Return of the ROBOT

Just a quick post to announce that a year or so after my enthusiasm waned for building my RepRap, the project is back on the table. Literally.

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Plugged it in, made it move back and forth, up and down, grinned like an idiot after forgetting how cool it is to see your home made robot whirring to life.

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Next stage is to swap the electronics for a RAMPS kit I purchased, and hopefully get some prints out in the near future.

Listening to : OFWGKTA playlists

 

Robots R Us

ta-daaaaa…. Derek the 3D printer is now a functioning robotic device!
Granted it still doesn’t actually print anything as I’m yet to completely nut out the plastic extruding part, but as of Thursday night I can send a 3D file from my computer to Derek and he comes to life, whirring and buzzing and moving around (bless his heart) thinking that he is dutifully printing me out something useful.

This afternoon will entail some more ‘hot end’ construction – rowwrr – and hopefully by Sunday night I’ll have some plastic melted all over my desk that I can claim is a ‘rapidly prototyped object’.

Here’s a video. woooo.

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Listening to : Lento – Icon
“The second album of the Italian monsters of slowness”

Brrrrrrrzzzzzzvvvvrrrrrrrrrrrr.

That’s the sound of my RepRap doing something all by itself!
It was followed by me quietly doing a tennis player’s fist-clenched-booyah sort of moment (because Dani is asleep).

Seems my little man is no longer a baby, he can walk (well, adjust his axis) by himself and before you know it he’ll be extruding PLA and working full time for his dad as a shoemaker’s heel manufacturer. Employee of the month wont be far behind after I have awarded it to myself a few times.

It was a pretty ‘free form’ day today, as there seems to be NO pictures at all on the internet of where to put all the electronics once you have them all talking to each other. The TechZone set that I have differs from the originally designed ones,  so I guess any place that fits is good enough. I did come up short on some wire though, so my placing must not be ‘optimal’ but I’ll document that for fellow builders later in the week.


Stepper controller and 12V power block


more stepper controllers, and cables, and cable ties.
More useful non-zoomed photos for other builders will be in the Mendel Build page asap.

Tomorrow night will be a full range of movement test, at the moment it only goes left (hello Zoolander printer! ok,  so it is now officially called Derek the Printer) because I haven’t set up the little sensors to tell it Derek where to stop. Then I build a ‘hot head’ and start melting plastic at 200+ degrees all over the place and hoping it forms some sort of object. Be prepared for some humorously bad failures that week people…


The whole back panel with bits of electronics hanging off it.

So no shoemaking for TwentyEleven Week Seven, but plenty of progress in other areas that will allllll add up in the end.

Listening to : Christbait – Dirtypunkmutha

Nick and I have begun to refine our jam session sounds to something very slow, heavy and evil, so i’m listening to the old masters to learn how to be brutal, Melbourne style.
You’re all invited to my eventual robot/sexy shoes/heavy metal launch party and be as confused as everyone else there will be with it all.

Ahhhh, that’s MUCH better

Quick post as I am knee deep in things finally WORKING again, and shouldn’t in be here typing about it…
After the last post where I was having ‘one of those days’, I’m back with renewed enthusiasm.

Thursday I decided to stop dicking around with 55 bits of string and went to the shed and made a proper Rigid Heddle loom, as is used by most of the home weaving community who were born after the 1800s.

I took an artist’s easel I had here, stripped it, turned some stuff around, made some extra bits and hey presto, loom.
It was much better, it worked well, I weaved and managed to get the bee out of my bonnet.



I’m not at all happy with the weaving itself, but that is just a matter of thread count/spacing/thickness, so I am now happy to know it CAN work, but it might not be exactly what I want.

That’s the only sort of answer I’m ever looking for… I’m ridiculously inquisitive, so an answer of “yes it worked, but no, it’s not what you want” is fine with me, an answer of “you’ll never know because it didn’t work out” will keep me awake at night.

I’m going to do the good designer thing and step back, look at what I really need to achieve and perhaps head in another direction. I’ll keep you all posted, and cheers for the comments and suggestions.

MORE IMPORTANTLY THOUGH – MY ROBOT IS ALIIIIIIVE!!

Today saw the first grinding and whirring of the motors, and the flashing of many lights in computery looking patterns, so with a few more hours I might have it moving its bits around in complete robotic autonomy.
To anyone out there still thinking of buying / making one… wait…. when mine is done I PROMISE to collate all the useful instructions in to one page so you dont have to get as frustrated as I have been clicking link after link trying to narrow down the info to something useful.


Test bench setup…

I’ll put up a video when I have more time for multimedia nerdery.

Listening to : Ghost – Opus Eponymous

Satanic Pop? Who would have thought it would be so enjoyable?
That ol’ Satan, he loves a good melody. Have a listen, you’ll dig it.

RepRap Build – Part 2

Well, another month has FLOWN by and it seems I’m not nearly as far a long with this printer buildup as I thought I would be… but fear not, there has been some progress.
I think having to wait a month or two for it to arrive took some of the motivation away from me as I kind of forgot about it until it turned up on the doorstep… and now it has become a hot summer buildup, not a wintery this-will-fill-in-a-few-evenings job like I planned.

Anyhoot, on with the pictures! Enough with the words!

When I last posted I had no idea what to do to begin building my Mendel (aka robot, aka printer) so I started on the print head.
That gave me a sense of fulfillment, but being a plastic part it didn’t really give me much insight into how the rest of the assembly would go.

So, I (finally) found the Laser Cut build images on the RepRap wiki and started from the top….

