I’ve… slowly… been working on making more modifications to the CoLiDo DIY. These have been driven by having seen fluctuations in thermistor telemetry (temperature readings on the hotend as shown by Octoprint), which is an early indicator that the system is failing.
The manufacturer no longer supports this printer, and it uses an unusual variant on the hotend, which uses a thermistor installed on the outside in an eyelet.
Since it’s no longer supported, I decided to swap out the hotend with a Reprap Mk 8, which is very similar in design, except it uses an internally mounted thermistor. Also, it came in pieces, so I had to assemble it. I used thermal paste to increase the conductivity between the heater, thermistor, and hotend block. This should make the heat transfer from the heater more efficient, and the reading of the thermistor more accurate.
An advantage of switching the hotend is that I was able to add a silicone sock, which should help improve heating issues on some prints even further than just relying on the cooling fan. I did have to modify it slightly to fit on mine, but it should help out.
I got everything hooked up on the hotend side, installed it on the carriage… and then found out that the wires were shorter than the rest of the wires. For a little while, it looked like this.
Notice how the wires are bypassing most of the wrapping around the cable, and are much closer to the moving bed. I wasn’t a fan of this, so I extended the wires by splicing in additional lengths. I also got fed up with the plastic spiral cable wrapping, so I switched to another type of wrapping, that has a slit down the entire length and is MUCH easier to put on and take off. I got it from an automotive store in a section for wire harnesses. Between the wire extensions and the new wrap, here’s how it looks now.
It’s still not perfect, but hopefully it’ll be easier to work with for modifications. I’ve used some zip ties at the end near the hotend to attempt some strain relief. I’m not sure how well that’s going to work. Also, the way I’ve attached this wrapping material, it’s a larger diameter than the spiral, which does not seem to go well with the way the wires are held out of the way. I’m probably going to need to redo that somehow, perhaps with a string that moves with the assembly better throughout it’s range of motion.
Sadly, I’m still not finished with this phase of modification. The temperatures reported by the hotend do NOT match the behavior of the plastic I’m attempting to extrude with it. So far I’ve tried an infrared thermometer and a thermocouple probe thermometer to help with calibration, but neither of those give me a good read either. I could understand the infrared not working (due to reflective material), but I’m not sure what is going on with the thermocouple other than a likely ID-10T error. Going by the plastic, though, the temperature of the hotend is being over-reported, which requires me to either 1) try to figure out a temperature offset to incorporate into my slicing settings (which causes other problems) or 2) reprogram the firmware to read the temperature correctly. I’m planning to attempt option 2, which I think I’ll learn more from and prevent the need for extra conversion processes in the long term. Problem is… original firmware is not available from the manufacturer, so I’ll have to use the Marlin firmware it was based on, and calibrate everything for this printer. And before I do that, I want to figure out how to read off a copy of the current firmware that I can load back on in case I fail miserably.
It’s been recommended that I replace the control board, but I’m loathe to do that at this time. I’d have redo every wire end and figure out where they go and then STILL have to reprogram the entire firmware.
I’ve been doing some training to improve my 3D modelling skills with Autodesk Fusion 360 (not sponsored, that’s just what I use) lately, and in one of the videos the instructor mentioned that he happened to like using a 3D mouse to rotate the models and help his workflow be just that bit easier.
Around the same time, someone happened to drop this link in the cyberdeck discord chat.
It’s the instructions for a homemade spaced mouse with 3d printed casing. It uses a small arduino board and some inputs (buttons and a clickable joystick) to make a space mouse.
Hmm… I can build a space mouse for a fraction of the cost of one I could buy? I get a new device for my workflow AND a project to practice a bit more with electronics and code?
Well, that’s a no-brainer. Project ahoy!
So, I started following these instructions, and built my space mouse.
Side note: every time I use the term space mouse I think of Mickey in a spacesuit. I don’t know if anyone else has that issue, but I just had to share.
I don’t think I’m gonna get too in depth covering it, as that feels redundant with the instructable above. I will point out a few things form my experience though.
This project made me very glad that the arduino boards came in a multi pack. I botched the first attempt HARD.
I put pins along the entire length of the soldering locations. Where are the wires supposed to solder to if you’ve put pins in all the holes? WHERE???
Turns out I wasn’t reading the instructions closely enough.
