Regarding my Prusa i3 MK2S

Hi all!

I apologize for the delayed post, for as you know, I have been quite busy with my new Prusa printer. It has been a bit of a rocky road to start, but I’m still really excited for what this printer has in store for me and all the great things I’ll print in the future! So I’m going to give a step-by-step of my first few weeks with it- hopefully this will give insight to other users on some common issues.

So here we go, the unboxing:

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This of course was so so exciting for me! I’ve loved 3D printing since college and always dreamed of having my own printer to meddle with. I decided to purchase the Prusa i3 MK2S assembled and received the printer quite quickly (I know Prusa Research just expanded their labs and therefore have faster turnaround time on their orders). Once I received the printer, I unboxed and began following the initial calibration tests. Check out these gummy bears hanging out with my newly unboxed printer:

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So here is where my issues begin. First issue was, as some of you may have guessed.. an extruder clog. To those of you who have never used a 3D printer, an extruder clog is one of the most common issues with 3D printers. A clog is never a quick or easy problem to resolve. I first noticed the clog when trying to load the filament for the very first time. I was quite frustrated, as I hadn’t even printed anything, but this ultimately became a very vital learning experience for me and I’m glad I had to go through it.

I tried both the the cold pull method and heat creep method (meaning I heated my nozzle to over about 230 Celsius to loosen any stuck PLA filament). Unfortunately, this did not remove the filament clog. Prusa provides an acupuncture needle you can insert into the nozzle to try and remove any stuck filament. Here you can see I ended up bending mine by pushing too hard on it:

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And here is how far I got my filament into the nozzle (you can see I’ve already begun taking apart the extruder… you’ll hear more about that loose fan in a moment):

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I decided to resort to both Google and Prusa customer service, since at this point I had no idea how to remove the clog. I found this article, whose author had a very similar clog to mine- he ended up taking apart his extruder. I was hesitant to do so, as I had purchased my printer assembled and had no background in the mechanics of the printer. However, Prusa customer service got back to me and said the same thing; I would have to take apart the extruder to clear the clog. They provided video instructions on how to disassemble the extruder, which helped me greatly and, yes, led to me removing the clog. Here are the links to those videos (1 and 2) if anyone else runs into a similar clog with their Prusa MK2S printer or E3D V6 hotend.

Firstly, it was really just unscrewing the motor, two fans, and housing, without damaging any of the wiring.

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After this is where it became more difficult. Essentially, after removing the housing, you are left with your nozzle (the tiny piece where your filament comes out), hot end (the box-like piece where all your wires connect and heat up- thus the name), and the heat break and heat sink (the pieces through which your filament travels to the hotend- there is typically also teflon tubing to help the filament flow correctly). See the below image as to what this all looks like:

I deduced that my filament was stuck in the heat break, as this is quite common and the location where my acupuncture needle got to. This meant I would have to disassemble everything further- I removed the heat break from the heat sink and then the heat break from the hotend (probably the most difficult part as it was screwed in factory tight- it helped to heat the hotend up a bit to loosen the pieces):

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And looked what popped out- that’s right, the clog! Sorry for potato quality, I was shaking from excitement:

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So there you have it, how to remove a clog from your extruder. This, of course, was not the end of my troubles as I had to reassemble everything. As soon as I began to reassemble, I realized that the wires from the cooling fan had broken off. I took this photo with just the black wire broken off, but as soon as I moved the fan, the red wire fell off as well:

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*SIGH* Out comes the soldering iron:

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Thankfully, soldering the wires worked and the fan powered up as I booted up the printer. And we are back in business!

Everything calibrated fine and I was able to begin printing.

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So exciting! Unfortunately, I do have to end the post with another issue… between the prints in the photo and now, my Z and Y axis became misaligned. The nozzle is hitting the bed every time I try to calibrate, and the PINDA is not aligned correctly (you can see it’s shifted forward, a bit outside of the white dashed circle):

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I’m hoping to get this fixed relatively quickly, and am cautiously optimistic due to my victory over the Battle of the Clog. WISH ME LUCK!

A big shout out to the customer service over at Prusa Research and to my boyfriend, who put up with my cursing and helped me unscrew the hotend/solder the fan!

