K2S0 Will Make Me Extra Nerdy

Cassian said he had to! 

Happy Star Wars Day Everybody! I realized that I really don't have much in the way of Star Wars wearables, so let's change that! I've been working on a full-size K2SO head to do some motion control design work for Darren AKA Dr. SciFi (seriously, go check him out, this guy's awesome.) And a while ago, I noticed that, externally speaking, it's almost perfect for a helmet of sorts!

But alas, the internal structure denies any such dreams. The big idea has always been to make a fiberglass head for the final product, to reduce weight and add all of the internal space you could need. So my new goal is to get the head done and make a crude kinda  hard-hat for the Solo release! 

So I went to Menards and acquired a can of Gel Coat fiberglass resin to make the mold master. I suspect this will take a couple of tries to get "just right" but you never know. 

As I got this home, I realized something... 

I forgot to finish printing the rest of the head. whoops. 

So that was cut and sent to the printer so I could start to size some of my old raft pieces to act as filler chunks. The eyes and some of his panels make for some pretty deep undercuts, my gut reaction is to make silicone molds of everything, but that gets expensive fast. The plan is to finish the PLA head and then make a multi-part fiberglass mold of it. I'm not sure how I'll get the proper gradient for the eyes, but I suspect it'll work out in the end. 

So in between now and finishing, what can I do? Good Question: I'm going to work on the eyes. The PLA, as I have it now, is to have disks of this translucent white acrylic I have, set in a bracket and surrounded by white LEDs to illuminate, Realistically I think I'll only need four, but I'm going to do 8/eye. I'll find a place to nest in another cell phone battery and a switch. but that'll come later and in a 3d printed form I'm sure. 

Need Output

Johnny Five Build

I love short circuit... Eat me.

I bought a Johnny Five with the express purpose of building a wheelchair out of it, i am.

Let's Backtrack: Remember that -power wheelchair- i purchased a month ago? I've made a resolution to myself. I'm going to modify that build's initial design, because i only haveone power wheelchair. I am continuing that project, but the main chasis will be a little different than the original "MT55" design i was going for. 
Now you are cionfusedly up to speed...

I'm building a johnny five. Plain and simple. I'm going to make him modular, to a certain extent. I'm going to be able to take his head off of his body, and his body off of his treads. I'd like to be able to store his body, have the tank-dozer-thing running around, and have a friendly face to banter with. 
I'm planning on having minimal circuitry all around, and having the main  stuff in the head. i may make his tail removable, but i have to look into power and related. Currently i've purchased two UL1 lawn and garden batteries for the build, but i still have to gain acess to the  joystick so i can have actual voltages involved in everything. 

Once i'm able to ride a carcass of a wheelchair i'll begin to slim down the ECU. Hopefully to only three plugs: Power, Motor io, and control IO. all of this can be in the base, because i'll have a plug inside that allows for the interchangability. 

I awoke from my pipe-dream last night deciding to get this whole project done by the premier of Ready Player One. on the 8th of march. so i need to be cooking.
I finished building my 3d printer on Tuesday the 3rd of October, and i'm applying for a starving hacker memebership at Pumping Station One, so i can begin to learn how to machine things. 

My robot arm parts should be in by the end of next week, and i may have sourced a small propane tank for my auto-foundry. If all goes well, i'll have chunks of aluminum rolling off of an assembly line in no time. I'll cover this whole setup in another post.

I'm going to start (For the most part) with the base. his treads. I'm pretty sure about their dimensions but i've sent out some dimension/file requests on -The RPF- and am currently waiting on a response. First things later. let's get the electronics running.

There's a ton of empty space in the wheelchair, all of the elecctronics, if you cut the cables off ath the motor housing, can fit inside of a briefcase without an issue. I'm going to whip up a "Test bed" for the motors out of some scrap steel i have lying around. that will allow me to transport and test things as i go, but still keep it inside a small package. I will be using some portions of the original chair. 
while i'm away at other things i'll be 3d printing some of the aestetic parts. the greeblies on his head, the crystal key, the wierd panel covers in his tank section. much of it will be simple modeliong, but i'm sure there will be some tricky parts as well as the regular tedium, like riveting all of the rubber pieces onto his treads.

Once i figure out what the deal is with my big foundry's regulator, i may be able to actually melt a lot of my aluminum into usable chunks. I've figured out that i can cast a crucible full by making a simple sand form around a 2" pvc pipe, so i'll start by masss producing those. I Have an overview of my foundry setup -Here-


So I need to do some maths...

Johnny Five has a maximum height of 7', and is incredibly personable. I know my pipe-dream of havig a Johnny Five by march is probs not going to happen. The Treads should be the simplest part, for me at least (Software makes Dave's thinker box hurt.) 
I've realized that this machine needs to be primarily driven by a Raspberrry Pi, but i think it will be easiest to make the base Arduino driven, as I already know how to do that. I can make an access panel for re-programming... I'll look into getting either a Teensy, pro mini, or attiny84 to work in this scenario. just to save space.
I need to get my 3d printer up and running, It would be useful to start prototyping some parts of Johnny's head, as well as the various covers on his lowest third.


Three months later, and we have some parts together. and a little more knowledge under our belt. Ont he positive side, i have received a huge number of files from a couple of different sources. on the lower side, I have next to none of them printed out. I am having extrusion troubles with my current printer and may end up modifying it to a bowden-to-nozzle setup... we'll see...


Alrighty, Johnny is not getting finished by the premier, I've just had too many hiccups with this that and the other in order to do it right, and I wanna do it right. So! where do we go from here? More or less in the same direction, just slower and with more metal parts. I've gathered some more reference material and I think I can make the majority of his parts fairly easily. I found the whole neck joint for $115 shipped, so we're doing that flat out. I'm still convinced that I can get the OpenCV to work with the Raspberry Pi Compute module and a pair of cameras, I'll still employ a set of sensors so he will have some form of obstacle avoidance, I did get my LCD in this week, so now we can work on that. I still think I wanna have an open port-interface system with him so I can work with the compute-module directly, but I need connectors and cables for that, so that'll take some time, let alone a compute module and interface board. The only issue with the MC boards is that it's kinda big, If I remember correctly, the model I am looking at (it can be found here) breaks out every pin into a designated section. I'd like to see if I can create a specialized one for just the eyes... that then outputs that to a main brain for ultimate control... regardless, I think I can create a nav menu with nothing but the main dial and button on the data-tray. Anyways. I'm going go see if I can create an ultra-slim LCD setup so I can use it in more areas than just johnny... this kit was still fairly cheap, but save a penny.... 

anyways, Next thing to do is mount and attempt to cut the tires for the treads. I still gotta build the turntable for that. 


Hullo There! WE HAVE THE NECK SETUPS!!! I was wrong with that last entry, What I purchased was 4 "Neck cup ball assemblies" Which is a fancy way of saying Johnny's Neck-Shock mounts. So I bought those and the official Input-Inc Lip Light PCBs and They're all in!!! WOO HOO!!! The head I bought back when is super off, so I guess I get to model my own... darn..

I've figured out (on paper, digital comes in the coming weeks,) how to mount the batteries/motors/treads so that I can use my existing hardware! WOOHOO!!! I'll still be making the Wevolver Drone, but this will be excellent in getting Johnny up and running. I have a feeling that the Wevolver Drone will be a little more haphazard than I'm currently picturing...  Regardless! What's next? I've got a friend looking for the Lenses, and I'll be talking to some of the people who have them, I'll be looking to make some casting dies for the Treads. I'll still be making the rubber ones if I can get a tensioning system done effectively. I'll be needing to make some weight calculations... 



