How I made the Peaky Blinders memorabilia

To continue my previous post about painting 3d printed models, here is a wee project I have made recently. It is inspired by a British TV series, “Peaky Blinders”. The series tells the story of an English gangster family – The Shelby family – from Birmingham during the early 20th century. An often used hand gun during the series is a Webley revolver, which was a service gun at the time in the British army.

I have put the model together from various pieces. The revolver itself was printed from Thingiverse. I have made a small modification to the original file, designed printable screw heads instead of using real screw.

Screw heads

The bullets are from Thingiverse as well, I have reduced its diameter of the 45APC bullet to 10mm. This is for having them more believable as the pistole’s barrel’s inner diameter is 10mm… You can do the easily in Tinkercad, I have not saved that in a separate file.

I have designed the lettering in Fusion360. Lastly, the little hook was printed also from Thingiverse, only in about 70% reduced scale.

The board and the bullet holder are made out of wood, also by me.

Here is the process:

I have printed all the parts, to have them together for assembly. The entire gun weights around 150g. I have used superglue and clamps to assemble the main parts. I have printed the parts from PLA, using 0.1mm layer resolution.

After assembly, I have used a selection of tools, such as sand papers and blades to smooth some of the layered printing texture. I have also used modelling paste filler for bigger gaps or on difficult to remove printing lines.

I have used an airbrush to apply the base paint. It might seem counterproductive to paint your model black, when the filaments colour is black already, but as I have intended to paint the entire model, the colour of the material is not really important. This is a matter of choice. Some people are using appropriate coloured filament for each part. Although, that is entirely the choice of the maker, it will not produce the same result. On the other hand, having your model painted, will definitely reduce its practical usability. This is, in that case, not really a problem as this is just a display.

I have painted the body of the gun with a combination of black, gunmetal and a selection of shading washes (inks). The handle is brown with red and sepia wash, before everything was coated with two layers of varnish.

The rest of the set was fairly simple. The bullets were painted with a combination of golden and gunmetal colours with a bit of washes. The lettering is painted grey coated with red and black washes. The hook is black, drybrushed gunmetal and sepia ink.

I am quite happy with tresult:

Paint your 3D prints

There are many uses of a 3d printer, from jewellers to dentists, plenty of industry professionals and various hobbyists are taking advantage of that technology. This includes many modelling enthusiasts whom are using a printer, for extra parts or entire models.

My scratch build “Hypercube”

The two biggest problems with domestic printers are the print quality – commercial model kits normally are incredibly detailed – and printing speed – especially bigger pieces will take a lot of time to print in a reasonable detail.

You have to experiment a lot in order to learn what is working for you and what quality of detail you can achieve with your machine.

Although I am building and painting models/ miniatures for a long time, in the last 2-3 years, I have somewhat shelved this hobby. However, with my 3D printing interest, I still quite enjoy making props. They are usually ideal for (better) domestic printers as the scale is bigger than most model kits/ figures and with some post processing (sanding, filling, painting, etc), I have achieved nice results.

If you want to get into this hobby and have access to a reasonable 3d printer, potentially you have endless options. For smaller pieces and finer detail a resin printer would be more suited as these printers can print seamless models in high details. The drawback of them is that they are slow and they are not exactly suited in a home environment because of the liquid resin is fairly toxic (unless you are lucky enough to have a dedicated work room/ shop). Resin printers are also much slower than FDM ones and fairly limited in the size they can print. FDM printers are using plastic filament so you could use the colour of the filament as well with your projects. Personally I paint my models so the colour of the filament does not matter much as it will get sanded, primed and painted.

Part of a prop is being printed

On most models, detail is everything. Commercially produced models are usually cast, plastic injected or printed with a good resin printer and good kits have an incredible amount of detail on them. That is why good model kits are fairly expensive and of course the selection is limited to what the manufacturers bring to the market. While with a 3d printer, it is modellers heaven, potentially you could make almost anything.

