Motorcycles, tools, and garages! A little bit of everything mechanical and technical.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Make-It Workshop

Well, I had TWO takers for my community class... Figured it'd help get the word out so we went ahead and did (are doing) the class anyways. I thought people around here would love a cheap hackerspace. Maybe when the word gets out we can do more with that.

Anyways, my two students wanted to do a few different things. One wanted to tune up her bike. No prob, easy peasy. Got that done. Her son (my other student) wants to build a hard top for his Isuzu Amigo. Errr... Okay. No idea how to do that but they seemed willing to experiment and were okay if it doesn't turn out, so here we go...

LOTS of figuring and head scratching.

I'm pretty limited by the size of my tools, but we picked a route to go and we're giving it a try.  I've got a 24" shear and a 24" brake, so anything over 2 feet is out if it needs to be done "in house".

We spent a bunch of time with a marker and some paper to trace the curve and transfer it to the metal.  At the end of the evening, as we were putting on the soft top, I picked up the side window and realized it ALREADY has the perfect shape and we could have just traced it.  Ah well, live and learn.

Got to use my custom built radius fingers!  Made 4 radius bends to get a much larger curved bend to match the corner around the back.

Using the edge former again.  Glad I've spent some time experimenting with it, but I still feel like it can do a lot more than I know.  Need to read into that.

One side down.  The top edge of the side will be folded over and the current plan is to rivet the top to the side along that bend.  Obviously, that means the top back corner will need trimmed still, but the lower edges seem to fit well and the edge we rolled on them even snaps in to the existing frame fairly evenly!

One side "done". Still need to clean up the rolled edge and trim a few parts off.  Originally the plan was to make the top in two pieces, then two sides, and then a back piece.  He's going to contact some other shops and see if he can find access to a larger break so we can make the top and back in one big piece, then rivet the sides on. More to follow after class next week!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cafe Seat.

NOT 3D printer related...

This is work I had done a few weeks ago, but havent had a chance to show y'all 'till now.  I had arranged for a day off but then the plans we had for the day fell through so I was left home, alone, with some tools and supplies...

Add sewing to the list of things that I'm not all that great at...

Lets see what I can do with all of this crap.

Today's helper: Slinky.

Measurin an markin:

Turns out sewing zig zags are a little tricky. Meh. Good enough for now.

Really tricky getting the ends on.

Fitting it up.

Add some bling.

Done for now.

Turned out about how I envisioned it, which I *think* is a good thing. Still need to figure out a hinge for the cover on the back, the tail light, and some sort of mount to attach the whole shootin' match to the bike. I've got a pretty good idea how to do it, just need to DO it. The sleeping pad cushion is surprisingly comfortable too!

Fabbed up some brackets for the seat.

Made some rubber mounts out of stoppers to absorb some of the vibes...

And made a little side cover to kind of tie in the tank and seat. Not sure it will stay, have a few other ideas in mind as well, but this is what I've got for now.

Its just sitting in there loose in the last pic. I will probably have to remake it when I get the tank finished to make it match the lines. 

So that's where project POJ sits as of now.  Been so long that I think I've forgotten how to TIG weld.  I've been on the hunt for a nice welder, but havent found anything in my price range (free or close to it.  Yeah, that'll happen.) yet- have a few more "junkyards" to check out though.  I did pick up a tail light to stuff in the seat bump and have tinkered with that a bit but still haven't decided anything for sure.  More in a few weeks... I hope.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


A 3D printer, printing parts for itself.  "REProducible RAPid prototyper".  Drew up a spool holder in Sketchup last night, cranked up the speeds in Slic3r, and tried my biggest print yet.  It worked!  The spools of plastic come on reels almost identical to what wire for a MIG welder comes on.  I bought a few pounds of plastic without a spool (cheaper) and a few pounds with.  Designed this to fit both of them. Hopefully one teeny little screw through the center will be enough to hold it- the piece will be sitting on top of a cross bar so all it really has to do is balance the roll.  I did design a clip in the center so if I need to, I can also design a cap that will snap on over the top of the spool to the spool holder.

