In preparation for the holidays I printed some Star Wars Storm-trooper Snowflake ornaments.
You can find the model I used for this project here.
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. 😉
Happy Holidays and I look forward to even more maker projects in the new year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
P.S. If you build your own variant of this project, please leave a comment and share your thoughts and modifications.
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.
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.
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 😉 )
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.
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.
#1 The Ghost Emoji
This model is a quick print and can easily be adhered to a smooth surface with some double sided tape.
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
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
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.
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.
You can download the model for this 3D scene from Thingiverse here.
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.
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.
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.
Wow, thats a lot of little maker faire robots. Why are they running away?
Yeah, lots of nGen color samples. I use this model as a sample print to have a record of each color I have.
Giant articulated Maker Faire Robot! (Printed as 1 piece)
Stand out from the crowd
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Printing the Ecto-1 Hood Ornament with supports
Ready to cruise around the city
Hood ornament makes a nice addition to the truck.
Ghost in metallic silver nGen filament
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)
The workshop is my happy place — I go there to create. One of my favorite things to do out in my woodworking shop is to build cabinets, organizers and jigs to make it easier to work or accomplish a given task. I’ve been applying that to my recent work with 3D printing and electronics hardware hacking.
By training I am a software engineer and a preservation carpenter — yep the is an unusual mix to some — but to me I use the same part of my brain to envision a large software application and break it down into manageable pieces of code and then write them that I use to envision a chair and break it down into all the steps and pieces that start at a tree and result in a chair.
After getting some more work time at the Maker Workbench that I recently completed I realized that my hand tool storage was lacking.
I was storing my pliers, strippers, nippers and similar tools in the holes on the sides of the metal racks that support my workbench.
It seemed like a great idea — I can see the tools, they are off the workbench and reasonably accessible, but for common operations I felt I was wasting too much time and energy getting them in and out of those holes — as sometimes they would catch a bit on the way out.
After thinking about some of the optimizations I made out in my woodworking shop and watching videos like some of Adam Savage’s shop tours, behind the scenes and shop projects builds from tested.com and this video in particular which made the case for not using drawers I wanted to come up with something efficient to organize the tools I used most often on the bench.
The idea bounced around in my subconscious for a few weeks until I finally came up with the following tool rack for my pliers and similar tools:
How I built the tool rack:
The rack is about 6″ tall, the base is about 6″ wide and the rods are about 12″ long. I bought a 36″ long piece of O1 Tool Steel Round Rod, Polished Finish, Precision Ground, Annealed, Metric 10mm from Amazon here. I cut the rod on my abrasive cutoff saw and ground off any burs and chamfered the cut ends a bit so I would be sure they’d seat nicely in the 3D printed ends.
I then made what I felt was a reasonable sized 10mm end cap in SketchUp and printed it out. It was a tiny bit tight so I measured the rod and the print and adjusted things a bit and tried printing at 102, 105 and 108%. 105% was the sweet spot and gave me a nice tight fit. I also made a variant of the end cap to include a #4-40 machine screw to see if that would keep the cap on there even tighter but felt it was negligibly better in this case and recommend you print 1 or more of these caps to dial in your printer an get a real nice fit. If you still find the cap is loose you can epoxy it into place.
With the printer dialed in and the cap in hand it was time to print the sides. Rather than waste material and to increase the aesthetics of the rack I added a series of holes to the model to give it a more pleasing and modern look.
I printed the sides one at a time with a brim to try and minimize any warping.
The cleanup was easy with an X-acto knife and the assembly was simply inserting the rods into the printed end pieces and start using the rack.
The above described rod is a bit on the expensive side, costing about $15 but the ground and polished look is what I wanted and it adds a pretty good amount of weight to the tool rack and I’ve found it stays right where I leave it on the bench. It works well with all the small and medium size pliers shown below and can also accommodate some of my larger and specialty channel-locks and similar hand tools. If you are on a budget, simple mild steel rod from a hardware store or even a wooden dowel can be used.
I’ve shared out the plans and SketchUp files for the end caps and rack sides (both solid sides and the sides with the circular holes) up on Thingiverse.com here.
If you make or remix this project, please share some pics or notes in the comments below.
Got some new filament today and beyond my normal favorite test print of the herringbone gear bearing I printed off a few Maker Faire Robots. It was a fun little print and I like how they look in nGen Yellow filament.
Printed on a Lulzbot Taz 6, Standard Resolution, 20% infill. The robot with his arms down came with support material that was removed during the print cleanup.