Thursday, February 9, 2017

New "FSR Plate" mounting system

I've posted quite a bit about FSR probing along with my previous mounting system. I've been using FSRs for probing for coming up on 3 years. They are 100% reliable, very precise and result in excellent calibration results. I originally designed this system for a Max Metal delta printer but it worked so well that I used it on my Rostock MAX V3 and I'm going to retrofit my other deltas with it over the coming year. There are 2 significant aspects to this new mount.

1. The FSRs are now positioned outside the build plate perimeter as you can see in the renderings below. This minimizes the "teeter totter" effect when probing 1/2 way between FSRs. Moving the probing points out significantly decreases this effect.

2. The second improvement comes in the way the FSRs are mounted and how they are triggered. In my previous mounting system, a printed plunger moved inside a printed cylinder. This led to one of the two reasons folks had problems with FSRs (the other was that their bed is not stiff enough - this mostly applies to the Kossel Krowd™ that simply used glass with a Kaptan heater). The plunger system works reliably but only if you use high quality prints and prepare and lubricate them properly as I've described on multiple forums and here. Otherwise, they can bind ever so slightly, leading to inconsistent triggering. The good news is, this issue is easy to identify and correct. The better news is, this new system eliminates the problem altogether! Here's what it looks like:
With this new system I simply adhere the FSRs and rubber plungers with sticky tape so they are constrained in X-Y but free to move in Z. The FSR has a sticky back, just peal off the protective film and stick it to the top surface of the printer. The plungers that come with the Ultibots FSR kit also have a sticky back, so peal that and stick it to the top of the FSR sensor itself. Now you put a small dab of silicone seal on the top of the 3 rubber plungers (a SMALL dab) and press the FSR Plate onto them and allow to cure.

I actually don't bother with the silicone, I just have my plate resting on top of the plungers. I've never had an issue with the plate moving. I am working on a simple printable locator that will attach to the top printer plate that will keep the bed from shifting but since this has been working so well, I have not bothered.

Finally, you can see in rendering below a recent modification - the FSR Plate now has three ears. In my V3 photo at the start of this post I'm using big binding clips. I needed to add 3 additional rubber plungers under the FSRs to make room for those. But, by tweaking the FSR Plate with the ears I can remove those and use the ears to attach the Onyx/glass with the little blue (or other) holddowns. I do one other thing on my printer, I adhere the Onyx to the top of the FSR Plate with a disk of the 3M 468MP tape we use to attach PEI. This holds the Onyx perfectly flat while allowing it to expand and contract in the X-Y plane without buckling. It works quite well.

2 Drawer Cabinet for SeeMeCNC Rostock MAX V3

My friend Chris Androsoff came up with a great idea to replace a Rostock MAX V3 base panel with a drawer. I saw it when I visited him in Calgary a few weeks ago. I liked the idea but wanted a drawer to organize my nozzles and small tools so I revised it with two drawers as shown here. I've posted the STLs on my Thingiverse account.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Coming up Roses!

I posted this Valentine's Box on thingiverse 3 years ago. A couple of weeks ago ProtoPasta announced a new limited edition Aromatic Rose HTPLA that I just had to have! There are only 36 spools of this stuff and it is made with real rose petals. It is really attractive too, kind of a soft rose/heather color. Here is the box in Aromatic Rose, how sweet it is!

This filament prints beautifully. I did have to raise the temperature up to 205°C from my standard 195°C for most PLAs.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Presenting my all-new V6 3D printed fly fishing reel

It's been two years since I first went public (and mini-viral) with the world's first, fully 3D printed fly fishing reel. Field & Stream Magazine fly fishing editor Joe Cermele first blogged about my reels and then asked me for one to test. He put together this awesome video.
A few months later I made some major (and innovative) updates to the design - I called this the V5 design.
I make the STL files and detailed instructions freely available but I do ask you to agree to a few simple terms. Over 2500 fly fisherman and 3D printing enthusiasts from all across the globe have downloaded the files. In the summer of 2015, following publication of my article A 3D-Printed Fly-Fishing Reel with Click Check in their Journal,  I was asked to present at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vt. I donated my very first "alpha" reel and the first V5 reel to the museum to be part of their permanent collection. They also bestowed the titles "world's lightest 4 weight fly reel" and "first 3D printed fly reel" on my work.

