Category Archives: Sanctum Upgrades

Maker Workbench Inspiration

I think I’m going to find or make some signs with some of these quotes to put up around my workbench.  Here are some of the ones I’d most like to have:

“Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”  ~Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” ~Miss Frizzle, The Magic School Bus

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~Laozi, Chinese philosopher

“What’s the point of being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes?” ~The Doctor, Doctor Who

“Any problem can be solved with a little ingenuity.”  ~Angus MacGyver, MacGyver

 

Technomancer’s New Worktable: Mk II

I quickly tired of the clutter, and I’ve always liked toolboxes.  I found this one at harbor freight:

tool chest

Eight Drawer Wood Tool Chest

I’ve seen it before, and the wooden toolbox had always reminded me of the custom toolboxes by dad made for his tools years ago.  I like the echo in style.

It’s felt lined, and I’ve tried to arrange the drawers and their contents similarly to how I had them laid out on the table.  The most commonly used tools are closest to the work area.  Tool trays I’m likely to use around the same time are next to each other instead of stacked, so they don’t obscure each other when open.  I’ll probably be rearranging for a bit as I get used to working with it.

Despite it’s size, it’s definitely freed up work space, and I like that it’s neat and organized.  If any family visits, most of the sharp objects that could be dangerous to kids are in one spot to be locked away from curious fingers.

Also, by collecting most of my tools into one toolbox I’ve made it that much easier for me to do demos for local groups or set up a table at a maker fair.  I’ll just have to throw the rest in there, then put the the toolbox and the 3D printer on a cart and roll it in, instead of making a bunch of trips for things.  If I need to bring my table, I can do that too, since it is portable.

I think this work area is really shaping up nicely.  Now I just need to get a steady build queue going and make the most of it!

Technomancer’s New Worktable

I got tired of trying to use my coffee table as a place to clean up my 3D prints, and I’m not a fan of bending over more than I have to.  Let’s just say I’m not a skinny technomancer, and it was getting to be frustrating with my work flow.  Also, I’m tired of cleaning off my makeshift workspace every time I want to have people over.

I did some searching on the websites for Home Depot and Lowes, and found an inexpensive folding table that was adjustable to a height for comfortable working on items while standing up, and the supports on the legs are high up enough that it doesn’t impeded my ability to use the chest I’ve placed it over.  So now, I have my worktable.

new-worktable-1.png

I apologize for the image quality, but I prefer not to show more of my home than necessary online, so I’ve removed the background.  A technomancer has to be careful about how much he reveals of his sanctum!

Anyway, I haven’t yet had time to make much use of this new setup, so we’ll see how it works.  A few notes about my setup, for those who might want to set up their own workbench:

In the center-ish area is the cutting board and magnifier, since this is what everything else revolves around.  Tools are mostly placed to the left, in order of how frequently I use them, with the most frequently used tools closest to the cutting board.

The lighting in that area of my home was not the best, so I have a desk lamp with the light pointed at the work space, since that is where I’ll need the most light.  The switch for the lamp is on the cable for the lamp, so I’ve wrapped enough of the cable around the base that the switch stays in a easy reach, rather than having to duck under the table every time I need it.  Hopefully there won’t be any induced current issues.

My Maker notebook is on the right.  I’m right-handed, so it’s a lot easier to write notes if i keep them on the right side of the work area.

In the upper right corner are some superglue, whiteout, and nail polish topcoat.  Glue for assembly, whiteout for either covering up mistakes on white PLA or being able to add some white to something printed in another color, and the topcoat is to seal in the ink on items that I have colored in with markers (usually my flatminis).

This is just my initial setup, and it will evolve over time.  As I’m writing this post I’m already thinking of things that I need to start storing on or near the table, and things I use infrequently enough that they don’t need to be on the table (they’re mostly there right now because I’m trying to clean up).  I’m also considering finding some sort of organizer or toolbox to more compactly store the tools within easy reach.

I am slightly concerned that this table won’t be stable enough in the long run, but I think where I’ve got it positioned against a wall should reduce any wobble.

I hope this gives you guys ideas about how you might setup your own hobby tables.

My First DRD: Roomba 690

A few weeks ago, I noticed that it was bugging me that the floors in my home were getting dirty.  I could swiffer and vacuum, but my energy was flagging, and I need to be mindful of when I vacuum so I don’t disturb the neighbors with my occasionally odd hours.  So, in true technomancer fashion, I delegated… and got a robot to do it.

Roomba 690 on Amazon

This vacuum uses multiple methods (sweeping, brushing, vacuuming) to clean my hardwood and carpet floors.  I still think the carpets could use some time with a real vacuum cleaner periodically, as I don’t think this vacuum is as powerful for getting stuff out from between fibers, but it definitely gets the visible dirt and small detritus without requiring me to do much more than push a button, whether it is on the Roomba itself or the app on my phone.  As long as I keep the floor picked up in my home, I can even get it to start vacuuming from anywhere I have cell service!

