This one is really straightforward. I kept losing track of my remote control. A little bit of velcro command strip on the wall, and a strip on the back of the remote, and I had a standard place to put it back… but even then I still often forgot to put it back. I finally decided to turn the remote sideways, adding some more command strips to the wall to support that. From this position, It’s pointed at the tv and can be used while on the wall. The second remote I happened to find while going through old electronics, and realized it still worked to control the blu-ray player, so I added it as well (better functionality and I don’t forget to switch which device is controlled).
I’m trying something new. I thought I’d start breaking down some of the updates that clutter my other posts, particularly in the realm of trying to make my sanctum work better for me. Maybe these will give you guys some ideas of how to customize your sanctums for the way you work.
This week’s upgrade: my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) wall.
Starting simply, I was fed up with the way I had my gear stored at/on my workbench. Several items kept ending up on the bench or in my toolbox, which gets in the way. I went to my old favorite for problem solving around here: command strips. I found a section of wall I wasn’t using for anything, added some command hooks for several items, and 3D printed a modified version of a mount for safety glasses. I mounted everything with command strips, spacing everything out to be accessible.
Potential enhancements: I still need a spot for my welding goggles and box of disposable gloves. I haven’t figured out where or how I want to mount those yet.
I finally got around to sanding and repainting the keytar. Here’s what the case was like beforehand. Some parts were rather scratched up during my last attempt. Particularly near the neck.
I sanded it 4 times, once each with 200, 400, 800, and 1000 grit sandpaper. That took a while, but I got through a few episodes of Babylon 5, so it’s all good.
The next day I drydusted the case, wiped the whole thing down with alcohol to remove the rest of the dust, and spraypainted.
It seems to have come out much smoother! My only gripe is that I forgot to cover the rubber feet, so I’m going to need to sand off that paint and cover them with painter’s tape again before the clear coat layers.
Next steps: Rub’n Buff on the greeblies and stickering the back of the case.
I thought I’d make the greeblie accents pop a bit with some pewter contrast. I need to do a bit of research and planning to decide exactly what I want to accent and how I need to do it.
Here’s what I’ve got in mind for the sticker arrangement at the moment.
I’ve debated a couple of other stickers, but I think they might cause some problems:
I also feel like it needs one or two other stickers, but I haven’t found what I think is appropriate.
Yeah, I know I haven’t been writing in a while. The RAM in my desktop went bad a few weeks ago, and I’ve been forced to operate from my laptop in the meantime, which is NOT convenient for getting a lot done, as I had picked it up as something super-portable for just checking email and such on trips. The replacement RAM finally showed up, and I appear to be back in business!
I’ve been working on things around the house a lot, so hopefully I should have more content for here soon. Being stuck at home a lot, I’ve been making a lot of tweaks and expanding my hobbies.
I went to PAX East this year, and I thought I’d go over some of the things I’ve come across.
Wild Bill’s Soda:
These guys seemed pretty popular, and I saw two stands from them. You buy a tankard from them, and you get free refills of their drinks for the day. You can bring the tankard back on a different day or a different event, and pay for another tag for a day of free refills.
These guys were demoing a couple of their games, the one that grabbed my attention being Cyber Hook, where you play as a decker navigating past obstacles in the matrix. It caught my eye mostly from the aesthetic, didn’t see enough of the game to know whether there is much story to provide staying power. It’s supposed to come out in Q2 2020, so I’ll keep an eye out for it.
(Btw, if you guys are reading this, you should remember to include your url on your handouts)
I was looking for the badge-in portals that PAX East had for achievements, and found one at this booth. This particular one spins a virtual slot machine, and I ended up winning a tiny flashlight.
Anyway, Rainway appears to be a system that allows you to access your games that are on your PC on any device you own, anywhere. I’d think there’s likely a lag problem, but I haven’t gotten around to testing that. Seems to be a neat concept, anyway.
