Saturday, 11 June 2016

Project Snowflake - A 3D printed LED Light sculpture

* Project Snowflake *


This project started Christmas 2015. Whilst searching with my daughter's for some nice models to print out during the Christmas break, we found the great Electra modular origami by Auntdaisy. That seemed like a good challenge.

Below is a video about Project Snowflake, you can also watch on YouTube in HD and subscribe to my channel if you like.


For some background this project started because of a great modular Origami system called Electra. Designed by AuntDaisy - Link >  Electra Modular Origami by AuntDaisy


Below is an extract from the Thingiverse page for Electra - For further information about Electra or more models by AuntDaisy, follow the link above -

MakerHome blog showing how this model was created - see - http://makerhome.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/day-327-saturday-guest-auntdaisy-and.html

For more information on David Mitchell's origami design, seehttp://freespace.virgin.net/dave.mitchell/galleriesmodulardesigns.htm or his latest "Paper Crystals" book, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0953477495 (with lots of other exciting models.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

For this project we used a string of waterproof WS2811 LED's from China for under $20US



You can cut the chain or add more. Each led has a Red, Green and Blue led, along with a driver and shift register - that also does clock reshaping, so in theory the number and length can be rather a lot of LED's. In reality I would stick to under 200 per chain as the current needed to drive them an the length starts causing issues.

If you need more, just use two strings and control the sequence on the Arduino.

And it's very simple to drive these LED strings with just one Digital output from any microcontroller (5v I/O recommended) - see the adafruit library or use my daughter's example code as a starting point (it's based on the adafruit examples).



The adafruit Uberguide to Neopixels is really all you need to get going with these great little LED's


Many different displays are based on these great LED's - Just search eBay for WS2811 or WS2812 for lots and lots of options.



Wiring is straightforward - 

You need an Arduino compatible board - The adafruit flora or gemma is great for experimenting with Neopixel's and if even has one already fitted to the board.

Neopixels like a 5V digital I/O signal, so a good option is the Arduino Nano.



The Arduino micro can also be used but you will need to also add a 5V regulator - 




If your voltage regulator has a tuned output, then make sure you set it to 5V before connecting it up to the Arduino mini (or any other Arduino without an on-board regulator) - or you will fry it.


The LED string we used runs on +12V so with the Nano we can connect the +12v directly into the power input.



 The Nano can be bought in 3.3v and 5v versions, do check you buy the 5v model.


The Nano is a great little board, even with an onboard USB connector for programming.



Also make sure your power supply is +12V at around 2Amps or more.


Also it's a very good idea to add a 100uF capacitor (rated at +16V or higher) to the Power supply Output, then you can connect that to the power input on the Arduino Nano.



The only other component we need is a 220Ohm to 560Ohm resistor (the one above is a 510Ohm)


You can accidentally damage some Neopixel style WS8211/12 LED's if you don't fit a resistor in series with the first LED. It needs to be connected to the output pin (here we are using Digital 8) and then into the Input of the WS8211 LED string.



The string of LED's run one after the other, Blue is ground, Red is +12V and the input and output is White. Make sure you connect the output of your Arduino Digital 5V I/O pin (D8) into the Input (shown on the left in the image above).



Then you can fit each LED into the 3D printed modules, if they are a little tight, heat the plastic slightly with a hairdryer - they should click in and stay firmly fitted.


It's best to route them in a spiral, you can only really do it one way making sure all 30 holes are fitted.


Leave as many other LED's as you like in the chain, they would look cool hanging down or up if you are going to hang the sculpture from a rope for example.

We had a chain of 35.

This was a great learning project for and with my Daughter (10 years old).

Last year she assembled a RepRap Fisher Delta 3D printer, so this was an natural progression, Doing the 3D model design in Freecad.





Then building up the electronics and wiring the modules.

And finally programming with the Arduino IDE.

She really enjoyed it, and is already doing more projects, and investigating more uses for 'Neopixel' style LED's.








That's it!

All the files are over on Youmagine here, along with the model file to 3D print and example code for the Arduino nano to drive the LED's and some other files to experiment with the adafruit Flora.

I almost forgot to mention, I found a really great plastic filament from Excelvan for using LED's - Light piping and diffusion - it's really nice to use and perfect for any sort of LED based projects.