As for printable models, places like Thingyverse and similar websites are 3d model depositaries. There are plenty of models made by enthusiasts which you can work with as they are or you can improve them however you would like. Some models cost money. You would expect they are professional models, but do really have a proper look, because that is not always the case.

Of course if you are good with digital design software, you could make your own models. Blender and Fusion360 are two of the most popular one with digital designers.

Various tools to clean the print up.

One of the major part of that hobby is to paint the object (or at least aim for it) to a standard, which makes the model believable. Painting is all about skill and talent. I would say that the perfect hobbyist is consisting of about 50% learnable skill and 50% talent. You do not need to be a talented painter in order to achieve good result, but you definitely have to practice a lot and watch/ read about the subject as much as you can.

I would say I am at about at 10% of learned skill and 5% of talent, there are many people producing much better results than I am, but I tend to be quite critical to my own work. Despite that, usually I can produce things which are liked and complemented by the unanointed… I will show a couple of projects I have done recently in my next post.

Here are a couple basic paint options to get you started, easy to obtain them from modelling shops (I would stay clear from artist’s paints unless you really know what you are doing. Paint produced for modelling is meant to be user-friendly and produced for that specific task. In case you are just starting up, investing into good quality paint set of about 8 different colour, would give you a sufficient selection to play and learn with.

The two major type of paints are:

  • Acrylic model paint, which is water-soluble, odourless and easy to handle. However, you definitely need to varnish your model if you want to give some protection to it.
A selection of acrylic paints and washes (inks)
  • Enamel model paint, which would give you a durable finish, but because it is solvent based, using it home is a bit of a hassle due to the fumes emitted by the paint. It is also more work to clean your tools as you need to use white spirit or something similar.

I would stay clear from artist’s paints unless you really know what you are doing. Paint produced for modelling is meant to be user-friendly, so if you are just starting up, investing into good quality paint would be a good way to start.

Aplication of paint:

Essentially you can just use a brush. A good quality brush, especially for beginners, I think it makes life easier. Depending on the level of details, you might want to have a selection of different sizes. The size range should really depend on the size of the models you are planning to paint and the level of detail you want to achieve. Depending on your needs sizes can range from “000” upwards.

Some brushes

You also could invest in an airbrush set, it is very useful for painting larger pieces and for base coating anything. Some people achieve amazing results in finer details too. There are a plethora of websites providing info on airbrushing, personally I love it, so I would encourage you to try.

Airbrush

This post is just an introduction of that vast subject. If you have read this post that far and you are interested more in painting techniques, I would start with YouTube videos telling about fantasy miniature and/ or scale model painting.

Newly built 3d printer test procedure

Some time ago I have made a post about the first rite of passage to DIY 3d printers. It was about a year ago and since then, with a little bit of break I have picked up on that quite a bit.

By now, I have almost finished another DIY (scratch) build printer, a Hypercube which is a design from Tech2C.

The aim of this post is not so much about this particular machine, but I have spent a great deal of time testing the newly built printer and I thought it would be a good idea to make an “action plan” for people like me who has never done it before. It can be applicable to any FDM printer regardless if it is from a kit or not. I am not elaborating on each individual processes, most of them are easily obtainable from other blog/ vlogs/ etc. Some of the processes can be found on this blog. I am also planning to write about specific procedures of specific fine-tuning/ setting up

OK, so you have your assembled machine.