This thing even goes under my furniture to clean, making it so that I don’t have to move as much around or bend at uncomfortable angles to get the entire rooms.  It also came with a “Virtual Wall Barrier” tower, which makes the robot turn back before going into certain areas.  Since I only have one at the moment, I’ve set it to guard my 3D printer from being jostled unnecessarily.

Once it’s done cleaning the main room, it makes it’s way back to it’s base station and recharges, so I don’t have to go find it and plug it in myself.  When I have it clean side rooms, I have to pick it up and carry it back, but it’s still better than having to lug the regular vacuum around, and I spend less time having to vacuum it myself.  It takes longer to vacuum than vacuuming it myself, but my hands-on time is greatly reduced.

I’ve noticed that it has improved my mood to have the floors cleaned more regularly, and I feel like I’d be more confident in inviting people over for game nights on shorter notice, as I don’t have to spend a bunch of time cleaning the floors in addition to all the other chores of cleaning.  I can multitask with the Roomba cleaning the floor while I still handle the other things that require manual work (for now).

Now, if only I could find a skin to make it look like a Farscape DRD…

Monoprice Select Mini Pro 3D Printer

Last week my Colido DIY 3D printer failed again, and I got fed up with it, so I decided to order a new 3D printer.

I used the method that I’ve mentioned before in a post and recently added here:

3D Printer Shopping

I wanted a replacement printer that would suit my normal prints: small items for tabletop games.  I wanted something more reliable/easier to run than my Colido DIY.  I also didn’t want it to be too expensive, particularly as the Snapmaker 2 Kickstarter is upcoming.

After going through all of this, I settled on the Monoprice Select Mini Pro (I’ve linked to the company website, but I bought it through Amazon).  I had heard people say good things about them, and I did some poking around.  I particularly liked that it was effectively version 3 of a standing line of 3D printers, which bodes well for it having a lot of the issues worked out.

Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

Calibration:

This printer being preassembled and precalibrated is working out really well so far.  I’ve been getting better print quality and consistency with this printer than I did with the Colido DIY that I built myself.  I’ve been able to print things I wouldn’t have dared attempt on the old printer, partly due to quality issues, and partly because the printer had the tendency to fail catastrophically in a couple different ways.

The self-levelling feature saves me a lot of effort trying to figure out how to adjust the printer.  No more turning the z-axis direct drive screws and setting the z-axis stop screw.

Bed:

The metal print bed is rigid and coated, so it should be less prone to gouging and possible warping than the plastic bed I’m used to.

Unlike the previous printer, this one has a heated print bed, which I’ve had no prior experience with,  This will be a learning experience, and broaden my knowledge base.

This bed being coated means I’m not going to have to keep maintaining a layer of painter’s tape.  However… it might be holding too well.  I don’t know if I’ve got something set incorrectly, but it is really difficult to remove prints from the print bed, even with a raft attached.  I’m asking questions in some 3D printing circles to see if I can make it release easier.

Bowden Tube:

I’ve never used one of these before.  This is a tube that directs the filament in a more consistent manner to the print head.  I’m still unsure how I feel about this thing.  I worry that it’s adding another location that could get clogged.  It does make it so that I don’t have to worry about where the path of the filament is too much.

Wifi:

This thing is wifi-enabled!  I don’t have to carry a flash drive or SD card from one room to another to print files, though there is still the option for micro-SD cards and plugging a computer in via micro-USB.  I can even set the extruder and bed temperatures remotely, and tell the printer to print the file after I transfer it over the wifi.  I will note that I’ve had some issues with failed file transfers, which requires power-cycling the printer itself, and reattempting the transfer until it works.  It’s annoying, but not a huge issue so far.  Hopefully a firmware update will help with this.

Be careful to make sure there isn’t something already on the printer when you transfer a file.  Sometimes the printer appears to start a new print as soon as you transfer the file, without clicking the Start Print button.

Headless printing:

This thing can run itself entirely independently, without needing a computer attached to it.  This alone has drastically improved my setup, as I don’t have to have a computer within cable reach of the printer.  No more worrying with an old laptop!

Since there is no computer directly plugged into the computer, you use the onboard touchscreen to control the printer (unless you want to plug a computer in, but that is optional).  This touchscreen can be a bit finicky, but it is nice being able to give commands directly to the printer.  However, there are a couple issues:

  • When a print is finished, the button to return to the main screen is NOT visible.  You need to tap on the right side of the screen, and you will find an invisible home button.
  • PRESSING THE PAUSE BUTTON DOES NOT IMMEDIATELY PAUSE THE PRINT. So, watch out for that if you are trying to stop in an emergency.  You might need to kill the power with the switch on the back of the printer.  So far I’ve only needed to use it once, when I accidentally triggered a movement sequence while there was a print still on the printer.

Slicing:

Slicing software comes with the printer.  It was Cura, if I remember correctly.  However, I use Simplify3D, and they already have a profile from previous iterations of the printer!  I’m continuing to use it to slice my files, and this time I’m trying to apply some lessons learned from previously,  I’m making different printer profiles for different PLA filaments, since they have different temperature ranges.  I used to use one profile for all, and that caused issues with prints because the filaments that you would think only differed in color would not behave the same for the same temperatures.  I’m building these profiles as I go along, based on my tweaks on the default settings for this printer.

