Sunday, October 24, 2010

Contemplating a Pod Cast

Has anyone else besides me seen a real need for a weekly video podcast for RepRap?  I LOVE watching videos by/about other people in the hobby, but most interviews I see are by people who don't know much about the hobby, so you spend 3 minutes with them asking questions like "So that's plastic right?  When will the robot revolution come?  What can it print?, and Bre, how do you do that with your hair?". 

I would love to see a Weekly vidcast for RepRap that had:

-Little tips that people tend to have a hard time grasping, like how to wrap nichrome, to set up and operate skein forge, the difference between the electronics, etc

-A non company view of the printers.  How awesome would it be to see an interview with the Makerbot, UP!, Mendel-Parts, Botmill, Techzone, The RepRap core team, Ultimaker, Makergear, Ultimachine, 3dink, BfB, the list goes on and on, where the questions come from the community (sent via twitter), and they all get to show off on a show directed at our community.

-How great would it be if we had someone from our community going around interviewing people at the NY Makerfair?  I wanted an Interview with Rick from Makergear, and Tony Buser, Someone at Makerbot besides Bre or Zack, or how about the other folks that where there, I saw some awesome bots in the pics, but we don't know anything about them.

I could think of a 100 things I would love to see in a nice 4-5 minutes pod cast each week, the only issue is I really don't want to do it myself, mostly because.

-I am a overweight white dude, not exactly the image I think we want to portray.

-I am from the Southern United States, and I have an accent that does not convey... intelligence :)

-You have likely seen my videos, the video quality is good, but the production quality is really poor, I don't have a communications degree, and it shows.

Should I:

A. Start a pod cast and hope someone comes along and does it better than me and lets me off the hook.

B. Just drop it, there is no need/let someone with more skill start it.

Please do me a favor and respond in the comments, I am very on the fence about this idea.

BTW I got my Gen6 Electronics and motors in, and 1 of my Prusa Mendels is nearly completed, and 2 others are started, videos and pics hopefully later this week :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

So many intersting things in the last few weeks..

Hot Rod Makerbot

Nice little kitty right?  Must have been printed on a UP! or BfB Rapman right?  Wrong.  A Makerbot with MakerGear Compact Plastruder. The drive is an abridged version of the Brustruder, and the hot end is new Makergear compant hot end using professional grade 1.75 mm orange filament with support material enabled in skeinforge.

Seriously, printed on a a Makerbot, who knew a Makerbot could do that?  I guess that's the end of Up! and others uploading stuff to Thingiverse that no Makerbot can print, go Makergear!

So many different RepRap Electronics are now in stock!  (How much 6 months can change things)

Ultimachine's Arduino based electronics ($195 complete kit)

Johnnyr of Ultimachine has done some wonderful work on these electronics, and they are written up in the wiki.  Adrian and Johnnyr are neck and neck on the RepRapable electronics for RepRap "race".  Adrian's version is written up in the wiki also (but to my knowledge are not currently commercially available).

Makerbot Gen 3 Electronics ($199 complete kit)

They have been in stock for a few weeks now, this has to be a record.  But considering how many alternatives there are now, and the fact that Makerbot has now shown the Gen 4.  These are very likely to stay more reliably in stock now.  To my knowledge Makerbot electronics and firmware are still the only ones that allow for Printing from SD cards, which I am slightly addicted to. Gen 6 Electronics ($210 complete kit ($180 without End Stops )

Mendel Parts newly introduced Gen 6 Electronics.  These boards are in pre-order currently, but according to Camiel there is only a 2-3 week lead time, and he is scaling up quickly.  These are professionally designed boards, so look for good things to come from these.

Botmill's Gen3 Remix Electronics ($179 complete kit)

Botmill / Techzones shrunk version of the RepRap Gen 3 Electronics.  One point I must bring up, these are based off the Makebot manufactured Gen3 Electronics, but they are not a component for component copy, so even though they are "Gen 3" they bare very little in commonality with the Makerbot manufactured Gen3 Electronics.