WOO Lot has happened. I've started building a robot dog, the next HALO was announced, I've acquired a third 3d printer, SOLO was a tad bit of a disappointment. I have located the proper lip LED's and i can get enough for 2 sets for like... $45 to the door. i've designed a CNC machine. Infinity war nearly killed me. I have an X-wing helmet that will be ready for glass in the near future. I haven;t touched k2... who will also be ready for glass in the near future... Metra's changed their schedule... 

anyways,,, I have a lotta work to do. I still have to make the "screen bracket" for Johnny, and i just mean actually print it. Once i do that, then i should be able to boot to the screen no problem... i may be overthinking it, but i think i can have the screen run by a zero that's accepting commands from another pi. my options are, 

otherwise, i could just run an exceptionally long ribbon cable down the length of his body... but the real question is do i even need to? can i just run... two? pis and get away with it? I'm still using the arduino for motion control, and i'll need something for the arms and laser, but i'll have to do some serious work... Time to go bother Vex for the Johnny dimensions... And he may be doing this now... let's watch...

I'm going to attach this here so i don;t have to hunt for it again. One of these days i'll set up a proper website where all of this makes sense.

Anyways, Vex says he's uploading the files now. I pray to GOD they have ONE tread in them, Once i get that, i can design a decent cnc mill for them. I really don;t wanna do single tracks at a time, but i would be willing to do such things... Doing such things would actually allow me to work with the current set of crucibles... and that may be beneficial... Judging by NYC-CNC's post, the whole thing should be less than 2.5x1x8.5... which means we could, in theory, do one at a time, I'd have to make the rough castings extra everything, but it would lend itself nicely to a pocket cnc... I may be able to cast two at a crack if i play my cards right... i have to let them naturally cool though... and that's going to be a pain... I think i'll go home and make a coffee and wait for the files to finish uploading. 

Buildings on the Moon

Buildings on the Moon

I've realized that i love being at school. Having a building that's maintained by someone else, where i can come in, work, focus on what I need to do, Get stuff done. 

Regardless... I was perusing future work spaces (at the time of penning this, I'm 21 and still in community college,) and came across Bradley University They happen to be hosting a 3D printing challenge. I am unable to compete, as I discovered it too late to form a team and register. Still, I'm going to run with it, Phase 2 finals just wrapped, and I've recently gotten two major components together:

The important portion of the wheelchair.

The important portion of the wheelchair.

Purchased for $125 on Craigslist, The power wheelchair pictured above, doesn't quite work, I'm attempting to figure that out. I still need to buy a second battery for full power, but I'm excited to get it running. I've begun to work with Adafruit's (discontinued and, consequently, discounted) CC3000 WiFi shield, So far I've gotten the example sketches to work, but not much more than that. The next chunk of hardware I need to figure out is an old router I have lying around. The idea is to make this a LAN where each "computer" talks to each other. How I'm going to implement this I've currently no idea. 

So why am I doing this? I want to see if I can. and I want to dig up a portion of my back yard, and make a cellar of sorts... I dunno.  I have no real motivation other than the fact that I know I can use this to build initial shelters off planet. I'd love to test his theory out on the Moon, or Mars, Whatever the sponsors like. But that is a few years and several successes later. 


10-06-2017: Update. 

Uhh.. So i should probably back up and open up a bit. I've been dreaming of leaving this planet for a while. Maybe ever since i read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, Specifically book five, Foundation and Earth. Its a good read, fairly short, all things considered, so i won't spoil it. GO READ IT NOW. So i read that, my sophomore year of high-school? so 2012. and have been slowly mulling over this idea of building a colony on the moon, and really, it would've just been a coffin for me, i have sketches i'll upload in a gallery below for some sensible ideas. and all of this was further re-enforced by movies like 2001, Moon, Iron Sky, (I'm serious. like 100%. I've used ideas from that movie in some of these sketches.) Whaddayaknow? Star Wars made it to this list. Contact, Solaris, Tomorrowland, Interstellar, The Martian, The Day the Earth Stood Still, (this is the point of the program where the text gets smaller and smaller, character by character, until i pop back in scale with:) and by books like, surprise surprise, the Foundation series, Ender's Game, My Side of the Mountain, Armada, and Many others i can't recall right now.  Ive done research, albeit rudimentary, on what plants would be most beneficial and practical to seed prior to our arrival so there would be enough analog oxygen production, unfortunately, i am unable to gather samples of Regolith to test some of these, but you know how it goes.

Back to the "Update" part of this update, I watched a video yesterday...

This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdUX3ypDVwI&t=1505s


I have friends that would've been furous about this, had they been in my situation, but i couldn't be happier!!! i've always felt that SpaceX was out of reach, but now it's so close i can taste it. The Door's open, there's just some crap in the way. 

A Novel Test

How do you read? Not a journal like this, but a story? Do you replay it as a movie? Or are you in the Millenium Falcon's cockpit, throwing the levers to make the jump to hyperspace? or does your mind slump back into reality, recognizing only words on a page. Obviously some stories bore us. Their message, meant for someone else, curls back together, and slumps to the floor, as we drift off into the realm of our subconscious. If you are the ones who can "see" the story, are you able to control what you see? Here's a sample text, written by yours truly:

"The sleek, silver starship sat there, waiting patiently in the hangar for it's pilot. Clouds of gas rippled away from the fuel lines, catching the light as it passed away from the craft"

What did you "see" ? Did you picture a chromed 50's dreamboat? or a gunmetal grey Attack ship? Where are you? Are you in the cockpit? Are you walking up to it? are you underneath it? are you observing it from some distance? from a conference room perhaps? 

How is the ship oriented, is it on the floor or suspended? If suspended, is it anchored by something? connected to the wall or ceiling? or is it hovering there?

Could you see outside the hangar door? What did you see? were you on a secret base, built into the side of an asteroid, slowly spinning with the local star blazing into the opening? Or were you in an aluminum and steel skinned, glass paneled hangar of today? What about the hangar opening? What shape was it? How did it function? Split-center rectangle? Hexagonal iris? Blue-laser light force-field?

How about the fuel line? Describe it. What did you see? Did it extend from the ship? reaching into a tank and filling itself? Or did it attach to the ship from the ceiling? How about a fill truck? Where on the ship did the hose attach to? Under the wing? Next to the cockpit? On which side was it? Did it land smack dab in the center of the roof?

Could you discern wings or engines? could you tell which way was forward just by looking at it?

Taking a step back, what is the floor's color? Is it a smooth material, or is it a rough material? Stone, steel or Grate? Is there a ceiling? Is there a floor? Where is the hangar opening in relation to your vertical orientation when piloting the ship? What direction is the ship pointing in in relation to you, if you're not already in it?

Let's get to the smoke, what color is it? Is the color coming from the source of light? or is the light simply illuminating the smoke's natural color? Is it thick and rolling? like a smokestack from a seam engine? or is it wispier: Thin and quick?  does it sink or float? does it give you a sense of concern? or adventure? 



How quickly could you answer those questions? Was it as simple as replaying the scene in your head? or did you have to go back and think about what you saw? 


Food for thought.


So. the movie's been out for a week... What now?

Not sure. Still super hyped about it. I'll be going to my second viewing on Sunday. Then I'll be headed to LaGrange for a Black Panther viewing. It's about time I see that... Honestly though... I could wait to see that on DVD. If only people at C2E2 wouldn't be ruining anything... 

I've started work on some projects, as well as finished others. Each with it's own post coming soon. A rough overview:

3 guns, 1 replica cassette player, 1 pair of restomod headphones, 1 jacket, 1 shoulder cann0n (h), 1 mouse droid, 1 pair of pants, maybe 1 shoulder gauntlet? and to wrap it all up: 5 R2-D2 parts for Dr. SciFi. 


Anyways, I gotta finish modeling some parts... L8r.


Today's the Day! 

Going to be running reminders for people as soon as I'm done with this. but we're going to load up the car and head out to see the movie! I'm really excited. Certain theaters have early screenings and I'm headed to Hollywood Blvd Cinema to enjoy some of Bill and Ted's Most Excellent Nachos and I feel like a Terminator would be fitting tonight. (If you wanna check out their Top-Gun level menu, you can find it here.) 