In addition, I was attempting to solder things while the board was embedded in the case. That didn’t work to well either. There was nowhere for the iron to really fit. While I was at it, it reminded me that I was using a very cheap soldering iron that I had only bought for something to do heatset inserts with, which wasn’t as precise or controllable as I needed.
So, with all that, I decided to make a few changes to my process and equipment.
1. I reprinted the case. I’d… kinda melted the board into the original case already and couldn’t get it out.
2. I carefully reread the instructions, found a diagram of the pinout for the board, and made myself a detailed diagram to work from before soldering ANYTHING.
I only needed a few of the pins that came with the board to make things to mount the board to the case, not the entire row.
3. I used thinner, more flexible wires. The originals were waaaaay too inflexible to fit where I needed them.
4. I did all my soldering away from the plastic, then carefully installed the parts in. No unintentionally melted plastic.
5. I improved my soldering equipment and process. I made liberal use of solder flux (I’d shied away from it in the past), added a fume extractor to avoid having to work with the door open, and got a much better soldering iron after conferring with other makers about their recommendations. It was my third iron after all, it was time to get something that would work well. Finally got myself a Hakko.
Also took a little bit of time to do some reading/viewing so I’d take better care of this iron and have better soldering results.
This was a series that helped me, by the way. Sometimes you gotta go back to basics… and realize your bad habits that you’ve gotta fix.
6. For connecting to the joystick, I used solderless connections to save my sanity, since it came with connector pins on the stick already.
Anyway, after all that on the hardware side, I finally got the thing built. All the wires soldered, the thing assembled and closed up.
I used black for the optional button extensions because I thought it’d be easier to use with contrast.
I ran into an issue with the thing slipping around on my glass desk, so I pulled out the rubber tape that I used for my arch lamp to make this nonskid as well.
Now it doesn’t move anywhere unless I deliberately pull it off the desk.
Once I got the thing assembled and plugged up to the computer, I loaded the code included with the instructable.
The code was written primarily for this thing to work with Autodesk Inventor not Autodesk Fusion 360. The shortcuts are different in those two pieces of software. It took a bit of reading (particularly looking up the shortcuts for Fusion, figuring out the Keyboard. h code, and the firmware itself), but I eventually got at least the ability to orbit (rotate the view around the models) and zoom to work.
… also kinda had to swap the X and Y axes in the firmware. I might have gotten those two pins swapped on install. It works now, though!
Once I’ve used it a bit more, and thought more on what commands I use frequently, I’ll have to take the time to reprogram the buttons to do something useful.
Anyway, I got a new toy, got some more experience on these kinds of electronics projects, and had a reason to finally upgrade my electronics setup to be something more useable. Win!
Note: Yes, I know that isn’t the common spelling for useable, but usable doesn’t look right to me, and IT’S A VALID SPELLING, DAMMIT.
I’m still here. I’ve just been busy with other things.
Things I have been tinkering on in the meantime:
Replacing the hotend on the Colido DIY. The thermistor was showing early failure signs (discontinuities in temperature telemetry). The model of thermistor for the hotend that came with the printer is no longer available, so I’ve replaced the whole hotend with a similar one, a reprap mk 8. Even have a silicone sock for it now. However… the board doesn’t read the thermistor correctly. I’ll have to spend some time adjusting the firmware. Numerically the thermistors are the same… but the old one was externally mounted and the new one is internally mounted, so it’s overreporting the temperature.
Sanctuary upgrade: Small shelves. I got tired of knickknacks in my way on my regular shelves, so I’ve started putting up some command strip shelves just for them.
My 3D printer has never been great at printing large scale objects, so I had to go through addressing everything I could in order to prep for the VirtCon. Now that that is over, and I’ve implemented a couple more changes, I’ve decided to share what I did.
The biggest issue that I’d been having was adhesion over large areas and warping. I attacked this from a few different angles.
Always-On Cooling Fan:
My custom-added cooling fan that is so necessary for upper layers of parts can cause issues on that crucial first layer. I didn’t have a way to control the fan through software, so I added a hardware method. I cut into the wires for the fan, and added a power switch in the loop with a switch I already had, and 3d modelled and printed a casing for it.
I included screw holes in the 3D model in case I wanted to screw it down, but I decided to blu-tack it to the side of the Ikea table for now. It seems to hold well enough for now.
This has definitely helped, but the drawback is that I have to remember to leave it off at the beginning of the prints and flip it on a couple layers into the print, otherwise the print won’t adhere on the first layer or the upper layers won’t cool quickly enough and have a variety of issues.
