Category Archives: 3D Printing

LED Bridge Lamp Power Supply

Next up in my series on building my own interpretation of Janis’ LED Bridge Lamp I wanted to share out my re-mix of his power supply cover/case.

3/4 view of completed power supply and case
3/4 view of completed power supply and case

In the original case, from the photos and models on Thingiverse it looked like Janis cut off the front of the case to attach the various plugs and switches. I also couldn’t find the exact same switch and plug so I decided to re-mix my over version.

Test print this sample to make sure it properly fits around your power supply. If it doesn't fit you can scale and re-print until you get it right.
Test print this sample to make sure it properly fits around your power supply. If it doesn’t fit you can scale and re-print until you get it right.

I started off with Janis’ solid bottom of the PSU cover. I bought the same 5V/20A power supply from AliExpress and printed the bottom. It fit great. I then imported his model into SketchUp and copied the outline/profile of his case. I extruded it 2mm and printed it as a test sample. This is useful for folks trying to scale the case up or down to get that tight friction fit — change your settings then print that test piece until you get the size you want — then use the same settings for the actual parts.

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Printed parts ready to go. 

I extruded that test print model to be 80mm tall — this forms the majority of the cover. I also added a depth stop at 40mm and a carefully laid out two holes to receive the screws that secure the custom faceplate. This long extruded part with a stop gives me a positive depth stop and a reasonable amount of space in the enclosure to house all the wires, connections and backs of the connectors.

I also designed a separate faceplate with nice form fitting cutouts for the plugs, power inlet and switch. Print the cover face down as shown below:

Underside of Faceplate
Underside of Faceplate

The face of the above cover also has a nice recessed ‘5V’ to let potential users know what voltage we are outputting with this unit. The 110V/220V power inlet is secured with two M3 x 10mm screws and 2 nuts on each screw. The power button snaps into place with tabs. The metal barrel jacks are secured via a lock washer and nut that threads onto the barrel/body of the outlet. Make sure the PSU unit’s slide switch is set to the 110V or 220V input voltage you plan to provide.

All wires soldered in place and covered with heat shrink tubing
All wires soldered in place and covered with heat shrink tubing

All of the output port wires were 6″ long 22 gauge wire. The power inlet hot and neutral are routed through the power switch and the ground goes from the inlet to the ground on the PSU unit. I also used heat shrink tubing on each connection to protect the connections.

Attaching all the wires to the appropriate terminals
Attaching all the wires to the appropriate terminals

Route the wires through the extruded cover and attach them to the proper terminals, then slide the cover down until you hit the depth stop.

Testing the power supply. Notice plug inserted into a jack being tested with my multi-meter
Testing the power supply. Notice plug inserted into a jack being tested with my multi-meter

Now test your PSU using a multi-meter. I inserted an appropriately sized barrel top plug without its protective jacket to make it easier to attach the multi-meter probes. The output was exactly what I expected — a tiny bit above 5V. If you are under 5V you can adjust the output using a trim potentiometer on the PSU board to the right of the screw terminals. With the testing complete it was time to gently bend the wires and secure the faceplate with two M3 x 6mm machine screws.

Completed power supply with power on
Completed power supply with power on

With the PSU assembled and powered on it’s time to get back to working on the bridge lamp itself.

Side view of completed power supply case in black PLA
Side view of completed power supply case in black PLA

The Gray printed PSU cover from earlier in this post will live in my cubicle at work and power the main LED Bridge lamp I am making, but the secondary (smaller) LED bridge lamp I am making for home would look better in black PLA — as I think that will blend better with my black metal MakerBench.

Completed power supply in black PLA
Completed power supply in black PLA

If you’d like to make one of these PSU covers based on my remix you can find the models on Thingiverse here.

The inlets, outlets and supplies I used can be found here:

5V / 20A power supply

Copper DC Socket Jack

Panel Mounted Inlet Socket

Red Rocker Button Switch

DC Power Barrel Tip Plugs

Metric Machine Screws

If you build your own version of this project, please leave a comment or send me a note.

Take care,
-Bill
@TheRainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Trinket Powered LED RedHat Sign

My day job is working as a software developer for Redhat which is the world’s largest Open-Source software company. It’s a fun place to work with a vibrant culture — kinda like a geek summer camp at times — as many of us like to decorate our cubes with various nerdy projects, toys, artwork etc. I love to design and build things — check out my long running woodworking blog here for some of my designs and work with wood. As an engineer I also love to tinker with tech.

Early in 2016 I bought a Lulzbot TAZ6 for home and have been having fun getting involved in the Open-Source 3D printing, electronics and maker world. I also setup and run a 3D printing lab at work in the office.