  • Check if all the moving parts to all directions are square and parallel depending on the orientation and the type of the printer (i.e. cartesian, corexy). This can prevent quite a lot of hassle later on when you fine-tune or dealing with printing issues. A rooky mistake by a lot of people that they are checking parts position according to a spirit level or the platform where the printer sits on. That is bad practice, you need to check things compared to the frame of your printer, otherwise it might be perfectly square to your desk or to the gravitational field, but it will not be very useful for you.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Marlin G-code functions (or whatever other firmware you are using)undefined
  • Check movement of X; Y; Z directions are moving to the right way. Especially if you have built your printer from parts you have collected from here or there, pins orientations, cable connections, plugs, etc might not be the same or even compatible with each other. I have tested everything through the console monitor in the Arduino IDE. I’ve built this printer with an MKS 1.4 control card (which is based on the Arduino mega).
  • Test separately each parts which use electricity. Fans, heaters, end stops, etc. Every part can be switch on/off through your console. Refer to the G-code list.undefined
  • Test whether step/ unit settings on your motors are correct. It depends on how you “jumpered” your board and what motor drivers you are using. Try to move the hotend by 10 cm, see if it is really moving the determined distance. Same applies to your extruder. Bear in mind, in order to get the extruder moving, you have to pre-heat your hotend to operational temperature.
  • Try to home your hotend. Now, I have not fully assembled my machine before testing, I have just wired everything up, just in case remedial work was needed, so I have easy access to everything. I did not even have (still don’t) an on/off switch, I have used a plug which has its own. The reason why that is advisable, is that once you hit enter on the G28 (the homing g-code command) your machine will move till the homing codes end, regardless if it is destroying itself in the process, should you set something wrong during assembly. I would keep one hand on the enter button and one hand on a physical power switch as there is no other way stopping the process.undefined
  • Level the printing bed. Depending on what “Z” end stop you are using, the process slightly differs . Even if you’re using the self levelling function of your printer, this is an advisable step to take, to lessen the required calculations and moves during printing
  • Set nozzle off set. I have posted about that before previously and there are plenty of info about that on YouTube or relevant forums.
  • Test your graphic display (if you use one), set up Octopi or whatever else you might want to use

Finally, try to print something….. Good luck.

Using an inductive PNP Proximity Sensor with MKS Gen Printer Control Board

If you are into customizing or building 3D printers, you might be using an “MKS Gen” control board. I am building a HyperCube from Tech2C and I have chosen to use that card. Correctly installing a Z axis proximity sensor was a good learning process fo me, so I thought I share my experiences, it might be useful for others.

The idea of a standard mechanical end stop is, that a signal circuit is open (thus, is not giving a signal) until the print head would travel to one end of its route (determined by the physical dimensions of your printer). Which point it hits the mechanical switch and closes (triggers) the signal circuit. This signal then picked up by your control board and triggers certain functions, instructed by the board’s firmware.

You might want to use a metal detecting proximity sensor to replace the mechanical switch on the Z axis of your printer. There are several reasons to do that, one of which is the possibility to use it for the auto level function of your firmware (in my case that is Marlin). I have touched the subject of the available alternatives of a mechanical switch in one of my earlier posts.

One of the many alternatives of a metal detecting proximity sensor is the one named “LJ12A3-4-Z/BY”, which is quite imaginative if you think about it. This sensor is a PNP sensor. PNP stands for “positive-negative-positive”, that basically means that it is continuously giving voltage in a signal cable, if it is not close to metal and gives zero voltage when it is close. Our metal bit is, of course, the print bed.

That would be OK with most control boards (parameters have to be changed in Marlin), but the MKS Gen card’s hardware prevents the use of this type of sensor. As the device only cost about £3 ($4-$5), the obvious course of action would be to order a NPN type sensor (which would give logic “LOW” voltage while it is not triggered and logic “HIGH” voltage when it is triggered) and instal that with only a small modification.

The device requires a minimum 6VDC in order to function properly. The end stop socket on most Arduino based boards only provides 5V. However, it can be powered directly from the power supply, which gives 12V. In that case, the signal will be too strong to feed it back to the board. So you can either use a voltage divider or a diode to step down the strength of the signal.

A good explanation by Tech2C of that can be seen here:

Most “DIYers” like me, however likes the challenge (I guess), so instead of buying another one, I have spent at least half a day with building a simple circuit, using a 2N3904 transistor to reverse the signal, with the advantage of having that signal suitable to feed directly to the board.