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More VR Stuff, this Time with the Rift

I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful brother just as interested (if not more so) in emerging tech, specifically with virtual reality. He already owns a Vive, but decided to order an Oculus Rift a few months back. Due to some fluke, Oculus sent him two Rift Touches by accident, one of which he lent to me. I’ve been having tons of fun with it, but more importantly, I’m learning how it can be useful in existing fields. This is particularly due to the fact that I work at an architecture firm that is currently conducting research in how VR can be used with architectural visualization. This isn’t exactly a brand new topic, but I’m really excited to be personally involved in the research, both at home and at my workplace.

In terms of architectural visualization, I think the biggest, most exciting software for me right now is TwinMotion for VR. I learned about TwinMotion from one of Fabrice Bourrelly’s Unreal Archiectural Visualization webinars (check them out here when you get the chance). I am currently learning Unreal Engine as I am really interested in building my own VR environments from the ground up (textures, animations, lighting, the whole deal). Of course, this takes time and energy, which most of us don’t have much to spare. TwinMotion is a more “plug and play” software for VR, with built in material, lighting, and animation presets. Essentially, all you have to do is bring in a model (whether it be a Revit, Rhino, Cinema 3D model, among others) and add in whatever you like. Another pro: the software is compatible with most VR headsets. The software is still in its early stages, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll have in store for us. Check them out here.

On to a more lighthearted, fun topic- Games and Apps with the VR! So I love messing around with my headset, and there are some really fun games and things to do while in virtual reality. Of course, my favorite moment was when both my boyfriend and brother played AFFECTED – The Manor, a horror game. I was a wimp, while both of them were very brave facing ghosts and goblins and scary things (though the bf did scream like a girl a couple times). Truly a terrifying experience. Another cool App I discovered was Medium, a sculpting app. Imagine 3DSMax or Mudbox, but rather than staring at a monitor and sculpting with a keyboard and mouse, you create models within VR. Your canvas is the virtual world within the headset, and your sculpting tools are your hands (well, the touch handset you hold… but you get the point).

I will try to post a time lapse video at some point of me using Medium, but for now I can share a few screen grabs of my latest creation- a silly octopus. The app was a little finicky with layers and resolution (Medium actually began to crash after I added too many suckers, but I should have expected that… I was modeling a large model in VR…) and my head hurt after a couple hours of being in the headset, but overall really fun. I can see artists using Medium to create large virtual environments with crazy creations.

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All about Wood Tables

Over the last year, we’ve worked on two wood tables that I’d love to share with you guys. They were both really fun projects that I definitely learned a lot from. The first table was made from white oak we purchased from a man out in Maryland who had cut down the tree in his yard and dried the wood himself (that was probably one of the most important the thing I learned from this experience- how long it takes to kiln dry properly care for wood in preparation for furniture). I’ll start off with the biggest mistake we made during the process- storing the oak in a damp room. A few days after storing it, we noticed warping and minor honeycombing (when the core cracks) in the wood. Bummer!

Not to be discouraged, we decided to say “screw it” and sand/finish it anyways to see if we could get a table out of it. Here is the wood before we began work:

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We first removed the bark from the wood and sanded down the top with some hand sanders. Here it is post-bark removal:

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We went up to a few hundred grit, and were told by some of my Techshop coworkers to go up even higher to really give a smooth finish. After we finished sanding the wood, it was time to decide on legs. We knew we wanted cast iron, but had a couple options to decide on. We ultimately decided on cross legs, but when we received them, this is how they turned out (the piece of wood in the picture is actually another piece of the same wood from the Maryland man… not sure what we are going to do with it yet…):

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WAY too tiny! A quick search on Amazon found us some pin legs, which we decided to go with (the next time around, I would love to get into the metal shop and make my own, but that’s a project for another day).