Based on the placement of the printer near vents, and some online discussions, I thought that drafts of air could be a contributing factor. At first I tested it with foam-core board cut, taped, and hot-glued into a shape. This helped me figure out what form factor I wanted to use.
This material is flimsy, and I would think particularly prone to fire and/or melting. I decided to make a better box with some stronger materials (hardboard and metal hardware). This would double as practice with hardboard, which I had never used before but planned to use in the Flying V. I thought I could knock it out as a one day build.
No. It was day 5 before I got it to the state I wanted it in. Partly because of finding out that I needed more parts and kept having to order them or go pick them up. LEARNING POINT: Take the time to do a better estimate what you need and then order double.
In keeping with something I was trying at the time, I kept trying something simpler to try out techniques before moving to more complex/difficult projects. I was building the box before building the guitar. Before building the box, I built the box that went on the side of the big box.
Anyway, after a lot of work, I built the big box.
The hook holds the box front door open when I need to see get in there for a while. The top door is for filament reel swaps. The remote is for the LED lighting strip I installed in there (I got fed up having to repeatedly get a flashlight out). The extension box on the left is to provide the space for the end of the printing tram and cabling. The side handles are for ease of moving the box to perform maintenance.
Since there was a box in the way, I had to move the camera inside the box to continue monitoring the prints.
Notes for future development on this box: I still intend (when the weather is better) to partially disassemble the box (mostly just take the lights out), and paint at least the inside (but probably also the outside) with a fire-resistant spray paint. This will help ease my paranoia of 3D printer fires while also minimizing fiber shedding on the inside of the box. Also need to fill the gaps at the corners with something.
Blue tape has been my go-to for years. It’s easy to set up, and works pretty well for my smaller prints. However, with larger prints the tape often works well enough to adhere to… at first. Then warping as the object gets taller tends to pull the object off the tape or even pull the tape up off the bed.
I tried bed-weld, but on this aluminum plate on my printer, it does not work well.
People recommended hairspray, but without a removable bed surface that would eventually kill my printer, as it would overspray onto the moving components that need to move with the best lubrication.
So, I finally tried one of the other options that had been recommended to me.
Purple glue stick! This has been amusing to play with, and seems to work. I did have to add a water spray bottle, a new scraper, some higher percentage isopropyl alcohol, and some microfiber cloths to my repertoire, but it made the project possible!
This seemed to make the biggest impact on the warping issue.
I was introduced to this website for 3D printer calibration:
I can’t recommend it enough! It guides you through a comprehensive calibration process, moving through common issues in a logical order.
It also helped me to be able to massively increase my 3D print speed. If I hadn’t run that process… I don’t know if I would have been able to print my parts in time. My printer still has the 12 hour timeout issue on Octoprint, and some of these parts did get up to 9+ hours even WITH the speeds turned up. I’m so glad the tests helped me realize I could crank up the speed for this project.
Today I’ve been doing some more work on the printer to incorporate some changes.
One thing that had been causing issues was that the zip ties on the x-axis belt were physically bumping into the frame.
I replaced these with some slightly smaller ones, making sure to turn the latch face up so it wasn’t bumping into the frame. I also taped the ends of the belt for insurance.
I also received and installed the flex-plate (Th3D’s EZFlex^2) that I received for winning VirtCon 2021. This part is still kinda on-going. I’m not familiar with this material, and having a bit of adhesion issues, but I’m gonna work through it. Having a magnetically adhering flexible build plate should help a LOT. There were times recently when I was worried that I was going to run into problems because I couldn’t get prints off the semi-permanently mounted build plate, but this one comes off AND flexes to pop parts off!
The installation was pretty simple, I just got a bit paranoid adhering the magnet to the build-plate in case I got bubbles trapped under it. Also, cleaning the aluminum plate to adhere it took a while. Had to make sure I got all that glue off!
I’ve had a few adhesion issues so far, but I figure that’s just normal stuff to work through with a new material I haven’t messed with before. Just got to learn how to treat it right.
The earlier upgrades DEFINITELY helped, as I was able to successfully print the parts of the Flying V, which were larger than any parts I had printed before. I’m still learning about this flexplate… but it should help out a lot in the long run if I can get it to work.
