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Random wires are ugly, so we decided to ask for some spare spiral binding coil at the local office supply store and walked away with a handful of 6mm and 10mm coils. They make for very nice wire wrap.

Spiral Binding Coil Wire WrapSpiral Binding Coil Wire Wrap

Spiral Binding Coil Wire Wrap

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We made a video to show the difference in noise between the Pololu A4988 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier, which has 1/16 steps, and the DRV8825 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier which has 1/32 steps. These drivers are common in RepRap 3D printers. The resistor soldered onto the DRV8825 is not required on their latest versions of the board.

The goal for this video was originally to capture the difference in sound that I noticed when I switched from one driver to the other, and this test seemed to do that. I updated it to be a bit more scientific than it was originally by carefully setting the current limit, adjusting the steps per unit, and including details about the setup.

For this test:

  • 12.17V DC 
  • Kysan 1124090 (1.8°, 1.5A/phase) stepper motor
  • 18T Aluminum GT2 2mm Belt/Pulley
  • PLA bushings on W1 tool steel smooth rod with white lithium grease
  • 1.3A current limit using VREF method
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Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

In this video, Jacob shows an easy way to make very simple and inexpensive (yet dependable) bare wire end stops for your 3D printer (or other motion control project). This design helps to “demystify the box” by putting all of the switch mechanics in plain view, making it very easy to understand. We’ve had a printer with end stops just like these running without incident for over a year.

Our original “One-Penny Bare Wire End Stop” can be found here, but you can see from the video that we’ve changed the way we do it slightly: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:23878

Supplies used: Old network cable, paper clip, end stop holder, electrical tape, solder, and about 2 cm of solid copper wire. Tools used: Wire strippers, small triangular file, needle-nose pliers (with wire cutter), ruler, soldering iron or gun, and scissors.

Music: “Crosstalk (Take 3)” by Javolenus, 2013 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0), http://ccmixter.org/files/Javolenus/41845

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Special Content: Repraps for Education

This is part of a series of posts about starting and facilitating a project-based 3D printer club at a local elementary school, with the ultimate goal of replicating the program at schools everywhere. We'll be posting as many details as possible, including lesson plans and supporting materials. For more information about the entire project, including a listing of posts related to it, please visit the 3D Printer Club for Schools project page. 

3D printers are an exciting new technology just starting to gain a foothold in schools. Once built, a printer facilitates many creative endeavors and links to math, science, art, and more. Building a 3D printer is a great project for a school club or a project-based classroom because students have to integrate STEM skills and work as a team. Students who build a printer from scratch (as opposed to just buying a kit or a completed machine) will have a detailed understand how it works and will be able to properly maintain and operate it.

Here we are developing and making available a 3D printer club curriculum that any school can use. We’re developing these lesson plans as they are tested in an elementary school club, with members in grades 2-5. This page will be updates with the latest lesson plans and resources as they are developed.

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Greetings Maker Faire North Carolina Attendees! It was fun speaking with many of you today. Here is a collection of links to bots and technologies that I spoke about:

StickBot (the simple 6-legged walking robot)

SphereBot (the bot that draws onto ping pong balls, eggs, etc)

Other links:

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To install the heated print bed for my reprap, I placed the PCB on top of the plywood top print plate (which is slightly larger than the PCB), clamped it in place, and then used the holes in the PCB to drill out mating holes in the top plate. I put a washer on a 16mm M3 screw, and inserted it up through the print plate, added another washer, and a M3 nut to hold it securely in place. (I actually used SAE washers, as you can probably see from the photos, and that’s okay, too.)

Next I took my PCB heatbed to Lowes and had them cut a piece of glass to the exact same size. (While I was at Lowes, I picked up some Frost King 2″ insulated pipe wrap.) The glass is about 2.2mm thick, and it was only a few dollars. I cleaned up the edges of the cut glass with some fine grit sandpaper to make it a bit safer, then I put a small piece of Kapton tape (polyimide) on each corner of the glass to provide a little protection from the screws. Using the same tape, I secured the glass to the top of the PCB.