Over the last year I've learned a lot about the reel from all of my great users and even more about "design to 3D print". Although the V5 reel is quite robust there were a few areas that I wanted to improve to allow the reel to handle larger fish and be more robust. I've completed the iteration, design and testing work and now I'm ready to publish my new V6 3D Printed Fly Reel. It has quite a few changes and innovations that distinguish it from its predecessor as you can see.
I'll walk through the major changes but there are dozens of little tweaks to dimensions, etc to improve printability.

Ovalized Pillars - this modification not only makes the pillars (specifically the pillar to backplate junction) much stronger but also really improves printability. The pillars also have a small fillet at their base to improve strength. My informal break tests lead me to conclude that this new design is at least 3-4 times stronger than the V5 design. That's a major improvement.

Conical Spindle Base - this design change improves strength of the spindle-to-backplate junction, greatly improves printability and allows the spool to rotate more freely. 

Square Handle Spindle Attachment - the handle spindle attachment to the spool plate was a weak link in the V5 design. I struggled with this one and tested a lot of ideas. This simple square boss and hole did the trick!

Improved Foot Index - this positions the foot accurately on the reel. The earlier V5 design did not allow the foot to seat accurately or firmly. In addition, a small fillet at the base of the boot pillar significantly improves strength.

Asymmetric Click Check - I developed this innovation for my aluminum fly reel kits but it works just as well on the 3D printed reel. There will be three versions of the backplate - one for left hand retrieve, one for right hand retrieve and a simple symmetrical version like the V5.

Not shown in the diagram is a Friction Pad opposite the click check. This element supports the spool opposite the click check pawl to prevent the spool from binding when retrieving a large fish. My daughter's boy friend Brian actually came up with the idea when I had him beta test assembling one of my aluminum reel kits last autumn. Smart guy!

Along with these enhancements there will be a few other surprises mostly around design elements like porting. Stay tuned for the release sometime in the next week or so (I need to finish the Assembly Guide for the V6 design).

I'd like to thank the many supporters for their kind donations to help continue funding my work. After some consideration, I've decided to offer the STEP files for the complete V6 reel for a $10 donation. This will allow users to customize the reel, tesselate it (mesh) themselves, as well as learn a little about design for 3D printing

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Converting a SeeMeCNC Rostock MAX V3 to Duet WiFi

After a couple of months of working with my V3 in its stock configuration, it's time to migrate to a Duet WiFi controller and RepRapFirmware - for all of the reasons I've written about on this blog. The RAMBo controller that comes with the V3 is fine but it is at least 50 years old in "controller years". While many hobbyists can use RAMBo to make some nice prints, until you've experienced Duet and RepRapFirmware you don't know what you've missed. So let's dive in...

Materials and Preparation
You should take care of a couple of things before diving in to replace the RAMBo. First, you should have all of the necessary parts on hand. These are:

1x Duet WiFi - will include a connector kit
1x 7" PanelDue - this is optional and/or you could use the smaller 4.3" PanelDue

Digi-Key part numbers. I recommend getting 50 pins to have extras:

  • 5x connector housing male 4 position (WM2535-ND)
  • 3x connector housing male 3 position (WM2534-ND)
  • 3x connector housing male 2 position (WM2533-ND)
  • 35x connector male 24-30awg pins (WM2565-ND)
Adafruit 3.3v Trinket - to make the HE280 accelerometer probing adapter as described here (the parts above include the connectors for the adapter)

Print my 7" PanelDue Enclosure if you are installing the 7" PanelDue option

A few pieces of scrap wire. If you kept the scraps from your original kit, you have more than enough!