Here is the story in pictures:

The first thing I have done is to check the sensor whether it works with only 5VDC supplied. I have used a separate power supply. The signal cable gives 5V back.
Triggering the sensor makes no difference, although the LED on the sensor is faintly lit up, we can be fairly sure it would not work with the board either.
Here, I supply the sensor with 12V and it is giving 12V back, thus the signal is “HIGH”
However, up on triggering the sensor, now gives a “LOW” signal, hence we know the sensor works with the appropriate supply voltage.

I am not going into details about the explanation of electronic principles about components, this is more of a guide how to get around of the PNP sensor problem. If you are interested more about the workings of transistors, etc, I will include a reference and recommended links list at the end of this post.

My aim is to reverse the signal pictured above and decrease its strength when it is logic “HIGH”. I need that it gives a “HIGH” signal when triggered and “LOW” signal when it is not.

Here is a simple circuit to build in order to do that. The idea comes from here, I have just draw the schematic in KiCad instead of using the quality hand drawing.

The humble 2N3904 transistor
This is the finished modification
Testing the sensor without triggering. It gives a logic “LOW” signal with 12VDC supplied.
The sensor is being triggered, it gives a logic “HIGH” signal through the transistor.
Modification is now protected from the elements.
It is installed on the printer. Note, only one wire (the signal) which is connected to the end stop socket, the power and ground is now connected directly to the power supply.
Tested. The sensor is not triggered, hence Marlin shows open on the Z axis
Sensor triggered (metal put close to the device) and Marlin shows the correct status.

And there you have it! The modification is successful, the sensor now ready to be used in my/ yours/ anyone’s set up.

References and recommended links: (I have no affiliation to anything here, just pointing towards things)

Buy a LJ12A3-4-Z/BY and have the opportunity to spend at least half a day solving a problem, which should not be a problem at the first place!

Read the Art of Electronics. It is the bible of all electronics books.

Read into electronics, but a bit more digestible way.

Build a HyperCube.

Buy a lot of 2N3904 transistor. You can use them to build interesting beginners electronic projects.

Zen3d – Run by a friend, read it if you want to know about DIY 3d printer building or if you want to learn Hungarian – good practice.

Write me an email, if you need help in anything in this post.

Basic 8 step sequencer – upgrade your Atari Punk Console

The sequencer is an (mostly) electronic device which triggers sounds in steps in a continuously repeating sequence. The origin of such a machine is dating back several hundreds of years, since music machines were constructed. The one which resembles most to the modern computer based sequencing softwares are the barrel organs which were using long sheet of paper for programming. The actual format basically is a paper based version of what DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) are mostly using.

This sequencer is a so called analog sequencer, because, well, because it is using analog electronic components and two ICs. This is very similar to the first electronic sequencers, except they used much more components. In this, no microcontrollers or any sort of software programming involved. It is a very simple device, but like the Atari Punk Console, it makes an excellent learning project and it can nicely control the console.

8 step sequencer with Atari Punk Console

8 step sequencer with Atari Punk Console

The machine uses a CD4017 decade counter IC. It is a chip which can output 10 electronic signals on different pins, one after each other. However, we only going to use 8 steps as it is more practical musically. Many sequencers have 16 or 32 steps, it is possible to chain several CD4017 together, but I did not do that in this project. (Basically, there are much better and more sophisticated sequencer designs out there, it is more recommendable to use one of those if you are more serious).

The signals (steps) are generated by making one pin on the IC continuously high-low-high-low and so on by using a “clock” to do that for us. It can be achieved using different design clocks, but one of the simplest one is a 555 in astable mode.

8 step sequencer components

8 step sequencer components

That is the same as it was used in the console, so if you have built that, it is already familiar.

This circuit was designed by me, based on several other designs freely available on the internet.

8 step sequencer schematic

8 step sequencer schematic

Features of the sequencer:

  • Variable speed control: It can control the length of each step thus the speed of the cycle
  • On/Off switch for each step
  • Variable voltage on each step, to control tone of steps
  • CV out to connect it to the tone generator
  • Standard DC power socket (9V-12V)
  • LEDs for showing speed and each active step

I have designed a 3d printable box for it, which you are welcome to use.