Unfortunately to say, my costume is not ready yet. I've yet to find acceptable pants for a lower cost. and the jacket isn't done yet. I'm still going as far as I can, but Saturday is my new deadline. I've got the rear buckle for the Solo Belt glued together and ready for sanding, I still need to dent and paint the front buckle. 

As far as the Beta Capsule goes, I have the body in primer right now. The chrome ends are straight fucked up; I rushed the clear coat last night. When I get home I'll be painting the body this perfect blue (photos to come, I promise) and re-spraying the cheap chrome on the tips. If I have time I'll de-mold the crystal and cast a semi-clear version for now. 

What's next?

Probably me getting back to work for now. The last major thing i gotta do is my jacket, and that's just sewing stuff on.

See you after the film.



I Found Pants!!! I'm jumping the gun saying this, but I may still be able to sneak them in before the movie!!!

Cortana Chip Pi

Version Zero Wireless

ASSUMING that the files I printed are indeed scaled properly, [find them here] A raspberry Pi Zero (any version without headers)will fit inside of a standard issue UNSC A.I. Data Chip:


See? So why not? I took the outer perimeter dimensions from the piece i printed and laid out the overall perimeter of the Zero inside. I'm planning on making a breakout adapter of some sort that connects to the edge of this, and i would love some kind of illumination around the opening, but let's see how this goes later.

Update. 03:36PM

I just burned the latest (as of posting date) Google AIY Voice image onto a micro SD card for another project and put it into the Zero W I used for measurements... It seems that I have missed the fact that the micro SD card sticks out a measured ~2.75mm past the edge of the Zero... this will present interesting results. We shall see how things go by the end of day tomorrow! And yes. I noticed that the camera connector also sticks out. The SD card portion of the above image was supposed to be the thin edge... 

Oh, We're gonna be Best Friends...

This is going to suck, only because I know I can't get it "right" the first time. 

The very first Halo videogame I ever played was Halo 2. The only reason I remember this is because of the Gravemind. Man was that thing cool... creepy, but cool... this is also the game that made me fall in love with Banshees. Another project for another time. My brother's friend Adam had an X-box at the time and lent it to us while he was on vacation or something... Naturally he brought over a couple of games, but all I remember was Halo 2. I only spent a few hours on it, mostly because the aforementioned older brother was always on it, but in those first few hours of fight and flight I was sold. 

Several years later we finally got an Xbox 360. very shortly after, I received Halo Reach for my birthday from the very same controller hoarder who's friend gifted me a glimpse of the vastly different space fairing human race. I played the living grace outta Reach, and still sit down to it on occasion to this day. After I completed the campaign, I dove headfirst into the online multiplayer. This is where I discovered my natural tendency to stay back and pop heads. My go-to loadout was the DMR with the Magnum and I'd scrounge the map for a Sniper Rifle. The DMR was plenty fast for the Close Quarters combat I inevitably needed, and I got good enough with the SRS-99C that I was able to heavily annoy my brother. (This was a proud Feat for me, as he always was, and still is, better at videogames than I am, but that don't mean I can't send his Mark V helmet frolicking across the landscape.) 

I always wanted a real Sniper Rifle. Something with a massive caliber that would send me sailing if I fired it standing up, but the time has come for me to construct the next best thing. Realistic 99C with removable magazine and realistic recoil. 

So, where do i start? Hitting up the interwebs I found myself a fine model of the Rifle without the Bi-Pod. I plan on adding a legit one later so I don;t particularly mind this. It's not perfect, but i want to have this done by C2E2, which is less than a month away. Yeah Yeah starting late yadda Jabba wasting time. 

After scaling it up to the Halo 4 size, then back down to the proper size, I sliced the very end of the muzzle brake off of it and hit up my local hardware store. I found some black Schedule 80 PVC that was a hair small. so I went to the model, and scaled it 0.985% of it's listed dimensions. Printed off the same slice, tested it, and we are off to the races gentlemen! About two weeks went by where I managed to go through three kilograms of filament before I got back to this. I'd lost the original cut up model, and after I re-scaled it in NetFabb I began to cut pieces off for identification. It was here that I realized that the model is already "cut" into it's respective major portions. The barrel, the muzzle brake, the upper receiver/stock, the magazine, all of them already separate! This was a glorious revelation to me as it meant I no longer had to manually make the compartments and slice off geometry at random! 

As of the initial penning of this article, I'm roughly 14 hours into printing the magazine. Yes, one magazine. This is going to Suck... 

I started with the magazine for two reasons, The first is that it already fit on the bed with little modification, and two, I want to find the proper size of once fired brass for the gun. i'd like to make the gun "fire" with a block of LED's in the muzzle and an oversize solenoid in the body. The idea at this point is that I wrap a length of PVC pipe in Magnet wire and add a lead weighted length of 3/8" steel pipe inside. the tolerances aren't great, but they're plenty close for a version 1. 

Alrighty then, Update time. 

Magazine is printed, came out well, still needs clean up, but that always comes later. We've also printed the scope an scope mount, which also came out clean. We've printed the muzzle brake and cut the main barrel. The last few things to source are the Battery packs and the brass. Which i may skip entirely. I would like to add a section of black plastic beneath a clear lens to give the depth of a proper lens, but I'll figure something out. 


Helping Imperial Slimeballs

Helping Imperial Slimeballs


Back at the start of February, I caught one of DrSciFi's late-night Twitch Streams. He has been building an ID-10 Droid (which looks Marvelous.) to add to his growing line of Empire-funded space debris. Regardless of which side you support, unfinished projects are unfinished projects, and I won't stand for that... Nope, couldn't keep a straight face. Either way, He mentioned this little flag thing that the droid has on it's antenna and how he couldn't find a way to make the foam piece he had look right. I shot him a message and offered up my services as a 3D modeler and 3D printer owner; and, like all imperial officers begging to impress, he jumped at the idea. It was getting late for him, (so why bother staying up? Those gray-shirts are so spoiled!) so I took the opportunity to grab the picture off of Wookieepedia,

and gather relative dimensions to scale later.

Later that night, he measured the diameter of his dome (215mm if you were wondering) and I used that to set my numbers and present a first draft:

Not what either of us were really looking for. I offered up a slight revision:

Still not quite what he had in mind. Looking back, he was headed the right design direction:


Five minutes later, we had our version 3:


I packed them up and shipped them along, They arrived on the 9th. The imperial seemed to be pretty excited about it, at least he was on his Instagram.


This was fun. I'm pleased that the parts arrived intact, and he seems genuinely excited to be one step closer to finishing his bot. The next issue he has to tackle is how to mount the Go-Pro in the eye socket, after that, maybe he'll go Bothan hunting.

Plates and Possessed Cars

There's this guy I know from way back in high school. We go shooting together sometimes... 

I kinda hate him...


I hate him a lot...

He's a kind of mortal enemy...

He has Christine's Caucasian sister!!!


And imma help him fix her. 

Here's the issue: Chrysler corporation Lean Burn. Circa 1983, [nawct]. The thing runs, but not for longer than three minutes at a crack. I happen to have an spare Holley 2245 2bbl carburetor off of my car, it's missing the accelerator plate and the linkage hookups, but we can cannibalize that off of the current carter, and I can make a new plate. So there's two more issues knocked off! What's left? Well... the real issue is that the carter has a different mounting bolt width than the Holley. It's about a half-inch narrower driver-passenger. If only we knew of a way to fix that...

Well... small sections of aluminum bar stock are fairly easy to come by... The world we live in today... You can order stock metal off of Amazon today... you gotta imagine how people like Homer Hickam would have turned out with this kinda accessibility. Anyways pulling back to reality. Aluminum: 1/2x3x12 of 6061 for I think $13 rounded up & shipped to my door. now if only a railroad spike's worth of steel was still $8.20. 

I took the Carter mounting gasket and my old carb home and began the digital creation of a new mounting plate. I started modeling in the same way I'll be machining this. I laid out the aluminum bar stock to it's advertised dimensions. On a side note, i'm modeling this in millimeters because that allows for a more streamlined 3D printing process.


