The first update is that i’m still steadily designing new parts in solidworks for my custom 3D printer. This photo is one of two y-brackets that will hold the 1020 size t-slot extruded aluminum (from 80/20) y-axis beam. It looked good in Solidworks, now it just needs to be fabricated (3d printed) into a real-world working part (as with many other parts).
It’s really fun designing parts and then seeing them become real functional parts. Recently I’ve even been looking into a local program for CNC machinist training as a job. Apparently there is a large shortage of qualified CNC machinists in my area along with a booming and returning engineering and manufacturing hub here in the area.
While i was designing new parts and fitting them together i found a few minor problems with a few of my old designs being off and not lining up properly with the 1020 extruded aluminum. So i spent some time fixing that and cleaning them up a bit. Good to find those errors on the computer first than after i make the parts.
I received the prototype PCB’s for the XYZZY Motor Controller 1.0, The downside is I’ve found numerous errors that i missed, so I’ve been trying to fix those. But then to compound those problems the main circuit itself has a problem where the HIP4081A h-bridge chip circuit is only driving a motor (in this case a test load LED) in one direction. At first it was shorting out the other direction, but now i think it just loads the current down and does not activate one side of the hbridge. It’s actually driving me crazy trying to fix it and find the cause of the problem, but it’s still quite a mystery. Perhaps electronics is just not my thing. Perhaps i really should give up on that project after never being able to have good success. But i don’t know.
In plant breeding news: i was able to harvest three corn cobs this year. Two were decent sized purple husked corn cobs, the other was a good multi-colored flint. The third one had lots of kernel color diversity, it even had several speckled kernels, and chin-marked ones, and even some that had both speckles and stripes! I recently found purple sweet potatoes at Whole Foods and i will be trying to sprout one and grow my own slips for next year.
I was also able to grow a few good squash this year, some good progress on the pea breeding, and an excellent year with Joseph’s Watermelon Landrace. Sorry, i didn’t get good photo’s of the watermelons, but i had some excellent red sweet watermelons and some good yellows as well. Especially for Northern Colorado, the watermelons are the plant breeding project i’m most excited about and ironically having the best success. Can’t wait for next year! And all this despite it being an incredible difficult and strange gardening year!
One of my newly resurrected projects is my ambition to deign and build my own functional 3d printer. Eventually i’d love to just purchase a nice one, but i’d also like to build my own (besides i already have most of the parts and mine would be bigger too). The pre-made model i would buy is the Lulzbot mini. Mainly because they are fantastically built machines, but also because they are produced by a company here in my own town! Plus they have a philosophical commitment to open source which i love.
Anyway, building off of my original post in 2011, I’m designing from scratch a 2ft x 2ft 3d printer. I’ve been steadily making good progress piece by piece, step by step. My main design criteria are: as close to a 2ft x 2ft build area as possible (maximizing build area vs machine footprint), using 1″ 10 series 80/20 t-slot extruded aluminum, minimizing unneeded parts by using t-slot linear bearings (real aluminum ones and 3d printed working replicas), and trying to just have a simple design by default. I’ve had fun these last few weeks by printing out working 80/20 linear bearing CAD models into working plastic prototypes. My next step is to print out some motor mounts. I’ve designed two motor mounts so far. The first one is a snug mount that shapely fits around a motor and has built in t-slot mounts intended for the z axis lead screws. The second is a simple right angle slotted mount for y-axis that has a belt drive. I have them modeled in Solidworks 2007. I just need to print them out to see if they will work.
Today I tried printed out more 3d printed plastic from the library Lulzbot mini. I printed 3 more 90 degree corner brackets for my old 1″ extruded aluminum 80/20 brand t-slot that I originally bought to make a rep-rap 3d printer and/or CNC mill. I never finished it I might add. Perhaps I will pick that project up again. It would certainly fit my trend this year of finishing old abandoned projects (like my xyzzy motor controller).
I also printed two spacers from my solidworks files for my homemade taffy machine. (They came out great). And I tried my hand at making a copy of my own house key. They key didn’t print the best, and in addition did not fit in the doorknob for some unknown reason. 😦
The biggest accomplishment today was printing plastic copies of the 80/20 t-slot linear bearings. I still prefer the aluminum ones, but my low cost ABS plastic ones are much affordable and should work fine anyway! The ABS is actually some what slippery and does work by itself despite it not being great.
The plastic with Teflon (actually HDPE) tabs screwed on works just as nicely as the aluminum ones do. I think I will print more (and bigger ones) in the near future. These should help greatly in turning this into a giant 3d printer!
Okay, thought I’d add a quick update on cnc stuff really quick. Took me only a day to assemble this much of my Shapeoko wooden CNC machine. It’s small, but i like the design very much. Not sure how much the 3 linear bearings will cost, and i’ll have to figure out some lead screw stuff, but here’s hoping someday (soon?) I will have at least one functional (and useful?) CNC machine. I’m really busy with school right now, and have no more money, so i don’t know when i will get around to finishing it. But whats great about the Shapeoko, is that it fits together like a giant puzzle! I even glued most of the pieces together with my own homemade Dextrin-based glue! Order your own from Ponoko!
More CNC parts arrived in the mail today. I bought a bunch of T-Slot metal off of ebay for my custom CNC mill/router/repstrap. Hopefully it will work out fine. I’ve never used T-slot metal before, so in a sense it was a blind purchase. I ordered 80/20 brand S 1010 t-slot bars in 2 foot lengths. I really only have room for a 2′ X 2′ sized CNC machine. It’s not super huge, but it should (if i can get it working) provide a fairly good sized work area.
One problem with ordering 80/20 t-slot for the first time is that it turns out i ordered the wrong size i intended to. We had a large scrap piece of T-Slot that my dad scavenged from the HP or Agilent dumpster. I had assumed i was ordering the same size as that. …but somewhere in my mind i guess i also knew it was 1″ x 1″, and apparently i didn’t make the connection between the measurements and the actual size i was ordering.
So yeah, the one on the left is the piece of scrap we had that is probably 1.5″ x 1.5″, and the one on the right is the ones i ordered which are 80/20 brand, Size 1010 1″ x 1″.
I also ordered some electronics and “extra” stepper motors from Makerbot Industries. The ones they shipped are NEMA 17 size stepper motors. I had also assumed that they would be the same size as the other ones i already had. Boy was i surprised. They are even smaller than the others. I still might be able to use them though. I think i will actually try to build two CNC machines. A big one (my 2′ x 2′ one) and a smaller one. The smaller one should be a McWire Cartesian Bot. I like the McWire Cartesian design for a small repstrap, and hopefully i should already have enough unused arduino and stuff lying around that hopefully i can get two machines working.
So, I’ve wanted a reprap for a while now. I’ve wanted a CNC router/mill for even longer. But, the reprap seems overkill maybe, and what i really want is a machine that could do both. *cue fancy music here* TADA! I give you the Hydra-MMM CNC machine.
Okay, So I’m thinking about building one. It certainly is a nice looking machine. And it runs on an Arduino Mega. And the software is open source, and looks as good any professional gcode software i’ve ever used. And here’s the kicker… It has multi-headed tool support… which basically means you could have a RepRap plastic extruder on one, and a mill bit on the other. Or maybe a small mill bit on one, and a larger bit on the other.
I’m just thinking about it for now, but i will be sure to add more posts if i decide to build one.