Monthly Archives: March 2013

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.

Repairing a Canon G11 Dial

I take most of the photos for my blog with a beat-up Canon PowerShot G11. It’s an older prosumer camera with a known hardware issue: the control dial for the manual settings will gradually fail, and setting exposure, shutter speed, and manual focus becomes progressively more difficult and eventually impossible.

The fix is pretty simple if you’ve got a small Phillips screwdriver, an electronics cleaning solvent, and some patience. I followed the steps on this forum, and took pictures with my phone as I went along.

Apparently the latest in the PowerShot line doesn’t have this problem, but I’m not one to skip a chance to vivisect a gadget. Also, the discretionary budget for electronics in Casa de Zheng is tapped out.

WARNING: This will void your warranty, might destroy your camera, yadda yadda yadda. Proceed at your own risk. Take the battery out first, so an errant slip of your screwdriver doesn’t short something in the camera.

Tinkering 101 tip: Have an ice cube tray, egg carton, or other segmented container handy to separate the screws for each step.

Also, never, ever work near a floor register. Trust me on this.

Step 1: Remove the screw next to the preview button.

Step 2: Remove the screws on the bottom of the camera.

Step 3: Remove the screws on the left side of the camera. The strap harness is a separate piece and will come off easily.

Step 4: Remove the screw on the right side of the camera, next to the AV door.

Step 5: Open the AV door and remove the screw inside.

Step 6: Gently pry open the case with a flat tool and pull the case straight back. Some fiddling may be required to get things apart. There’s a ribbon cable holding things together, so don’t yank too hard.

Step 7: Flip the little tab holding the ribbon cable in place upwards. Be gentle.

Step 8: Remove the clear plastic covering these screws, and then remove the screws. Gently pry the metal piece off, making sure to save the small L-shaped bracket on the lower left.

Here’s the the dial assembly.

Step 9: This is where the magic happens. Lift the front of the dial away from its contact pad a little bit. Don’t try to pop it off, just create some space between the two pieces. Spray your solvent into this space. I just dribbled some isopropyl alcohol in there and then rotated the dial around a bunch of times to clean out the mystery gunk that was causing my dial to fail.

Follow these steps in reverse order to reassemble. I used some packing tape to replace the plastic removed in step 8.

Getting the ribbon cable back into its socket can be a little tricky, but the rest of the case snaps back together in less than a minute.

The Emperor Wears No Kapton

The MakerBot 2X was just released, and I’m a little disappointed to see that MakerBot Industries hasn’t gotten rid of the Kapton tape part of the printing process yet. It’s easily the most frustrating part of working with the printer, and in a lot of cases it’s completely unnecessary.

For non-3D printer people who have stumbled across this blog post, Kapton tape is a space-age amber adhesive tape that one lays down on a build platform to help prints stick while printing. Kapton tends to bunch up and self-adhere, making the process of affixing it to the platform a real exercise in patience.

Without some adhesive assistance, prints slide all over the platform and you get a big bag of fail.

I haven’t had the opportunity to use a 2X yet, but I’ve been printing on a Replicator 1 for about a year and I’ve found a few workarounds that let me concentrate on designing stuff rather than getting my prints to stick to the first layer. Presumably these tips will apply to your shiny new 2X, too.

The models in all of the following photos were printed on a Replicator 1 using ABS of various colors, using the original Replicator firmware. I’m using ReplicatorG to slice.

HBP 110°
extruder 240°
layer height: .25 to .27
feedrate: 45
travel feedrate: 65
ReplicatorG 037
Skeinforge 50

I’m generally printing small models onto painter’s tape. The base on this squirrel is maybe 5 centimeters in radius.

squirrel token with NUNCHUCKS!

I get at least a 95% success rate printing these. (I need a lot of them because the kids and I use them as tokens in Magic: The Gathering.)

If you’d like a nunchuck squirrel of your own, download the STL here. Unarmed squirrel tokens also exist.

I was having such success printing tokens of all kinds on painters’ tape that for a while I was thinking Kapton was completely unnecessary until I tried to print a Dungeons and Dragons dice plinth.

painters tape plinth

See that circled gobbet of filament? That’s caused by not covering the entire platform with tape. The plastic won’t stick to bare aluminum, so when the extruder does its pre-print nozzle clearing it takes the extruded plastic along for the ride.