 Then I laid out my carb's bolt mounting pattern, as it's larger than the carter. Measuring the length of the gasket, I "cut" (void extruded) the excess off.


I'm left with a small rectangle with four holes in it. I sketched out the throttle body openings on the "top" of the digital block next. I did not extrude this yet.


Next I modeled the Carter's mounting pattern, and extruded that as well. 

I sketched the Carter throttle body opening on the opposite side of the aluminum. Then did a void swept blend to cut them out. This turned out to be less impressive than originally expected, but still necessary as the butterfly on the Holley is wider than the Carter.

And that looks like it'll fit! I set the resolution to "low" and sent it to the printer. 

And {  } minutes later, we have our completely air-headed part. this thing only has 15% infill, as it's only really a drill guide, but it sure does help to make sure that things line up! I made arrangements to test it on the car.


Melting Metal and Minecraft

I have at least two other posts here (published or otherwise) about melting aluminum or lead or like metals for use in some process. i can say with confidence that i have melted 8+ different metals in some mass quantity. The most common one I've done has been aluminum. this is nothing new to many people. The King of Random, Mr. Grant Thompson has put out several videos on his "Mini Metal Foundry" and that is where I started when I graduated to aluminum. I started melting things "harsher" than ice cream when I was somewhere around 6. I started with candle wax. Shortly after I found my father's propane torch and spool of plumber's solder. I remember sneaking down to the basement around 8pm one summer evening and gathering everything as quietly as I could. On a dark section of the cold concrete floor I unraveled a foot or so of solder, and lit the torch. As it began to melt on the floor, I could see impurities (burned flux) rolling around on the surface of the small puddle. I moved the torch closer to try to burn it off, and three seconds later, POP! Some moisture under the surface of the concrete flashed to steam, fracturing the concrete above and sending small chunks of concrete into my face. Lucky for me, none of the solder went my way, at least enough to burn me. The oblong, quarter-sized dent is still there as far as I know. I had enough wits to realize I needed more equipment (or if nothing else, a set of safety glasses) than just the solder and the torch. I wound up the unused solder on the concrete and put everything back where I found it. I was 8 years old at that time. This would not be my last fright with molten metal. 

Fast forward nearly fourteen years later, and I've built four backyard foundries and three experimental ones. I've been burned by something foundry related at least six times that I can remember, and only carry a scar, albeit a very faint one (Thanks Mom! would've been worse without your guidance!), from one instance. My first foundries were small-scale ones designed to work with the same propane torch that scared me so very long ago. Molded using simple Plaster of Paris and stuff from the recycling bin, I was able to melt everything from Tin, Zinc, and Lead, to small lengths of Copper and decent amounts of Gold, and Silver. my first attempt at a proper Mini Metal Foundry was an old Helium Tank, cut off at both rounds to aid in cleaning, and lined with concrete. Fueled by lump charcoal, that worked to a degree. but it was never able to effectively melt aluminum. A year or two later I went out and bought everything I needed for the charcoal version of the Metal Foundry. Three weeks later (I messed up the Sand/Plaster/Water ratio pretty bad) I had a full "seasoning" burn. I took Grants suggestion and went to a couple of thrift stores and found an old hair dryer. I knew from years of reading Hot Rod Magazine (and related) that you would get a hotter burn with more oxygen, so I set the hair dryer to it's "cold" setting, though this had diminished effect in the middle of the summer. Regardless, it worked marvelously. My first melt I was able to go through nearly three pounds of cans. I had more, but I burned through the Propane bottle I was using as a crucible. I still have one of the ingots from that melt. 

After this, I shelved the project for a month or two until I acquired a graphite crucible, and all of the parts for Grant's "Jet-Torch". Since then I can confirm that I've melted well over 25 pounds of aluminum. I should really do a count to see how much I've worked with... 

I made an adapter for my car's air cleaner, it's a little rough, but it works plenty fine. I plan on re-doing it once i get a better greensand. This was made using the lost foam method and a section of a lower control arm off of some Asian import I was given from a friend.  Couldn't have asked for a better end result. 

Most recently, I've been prototyping a Bedroom Foundry. 


Disclaimer: This prototype melting machine (hereby "The Foundry") is being designed as a CONCEPT. Aluminum melts as very high temperatures, and operating the foundry inside a building, residential or otherwise, raises the risk of an uncontrolled combustion, and is therefore, not advised. The author claims no responsibility if you choose to replicate their work, and it results in personal injury or the loss of property. 


The bedroom foundry is a combination of a lot of what I've learned over the years. It's designed to be as compact as possible and to melt, realistically one thing: Cans. In my end-all be-all world I'll have a shredder and a pellet-stove type deal where you feed cans into a shredder then they are continually fed into a crucible with cleaning pills added periodically. Right now, it consists of a steel gallon-sized paint can, steel-wire stand, propane bottle, and propane torch. the refractory lining is Grant's regular Plaster/Sand mix with some extra coarse steel wool added for stress relief. My test crucibles have been soup cans, but again, I burn through them pretty quickly. I have only had one such occurance, and that can probably be stretched if I tried a few things. For example, pre-heating the foundry sans crucible. I did just come up with that right now. The foundry runs off of a standard 2lb BernzOmatic propane bottle, and utilizes a MagTorch MT245C torch [this one] as a burner. I poured the lining around a Quart measuring cup, then cut through it with a 7/8" hole saw. The fit is excellent. The steel wire stand is actually a motor mounting assembly out of an old central heating furnace. I plan on re-making a design quite similar to this when I construct version 2. 

One of the issues with an indoor smelting system that some people will no doubt point out is the fumes generated by the smelting process. Cans are lined with a clear varnish prior to filling to aid in shelf life and anti-contamination. It's a very neutral coating that does not allow the liquid to corrode the inside of the can. Ever wonder what makes the soda able to clean up the rusty bumpers? Acids. mainly. Hence the reason that they tint your teeth. Ingestive health effects aside, the lining burns away, along with any packaging glue and stickers that may reside on a wayward can, and ends up in the air. It's currently winter here, so the differential temperatures work in my favor when I'm testing this, as I work with the foundry about 10 inches away from a window. However, this will become a much more significant problem during the summer months. Utilizing the whole animal, I salvaged the smaller blower motor out of the same central furnace, and soldered it up to a PC power supply receptacle, aiding in it's usefulness and portability. it moves a lot of air and is still quieter than the foundry when running. the next issue lies in how i'm going to mount the extractor. i decided a vertical mount would be easier to construct, so the next issue was creating a fume hood that could connect to the fan. I solved this by utilizing a handful of 1.5" PVC fittings I had from the previous foundry,  an old funnel, and a single 3D Printed adapter. I could just as easily used an existing section of PVC fitting, but it would've been bulkier and would have destroyed the larger portion of a fitting. Also, when all you have is a hammer...

If I had thought about this post, I would have taken better documentation... The fit was very close, only about 1mm smaller in the fan-flange side than I would have liked. A minor issue, I know, but It would not have worked as effectively had I not chosen to glue that section on permanently. I used your run-of-the-mill Permatex 5 minute epoxy to do this. The PVC side fit wonderfully, the final fit may seem looser due to available leverage, but it snugs up comfortably and comes apart without difficulty. The funnel was modified by cutting the small taper off and sectioning the larger taper at the joint. I then took a 1.5" PVC male socket to 1.25" PVC female threaded  NPT adapter and pushed that inside, while I used a 1" section of 2" PVC to act as a collar around the outside of this whole assembly. this left enough room on the adapter to socket into a 1.5" street elbow that feeds into my shiny new 3D printed flange. The funnel-PVC assembly stays snug enough that I don't feel the need to permanently attach anything. 

This is about where I'm at now. I'm musing about bringing the propane bottle as crucible idea for this project, as I'd run out of cans long before I'd run out of empty bottles. I'm also Printing an Open-Bionics Brunel hand structure and plan on using it with a set of micro servos in order to make this a "hands free" foundry. Maybe down the road Hal will be analyzing the bucket of cans and melting them on his own, while I float out in the cold, dark, vacuum of space, sipping a macchiato, in a space swimming pool, on my way to Titan, or Europa, the location is yet to be decided. Hal wants to go to Jupiter for some reason. I just want a fancy coffee once in a while...


