Tag Archives: gadgets

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.

MakerWare Beta: First Impressions

TL;DR summary: I’m avoiding this software for now. It’s borked my USB port and made my Replicator shake violently using MakerWare’s default settings for PLA printing.

I can still print from the SD card, so I’m not completely dead in the water.

Frustrating and kludgetastic, but I’m sure I’ll get to learn something about the inner workings of USB drivers by the time all this is done.

On the plus side, MakerWare has some nice usability improvements over existing software, even if it needs a little UI love. Miracle Grue is insanely speedy slicing software.

My goal is to evaluate this software as a 3D printing hobbyist who’s big on ease of use and good UI design. Also keep in mind that MakerWare’s still in beta, so I wasn’t expecting a flawless performance.

Ok, on to my experience. I’m using a MacBook Pro running 10.6.8.

Startup: Launches quickly and automatically recognizes that I have a Dual Extrusion Replicator connected. Nice.

Navigating around the virtual build platform is easy. Wacom tablet support would be nice: a middle-click and drag to zoom in and out would replace the scroll wheel functionality that I don’t have.

(After 12 years of exclusive Wacom tablet use I find it amazing that anyone can or would make art with a mouse.)

I’d prefer to see the MakerBot branding moved to the title bar rather than taking up screen real estate, but that’s a quibble.

I’ve decided to use one of my Seej models as a test. I chose the Rubble Bloxen because I know the mesh is pretty dense: I sculpted it out of banana bread and then scanned it with Autodesk’s 123DCatch. Lots of polygons for the software to chew on here.

I import the bloxen and click “Make It.” This creates the slicing dropdown.

I choose “High Quality” settings and then (mostly by instinct) click the Advanced tab. The default settings for PLA seem a bit hot to me, but that’s an easy change: Just drop the extruders to 190° and the HBP to 65°. Easy peasy mac and cheesy.

It’d be nice to be able to save my preferred options as a preset, but I don’t see that functionality yet.

I hit the “Make It” button and I get a Slicing progress bar that hangs at 0% with no apparent way to cancel. The rest of the app seems responsive, though: I can still move the bloxen around the virtual platform, rotate it, etc.

The rubble bloxen is a complicated model, though. Maybe it crashed Skeinforge? Let’s try this with something different.

I quit and reboot, and my slice windoid is still there. This feels buggy. (Keep reading, it isn’t.)

I load up an example STL: Mr. Jaws. Click “Make It” and the Slicing dropdown appears again, with default settings. It’s a little disappointing that the settings I added last time haven’t stuck.

Still, it’s a Beta, so let’s not get too worked up about it.

Now I have a second slicing windoid, that’s also stuck at zero percent. Let’s try this again, one more time.

While I’m poking around doing other things, I notice that one of the windoids has started updating its progress bar! This must be the rubble bloxen finally getting its slice on after five minutes.

The software’s not buggy, it’s actually continued a slice after a quit and restart. Very cool.

I’ve blundered into cancelling a slice. Got to click the Bot’s icon in the lower right corner. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The Bot isn’t doing the slicing, my laptop is! Putting a cancel button on the slicing progress bar would be more intuitive.

Ok, so I cancel everything out and start fresh with a single model, the Rubble Bloxen again.

Import the STL. No problems there. I’ll move it around a bit just for fun.

I disagree with the function names “Move” and “Turn.” It feels a little dumbed-down and non-technical. I’m imagining I’ve just bought a cutting-edge piece of 3d printing hardware, and I want to feel like I’m using some massively powerful software with it. “Move” and “Turn” feels too toylike for a prosumer device. Give me translate, rotate, and scale, please.

I rotate the bloxen just to explore the UI a little. Makes sense, easy to use, no surprises. Free rotation is easy, but it would be nice to constrain the model to 45° rotation increments by shift-dragging.

Same goes for duplicating the bloxen: I’d like to be able to option-drag the block to duplicate it, but that’s Photoshop reflexes talking. Not a major feature requirement, and Copy/Paste does the job.

Being able to reset the SRT values is a nice touch.

I hit “Make It” again, and this time I’m going to use Miracle Grue for slicing. Bre Pettis was pretty stoked about a rapid slicing algorithm in the launch webcast, so let’s see if this is it.

Wow! That progress bar that stalled at zero with Skeinforge goes from zero to printing in less than ten seconds with Miracle Grue.

My first print goes straight to la-la-land and fails. So I click “Make It” again.

I have to re-enter my settings.

I hit “Make” and the second print fails, too. I suspect that my extruder head travel settings are too fast, so I check and sure enough the defaults are set way, way higher than I’ve been used to.

My HBP doesn’t appear to be warming to 65° like I told it to, either. Strange. It’s stuck at 16°.

After six attempts I finally gave up trying to print something. I hop over to ReplicatorG to see if something’s up with my Makerbot. Can I print a rubble bloxen with ReplicatorG?

Uh oh. It looks like MakerWare is hogging the serial port even after a quit. Unplug? Replug? No. Reboot? Still no. Shut down and restart? Uh oh. No.

I can’t use ReplicatorG over USB anymore. This is a problem. I launch MakerWare just to see if it still works. Sure enough, it does. Connects to the Replicator no problem. I try a test print, using the default Medium settings on Mr. Jaws.

It prints. But the print is so violent that I end up canceling it after two minutes, just so I don’t have to recalibrate my HBP. It’s literally shaking the Replicator and tabletop.

This behavior might be OK with a heavily-reinforced Replicator 2, but my little plywood buddy looks like it’s having a seizure. Cancel, cancel, cancel.

I’m done. MakerBot support has been very responsive in the past, so I’ll post an update once they get back to me.