We decided to go with Waterlox (a Tung-Oil sealer/finish), which turned out beautifully. Here I am putting on the first layer:

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And after a few more layers:

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It wasn’t especially difficult to put on, and dried really nicely. After that, it was time to screw in the legs…

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Et viola, complete (I apologize for the intense Instagram filter):

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As you can see, we did get some minimal warping, which was definitely a bummer because we put so much work into the table. Weirdly enough, around the same time Sasha’s Aunt decided to get rid of a GORGEOUS (albeit dented and somewhat moldy) Redwood table. I unfortunately do not have a great before-photo and did not document the process as well as our first table, but here is the table just as we began to smooth it down/remove the existing, nicked finish with a hand planer:

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Once we got off all the old finish, we hand sanded it down until it was nice and smooth. A few days later, we set up shop on Sasha’s parents back porch and finished it with two layers of danish oil. Here’s the final product:

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The next step for this project will be working on new legs, as the current base is some dimensional lumber with too light of a finish. Hopefully I can get around to it with all the projects I want to try!

Zipping Together Two Mummy Bags

My boyfriend I are avid backpackers and do a lot of camping trips in the spring and summer time. We have increased our inventory of gear since we first started dating (I had most of the gear at the beginning of the relationship, now we are about even). He purchased a new sleeping bag last year (the REI Helio down, right zip) and I knew at some point I would need a new sleeping bag as well. I had been using an REI Radiator sleeping bag leftover from my childhood backpacking trips with my family- literally, this thing is 20 years old. It held up amazingly, though! Check out this picture from circa 1997 and one my boyfriend snapped today- same bag:

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You can see I’m on top of two other sleeping bags, which leads me into the fabrication topic of the day. Many sleeping bags cab zip together, which is really great as you can cuddle and steal warmth from a significant other. In order to zip together, two mummy bags must each be one right-zip and one left-zip. They also need to be of the same zipper manufacturer. I knew that when I would purchase my next sleeping bag, I would want it to zip together with my boyfriend’s Helio bag.

I went to REI to try to find an REI brand sleeping bag that could potentially zip with the Helio. I spoke with a very helpful REI rep, who recommended the REI Flash sleeping bag. Since my boyfriend is very tall and has a tall sized sleeping bag, the rep also recommended going for a regular size men’s bag as it was left zipping and might fit a little better next to a tall bag. However, he wasn’t positive the Helio and Flash would zip together and unfortunately, they had none left in stock. The bag had all the specs I wanted (correct temperate range, great weight for backpacking), so I decided to take the risk and order the bag online. However, when I received the Flash, we immediately realized it would be impossible to zip the bags together for two reasons:

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Firstly, both of the zipper fasteners were on their respective bag’s top zipper. One would have to be on the bottom and one would have to be on the top in order to zip properly. You could potentially flip one of the bags over, but then the head part of the mummy bag would cover your face- not ideal.

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Secondly, even if the zipper fasteners were on their correct side, you couldn’t attach the fastener to the zipper due to a blocker (item circled).

I realize the reason this all probably happened was because both of the bags are men’s sleeping bags and REI only guarantees that their REI brand men and women’s bags will zip together. I was so happy with the Flash bag that I didn’t want to return it and go through the trouble of finding another great sleeping bag that could zip with the Helio. It was time to figure out a possible solution using 3D printing!

I took the measurements of the zippers using a caliper and snapped a couple photos from plan and elevation views. I then brought the images and measurements into Rhino and modeled the zipper. I modeled two zippers, one the same height as the bag’s current zipper and one a millimeter taller in order for the blocker piece to fit through it. Check it out:

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Two poly-surface zippers with different heights and two meshes, exported as an STL to be printed.

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Ready to go!

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I printed two of each of the two-sized zippers on the Mojo 3D printer at Techshop (printing away in the image above). Once the support came off, it was time to test them:

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And it works! This video shows just one zip fastener, but in reality each zipper on the bag, bottom and top, has two zip fasteners, like so:

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Our two mummy bags finally zip together! We did run into one problem though: even when the bags are zipped together, the Helio bag still has an open foot area at the bottom as the starting point of the Flash’s zipper is higher than the Helio, like so:

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You could potentially start them at the same point at the bottom, but then the Flash’s head would be much shorter than the Helio. Either my boyfriend’s feet will be cold, or my head will be at his chest- so I think I’ll be buying him a bunch of wool socks 😛 Jokes aside, I am still trying to come up with a solution for this, and will update my blog once I can come up with something viable. In the meantime, happy camping!

