Monthly Archives: March 2013

Updated MTG Cat Token

cat_token

I created my first Magic: The Gathering cat token a few weeks ago and since that time I’ve cranked out a few more creature tokens.

The original token’s base was incompatible with the new tokens, but that’s been fixed meow now.

If you’ve got your own 3d printer, download the model here. The .zip file contains both the old cat model and the update.

Don’t have access to a 3D printer? No problem. I’ll print you a dozen at my Etsy Store.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

Dualstrusion with MakerWare Beta 2.0

TL;DR summary: The UI’s handy and the MakerBot slicer is mind-blowingly fast, but I had a great deal of difficulty getting a dualstrustion to print with MakerWare.

I opened a support ticket with MakerBot yesterday, trying to get MakerWare to connect to my bot over USB. If you’ve read yesterday’s post you’ve seen the litany of troubleshooting steps I’ve already tried. Today I’m thinking maybe I’m due for a firmware upgrade, but we’ll see what MBI has to say before I fix things that are only slightly broken.

While I’m waiting for that request to percolate through the support structure I thought I’d try a workaround: printing from the SD card. I’m interested to see how MakerWare’s new dualstrustion generation works, because ReplicatorG’s method is a little kludgey.

This is MakerWare 2.0.1.211 running on OSX 10.6.8.

I’m going to print my Magic: The Gathering Vampire and Cat tokens, because I already have black and white ABS filaments loaded. One color for each token.

I import the cat and MakerWare helpfully asks me if i’d like to put the model on the build platform. Yes, yes, I would like to do that.

cat

I can command-c/command-v to copy and paste multiple cats onto the platform, and Makerware automatically places them next to each other. This is quite a nice little feature.

Just for fun I see if MakerWare will let duplicate cats off into empty space. It does.

lots of cats

The delete key rapidly relieves me of my extra cats. Next I import the vampire. The vampire and cat are cohabitating, which needs to be fixed before I can print. That’s a simple click and drag.

cohabitation

I’d like to have a keyboard shortcut for “Add,” if anyone from the dev team is reading this.

MTG Vampires are either black or red, so I need to change the vampire’s color. I click the vampire token and then the Object button, which brings up the properties of this instance.

There’s a strange, unused text field under the dropdown menu. No idea what this is for. I can’t click or type in it.

text field

Ah. It turns out this alleged text field is a white color swatch indicating the color of the model. I find this out when I go to change the cat’s color. A label would be helpful here for first-time naïfs like myself.

It’d be nice to have a double-click on the color swatch bring up a color picker. As is I have to go to the Settings button on the other side of the screen.

I go to change the color of the extruders in Settings, and MakerWare crashes.

changing colors

So. I retrace my steps and I’m back in business in two minutes.

Exporting the .thing to a file is a single click of the Make button, and I don’t have to mess with any settings here. I just choose “High Quality.”

welcome

Out of curiosity I poke into the Advanced settings. The speed while extruding /traveling seems really fast to me– I’m usually printing around 45/65 and MakerWare defaults to 80/150.

But I’ll give it a go since I’m trying to approach this software as if I’m a n00b who just unboxed my machine.

Skeinforge is the default slicer for High quality. The slice starts OK, and then seems to hang around 66%. I’ll give it a few more minutes and then try again.

I come back three minutes later and the slice weirdly jumps back to 33%. Two minutes later it does some “Weave” business, then a print-to-file step, and finally it’s done! Total slice time, about 15 minutes.

Remember I can’t print via USB yet, I’m exporting a .s3g file and then printing from the Replicator’s SD card slot.

The first layer looks like this:

fail

It looks like some piece of software, either MakerWare or Skeinforge, forgot to take the cat offset into account when building the gCode for this print.

So I try it again with the MakerBot slicer, which slices so quickly at first I think something’s wrong. It takes literally less than 30 seconds.

I believe that somewhere between 1.0 and 2.0 the in-application name of this slicer got changed from Miracle Grue to MakerBot Slicer. This is disappointing.

This print, too, failed in exactly the same fashion, so it’s not Skeinforge that’s the problem. I’m looking askance at you, MakerWare.

So I move the cat over a little bit, to force the geometry to change in the reslice.

nudged

Also, as long as I’m here I’m going to drop the travel speeds to something I’m more comfortable with; the machine’s rattling violently at the default speeds. Here’s the result, still overlapping.

fail

I’ll try one last time with plenty of distance between the models printing at 45/65 travel rates.

fail

And finally I get something close to a decent print.

final

The vampire printed fine, but there are little bits of black filament embedded in the white plastic– I have no idea how they got there. They don’t look like they rubbed off the left extruder head, and they don’t show up when I print models with a single extruder.

My hunch is that this is an atypical dualstrusion print– maybe I had such a hard time because MakerWare thinks all dualstrusion prints are intended to be fused together and not two models separated by a lot of space. I can’t say for sure.

It’s disappointing. MakerWare’s got a lot of promise but it’s not going to be a regular part of my workflow for a while.

MakerWare 2.0 Beta: First Look

TL;DR summary: I was all excited to check out the performance of this new software, but couldn’t connect to my Replicator Dual even after extensive troubleshooting. I’m sticking with ReplicatorG for now.

This is MakerWare 2.0.1.211 running on OSX 10.6.8.

The download: the DMG for this called the MakerWare Bundle of Awesome; MBI remains lighthearted even in its mundane business details. I’m downloaded and installed in less than a minute. So far, so good.

The first thing I notice when I launch the application, even before the “What’s New” dialog, is that they’ve replaced the old gradient background with a subtle cityscape.

welcome

The software asks which MakerBot I’ll be using today. I’ll just select my Replicator Dual, now second from the bottom in the drop-down menu, and continuing its descent into obsolescence as progress trudges on.