UPDATE: 03-06-2018

I cut the Window board out of a section of 3/4" particleboard. the idea is to mount this in the window then attach the output of the extractor to it. thus removing fumes, not damaging screens, and still keeping the wildlife out. Taking window openings, height and offset of the blower into account, I had a board two feet in length and about 10 inches in width (I didn't modify whatever it was, I just ran with it.), with a 2 inch hole 7 inches from the right, and 19 in from the bottom.  this will get painted black to shy away the neighbors eyes and not look like a sore thumb, but it should be quite fun. 


YAY!!! Other people on the RPF have begun to get into RPO as seriously as I have!!! (pretentious, I know, I'll bring it down...) what I mean to say is that people have begun to post about things they'd like to build that they found through the book. Case and Point: user Grinning Demon asked about an Ultraman Beta Capsule! I've had the capsule on my to-do list since I started planning my build months ago. He wants one, I want one, Let's get going!!!

Alrighty, Where do we start? Like anything, with the reference material. Lucky for me, this seems to be a pretty popular thing, so reference images are pretty abundant. I settled on the one below:


The only thing left to ask for is a ruler and a background that doesn't share a color with the prop. Could be worse, the Capsule could be flat black.


And Post Line Drawings. this just makes it easier to lock dimensions to already defined points. 

and dimensions drawn. now I scaled the image up massively because AutoCAD's been a little finicky lately about changing the "dimscale" to be smaller than stock. this just makes the whole process easier to read. I've been told that the whole capsule is 11" long, so that's our mark to hit. The overall length measured in CAD is 333.0625" long, by 52.5" wide. this might actually make a pretty decent castle tower... if you used those numbers for feet... Anyways. (Actual/measured) x (Measured Width) = 1.73391" wide. but we've gone a little overboard.

(Actual length) divided by (Measured Length) = (Multiplier) meaning that any measurement we take from the enlarged image only needs to be multiplied by the quotient of the above equation and you get your real world dimension within a certain tolerance. I tend to say 5% for this kinda thing, but I didn't measure the original prop (if you have access to the SCREEN USED prop; take a picture of it next to some real standard [iPhone, Dollar Bill, Yen, ruler, 1-2-3 block, International standard or otherwise] and SEND ME THE PICTURE!!!) and therefore cannot verify the dimensions. Appropriately enough, RPF user: "Ultraman" says he has a Beta Capsule, so I hope he lets me send a couple of proofs to him prior to my final version. (Update. He declined the request, as his capsule was not in his possession at this time.)

Moving along: 0.0330268 is our multiplier. Yes. If my Chemistry classes have taught me anything about Borosilicate glass shrapnel, it's that every number behind the decimal is important until you're taken down and the bench is clean. I went through and marked all of the dimensions down in inches before moving on. I then started building each component in Autodesk Inventor, as I needed a dimension, I would convert to millimeters (inches x 25.4) before using it. This just makes scaling things in Cura that much easier. I laid out all five components inside five different instances of Cura. This allowed me to set the body to be a lower resolution than the crystal, for example. I then sliced them and sent them to the factory:

And guess what? They're taller than I expected. Just a shade above the maximum height of the printer. so I cut them down at some of the break lines and assembled them later.

So here are the test prints printed at the "potato" setting in order to quickly check scale and size. I discovered the wall thickness was way too much, even though at 1 perimeter and 5% infill it felt flimsy as all getout. I thinned these out from the inside and made a second black body spike that allowed me to use a button I had on hand, while not perfect, I prefer the lower profile, and it is a red button, I copied the base file and modeled a boss for this button and sent it off to print. As it turns out, the spikes do not print well, as they tend to sway with the nozzle for the last 40mm or so, I cut this section off at the start of the body taper and printed it separately. 

This seems to have solved the problem. It was at this time I stumbled onto This thread about another "lucky find" on ebay. If it's correct, then user Rylo may be able to test the sizing for me. (02-19-18. Yet another dead end, as they don't have one of their old runs on hand, regardless, they did say it was "Certainly not anywhere near 11" though." RPF user mgoob says it may have been a microphone at some point, so I may hit up SamAsh or Sweetwater in the near future to see if the microphone gurus over there have anything to contribute.) 

Regardless, we press on, I modeled the Crystal Cap with 5 windows because I have yet to find anything that contradict's their arrangement in the photos. I have finally received my Ultraman: The Complete Series DVD set, so that should help me with these smaller details. more updates regarding this in the near future. I finished printing out the whole set and laid them together on the desk. 

UPDATE: 2-27-18

I'm going to have to re-model a couple of parts, because simply scaling them down makes the current walls too thin not a big deal, but more work. meh. I got the Spaz Stix in this past weekend, so there's something positive. i've settled on an 8" long capsule. and will be making the changes accordingly. It's about 72% - 73% the size that i previously modeled, so it's not going to be really small, but it should come out clean. If i;m reading these correctly, the main body should be able to print without being sliced! one less step. the black portion will still need to be cut in order to not sway, but I am making a version that only has indentations where the body lines are, this should make printing much easier, as well as later finishing. Time to get to work!

Alrighty then... it appears I cannot scale 3D bodies in inventor... Whelp... looks like we get to do some more remodeling...

UPDATE: 3-13-18

So. Version one modeling is completed and in the finishing processes. three out of five pieces are ready for paint. Pics to follow soon. I posted the files as the 11" versions and all you have to do is scale them. [Download them Here

I still need to model the files with the assembled body, and i still need to make the V2 with the threaded body insert. but I need to know exactly how I'm going to do that. 


My Journey into the Jungle

Thank God for Books. I promise you I'd've gone stark raving mad if I didn't have books or movies to keep me sane. Cheap Vacations to Better Places. While I'm currently thumbing my way through Deke! the autobiography of Donald K Slayton, a pivotal member of NASA since it's foundation, the one book I find myself returning two or three times a year is Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. Ready Player One is a novel about a boy and his quest to find Halliday's Easter Egg inside the Ultra-HD Virtual Reality Simulator called the OASIS. There are other people hunting for the egg and the media has dubbed them "Gunters" (Egg Hunters - eg G [h]unters). I'm planning on going to my first ever "Nerd" convention dressed as my interpretation of my avatar at the Final Battle as if this universe was one we lived now. (I say "nerd" convention because I have yet to decide which convention I'm going to... probably wondercon) 

if you haven't read the book, stop reading this and GO GET IT. Wil Wheaton (of The Last Starfighter fame) reads the Audible version. Audible has that free-30-days-and-keep-the-book thing. Go.

Gearing up for the Major Battle, most Gunters are armed to the teeth. Therefore, so will I. I recently acquired a 3d printer and wanted to dig in, but where do I start? I've downloaded maybe a hundred models since I got into 3d printing, but most of those are "Spock's Cooker Knob" and "Raspberry Pi Zero PCB/Board Reference" Useful things, but not weaponry. I got around to the idea of making a Shoulder Cannon from Predator (1987). I have only seen two of the predator movies. Predator and Alien vs Predator. I had gotten my hands on the entire alien franchise through AVPR (the latest movie, at the time) and was bingeing them all. I was about halfway through AVP and realized I had not a single one of the Predator movies made before this one. I sat through the movie like a good boy (Loved it, but had some questions that turned out to be fairly commonplace) and ran out to get Predator. As I finished the movie, I had solidified the knowledge that one day I would own a shoulder cannon.

