Quick update – number 2

With summer being here, things have been a little slower on the development/soldering front. However as we approach fall this will change.

Here is an update of what is happening.

3D printing co-operative

This evening the first meeting of our 3D printing co-operative will take place. Now we have ironed out the issues with the MakerBot, the rest of the co-operative is ready to start using it. I’ll be posting the occasional picture up here of any cool objects my colleagues make.

Instructional Videos

As part of the inauguration of the 3D printing co-op we will doing some training sessions on the Replicator. I will try to film some of the important aspects of this (changing material spools, changing the base plate heat etc.) and adding links to these on the blog.

Ordering Materials

I still have some outstanding components to order for my Thermostats, I’ll be sorting these out next week. Once I have them all, expect a post listing each piece, what it does and how it fits together as part of the overall system.

Raspberry PI remote access/ssh

Expect two separate posts, one on setting up the Raspberry PI to be accessed over your home network (so you don’t need a TV/Monitor) and the second on installing the latest version of HTSQL. (Update: these can be found here)

Update on MakerBot

Problems with Printing

We had recently encountered some problems with our MakerBot, and items being printed peeling away from the base. This then resulted in the strepstruder knocking the object out of alignment and messing up the print.

In response to this I adjusted the heat on the MakerBot so the base was now heating up to 115 Degrees F.

The results for this can be seen below:

Black and white cube

Black and white cube

The box above printed nicely in two colors and the print was also clean with few rough edges to be filed down afterwards.

Disaster strikes

However shortly after printing this object we had a major problem.

The build plate must have been a fraction too high as the next object we printed resulted in the strepstruder being jammed into the platform. Unfortunately nobody was watching the Makerbot at the time so it was a few minutes until we saw the problem and canceled the print.

The damage can be seen below:

Strepstrudder damage

Strepstrudder damage

We cleaned off the plastic and also removed the film from the build plate. At this point I also noticed that the black plastic spool was jammed slightly. Having fixed the jam I re-ran the diagnostics on the MakerBot and the plastic seemed to be exiting the extruder as expected, so it looks like there was no long-term damage to the printer.

Our next steps will be to recover the build plate and try another print on Monday morning. As a result of this we will also be instituting a policy that anyone using the MakerBot has to be present for the first 5 minutes of the print to ensure that there are no jams, and the plate is level and hasn’t been knocked out of alignment, thus resulting in damage to the printer.

MakerBot – 3D printer on the way

I’m very fortunate in that, the company I work for has a number of electronic enthusiasts, folks interested in 3D printers, and the plain adventurous. After several chats over coffee we came up with the idea of starting a 3D printing co-operative at our work place. The idea is each employee interested buys in, and with the funds we then purchase a 3D printer and material that the co-op members can use.

After doing some research we decided to go with the MakerBot Replicator™ and have it shipped built.  The Replicator™ is a 3D printer that allows you to print in two colors at once and clocks in at around $2000 with the dual extruder.

You can see a picture of it here from the MakerBot website:


Makerbot 3D printer


Around nine of us got together and raised the funds for the printer, and our company also chipped in extra $500 to help us out. They have also graciously lent us a room to set it up in so we have a place to use it.

There is around an 8 week lead time on delivery, so the printer should arrive around the same time as the Raspberry PI is delivered. With access to the MakerBot I’ll be able to print a case for the Raspberry PI as well as cases for the Arduino Thermostats.

One of my work colleagues is a dab hand at the 3D design on Blender, so we are going to have some training session for the co-op members which should be cool.

Once the printer arrives and I get the opportunity to design some cases on Blender, I’ll post the details on this blog – including links to the 3D OBJ files so those readers interested can re-use them for their own projects.