- Lay down a line in a single layer so I can confirm that it is extruding the correct length of filament.
- Lay down a square in a single layer to confirm that everything is square. Should get right angles at the corners and sides of the same length in both the X and Y directions.
- Lay down some complex curves in a single layer just to confirm that ethe X and Y axis are moving as they should and are coordinated properly with the extruder.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
|I think I will keep this blob on my desk as a post modernist sculpture|
Monday, December 5, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I installed the reprap host on my new/old desktop but I can't seem to get it to run. It is probably due to version conflicts with Java but, after messing with it for a while, I decided to switch over to using Pronterface and Sfact as my toolchain. They both installed easily and run fine under windows.
I initially had some problems loading the firmware from the Windows machine until I realized that I had to load a set of drivers for the Techzone USB/Serial board. I guess they were already available on the Linux OS that I was using on my tablet because I am sure that I didn't have to manually install them there. (I am sticking to WinXP on the desktop, not because I like it but because I don't have Linux drivers for the wireless card I have on it). Once the desktop was able to talk to the Arduino I had no problem installing the firmware on the main board and the extruder.
That was where I left off last night. I was not able to get the steppers running but I think that was due to my ignorance of Pronterface. I will go through some documentation today and give it another try when I know what I am doing.
I expect that there may still be some adjustments to the firmware but I will have to get things running in order to know for sure.
Perhaps I will finally extrude.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Alien Skull designed by Avinash Hegde at http://aysculpture.deviantart.com/
Monday, April 18, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
I have made some progress though. I have assembled both of my MakerGear Heatcores. They seem to be working perfectly. A small problem with them is that they did not come with the Molex connector that should be attached. I think that the later kits include it (it is shown in the assembly instructions on their website) but mine did not. Remember that I bought my kits last spring so they are from the early lots, things have been improved since then.
I also began assembling the geared extruder. I don't have bolts long enough for some of the assembly steps so I have been cutting lengths of threaded rod and placing a nylok nut on one end. It seems to work fine and it allows me to customize the lengths to whatever I need.
I also discovered another oversight on my part. When I ditched my plan to use a set of used stepper motors for the Mendel I purchased some new ones. Unfortunately they came in a set of three so I don't have one for the extruder. I will have to use one of the second hand motors for this but that means that I have to solve my problem with the gear that is stuck on the shaft. If I can't find a way to remove it without damaging the shaft or the motor I will have to buy another new one and wait for it to arrive. I guess that would not be too serious a problem since I am taking so long with these final steps but I will try to get the old gear off first.
More pictures and some video of the axis moving when I post next time.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I plugged the USB/ITE cable in and, with breathless antici..........pation, compiled and attempted to download the firmware. It was apparent from the start that something new was going on since the red LED began blinking along with the steady green one that I have been seeing all along. The board behaved exactly as described in all the online resources and the firmware loaded successfully. The red LED then settled down into a steady 1 Hz blink just as it should.
So, long story short, I had a bad board. I don't believe that the board was bad when I received it. There were a set of check marks on the back indicating that it had passed all the testing prior to shipping. I think I may have sent some current through it incorrectly when I was figuring out how to wire everything up. Techzone was not the culprit here, just my own clumsiness (again).
I have a long weekend now so I hope to work out all the remaining small things and have the beast up and running by Sunday. As long as family responsibilities don't get in the way. Amazingly, my wife has been very understanding, and tonight she actually referred to the Mendel as my "Happiness Machine" when I was coming down here to work on it!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
From their video it is apparent that AdderFab prints quite slowly at the moment but Mark says that they will be working over the next few months to speed it up before releasing the design as an open source project. Most of the home built printers of this type have used the whole X-carriage from a commercial inkjet printer which has both advantages and disadvantages. On the upside the X axis movement can be handled by the existing printer carriage hardware but it also means that every printer has a unique design if it uses a different printer as its' parts source. The design of a standard X carriage, once the bugs are worked out, will make this design much more reproduceable.