* note : the images on the wiki are kind of handy, as they show the finished product, but they’re in no way “instructions”.
I have been taking shots every 5 mins or so, with the intention of making a “how to” guide that is much more thorough when I’m done building mine.
If you’ve found your way here to learn how to build a Mendel, these images won’t be that helpful, they’re just me showing some eye-candy… check back here in a week or so and I will have uploaded all of my images to a proper Buildup page for you to scroll through and have a look at every bit in detail.


this is the general assembly of each of the bearing sections, using skateboard bearings to run on smooth steel rails.


This one of the the X-Axis (left to right movement) assemblies…


Some of the bolts and nuts on this thing required impossible angles… here’s me doing a level-47 Advanced Engineering double-nut-shifter move (which sounds like a delicious ice cream no?)


The X-Axis family = one evening’s work.

more bearings, this time with a stepper motor nearby… again, I apologise if you are reading this and going “so, what the hell, he isn’t describing a damn thing helpful!”… this is more for curious readers, the full How-To guide should be much more useful.


This is how it all moves, a belt running around gears and bearings in little washer-bound tracks. Nice and easy.


The Frog…aka print bed chassis.

… and before you know it, it’s standing up!
Well, after 2 or 3 more hours tightening and loosening nuts.


Some of these bits aren’t worth explaining out of context, but they make for nice photos…
(and yes, it is December 2010, not 1995 – I don’t have an iPhone, my ol’ Nokia does me just fine.)


Complicated as all #$%^ assembly of the lower part / print bed. This is what I did all day Sunday.


… but here she is!
The nuts are all loose, the wires aren’t connected and there is still a lot to do, but it looks like a Mendel!

So.. that’s where the printer is at as of today (Sunday) … Lets hope it can be up and running before christmas!

I have also been toying around with the David 3D LaserScanner software, and it seems I just need to get my hands on a laser pointer (i’m not that geeky, so I have never owned one) and BAM, I’ll be able to do low-resolution 3D scanning at home too!!!! Scanning + 3D software skills > Printer = replicating whatever I want…..

>>> 3D mesh >>>
[ Click the shoe image to see the detail you can get from a webcam and a laserbeam!]

On a more traditional note, I have also started another pair of shoes.

These will be the prototypes for Lauren’s raffle winning shoes (I know, I know, that was 6 weeks ago… really, I know)

And in my never-ending quest for more tricks of the trade, I hacksawed a shoe in half to get a better idea of thicknesses and where the innersole components start and finish….


Nothing tricky in there… well, there is a a shank and screws in the very middle, but I cut around them to save on 20 mins of sawing through spring steel.

And finally we, well Dani, has also had another major task on the go (there’s always one or two on the go around here) which has used up a few of our evenings.
She has just installed her first, proper, real artworks in the Bundoora Homestead Gallery as part of their High Tea exhibition!
I’ll let her explain it all  in a post this week… but here’s a sneaky preview of one of the pieces.

nice huh?

Listening to : Ragga Twins – Ragga Twins Step Out

RepRap Build Day 1

Hey kids, I have finally digested as much RepRapWiki information as possible and begun to assemble the first part of my Mendel!

I started with the extruder (a printed version of  “Wade’s Geared Extruder” was provided with my kit) and it only took about 5 minutes to get me puzzled… Seems the ‘instructions’ for building one of these = one page of photos of a completed one on the RepRap website.

It’s actually not that complicated to make, but a step-by-step guide would have been quite handy and I’m still not 100% sure I’ve built it correctly – so if/when it works I will backtrack and do a comprehensive How To guide for building one of these in case my fellow shoemakers ever want to give it a go.

Here are a few more ‘in the making’ shots that I might compile into a slideshow / timelapse thing at the end.



PS. Dani and I went for a walk around our neighbourhood in Yarraville tonight and came across a building site (which is being strongly opposed by the locals) that listed its permit application as “removal of the roof and renovation of the existing SHOE FACTORY…”

… so naturally, we waited until it was darker, and went inside. Nothing like a smashed down fence to cancel out locked gates.
[insert evil laugh and/or Judas Priest "breakin' the law" lyrics here]

Unfortunately we didn’t find much (anticlimax!) as it all seems to have been dere-leekt for quite a while, but I did find some old paperwork and some heel blocks, so I will do some nerdery in the coming week and see if I can find out what/who it was that worked there. I’ll keep you posted.

Listening to : Judas Priest – Breaking the Law

Special Delivery! (or, How to make a robot in 2,347 easy steps)

Hey kids, my Rapid-Prototyping-robot-printer-of-plastic-parts arrived today!!!!

So far I have :

1. Received the package.

2. Rearranged our spare room to fit in a new desk.

3. Opened and (in true OCD style) photographed the contents of the package.

4. Stared at the overwhelming amount of wood, electronics and indescribable parts that were in the package.

5. Had a break.

6. Looked online, then back at the parts, then looked online, then back at the parts.

7. Got a headache. Had a drink of water.

8. Uploaded Photos to my computer.

9. Started a blog post about it…

… which leads me to here. I am currently making confused/ squinty eyed faces at the desk full of parts, as if that will somehow make it allllll make sense.  No luck so far.

So, bear with me over the next few weeks as I attempt to apply my limited knowledge of engineering, electronics, hardware and software assembly to a thing that I have never seen complete with my own eyes. It should be fun!

Below are some pics of what I unwrapped today, so you too can get an idea of how daunting this is.


Listening to : nothing today, sometimes silence is golden.