These guys make spinny dice rings, where you spin the outer section of the ring and get a result. I’ve heard of them for a while, and finally decided to get d20 ring, just to amuse myself.
These guys make a lot of dice, minis, and game accessories. I ended up picking up one thing I found interesting. They made a game map compass rose that you place on the map to define the orientation of the map. I know you can just draw an arrow and write an N next to it, but the coin looks cooler.
These guys are known for dice towers and dice boxes. I didn’t pick up anything here since it doesn’t fit my particular needs at the moment. They make some really cool stuff, though.
These guys gave me a free product code for a game called Dungeon Crawlers on Steam. Don’t know much about it yet, but eh, free game.
(Again, people need to list their URLs on their handouts)
Prints by the Bard:
This guy was our DM for organized play. Apparently he also does 3D printing himself, resin printing in his case, and shared his card.
And I totally called that a slime was hiding in the rubble. Too bad I didn’t roll high enough on initiative, and could only watch in horror as it came out. Oh well, Drocan Disorderly was able to fight them off with a torch (didn’t want to damage my heirloom weapon).
These guys make a lot of cool custom stuff for people. I didn’t get any of their samples (I’m a bit skittish of carrying around a summoning scroll for Cthulhu, and the other scrolls weren’t from my particular fandoms), but they make really cool stuff.
If you are a tabletop gamer who goes to cons, you probably already know these guys. You’ve just gotta stop by and look at their assortment of dice. I picked up a few this time.
They had a Guild Wars 2 booth. Also, got a code for a free in-game outfit. Yay.
I’ve played the regular app, and I’ve seen that there is a card game. You are on a spaceship that is constantly in peril and blowing up. And you receive instructions… for everyone else’s consoles! You have to yell and listen for instructions to cooperatively survive all the disasters befalling your ship. Asteroids, wormholes, slime, shorting panels, etc. It’s awesome.
Now… VR is in the works! Some of my friends tested it out, and it was hilarious! I still think it was extremely satisfying that the devs were confused at how one of my friends was doubling the highest previous score.
“Oh, didn’t you know? He’s an aerospace engineer.”
These guys make new games for old consoles, complete with custom cartridges that fit in the old consoles. I’m gonna have to keep an eye on these guys for some possible collab.
This group is where I got my D&D character coins from. They had a booth, and while I was looking I saw that they had some cloth maps. I decided to pick up their tavern battlemap. I think if I start DMing homebrew again I’ll just have to make taverns a franchise business to explain the common layout!
I also found a deck of quest notices. This will definitely help when I need to populate a quest board at the adventurer’s guild in homebrew!
This is a steampunk deckbuilding game of some kind. It looked somewhat interesting at a glance, but I haven’t really looked too much into it yet.
Greater Than Games:
I meant to spend more time at this booth, but we never timed it out right. These guys make the game Kill Doctor Lucky, a sort of inverse version of Clue. Instead of trying to find out who murdered Mr. Boddy, you are trying to kill Dr. Lucky without being seen by the other characters.
(I’d include a link, but this one is flagged as a security risk by my antivirus, so I won’t).
Acq Inc. Documancer:
I didn’t catch her name, but there was a lady dressed as a documancer from Acquisitions Incorporated who had an awesome wooden backpack filled with all the essentials for documancy. Prewritten contracts, paper, quills, ink, etc. She gave me a contract for intern employment at Acquisitions Incorporated. I’m still periodically checking to make sure I didn’t accept the terms by touching the contract. You never can be too careful with those guys!
There were a few other purchases where I forgot to grab business cards, but here is some stuff I picked up.
Crystal caste style dice, for my fireballs and healing potions. I can never seem to find these online.
Obligatory set of new dice. I liked the Tolkienien script on parchment style of these.
Dice bag for all the dice:
From the Desperados 3 demo booth:
My friend and I demoed the game “Who’s Your Daddy,” and won a shirt.
With all these people (and especially kids) having to stay home due to you-know-what, I thought I’d make a list of games with educational value to occupy their time.
