Monthly Archives: June 2013

Zheng3’s Household Hints


Organize stray pushpins by sticking them into a super bouncy ball.

This is a great way to occupy a child for fifteen minutes so that you can get just an iota of work done because could you just stop asking me for stuff every five minutes on summer vacation and go read a book or something wait here’s some pushpins do this.

Also: is a proto-morningstar. Just add #2 pencil haft. SHUT YO MOUTH!

I’m just talkin’ about haft.

Filabot Recycled ABS: Penny Catapult


download

The spastic mob of nerfherders, scallywags, and ne’er-do-wells that follows this blog knows that I’ve been printing almost exclusively with Filabot‘s recycled ABS lately. I’ve got a pound of this stuff to get through for review purposes, so I’m cranking out fortifications and war machines day and night. It’s like the fires of Isengard over here.

I’ve always felt that the starter catapult included with the Seej Starter Set was a little anemic. The base of the throwing arm can get caught on the playing surface, and it arcs too far forward to get a good ballistic trajectory for the penny payload. This engine’s been around a while, and it’s due for an upgrade.

There are two additions to this catapult: the footings and the atlas. The footings are self-explanatory: print four of them and snap them onto the side braces to get the end of the throwing arm off your gaming table.

The atlas stops the throwing arm a little sooner than the crossbeam normally would, which gives you more range and power than a stock penny catapult.

These upgrades are backwards-compatible with existing penny catapults, so if you’ve been playing Seej at your makerspace this will only enhance your game. Remember that you probably won’t get a lot of torque with a single rubber band, so use two or three.

Flagrant stagecraft alert: I’m using a twist tie to hold the lever arm in place for the photo.

You can grab the catapult here and print it yourself. Have fun, and wear eye protection!

Filabot Recycled ABS, second print


downloadI think I’ve got the Filabot Recycled ABS settings pretty well dialed in. I’m generally printing at 245° on kapton with a swipe of ABSynthe on at 110° HBP. This model is a Masonry bloxen, the primary defensive model used in a game of Seej.

Priming your HBP with ABSynthe is easy and really helps with print adhesion. First dampen a paper towel with a little acetone. Take a failed print, preferably something with some surface area, and firmly brush it a few times with the damp paper towel to get just a little plastic on there. Then wipe the towel across your kapton tape.

Note the color change from the first print a few days ago. As I’m working my way through this roll I’m finding that the Filabot Orange is clearly giving way to Filabot Natural. Right now we’re kind of looking at Filabot Creamsicle.

I’m not sure if this roll was a one-off sent to me by Filabot or if this is a consistent quality issue with the filament; I’ll get in touch with them and report back.

UPDATE: Filabot tells me that they sent a “purge extrude,” created in the process of transitioning from one color to another. Customers get filament of consistent color all the way through. Since the orange was pretty consistent while it lasted, I have no reason to doubt this claim.

Next up: catapults.

Annals of Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Nozzle Fail

When cleaning a clogged extruder nozzle with a power drill, do not, I repeat, not have Pussycat Dolls videos playing on YouTube in the background.

For that matter, you probably shouldn’t try to clear a clogged extruder nozzle with a power drill under any circumstances.

Usually I leave my nozzles in a shot glass full of acetone for twenty minutes, then use the drill bit by hand to snake out a bit of cruft. Then back to acetone to soften up the newly exposed plastic, then drill, then acetone, then drill, then acetone yada yada yada until the cows come home.

This time I said to myself, “Zheng, old chap, this is awfully slow. You should apply a tremendous amount of torque to this expensive part while not paying attention. That will resolve this problem with minimal downtime.”

The Rat Pack

Rat Pack

As promised, I collected all the models from #ratweek and put them into one archive.

download The Rat Pack contains six, count ’em, SIX rat models, suitable for use with Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, or wherever you need a rodent of unusual size.

Left to right in the back are Biggie, Stretch, Hambone, Cody, and Adam. Skritch is up front.

Just go ahead and download the models for free! More miniatures like these lurk in The Forge, so get downloadin’, son. This rat pack ain’t gonna print itself.

First Filabot Recycled ABS Print

The fine folks at Filabot were kind enough to send me a sample of their Recycled ABS filament so that I can put it through its paces. My first print is an upgraded Seej Battle Pennon with a cylindrical finial, which you can download for free at The Forge.

Pennon, Rounded

Note to other manufacturers, I’ll be happy to take a look at your product and give it a fair evaluation on this blog. email me if you’d like to get the ball rolling.

Filabot’s located behind the Tofu Curtain in idyllic Vermont. I have strong attachments to that state; I went to college there, got my first real job there, met the lovely and talented Mrs. Zheng3 there, returned there after years in Toronto and Chicago, and frankly expected to end my days chopping wood in the Green Mountain State before life’s capricious winds required a move back to the wilds of the American Midwest.

So I know and love the local culture of Vermont, and it surprises me not in the least that a Vermont entrepreneur would be among the first to start a service recycling ABS plastic for 3D printing. Filabot embodies good-ol’ Yankee frugality blended with hippy-dippy save-the-earthism and a splash of tech savvy for flavor.

Here’s Filabot’s dealio: you buy a pound of their recycled ABS and they send it to you with a prepaid shipping label in the box. When you’re done with the spool, send it back to them with as many failed prints as you can cram in there.

They complete the cycle by pureéing your fails and feeding them back into a Filabot to be made into new filament.

The box of filament arrived a few days ago, and perhaps surprisingly for a package shipped from Vermont, did not smell of patchouli. Just a 3d-printed spool of filament held together with zip ties. Nice touch on printing your own spools, Filabot. Dollars to donuts that cardboard is recycled too.