RepRapstores community shop Electronics ($143 w/ power supply)

Seriously WTF.  RepRap Electronics for $143 with a power supply?  I knew Botmill/Techzone had sort of a bad name in the community for not shipping quickly/not responding to emails/minor issues with quality of the electronics, but RepRap Gen 3 Electronics for less than $150 with a power supply?  Seriously, if you have ordered these recently, please comment, do they burst into flames when you plug them in or something, or are they just being aggressive as heck on their pricing?  If they work that's a GREAT deal.

German RepRap Foundation Gen 3 Electronics ($267 complete kit)

These are to my knowledge a component for component copy of the Makerbot/RepRap Gen 3 Electronics (I might be wrong).  But non the less they are not Makerbot sourced, so again, each "Gen 3" is different.  These are not Makerbot or Techzone sourced Gen3.

I think that's all of them.  The ones that have peeked my interest are the Makerbot's Gen 4, Ultimachine's Arduino Electronics , and Mendel-Part's Gen 6 electronics.  But RepRap is entering a whole new world of commercially available, open source electronics, in stock even.

Brustruder, STILL EXTRUDING (and a little red in the face)

I designed the Brustruder because I honestly got sick of all the headaches I was having out of my Mk4 Extruder.  I have not had 1 issue in the month since I installed it in my Makerbot.  But the coolest thing is it's been downloaded over 80 times in the 30 days it's been up, and I have not had one person say they have had issues out of it.  Which is just the best feeling in the world.

Now what is not the best feeling in the world is having Make Magazine pick up a video where you accidentally punch yourself in the face with a Kysan Gear motor, and run it on their national blog.  Then it get's even less fun when people at work find out...  Explaining to your coworkers why you where straining pickup up 20lb of water, or what you mean by "steal extruding", while groaning, or why your floor is dirty, not so fun.  :)

I kid, it's flatting that so many people like the Brustruder, and that over 4000 people watched the video, and the fact that every time I go into the RepRap or Makergear IRC people pick about "Still Extruding".  Thanks for the Fun!

Bits from Bytes acquired by 3d Systems

So many litmus tests have happened in the last few weeks for our community. 1st it was the Makerbot/Techzone Electronics Drama, then the Up! Printer Drama, now BfB has been acquired by 3d Systems.  Before I comment, a lot of Folks in the community don't really know who 3d Systems is, and what they are known for.

-3d Systems was started by Chuck Hill, who was the creator of the 1st rapid prototyping technology, Steriolithography, and created the STL file format.  He was also the 1st one the bring 3d commercial printing to market in the 80s.

-A little over 1 year ago 3d Systems acquired Desktop factory, which was at the time a failing 3d printer company, that never really managed to sell their promised "revolutionary inexpensive 3d printer" at $5000.  Some say the death keel for Desktop Factory was Makerbot squeezing them on the low end with their $750 kits and Z-corp's Z-150 ($10,000) on the high end.  3d Systems likely acquired them for a song.

My personal take is this is a VERY smart acquisition for 3d Systems.  With this acquisition they get the product that Desktop Factory always wanted to be able to sell, the BfB 3000 Panther.  The Panther, which at this time is being pathetically marketed by BfB is a full up 3 head, multi material 3d printer for $3200, a full $1800 less than the promised Desktop Factory price.

But what I don't quite understand is where does the Rapman 3.1, and the Bits From Bytes brand name fit into the picture?  It would not suprise me to see the Panther sold under the 3d Systems moniker as one step below the V-Flash $10,000 printer.  But the Rapman does not fit the 3D systems model at all.

1 year after Desktop Factories acquisition their web page is little more than a redirect to the low end V-Flash $10,000 printer.  I don't think BfB will suffer quite the same fate, simply because they do have 2 products, and a valuable brand name.  So what would be the logical, and profitable reason to acquire BfB, and not just build a BFB 3000 printer alternative in house?

Just Speculation

If I had to guess, I think 3d Systems has read the same tea leaves a lot of us in this community have.  3d printing is exploding, and I think 3D Systems is getting ready to use the BfB brand name to come in hard on the personal market.  I think the purchased BfB for the brand name, and the Panther.  So this is what I think is going to happen:

-V-Flash shows up on BfB website
-The BfB 3000 Panther shows up in a few months as a cartridge unit on the 3d Systems website
-BfB will release a new 3d printer to replace the Rapman 3.1 in the next few months.  This will be their new competition for  Makerbot.