The list is short for now, as this isn’t something I usually look up, but I’ll try to keep adding things to this post as I keep looking around a bit every so often. You can probably find some more games that are both fun and educational if you look around a bit.
The current list only contains games from the Steam Store.
Math Rescue and Word Rescues: These ones are classics that I grew up on. Helps kids learn spelling and progress through some simple mathematics.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego: Learn about global geography as you track down Carmen Sandiego. This one is a new one, releasing March 16th!!!! Finally, a new one!
Kerbal Space Program: Silly Minion-like creatures going to space, with you controlling their space program. Learning about astronautics along the way.
Slightly older kids:
Hack ‘n’ Slash: This is a game that teaches programming as a mechanic in a hack and slash style adventure game. You can reprogram things from within the game in order to get through the levels.
PC Building Simulator: Learn how to build and repair PCs. Useful technical skills. Includes real-world parts.
Epistory: A game that teaches typing, where typing allows you to progress through a story by typing the words over interactable items and enemies.
For those with VR:
HoloLAB Champions: It teaches laboratory practices from within VR.
There are a number of applications that allow you to view museum and art galleries in VR.
Whenever I would ask for help trying to get the wifi capabilities of my Monoprice Select Mini Pro working as they were originally advertised (specifically, where to get the firmware to reflash the printer’s wifi software), it seems like everyone just shouts “OCTOPRINT” at me instead of answering my question.
So, screw it, I’m trying Octoprint since I couldn’t get an answer to my original questions. I’ve heard wonderful things about it, and it should hopefully give me most if not all the functionality I’d want long term, but it would have been nice to have been given an answer to the question that was asked.
I’m using a Raspberry Pi 4 to run Octoprint since the printer runs in a different room from my PC. The image I started from is the OctoPi image, where someone made a disk image specifically for setting up Octoprint on a Raspberry Pi. The initial image can be found here:
So far it’s working pretty well, though I need to doublecheck and update my logbook to make sure everything is recorded. Sadly, there was a gap in my process (prepping for a convention), so I’ve probably missed some important documentation. There are a few things to note when installing one of these.
- The person who set up the OctoPi image is from the UK, so there are a number of localization settings on the image that need to be changed after install.
- DO NOT CHANGE THE PASSWORD UNTIL YOU’VE SET UP THE CORRECT KEYBOARD LOCALIZATION. I wasn’t thinking, and the symbols when you hit shift + any number are NOT the same for various keyboard layouts, so I accidentally made my pi temporarily unusable because I couldn’t figure out where the symbols had moved to, so I had to reimage it and start over.
- Set an assigned IP address for your Pi from your wifi router’s control screen. This way you won’t have to hunt for the correct IP address as you connect and disconnect various IoT devices to your network.
- I finally solved the issue of changing IP addresses that had caused issues with my wireless webcam, which turned out to just be a matter of setting them from the wifi router side. I feel like a guy in a Civ game developing his tech tree out of order on that one. It was a really simple change I should’ve already known how to do.
- Create a desktop shortcut that goes directly to your octoprint page. It just makes things easier.
- RTSP webcam streams are not currently supported by octoprint. If you are planning on using any of the Wyze series of internet webcams for monitoring your printer, it will not be supported natively by octoprint. Some people have been working on workarounds, but I have not been able to make it work for myself yet.
Now that I’ve at least got it running to a certain degree, here are my thoughts about Octoprint.
I like that I now have a telemetry feed, allowing me to monitor temperatures. I got the impression there were big temperature fluctuations at one point, but now I can check the graph. It has a default image in the background, but I was able to load my own custom one.
I’m really enjoying increased functionality. I no longer have to keep loading and slotting an SD card between my desktop and the printer in the other room. I can just send files over, and tell it to print. Much less of a hassle that way.
One of the plugins that I added is an e-stop. I haven’t tested it, and it’s awkwardly located on the control page (right next to the settings menu), but at least it exists.