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Learning how to Turn on a Lathe

I am fortunate that one of my coworkers at Techshop, who is extremely skilled at wood turning, offered to teach me how to use the wood lathe. At first I was a bit nervous, as I have minimal experience in woodworking (I’m more of a CNC/digital fabrication kind of gal). However, I soon learned turning was not as difficult as I thought. I believe it’s one of those skills that is relatively easy to learn, but difficult to master. It’s all about getting the rotation speed correct and placing the chisels correctly (this was actually a bit difficult for me as a lefty!)

I wanted to show a comparison of my first work with my most recent work. Here is my first work, a basic baluster, that I turned on the lathe:

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To get the varying cuts and grooves, I used different chisels, such a spindle gouge for lighter grooves and a parting tool to make deeper cuts (this is also what to use to actually remove a piece from the lathe). After I learned how to use the lathe, my ultimate goal was to make some sort of bowl. My coworker decided he would show me how to do so, but using marble rather than wood. I was really surprised to learn that marble (and soapstone) was a soft enough stone to be cut using steel chisels. It didn’t take much more effort to turn the marble than the wood, and I think the final product came out beautifully. I decided to give the small bowl-turned-candle holder to my mom- check it out:

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Couple of side notes: 1) I used steel wool to polish the marble. You just hold it against the stone while it’s spinning. 2) This bowl was actually supposed to have a lid, but unfortunately it went FLYING OFF THE LATHE (!) as I tried to part it. You live and learn I suppose- my happy accident turned my jewelry bowl to a candle holder.

Becoming Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road

My boyfriend, myself, and two friends decided that we wanted to take on Mad Max for Halloween. It was on of my favorite movies of 2015 and I loved Furiosa’s character (a strong, bad-ass, independent female main character- what’s not to like?), so I decided I would go as Furiosa.

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I knew immediately I wasn’t going to shave my head or cut off my arm, so I had to work around those parts of her costume. To start off, I purchased a basic costume from Amazon I knew I could modify:

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I also purchased a tan short sleeve shirt, high waisted black pants, 3 worn leather belts, faux welding goggles, a black infinity scarf, and some children’s hockey shoulder pads. All this was the basis for my costume. First and foremost, I knew I had to change out the belt. One of major pieces of Furiosa’s costume, the belt had to be done correctly. I actually was able to find the designed buckle ornament on Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:943629 (shout out to EmmJ for the design!) I printed the ornament on a Mojo 3D printer and this is how it turned out:

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Looks pretty good, right? So the next step was giving it a nice shine and smoothing it out. I did this by using acetone vapor to smooth out the print. You can do this by soaking paper towels in acetone and placing them in a large metal can. Flip the can upside down and then place your 3D print under the can (being careful to not let any of the paper towels directly touch the print). Note: this can only be done with ABS prints. After that, I spray painted the piece with some shiny silvery chrome spray paint.

The buckle ornament has a leather backing, so I purchased an 8.5 x 11 piece of worn leather from Michaels. I then measured out a circle with about a half inch offset from the ornament and cut it (I realized I could have done this quickly on a laser cutter, but I ended up doing it by hand with an x-acto blade). Check it out:

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The next part was modifying the belt from the costume to include my new buckle ornament. The most important factor was connecting it and making it sturdy while still also making it look good. I cut off the old ornament from the costume belt and also cut off the dingy, crappy looking belts. I left the leather pieces that hung down to hold the original ornament, as so:

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I then cut two holes in my leather and ran some brass coated jewelry chain and connected that to the hoops on leather pieces on the original belt. On the belt ornament leather backing, there are also approximately 20 one-foot chains that hang down. I added this in by cutting holes all along the bottom of the backing and running jewelry chain through the holes. Here is the finished product (which I was quite please with!):

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And here is everything put together:

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The costume came with a sleeve that was supposed to represent Furiosa’s mechanical arm, which I thought was good enough. I unfortunately do not have any images of the in between steps of spray painting the white hockey shoulder pad you see in the image or adding dirt and cutting the sleeves of my shirt, but both processes were quite simple.

Finally, check out pictures of all our costumes! It was a really fun process and I’m glad I got to go as one of my favorite characters.

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