Monthly Archives: July 2012

Optimizing hobby time

There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do. Gotta get up and make a new Seej model. Gotta get that IR-sensing followbot built. Gotta hit the gym. Gotta watch another episode of Breaking Bad while I work on cardio. Gotta do the laundry. Gotta learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu take six months off to heal a rotator cuff injury from hitting the gym too hard so I don’t get pwned at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Gotta study Chinese.

I read Chinese at sub-kindergarten level, so I’m always looking for opportunities to reinforce my written vocabulary. And since I’m a busy guy, I try to make my hobbies do double duty whenever I can. Here, I’m learning some new words and doing a little 3D printing on the side.


Here are the translations of the characters, so you can make sure everybody at the table gets the correct rest. I’m using traditional characters because they’re prettier. You can download this whole set from Thingiverse for free if you like.

Māmā 媽媽 is pretty universal: that’s mom.
Bàba 爸爸 is dad. From there:

gēge 哥哥: older brother
dìdi 弟弟: younger brother
érzi 兒子: son

jiějie 姐姐: older sister
mèimèi 妹妹: younger sister
nǚ’ér 女兒: daughter

I’ve also included “concubine” and “eunuch” in case anyone in your household fits those descriptions:

qiè 妾: concubine
huànguān 宦官: eunuch

I’m 99% sure that as a non-Chinese American I’ve missed some subtlety in familial relations. Native speakers/Mandarin experts please correct me by email, Twitter, or in the comments below. 谢谢。

Complexity is free.

The spools of ABS that I purchased when I bought my Replicator are finally about to run out, so I went online to get some new ones.

I ended up getting some green ABS and blue PLA from Amazon reseller jet_jet2004, who was nice enough to throw in an extra kg of PLA as a courtesy. Thanks, Jet!

I got the box open and discovered that the spools don’t fit on the back of the Makerbot. The spool bores are way too small. Opportunity!

I opened up the Tinkeriffic Gear Set, did a little vertex slice and dice, and printed a pair of spindles that fit snugly in the holes. Five minutes of Tinkertoying later and I have a functional spool setup for 40mm plastic spools.

Last week I was listening to Science Friday: Can 3D Printers Reshape the World? when Ira Flatow was interviewing Bre Pettis, Hod Lipson, and Terry Wohlers.

Wohlers said something that stuck with me: “With these printers, complexity is free.”

Complexity of design is no longer a barrier to (small scale) manufacturing. The complexity of a design is baked into the process; there’s not much difference from the human perspective between manufacturing baroque and mundane objects.

Press a button, get an object. Let the robot do the work.

There’s no reason for the wavy spokes on the spindle except to adhere to the Rule of Cool. But they exist, and it doesn’t take any more human effort to have them than it would have taken to omit them.

There are many. other. fine. spindles. on Thingiverse, but think this one is the first that’s designed with Tinkertoy compatibility in mind.

Download it here.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Hot In Herre by Nelly. Love this song.

The East Coast of the U.S. is in the middle of a heat wave, Colorado is on FIRE, and I just finished putting a new heated build platform harness into my MakerBot Replicator.

This is the third HBP harness I’ve been through since I’ve owned the Replicator. This one’s a nice shiny red, which works for me semantically. Red==hot. Nice touch, MakerBot Industries.

Apparently this was a common enough problem that MakerBot redesigned the thing to handle higher temperatures.

HBP Harness numero uno failed a few months ago:

It started with a little charring around the power pin. I asked MakerBot if this was normal, and they said no and shipped me out a new one immediately.

HBP harness #2 lasted a few weeks before the charring started, this time on the ground pin. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I took apart the Replicator and got a look at the underside. Lucky for me I contacted support way, way before it finally failed.

Into the parts bin with you, buddy. I give you 3:1 odds of being resurrected as part of a robotic abomination sometime in the future.

Earlier today my HBP was stuck at 25°C, so I busted out the allen wrenches and the tiny screwdrivers and replaced the meshuggeneh harness with the spiffy new one.

MakerBot Industries tech support has been top-notch with sending out replacement parts. Thanks guys and gals, I’m back in bidness.

New design up on Thingiverse tomorrow. (7/4/12, you read it here first.)