Here’s some of the early stuff I went through, starting from making a sketch to figure out the angles to make the triangles in order to fit the components, and an early test to make sure the electronic components could work together.
Guitar Neck and Head:
The neck was easy to construct from components I had ordered. I 3D printed the head first as it could be designed and printed independently of the rest of the guitar while I took time designing the interdependent body sections. I originally intended to use a USB cable and an ethernet cable as fake “guitar strings”, but dealing with the cables would have added another layer of complexity that I didn’t need to deal with in the timeline of a competition project.
I modelled 2020 extrusion in CAD in order to use offsets to create interfacing components. This was included in various forms in the guitar head and the keyboard body. I also left spaces for t-slot nuts to attach to the neck. I put in screws in place of tuning pegs. Eventually I’m considering some changes such as thickening the head (to better support the monitor) and adding some decorative (or functional) fake tuning pegs, perhaps with SD cards in them.
I designed these sections next after the head, as the were the next comparatively simplest section, and I needed to get parts in production ASAP, using the print time of the simplest parts to design the next parts to print. This section connects directly to the guitar neck, and contains the ball joint hinge connecting to the monitor section. It also houses the keyboard and the second guitar strap button for wearing the guitar around.
This section’s primary features are the connections for the latch, the plastic section designed to slide into the 2020 extrusion, and the added t-slot nut to allow to clamp solidly to the extrusion.
This section is the beginnings of the slot to hold the keyboard in place. It also continues the trend of t-slot nuts to hold onto the rail.
This section houses the magnets that hold the keyboard onto the guitar.
This part holds the remainder of the keyboard, as well as the guitar strap button for wearing the guitar around. At some point I want to slightly redesign this so that in the upper right of the keyboard slot there is space for access to the keyboard’s power button and a wire connecting the keyboard physically to the Pi instead of relying on bluetooth.
This had to be designed closely in tandem with the monitor side of this joint. This section’s purpose was to be solidly mechanically connected to the keyboard half, and hold the ball joint connecting the two halves together. There’s a space for a screw on the bottom to attach the ball joint, and a space and end-stop for a bold sticking out of the side of the ball joint. An accident after assembly caused the bolt to break straight through the end stop. Conveniently, I had recently added a 3D printing pen to my arsenal, and rebuilt the stop by hand in the same plastic… just much denser than it had been when it was originally printed.
Keyboard Section Assembled:
The magnets are used to attach the keyboard, which can be folded up to avoid being too obviously a computer. They keyboard then folds out to lay flush in the slot. I had to add tabs to get an easy grip on the keyboard to fold it back closed. Another item on my to-do list if I rebuild this is finger slots for grabbing the edges of the keyboard, for a cleaner build.
Note: They keyboard section could use a bit more weight to offset the weight of the monitor. The monitor tries to make the whole thing lean backwards a bit. For now, the guitar-neck kickstand partially compensates. Thickening the head of the guitar to match the thickness of the body would also help.
This section was one of the last things I designed due to to complexity and the need to get stuff to the printer as fast as possible.
This section includes the hole for the charging port cable and mounting points for the latch that holds the guitar closed.
This section has the slot for the battery pack, one side of the mounting holes for the Raspberry Pi mount, a hole for the power switch, and part of the space and connections for the monitor. There is also an extended gap and mounting holes in the section near the 2020 extrusion, where I later installed a metal strap to rigidize the connection between this section and the hinge. Without that strap that connection would have been far too weak.
This section holds the majority of the monitor, and the ethernet port.
This section includes the holes for the audio jacks, the slot for the USB hub, and a recessed section to accommodate the cables coming out of the side of the monitor.
The hinge sections were crazy, trying to deal with the ball joint. This half also had to accommodate a metal strap connection to monitor 2, connection points for the Raspberry Pi mount, a hole for possible future expansion, and a slightly different sideways connection to monitor 3.
Ball Joint Design Tests:
This is the mechanical 3D printed assembly that I designed LAST, due to complexity. For one thing, I ended up having to get a new tool to figure out what the heck the threads were on the bolts on this thing.
I had designed the connections with adjacent sections as I was going along. This took a couple iterations to get close enough, but as previously mentioned, the bolt broke through the end stop, which I repaired with a 3D printing pen. I also had some difficulties with the screw going into the monitor joint. I appear to have made the hole for the heat set insert slightly too large and it slipped around. 3D printing pen to the rescue again! I covered the back of the screw and filled the area around the screw with plastic.