Pre-commisioning the Duet WiFi
The first thing you should do is pre-commision the Duet WiFi to get it on your network and update to the latest firmware stack and my configuration files. All knowledge on Duet is available on the website and forum. All of the following can be done with the Duet WiFi connected to USB to power it.

Step 1 is to get the Duet WiFi connected to your network. The official guide is here, complete it and then continue.

Step 2 is updating the config.g and other configuration files. You can download this zip file from my Dropbox. It has the necessary /sys and /macros files. You can upload the ZIP file itself in the Duet Web Interface.
  1. Open the Duet Web Interface and click on the Settings tab on the left side. Make sure the General tab is selected.
  2. Click the Upload Files(s) button and then choose the file you downloaded above.
Step 3 is updating the firmware. The current release version is 1.17. There are 3 firmware files, all pre-built and located here. Click on each one and then click the Download button at the upper right.  Here's how to install them:
  1. Open the Duet Web Interface (after doing step 1 above) and click on the Settings tab on the left side. Make sure the General tab is selected.
  2. Click the Upload Files(s) button and then choose the DuetWiFiFirmware-1.17.bin (or the latest version) file. It is important that you install the files in this order. Once the firmware updates, you will be asked if you want to install it, select Ok and wait for the install to complete.
  3. Do the same for the DuetWebControl-1.14-b4.bin (or latest version) and install it.
  4. Finally, install the DuetWiFiServer-1.03-ch.bin (or latest version) and install it.
You can now disconnect the Duet WiFi from USB and continue with the installation.

Making the Pigtails
Next, you will make the pigtail adapters to make it easy to wire the Duet WiFi.

1) Make four stepper adapters using one of the male 4 position housings on one end and one of the 4 position housings included with your Duet WiFi on the other end. These should be about 3" long (not a critical dimension so don't be persnickety about measuring!) Note the orientation of the locking tabs on the connectors. The colors match the wire colors of the existing RAMBo harness. I like to label the black connector X, Y, Z and E.

Make 4

2) Make three endstop adapters using one of the male 3 position housings on one end and one of the 3 position housings included with your Duet WiFi on the other, also about 3" long. These only have 2 wires so make sure you connect them to the correct pins as shown in the photo.
Make 3

3) Make one hotend thermistor "Y" adapter using one of the male 2 position housings on one end and one 2 position and one 3 position housings included with your Duet WiFi on the other, also about 3" long. I used green and white wire as shown to match the RAMBo harness.
Make 1
4) Make one bed thermistor adapter using one of the male 2 position housings on one end and one 2 position housings included with your Duet WiFi on the other, also about 3" long. Polarity does not matter. I used black and white wire for this.

One of the 4 position housings and one two position housing are used for the Trinket probe interface, the remaining connectors are used once the Duet is in place.

Installing the Duet WiFi
Disconnect the harness and other wiring from the RAMBo. Make sure to mark each as you remove the connector so you know what to reconnect to. A small piece of masking tape with a label on each works well.

Install the Duet WiFi printed adapter using the original screws that attached the RAMBo mounting pillars.

Note the orientation to accommodate the fan. Make sure you don't pinch any wires and that the fan power wires are routed to the right of the fan as shown.

Install the Duet WiFi with its power connectors oriented to the right as shown. Then connect the main power wires (red and black) and heated bed wire (black). It might be easiest to connect these wires before attaching the Duet to the mount. I used 4 M3x10 cap screws with washers to attach Duet.
Next, install the stepper pigtails and connect to the original RAMBo stepper harness. Note the X, Y, Z and E orientation as shown.
Now you can connect the X, Y and Z endstop pigtails and harness - pay attention to install on the proper axes.
Install the Y adapter you made in step 3 above. It connects as shown to the Duet and RAMBo harness.
Connect the bed thermistor adapter.
Find the orange wire coming out of the HE280 whip. You will install a 2 position connector to it as shown. Then install it on the Duet as shown. This is the part cooling fan wire.
Hook up the hotend wiring to the hotend connector on Duet WiFi as shown.