So where do I start? By the time I decided to make the cannon, I had seen two different designs. After some comparison I decided to go with what hooked me and I went with The AvP Cannon design. Canon or not, and it's definitely a cannon, I went digging for source material,  and went to my 3rd most visited site (behind YouTube and Amazon, coming in first and second, respectively.) The Replica Prop Forum. (hereby the RPF) Whenever I get into the idea of making something from a movie that's not clearly started it's life out as a real gun/car/airplane of some kind, I go to the RPF first. (If it is one of those three, I start on IM_DB.com, F/D/P respectively) I think I've found... maybe, maybe two really esoteric movie props/details that had no threads on the RPF; but that kinda thing is really obscure, like... what brand of tires were on the Spinners from Blade Runner (1982)? I fault nobody for not knowing or obsessing over that kinda stuff... Anyways, I ran to the RPF for info, and began perusing the Genreal Categories, then I discovered The Predatorium. Like The 405th and The Dented Helmet, The Predatorium is a Predator-specific (but not exclusive) forum built by/for fans of the series. i immediately began digging for any resources I could on the cannon; and one of the threads mentioned a Thingiverse model. Lo and behold, that was a great starting point. This "Predator Shoulder Cannon" from 'makerslabscz' is an excellent platform that for sure saved me hours of modeling, but will need some additional, fairly minor work. I got a little overzealous and printed the cannon at 100% scale:

Nice. What's next? While perusing the site, I found a thread for a "Barebones Head Tracking" setup by user PredatoRay31 (His username makes me happier than it should. Goddammit Barb.) He used little more than an Arduino Uno, MPU6050, and some servos. I used the canon I had previously printed out and used it as a test unit. I hopped on Amazon.com and ordered two 6050's for $5.06 a piece along with some micro servo motors. I wired everything up according to this guide on DIYHacking.com and got things running. I only soldered the included right angle male header onto one of the sensors, as the other will be hard wired into the final system or used for testing if I let the smoke out.  Here's the testing mess:

Here's what's in the testing mess:
Arduino Uno
PLA : http://www.microcenter.com/product/485634/175mm_Black_PLA_3D_Printer_Filament_-_1kg_Spool_(22_lbs)
MPU 6050
Laser Diodes
Colored LEDs
Servo Motors

Once I got this working I set about making it smaller and lighter. I opted for an Arduino Pro Mini variant. the one i bought has the headers already installed, so that makes prototyping easier. Again, I bought two for $4/unit at my local MicroCenter, both to have a backup, and to have a dedicated prototyping option. Here's the same setup with the Mini:


Now, I could have gone with an Adafruit Flora Style programmer, but I don't sew well, and they were more expensive. And I had these on hand from an earlier project that I ended up using an Adafruit Trinket for.  The only major differences between an Uno and a Pro Mini are size, number of I/O, and the fact that the Mini requires an FTDI adapter to connect it to your computer. I don't know how far back they go, but I know the Arduino IDE has had the option for at least a year now. 

Everything works wonderfully. Time to hard-wire things. for me, Step 1 is always designing and testing the mounting options. i'm going to be placing this inside of a hat, so I started by designing the direct mounts for the Micro and 6050:

Next i measured myself for my hat, and ordered one. This was easier said than done. I'm one of those "half-perfectionists" where certain things can be bright purple, but as long as they get the job done, fine by me. This is not one of those. A quick peruse on Amazon.com told me this wasn't about to be an easy product to source. After watching Last Crusade a couple of times (I'd settled on the Crusade version over Raiders because I'm building a lot of this costume on "Firsts.") and looking into the Adventurebilt Hat Company,  then waking up from my dreaming and future planning, I found HatCountry.com. They seemed to serve a higher quality hat in general. After perusing their stock I settled on this one. It appears to have the correct overall everything. My only current (yet-to-be-delivered) grief is the "official licensing" tag on the side of the bow. not a huge deal, but not in the movie.


I can't continue modeling the controller mounts without the actual piece, so I moved to the cannon:

First thing I did was scale the original file up to 120% and cut the sucker in half. I printed a bare shell of this for size reference:

Happy with the results, I cut off the Side-Turret-light-thing, printed that as-is in black ABS at 0.1mm layer height and 20% infill. I exported the other parts to an Inventor-editable file format to begin mining away at it. I needed to mount the pan and tilt motors in the right place, so cavities were made available for those, along with the necessary mounts for some internal gearing. I also cut out the holes for the Turret to plug into. I have a feeling Convention centers don't like lasers coming out of people's costumes, so I'm making two turrets with some registration marks for hot-swapping. Laser/led power will come from a DC power jack and plug nestled into the model, there's probably a better way to do this, but I digress... the parts were printed out and assembled carefully. I modeled some screw bosses to make future service easier. The caps will be painted a slightly different gray to make them simpler to find.  I haven't printed this version yet, as I've already printed out the stock halves for this project. I'm not as thrilled about these as I would like to be, but they work well for this specific project, plus that means i can modify the updated model with real world testing. This is more or less all I can do with the electronics right now, so Stick Around for an update on that; for now, let's continue testing

Fun fact: I left my testing rig assembled for a couple of trips back and forth to work to save time and just jump into programming and somehow fried both servos... but only the servos. 

I honestly have no idea how this happened. there was no "loose" power supplies of any kind in the briefcase, so how? I guess we'll never know. How about we mount the shoulder mount? How I was going to attach this thing was an interesting mental road to travel, so I figured I'd start doing something else I hadn't done before: Foamsmithing. 

My go to A/V dictionary for this was none other than Punished Props and Evil Ted Smith. Both parties have extensive YouTube channels and are exceptionally versed in foamsmithing, Bill tends to do a little extra with the non-foam fabrication as well. Bill Doran, CEO of Punished Props, has a portion of his website dedicated to free blueprints. i hopped on there knowing he had a full set of Skyrim Steel armor available for download, and found a lone Shoulder template available. i decided to start here and then make the steel armor portion later. 

Step the first was printing out the template, then a trip to the local Harbor-for-Eight for a pack of floor mats and a heat gun. Back at home base I laid out the template and rough-cut the foam to size. Utilizing the power of smaller pieces, I followed the template as closely as I could, two glue ups later: I had my rough shoulder. 

This was a great learning experience and a wonderful way to start learning how to work with foam. The template isn't quite as fantasy as i'd like, but it's also highly unfinished. I've been thinking about my costume and instead of the kinda-generic "hammered metal" pauldron I'm going to attempt to replicate Aech's (honest, I'm assuming it's Aech's avatar we see shooting Freddy Kruger with a Halo Assault Rifle) shoulder we see in the teaser trailer from July. 

On a short side note, I may have seen the trailer shortly before a doctors appointment and he was curious as to why my blood pressure was so high... He's not as excited for the movie as I am... My god... the detail...

Anyways. I'm planning on having a bandolier to hold several of my other references, (ooh... dammit brain now I want a properly-sized Chewie one...) Who's design is coming later, and I figure what better way to hide the buckle than with some shoulder armor? This -initially- seems like a simple task which means it will take six months.

So they released a new poster a few hours ago. I'm now sold that the bald-headed Darth-Maul-Gut-halving giant is Aech:


Yeah... whole new level of excitement. oh my god. did i ,iss tat the wholetime.?>QQQ i need to re-watch the trailers...  I'm planning a 

UPDATE: 2-27-18

So the hat doesn't fit right... Disappointing as hell, but what can I do? And it doesn't fit for the dumbest reason: the dent in the top of the hat, hits my head before it seats right. It's also more brown than I initially expected. I'm running a little sidewards with this project as it is, so we're changing it up a bit. I'm returning the hat and buying a denim jacket instead. I'm not going for a whole "Parzival" costume, but maybe, someone that he may "routinely" (at least for Wade's definition of routinely) go to for help on a quest or arena fight when Art3mis or Aech aren't available. I can dream at least. Regardless, we're swapping out the Indy Hat for my Wayne's World baseball cap. the parts are slim enough, I just have some fancier modeling work for the brackets, and I have to re-locate the battery pack into the shoulder or the bandolier. 

