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Reprap Firmware comparison, smoother prints

I've been running Sprinter on a RAMPS 1.4 control board for my MendelMax since I built it a few weeks ago. This is the most common firmware in use, with the most community support. However there are other firmware options that are faster and more cutting edge, at the expense of having more bugs and a smaller user base. Today I switched to Marlin because I read that it handles acceleration between moves more smoothly, and can draw smooth arcs as well (a much more experimental feature).



I chose this funnel as my test print because the cone and cylinders comprising it cover a range of arc sizes.

On the left we have a print with Sprinter. There is a strong ridge at the layer change point near the left side, and additional ridges on every edge around the model. This print took about 40 minutes.

In the middle is the exact same gcode run by Marlin. The edge ridges are gone, but the layer change ridge is more pronounced, especially on the cylinder at the top. This is much closer to what the original model looks like.

On the right is Marlin with arc gcodes produced by Slic3r. It looks through the model for series of points that look like arcs and replaces them with arcs. This produces an exceptionally smooth model everywhere except for the layer change ridge. There was a mostly unrelated print failure around 70% of the way up, everything above that should be ignored for the purpose of this comparison.


This has been an educational experience. I've learned how to begin configuring a new firmware (Marlin has a LOT more functionality with regards to runtime configuration), and I got a print quality increase as well. Switching away from Sprinter is not for the faint of heart, but I'd advise everyone to try it at least once.


PS: The latter two prints produced progressively less vibration in my printer as well, which should allow me to greatly increase my print speed in the near future

Lights to the North

Zane, a member of the 7Hills Makerspace (http://www.7hillsmake.org/) to the north of us, has made this great light display for in front of his house. "...powered by a bluetooth enabled Arduino..."

About $30 in parts and many hours with Zane's brain.

http://zanecochran.com/entry.php?blog_id=335



Check out their group at http://www.7hillsmake.org/ and tell them Freeside says "Hello."


Our Dr. Glass and Sparr fight it out on who can create the fastest. From Dr. Glass:

This was part of a "Day Project" at FreesideAtlanta.org

In all fairness, Sparr and I became challenged in a Speed-Modeling contest. Me on Lightwave 3D and he on OpenSCAD. Sparr was victorious, but agreed to let me upload my model anyways. Thanks bud.

I'm including this original as well as the Freeside Atlanta emboss.

Sunrise Alarm Clock

Now that winter is coming to the northern hemisphere, getting up for work means getting out of bed before the sun comes up. In order to help the natural waking mechanism of light, I've decided to hack together a sunrise alarm clock on a shoestring budget.

Part List:

  1. Arduino
  2. Real Time Clock Module (http://www.sparkfun.com/products/99)
  3. 24xAssorted LEDs (In my case: 3UV, 2 Blue, 4 Red, 3 Yellow, 12 White)
  4. 24xResistors, 220ohm
  5. Solderless Breadboard
  6. Assorted wires
  7. 3x74HC595 shift registers
  8. A Shadow Display Box
  9. Frosting Spray

To put this thing together I used Elco's ShiftPWM Library to control the 24 LEDs. You could go bigger, but I wanted this to all fit into the box.

Personally, I had some PCBs from a previous project that I could fashion to make the LEDs easier to mount.

Everything is hooked up like in the schematic:

The "To SCL" and "To SDA" lines go to the Real Time Clock Module.

The parts are all mounted to the backing board of the shadow display box like so:



Load the program below in and you can set the time on the clock with the following command in serial monitor:

T(00-59)(00-59)(00-23)(1-7)(01-31)(01-12)(00-99)

T(sec)(min)(hour)(dayOfWeek)(dayOfMonth)(month)(year)

You can then set the alarm with a command:

A(00-59)(00-23)(0-1)(0-1)(0-1)(0-1)(0-1)(0-1)(0-1)

A(min)(hour)(sun)(mon)(tue)(wed)(the)(fri)(sat)

The alarm will attempt to be done with the cycle at the appropriate time set, so it will start with the UV LEDs and move through the progression fading the LEDs in and out as indicated in the arrays at the top of the program.

Frost both sides of the glass for good distribution of light, then cut away the side of the box so that you can power the Arduino with it mounted inside the box.

This is a very sped up version of the alarm sequence looks like this... the lights at the beginning are part of the power up sequence of the Arduino.

video

Arduino Code... fast and dirty, I'm going to clean it up so that it works with alarm times at the borders of the day eventually...

Thanks to Freeside for a access to some of the parts and some soldering space and time.
Thanks to John Vaughters for the Clock Tutorial
Thanks to Elco for the ShiftPWM library




Makerbot Dual Extruder Demo

I am coming to freeside tonight. I should be there around 7.30pm I finished the hardware build of the new dual extruders from makerbot. Also their new interface kit build. I'll be installing them and doing the software work, calibration and hopefully a print or new design for the dual extruders before the night is up. Since I am going to be in the space anyway, I am going to open this to anyone who wants to attend. If you are bored or free try to stop by...


Anyone interested in our progress on this is welcome to come read about it at http://www.linkreincarnate.com/

Free Stuff from Freeside!

We will have some free freeside (free^2side?) keychains at our 3d printing presentation at Dragon*Con. In the meantime you can download the stl of the keychain hereand a few of our logo stl files as well.

New Video walkthrough!

Here's a new video walkthrough of our space. Enjoy!



Thanks to Engunneer and PeterP for hosting!


Mini 3d printer meetup.

We will be having an open house/mini 3d printer meetup this Friday (August 19) from 4-8 pm. All are welcome to attend. We will be taking apart an UP printer for documentation/reverse engineering as well as tweaking a few others. Come on by and get your geek on!

Open Source 3D Printing Class: 7/28/2011 @ 7:30pm

Freeside Atlanta would like to invite everyone in the Atlanta area to a free introduction level class on open source 3D printing. Topics will include:
  • Basic Printer Operation
  • Various 3D printer designs including reprap and MakerBot
  • OpenSCAD modeling software
  • Common print materials
So if you an just getting interested in 3D printing, or are already involved in 3D printing, stop by Freeside this Thursday night at 7:30pm. People already familiar with open source 3D printing are also encouraged to come and help teach or just meet fellow enthusiasts.

Making print cartridges for a Z400/Z402 3D printer

One of the costs of running an inkjet based 3D printer is that the cartridges have to be replaced on a regular basis. The Z400 and Z402 use Canon BC-20 ink cartridges which are readily available.

There are currently two known ways of making these cartridges ready for the printer.

The first method is to cut the cartridge in half, remove the foam inside, cut a Blue Falcon BD-50 Centrifuge tube in half, and epoxy it and a small O ring to the reservoir at the bottom of the cartridge. This is how the cartridges that are sold by Z Corp are made.

An alternative method is two drill two holes in the cartridge, epoxy down some type of barb, and flush the cartridge. This is the method I am currently using in my Z402. Click below for full instructions and a few pictures of the process.