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  • steve918 9:45 pm on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    3D printed Cyclone Dust Separator 

    I do a bit of wood working and have trouble with my shop vac filter clogging and needing to be replaced frequently.  The filters are $20 a pop and the vacuum is much less effective at filtering really small particles than a cyclone so I designed a cyclone separator  to extract the saw dust more efficiently and keep my filter from getting clogged up.  Commercial separators cost somewhere between $75-200 and this one is just as effective at about $25 including the extra hose.



  • steve918 12:06 am on April 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Fusion360 Tip – Import Parts Directly from McMaster Carr 

    There is a neat feature in Fusion 360 that allows you to import parts from McMaster’s without leaving Fusion.

    I recommend watching full-screen.

  • steve918 11:55 pm on December 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Lulzbot Extruder Hacking 


    I was hoping that all my extruder issues were over when I sold the Makerbot (mentioned in my previous post), but unfortunately I am slowly becoming an expert in building and repairing Lulzbot extruders.  The good news is that unlike the Makerbot the Lulzbot is 100% open-source and it is trivial for me to print new parts and make repairs and modifications.

    I’ll be glad when I’m done 3D printing parts for a 3D printer and printing other things, but right now I’m knee deep in extruders.

    The pic above is all of the extruders for the Lulzbot Taz 4 which I am currently working on.

    From left to right:

    • Stock extruder with a modified fan shroud to allow printing in PLA
    • “Fangtooth Guppy” extruder with Hexagon hot-end.
    • Flexystruder for flexible filament

    Stock Budascnozzle

    The stock hot-end on the Taz for has some issues if you wish to print anything besides ABS.

    First off, it leaks!  I’ve had serious issues with filament coming from places that it should not be.  This is a real problem.

    I’ve had PLA oozing from the PTFE nut, between the nozzle and the heater block, above the heater block, and even through the setscrew hole for the heat-break! There are a few ways to fix this listed on their website.  I suggest doing all three if you really want it to not leak.  Also make sure you tighten the nozzle and heat-break into the PTFE nut really well, then heat it up to temperature and tighten it up again. Although PLA seems to ooze and leak worse than the other filaments it’s not the only one that has a problem with it;  I’ve had a decent amount of Ninjaflex leaking too.

    To get the Lulzbot Taz printing PLA reliably you also need to update the fan shroud to split design like this one or add a second fan dedicated to cooling the extruder fins.  Without this you’ll be able to print smaller things, but will run into issues with the extruder clogging on longer prints.

    I’ve only had the Taz 4 for a few weeks and already blew a heater resistor which Lulzbot offered to replace.   It’s a cheap part, but kind of a pain to replace so I am hoping this is not a common issue.

    Another thing to note is that the max temperature of 235c won’t allow you to print some more exotic filaments like polycarbonate. Bummer.

    Fangtooth Guppy

    “Fangtooth Guppy” is the development name for a hotend replacement for the Lulzbot Taz that utilizes a Hexagon all metal hot-end.

    The Hexagon hot-end is all metal and has less parts than the Budaschozzle, but requires a dedicated fan for cooling.  I haven’t figured out how I’m going to run a dedicated 12v line from the electronics to power it yet, but it shouldn’t be a terrible ordeal.

    I’m excited to print with the Hexagon hotend; It seems like a well designed part.  I’m hoping I don’t have to deal with PLA creeping everywhere this way and maybe I’ll be able to print at temperatures above 235c.

    I’m a worried about getting the heater cartridge to work, I bought a few 24v cartridges like it and tried to replace the blown heater resistor in my original Budaschozzle with it, but the cartridge did not maintain temperatures above 120c with the extruder fan on and took so long to heat up that the software calibration routine would timeout.


    My initial build used all PLA parts and as the pictures below show, a combination of the heat from the extruder and springiness of the filament caused severe warping over about 40 hours of printing.

    The new Flexystruder with a purple body is printed in ABS.  I haven’t tested the new ABS parts yet.  I expect them to fair better, but after seeing how much stress was placed on the PLA I’m a bit worried.  I kept the PLA gear though, they seem to wear better than ABS and not produce bits of powdered plastic.

    So far I have only tried Ninjaflex, but I have some Filaflex on order. Ninjaflex is flexible, but has minimum stretchiness and reminds me more of vinyl than rubber.

    Water Schnozzle

    All of this extruder hacking inspired me to create a 3D printable, water cooled, heat sink that will work with existing Budasnozzle parts.  I’m hoping I can combine this with a heater cartridge and possibly print at much higher temperatures.  My goal is to be able to print PEEK.