This is exactly what I was planning on doing as my next project after I got the Mendel working. Of course, with my limited engineering skills, I would not have produced anything as nice as what I see from the Open3DP group so I will be happy to build their design and avoid having to figure things out on my own.
Having both machines raises the possibility of creating items that are assembled of parts printed in multiple materials - plastic parts from the mendel and ceramic or glass parts produced by the AdderFab.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I lost a couple of weeks on other projects. I upgraded all of the PC's in our house to windows 7 (except for my trusty HP tablet which will stay on Ubuntyu Linux) and fought my way through the various issues that cropped up. Then I moved my entire shop from the large family room in the basement to our spare bedroom. The room was used as a playroom by our daughter but, since she is now 16, it is available for other purposes. It took a couple of days to get everything moved and organized but I am finally ready to proceed.
I sat down last night and worked on the firmware again. I had been using version 22 of the Arduino IDE but the various forums recommended going back to version 18 to solve my problems. As soon as I started using the earlier version I had some success. Both the G-code Interpreter and the Extruder firmware compiled immediately.
I was able to load the extruder firmware onto the board and it was really satisfying to see the green LED's start flashing as it was running. This proves that my USB board and the 6 wire cable that I made up are both working correctly and that the IDE is able to communicate with the board using that path. Unfortunately none of this made any difference when it came to loading firmware on the Sanguino board. All I get is a steady power light when I plug in the USB cable. When I attempt to upload the firmware I get a messages from the IDE that indicate that everything works fine but there is no indication that anything is getting to the board. The power light stays green but there is no flashing or blinking to indicate that anything is loading or running. No amount of playing with the reset switch has any effect at all.
I was interrupted last night and didn't get time to do much experimenting so I will try again tonight and see what happens. In any case, I am getting closer to having a functional machine.
Also, I ordered a couple of additional motor controller boards (I fried one) and some additional opto-endstops. If I don't fry any of my endstops I can use the new ones on my next project.
Friday, February 18, 2011
I managed to contact Lambert from Techzone Communications and he was very helpful in giving me a few suggestions. None of them has produced results unfortunately. One thing that he suggested is that I use Repsnapper as my host software instead of Reprap Host. I haven't gotten Repsnapper working on my tablet yet but it is not yet a priority since I am pretty positive that nothing is being loaded on the Sanguino by the IDE. Unlike Reprap Host, which is written in Java, Repsnapper is a C program and Lambert feels that it is more stable. Time will tell.
I am going to move on from the main board and try to load the firmware on the extruder board this weekend. Even if it doesn't work perhaps it will give me some more information to work with.
On a more positive note, I received my silicon heater pad and the PID controller for same. I will be ready to proceed with my heated build platform whenever I get the Mendel running. I also received my new Soldering station with both a soldering iron and a heat gun included. See Below:
I have been using a fixed temp pencil iron up until now and I just can't wait to melt some solder with this thing.
A major task this weekend, which is a three day weekend for us Saskatchewanians, is to clean up the spare room downstairs. After we make some room in there I am going to move in all of my workbenches and gear. It will give me the room to set things up properly and get organized.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I was amazed, when I got into it, at the amount of settings and tables that exist in the Interpreter code. I will have to go through it again before I run the machine to ensure that I have things like the thermistor or thermocouple tables set correctly. I will double-check the accuracy of their readings with my handy dandy infrared thermometer the first time I power up the extruder. No Reprapper should be without one.
The next step is to get the software loaded onto the Sanquino main board. Unfortunately I have been unable to get this to work. The Arduino software tells me that it is uploading and that the upload is complete but there is no indication from the board that anything is happening. The LED stays a steady green. I have tried the various combinations of clicking on the upload icon and pressing the restart button on the Sanguino that are suggested on the Reprap Wiki with no results. There is always the possibility that I have a hardware problem with the cable I made for connecting to the board so I will check it with my multimeter. I will also do some searching online for other folks suggestions. Oh, before you ask, the restart pins are permanently jumpered on the Techzone board.