8 step sequencer 3d printed box

8 step sequencer 3d printed box

BOM

8 step sequencer BOM

8 step sequencer BOM

  • LEDs (any color of your choice) – 9
  • 500K variable resistor (pots) – 9
  • 100K resistor – 1
  • 1K resistor – 3
  • 1N4148 diode – 17
  • SW-DPDT, on/off switch – 9
  • 0.01 uf ceramic capacitor – 2
  • 4,7 uf ceramic or electrolytic capacitor – 1
  • CV jack of your choice, I am using 7.5mm audio jacks (same as for guitars)
  • DC power outlet of your choice

8 step sequencer + Atari Punk Console + reverb

8 step sequencer + Atari Punk Console + reverb

 

 

 

 

Atari Punk console – the entry to Sound Synthesizers

btyAnd so than, I was hooked. My interest in electronics sparked (bad pun) again a couple years ago, when I bought an Arduino microcontroller out of interest, than I was introduced to 3d printers by a friend, than I have started to mess around with ICs and bought a 1000 books on the subject. All these eventually led me to be fascinated about electronic sound synthesizers. Why? Erm, “dunno”, I think it is pretty cool to make sounds out of pieces of electronic components.

One of my first projects was an Atari Punk console. The original design was published in a Radio Shack booklet, the “Engineer’s Notebook: Integrated Circuit Applications” in 1980 by Forrest Mims. He simple called it “Sound Synthesizer” or “Step Tone Generator”, but most popularly it is known as Atari Punk Console because the sounds it makes, resembles of the old Atari 2600 game console.

bty

It is based on a very famous (in electronics anyway) IC chip, named “555”. In fact it is based on two 555 chips or alternatively one 556 (which is two 555 chips integrated together)

This little IC is around since the 1970`s and it is the current holder of the world record as the most numerous IC produced of all time.

The 555 is also called a “timer” or a “timing IC” as it can produce electronic signals in equal intervals. It produces a square wave (shaped) signal. The chip itself has 3 core set ups (monostable, astable, bistable) and it can be found in thousands of devices from toys to space crafts.

I will not going through in details how the IC is working, there are plenty of publications can be found online about that.

sdr

The IC is can produce a square wave shaped signal, which ultimately gives the distinctive sound it makes and which explains why it sounds like an old 8 bit game console.

 

In the basic Atari Punk Console, one chip is set up in “astable” mode and that drives an other 555 which set up in “monostable” mode. Alternatively, one 556 chip can be used too but the theory how the machine works is exactly the same.

Here is the schematic which I have designed, based on other DIY punk consoles can be found online. My version has 6 variable resistors (potmeters), four are which functions as filters using an other two 555s and you have the standard knobs for pitch and for tone.

ataripunk

Atari Punk COnsole

The box has an audio output. I am using 1/4 jack sockets, but you can use your own preference, like a 3.5mm or banana jacks. The audio socket can be replaced by something like an 8 ohm direct speaker, maybe with a simple little amplifier such one based on an LM386 Op-amp

There is a CV (control voltage) input, wired to an other 1/4 jack socket. I am using this with a DIY 8 step sequencer (I will make a post about it at some point).

As of power, it has a standard DC power socket for a 9V power supply and an on/off switch.

BOM:

Variable resistors (pots)

  • 50k * 4
  • 500K * 2

Capacitors

  • 0.01uf * 3
  • 0.1uf * 1
  • 3.3uf * 2
  • 10uf * 1

Resistors

  • 1K * 3

ICs

  • 555 * 4

You can find the .stl files for printing the box on my thingiverse profile.

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3658579

sdr

 

One might asks, – What can you do with it? – Well, anything you want. It is possible to hook it up to a sequencer, a filter, VCV rack through a jack-usb cable, etc. In all honesty, it is obviously not the nicest sounding musical thing you can imagine, but nevertheless you can have some fun with it, it is a great learning process and relatively easy to build. Here you can see it is hooked up to a sequencer and a tacky old “Behringer Tweakalizer”, recording in Audacity through a laptop.