    Final Thoughts

    The Lulzbot Taz 4 is a very solid machine, but I wouldn’t likely recommend it to anyone as their first 3D printer. In my opinion the current Budaschozzle is really holding it back for less experienced users. The fact that the Taz is touted as the machine to get if you want to be able to print anything is clouded by the fact that it won’t even print PLA reliably without modifications and the hot-end won’t reach temperatures above 235c.

    • rhysharris145695171 10:18 am on January 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Steven,

      I like this article, and I’m impressed with the extruders. How have you found printing with NinjaFlex? I am considering purchasing a reel to experiment with.


    • Evan 8:01 am on June 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Steve,
      I noticed in your article you ran into the same trouble I did when trying to replace your heat resistor with your ceramic heater cartridge. Here is the fix: Go to configuration.h in your firmware, replace the PID_MAX (which for a buda 2.0 should be set to around 70-90 (out of a max of 255) to around 220-225 (this is what lulzbot uses for their ceramic cartridges in the Hexagon hot end). What you are doing is adjusting the max current the Rambo will supply to the heater during PID mode. Make sure to also change this for Bang-Bang mode (these two lines are right next to one another in configuration.h). Good luck and happy hacking!

  • steve918 11:06 am on November 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3d printing, makerbot   

    Makerbot Woes 

    I’ve had a 3D printer for a while now and really love the technology.  I especially love sharing the joy and wonder of 3D printing with other people.  While I initially had a lot of issues getting good prints out of my Afinia H279, over time I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks that make life a lot easier and the one time I’ve had a hardware failure Afinia was very responsive.  With the addition of BuildTak gluestick my H-series printer is a workhorse.  The quality and repeatability I get from it is great.

    Makerbot, until recently, has been universally touted as the leader when it comes to hobbyist level, affordable 3D printers.  Unfortunately their latest product line doesn’t deliver.2014-10-14 21.49.34

    When I got my Makerbot Replicator Gen5 from a colleague it was already unable to print.  In fact the previous owner had only made one successful print on it despite numerous attempts.

    I knew that there was going to be some work to do to get it in shape to print, but I have had my Afinia apart a number of times and fixed clogged print heads, burnt up bed heaters, and a number of other things so I felt up to the task.  Unfortunately Makerbot has made the Gen5 printers unserviceable.  It takes weeks to resolve something as simple as a clogged nozzle.

    Here is a quick timeline of my experience.

    • Day 0 – Received Makerbot
    • Day 1 – Spent many hours setting up machine.  Leveling process is really slow and didn’t work the first time through.  Had to re-run the process 3-4x before I was satisfied that the bed was level and the process wasn’t asking me to make notable changes each time.   I spent hours unclogging print head only to have it immediately clog again when resuming printing.
    • Day 2 – Was able to get a small print (a flexy bracelet) out of the machine by unloading/loading filament every-time the extruder started to clog.  I had to do this 4-5 times for this short print and it required me to stand over the machine the entire time.
    • Day 3 – Filed a ticket with Makerbot for the Smart Extruder clogging issue.  Also tried to purchase a second Smart Extruder so that I would have a spare for times like this, but their website would not allow me to checkout. So I filed a second ticket about their website.
    • Day 6 – Received a scripted reply from Makerbot asking me to try a number of things to unclog the extruder.  I replied immediately with numerous screenshots and detailed explanation of the issue.
    • Day 7 – Makerbot support replies saying they will send out a new extruder the same day.
    • Day 14 – Makerbot sent me an email saying they fixed the issue with their web checkout system.  They definitely did not.  I still cannot buy things using my account from their website.
    • Day 20 – I email Makerbot concerned that the extruder hasn’t arrived  Makerbot support replies with a tracking number.
    • Day 22 – Extruder arrives via UPS ground.  Three weeks in we are ready to print.
    • Day 23-29 – Next week of printing goes pretty well.  I put the thing through probably 60 hours of printing and for the most part it isn’t bad.  I had some delimitation issues and issues with small feature print quality that most printers would require some fidgeting and tweaking to improve on.
    • Day 30 – Replacement smart extruder is clogged.  Not fully clogged and just like before it unclogs easily, but within minutes of printing it will become clogged again and there is nothing you can do to fix it.
    • Day 31 –  List this thing on eBay.