The new printer would be optimized to be quicker and easier to assemble, the harder bits to assemble would come pre packaged (The X axis and the Extruder), and be a part for part copy of the Panther.  It would look like a cross between:

Fab @ Home
The Panther

Think of the possiblity for such a machine.  It does not have to compete with the Cupcake, so as long as they can keep the same price point as the Rapman, it would be price competitive with the Thingomatic.

Makerbot really needs a competitor, I was hoping Up! would be it, but they just priced themselves out of the Market by trying to sell a a visually cheap printer at the same price that BfB is asking for the Panther.  I was hoping Botmill/Techzone would be that competitor, but they don't seem to know how to hire someone for $7.50 an hour to answer email questions and send tracking numbers.  I was hoping that the Old BfB would be that competitor, but they never seemed to learn how to market their obvously superior product.  I even hoped that Profound Devices would be that competitor, be he just turned out to be an over promising hobbyist with a inflated ego.

So if I am reading the tea leaves right, I hope Makerbot has some more ammo in that clip, because I have a feeling the  3DS/BfB is going to come out with all guns blazing in the next few months, with a mission to become the defacto 3d printing brand that Makerbot currently is.

If you have read my blog, you know I am a Open Source fend, but in the end it really doesn't matter to me if the printer is open source or not, as long as it prints RP and is a good price.  If 3DS/BfB can compete with Makerbot on price, I know they can beat them in quality.

Honestly I can't wait to see the real reason 3DS bought BfB, but no matter what, they are going to use that Brand name for something, and I have a feeling it's going to be fun to watch.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

And as fast as it started, the Mendel Price war is over!

It would help if I had basic third grade reading skills.  Thank you goffrie for pointing out my error.

Botmill does not include Electronics with their kit, meaning if you purchase their kit, you have to purchase the electronics separately, bringing your total to $1165.

Ran though the checkout process, and with Shipping to the US it comes to $1050.  This places this kit firmly between the The Makerbot Ultimate kit, and the Thing-o-Matic. At their $960 price point it is cheaper to get the kit from them than to self source, unless you can get the plastic parts for less than $260. 

The thing that is most awesome about this kit is he is using Mendels to produce the RP parts for these kits.  That's right folks, this is to my knowledge the 1st time anyone has followed the logic of a self replicating robot to it's logical end, a self replicating bot farm!!

I sincerely congratulate him on being one of the 1st, but I have a feeling he will not be the last if he is successful with this..

Now all we need is an Automated build plate for Mendel.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Mendel price war

RepRap printed parts, with professionally printed  gears available in Black, Blue, Green, Natural, Silver, and White.
Gen 6 Electroncis All 1 board electronics,(dead quite)


All professionally printed parts (not just the gears) available in Lemon Yellow, Fluorescent Red, Bright Blue, and Black.
Generation Techzone Remix Gen 3 electronics (soldiering required)

It really is amazing how this market has changed in the last few months.  A fully functioning Mendel kit for what I paid for My full Makerbot kit a year ago?  Amazing.  These kits are almost identical, except for one uses the Techzone Gen3 Electronics, and the other used the Gen6 Mendel-Parts electronics.  

One guy asked me which I would buy, and I would have to go with Mendel-parts, only because I have read so many bad things about Botmill customer service, and seen so many people brag on Mendel-Parts service.  Also I have seen video of the Mendel-parts Mendels printing, but never a video of the new RP Botmill kits printing (if there is a video, please post it in the comments!).

Also if you are selling full kits for Mendel in the sub $1000 price range, and I didn't list you please mention it in the comments.

Throw the Makerbot Ultimate Kit at only $899 (which now includes a Automated build plate AND a Mk5 extruder) into the Mix and a person deciding on what to buy in the sub $1000 price range in RP hobby has some real thinking to do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And here I though RepRap was the coolest thing ever

This is a real, honest to goodness robotic walker, with evil death grip claws, for KIDS!  It was posted on Next Big Future. This is real, it's $21,000, and it's quite possibly the best think I have ever seen.

Reenact the loader vs alien scene from Aliens with the neighborhood dogs, check
Let your kid knock on the neighhood bully's front door with the claws of death, check
Just look at it and giggle like a schoolgirl, check.

Anyone willing to give me $21,000 for a slightly used Makerbot?