 

 

Here is a 2 minutes sample of some of the sounds this box can make on its own:

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/630880506

 

 

 

Z axis, hotend nozzle offset in Marlin, explained

I aim these posts for those whom has very little or no experience in setting up a DIY 3d printer. However, the information might help more experienced builders as well.

Marlin is the most popular open source control software, designed to run 3d printers and in some cases other type of CNC machines.

One of the tasks during a DIY 3D printer build, is setting correctly the Z axis offset.

DIY I3 3d Printer

My DIY I3 3d Printer

What is the Z Axis offset and why is it important? 

In order for the software ” to know” where the hotend nozzle is positioned at, we have to pre-set the dimensions of the work space of the machine. The printer uses three on-off momentary switches – with the help of the control board – to let the software to interact with the physical world. When a switch is triggered, using the preset known dimensions, Marlin can calculate any desired position of the print head.

In the case of the Z axis or extruder nozzle offset, we only concerned about one of these three switches.

This particular switch can have a few variations, but in regards of the process of setting the offset, it is irrelevant which solution we are using. However for the sake of the article here are two of the most used conventional Z axis switches:

  • Mechanical momentary on-off switch
  • Electromagnetic or inductive (metal detecting) switch

and a couple of less conventional

Currently, I am using an inductive switch with my present set up.

When we talk about the offset, we mean the physical (vertical) distance between the tip of the nozzle at the point where the Z axis switch being triggered (called “zero” or home position) and the surface of the print bed. The offset distance is important for accurately starting our print`s first layer deposition. This is also one of the important factors for ensuring proper adhesion of the molten filament and the fabricated object to the print bed.

Hotend designs have a wide variation, it is important to understand the process of setting this attribute as accurately as possible, according to your needs. Especially if you plan to use various hotends or would like to design your own.

Hotend Assembly

Hotend nozzle and inductive switch

Different switches have different trigger points, usually measured from the surface of the printer bed. This distance is not important in relation of the process of setting the offset, however – along with the position of the switch (sensor) – it has an effect on the value of the offset. A perfect design would be, where the offset is zero, i.e. the trigger point is exactly where the nozzle would touch the bed. In reality, that is quite difficult to achieve.

The first layer of our print is usually between 0.1 mm-0.3mm, therefore to keep accuracy as tight as possible, it is good practice to use hotends where the required offset is not greater than 4 mm.

Setting or fine tuning the offset in Marlin:

To determine the required value for setting the offset, a combination of control mechanisms can be used.

A smart LCD control panel makes the process easier. This allows you to make changes in the printer set up by saving the attributes into the RAMPS or MKS board`s (or any Arduino Mega based control boards) EPROM.  This is a very easy way to change most settings and to move the print head without using G-code commands. However, using a software based console/ serial monitor is still necessary.

I3 DIY printer

Smart LCD control

You can use software based control solutions, such as the console panel of most slicers (Slic3r, Repetier, etc)  or an Octopi.

I prefer to use the Arduino IDE serial monitor.

The touch screen which are often supplied with cheap Chinese kits are not suitable for the process described below.

It is advisable to get familiar with Marvin, if you want to make eg. the offset changes permanent. Besides, during an initial set up of a DIY printer, the builder has to configure the Vanilla Marvin according to the built printer. A very good source of information can be found on Marlin`s own website. Most commercial DIY kits would have their own version supplied with the kit, ready to be uploaded onto the control board.