Speaking of battery packs, I modeled two so far, and which one I use all depends on which mounting location I go with. I save almost every lithium battery I come across, knowing I'll use them for one project or another, and I have two sets of cell phone batteries that I've selected for this project. The first set came from a E-waste recycling dump that a friend of mine gave to me to take care of, as there;s a drop off location not far from my house. I enjoy them as i get to raid whatever I please out of them. These batteries fit a ______ cell phone, and are nice and small. the other set were an ebay impulse buy from a while ago. they fit a Samsung Admire SCH-R720 cell phone. and are sold as a set of 2 batteries and the wall charger for $2.99 USD. I bought a couple sets because you can almost fit them anywhere. I modeled a couple of holders for them.

The holes will need to be enlarged at some point, but they are modeled for use with short sections of guitar strings. The specific one I'm using is an acoustic, no-name bag, bronze wound B string. I have some old nickel wound electric strings, but they don't like to solder all that well. the bronze solders a little worse than your run of the mill brass, but is perfectly suitable for this kind of application, and is more than capable of pulling decent current out of the battery. plus the guitar string's steel core is essentially a spring. so it can be flexed enough to ensure proper electrical contact. 

UPDATE: 04-03-2018

So... Ready Player One is a Great movie and you would be a damn fool not to see it in theaters. At least once... I went about half as dressed up as I wanted to be because Life got in the way. Regardless, We press onward!

Once I gathered all of the parts back together I worked on re-modeling the connecting linkage all the way down to the base. I needed to have a solid method of moving the arm back and forth. I didn't have any servos small enough to fit into the arm, and I couldn't figure out how to control the angle from the inside of the arm, so i decided to modify the entire setup:

Those four pieces got turned into this:

Most of these pieces are split in order to allow for a pair of bicycle shift cables to operate inside them. I have to lift very little weight so I could probably get away with some fishing line, and maybe we'll take a look at that in the future, as the modifications necessary would be relatively simple. The only major issue I can see is I use the cable to push the model as well as pull it. I was able to get all of these parts printed up within a single 12 hour printing session. Some of these pieces would be far better suited to an SLA printing style, but I don't have that at the moment, although there are a couple in the sub-$1k range that I may acquire in the near future. 

Finding My Bearings

I have a second 3D printer! Now if my first 2D printer would work I would be so much farther along with a couple of projects. Excuses excuses! 

Because I have ambitions that extend past the moon (if you stack them just right and the wind blows south-by-northeast at 1.287(pi) Moosen Per Hillside) I bought a second 3D printer to start production while I get my other printer tuned and running:

Yep. A WanHao Duplicator i3 variant. this is the v2.1 style- PowerSpec variant, I'm only aware of it being sold through Micro Center, but I could be wrong. It comes with a heated bed, One hundred grams of black 1.75mm PLA filament, a micro SD card with a couple of example g-codes, a spare/replacement heating mat/build surface, oversize bed leveling thumbscrews, a "broken down" One-Piece construction (plans to aid this are in the very initial modelling phase), and a power cord. There are six M5 screws you need to use to mount the X and Z chassis to the Y chassis together as well as mount the spool holder. (The spool holder is, fine. better than the one that came with my kit printer, but I'm still planning to improve this when I can) 

As far as "build-it-youself" printers go, man, this is sitting on, and leaning into, the territory of pre-built systems. I had this together and powered up for leveling in about 15 minutes. A tip: when you finish assembly, leave the Z axis alone and just click on "Home All" under Quick Settings. also, don't go and pre-heat for PLA or ABS when you're just leveling. I have a nasty burn on my hand from bumping into the nozzle accidentally. Anyways, once it's homed, kill the power and level by manual X and Y movement.it's far faster, and as long as you're gentle, should get you very acceptable results. you can always fine-tune when powered, if you'd like. 

Now that I had it homed and the left bank leveled, it was time for the right. there was an issue, most likely due to transport or the nut behind the control knob, but the right side of the Z axis was way far away from the bed. After a minute or two of consulting the manuals (yes, i took a shower after I did that...) i eventually said "Screw it" and just pushed - harder than I expected - on the offending carriage and nudged it down about seven or eight millimeters. The stepper motor started to turn on the lead screw and I just maintained that pressure until I had deemed I'd traveled enough. (later forum study reveals this to be a faily common problem, and exactly the way ~78% of the users -who retain their printers- fix this issue, the rest either manually turn the stepper - probably the best idea, definitely far more civilized - or one guy built a rig to "goose" the stepper down.) 

Time to start, but where to start? Well, there was a file listed as "Bot.gcode," and who would I be to deny my kinsman of biodegradable existence? I hit print, watched the first... ten layers? and went to bed. Four hours later with my 6am alarm screaming in my ear I had a 1-3/8 inch tall companion sporting Gonk droid style feet, corrugated arms, Lego hands... I actually have not tested to see if the stock Bot can hold Lego things, what I have I done with my life?... Regardless, he looks like this:

There was a little support material connecting his fingertips to his thighs, but that came off with short persuasion. 

That went GREAT! What's next? This had me thinking, I printed an upgraded fan shroud that I later realized I need some extra hardware that I just haven't bought yet. 

Halfway through printing that I remembered an old project of mine, after running to the basement to retrieve the box, i broke out a mound of PC fans. 

I used to wedge a box fan in the window during the summer to keep the bedroom a Balmy 88 degrees in the middle of the day. but occasionally it would fall out of balance and periodically shake out and onto the floor. i dreamed of arranging a pile of pc fans in the window as a slimline box fan. many of those fans have since left us, and a handful of these are 3+ wires so I'm left with a little pile of fans that will start me off:

After taking some quick measurements, I found a 12x12x16mm prism would fit within all but one of the fan mounting brackets. so i modeled up a 4 hole square with rounded corners and had a perfectly usable model.

I threw a single one on the printer and, 15 minutes later, i was left with a wonderful little internal bracket.

Now what? well, they were so quick, let's make 26 of them I'll use them eventually. 

My plan comes together. As these started to print, I ran to the local hardware store to buy some (albeit still too long) shorter hardware than the 2" pieces I had initially. They were done by the time i got home

Assembly is a little tight, but that just means they don't move without you. once i got through with the core assembly, i realized I would need some 2x braces for the outer perimeter so i popped open my original file and cut it in half. and rounded the corners for good measure. I ran these through the printer and only made a few more than I needed this time. 

CHADAAA!!!! The main assembly is done. I paid attention to flow and faced all of the wires and 6-32 extra length hardware out the exhaust. All that's left is wiring but that's boring so let's print more things. 

Thinking about my Ready Player One Cosplay plans, one of the things i wanted was a Shoulder Cannon from Predator so I found a 3d model on Thingiverse, cut it in half, not the right way, but it is in half.

Twenty Six hours later (yes, I went way too high of a resolution on this...) I had my cannon. smaller than I'd like it, I scaled it up to 120% and printed another.

Much better. This is where I found out that the laser diodes I purchased (and had delivered) while this was printing were perfectly sized for the little turret light thing on the left side (if you were holding this as a pistol, as if to shoot a can.) so that came out great. {Psst! The full write-up of the predator build is Over Here!}

What's next? As I modified the current cannon to house the electronics without much external modification, I settled on the first few parts of Johnny Five! 

How about some of the Mouse Droid parts I need?

Hey! Imperial Slime-o Dr. SciFi needs a Radio Flag for his ID10 droid! Let's make some of those! 

It's currently the middle of winter here and the only really open spot for 3d printers is right next to the window, so I built a box just like Sensei Doran showed me. 

Well, not quire exactly, but close enough, I want to shave it down some to gain the extra inch of desk space, but other than that, i love this setup. i have some extra filament storage asunder, and i can keep the controller underneath it as well. the insulation adds a more controlled environment, which helps with shrinkage/warpage. Time to dig into ABS plastic. then we can get into the HIPS and Acetal filaments I have. 

As far as the printer goes, the modifications i've made are as follows:

Box, because box,

Bowden tube, to keep things clean and untangled. this was a funnel-flange I designed and printed and complete kit off of amazon. all i had to do was open up the hole in the stock tensioner and thread it to M6. I designed the threads in the flange and chased them with the tap for good measure. The flange was printed in ALGIX Red APLA (Algae-based PLA) and I may have been printing it too cold. this was the only one of seven red prints that made it 100%

Micro-SD card to SD card extension/adapter cable, because the slot on the control box is on the wrong side for me. 