These gobbets can mess with your print if they get caught up in the print area, so it makes sense to cover the extruder path with a strip of tape.

Note where the edges of the dice plinth curled up from the platform. My understanding is that as layers of plastic cool, they contract and pull the lower layers of the print upwards. If you want to avoid this pulling, the first layer really has to stick to the platform.

The Sharpie marks around the print help me to make sure the build platform is locally level in the print area. I hardly bother with MakerBot’s platform leveling script anymore. I don’t see the point of having level platform corners if I’m not printing that far out, and getting level corners is a second exercise in patience that I just don’t have time for.

So. I lay down a small piece of Kapton in the build area only. Don’t bother trying to cover the whole build platform if you don’t need to. It’s much easier to work with that way.

I spread a liberal application of ABSynthe in the build area and then hit the print button again. Success. Those bubbles in the kapton are usually a problem, but with enough ABSynthe anything will stick to the HBP.

plinth with absynthe

Take a look at the difference between these two prints from the side. Painters’ tape on the left, Kapton with ABSynthe on the right.

plinth comparison

But, there’s a small downside to using ABSynthe: look at the bottoms of these prints:

underside

The ABSynthe I have at the workbench is a noisome slumgullion of every ABS filament color I have, which leaves a murky film on the bottom of the print. Note to self: make mono-colored ABSynthe for higher-quality prints.

Why not use ABSynthe on painter’s tape? I’ve tried it. The ABSynthe fuses with the tape and it can’t be removed from the bottom of the print without a lot of sanding.

Exiling Chaff: MtG +1/+1 Counters

plus_one

UPDATE: These counters are now available on Shapeways!

Everything we’ve tried to use for +1/+1 counters gets scattered during a Magic: The Gathering game. Usually it’s little squares of paper ripped off our scorekeeping sheet, but then they fly hither and yon when someone taps a creature.

So I made these counter clips. Plus one clips slide onto the left side of the card, minus one clips on the right. The clips interlock so an X/X boost makes a neat line of counters on the card’s edge.

minus_one

Very tidy and handy. I’m printing these in red for +1/+1 and black for -1/-1.

both_counters

Important question: Will this damage my cards?

Probably not. I wouldn’t put one of these on your near-mint Black Lotus, but the amount of wear and tear it puts on your $0.05 goblin card is probably less than you’d get from an anemic shuffle. Friction holds these clips to a card, but they’re very easy to remove.

You should have that Black Lotus in a helium-filled, hermetically-sealed Lexan box anyway. Hidden. Dark and deep in the vaults, not to be used, unless at the uttermost end of need.

Just to be safe, I give the inside of the clip a brisk swipe with some fine grit sandpaper before first use to exorcise any burrs.

If you’re printing at home, grab the STL for both of these clips here. Or if you’ve found your way here from Internet parts unknown and would rather have a pro print you a few, check out this listing on Shapeways.

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

Squirrel, with NUNCHUCKS!

squirrel token with NUNCHUCKS!

The original Magic: The Gathering Squirrel token has Taken a Level in Badass.

Our squirrel deck quickly boosts your friendly neighborhood 1/1 squirrels into 2/2s, so we decided that the best way to make rodents look more dangerous was to give them nunchucks.

If you’ve never designed for a Replicator or Reprap or similar device you may be a little disappointed that it can’t turn every wacky idea you’ve got into plastic. You’ve still got to deal with gravity. The printer isn’t capable of printing forms that hang in empty space. The hot plastic droops if the overhang is too extreme, usually any angle over 45° between successive layers. So that means your poses are limited to those with no mostly-horizontal limbs or weapons.

You can command your printer to print with support and automagically build you some plastic scaffolding, but that requires post-print cleanup with a hobby knife and sandpaper, and is unlovely.

I prefer to use the limitations of the medium as an artistic challenge. I try to design objects that can be printed all in one go, because that’s really what the dream of 3D printing is about. Ideas to Objects in one click.

This squirrel token is pretty solid; there are some little overhangs at the bases of the nunchucks but otherwise she conforms to the 45° rule.

squirrel token with NUNCHUCKS!

If you’ve got your own 3D printer, you can print as many squirrels as you need. You can download the model here, completely free.

No printer? No problem. I’ll print you as many as you need at my Etsy Store.

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