I covered the bottom of the PCB with the Frost King insulated pipe wrap to help keep the heat going up. I had to cut out notches to make room for the screws that would hold it in place (at the corners) as well as the tops of the screws that fastened the print top plate to the print bottom plate. I added a couple bits of extra pipe wrap to the center to help support the PCB and keep it from sagging.

The PCB/glass assembly rests solidly atop the four screws — there is no “play” at all. Here are a couple of pictures. (Click for larger view.)

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I built a framework for robot wheels a while back using OpenSCAD and used it to create a few different wheel styles. I recently decided to combine them all into one massively configurable wheel model, and add a number of new features as well. The result is an OpenSCAD file with 46 parameters that provides a limitless set of combinations and wheel designs. I call it One Wheel To Rule Them All.

It includes twelve tread patterns (all configurable in often surprising ways), eight core spoke patterns (also highly customizable), configurable support for o-rings, bands, and even optical encoder timing slots (directional and non-directional), and a lot more. Plus, I’m still adding features as I think of them.

First, here are a few images of the types of the various basic elements, as well as a few variations that show the flexibility of the designs. For example, as shown in these images, the Spiral style can be used to create a variety of interesting designs that you might not think of when you think “spiral.” After the images you’ll find full details on the parameters.

It’s important to note that you can configure this wheel to such an extend that it may not be printable at home with extruded plastic printers. In these cases, services such as Shapeways could come in handy.

The source file is available at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:21486, or on github at http://github.com/alexfranke/Highly-Configurable-Wheel.

Tire Parameters

Often wheels are built around the tires. In this section, specify the properties of the tires you’re using, and this will define the diameter of the wheel. If you’re using o-rings, the tireCSDiameter should be the cross-section diameter of the o-ring, or if you’re using some other flat tire material (such as rubber bands), jsut specify the its thickness. If you’re not using any tire at all, set the tireCSDiameter to zero.

  • wheelWidth: The width (or thickness) of the the wheel
  • tireCSDiameter: Cross-sectional diameter (CS) — How thick is the tire rubber?
  • tireID: Internal diameter (ID) — How wide is the inside opening?
  • tireStretch: Circumferential stretch percentage (usually 1 + 0-5%) — How much to you want to stretch it to get it on?

Rim properties

The rim sits at at the outside of the spokes and supports the tires or added treads. Installed tires (such as o-rings, rubber bands, etc) are set into grooves carved out of therim, while trads are added onto it. Keep this in mind when you’re using tires — as an example, the rim height should not be smaller than the radius of o-ring tires.

The rim also supports rotary encoder timing holes for wheel feedback. Use the padding parameters to adjust the location of those holes. See the compiler output for helpful information about the distance indicated by each timing hole. Directional timing holes will produce a second set of holes that are 90 degrees out of phase with the first. This allows you to stack sensors at the same location over the wheel instead of trying to position them along the circumference. Directional timing holes essentially double the resolution. You can also double resolution by looking for both rising and falling edges.

  • rimHeight: The height of the rim portion of the wheel
  • timingHoles: The number of timing holes to carve into the rim
  • timingHoleInPad: The inside padding for the timing holes
  • timingHoleMidPad: The middle padding if direction timing holes is selected
  • timingHoleOutPad: The outside padding for the timing holes
  • directional: A directional encoder renders two sets of slots, 90 deg out of phase

Tread Parameters

In this section, specify the properties of the tire tread you want to render. If you’re using a wheel (e.g. o-ring, rubber bands, etc), then use either the “o-rings” or “slots” settings, which will cut a groove (or grooves) in the wheel rim to fit the tires. The othertreat styles will render a tread pattern protruding out from the tire surface by the amount you specify in third part of “knobSize”.

Imagine the tire is mounted on a robot and facing straight at you. The “knobSize” parameter defines the size and shape of knobs in an [x,y,z] format, where x goes across the rim, y goes up and down along the perimeter of the wheel, and z protrudes out from the wheel toward you.