The only things I have left to do to it are add a temperature regulator to the enclosure, add lights to the enclosure, reinforce the Bowden tube flange from the inside, re-make the back of the controller to add a wiring harness to the rails. and I'd like to flip the y axis completely so that it spits the model out forward. It's not a big deal right now, but still useful, especially because it's in a box. the lights will be some LEDs i have lying around. and I may end up painting the inside of the box white, just in case I ever actually set up that remote monitor. I'd love to have a Livestream Cam whenever I'm printing, some people like watching it, but I'd rather have one to know if the print fails while I'm at work. Once I get that set up, i want to make a remote interface that I can kill the printer with. ntil then, however, it's a waiting game...



My Start Into 3D Printing

Ever since I discovered what it was, I needed to get into 3d printing. I picked up Google Sketch Up in middle school and tried to sketch some projects of mine. I got the basic idea across, but it took me hours, and looked like crap. In high school I was exposed to Autodesk’s Inventor software and I went Bananas. When I found out that I could get a copy of it for free through the school (Here,


If you want to read up about to do this yourself) I was ecstatic, and dreamed of the day I could buy a machine capable of running such programs. As luck would have it, my family’s ritual was to buy the High School Graduate a laptop of their choosing. I told my elder brother (the most tech savvy of us) my requirements for a system, and he hooked me up with a Dell Inspiron 7500 series. I took the first week and got used to the vanilla Windows 8 experience, downloading the few lightweight programs I knew would be on there for life, Steam, Chrome, VLC, etc. and really enjoyed it. I played hipster for the month of June and then got serious. I installed Inventor and immediately went to town digitizing all of the sketches I couldn’t get down on paper. After a while I discovered what tolerances were, and in time I continued to grow. High school had a 3d printer that (at the time) my instructor kept a long waiting list on. Transitioning to community college I dove headfirst into the CAD program, where I discovered a very old (relatively speaking) 3d printer hiding in the corner. I started talking to the instructor, and got it to print a couple of times, with mixed results. The software was difficult for me to use and at the time I was unaware that most 3d printers can use a wide variety of available interfacing software. I abandoned the project after months of different attempts and fiddling around, the killer was talk of buying multiple smaller ones, with the intention of having the technology more available to the student body.

I started hunting, and doing more research, really learning what the differences were between printers. A mix between manufacturers’ websites, YouTube reviews, and blog posts, I narrowed my selection. The internet was in consensus that I needed a kit as my first printer, and the general idea was that the square bodied “Prusa” style was easier to troubleshoot, while “Delta” style printers utilized fewer parts, but tended to have lengthier initial set-up times. I’ve found an inexpensive, really well fleshed out prusa kit online, and am saving up for that, but for now, I’ve discovered a DIY kit that utilizes old CD drives, and an Arduino. It’s described as a form of CNC sketch-artist, but I figure if I play my cards right I can make it strong enough to hold a nozzle. About a week after I gathered most of the parts for that, I was driving between stores at work and noticed a whole ton of aluminum channel shoved in the corner of one of the stores. I discovered they had been display cabinets that had since been removed. As luck would have it, they were destined for the can. I went after hours and disassembled them and hauled the pieces home. The longest lengths stand at 5’-8” (172.72cm) and have identically manufactured connecting rails as the smaller frames. This lends an almost LEGO level of construction simplicity. I need to make a set of connectors for the top and bottom rails and I will be able to have a base frame ready to go. I’m hoping to cast these under a column of aluminum in order to fill out the mold and keep them mostly dimensionally accurate. They’ll be cast in two separate pours in order to maximize gravitational pressures. I may cast them with extra “arms” to play around with a design I’m working through in my head.

Regardless, I’ve done the math for the space I’ve dedicated to it, and I can only afford to build one with a 30” (762mm) round print bed. So I need to locate a section of thick glass in order to build this. I also have to do some research on the type of glass the industry uses for heated print beds already. Borosilicate glass tends to come up the most often, but that’s a little out of budget for me at that dimension. Maybe SeeMeCNC will have some info I can glean from their PartDaddy…

Either way. Anchoring the uprights will be a simple task. I’ll make some shiny castings and clean them up with the plethora of tooling available to me. Next I’m going to work on the extruder setup. Let’s do some math…

I’d like to get a 3-3.175mm print bead for this thing, so I figure I need an 8-10mm filament, which shouldn’t be that difficult. If you’ve never heard of Precious Plastic, or anything by Dave Hakkens, go check his() work out. He’s a design student out of the Netherlands, and developed a line of DIY plastic recycling machines that you could build at your house, should you want to. I’m currently in the process of building variants of the shredder and extrusion, so I figure I can set those up within reasonable proximity to the printer and “make filament as needed” I figure I’ll use the basket-coiling method they use for the steel and copper wire industry, () this way, I can feed material through the top, and pull it from the bottom creating a nice buffer area, that allows me to extrude material even when the printer is off, or if the extrusion machine needs a faster speed then the 3D printer.

Eventually, I’d like to power an air compressor and add laser sintering to the mix, Aluminum would be the starting point, I think.

06-19-2016 UPDATE: I’ve figured out that I’ll get a taller build volume than originally thought, because I don’t need to keep the computer and controls under the printer. So what I’m going to do is snake the cables together and run them around/through the machine where applicable, then plug them into the back of an old desktop I have lying around. I’ll probably see if I can’t make the printer recognized by a VGA port or something, just for ease of interfacing. Either way, I still need drivers, amplifiers, servos, about two days’ worth of castings, a lot of legwork, and some form of power circuit. I’d love to make this entire setup run off of solar power, but I doubt my small selection of panels would make the cut, even in full sunlight.

I’ve reached out to Steve over at SeeMeCNC to find out if he can lend some building tips on this monster. They used some build plate and covered it with paper, which is curious to me, but we’ll see what he says. He also used weights on his carriages, and that seems so counter intuitive to me. I’m assuming it helps with the smoothness & control of the printer head, but I’m honestly lost on it.

I think I’ve got a handle on the nozzle plate. I’m going to use a NEMA-17 stepper I have lying around with a couple of bearings to get the retraction on the nozzle en-pointe. For control’s sake, I’m going to see how the filament runs through a LDPE tube. I figure a 3/8” ID should hold my 9.5mm filament fine. Attaching that to the nozzle plate is going to be interesting. I just need to go to the hardware store to do some sleuthing. 

09-12-2017 UPDATE: I've figured out my "manufacturing" extruder setup, 1/2" NPT (imperial) black pipe, Old auger bit I bought in a toolbox from a garage sale. 1/2" Threaded electrical conduit coupling, A Gas line Adapter, a 1/8" brass pipe nipple, and a chunk of angle iron. Because I can, I've made a model of the "ideal" setup. 


Also, on an unrelated note. I purchased a 3D printer... It's a desktop model, Prusa i3 style. Here's the link to what i bought. I needed some custom clamp jaws, and this was right price right time, so I caved and bought one. I'm still going to build the big guy, and this will let me do that better. i can make hubs that are actually 120 Degrees apart. My handyman skills aren't there yet. I'd like to make these out of aluminum, so I think I'll still try to make them by hand. but for starters and proof of concept I'll print them. 

Next thing on the agenda is Heating the extruder. I have a ton of fiberglass cloth and a few dozen feet of nichrome wire (cumulatively) harvested from various things, Hair dryers, Soldering irons, an electric defroster. So i think i'm going to purchase some high temp thermistors and have an Arduino-based control for the system, as I pretty much have everything lying around, or connected to old circuit boards. I'll probably wrap the tube and a thermistor in a fiberglass sock, then wrap the wire around that, then wrap another section of fiberglass around that, and probably just tie it together with some baling wire. I haven't modeled this portion.