Filabot Spool 1

I’m presuming that this spool is Filabot’s Orange ABS. Note that the color gets a little inconsistent further down the spool. I don’t expect this to be a problem for me, since many of my models get a post-print spray-painting and those that don’t are utilitarian in nature.

Filabot Spool 1

I’ll be printing with this spool until it’s gone so I can really beat on this filament and see what it can and can’t do. So far, the filament is smooth and consistent in texture. No bubbles or lumps.

I suspect it’s a little more brittle than other ABSes I’ve used. I’ll give it a few dozen more meters of printing before I make that judgement call, though.

All three parts of the flag printed smoothly with no extrusion problems in my Replicator1. I went with an extrusion temperature of 250°, a little hotter than Filabot’s recommended 230°-240° range. This filament doesn’t smell any worse than traditional ABS when it’s melting, which is to say it’s not bad at all. I’ve used ABSes that are flat-out stank, so this was a pleasant surprise.

So! Stay tuned for more prints with Filabot’s recycled filament. Bloxen are next in the queue.

+1 Counter Fail: Ditching Etsy for Shapeways

+1/+1 Counter Fail

For some reason– bed leveling, quantum kapton fluctuations, ambient temperature, butterfly effect, I dunno, I was getting something like a 70% failure rate on printing these Magic: The Gathering +1/+1 Counters.

downloadFinally I ABSynthed the build platform and started producing reliable prints again. Still, the trouble these guys caused prompted me to stop selling these on Etsy and move them exclusively on Shapeways instead. Life’s too short to be frustrated by DIY production problems when the big guys seem to have it figured out.

Give it a go yourself by downloading the models from The Forge.

Slime Counter Fail

Slime Counter Fail

I had an Etsy store order come in and I just couldn’t get one of my slime counters to print properly. Tried everything; adjusting layer height, slower print speed, re-leveled the print bed.

Turns out one of my Z-axis shafts had worked its way loose, which made the platform wobble during the print. A little bolt tightening and I was good to go, but not until I’d already made a dozen or so failed slime counters.

The original slime counter is here, free to download.

A Little Counter Intelligence

So I’m printing out a couple sets of Magic: The Gathering +1/-1 counters for an Etsy customer and I run into a problem. The red ABS +1/+1 counters are printing fine, but the -1/-1 black PLA counters are getting all feshnicket about midway up the print.

feshnicket couner

Good enough for a pickup game at Casa de Zheng, but one of these might show up at a tournament somewhere and we can’t have our customers looking anything less than their best.

If you don’t have your own 3D printer, you can get these counters on Shapeways, and if you do have your own printer head over to The Forge and print them at home. They’re in the Miniatures section.

These fellas are pretty small, so the newly-extruded PLA isn’t cooling off before the extruder head comes around to the same X-Y position on the next layer. Gooey plastic gets smudged a little bit and the edge of the counter becomes irregular. Fugly.

The solution is a little bit of custom gCode. A brief pause between layers gives the PLA time to stiffen before the extruder drags itself over the same spot.

The gCode needed for this is G4, or “dwell,” with a parameter measured in milliseconds. You’ll also want to move the extruder head out of the way while it dwells so that it doesn’t continue pumping heat into the print.

Here’s the gCode that needs to be added after each layer. Everything in parentheses is a comment and might make your interpreter go to la-la land.

G91 (set to RELATIVE positioning)
G1 Y10 F3900.0 (move 10mm in Y)
G4 P5000 (wait for 5 seconds)
G1 Y-10 F3900.0 (move -10mm in Y)
G90 (reset ABSOLUTE positioning)

You could add this with a Find/Replace in a text editor; just search for (</layer>) and append the gCode above to the end.

OSX’s TextEdit will actually let you add carriage returns to your find/replace fields if you hit CTRL-Q and then hit the return key. But saving that output gave me some weird text encoding errors, demanding that I switch from UTF-8 and it’s not 1994 anymore so WTF Apple.

It’d take me longer to figure out that text-encoding problem than it would to write a short Python script to do the job. Assuming you’re on a Mac and have in_file.gcode on your Desktop:

import os

# read the input file
f=open(‘/Users/zheng3/Desktop/in_file.gcode’, ‘r’)
#Windows and Linux paths are left as an exercise for the reader.
content=f.readlines()
f.close

gCode=’G91\nG1 Y10 F3900.0\nG4 P5000\nG1 Y-10 F3900.0\nG90\n’
# the \n puts a carriage return after each line.

for i in range(len(content)):

if ‘()’ in content[i]:
content[i]=content[i]+gCode

#write the output file
f=open(‘/Users/zheng3/Desktop/out_file.gcode’,’w’)
f.write(“”.join(content))
f.close

Then fire up out_file.gcode in ReplicatorG and a few minutes later, you’ve got yourself a decent print. Nice print on the left, yeechy print on the right.

fixed

Zheng3 Amazing Nose Ring, Now in Stainless Steel!

Nose Ring, Stainless

Now you can purchase the Amazing Nose Ring on Shapeways, in plastic (inexpensive) or stainless steel (awesome!)

I’m astonished at how durable the stainless steel version is, and can’t wait for stainless steel printing technology to reach the hobbyist market. Five years, maybe? Who nose.

Please check out the Handy-Dandy Amazing Zheng3 Nose Ring Sizing Chart to ensure that you’re purchasing a ring that is comfortable for you.

The ring is available in these common sizes: 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

As always, you can download the model for this ring for free at The Forge.