A few months ago I designed and 3D printed a small Redhat logo which you can find on Thingiverse here.

Since then I have embarked on a more audacious building campaign to build my own interpretation of Janis’ LED Bridge Lamp. I want my bridge lamp to span from one wall of my cube to my bookcase  and incorporate some fun additions that I will reveal in upcoming posts.

On the road to this large design/print/build project I wanted to make neat mini billboard with the Redhat Shadowman logo that lights up and had some simple animations. The result of that work can be seen here:

Redhat Logo Sign Animated Rainbow Color
Redhat Logo Sign Animated Rainbow Color

I tripled the size of my original Redhat Shadowman logo in the x and y dimensions and printed the background in clear Colorfabb nGen filament. The letters, fedora and case are in black and red nGen filament. Every 2.01mm of z-axis height I would pause the print, swap, purge and resume the print which resulted in a nice 3 color print for the logo.

Remove supports so you can add the trinket
Remove supports so you can add the trinket

I designed the case so that it can be printed without any supports. Use a pair of nippers to remove the small bit of supports I added to the model (see photo above) which will allow you to easily access the USB port on the Adafruit Trinket which controls the LED strip.

The 3 color sign has 4 holes that snap nicely onto posts located on the inside of the bezel of the case. I don’t know why so many designers make the holes and posts the exact same size — it makes for unnecessary fussing with the print. I made my posts a few tenths of a millimeter narrower so I could snap on the logo without any fussing.

Back of case with negative image of Redhat logo
Back of case with negative image of Redhat logo

The back of the case also has a nice negative image of the Redhat Shadowman logo. The back also snaps nicely into the front section for clean lines and no need for additional hardware. nGen has enough flex in it that you can bend the case if you need to open it again in the future.

The circuit design is quite simple/straightforward:

Redhat Logo Sign -- Circuit Diagram -- Adafruit Trinket 5V + NeoPixels
Redhat Logo Sign — Circuit Diagram — Adafruit Trinket 5V + NeoPixels

Basically you are driving 10 NeoPixel RGB leds via an Adafruit Trinket 5V tiny arduino. I included the JST connection below in case I ever want to re-purpose bits from this project and because these LEDs were from the start of a new roll, so I figured I might as well use the cabling it came with in this case.

Completed circuit
Completed circuit

I used some 3M double sided tape to keep the wires secured and some M3 x 6mm screws to keep the Trinket mounted to the back of the case. The LED strip comes with some adhesive tape on the back to keep the strip in place. I find that tape on the strip to be a little fussy so make sure you clean/alcohol the inside of the case and firmly press/rub the strip to make sure it is well adhered.

Redhat Logo Sign in white
Redhat Logo Sign in white

The animations for this little prototype sign are pretty straight forward. The system comes up, does a wipe to make the sign glow white. After ~30 seconds it wipes to dark and then cuts over to 30 seconds of a pleasing rainbow animation. Then the loop repeats over and over again.

You can find the source code for this project on my GitHub account here. The animations could be easily augmented. You can create your own or re-use some of the animations from my earlier Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel ring lamp.

Note that he regulator on a Trinket is only 500 milliamps so I make sure to limit the maximum brightness of the LED strip to make sure I don’t overload the system when the background is set to white.

If you’d like to download the STL models for the  Redhat Logo sign and case you can find them on Thingiverse here. If you build your own version of this project, I’d love to hear about it via a comment or contact page note.

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

Adabot Solder Dispenser

I had a bunch of solder floating around on my bench and figured I’d print out a solder dispenser and lo and behold I came across a new model for an Adabot Solder Dispenser and finally had a reason to print out my own little Adabot. Adabot is the main character in Adafruit’s Circuit Playground series of videos that teach kids and the young at heart about the basics of electronics through a mix of animation and cute muppet style puppetry.

Adabot Solder Dispenser
Adabot Solder Dispenser

I always wonder what the ‘official’ color of Adabot is supposed to be as in some Adafruit material it looks like he’s teal. In others, like the puppet, it looks like he’s a light blue. If anyone has the official answer, let me know. I printed mine from light blue n-Gen filament and in the featured image at the top of the page it looks blue, when washed out with a little more light it looks more teal (like the image immediately above) so I am going to call that a win.

Printing in light blue n-gen filament
Printing in light blue n-gen filament

After printing out all the parts I painted the antenna/ears and ring around the eyes with testers blue acrylic and the pupils with testers black acrylic paint. Assembly was straight forward with the eyes and mouth glued in place with CA glue and the ears glued to the ear connector pins. I inserted the pin and then glued the ear to the connector pins/studs.