I have been off work this week with another bout of illness so this is all I have been able to do. I am hoping for better now that I am on my feet again.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The green light on the stepper board faded out over about 5 to 10 seconds. When I disconnect and reconnect the power I get the same reaction - first a bright LED which fades quickly to nothing. I have no idea what is happening there.
The Main board, on the other hand, is a different problem. There didn't seem to be any communication between it and my laptop so I went back and re-read a lot of the Techzone information. It turns out that the firmware loaded prior to shipping is for the Makerbot so i will have to load up the Reprap firmware before I can go any farther. Given my limited tech savvy that is harder than it sounds but I am working on it. I have the Arduino IDE and Sanguino extensions downloaded and tonight I will try to figure out how to get the firmware loaded.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Since my project is nearing completion I have begun to consider where I will take it from here. I quickly came up with the following list of projects that I would like to work on. They are not in order of priority and some may get dropped completely later but they are the ones that are spinning around in my head currently
Tentative list of Projects using the Reprap – Things that would utilize parts printed on the Mendel.
- Build a powder style printer. A modified version of the Mendel Y-axis hardware could be used to move a re purposed inkjet printer carriage. The X-axis hardware from the printer would be used as-is. Utilizing the existing steel bar/skate bearings/printed parts design would save time and make it easier for others to replicate it. The bins for the Z-axis would have to be designed from scratch but the electronics could be as straightforward as an Arduino and a set of Pololu drivers.
- Print spare parts for the Reprap. This is a no-brainer and should be the first set of parts printed by any reprap owner.
- Print a Prusa Mendel for Dissidence. He has been an inspiration and a good sounding board for ideas. He deserves a Mendel and will also provide a good backup for me in case I break a part and don’t have a replacement on hand.
- Build a Prusa Mendel to donate to my daughter’s school. I would like to help raise awareness of the amateur rapid prototyping movement. They have great mechanical and woodworking shops at the high school and I’m sure they could make great use of one of these machines. They already have a large CNC router table so the instructors are relatively familiar with the basic principles involved. Actually, depending on performance, I might keep the Prusa and donate my original Mendel.
- Make a set of adapters for the relays in my Jaguar. I am replacing the belt driven fan in my Jaguar XJS with a set of electrical fans. This requires me to add two new relays to the wiring. Unfortunately the relays that come with the kit do not match the mounting brackets in the car. I would like to print a set of adapters that clip onto the mounting bracket in the car with one side and onto the relays with the other. These will probably have to be made in ABS since the Jaguar V12 engine produces a great deal of heat.
- Build something large. I’m not exactly sure what this would be but I would like to produce something to really demonstrate the capabilities of the Reprap and that would mean pushing the boundaries of what it can do. I was speculating on creating something out of parts that would each be almost the maximum size of the build area. When assembled it would be very big. This might require an enclosure around the Reprap in order to prevent warping and definitely needs a heated bed before I would even consider it.
- Model car. I would like to produce something to show my friends at Jagnuts, the car club that I belong to. I was thinking of creating a scale model e-type Jag. There are a number of 3d models of them available that I could use as a starting point. I would print it as several parts that could be painted and then assembled.
- HO scale buildings for my model railroad. I think that creating one-off plastic items for hobbies is one of the best uses for these machines. I can create flat wall and roof sections, doors, windows, chimneys, steps and a host of other parts that can be assembled later into buildings that are unique to my layout or even copy buildings in my city. It will depend on how much post-printing cleanup and sanding is required to produce a good looking final product.