The Process of determining the accurate offset value

  1. Set the current offset value to zero; LCD navigation “Control> Motion> Probe Z offs” or typing “M851 Z0” in the serial monitor – This will help us to easily measure the desired accurate value of it.
  2. Home your printer head; LCD navigation “Prepare> Auto home” or typing the “G28” command in the serial monitor. – This will move the nozzle to “home” or “zero” position, which means that, because at the moment the offset set to zero, the machine “thinks” that the nozzle is touching the print bed (which in reality most likely is above the print bed by a few millimeters). Make sure that the nozzle is clean and free of residue filament. It is a good idea to pre-heat the bed and the hotend for the process, although in my experience it is not absolutely necessary. If you want to be super accurate, you can move the nozzle to the position where the sensor (switch) is. For that, you need to know the exact coordinates of that position.  At this occasion, I assume that our print bed is reasonably flat.
  3. Switch the Z axis sensor off; Type “M211 S0″ on the serial monitor. There is no option in the LCD menu for that – This will allow you to move the nozzle to “negative direction”, because bare in mind, at this point the machine “thinks” the nozzle could not go any lower as it is in Zero position and would not go “under” the print bed.
  4. Move the nozzle down to level of the print bed; LCD navigation: “Prepare> Move axis> Move Z> Move minus 0.1mm increment” and make a note of the value or type “G1  Z-0.5, G1 Z-0.6″, so on, in to the serial monitor, until the nozzle is at the desired position and make a note of the correct value (the value of Z) – A good practice is to put a piece of paper under the nozzle and move it (the nozzle) down till it touches the paper. You still need to be able to pull the paper without much effort. The offset value will always be negative, because of the physical attributes of the hotend assembly.
  5. Move the Z axis back up. LCD navigation “Prepare> Move axis> Move Z> Plus increment” or  type e.g. “G1 Z3” in the serial monitor. Be careful not to move to negative direction (downwards) as this might damage your hotend assembly and/or print bed
  6. Switch the Z axis sensor back on typing “M211 S1″ in the serial monitor.
  7. Set the determined value as the offset; LCD Navigation “Control> Motion> Probe Z Offs or typing “M851 Z<value of the offset>” in the serial monitor

    Z_offset_set_marlin

    Serial Console in the Arduino IDE

  8. Save that value in the EPROM of your controller board; LCD navigation: “Store Settings” or type “M500” in the serial monitor.
  9. Test by printing your favorite calibration print. I like to print Marvins from Thingiverse. (I have an army of Marvins). What you are looking for is good adhesion and a slight “squash” of the first layer of the print. In my experience, sometimes minor adjustments are needed in the pre-determined offset value to have it just right.

    I3 hotend assembly

    First layer and hotend assembly

  10. Consider to make your work “permanent” by updating the copy of Marlin which is running on your board. That requires to change your firmware and upload the updated one. The command is around line ~781 at the “Configuration.h” tab. Search for “#define Z_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER” and change the value.

That is it. Congratulation, you have successfully set the correct Z axis offset value on your 3D printer.

 

My 1st rite of passage to scratch build 3d printers

How one would start on building 3D printers without no prior knowledge about it? It is a massive subject for most and speaking from experience, it is difficult to make a choice where to start.

The first time I have ever encountered a 3d printer face to face, was through a very good friend of mine during some holiday in Hungary. He was already through a couple of self-made kits and was just building his first scratch made printer, a design which came from an Australian 3d printer enthusiast “tech2c”, called “Hypercube”.

This kind of 3d printing technology called, FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling or FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) process. In simple terms, that means the printer is using a solid spool of plastic filament – like yarn in knitting – which is being deposited by the printer head, layer by layer, building the desired model up.

As I am luckily-unfortunately easily convinced about building interesting stuff, I was hooked on the subject quite quick.

The big question was, where to start!? In fact why would you even start to build one from scratch when you can just order a ready made one online which suits your needs.

To be honest this is an absolute superficial question regarding to most “crafting/ building” hobbies, whether that be model building or knitting. Basically, most people just does it for the process, for the joy of building and for the satisfaction of learning stuff. However, after a certain level, you actually can build an extremely capable printer for fraction of the money of an equivalent commercial one. Bare in mind though, this is not necessarily true to entry level printers and it is a long learning process with possibly significant(ish) investment along your journey.