Install a 2 pin connector on the Rostock MAX V3's top ventilation fan (the one inside the Duet mount cutout) and connect as shown. It is important to get the polarity of the wires correct or the fan will not run.

Now you can install the HE280 accelerometer adapter. Here is the completed board and harness (note that yours will not have the green LED, that was for testing). The whip should have a 2 position connector with a single blue wire and a 4 position connector wth a red and black wire. They connect to the adapter's mating connectors.

The other end of the HE280 adapter attaches to either the Duet's E0 endstop 3 pin connector or to its 4 pin Z probe connector, depending on which version you built. This is all described in the instructions and header file on GitHub. Attach to the Duet WiFi.

If you are installing a PanelDue, connect it to the 4 position connector on Duet. 

That's it for the basic Duet WiFi installation and configuration. Now you an proceed with making sure everything works properly. First power up your printer. If you have PanelDue, you should see its display. If not, power down and figure out your connection issue before proceeding.

Connect to DuetWiFi from a web browser. Once connected, verify the bed and hot end thermistors are giving sensible readings. Then heat the bed to 50°C and the hotend to 100°C to test them. Once your bed and hotend are working, you can test the steppers. Click the home button and watch carefully. Have your cursor on the Emergency Stop button or finger on the power supply button in case of problems. Next, bring your hotend up to printing temperature and test the extruder.

If all of that works, you are ready to test the HE280 accelerometer adapter for probing. Home your printer and click the Auto Bed Compensation button. If all goes well, you will have a calibrated, ready to print Rostock MAX V3 with a Duet WiFi and RepRapFirmware! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Proto-pasta Matte Fiber HTPLA

I have been on a quest for a nice matte black PLA to use to print parts for the fly fishing reel kits I manufacture and sell. When I saw Proto-pasta's Matte Fiber HTPLA, I knew I had finally found what I was looking for. I started with a roll of black but with the results I'm getting, I'll be buying all available colors!

Firstly, I found this HTPLA just as easy to print as normal PLA. I did have to increase my hot end temp about 5°C but otherwise, my standard 2mm SLOW 15mm/s retract, 4mm Z-lift and other slicing parameters were the same. I normally print parts on my delta printers but since getting the Prusa i3 MK2 last week, I'm putting it through its paces. So I loaded up my torture test model into KISSlicer and had at it. As you will see, this part requires PERFECTION for the first layer. The concentric rings are designed into the part, they are not something a slicer can do. The layer height, adhesion, string and blob control all have to be perfect in order to produce the high quality parts I put my name on. So, take a look at this:

This part is perfect. And it had 5 platter mates, I printed them 6-up on the i3 MK2 and all of them look like this one. One cool thing about the HTPLAs is they can be heat treated at 110°C for an hour or so. This significantly raises the heat deflection temperature (HDT) to 120-140°C - higher than standard PLA, ABS or PET. These parts are heading for the oven...

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Prusa i3 MK2 build

I've followed Josef Prusa's work for several years and even built a couple of earlier i3s with friends. Two recent developments caught my attention and I just felt compelled to check them out myself. The first development is a sensor and compensation system that actually corrects for skewed X-Y geometry on a Cartesian printer. The second is a new dual/quad multi material upgrade.

The i3 MK2 with the geometry correction is available now but the multi material upgrade is pre-order with shipping expected to start in January. I put in my order for the printer and quad upgrade about 4 weeks ago. The printer arrived, on time, last Thursday. I got busy putting the kit together on Friday.

Here's the traditional "open box" photo. The kit is very well packed and everything survived the trip from Czechoslovakia in tact. The printed Assembly Instructions and 3D Printer Handbook were an unexpected surprise and was an early indication of the focus on usability that Prusa puts into these kits.