The “staggerOffset” parameter allows you to stagger knobs across the tire by an amount you specify. Set this to zero if you want all the knobs lined up along the perimeter and aligned with the edges of the rim.

“numberOfKnobs” specifies how many knobs there are across the tire, and “lineThickness” specifies how thick the lines are from “drawn” tire styles, such as “x”, “cross”, and “zigX”. You can use these pameters together in creative ways — for example to extend a single tread profile across the width of the tire, or to create a contiguous zig-zag.

Finally, “radialTreadSets” defines how many sets of treads are rendered around the wheel. Each set contains two rows in order to create the staggered effect.

Tread styles are:

    • none: No tread is rendered
    • cross: Each knob is the shape of a plus sign with the specified lineThickness
    • o-rings: Grooves are cut into the rim to accept o-ring tires
    • squares: Each knob is a rectangle, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • spheres: Each knob is a smooth bump, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • cylindersX: Each knob is a cylindrical shape running across the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • cylindersY: Each knob is a cylindrical shape running along the perimiter of the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • cylindersZ: Each knob is a cylindrical shape protruding from the surface of the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • spikes: Each knob is a cone or spike protruding from the surface of the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • slots: Grooves are cut into the rim to accept flat tires, defined by numberOfKnobs (number of grooves), the first and third numbers in knobSize to define the width of the slots and the depth, and spaceBetweenTires for the distance between the tires and also from the outside edges to the first slots.
    • x: Each knob is in the shape of an “x” protruding from the surface of the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • zigX: Each knob is in the shape of a zig-zag protruding from the surface of the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
    • v: Each knob is in the shape of a “v” protruding from the surface of the wheel, whose size is specified by knobSize
  • treadStyle: none, cross, o-rings, squares, spheres, cylindersX, cylindersY, cylindersZ, spikes, slots, x, zigX, v
  • knobSize: The size of each knob [across wheel, along the perimeter, prodruding]
  • radialTreadSets: How many sets of treads to render around the wheel (2 rows per set).
  • numberOfKnobs: The number of knobs to render per row.
  • staggerOffset: A distance to offset the staggered rows.
  • lineThickness: The line thickness for “drawn” styles, such as “x” and “zigX”
  • maxTires: For o-rings, the maximum number of tires per wheel
  • spaceBetweenTires: For o-rings, the space between each tire, if there are more than one

Spoke-related Parameters

This section is used to define the spoke style of the wheel. Some of the properties are only applicable to certain wheel types, and these properties can be used together in creative ways to create a wide range of tire designs.

The “proportion” property affects how some spokes are rendered. The first number is the proportion of the design from the center of the wheel to the inside of the rim, and the second number is the proportion of the width inside of the wheel. For example, to create spokes that are roughly in the shape of a “U”, you can use a “circle” style, and set the proportion to [1.5, 1.0], for cirle spokes that are 150% as long as the distance from the center to the inside of the rim, 100% as wide.

Use spokeInset to specify the inner and outer inset of the spoke area from the inner and outer faces of the wheel. You can use a negative number to make the spoke area stick out further than than the rim. The hub position will be based on the inner surface resulting from this inset.

The spoke styles are:

    • biohazard: A biohazard logo-inspired design. Set numberOfSpokes to 3 to mimic the logo.
    • circle: Spokes in a circlar or oval form, defined by spokeWidth and proportion.
    • circlefit: The maximum number of circles that will fit between the center and the rim, with a set of smaller outer circles specified by outerHoleDiameter.
    • diamond: Spokes in the shape of a diamond (rhombus), defined by spokeWidth and proportion.
    • fill: Fills in the spoke area with a solid cylinder.
    • line: Straight line spokes, like you would see on a typical wagon wheel.
    • none: Leaves the spoke area empty and does not make for a very useful wheel.
    • rectangle: Spokes in the shape of a rectangle, defined by spokeWidth and proportion.
    • spiral: Spokes in the shape of a semicircle, defined by curvature, reverse, spokeWidth.
  • spokeStyle: none, biohazard, circle, circlefit, diamond, line, rectangle, spiral, fill
  • spokeInset: The [inner,outer] inset of the spoke area from the surface
  • numberOfSpokes: Number of “spokes.” Set this to three if you’re doing the biohazard design
  • spokeWidth: This is how wide each spoke is.
  • proportion: proportion to rim, proportion of width
  • curvature: For “spiral”, this is how curvey the spokes are. >0, but
  • reverse: For “spiral”, setting this to “true” reverses the direction of the spirals
  • outerHoleDiameter: For “circlefit”, the diameter of the outer holes, or zero for non
  • concavity: Concavity distance of spoke area for [inside, outside] of wheel

Hub Parameters

These properties define the hub — or how the wheel connects to the motor. The default values for the captive nut are precise for a M3 nut and will make the nut a very tight (if not impossible) fit. I prefer this because it allows you to “melt” the nut into place with a soldering iron. However, if you don’t have a solder iron or prefer a looser fit, then just adjust the nut diameter and thickness. (M3 hardware is, by default, set to 3mm screw diameter, 5.4mm nut diameter, and 2.3mm nut thickness.) Similarly, the holes for the motor shaft and grub screw are also precise. This allows the holes to be drilled out for a more precise fit. Again, you can adjust these to suit your needs.

The hubZOffset can be used to “sink” the hub into the wheel, and it defaults to half the wheel thickness. For example, when the hubHeight is 10 and the hubZOffset is -2, then the hub will protrude 8mm from the wheel, but the shaft hole will be 10mm deep. The set screw will still be positioned in the middle of the exposed vertical height, and the fillet/chamfer will also be rendered in the correct position. This property is also useful if you want to poke a hole entirely through the wheel. (e.g. If the wheel is 6mm thick, set the hub height to 16 and the hubZOffset to -6, and you’ll get a hub that protrudes 10mm from the wheel surface with a hole that extends all the way through the wheel.)

To mount a servo motor, set includeHub to false, set shaftDiameter so that the hole will accommodate the servo horn screw and any bit that protrudes from the top of the servo horn. Then set the servoHoleDiameter to the size of your mounting hardware, and set servoHoleDistance1 and servoHoleDistance2 to the total distance between mounting holes on your servo (not the distance from the center). These sets of mounting holes will be rendered at 90 degree angles from one another. If you only want one set of holes, set one of the values to zero. Adjust the angle of all the holes to avoid openings in your wheel design if necessary using servoArmRotation.

Use innerCircleDiameter to specify a solid inner circle to use as a base for the hub. This can be useful if you need a a solid surface for servo mounting hardware or for the base hub fillet/chamfer.

Use outerNutTrap to create a nut or bolt head trap on the outside (bottom) of the hub area. Used in conjunction with shaftDiameter and false for includeHub, this will create a wheel that can drive a bolt much like the large gear on Wade’s Extruder. (This feature is inspired by that design.)

Use servoNutTrap to create nut traps for bolts used to mount the wheel onto servo arms. This feature was suggested by AUGuru.

  • includeHub: Set to false to remove the hub and only include the shaft diameter hole.
  • hubDiameter: The diameter of the hub portion of the wheel
  • hubHeight: The total height of the hub
  • hubZOffset: The Z position of the hub, negative numbers from the surface of the wheel
  • shaftDiameter: The diameter of the motor shaft
  • innerCircleDiameter: The diameter of the solid inner circle under the hub, or zero for none.
  • setScrewCount: The number of set screws/nuts to render, spaced evenly around the shaft
  • setScrewDiameter: The diameter of the set screw. 3 is the default for an M3 screw.
  • setScrewNutDiameter: The “diameter” of the captive nut, from flat to flat (the “in-diameter”)
  • setScrewNutThickness: The thickness of the captive nut
  • baseFilletRadius: The radius of the fillet (rounded part) between the hub and wheel.
  • topFilletRadius: The radius of the fillet (rounded part) at the top of the hub.
  • chamferOnly: Set to true to use chamfers (straight 45-degree angles) instead of fillets.
  • servoHoleDiameter: The diameter of servo arm hounting holes, or zero if no holes
  • servoHoleDistance1: Distance across servo horn from hole to hole (0 to ignore)
  • servoHoleDistance2: Distance across servo horn from hole to hole, rotated 90 degrees (0 to ignore)
  • servoArmRotation: The total rotation of all servo holes
  • servoNutTrap: Size [indiameter, depth] of servo arm captive nut, or 0 (any) for none.
  • outerNutTrap: Size [indiameter, depth] of a captive nut, or 0 (any) for none.