There are number of options out there to start. You could jump right in to the deep end of it and pick one of the many available DIY printer designs from places like Thingiverse. Personally, I would not recommend that as, well,  firstly because you need a 3D printer to print many of the parts for it, secondly I believe you would need some knowledge about 3D printing to choose a design which would suit you.

I would say there are 2 (+2, I explain that shortly) reasonable routes are out there.

  1. Buy a reputable, ready made 3d printer, learn the general workings of it. Such as the process of 3D printing and different filament materials. With this option, you will know that you have a well made and working printer so you can concentrate your attention to the rest of the things without worrying about your machine. Good choice would be something like a readily assembled Prusa I3 or a LulzBot mini
  2. Buy a reputable DIY 3d printer kit. I would recommend this option to people whom have some knowledge of building anything (even if that was just LEGO) and willing to do a bit of research and thinking throughout the building process. The Prusa I3 DIY  kit or the Hephestos 2 are great options for that. These kits are tried and tested, good quality, have great support and development teams behind them
  3. (+1) Buy a Cheap Chinese kit or a ready made printer. Most of the 3D printer designs are open source designs, which means the ever resourceful Chinese manufacturers are producing their own versions of them with various success and quality. You have a wide range of DIY or ready made machines. Prices are varying and not necessarily reflecting how good the particular printer is. They all will work to a certain degree, but expect a steep learning curve and immediate desire for improvement parts in most cases, especially with the DIY kit versions. Now, I have admit I went with that choice. Why? Because I like to build stuff, figure out how things work, doing research and learning about stuff as much as possible on the hard way. It was challenging and frustrating at times, but overall I enjoyed it and I picked up a huge amount of knowledge through the process.
  4. (+2) Alternatively, you can get in touch with me and I might be able to help to start up.

I am planning to write more about 3D printing in general and my own printer builds and tips. Please follow this blog if you are interested.

Evolved Chinese 3D Printer

My Evolved 3D Printer which started life as an FlSun branded machine from China.

 

 

 

Collection of Bits II.

Here are the rest of the bits from the Chinese made Arduino set.

HC-SR04 – Ultrasonic distance sensor

RTC v1.0 – Real time clock module

ULN2003A – Stepper motor driver v1.0 on a breakout board

Sound sensor

Thumb Joystick

Relay breakout board

MPU6050 – Gyro and Accelerometer

Triple axis compass

8 bit expander

Apart from the above, there is a stepper motor, led matrix, extension and prototyping board, a numpad, LCD display and other easily identifiable pieces

 

 

 

Collection of bits

I couple of month ago I`ve dived into the world of Arduino microcontrollers. To get things going, I have purchased an original Arduino Uno starting set. It provides a tidy book which takes you through some of the things you can do with that little device. Everything is nicely explained and if you get through of all the projects you will get to know all the parts supplied with the kit.

Out of enthusiasm, I also purchased a Chinese “starter set” which is basically a collection of things you can use with the Arduino. There is no list or description of any sort of the parts, so if you like me and has no or very little experience, it leaves you with no clue whatsoever what is what.

So I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of the parts and by the POWER OF GREYSKULL Google, find out what I actually have in that box.  I am not listing obvious ones such as diodes, capacitors, resistors, general LEDs. I go through of the chips, transistors and a few sensors first.

IRF 520(N) Mosfet – Field Effect transistor

S9015 – general purpose PNP transistor

2N2222general Purpose NPN transistor

BC547BGeneral Purpose NPN Transistor

SS8050 – general Purpose NPN transistor

TMP 36GZ – Analog temperature sensor

LTV4N35Opto Isolator

6CW2CHFe38 bit shift resister

L293DNE – Half H driver/ H bridge (for driving inductive loads)

MAX7219CNG – LED matrix/ digit display driver

ATHDX – Tilt switch

VS1838B – infrared receiver

IR Led (clear) / photodiode (black) LEDs