    This is a timeline of my frustration, but by no means an exhaustive list.  I also ran into numerous bugs in Makerware that maybe didn’t prevent me from getting stuff done, but were really annoying. I also had a lot of issues with parts pulling up from the raft while printing and general delimitation issues.  These things are usually overcome easily by tweaking the extruder temp profile, but given that I was running Makerbot filament using the default Makerbot profile I really expected the prints to come out better and have less issues.  I even have questions about the quality of the Makerbot filament because I have had tried running it in other printers and seem to have more issues with it than other PLA including cheap SainSmart filament.

    One last notable thing is that the 5th gen Makerbot is LOUD.  This is not a desktop machine.  Your colleagues will not appreciate you sitting this anywhere near them.  You’ll want to put this thing in a closet or spare room somewhere.

    The 5th Generation Replicator is a huge misstep for Makerbot.  They tried to move too fast and fumbled often.

    Makerbot is a poster-child for what not to do.

    • Start an open-source product and build up a huge community
    • Raise a bunch of venture capital
    • Close-source the product design
    • Sell out
    • Sue competitors
    • Piss off core community
    • Ship an updated and inferior product

    When you are in an emerging market there is a lot of pressure to stay ahead and add features which makes it easy  lose focus on the things that matter.  It is extremely hard to take a step back and identify what those things are.  Being a venture backed company only adds to the pressure.

    When the 5th gen Replicator was released, my first reaction was awe for what Makerbot had accomplished; the product images look amazing.  With Makerbot’s reputation for making great products I expected the new generation of products to be even better, more polished and I really wanted to get my hands on one.  Unfortunately their hardware and software is anything but polished and the current generation is a huge step backwards in quality and usability.

    During my short time owning a Makerbot, I found out that numerous other folks who were very unsatisfied. Watching Makerbot stumble is a pretty sad ordeal to me, but it is satisfying to see companies who are fully supporting the open-source hardware community like Ultimaker and Lulzbot rise to the occasion while producing products that continually improve and delight.

  • steve918 10:58 pm on September 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Racing stripe 

    This simple racing stripe transforms the room from a nursery to a proper big-boy room.  I didn’t want to spend ~$15 on a pint of interior paint and the stripe is high enough on the wall it shouldn’t see a lot of wear so I opted to use a bottle of $2 craft paint.  The letters are laser cut 1/8″ MDF attached with double-sided tape.

    2014-08-31 14.40.37  2014-08-31 14.40.522014-08-31 14.41.31

  • steve918 7:57 pm on October 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Cowboy Sheriff Badge 

    Designed using iDraw on Mac, cut out of 1/8″ fiberboard, then painted silver. After that they went back into the laser to etch the lettering and filled in the lettering with a black Sharpe. I attached some badge magnets to the back with hot-glue to finish them off.

    2013-10-29 18.47.07

  • steve918 9:23 am on November 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Simple Golang Keystore 

    After doing mobile programming for a while I’ve become fond of  the simple, non-performant, OS key-value stores.  While playing with Golang on the Raspberry Pi I thought it would be nice to have.

    So for your amusement I went ahead and released it. https://github.com/steve918/keystore

  • steve918 7:34 pm on November 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Google just told Amazon to get off their lawn 

    It seems like Google is targeting Amazon directly with their latest legal agreement.

    Section 3.4 of Google’s new terms, which were updated Tuesday, reads, “You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.”

    The Kindle is by far the most popular Android device that provides a derived SDK.

    source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57550824-93/google-modifies-android-sdk-to-battle-platform-fragmentation/

  • steve918 7:10 am on October 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Golang on Raspberry Pi 

    It took a few tries for me to get it working, but I have Go running on my Raspberry Pi.

    Here are a few of the references I used to get it working:

    Between the three of those I have a working installation and my test app is pretty snappy. The embedded web-server and test app are running on less than 1mb of memory so far.

    For anyone who is interested I uploaded the .deb files so you can install them via dpkg instead of waiting on it to compile.

    I also got a $10 wifi dongle I purchased on eBay working, great fun this weekend.

    Update: Although having Debian packages would be nice the method I used had some issues when using cgo.  For this reason I would highly recommend building from the current repository tip from source using the first tutorial above by Dave Cheney.  By doing so you will no longer need to apply the patch listed.

  • steve918 8:43 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Cool bicycle brake disk clock 

    My wife made me this great clock for my birthday. The brake disk was free at a local bike shop. Very cool “up-cycling”. (very much pun intended)

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