbot gearmotor for $8, and Makerbot sells them for $20, I need to cut out the middle man". Well the middle man cut me :). Kysan allows you to place the order without shipping, so I though the shipping was free. About 12 hours later I get a very nice email asking me to send $55 more dollars for shipping on my $100 dollar order.... >:( I had already transfered the 1st chunk of money, and I have had issues in the past with Paypal on refunds so I just sent them the money.

To make it make since to order from Kysan instead of Makerbot, you would have to order 5 flippin motors. Ugg, that was not smart.

Lesson learned, the gear motors are expensive at Makerbot for a reason, Kysan is cheap to buy from, and expensive to receive from :) I do have 3 gear motors and 3 NEMA 17 steppers in the mail, so that brings me to 7 NEMA 17 motors 3 NEMA 14 motors, & 3 gear motors, and 1 extra set of Makerbot Electronics.

I received a sample pack of the new buy3dink supper cheap ABS from a gentleman named Mark. The sample I received looks much better than the stuff I have seen in prior photos, this looks very similar to the Village Plastic I am used too. I will check the diameters and roundness this week, and test it in one of my RepRaps once I get it working (hopefully this week).

I have started documenting my build of a Mini Mendel, which will be humorous because some parts are having to be Dremeled into submission to get them to work (my nema 14 was too big to fit, Dremel fixed that. I hope to actualy get it working, and then peddle the design over to something more practical to build. I will be documenting my alterations over at the RepRap Wiki "Breeder" page I made.

I am in lust with this machine.

whosawhatsis over at thingiverse has managed to sqeeze a 8x8inch build plate on a slightly expanded Mini Mendel without drastically changning the Mini's parts. That's impressive enough, but the yellow kapton with black ABS, and Silver zinc rod makes this printer look NASTY :).

He didn't post the picture till I included his part in my abridged Mini Mendel Build set on Thingiverse, and he really didn't document all that much, but he is gathering all the stuff he has posted on his website and there is a good conversation going on over there.

I will shut up now :) Hope some of this helps!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fundementally changing Mini Mendel in HeeksCAD

After installing my Makerbot MK5 worm gear, and a Makergear idler wheel my Plastruder has printed almost 40 hours non stop without a single hiccup, which is unprecedented for me.

In case you didn't know Makergear's version of an idler wheel is almost twice as thick as the Makerbot standard one, I honestly can't imagine anything breaking it. If you need a replacement idler wheel, get their $2 4.5mm idler wheel before you invest in one of the metal ones.

I am in the process of trying to change up the Mini Mendel to make it cheaper, especially for us Americans that can't get Metric Rod Locally.

The changes I am making:
-NEMA 17 motors, because they are easier to find, and cheaper to buy
-All 608 bearings (can be picked up at the local skate shop)
-All 1/4 inch smooth and structural rod
-M8 Z drive rod, so I can use 608 bearings.
-A bed raised on m3 nuts like a Makergear heated build plate, and a ceramic build plate from the start.
-Electronics mounted like the techzone alternate electroncis mount at

I thought I was going to get away with reusing allot of the Mini Mendel parts... no such luck. The bearing and motor changes means almost every parts needs to be redesigned. Luckily some parts have already been moved to Openscad, so I can easily alter them to fit Imperial, such as Erik's standing feet , and Whosawhatsis's y bar clamp .

I looks like the most challenging part will be getting 360 bearing chases around a 6.35mm rod with 8mm bearings. It works, but I am having a hard time getting a printable knuckle that holds the bearings tightly.

Does anyone know an easier way to do this?

I also have a Bearing/Spring idler extruder for the gear motor I have been working on for a few weeks, but unfortunately my Heekscad was recently possessed by a demon. No matter how many times I reinstall, I can't Undo without it crashing, I can't go 15 minutes without it crashing.. Honestly if I look at it wrong it crashes, which really hurts when you get things lined up just right...

Another project I am working on is a printable rip off of the Maker Bot Filament box. It uses 5/16 rod 608 bearings, 2 wing nuts and a length of 1/4 plastic tubeing. Haven't got to print it yet, but It looks like it will work.

I haven't uploaded any of this to Thingiverse yet because they all have either not been printed, or were printed, but could be better if I do just a little more work on them (The extruder works, but the idler is off center a little).

Added after the fact:

I did make a printable Sorobansu Abacus, but my daughter ran off with my printed copy, once I reprint (or find where she hid it) I will upload to Thingiverse.

Anyway if you guys have any advice, want the design files before I upload them, or just want to berate me for my obviously undiagnosed Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, exasperated by access to a RepRap printer and free Cad programs, just comment :).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Google RepRap feed update

We are now up to 250 different feeds on the Google RepRap feed.

With this new update we now have:

Live updates of all RepRap, and Makerbot related items on Flikr, Photobucket, Picassa, Ebay, Sellsimply, & Etsey.

We are up to 7 languages covered, all automatically translated into the language you can understand best.

No repeats of older posts (something that Yahoo pipes does a lot, which I don't understand).

The feed pushs out around 20 a day, all new content, and keeps you on top of the new items being sold all over the internet. This is one of the ways I am always finding new stuff to blog about.

If you want to subscribe, just go to the right side of my website and hit preview, or go directly to the preview page.

Again if you know of any blogs I have missed, or know of some service that the community might like to get auto updates on, just drop me an email at

Have fun!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Good Deals, and a little bit of Vanity

My RP parts for Mendel over at finally have bidders, they are at $155 now. I will be sending the parts out Tuesday the 6th, no matter what they are going for.

The Winston Salem Journal came over and did an article on me. They interviewed Bre Petis Also! It was fun and 3-4 locals have contacted me about the printer, hoping this helps out the Hacker Space project.

Nop Head pointed out the benefits of PET tape for printing with ABS, well Deal Extreme has 24mm rolls of it with free shipping here for $4.99 Deal Extreme PET Tape.

Price war on ABS. has some REALLY cheap ABS ($30 a 5lb roll). They even carry HDPE for the old school among us for $30 also.

Digi Key has a $8 blower fan that I have fell in love with. 12V 2.28 Watt (190ma), and it pushes 8.5cfm at 41db. Not bad at all. It's 75x75x25mm, but the air port is only 25x25.

That's all the good deals for now. Putting together my Makergear High Output build plate, should have it done next week, will post a video... it looks awesome. Also I installed the Maker bot worm gear. Best $10 I have ever spent on my Makerbot.