Please watch the video if you want to see it in action, and if you have any questions just leave a comment, or ask me on Twitter / G+ or YouTube.

Twitter - @Richrap3d
Google+ - RichardHorne_RichRap3D
YouTube Channel RichRap

Until next time, happy printing.

And if you decide to print out Project Snowflake, please let me know.

Rich.




Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Upgrades and printing with the BCN3D Sigma dual extruder 3D Printer

My update on using the BCN3D Sigma 3D Printer for the last 6 or so months.



Do check out the video for a more visual feast into the madness of my modifications :)


You can also watch it in HD over on my YouTube channel here (and please subscribe, thank you)

A few months back  Last year (2015), I posted about my first few weeks using the BCN3D Sigma 3D Printer, here is an update on some of the changes and how I have been getting along with the machine.

As I said in my previous video and blog post, the BCN3D Sigma is a really great 3D Printer. It has many of the key features people are looking for in a machine they need to produce 3D Models.

Because the Sigma is a fully built and tooled up machine, it's not really aimed at the low-end or to compete with the kit build market. That said, it's excellent value for money with the bonus of having dual independent print heads, it's a great 'production quality' desktop machine.

I have just now, in early 2016 spent my own hard earned cash on buying a Sigma, not something I do lightly. And I could not afford a brand new one, so it's actually second hand. I was very lucky someone in the UK wanted to sell it. (thank you so much for driving it to me, you know who you are, I am highly grateful and now use this machine every single day).


That's probably the best and most genuine endorsement I can give a machine. Spending my own money on a printer, now, when I already have a few is significant.




The Sigma is still the best built production machine I have used (so far) - finally on-par with my own custom 3D Printers I have built and still use over the many years of doing this.

I have done all the usual things with Sigma, printing fast and 'draft quality' to slow and fine layer models to examine the details that can be produced. I'm not so concerned with ultimate quality when 3D printing. I would much rather a fast and accurate, strong print using a fat nozzle.

All these dual colour pots were using 0.6mm nozzles and a fast print profile with 0.2mm layers.
The print time was under 5 hours for each one. The quality is not 'perfect' but more than good enough for kids to use and for 'practical' applications.


In fact I have a 5 hour rule, if I can't print it in under 5 hours, then I use a bigger nozzle, or lower quality or wait until the weekend (and then it may not happen). So for me, 3D printing is more about getting something that's accurate and strong, not ultimate quality.

Sigma can do quality, but with a change of nozzle size and pushing the speed, it also does fast too.

Dual printing is where this machine really stands out from the other 'dual extruder / dual nozzle' systems available. This is an area where I am most excited for FDM, Having useful models, and an ability to 'actually print almost anything' is a fundamental goal for desktop 3D Printing.

 Two ways to dual 3D print - Above bigger tool-change retractions and no purge tower.

 Or use a tower and avoid jamming up the hot-ends because of long retraction <<< Do this method!


Above is the Nervous System dual treefrog - a tricky one to dual 3D print. It was the second thing I printed on the new machine, right after the test calibration pattern (above). Both at 0.4mm nozzles, and a 0.2mm layer height, set to print fast (65mm/sec) - not ultra-fine quality, but a solid and fast 3D print in under 4 hours.


Like everything that's designed or configured for you, it's possible you will want to change or tweak things to make it easier for you to use every day. That's exactly what this update is about - my changes to the machine and what I have been printing for a few months.


Firstly I need total flexibility for spool sizes and all different types of coiled plastic. We don't quite yet have a universal spool size standard, or any sort of agreement on the ideal diameter of filament coils.



I found I could not fit 1Kg reels of filament inside the Sigma, they almost fit, and I even printed new spool adapters. But everything was just a little too tight fitting, and not easy to change out.



After some considerations, as this is a fully built machine that can't be taken apart. I opted for an external filament rack and to re-mount the bowden extruders outside of the machine. Sounds quite drastic, but it's a simple re-routing of the motors.

The upgrades were obviously 3D printed on the Sigma - and to keep everything as light as possible a painted wooden frame was built to take two spools at the back.

The other change was to provide more options for materials and nozzle sizes. The Sigma comes with 0.4mm brass nozzles fitted. If you want to print in filled materials or abrasive carbon fiber or glow-in-the-dark then you really need a hardened nozzle.