The first thing I want to do is turn off the cityscape. I’m used to design applications that get out of the artist’s way– Photoshop, Maya, Illustrator, all these give me the option to eliminate geegaws and focus on the work at hand. I’d like an RGB 161,161,161 background, please.

I click the settings button in the upper right. No luck there, but it’s nice to be able to change my object display colors. So I go to MakerWare->Preferences, hoping maybe there’s some advanced settings there. Nope, it opens the same dialog.

I can’t find a place to turn the background off, so it looks the the cityscape is here to stay. Moving on.

Before I can print anything, I’ll have to connect to my Replicator. The broken USB cable button in the lower right looks helpful, so I click it. I get a notice that my Replicator Dual isn’t connected, and an option to “Export to File,” which I assume lets me save my bot settings.

not connected

I poke through the menus, looking for something that’s obviously “Connect to Machine.” Can’t find it. Must be an autodetect? I’ll quit and restart.

MakerWare starts up and some status boxes appear and disappear telling me that the Replicator is connected *and* disconnected. Don’t blink, you might miss it. The bot still doesn’t appear to be connected, since that USB cable icon is broken.

UI Design tip: the “sheared cable” icon might imply that the cable’s just really, really long; a less ambiguous visual cue would be a big red X over the icon.

Twenty years of talking relatives through hardware problems over the phone tells me the next logical thing to do is power cycle the bot.

The bot chirps its happy startup song and I see the same connected/disconnected status boxes fade in and out. As far as I can tell, I’m still not connected to the bot.

Sometimes the USB ports on my laptop get a little fussy, so I’ll try moving the cable around. Same results: still a disconnected Replicator.

So I click the Help button. It’s all UI help. Useful, no doubt, but not in my present circumstance.

help screen

I had some trouble with MakerWare 1.0 and the conveyor background services, so I’ll try turning those off and on again. No good.

Now I reach way way down into my troubleshooting bag of tricks, into the late 80’s. Turn everything off and on again, and restart from scratch.

Still no connection between the software and the hardware. MakerBot’s support page tells me to go to Services->Restart background service. I’ve done that already, but OK, let’s give it another go.

Still no connection. Just to make sure I’m not a complete idiot, I quit MakerWare and hop over to ReplicatorG to see if I can connect there. ReplicatorG connects instantly, so this is definitely a MakerWare problem.

Ok, big guns. Go to Terminal and ps -ef | grep conveyor. Find the conveyor process and kill -9 it, so I can restart it from MakerWare. This is the Unix equivalent of taking off and nuking the site from orbit.

Go back to MakerWare and restart the service. MakerWare crashes after a few seconds of spinning beachball. Maybe kill -9 was a bit much.

Restarting shows me a services error.

services error

ReplicatorG still works.

I try an uninstall/reinstall, using the uninstaller provided in the disk image. I’m back to the broken USB icon again.

Meh. I’ll try a workaround tomorrow, printing from the SD card so I can evaluate the UI and printing experience. In the meantime I’ll get in touch with MakerBot Support and see if we can’t figure out what’s up.

Wanna see my nose ring?

nose ring

“Wanna see my nose ring?”

So begins my kids’ newest favorite gag.

You can download the STL for this model and print it yourself. Print in two pieces and then snap together. A little glue might be helpful but probably isn’t necessary.

It’s sized for an adult finger but as long as you scale the nose and the ring equally, resizing for smaller hands shouldn’t be a problem.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.

UPDATE: You can buy a Zheng3 Nose Ring on Shapeways now! Click here to get it printed in stainless steel and sent to you!

This model sucks.

vampire_token

We held a bracketed Magic: The Gathering tournament in celebration of Elder Zhengspawn’s twelfth year on Middle Earth, with a custom MTG token as the prize. Mrs. Zheng3 completely crushed the assembled children, as she is wont to do.

In all fairness, the runner-up was fighting a 101° fever, so we decided that he, and not the house, should get the custom token. He chose Vampires to go with his black deck.

The party eventually devolved into freestyle wrestling, because 12-year-olds and sugar is why.

My research into Magic: The Gathering Vampires has convinced me there are three main kinds of vampires in the fantasy world.

Handsome Male Vampires.
Monstrous Androgynous Vampires.
Slutty Female Vampires.

I opted for Handsome Male vampire, in no small part because I didn’t want to hear from the winner’s parents about how I’d given their son a lewd handful of 3d-printed boobies. This is the American Midwest, after all.

Once I had a few hours into the design, Zhengspawn informed me of the radical differences in appearance between the Stromkirk and Markov bloodlines, and rather than go down that rabbit hole I decided to just go with a generic vampire for use in any fantasy setting.

His original design had a crew cut, which looked very American Civil War-era True Blood-ish. The consensus around the house was that Fabio hair was more apropos.

At this scale, the Replicator’s resolution is a handicap, especially compared to the miniatures cast by big commercial foundries like Games Workshop. Communicating “vampire” without really being able to print fangs and pointy ears is a challenge.

So I’m limited to pose and wardrobe. I had to get the model up off the base to make this a flying vampire, so I appropriated the cloak and gave the vampire a regal bearing.

I added the cavalry saber and started thinking backstory, like this guy was an army officer before he got seduced by one of the aforementioned slutty vampires 200 years ago and suddenly why am I in this rabbit hole and got to get back to modeling again.

I decided not to tatter the cloak, because although it would look cool, no self-respecting vampire noble would float into combat looking like a schlub.

If you’ve got your own 3D printer, get cracking on printing your own vampires. You can download the model here, completely free.

No printer? I’ll print you as many as you need at my Etsy Store. A half-dozen should do it for most games.

This model is distributed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US license. Please remix and enjoy.