Saturday, October 1, 2011

IT'S ALIVE! at least one thing is

I don't regularly post, and I don't think anyone reads this its more of a log for myself, but just because I can I will post something. My gas forge for smithing is now in working order, and I have tried working metal heated in it once so far and it worked great. Sadly the weather has been working against me and It has been raining going on a second day, meaning I can't be outside forging as I have no overhead protection from the elements in my area. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more work time in on it soon. Also the reprap version Mendel is nearly completed mechanically as I have finished the heater core and other parts necessary for a hot end of my extruder. I need to wire up everything, and i'm sure that'll take some time to make and run all the cables as well. Then I need to set up at least one of my computers with the host software to install the firmware onto the motherboard of the reprap, and send some test commands to make sure everything is moving properly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spool failure

Well, today when i was printing the filament spool holder broke off at the arms that hold the rod up. This caused the entire spool assembly to come crashing down on top of me. Luckily no injuries to myself but it looks like the spool will need to be redone with some new support structure, the spool itself is fine likely to the face that it was printed in parts that lock together so when it crashed it came apart rather than breaking the arms off. My supports that i designed to hold up the 1x1 posts held just fine likely due to my over design of them. Ah well, back to the drawing board i guess.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

printing well for a few days now

Things have been printing well for about 4 days now, I'm starting to get a small pile of mendel parts. I've solved the phantom print layers by unchecking an option about adding a raft when i've turned them off. Also I found that my printer wasn't moving high enough or the material was swelling and I had to adjust height the print moved each level. Last problem to get solved were that some files seemed to print in the wrong direction causing them to squish, or simply become blobs of uselessness. After receiving some advice that I can reorient things in the control program itself, that issue should no longer be a problem. Hurray!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

printing mishaps

Thursday I began attempting to print the first of my RepRap parts for the Mendel I've been working on for some time now. I would get part of the way through the print and the whole print would shift in each new row after that point. Thinking it was a bad file I redid the file to generate new code for the machine and this time it got further before the same problem began again. Thinking maybe the base file was flawed I tried another part. This part also was screwed up. That's when I found the problem. One of the drive belts/pulleys had gotten loose causing slack that would make the whole access fall out of alignment as it printed and hit that slack point. Having found this I cooled down the machine and attempted to tighten the tensioning part associated with that pulley/belt.
Today I updated the firmware, and the controlling software. Things were printing out wonderfully but again it became messed up at a certain point past the others. So first thing I checked was the tensioning part, and low and behold it appears to have slipped again. Looks like I'm going to have to try again or perhaps look for some other locking mechanism to hold it if it keeps slipping. So now I have to wait for it to cool down, then its back to fixing it up so I can try again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Well, the new extruder came last week, and I've scanned all the acrylic parts in case I need to replace any of them I can make exact replicas. After hooking it up and doing a heater test, and a filament test, I was set to go. This new extruder is majorly more reliable than the old one, and the power resistors don’t explode as I had a problem with my homebrew attempt. Also found out that my block was much larger which could have explained that problem as well.

Now that I have a reliable extruder I’ve been able to start calibrating the skeinforge settings again. I got a very rough but workable version going, but thanks to makerbot forum user Sideburn, I was able to use his setting profile for the heated bed, and I’ve been able to get some pretty decent results, it may just require a tiny bit more tuning to get it to run a little faster.

On a separate note I’ve completed assembling all the electronics for the Reprap I had started before purchasing the makerbot. I now hope to use the makerbot to print out the support parts so that I can complete the reprap. Hopefully once I have two bots able to run I can get more output perhaps work on an automated print system for at least one of them while I do normal printing on the other machine. Then it’s back to trying to make a CNC mill.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Didn't want to, but I had to do it

Well, I finally broke down and ordered the newest version of the makerbot plastruder. I was really hoping that my DIY efforts could make me a suitable plastruder clone, but I guess the software/firmware for the makerbot is made to a very tight tolerance and my parts are over that tolerance. But this time i'm going to make patterns and take measurements of all pieces I get so that I can keep within tolerance. So until it arrives, I guess I'll work on my filament spool/holder.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So with the printer shelved until either I find a fix for the relay problem, or makerbot releases a fixed firmware update, I'm back to working on my Mantis 7 DIY mill. I originally started this project in hopes of making the pcbs for the reprap that I couldn't order from makerbot, wasn't practical to send out for fabrication, and my own prototyping. The mechanical building had some small issues but I eventually got those solved out. Then came the electrical/computer parts, I chose the brute force stepper driver from the Mantis 7 Wiki but when I hooked up the design nothing happened. I tried running through it to find shorts and whatnot but couldn't find much. I then ordered a probotixs breakout broad to avoid the hassle and possible shorts of wiring my own port to individual wires. I then made boards that were controlling a single motor per board and hooked those up through the terminals on the probotix board. Again things didn't work and I didn't know why. Next I ordered a unipolar stepper driver board from probotix, and hooked that up to the controller board and the motor, still nothing. According to the original plans from mantis I was using a 12V DC external power supply to run the system. Well after picking up the project again and trying to find if all the connections worked, I noticed something that I had overlooked. What I had overlooked was that the stepper motors were only needing 4V and 1.2A, the spindle motor was the only thing that needed 12V dc, and one reason things weren't working is that my motor coils were completely saturated so there was never a change in coils regardless of what signals were sent from the controller board. So now I have to wait for the coils to de-energize completely before I can try anew without the external power supply to see if that works. I guess it would have really been helpful if the mantis site had a BOM including steppers so that everything was on the same page or if needed to be tweaked had some sort of base to calculate from. Ah well, just another day to learn things.