- Organette or busker organ. This would be a big project and would require some significant design work prior to building anything. I have long been a fan of mechanical music machines, the ones that play a punched paper roll. They disappeared in the early part of the last century when the gramophone rendered them obsolete but they are fascinating machines and there are hundreds of different types. I have plans for a number of machines ranging from a small “monkey organ” to a large Wurlitzer band organ that I could use as a starting point. It would be nice to create something that actually plays music and then turn the plans loose on Thingiverse.
Related projects - These do not necessarily require the Mendel to build, but they provide additional capabilities to the workshop
- Enclosure – A simple enclosed box for the Mendel allows for containment of toxic fumes (they would be vented outdoors) as well as maintaining a heated environment to prevent warping of larger pieces. This is one of the simplest additions to build and might be one of the first projects that I undertake, just for the sake of my health.
- Heated build platform – This is also a high priority project. Heated platforms help to prevent warping of parts. They greatly increase build quality and reduce waste due to scrapped parts. I have already ordered the heater pad, thermistor and PID controller for this project. I will use a flat aluminium plate for the bed which I will source locally.
- 3D Scanner. An excellent, self contained, laser scanner using laser pointers was described in Make Magazine. Everyone with a Reprap should have some kind of 3d scanner to allow them to create 3d models of existing items without having to manually model them from scratch.
- Powder printer - Mentioned above. I think that this machine will provide an excellent complement to the capabilities of the Mendel. It can be used to create parts in clay, ceramic, glass, plaster and some other materials. My reading indicates that the DIY versions lack the precision of the Mendel but the powder bed provides support for overhangs which allows production of parts that are currently impossible on the Reprap. With an 8.5” X 14” build area and at least 12” to 14" depth in the build bin it can also create parts that are much larger than the current Mendel build area.
- Kiln – A lot of the materials used by the powder printer require firing before they can be used. This applies especially to the Clay and Glass materials. There are a number of sets of open source plans out there in Internet Land so it would be a case of picking one and building it.
These are only a few ideas off the top of my head. The more I think the more stuff comes to mind. It is going to be a very interesting year.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I have managed to fabricate an electronics mount out of fibreboard and mounted it to the machine. Sorry for the fuzzy picture. All of the boards are installed and I have made up all three cables for the stepper driver boards. One advantage of this side mount design is that the cables are much shorter. I hope to get the rest of the wiring done tonight so I can see at least one of the axis move under it's own power. Very exiting.
I made a small mount for the 12v power socket out of a small bit of U shaped aluminum extrusion. It works fine and is very solid. I plan on mounting the USB board on top of it with a piece of double sided foam tape so that problem is also solved.
I have fabricated new opto flags out of heavier aluminum from my scrap box and my new Z-axis belt arrived. It fit perfectly and is now installed so I have all three axis moving OK by hand. I also installed the bed so the mechanical build is complete. As a side note, my friend Mike from Method to his Madness suggested simply doubling up the layers of pop can aluminum to get the needed stiffness for the flags. I never seem to think of these simple solutions to my problems so it is always good to have another set of eyes looking at things.
Mike and I have been discussing getting a set of Mendel parts printed for him when I get this thing operational. I have a roll of PLA so I could even print the bushings for a Prussa. We'll have to see how long it takes to get the calibration right but it would definitely be in my interest to have another working printer in the neighborhood in case of problems.
I am already compiling a list of things that I want to try once I get it running. I will write up a post on various projects I am considering so I can get some feedback.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I did manage to find time to add a washer to all of my idler bearings for the belts. This provides just enough extra space so the belts move smoothly. The X and Y carriages both move smoothly now.
I have also roughed out the mounting board for my electronics. I will cut it and drill the holes tomorrow. I am planning on using the printed mountings for the original laser cut mounting boards to mount it so it should be a nice clean job.
A couple of other small jobs that I will get done in the next day or so:
- make a new set of opto flags. The pop can aluminum I used for the original ones is just too light. They flex in a strong breeze.
- make a mounting bracket for the 12v power connector. just need to bend and drill a piece of aluminum
- make some sort of mount for the USB board. No mounting holes in it so I'm not sure what I will do there.