In assembling this project I did run into a problem with the ear connectors (seen below)

Broken ear connectors (blue) and one that is 20% longer in the Z direction (white)
Broken ear connectors (blue) and one that is 20% longer in the Z direction (white)

I tried printing them at 20% fill and 85% fill and both times the pins cracked off when trying to insert them per the video instructions. I just don’t think there is enough clearance in there or enough give in the pins to make it work. The holes would need to have a relief chamfer in there to work. I thought about filing down the tabs on the pins, but figured that would make them even more likely to snap off. Since I already had the head printed I decided to instead extrude another set of ear connector pins that were 20% longer in the Z axis. (I first tried 25% but they were too long) . I also gently filed the ear holes on the head with a mill file  (only a pass or two) to make sure they were nice and flat so the ears would line up perfectly with the head. Once glued to the connectors the ears have the right amount of tension on them and can be rotated if you like.

Solder dispenser loaded up
Solder dispenser loaded up

The only drawback to my fix for the ears is that the connectors are now in the box cavity rather than wedged inside the holes for the ear connectors. So if I were to do this again I’d make sure the space in the pins was horizontal as in the pin on the right in the photo above as the way I have it the pin on the left puts a little pressure on the bottom reel of solder. But I can just use two of the green reels and be fine.

Adabot Solder Dispenser
Adabot Solder Dispenser

It was a fun little project and a nice addition to my bench. I think I am going to velcro it to my shelf so when I pull on the solder the friction doesn’t have me dragging the head all over the desk. If you’d like to build your old Adabot Solder Dispenser you can find the plans for here here on the Adafruit learning system.

-Bill Rainford
@TheRainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog

 

 

Star Wars Stormtrooper Snowflakes

Merry Christmas and my the force by with you!

Forrest moon of Endor or my Christmas tree these ornaments are right at home
Forrest moon of Endor or my Christmas tree these ornaments are right at home

In preparation for the holidays I printed some Star Wars Storm-trooper Snowflake ornaments.

Printing two at a time in white PLA
Printing two at a time in white PLA

You can find the model I used for this project here.

Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments in the office.
Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments in the office.

I printed them 2 at a time in white PLA. 2 for the office and 2 for our tree at home. It was a nice easy print and a fun and festive addition. Wow, typing that sentence I was apparently channeling some Martha Stewart. 😉

Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments on the tree
Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments on the tree

Happy Holidays and I look forward to even more maker projects in the new year.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel Lamp

Like any red blooded engineer I like nice designs, shiny objects and blinking lights. One of the projects that burrowed its way into my subconscious and helped push me over the edge into buying a 3D printer earlier this year was the Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel lamp with 3D printed Voronoi Shade that plays some animations by the Ruiz Brothers over at Adafruit. It’s a great addition to any office desk or maker workbench. After playing with the sample code which simply played a short animation when you pressed a button in the app I decided to augment the code to continuously play animations and add a few more to the mix.

Feather BLE light paired with iOS app
Feather BLE light paired with iOS app

You can view detailed step/by step instructions on printing this lamp  here on the Adafruit Learning System.  What follows in this post is a description of what changes/modifications I made to the build and additional functionality I added into the software running on the Bluefruit Feather.

Check out this video showing what I did with the software for this project here:

Software Revision Highlights:

  • Currently selected animation will loop continuously without interruption (Original sample plays 1 animation and stops until another button is pressed)
  • Cleaned up animation library/methods, fixed some issues with Adafruit sample code and finished off some incomplete methods
  • Added additional animations to the up, down, left and right buttons in the Adafruit Bluetooth application

You can find the source code for the demo used in the video here on GitHub.

3D Print complete, not gather up the required electronics
3D Print complete, now gather up the required electronics

Notes on Building This Project: 
I printed the base out of ABS filament and the Voronoi shade from light blue translucent PLA filament. I chose not to glue the shade onto the top ring of the base as I like to be able to show off the electronics. I friction fit the clear disk into the bottom of the lampshade so it stays securely as one piece. I also omitted the battery as I only plan to run the lamp in an office setting wherein I have access to plenty of USB ports.

Solder and assemble the light
Solder and assemble the light

BIG NOTE: As this caused me some headaches and wasted time. In the Adafruit Learning System write-up for this lamp, make sure to follow the Fritzing circuit diagram here and NOT from the step by step photograph here. The photograph shows one of the blue wires going into ‘BAT’ and not the expected ‘3V’. You should be powering the NeoPixels off the 3V pin.  

Flash the firmware and test the rig before final assembly of the case.
Flash the firmware and test the rig before final assembly of the case.