If I want to check whether the printer is ready and/or monitor it’s progress visually I currently still have to open VLC, but it’s at least there. It just isn’t an all-in-one app setup at the moment.
Octoprint is an amazing tool, which gives me more information, more control, and saves me the hassle of moving files around manually.
Buuuut… it still needs some work. Not supporting RTSP natively is really frustrating, as I was already using this camera specifically for monitoring 3D prints, but the app won’t let me view the feed directly. There are multiple threads dedicated to people trying to figure this out, and following the directions people claim to have success with doesn’t appear to be working for me yet.
My printer is ALIVE again! While I was performing maintenance, I discovered that the y-axis linear bearings were giving out. That’s part of why everything was somewhat on hold with Octoprint, as I couldn’t really test it too well with a broken bearing. I ordered parts, then discovered when I went to install them that I did not have the tools or expertise to swap them out easily. I had thought that the bracket would come apart with screws. Instead I found this:
Turns out these were press fit, so I ended up taking it to a machinist to swap them out. He was able to remove the old bearings and insert the new ones in less than 10 minutes, and for much cheaper than if I had tried to get an arbor press to do it myself! I’m definitely going to keep this shop in mind for future repairs and possibly for getting some custom parts made.
Link Dumping Ground:
This is kinda here as much for my reference as yours, so I can find these things again if I need to.
Here are the settings I used for setting up the printer’s config:
Monoprice Select Mini Settings for Octoprint
This page was helpful for trying to figure out a PIP not found issue with octoprint on my setup:
I’ve attempted these instructions to try to get my Wyze 2 webcam to work on here, but so far it’s not working for me. I think I lack the fluency to see what’s going wrong yet.
This past week has mostly been occupied with prepping for and attending PAX East.
Now for your weekly (cough) dose of content, here’s how I packed my backpack for the con. I wanted to make sure I had options for gaming with my friends, supplies, and a way to carry a coat so we wouldn’t get anchored to a table watching our stuff.
Here’s the main compartment.
It’s filled with the game organizer, some snacks, my wizard hat and safety goggles (which I kinda ditched after the first day), writing utensils, spare loot bag, name tags, sanitizing wipes, and snacks. The big plastic bag in the middle is one of those vacuum storage bags. The bag allowed me to stuff my puffy longcoat into it, then squeeze the air out to reduce weight and volume and store it in the backpack.
Here’s my first iteration of the contents in the organizer that came with the backpack. I packed it with tokens and dice for magic, tokens and pawns for D&D and other tabletop games, and a few small box games for waiting in line or at the hotel. Before the con I removed one of the games and some of the tokens, as I realized that the pack was getting heavy.
The side pockets were packed with snacks, meal bars, and water that I had shipped to the hotel ahead of the con. I didn’t feel like having to leave lines, games, or whatever else to go get food if I didn’t have to.
The top little pouch held my earbuds and chargers. The battery packs were in the laptop compartment (not shown).
The upper compartment held the magic decks, RPG dice, dice tray, character coins, business cards, and some other odds and ends.
All in all, this backpack worked really well for this con.
But it felt heavy for someone not used to wearing a loaded pack for long durations. My shoulders are still sore from it! The upside is that I had fewer circumstances where I felt the need to ask someone to watch my stuff, I was able to keep it all with me and move more comfortably. Next time I might bring the optional belt, to distribute the load onto my hips rather than my shoulders. Also, I did try to pare down the contents as the con went on, tailoring them to what the group was likely to do that day.
Still, I could tell we were all much more experienced at attending cons than the first time we went! Things went much more smoothly this time, we were able to move more freely, and we were able to participate in pretty much everything we had planned to. It gets better every time.
After a few short years of using 3D printers, and reading up on them, here’s my wishlist of features that I’d love to have incorporated (or incorporate myself) into one FDM printer.
These are ones I’ve gotten used to on my Monoprice Select Mini Pro:
Removable build plate: Allows me to remove the print bed and work on removing the item from the bed at a more convenient height on my workbench.