My new Z-axis belt has been shipped and should be here within the week. Things are looking good!
Monday, January 24, 2011
I discovered one more problem with the mechanicals that I will have to fix. The idler bearings for the belts don't have quite enough room for my 1/4" belts. The belts stay on but they rub against the fender washers and the friction will be a problem during operation. I will have to remove all of them and add another washer or two to make a bit more room for the belt. Not difficult, just one more small tuning type task.
I also ordered a new z-axis belt from SDP-SI. I was able to order the same belt that I had before but with an extra two inches of length (39" vs 37").
On the Wiki they also discuss the possibility of using an additional stepper driver board for the extruder rather than using the extruder board to drive it. Apparently it results in a more reliable and quiet extruder. I will have to look into this. Perhaps I can find some information on the forums from someone who has tried it.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I added the stick-on rubber feet to the Mendel and they raised it just high enough for the Z-screws to clear the bench. I also found that using lock washers on each side of the Z-axis bearings solved my problem with the washers contacting the mounting screws. This means that I am good to go for the rest of the build.
Or it would if I hadn't encouontered another problem as soon as I moved on. The Z-axis belt proved to be too short, even with the tensioner in the loosest position (as these pictures show. I obviously messed up my parts order somehow so I will take a look at the bill of sale to see where I went wrong.
This doesn't mean that I am stalled again. I should be able to proceed with everything else while waiting for the new belt to arrive. I now have all the motors installed and I have the x-axis moving smoothly (by hand). I think that the next step is to install the electronics and the build table.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
When the upper and lower parts of the carriage were assembled the 2 sets of 180 bearings did not close on the steel rod. When I tightened the bolts on that side the two parts of the carriage were drawn together and the lower one snapped. You can see the stress marks where it broke.
When I took it apart tonight I found that it had also broken at the belt clamp mount.
I carefully measured everything that I could think of to compare the original parts that I got from Nophead against the new ones but they seem to be identical. I can only assume that I did something incorrectly during the assembly that threw off the fit but I had completely disassembled it by the time I realized this so I will probably never know. At least I can confirm that Nophead's parts were not the cause of the problem. That comes as no surprise since they have been excellent in fit and quality throughout the build while my own skills have proved to be .............. slightly less than excellent, shall we say?
It only took a half hour to take it all apart and reassemble it. It now fits fine, moves smoothly and I can proceed to fixing my problems with the Z-axis.
I picked up some rubber feet for the bottom of the machine today. They should lift it up enough to resolve my problem with the Z screws contacting the bench and also will help with vibrations. I still have to figure out how to assemble it so that the screws move smoothly. currently the bearings are being contacted by something and won't rotate.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I never expected when I paused for my vacation back in July that I would still be paused at the end of December. Some health problems combined with an extremely busy fall/winter have kept me away from the workshop for far too long. I notice that I am not the only one as the frequency of posts from all the blogs that I follow has fallen off considerably over the last 6 months.
I went downstairs yesterday and tidied up the workbench so I can start working on the Mendel again. Just to recap - I have finished the basic mechanical structure and I am working on the z axis mechanism. I had to get a new set of extruder parts since I clumsily broke the ones that Nophead made for me by overtightening the bolts. The new parts arrived long ago and need to be assembled. This will be the third time since I had to toss the first set of cast parts that I bought due to their poor quality.
My current problem is that the washers that sandwich the bearings for the Z-axis rods are not the right size. They are too large and interfere with the operation of the bearings. I haven't been able to find the correct washers anywhere here so I have used my bench grinder to modify the ones that I have. Hopefully that will take care of things and I can get moving again.
Also, the z-axis rods extend too far below the chassis. I think this is due to the 1/4" nuts being too large. I will have to put some rubber feet on the Mendel to prevent the rods from contacting the bench.
Hopefully, I will have more progress to report later this week.