Once I finished all the soldering I fit the board, wires and ring into the bottom half of the base and flashed the firmware onto the device and made sure it lit up and worked as expected.

Lid screwed in place to help secure the NeoPixel ring
Lid screwed in place to help secure the NeoPixel ring

Next up I screwed on the top half of the base and started working on the animations I wanted to use and assigned them to various buttons in the Adafruit ‘Bluefruit’ application.

Running animations
Running animations

Last up was testing the completed lamp. It lights up a dark room more that I expected which is nice and is clearly visible in a well lit room. Some of the animations in the above video are far better in person as the DSLR tends to blend a lot of the mixed colors into shades of white — you’ll have to see it in person by building your own.

Red alert, incoming message
Red alert, incoming message

With the above lamp completed you can also tie it into the IfThisThenThat (IFTTT.com) ecosystem via Adafruit IO.  IFTTT allows Internet of Things (IoT) devices to react to a surprisingly large amount of interesting stimuli — if you get a certain type of email, if your phone shows up on your home wifi network, if an IoT sensor gets a certain reading your device and react to that message and carry out your desired task — its an incredible system and will be the focus of my next post, stay tuned.

-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

P.S. If you build your own variant of this project, please leave a comment and share your thoughts and modifications.

Crate it up…

I’ve wanted to try using wood filament for quite a while, but the price for it was generally more than I was willing to pay for it.

Wood Crates -- Printed in PLA with wood fiber in it.
Wood Crates — Printed in PLA with wood fiber in it.

My friend Adam told me about a company calls SainSmart on Amazon that has good quality filaments at a reasonable price. I ordered a few colors of PLA including a roll of their Dark Wood 3mm PLA filament which you can find here.

Printing a few crates at a time
Printing a few crates at a time

The filament worked out great and has a nice woody look.  It even makes a bit of a wood/sawdust smell as it prints. (Probably terrible for your lungs so make sure to work in a well ventilated area with any 3D printer).

These crates became a bit of an addiction. I printed 1, then another, then another, then a series of 3 of them.  It’s a well detailed little model and even has the wood slats modeled on the interior bottom (though from a woodworking perspective a real wood crate would not have that brace on the inside bottom, but I’ll let that slide 😉 )

These crates work great for background props and SD card storage.
These crates work great for background props and SD card storage.

They print well with no supports at all, but had a very tiny bit of warping at the corners. By printing a brim I felt the warping was sufficiently negated. I used Gorilla brand CA glue to adhere that little square to the underside of the lid (keeps the lid from sliding off the top of the crate).

I figure these crates will make nice background props when photographing other toys or prints and for the more practical minded maker they also work well as a nice SD card holder that can accommodate full size SD cards. They stand nicely inside the crate with the lid in place.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

 

Halloween Prints

With Halloween fast approaching I figured it was time to add some 3D printed decorations to the office.

Below are some of my pics for fun Halloween themed prints. I tried to pick some models that demonstrate varied printing techniques.

Fun Halloween 3D Prints
Fun Halloween 3D Prints

#1 The Ghost Emoji 

Emoji Ghost in glow in the dark PLA
Emoji Ghost in glow in the dark PLA

This model is a quick print and can easily be adhered to a smooth surface with some double sided tape.

Emoji Ghosts in glow in the dark PLA
Emoji Ghosts in glow in the dark PLA

Printed in ‘Glow in the Dark’ Green PLA from eSun you can find the model for it on Thingiverse here.

#2 Trick or Treat Sign

Trick or Treat sign
Trick or Treat sign

Printed in lime green PLA from MatterHackers at 125% to have better/cleaner details compared to the same details on the original model listing which can be found on Thingiverse here.

#3 Glow In The Dark Haunted Graveyard

Glow in the dark graveyard scene
Glow in the dark graveyard scene

This fun little diorama took a little more work to create but was interesting to put together. The green terrain was printed in green nGen filament. The gravestones are dark gray nGen. The ghosts and glass are ‘Glow in the Dark’ Green PLA.

Glow in the dark graveyard scene. One for my office and one for my wife's office.
Glow in the dark graveyard scene. One for my office and one for my wife’s office.

I used some short lengths of 22 gauge solid core wire with black insulation to affix the ghosts and give some ability to change their angles etc via bending. I also used CA glue to attach the stones to the base and to lock the wire into the holes in the stones and the holes in the ghosts.

Ghosts glowing brightly after being charged up by a handheld black light.
Ghosts glowing brightly after being charged up by a handheld black light.

You can download the model for this 3D scene from Thingiverse here.