Sigma on the left and E3D V6 on the right


I was also finding that the second print head was starting to be used more for support materials, rather than a different colour. Dual colour prints are nice, but the second head is great for using as a different support material. And I found that a 0.6mm nozzle allowed me to print support materials faster and with more success.

I can now swap out nozzles for almost any size or type. I leave a 0.6mm on the left and a 0.4mm on the right. This way I can print fast or fine or with dual materials - very complex models.


On the prototype machine I added a simple strip of Kapton to catch stray 'noodles' still a good thing to do to any Sigma.


On the new Sigma, you can fit these 3D Printed stiffening supports, this helps the silicone strip wipe off any excess plastic, and reduces the chances of noodles being pulled out and onto your build platform.




I'm really happy with the Sigma, and I can't wait to hack it some more.

BCN3D Technologies tell me that they are about to fully release the entire machine and even all it's manufacturing secret's as a complete open-source package. (I'll link here when that's announced).

* EDIT - 26/05/2016 - BCN3D have released everything, check out the press release here

They seem very serious about the Open-Source route, and don't sound like they are holding anything back at all.

Thanks for reading - and watching (I do go into more detail about the changes in the video).

Until next time.

Rich.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

3D Printing Community news and update MAY 2016

3D Printing Community news and update 
MAY 2016

Another community and 3D printing news and views update -

Video update for May - Or watch here in HD over on YouTube.



Hi Everyone, another update from the 3D Printing community, I hope you like it. Please leave me a comment - Thanks.

Here is what I'm discussing, and to make it easier to navigate, check these timecodes and jump to a point that interests you -

Start - Thank you for your Feedback
2:08 - Makerbot Going to China
2:48 - LulzBot Taz 6 Launch - (Not Going to China)'
4:32 - Kickstarting OLO
5:19 - Kickstarter - Two more Delta Printers
7:17 - Kickstarter - Polymaker Polysher & Polysmooth
9:21 - Kickstarter - Mr Beam II
10:30 - Kickstarter - FormBox
11:51 - Patreon - OctoPrint & Toms3DP
13:03 - Community  * Drama *
15:23 - Development & Innovation
17:15 - Materials - eSun Cleaning Filament
19:40 - Things I'm doing...

It's mostly all in the video above, but I have also included a few further notes below for anyone that wants to read. Also some images of what I have been doing with the E3D Titan extruder and a new design of a quick-fit carriage for the BigBox.

Firstly thank you for all your comments and feedback, it's really helpful for me. I have limited time to do 3D printing, and don't have adverts on my channel or blog for any sort of income. It's good to know what I post and share is worthwhile doing and still of interest to you.

Generally I had similar feedback and comments on Youtube, blogger and Google+

I have taken the general feedback to be - that you like my development projects, and want to see more - like in the early days of 3D Printing.

No one commented about facebook, so that's great - I'll continue to totally ignore that.



April turned out to be quite a turning point for some in the 3D printing community.

Pinshape

Image from the Pinshape blog.

We found out who saved Pinshape and that turned out to be Formlabs. Interesting as I really expected Shapeways or one of the other 3D Printing services to snap them up.

Time will tell what Formlabs brings to the model sharing community and what this means for designers using Pinshape. It looks like the original Pinshape founders are now out of the company, so maybe we will see some new direction being applied by Formlabs soon. Read more about the news on the Pinshape blog here.


Makerbot

Makerbot declared itself unable to manufacture in the US, and now plan to offshore manufacturing of desktop 3D printers to a Chinese company. They seem set on death by 1000 cuts. The wider 3D Printing community continues to ignore them. Makerbot blog post here. Enough said.


LulzBot

As an alternative and more positive view, Lulzbot announced the Taz 6 -


Lulzbot still manages to be the most open-source 3D printing company, anywhere.

Matterhackers have them on pre-order for $2.5K. More info should be available on the Taz 6 in a few weeks when the embargo is lifted.

I have not seen any recent comments from Printrbot, but I expect Brook is also still planning to do as much as possible with self-manufacturing and worldwide expansion. Looking forward to some updates from other global 3D Printing manufacturers in May.

I'm really interested in seeing how the US and European 3DP manufacturers navigate through the next 18 months. I have a feeling we are now in the productive phase of desktop 3DP, and even the temptation of ultra low-cost machines from China is starting to subside.