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Time lapse of the print!  Made this with http://gifninja.com , really slick.  Upload as many pics as you want (theres around 30 here...) set the size and speed, and the ninja does the rest!

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And the completed spool holder.

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I think it turned out okay.  I mentioned I cranked up the speeds-  all except one.  Turned up the infill speeds (120mm/s from 60mm/s, but can still go higher apparently) but forgot to turn up the border / skirt feeds- which 90% of this print was just a border, so the bottom disc printed reaalllyy fast, the then rest of it took foooooreeeeevvverrrrrrr.  About 2 1/2 hours.  Ah well, live and learn.  Also got a little warpage on the disk part, but not bad.

Spool holder installed.  One screw down through the center.

Spool installed!  I was going to make some fancy tensioner to keep the plastic from unwinding itself, but then I realized I can just loosen the screw, slide the whole thing over until the edge of the spool rubs on something (side of the motor?), and re-tighten the screw.

And why I think its WELL worth the extra $$$ to buy the plastic on a spool.

Thought I could adapt that wire feed welder spool to the plastic, and it would probably be okay but I've been using the plastic and its got itself snarled up pretty good. Not looking forward to untangling that mess.

Got an email from makerstoolworks.com letting me know that my new z-axis parts are on the way.  Should be here sometime next week!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Where do we go from here?

So I'm having a fair bit of success with my Mendelmax so far.  Still learning all kinds of things and continuing to get better results, but I still have a few bugs to work out.  If you remember, there was a known issue with the z axis when my printer was sent out.  The new parts are supposed to be here in the nest week or two, so we'll have some more post relating to that, but in the meantime, where do we go from here?!!?

I had a conversation with a few other guys about printing with metal.  I jokingly mentioned that solder has a lower melting point than the plastic we use.  Apparently, its already been tried with mixed results.  Then I got to thinking...  What if?

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Obviously, the welder is just sitting there.  I played around a little and was able to get a few semi decent ultra tiny beads out of the welder.  No penetration whatsoever, but I think with some tinkering and some consistent feeds, I could get beads about 1mm wide and maybe .25mm tall.  The trick then will be getting the printer software to think its melting plastic.  I *think* I have a few ideas on how to make that work.  Maybe a solenoid or two to activate the wire feed and welder.  It would have to have a sacrificial base plate, but that could probably be cut off fairly easily after the fact if needed.

Am I crazy? Probably.  Will I ever actually try this?  Maybe.  I'd REALLY like to, but you know how life goes... If you are interested in reading about another's attempts at printing metal, check this out:



And a cool video with metal printing:

In the meantime, a few shots of my latest prints.

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Mendelmax 2.0 / 3D Printers in general- A review, and some thoughts.

Well, with a few successful prints under my belt, I think its time to write a few of my thoughts down.  These printers are incredible machines.  It is something else to draw something up in Sketchup, click a few buttons, jiggle a few switches, and then sit back and wait for an actual thingamajig to come off the printer.  My wife thinks its pretty funny, but me and the boys will sit and watch it print- back and forth, back and forth, for hours on end.  My students have been totally enthralled with it- anytime it's running they want to stand around and gawk at it.  Maybe they just want to avoid working on their assignments?  Nah...

Previous to this expereince, I had ZERO time playing with 3D printers.  I did get an Associates degree in Manufacturing Engineering like 10 years ago, which had a fair bit of CNC experience, and that helped a bit.  There is litterally thousands upon thousands of pages of information out there on the internet, and many different resources for setting up your own printer. 

