Category Archives: 3D Printing

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. ūüėČ

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

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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 ūüėČ )

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

PacMan

Some models on Thingiverse can become addicting to print.¬† I found the PacMan ghosts to be that sort of model. I made one…..

Original Cast of PacMan
Original Cast of PacMan

And one turned into 4…

Original Colors
Original Colors

And 4 into 8 etc etc. The bright colors make a nice addition to the desk and are fun to setup in different configurations.

Extended set of colors
Extended set of colors

I also made a set for my friend Ken who has his own video game museum.

Colorful Ghosts
Colorful Ghosts

“Waka, waka, waka, waka…” — PacMan

Full set of ghosts
Full set of ghosts

The colorful prints are all made from nGen filament.

20 ghosts + PacMan
20 ghosts + PacMan

The gray looking ghosts are printed in Village Plastics glow in the dark blue.

Following PacMan
Following PacMan. Glow in the dark blue PLA ghosts

The glow works well when they are charged up, but the LED lights I have don’t seem ¬†to throw out the right amount of light. I had to put them in a sunny spot or under a traditional incandescent bulb.

PacMan's worst nightmare
PacMan’s worst nightmare

You can find the models for the above prints here:

Pac Guy
http://www.thingiverse.com/make:245627

PacMan Ghost:
http://www.thingiverse.com/make:245624

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

 

Tool Rack for Pliers

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.

For tools that only get used infrequently the holes on the support posts of my maker workbench do a good job at keeping them off the desk, but are a pain to get in and out of for frequently used tools.
For tools that only get used infrequently the holes on the support posts of my maker workbench do a good job at keeping them off the desk, but are a pain to get in and out of for frequently used tools.

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:

Angle view of completed tool rack
Angle view of completed tool rack

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.

Test prints of end caps for 10mm rod.
Test prints of end caps for 10mm rod. (Left is Dark blue nGen filament, right is clear blue PLA)

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.

Printing each side of the tool rack. Printed with a brim to try and minimize any warping.
Printing each side of the tool rack. Printed with a brim to try and minimize any warping.

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.

(Left) Side with brim still attached. (Right) Cleaned up piece ready to go.
(Left) Side with brim still attached. (Right) Cleaned up piece ready to go.

I printed the sides one at a time with a brim to try and minimize any warping.

View from the side of the completed rack.
View from the side of the completed rack.

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.

3/4 view of completed rack loaded up with pliers and nippers
3/4 view of completed rack loaded up with pliers and nippers

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.

Top bar is about 6" above the bench top and can accommodate most sizes of plier and similar tool you are likely to encounter on a maker workbench
Top bar is about 6″ above the bench top and can accommodate most sizes of plier and similar tool you are likely to encounter on a maker workbench

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.

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

 

Maker Faire Robots

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.

Print Details:
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.

Model Location:
From Thingiverse here.

Maker Faire Robots
Maker Faire Robots — Yeah!

If you’d like to see more of the fun random things I print out (And yes others are more interesting than the ubiquitous model below I promise) please check out my Thingiverse profile here.

Take care,
-Bill