Heated bed: Allows for more material options, and prevents some warping issues.
Build-tac plate: Build plate surface material that doesn’t require frequent blue tape replacement or gluing.
Self leveling: Leveling the printer manually is tedious and annoying, particularly if it shakes itself loose periodically.
Webcam: I use a Wyze 2 camera to monitor my printer from other rooms and/or on the go, so I can tell if there is an issue. I plan to integrate this with wifi control down the line, but I haven’t implemented that yet.
Commonly available, but not currently on my setup.
Direct drive: My printer uses a Bowden tube setup, which doesn’t handle flexible filaments, but direct drive printers (printers where the extruder motor is directly above the nozzle) can.
Wifi printing: Mine doesn’t work, at least not from the printer. This is optional for me now that I am experimenting with Octoprint on a Raspberry Pi to control my printer, so it probably doesn’t need to be onboard.
Large print volume: This has mostly been a matter of cost so far. A tradeoff between quality and build size for me for my last purchase.
Printer enclosure: Keeps the temperature more constant for printing. Also would enable an air filtration system to avoid issues with toxicity and particles for a wider variety of print materials.
Less common features:
I’ve thought up or heard of these, but I don’t often see them as standard features if at all.
Filament Sensor: Detects when filament is running out, pauses the print, and alerts the user to change out the filament without ruining the print in the process
Runaway heating cutout: I’d just like a bit more assurance that I won’t have a printer fire issue with the nozzle and/or the heated printed bed. I’d want the temperature sensors to be able to trigger the print to cancel and turn off the power to the heating systems if they started to get to dangerous ranges.
Multimaterial printing: I’d like to experiment with some of the options of multimaterial printing, particularly with unusual filaments worked into common ones.
Fire suppression: Call me paranoid, but I’d really like to make absolutely sure there is no chance of an out of control fire. I’d want a system to detect fires, cut the power to the printer, and flood the enclosure with carbon dioxide, before venting to the exterior of the building through a filtration system.
Big red button: I want a kill switch for the printer so that if something is going wrong I can immediately kill the print. Preferences are for it to turn off power to the heating elements, stop all motion, and then raise the Z axis slightly away from the printer. Needs to be a bit away from everything else, and be big, red, and slappable.
I think now is as good a time as any to write something about 3D printer maintenance items while, since I’m going through some of them on my own printer right now. Not all FDM 3D printers are built the same way, but some of these items should be pretty common.
HEALTH AND SAFETY:
I highly recommend wearing disposable gloves for this entire process. Otherwise you will get a lot of various lubricants on your hands that may be difficult to remove. I also tend to wear safety goggles and an apron to keep from getting these chemicals in my eyes or on my clothes, but that is probably overkill.
Guide Rails and Z axis Screw Gear:
The printer’s parts move along guide rails, and there is often a screw gear used for the z-axis. These all need to be cleaned and lubricated periodically to ensure smooth motion and precise prints. For this I wipe them down the rods with clean cloths or paper towels.
Once they have been cleaned, I use a spray can of white lithium grease to reach the rails, and move the parts through their range of motion to ensure a reasonable spread of lubricant.
WARNING: Make sure that if you are using spray lubricant that your printer is in a location that you don’t overspray on other objects.
Note: Listen out for any odd sounds after performing maintenance. You might hear indications of issues such as linear bearing damage… *sigh*
It is also good to lubricate the pulleys and any gears. I use sewing machine oil for this, as well as for some of the earlier parts that are hard to reach.
Loose belts can cause issues with layer shift. In my case, on my CoLiDo DIY, the print head would sometimes randomly slam into the y-axis stop and when it went to resume printing it would be off by a large amount.
This part will likely require you to look for more specific information on your printer. It often requires removing one or more zip ties, loosening screws in a clamp around the belt, tightening the belt, screwing it back, and replacing the zip ties. Some printers, like mine, appear to have a piece that is designed to maintain appropriate tension on it’s own, but I’m going to have to research that further.