 

Summary:

Overall, this printer appears to be a vast improvement over my previous one.  I think this one might even be stable enough to let it print semi-unattended.  The print quality seems so much higher that I might even be able to start printing more standard-style minis, once I tweak a bit more.  It could use a more detailed manual, though.  It’s rather short, and I’m having to poke around various sources for guidance.

Snapmaker 2 Kickstarter Upcoming!

(Note:  I’ve updated this article after it’s original posting, due to updates in information and in my own setup)

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the Snapmaker 3D printer is a combination 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC milling machine.  As I said at the time, the original model is smaller than my Colido DIY and would have required me to downsize my printable area (assuming I was replacing rather than supplementing the printer).  I had also gotten the impression that a 3D printer with a single z-axis column can be prone to having vibration issues.  They had teased an image of a two column model that they were going to release down the road, but they had not provided a lot of information about it.

Well, that’s changed.

Somewhat recently they announced an upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the Snapmaker 2.  The Snapmaker 2 is their blanket term for their next generation, which has upgraded components across the board.  It also includes three sizes of printers you can get.

The three sizes have the following print areas:

  1. Small:        165 mm W x 170 mm D x 145 mm H (at least 5.7 inches on each side)
  2. Medium:   230 mm W x 265 mm D x 240 mm H (at least 9.05 inches on each side)
  3. Large:        330 mm W x 365 mm D x 335 mm H (at least 12 inches on each side)

As you can see, the larger two sizes have the two column design I want, which should be more stable and provide the larger build area I need for some projects.  I haven’t decided which of those two I’ll eventually want, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting one of those two at some point.  There are all kinds of projects you can do with a print volume that size.

This new generation appears to be loaded with features, including auto-leveling, wi-fi control, filament sensors, power-loss detection and recovery, and more.  There are also a number of improvements on the implementation of the original Snapmaker’s features.  That’s a hell of an improvement over my Colido DIY which was almost completely manually operated, and a couple steps beyond what my new Monoprice Select Mini Pro has.   I look forward to being able to get more reliable large prints that I can run wirelessly and not require a computer to be plugged directly into it.

I’m looking forward to learning more, and hopefully getting my hands on one of these sturdy multipurpose fabbing machines.  Gonna get busy building with one of these!

Since the original publication of this post, the Snapmaker Team has been in touch with subscribers to their newsletter, giving us previews of the features and asking us whether we would be satisfied with the features and improvements they displayed.  I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter if you want to keep in the loop on the Snapmaker 2.

 

While you are here, please take a moment to glance at the other parts of my site.  You may find even more useful information related to our shared interests here!

VR Sensor Rerouting Update

The hooks appear to be working pretty well, though only time will tell whether they support the weight properly long-term.  I decided not to rearrange the sensors due to the hassle involved, and just repointing them a little in their existing mounts seems to be enough to get better coverage.

And the process of just redoing the wires was enough of a pain to begin with.

  1. Removing the wires from the walls (I accidentally tore off some paint in one spot)
  2. Removing old tape from the wires
  3. Cleaning gunk off of long wires with tiny alcohol wipes (there are better ways to do this, but I didn’t think of it beforehand).
  4. Measuring the locations for the new hooks.
  5. Spending thirty seconds per hook pressing them in place for the adhesive to stick.  (This suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.  Repetitive tasks with a lot of force on your fingertips starts to hurt.)
  6. Clipping all the wires into place.

Also, You have to be careful with corners and long stretches.

Rerouted Wires 2.jpg

You probably can’t tell in the upper left, but when I was making the 90 degree turns in plane, you might have to be careful with which way you make the hooks face based on the direction you expect tension in the wires.

Also, at the sensor itself, having those additional couple of hooks is kinda crucial, to take torque off of the wire as it leads into the sensors so that it doesn’t rotate or get pulled out of the mount after you’ve set it.

Anyway, it took a while, but it’s (mostly) done.  There is a stretch of wire that sags a bit because you are supposed to put a hook every 2 feet, but that section of wall is completely taken up by a window, and the frame is not a flat surface (the hooks need a flat surface to adhere to).  I’m debating adding some additional hooks at an angle on the opposite side to kinda provide some friction to hold the wire up a little better.

There is a bit of annoyance at the end of the setup.  I clicked on the “would you like to set up 360 tracking” popup after plugging all of the sensors back in, and it ran through the entire setup process… which includes the unskippable tutorial sequence with the small robot.  Thankfully, it’s a well-made sequence, so it’s not too bad having to go through it again.

Weirdly, throughout that entire in-VR portion of the setup, there was a message inside the headset saying that the headset wasn’t plugged in.  Um… I didn’t have mirroring setup for this… so… how does that message serve any purpose?  How do you see the “no headset plugged in” message if you don’t have a headset plugged in?

In any case, I am DONE with this for a while, and it looks much nicer than the masking tape and the painter’s tape before it.  It should hold better, too.  Command strips are like magic for hanging stuff on my walls without damaging them.  One could even say… technomagic…