Full Plastic Assembly Layout:
Assembly required connecting all the appropriate plastic pieces together with bolts, then sliding the neck into the slot on the keyboard half and tightening the t-slot nuts. The picture below isn’t fully assembled, but shows about where things went. In particular, the neck is upside down relative to the position of the boards it’s supposed to connect to, since i needed to see the insides of the case for planning purposes.
In order to save a lot more 3D printing time and hopefully add some rigidity, I designed this with a board backing. Scored and snapped hardboard.
I didn’t photograph this very well, as I was kinda in a hurry to finish at the time. I cut hardboard to fit the back, drilled holes, and wrapped the edges with electrical tape for a slightly neater look than the edges of scored and snapped hardboard. Down the line this needs to be painted or replaced.
Here’s the setup overall. I added breakaway extension connectors for the battery and the power switch (I colorcoded them to prevent mishaps). The USB cables mean to go to the USB 3.1 connectors are wrapped in blue tape.
Some parts were hot glued into place, as I can remove hot glue with a bit of effort if I need to make modifications later. Also, it allowed me to get away with not having positive retention on the audio jacks, which would have been a pain to implement on the short timescale I had available.
Here’s the modification I made to the PiSugar2 Pro battery management board in order to add an external switch that I could get to more reasonably. It seemed to work at first, but for some reason it no longer seems to work, so for the moment I’ve bypassed this board and only try using it directly plugged into the Raspberry Pi.
Here’s where I placed and covered a spot for a potential USB upgrade, intended for a cable connecting the keyboard physically to the Pi for power and more reliable data. The cover is my maker coin, modified. The door in the middle of the cover conceals a hole that the two halves of the coin are designed to wrap around a USB cable. The whole thing can be removed for a larger hole, big enough to run a USB cable through.
Whew. I’ve probably missed some stuff, and may need to go back and edit, but this should cover the vast majority of the build.
So, you may have noticed that I appeared to drop off the web for about a month. Well, I was busy trying to build a full-size cyberdeck in a month for VirtCon 2021. I took Adam Savage’s advice from his book Every Tool’s a Hammer and took advantage of the competition to set a deadline for myself in order to build a concept that’s been floating around my head for a bit.
Now I get to share the result with you.
I decided to continue with the transforming feature from the last one, and the musical instrument theme from the first one, so here’s the ΠTar Flying V Cyberdeck.
A 3d-printed deck based around the general outline of a Flying V electric guitar, folding from guitar mode to cratetop cyberdeck mode. The neck is made of 2020 Aluminum Extrusion (aluminum extrusion was one of the requirements of the competition).
Here’s how it transforms:
I haven’t yet documented this one as thoroughly as my last build, but I can share with you some of what I do have this time. I may be posting more about this down the line as I sort through my photos.
Here’s the in-universe “sales flyer” as if this were being sold at a small shop as a custom item. It includes the general specifications and basic operating instructions.
Competition A: Design a thematic t-shirt for the cyberdeck.cafe group to use for merch (additional requirements on the above link).
Prize: VOXELAB Proxima Monochrome Resin Printer
Wow. A resin printer for a prize? Pretty awesome. But that’s not where my talents or interests lie. I’m more interested in:
Competition B: Designing a portable cyberdeck (additional requirements on the above link).
Prize: An EZFlex build plate or your design printed on a large 3d printer.
I have about a month to design and present a new cyberdeck, this time using aluminum extrusion or piping. Conveniently, I’ve had the basics of a design that fits these requirements in the back of my head for a while, but insufficient motivation to build it until now. The prize is nice, but I’m really in it for the impetus and deadline to build another design.
I tend to get a bit… quiet about the details of my competition builds, so you’ll probably have to wait to see the design until I’ve submitted my entry to the competition. I can tell you that I’m definitely gonna be using some components and concepts familiar to anyone who has seen my previous builds.
Most of the parts are at the sanctum or will be arriving soon. Most of my concept seems like it should be straightforward (which I think means I’m not grasping something) except for one thing the whole design hinges on, which might get iffy.
Points where I have been or will be doing some learning:
Components new to me for this build so far:
Aluminum 2020 extrusion
Fan-based cooling on a Pi
PiSugar 2 Pro for a Raspberry Pi 4B
Processes I have a bit of concern over:
Printing large objects without warping:
I’ve been running tests this past week trying to adjust for some warping issues that I’ve had with large objects. I’ve built a temporary enclosure to reduce issues with drafts causing unequal cooling (I’d post it… but I think the current version is a rickety potential fire hazard that I don’t want to condone for others). I’ve also changed some of my print settings to help with adhesion. These include checking the bed levelling (I still may need to redo this), increasing the first layer temperature, adding a large brim… and simply avoiding the area of the printer that seems to run into the worst problems. Side benefit: I’ve rebuilt the arch lamp, and didn’t have to use tape or glue.
I’m currently planning to use MDF for part of the design to cut down on the parts count. I can eliminate about 12 3d printed parts from the design if I use some kind of sheet material, and MDF seemed appropriate. There are two methods I have access to at the moment that I plan to try: 1) cutting with a reciprocating saw or 2) attempting the “score and snap” method. I’m expecting some difficulties with this, but even if it takes me a few attempts and a bit to figure out, it should still be better than printing all those additional parts. It should be a simpler and stronger build this way.
As you’ve probably been able to tell from the dedicated page on the website, I finished the Pi-Tar months ago, but I never got around to explaining the final construction of it. 2020 was a hell of a year.
Looks like I left off after adding a power switch to the casing. I apologize in advance for lack of detail on certain aspects, I’m catching up on something from months and a few projects ago.
In order to offload some power requirements for additional USB peripherals from drawing power through the Pi, as well as to make a more convenient location for plugging things in, I decided to add a powered USB hub. As an added bonus, this one came with an SD card slot and a microSD card slot.
This did add some complicating factors, though. I needed the wires to fit through some pre-existing holes in the casing AND the thing uses USB-C. I ended up having to buy some additional parts to make this work, which got rather weird. I had to find a USB-A to USB-C cable that would connect to the Pi on one end and fit into the existing hole into the casing. I made that part work, but it took some finagling with the wires.
I also had to find a USB-C to USB-C connector to connect that wire inside the case to the USB hub.
I also had to add a micro-USB power switch cable to connect the hub to the power bank (as mentioned in a previous post), and I attempted to modify the cable coming from the Pi to avoid drawing from or backfeeding to the Raspberry Pi (I can’t remember if I ever got that part to work without losing power, but that was the intent).
Once I figured out the wiring, I then had to figure out how to attach the thing to the exterior of the casing. Originally I was going to use the USB hub as the basis of some sort of pseudo-cartridge system with USB drives, but eventually cut it down to just being a conveniently accessible hub.
As part of this, I also decided that I needed to move the large audio port to the exterior of the case, and add an additional regular-sized audio jack. Moving the port freed up the existing hole in the casing to pass through all the wires for the interface hub. This meant I didn’t have to try to cut or drill a new whole in the interface between the two halves of the shell.
The 3D modelling and physically attaching that in was troublesome, but electronically it was simple. I just added an audio splitter cable to the end, putting one female end exterior to the case and the other connected to the adapter I had already been using.
I went through a LOT of iterations with the interface module (one of the names I’ve been workshopping, may be subject to change), and eventually settled on a two-part assembly that screwed onto the casing through existing holes. It took a LOT of measuring and iterations to get it to fit reasonably, both with the electronic components and the actual casing. I designed it in two parts, with the larger portion (containing the hub itself) screwing directly onto the casing, and the smaller portion (containing the audio jacks) sliding onto the larger part, and then screwing into both the casing and the larger interface section. The smaller section also served the purpose of covering the hole that the wires went through.
I quickly learned in that process to only print as much of a model as I actually needed to test the fit of parts, in order to reduce turnaround time and materials wastage. I also found out that parts moving in different directions can lead to weird shenanigans, like installing one part causing another to become unplugged.
Once I got that figured out and painted up (along with the new power switch), I finally assembled it for the last time. That was… interesting.
There are a lot of parts of this assembly that have to be done in a specific (and weird) order or else it physically cannot be assembled. Connecting the Raspberry Pi, it’s case, and the interface between those wires and the shell is a very delicate process of going back and forth and making sure that you don’t crush ribbon cables while also carefully routing wires before and after attaching the cable interface (the bit with the universal greeblie).
Connecting the top and bottom halves is also fraught with issues (having to carefully move wires to lay properly while closing the shells), and you have to do that before you can even start on attaching the interface module. I know I’ve missed many steps in documenting this process, including some that anyone crazy enough to attempt recreating this might want, but I’ve only got so much time and patience at the moment. What madman decided to design from a pre-existing case this way?
Oh, wait, that was me. Ahem.
If you have further questions, please let me know what you would like to know more about and I can see about adding it.
Note: the stuff on the end of the grip handle and anything in pewter color is purely decorative and non-functional.
This has been a long project and a valuable learning experience. I learned more about Raspberry Pi (both from a hardware and software perspective), spraypainting, 3D modelling, 3D printing, electronics work (soldering), managing the details of a project, and working with professionals when I needed parts that I couldn’t yet make myself. I’ve even made new hobby contacts in the process who have helped me pick up more skills and helped out on other projects such as the Warp Core Lamp and encouraged me to make the Pioneer Falchion as another project.
I call this project “complete,” but as with a lot of other makers, this is more of a “project made it to baseline.” I’ve got some improvements I’d like to make (better power supply, attaching a headmounted display, making the Pi swappable as new models are released), but I’ve at least reached the initial goals I made before too much scope creep got in the way.
You may see more of the Pi-Tar (and possibly a sequel?) if/when I make upgrades to it.
I’ve been enjoying painting minis with my new setup! I’ve been painting my 3D printed mini collection. I decided to start with an adventuring party, and these are the ones I’ve started with so far.
I’ve gotten a bit sidetracked from my original schedule by a new challenge. One of the kids in the family is reading The Hobbit for the first time, and is going to be tracking the movement of the characters on a map that they are going to draw. I’m making miniatures for them, based on how the party gets divided a few times in the story.
Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin, and a dwarf to represent the other 12 dwarves.
In random news, either through glitch or user error, my Roomba began vacuuming unexpectedly… and the room was NOT prepared for it. The room that just happens to contain my painting setup right now.
The only thing that was disturbed was the paint table, and the vacuum clearly caught on the thin wire connected to my newly built arch lamp….
BLU-TAC SAVES THE DAY!
Thankfully I had stuck the switch for the lamp to the table with blu-tac, and the cable had a breakaway point, so after being yanked around the room a bit the cable came away from the table without pulling the lamp down or knocking stuff off the table.
WHEW. Crisis averted.
The cable got chewed up a bit, but is still functional, and I didn’t lose any work as far as I can tell.
I finally got around to deciding to paint my 3D printed miniatures, so I needed to tool up and learn painting skills. That all started with a learn to paint kit, some brushes, and lighted magnifier glasses that I received as gifts.
This escalated quickly. I’m going to cover a lot of the things I’ve added or built on the setup here, because if I did it as individual Sanctum Upgrade posts they would stretch out pointlessly and my blog would be nothing but painting posts for the next few months.
If you want to see a more succinct form of this setup (whether out of impatience or for better reference), I’ve added a page for my current setup under Manufacturing Setups.
I had seen people use painting handles before, and they appeared to help a lot, so before I started painting I 3D printed one for myself, along with a lot of “pucks” to attach miniatures to in order to paint.
Here are some of the results of my early painting setup.
I love how the mail came out on the orc.
I’m pretty happy with these early results.
As I painted the miniatures, my painting setup has rapidly evolved.
It might be easier to cover various sections’ evolutions rather than try to keep track of them as setups. Here’s one of the earlier ones, and where it’s currently at.
Originally I used a couple of red solo cups, one for clean water for use in mixing paints (with a dropper in it to measure when thinning washes), and one for rinse water. These were tall and easy to knock over. Not good.
I then switched to smaller plastic disposable cups, with labels on them so I didn’t get them mixed up. After watching some videos on painting and having some discussions with people who paint (a buddy of mine put me in touch with some other people who paint miniatures), I added a second rinse cup, because that appears to help clean brushes more thoroughly.
Finally (so far), I’ve switched the rinse cups to a couple of small plastic cups that aren’t as likely to tip, while still keeping one of the disposable plastic cups for clean water.
Paint Mixingand Cleanup
The painter’s kit recommended using kitchen parchment paper for mixing paints, but that got old fast. The parchment paper had to be cut into sections to be useable (yes I know that’s spelled weird, I don’t like standard spelling of “usable”), and it kept curling, making the paint run. I ordered some circular plastic paint palettes, and they work much better.
I use cut up wooden coffee stirrers to mix paints now. Originally I used some toothpicks I had. I should probably use plastic because of paint absorption, but so far it doesn’t appear to be a major wastage issue, since I’m not frequently running out of paint mixes before finishing what I’m painting. If I start painting a lot of minis in the same colors (if I were to start painting armies, for example) it might become an issue.
Cleaning the palettes was a bit of a challenge at first, but then I started keeping a container with a mixture of dish detergent and water nearby. As soon as I finish with a palette, it goes into the container. When I run out clean palettes, I use a stiff cleaning brush I keep in the container to scrub off any paint that managed to remain stuck to the palettes, then rinse and dry the palettes. It takes so much less time that way. At first I was trying to scrub with my fingers or a cloth and it did NOT go well.
Eventually I want to get a smaller dedicated container for this with a lid, as that pot is my general crafting pot that I want to free up for anything else I might need it for.
The glasses I mentioned earlier provides some additional lighting where I’m looking, and my usual workbench light originally provided the primary illumination, but it often required moving it around.
I decided to build something I had seen before on Thingiverse, an arch of LEDs providing light from various angles simultaneously, hopefully reducing the need to move a light around periodically while painting and photographing.
It seems to work decently for now, though I’ve only been using it for one day’s work at the time of writing. I covered the building shenanigans last week here:
I was originally painting on my primary workbench, covering up the area with a piece of foam core I cut to protect it, and moving stuff around. It allowed me to use the existing lighting at the work bench and mean I didn’t have to pull my auxiliary workbench out (it takes up living space).
This got annoying quickly, as with my 3D printed miniatures I have to clean them up before priming, so I had to keep switching the workspace back and forth. For now my painting setup is going to be a temporary or “deployable” setup that will occasionally live on my auxiliary workbench (aka the other folding table, yes, I like being pretentious sometimes). I still need to figure out storage for when I pack up my painting supplies, but that’s a problem for down the line.
I covered the table in brown paper to protect it (like I generally do for projects, thanks Adam Savage) and have run my extension cable over to it for the lights. I just had to remember to run the wire a certain way so it’s not in the way of my rolling stool. Don’t want to fall off and injure myself because I forgot there was a wire there!
Paint Brushes and Holders
The kit came with a couple of starter brushes, and I was also gifted a nice set of fine tipped brushes. For the first 3 minis, I only used the brushes from the kit, as I wanted to learn more about brush care before putting any wear and tear on the nicer ones.
I also ordered a set of wider brushes for priming, which I’ve been using on all my 3D printed minis. I haven’t used the fine tipped brushes yet, but I’ve definitely been seeing places where they’ll be useful when I paint certain details.
For holding the brushes when not actively in use, I initially just propped them against a small tin.
I 3D printed a brush holder that holds them over the tin very soon after, as the brushes kept rolling around.
I also wanted to see what additional brushes I had available. I couldn’t leave them just lying out on a flat surface as they could roll off or I could damage them by putting something on them, so I finally added a rotating brush stand.
Now I can see an access what I have. I still want to go back and label it to keep it organized.
Paints and Primers
The minis in the kit did not require priming (Reaper Bones minis are like that), so I didn’t need any for that. The kit did include a number of paints to get started with, though.
For the 3D printed ones I’ve been priming them, and I’ve got primers in two different colors. The white was for one thing that I still wanted to be white when I was done. I was hoping the gray would be darker so it’d be easier to distinguish from the white while I’m hand-priming (I’m kinda sick of spraying paints from my time with previous projects), but it’s still not that far off from white.
The starter kit covered a lot of colors, but it was missing some colors I’d want to use for my general collection (flesh tones and red, in particular… which sounds much more ominous than intended when I phrase it like that), so I did a bit of looking and decided to get the next kit in the series, which had the colors I was looking for, as well as more brushes, minis, and instructions. Now I think I have enough selection to paint the rest of my collection (after I get additional practice with the included minis).
That grid for holding the paints in place moves around and kept being a nuisance for regular use, so I locked it in place with hot glue.
I think this setup is settling towards a form now, but being this early in this new hobby I wouldn’t be surprised if there were further changes upcoming. At some point I want to replace the lamp with a better-made one, and I’ll probably swap out the wood coffee stirrers with plastic when these run out. Some people have recommended adding a wet palette to my setup, but I don’t yet see the need for one.
I’ve been enjoying priming and painting my miniatures, and look forward to gradually painting my 3D printed miniatures collection.