Print Bed Maintenance:
This will also require specific information for your model of printing, but it is very important to your print quality. This will probably be a more frequent maintenance item than the others.
In my case my printer is supposed to use a self-leveling mode, but it still requires tweaking. Bad leveling can cause issues ranging from poor print quality, adhesion issues, or even gouging your print surface.
Bed Surface Maintenance:
This will vary a bit depending on your bed material.
On my CoLiDo DIY the bed was plastic, and would occasionally get damaged during printing, so I had to use a razor blade and sandpaper to smooth the surface back out.
Build Surface on Metal:
On my Monoprice Select Mini Pro there is a rough build surface material attached to a metal plate which occasionally requires replacing. I use a scraper and Goo Gone to remove the material and it’s adhesive, then rinse in water, dry thoroughly, and apply a new piece of material.
I don’t have much experience with glass build surfaces, so I highly recommend looking up more information elsewhere. I’m fairly certain that it requires periodic cleaning of the hairspray, glue, or slurry that people use to promote adhesion, and occasional replacement of the glass surface.
Over time vibration can cause screws to loosen in many places on your printer. You should probably check to make sure any and all fixed screws are tight to ensure precision.
Check the electronics connections for issues, particularly at the connections that move, such as on the extruder head and on a heated bed. Check for looseness, scorching, fraying, and anything else unusual, as this may indicate impending issues.
Use a can of air to remove dust from the control electronics periodically, like you would on a desktop computer.
Forest of Oakenspire Airship:
This past week’s hobby work has mostly been a matter of 3D printing the airship shown at the top of this post. The models are from a great 3D model creator who goes by Ecaroth (he’s on Kickstarter, Thingiverse, Facebook, and Heroes Hoard). I love using his designs.
I got the STLs for this model as part of a kickstarter campaign a couple years back, but never got around to printing it until recently. It’s taken me a while to trust a 3D printer to run unattended long enough for the process.
Each section of the hull has taken 8-13 hours to print. Sadly, some of the pieces are somewhat warped, but it’s only really obvious on one piece (it was printed at a different orientation).
Still came out pretty awesome in my opinion. It uses openlock clips, so I can connect these modular pieces and even be able to lift it up and move it.
My 3D printer gouged itself this past week, so I had been making do with using blue tape over the build tac sheet. I probably should have turned off the heat, as I think that is part of what has caused the blue tape to loosen and the prints to warp.
Before it gouged, it had some issues with one corner acting as if it’s much higher, which the autoleveling software is supposed to take care of.
I tried troubleshooting the levelling, but it ended up gouging the bed after a slight change mid print. As you can see at the beginning of the print, it was showing indications of being way too high, but gouged as I adjusted it slightly while it moved to the problematic corner.
I tried again more carefully, and it gouged at the very beginning of the print! I’ve been using blue tape to make do over the gouges, but it’s warped them slightly (hence the bow of the ship not being as well fitted as it should be).
I’ve contacted Monoprice tech support, and apparently I didn’t get the same helpful tech support person that I did the last time I had a problem. I guess with the information overload of extra details that I tried to get help on all at once (mostly minor things that had added up to annoy me), the thought I was trying to get another replacement printer (my first Select Mini Pro had a faulty z-axis sensor). After emailing back, they gave me a link to replacement parts, so I finally have a place to go to order those on my own!
I’m stocking up on some parts now. Spares to save me a lot of time trying to get a shipment when things are broken.
Keytar Cyberdeck Upgrades:
I still haven’t gotten around to some of the issues on the cyberdeck build that have bugged me… but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and chatting with the deckers on the cyberdeck discord about various items. Any guesses on what I plan to do with this new parts order?
I just binge watched the entirety of the mainline Dragon Ball Z Abridged series…. and then shortly after I finished they announced that they were ending it. I don’t disagree with them, but it’s just really weird timing.