What does all this mean?  Well, I don't know how qualified I am to review the Mendelmax 2.0, but here's my take on it.  Given my background I would consider myself as one with great skills when it comes to the mechanical end of things, but only mediocre when it comes to the electronics / software end of things.  I will admit- this was a HARD project for me.  It took a lot of time and I had to do a lot of research and trial and error to get prints.  I do feel though that as this specific printer moves from the beta testing process into a more refined package for resale, many of my headaches will have been eliminated.  Many of the issues I have had have already been adressed, and as more people build and use this printer the support group and information will expand exponentialy. 

As for print quality.  Again, I don't have much to compare it to, so here's my take.  From what I have seen, the quality coming off of my printer is excellent.  There are hundreds of varialbes that affect the quality- type of plastic, size of nozzle, extruder, heated bed, design of parts, and on and on.  In addition to the physical factors, it does take some practice and some skill to get the printer aligned and calibrated each time, and to know how to design prints to be successfull.  It's all part of the huge learning curve.  Again, thankfully, there is a lot of info and a lot of people out there willing to help you become successfull.

I full intend to use the heck out of this machine in the classes I teach.  I don't see any reason why it isn't up to the task of running just about continuosly day in and day out in a middle school setting.  Sure, things will probably wear out or need adjusting, but it's a well built, well thought out design that can only get better- that's the beauty of REPRAP's or REPSTRAP's- everyone can littlerally print their own improvements.  Heck, I've already got an idea to adapt some ideas from a MIG welder to my extruder to make it much quicker and easier (without tools) to change plastics.

Can't wait to see where this thing takes me.  For now, we'll call the assembly and testing done.  Keep in mind I will still have to do the z-axis update when it shows up, and I still plan on doing a lot of posts here about how to set up prints, slic3r settings, different plastics, and other little tips and tricks I've picked up doing this.

SO.  Lets call it an even 18 hrs. to build, test, and get some decent prints off of this printer.

I feel now that I've done it, this could be DRASTICALLY reduced-  I think  much more reasonable estimate should be 5-10 hours for the total newby, and possibly quite a bit less for the experienced builder with all the tools and know-how from previous builds.

What would one of my posts be without a ton of pics?!

Some bling, both from Makers Tool Works and the school district...

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The "finished" printer. Still need to make a spool holder for the plastic among many other things...

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 Several of my trials and errors.

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Kids sure love to watch it!

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Mendelmax 2.0- FIRST PRINT!!!

Once you have the firmware uploaded, you should be able to manually control your printer, like this:

Then you can start playing with things.  If motors go in the opposite direction than what they are supposed to, its very easy to simply turn the connectors around.  FIRST POWER DOWN the printer, as unplugging a motor while its on can blow the stepper driver.  It's kinda fun to push buttons-  here's a screen shot of the temperature curves using Repetier:

Once you have a handle on how things work, lets try a dry run!  I set it up to think it was up high in the Z and roughly centered on the X and Y so that if it decided to move a long ways I would have enough time to stop it before it crashed.  I also left the X and Y belts loose so they would skip if it did crash...  I quickly drew up a simple shape in Sketchup and ran it through the differen programs to get it ready for the printer.

The software even draws it out for you while it goes. Dry run successful!

 Ready to melt some plastic!?  This is a little more tricky.  You have to get the plastic fed into the extruder- had to loosen the clamps on the side, heat the nozzle up, and push the plastic through until it started coming out the end.  Clean up the mess.  Reset the home position, and press PRINT!  It will take a few minutes for the hot end and the bed to reach operating temperature, and then the printer does its magic.

In progress.

Finished and cooling.

The real first print on the left... had the nozzle too close to the glass. Second one turned out pretty good!

Looonnng ways to go still, but at least its functional! I spent some time during this process to adjust things- it also took me a while to research and then execute setting the home position.  There was also a trial and error process involved with getting the nozzle the right height off of the glass- which would not be there if I had the endstop switches.  Again, I think this process could have been a lot faster, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.  I do plan on doing a series of posts on how to setup, calibrate, and run the machine so hopefully those in the future won't have to spend so much time researching things like this!

Time Spent on this step: 2 hrs
Total time so far: 16 hrs. 15 min.