#4 Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters Logo
Ghostbusters Logo

This print was a great way to experiment with 2 color prints. I set Cura to pause at a given height, swapped the red nGen filament out for some white nGen filament and resumed the print. Now I have one logo for the old movies and one for the new release.

You can find this model on Thingiverse here.

#5 Makies Jack-O-Lantern

I printed a remix of the Makies Jack-O-Lantern that allowed me to have a different color peduncle and snap off lid. The body of the pumpkin was printed in nGen orange and the peduncle is in nGen green.

Jack-O-Lanterns
Jack-O-Lanterns

You can find the model for this project on Thingiverse here.

If you print any of the above models make sure to post them on Thingiverse and/or in the comments section below. Also let us know if you have some other Halloween themed models that would be fun to print and experiment with.

Happy Halloween!

-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Robot Army

 

Apparently I’ve been building a robot army. Some models really do seem to get stuck in your head or on your printer bed. These tiny Maker Faire Robots are models I use to print samples of various filament colors. Like so many other models lately it was not good enough to make one for my maker bench, I needed to make one each of the robot with his arms up and one with his arms down. But that still wasn’t enough, I also wanted a set for the office at work. I wound up printing 4 robots, two of each style each time I got a new spool of nGen filament. 32 robots later and 1 of the larger articulated versions I thought it was time to take some photos of the brigade.

I recently picked up a dedicated macro lens and had some fun playing with depth of focus in the above shots.

If you’d like to print some for yourself you can find the models here:
Small Maker Faire Robots

Large Print In Place Articulated Maker Fair Robot
Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

 

My Favorite Print Removal Tool

Removing a print from the bed of your 3D printer can sometimes be a harrowing experience. You wait for hours for the print to complete, maybe even dealing with a few failed attempts and then go on to break or mangle your print trying to get it off the printer bed.

My Lulzbot TAZ6 came with a nice little kit of tools but the print removal tool was basically a clam knife with a thick handle like a steak knife. I tried using that tool to remove my first print and it made the only gash I have in my PEI print bed. I then went on to buy a dedicated print removal spatula for about $8 on amazon. It was incrementally better — looks like a long frosting knife and was a little bit flexible, but was still thicker than I wanted and took some work to get a print off the bed. After looking at that tool I thought about some real nice palette knives I have in my woodworking tool kit that are flexible and machined down to the point that they are almost sharp.

Woodworking Palette Knife
Woodworking Palette Knife

I dashed out to the shop and grabbed one — the shape I least liked and least used for my woodworking was by far the best I’ve ever used for 3D print removals. (See photo above) That sharp corner and VERY thin edge is great for getting up under a print and quickly removing it.

Popping off another print.
Popping off another print.

Since I switched to using this tool with my printer I have not lost a single print due to issues getting if off of the bed. The knife tapers down to 0.008″ (twice the thickness of a human hair) at its thinnest and is about 1/16″ near the tang. This profile with a point off to one side (far right in photo below), along with the ability to easily flex the knife allows the user to easily pop printed items off of the bed. All I do is get the corner under the print and make a quick sweeping motion and the print comes right off the plate.

Palette Knife Kit From Lee Valley
Palette Knife Kit From Lee Valley

If you’d like to get a set of these useful palette knives you can find them at Lee Valley here. The set only costs $11.50 USD and should last a very long time. I also use them a lot for applying wood glue to my woodworking projects.

If you give them a try or have your own tips for consistently getting a print off the printer bed, please leave a note in the comments section below.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Who you gonna call?

I grew up during the first wave of Ghostbusters movies and loved the franchise ever since. I had all the toys as a kid. Back then it was a lot harder to make your own custom toys. My first few weeks with my own 3D printer has been the usual stage of ‘print everything I can’ — trying to get as many things off of my long Thingiverse ‘Like’ list as I can.

Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*. — Ray Stanz (Ghostbusters 1984)

The week the new Ghostbusters movie came out in July, I printed out a version of the new Ecto-1 hood ornament in nGen silver metallic filament. It made a great hood ornament for the truck as we went to go see the movie at the drive-in.

 

This week with some red and white filament in hand I printed out the classic Ghostbusters logo — one for my maker workbench at home and one for my office at work. It’s not bad enough to print 1 of everything, lately I seem to be printing lots of stuff in duplicate.

“[as a ghost leaves on the subway] I guess he’s going to Queens – he’s going to be the third scariest thing on that train.” — Patty Tolan (Ghostbusters 2016)

If you want to print either of these models for yourself I posted my settings and tips up on Thingiverse here (for Ecto-1 Hood ornament) and here (for Ghostbusters Logo)

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford