Saturday, 28 April 2012

printing at 90 micron layers! and software updates

Its been a weekend of upgrades.

I run Ubuntu 64 bit linux for my reprap machine. This week Ubuntu released 12.04LTS, I have upgraded. So far no issues.

I have also switched to using Slic3r from SFACT.

I installed the precomputed Slic3r binaries from here

Since I run 64 bit and this is a 32 bit binary I also had to install the 32-bit support libraries (ia32-libs and ia32-libs-gtk packages).

You then need to configure pronterface to use Slic3r

Set the following to settings.
slicecommand:  {full_path_to}slic3r $s --load config.ini --output $o
sliceoptscommand: {full_path_to}slic3r --load config.ini --ignore-nonexistent-config

You then have to setup Slic3r for your printer (very easy if you have set up anything before)

Part of the reason I have updated to Slic3r is I wanted to try and print with 0.09mm layers and Slicer makes this very easy, you just have to change the layer height and it does all the other maths for you!.

The reason I wanted to try this is I have seen a lot of advertising of late for the Ultmaker, saying there are better than everyone else as they can print at 50 microns. I have looked at their hardware and software and there doesn't seem to be anything particularly special about it.

This is my first results, printed with 0.09 (90 micron layer height!)
This is

The print looks brilliant!, but isn't perfect but its so close. I am very happy with the results.  (there is an issue on the top on the head between the ears)

 Under a bit of magnification, still cant see the lines! (you can see a patten, but not make out individual lines)

The highest magnification over the tail, still looks brilliant!

The negative is of course speed. This took 4 hours to print!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Updating my reprap software

My reprap has been running the same software and firmware for a while now.

I've been planning to try Marlin for a while to try its look ahead stuff. But I couldn't as I'm still running Sanguinololu 1.1 boards, these are not supported.
(I am building up a 1.3A Sanguinololu, but got distracted with other projects)

Today on a whim I took a look at whats has been happening with sprinter

It now has the same look ahead features as Marlin in the master branch!

This should allow for faster printing.

I have installed the firmware and got basic functionality working, test cubes work.

Looking threw the source code I also see

// G2 - CW ARC
// G3 - CCW ARC

arc G codes are now supported, this will mean no more straight line approximations of curves, when the slicer software catches up and generates arc commands that is... Slic3r apparently does generate g2 and g3 commands but the author admits its not well tested yet.

I also see

// M500 - stores paramters in EEPROM
// M501 - reads parameters from EEPROM (if you need reset them after you changed them temporarily).
// M502 - reverts to the default "factory settings". You still need to store them in EEPROM afterwards if you want to.
// M503 - Print settings
So you can set your steps per mm and maximum rates and and a bunch of other stuff in EEPOM.  No need to re flash all the time!

I also updated Printrun/Pronterface.  Only noticeable change I can see quickly is there is now a temperature graph on the main interface.

Monday, 23 April 2012

In frame power supply mount

I've created a few clips to allow me to mount my power supply in my mendelmax frame under the Y carriage with out any additional t-slot nuts (partly as i've run out!)

Full details are here

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mendelmax 1.5

I've been upgrading parts of my mendelmax to version 1.5 

There seem to be two main changes

Most noticeably they have moved the stepper motors for Z down to the bottom of the machine.  I don't like this idea on some levels, but do like it in regards to wiring, you no longer have to get wires from the top to the bottom of the machine.

This leaves the top of the mendelmax a little cleaner. 

The other change is related to the Z thread, they are changing to a larger thread and 'nut'  Since I don't have this thread... I'm not looking into this at this stage

So I guess that means my machine is now about a Mendelmax 1.25

Monday, 16 April 2012

Quadcopter assembly

This is my attempt at building a quadcopter.

You need the following:
The flight control board
This is a MWC MuliWii Lite pre configured for 4-axis Flight in QuadX mode.
I got this from

Connecting wire,
R12A1062-06 Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 12AWG (1mtr) RED

B12A1062-06 Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 12AWG (1mtr) BLAC

B16A483-06 Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 16AWG (1mtr) BLAC

R16A483-06 Turnigy Pure-Silicone Wire 16AWG (1mtr) Red

Brushless motors 4x A2208-17 1000KV

Motor Controlers Esc: 4x TURNIGY Plush 12amp (2A BEC) BESC
The BEC is a battery eliminator circuit, this converts your battery voltage down to 5v to power the control board and radio receiver. This is part of the ESC. 

A Lupo battery

Connectors for the Lipo

And you need a set of plastics the PL2Q


The first thing I found is the standard arms for the PL2Q just didn't work for me
The motor controllers where far to close to the motors. Second thing I notice was the motor controller was not going to fit very well.

The under side of the motor controller, looks like this, with two voltage regulators on top of each other, making a large lump. This would never sit well on a flat surface.

I decided to design my own arms with holes crafted to fit the above weird shape. They have support structures that are broken out to for a nice hole for the motor controller, the plastic that is left in this area is solid for strength.

The motor controller in place, held by a zip tie.

The motors came with connectors, I soldered these to the motor wires and insulated with heat shrink.
The motor assembly is a little tricky to get on. Firstly slip a large piece of heat shrink over the motor holder. (note this is a modified motor holder without any controller cutouts) Press the empty motor holder into place on the arm, with the motor wires in to the empty motor holder. Plug the motor leads in. Carefully push the motor into place while pulling the wires over the motor controller. Then pull the heat shrink over the motor controller and wires.  I have not heated the shrink wrap yet as I want to test them first.    

Add the four completed arms to the main body, you need to remove the 3 plug pins from their housing, then slip the wires threw the housing holes and put the pins back into their housing.

Add in the power lines. This is a X shape with the battery wires connected to the center to form a 5 legged thing. you need two, one for positive and one for ground.

Join the motor controller power leads to the power X. I found joining wires a pain, until I started using the above tool. It simply holds the two wire correctly in place to be soldered, no more burnt fingers trying to hold wires together!

All motor controllers are wired up and the batter connector has been attached.

Power on!

At this point I noticed something was sizzling!  This is not a good sign!

I tracked to sizzling down the the main controller, to the yet unused serial pins.
This was odd as nothing was connected to these pins yet. I had noticed the board was not very clean. So I removed the serial connector cleaned the board and put a new serial connector on the board. This fixed the sizzling.

I have since discover there seems to be a dry joint somewhere, the pitch control keeps going to 1000 (low) This will need to be fixed.

More to come. Including remote control setup information and channel info.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

MendelMax Feet and power

I added feet to my MendelMax,
You might ask why I am adding trivial things like feet, well it raises the machine up and should allow me to attach my power supply under the Y axis. (This is still to come)  

Speaking of power

I added in a power pannel that uses plugs and swicthes from and old PC power supply. Give the machine a more 'professional' finish.

This thing didn't exist, so I created it.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Mendelmax update

I finally put the belt on the Y axis 

The best way seem to be with zip ties! Fixing one end to itself in a loop

The other end is also fixed to itself in a loop, but this is joined to the Y axis with more zip ties, this allows for easy tightening of the belt.

I decided I liked this idea so much I've done the same on the X axis.

I have also replaced my X carriage with a single piece design. This removed enough of the variables to allow me to get the X axis running smoothly. (the space between the two parallel rods was fractionally to small, this was fixed with a very light filing of the x-ends holes.)    

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Printed Quadcopter body

I decided to print some of my own stuff last weekend 

So I printed the PL2Q Hugin quadcopter body

This is the option without the camera or transmitter mount. If I can get this to fly, I will be looking into FPV (first person view)  later.

The motor arms on mine are shorter than 'normal', the original arms are 140mm tall and printed vertically, the Prusa can only print ~100mm high. So I shrunk the arms to 100mm.
(I could have printed these on the Mendelmax, If I had it working!) 

I'm unsure if I should publish this trivial update to thingiverse or not... it is trivial, but you do have to learn a little Google sketchup to edit it.

Plans for Easter: Finish Mendelmax and install electronics into quadcopter

I've been planning the quadcopter for a while and have collected most of the parts required.

Unfortunately the props are still winging (sorry had to!) there way here from overseas. So I will not be able to get it to fly this long weekend.