Quality Parameters

  • $fn: Default quality for most circle parts.
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Here’s a 3D printed T10 lamp shade that I designed and printed last night. A few weeks ago while searching for LEDs, I noticed an ebay listing for very inexpensive 12V automotive lamps that combine nine bright white LEDs. I believe these are sometimes called “wedge lights,” and are used as turn signals or interior lights.

Because reprap printers typically operate with 12V power supplies, I figured this would be a perfect way to light up the print bed. When the lamps arrived last night, I got out the calipers, worked up a design, and printed it out. I had a little difficulty removing the support material, but I’m pleased with the results.

Here it is on Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:20809

The ebay listing for the LEDs (which were $1.50 for two) was titled “2 pcs WHITE Xenon SMD 9 LED HID 194 168 T10 Car Light.” It was designed exclusively with OpenSCAD.

Creative Commons License
T10 LED Lamp Shade by Alex Franke (codecreations) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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A couple of people have noticed this, so I thought I’d write it up. There’s nothing wrong — it’s just something to be aware of if you’re soldering up a Sanguinololu 1.3a PCB.

If you look closely at the circuit board where the FTDI chip goes, you’ll notice a tiny solder bridge between pins 25 and 26 (below the “L” in “FT232RL”). I noticed it when I first inspected the board, and I looked at the original gerber files to make sure it was part of the design. It is, in fact, part of the original design (see photo below), so there’s no need to try to remove it. (To confuse the issue, the instructions even say to look for things like this.)

If you did remove it, that’s okay, too — those pins (which both go to ground) are still connected inside of the outline of the chip.

One other thing to note is that the pin headers along the top of the board sit a little further in than those along the other sides. This is also exactly as it is in the original gerber files, but it means that the PCB might prevent some right-angle headers (like those in the Mouser project kit) from plugging all the way in unless the male headers are soldered a little high. (See the second photo.) This is probably more of an aesthetic issue than a functional one, but if you want to make sure they plug in completely, you can use one of the female connectors to space it properly when you solder it on.

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Yeah, free. If you’re starting a 3D printer project (such as RepRap) at your public K-12 school in the United States for the benefit of the students, then we’ll give you a free Sanguinololu v1.3a PCB to help you out (while supplies last). They typically sell for about $12-14. We won’t even charge you for shipping.

What is a 3D printer? Check out the video at the bottom of the page for an introduction.

Not a school but want one anyway? I’m selling some of them to raise funds for a printer for a local school. Just select “None – Buy one” for affiliation below, and I’ll send you the details. They’re $11, shipping included within the USA.

Sanguinololu 1.3a PCB

Sanguinololu 1.3a PCB

We don’t see any reason why kids shouldn’t have access 3D printing technology in their problem solving toolkit, and soldering up the electronics is all part of the fun. A club with only six kids raising $50 each could be well on its way to building and operating a 3D printer for its school, and while the electrionics can typically amount to 1/3 or more of the final build price, hopefully a free PCB will help ease the pain a bit.

Are you interested? Submit the form below for instructions on how to get your free Sanguinololu 1.3a PCB.

Name (required)
Email (required)
School (required)
Affiliation (required)
Description of Your Project (required)

What is a 3D Printer?

Here’s an introduction to the technology:

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