I just wish the RepRap Pro had managed to last out another 6 months, things seem to be turning as long as you are still innovating.

So many Kickstarters -

OLO

OLO got funded to the tune of $2.3M - over 3000 comments on Kickstarter and not a great deal of response from the creators. I actually think this could be the last big 'low cost 3D printer campaign' People are finally going to get smart that a 'very good, reliable and easy to operate' 3D printer is still some long way off, and you need to spend more than $99 to get something worthwhile even trying to use.

I wish them all the luck, but I'm also predicting this one is not going to go smoothly at all. We will check back before the September deadline to see...

Polygon Delta

Billy Zelsnack Polygon Delta 3D printer kit over on Kickstarter - $24K - all sold out - well done Billy, this has been one really interesting development to watch over the past 18 months.

Spatial One Delta

Andrew Wade - Spatial One - Delta Printer has just started over on Kickstarter. If you are looking for a rock solid Delta printer kit, than do investigate the Spatial One


Polymaker


Polymaker - Launched the Polysmooth and Polysher - over on Kickstarter. It's had a tremendous response and is currently at $320k - I have backed this project and look forward to seeing the end result.


Mr Beam 2 


Mr Beam 2 - just got funded, reaching almost 1M Euros over on Kickstarter. Well done!


FormBox

Formbox - $245K for a vacuum forming box - key selling point seems to be that by using your own vacume cleaner make this machine possible. Very disappointed this is planned to take yet another year to be shipped to any backers, you could literally design and make one in a single weekend. Maybe I'm missing something, but what's with the 12 month timescale?


OctoPrint


Gina managed to get a successful Patreon campaign up and running so she can try to support the open-source Octoprint a while longer. Gina is still looking for sponsorship, contract work and generally anything that can help keep her in work and food.


Tom's 3DP


Tom has also decided to go for 3D printing full time - well done and good luck with the adventure. Anything I can do to help, just let me know.
Community drama - This is the calm down and chill out section of the news.

E3D and the BigBox crew caused some fuss over on Reddit with a recent mascot competition. It looks like a poor choice of wording in the competition rules (about not having to give away the BigBox as a prize if they didn't have any suitable entries) made a few people leap to the idea that designers were being used to provide free services etc. Read as much as you wan over on Reddit.


Innovation and materials -

I visited E3D last week, they are in the middle of another big expansion. This time Unit 3 is being kitted out for a monster research and development lab. Packed full of tradesmen, fitting the rooms for science. Plenty of new developments, materials and projects.


And the EDGE filament will be coming soon...

I also checked to see if they really did have the worlds supply of Haribo :)

This was Nozzle world.


I didn't take the peanut scoop... Honest!



They handed me one of their new silicone boots, this wraps around the hot-end heater block and both helps stop material build-up on the nozzle and also insulates the heater so part cooling fans can be more aggressive while also keeping the




I tried out some dedicated hot-end cleaning materials - by Esun filament, You can buy it over on the E3D website or Printedsolid - Anyone else stocking it, let me know and I'll add a link.


Some of the stuff I'm doing -

Project snowflake is finished, look out for an update on that project, done with my daughter.


The steampunk octopus is also finished, another one done with my daughter. I requested an interview with her, but was 'far too busy' out playing to comment.


I seem to be in an ever state of testing out new materials at the moment. Really interesting but also quite time consuming.

Testing out some colour gradated filament - interesting, but inconsistent and not quite as exciting as first thought.

Lots more work on paste extrusion and bioprinting applications - more on that soon.

I'm also trying to clear out all the projects, posts and video's I have not had time to finish. I'll get them all done over the next month and then get onto even more new developments.

Titan is performing well - and so is the new E3D Edge filament.



 Decided to re-design everything on the X carriage, extruder mount and 360 Degree fan cooling duct.


I have made a new quick-fit extruder carriage for the BigBox. I wanted it to fit the Titan well and also allow easy switching of extruders.






I had to jiggle (technical term) the heated bed forwards and up by around 30mm to allow the now much lower Titan setup to reach the build platform.







And for ideas and inspiration, here is a short 60 second video on what to do with all those spare ends and samples of 3D Printing filament - It was my youngest daughter's idea. Great fun.



Yea, That was April!

May is already looking interesting, see you next time.

Rich.