The next pleasant surprise was that all of the tools needed for assembly were shipped with the printer - I thought I was the only kit manufacturer that did that with my fly fishing reel kits!

All of the parts were top notch from the 3D printed parts, to the authentic E3D V7 hotend and mini RAMBo control board. The Z axis steppers actually have the screws integrated as the stepper shaft - there is no coupler. This is an interesting idea and simplification that eliminates a potential point of problems.

The printer also comes with a PEI print surface (need I jump for enthusiastic joy about that?) along with a roll of quality PLA and a glue stick to treat the bed for printing other materials. The kit includes everything a beginner (or experienced) 3D printer needs to be successful. The only significant thing missing is a part removal spatula like the type SeeMeCNC include with their Rostock MAX kits.

Assembly was a pleasant 6 hours (including photographs along the way). The manual has an on-line version with lots of user comments and tips. I used a combination of both, finding the high resolution photos online to be very helpful.

Once the machine was assembled, it was time to commission it. Here's where Prusa's attention to usability really shines. The firmware is pre-installed and, more importantly, is customized to tightly integrate with the probing system and calibration. When you first turn on, the firmware recognizes a new printer and guides you through an integrated Self Test that checks stepper motion, hot end and bed heaters, fans and end stops. Very clever and very helpful. My printer completed the Self Test without issues.

Once the initial check completes, calibration is the next step. Again, this is simply a matter of selecting an option from the LCD panel. The printer runs through its paces scanning each of the nine probe points that are manufactured into the heat bed itself. Again, very clever and tightly integrated. Upon completion I was informed that I had slight skew but that would be removed by the compensation. So onward I pressed.

Calibrating the probe is probably the most difficult step and it is quite easy with the docs and videos Prusa provides. Once Z height is calibrated, it can be easily tweaked - even in the middle of a print - from a panel menu and using the knob to move the nozzle up and down. The included calibration gcode simply draws simple back and forth lines on the bed as you tweak the  height until the first layer looks good and sticks well. Very simple and it really makes this critical calibration simple for even beginners.

My first print was the Prusa name tag as recommended. It came out perfect with an excellent first layer and no stringing or blobbing (the gcode was provided). My second print was a case for a Raspberry Pi to run OctoPrint to control the i3 MK2. I used KISSlicer and again, the print came out really nice.
I've since printed nearly a Kg of several different PLAs including the matte fiber HTPLA from Proto-Pasta that I really like for my fly fishing reel kit parts. The material printed like a dream. It really made me aware of how trouble free direct extruders are over extruders using a Bowden tube like all of delta printers have.

Next I decided to try the new Prusa Edition of Slic3r. Apparently, Prusa has been working to improve, add features and reliability to Slic3r. Frankly, I've had so many bad experiences with Slic3r that I rarely use it. But Prusa's Edition is a different beast. This new version has a really interesting Cubic infill type that results in better 3D rigidity. It is very cool and I can see using this for some of my work. Another really nice feature is "Ensure wall thickness", which looks ahead and determines how much support and walls are needed UNDER upper layers in order to print nicely. The example Pumpkin Head print really shows the spectacular results.

(from Prusa's Web site)

Although I rarely use a slicer's support tools (I either design supports into the parts I design or I add them to others' designs in an STL editing tool) a lot of work has been done in this area.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the gcode and prints I'm getting with Slic3r Prusa Edition. I'll continue to use it for the i3 MK2. Prusa has committed to continuing development and rewriting the app in C++ for performance. It should be interesting to watch what comes out of this development.

The Prusa i3 MK2 kit is a great 3D printer for a very reasonable price. There really were no compromises in its design and components. As refined as the actual printer design is though, what really sets the i3 MK2 apart from every other printer - kit or pre-built - that I've seen/used/built is Prusa's holistic approach to ensure a great user experience from the time the box is opened to the the completion of the first print. Details like integrated Self Test and sophisticated calibration in the firmware to support this experience should pay dividends with happy users! I can hardly wait for the quad multi filament upgrade.