Nanners' Blog My rantings


The monthly experiments

Kay and I have a little activity we like to do most months.  We will cut out something or add in an activity we have to do every day.  In the past, this has manifested as "No soda for a month", or "No chicken".  These restrictions are always interesting and lead us to modify our eating habits.  The biggest change so far is that after our first no soda experiment, I largely gave up drinking it entirely.  I will sometimes still get it at a restaurant, but that's about it.

Next month I'm purposing something a bit different.  Rather than the normal subtracting, I'm thinking of adding in something namely to write at least a paragraph each day.  I plan to use this as an opportunity to write some letters, and to update this blog on a more than monthly basis.

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Useful Inkscape laser cutter plugins

So I just wanted to catalog some of the useful Inkscape plugins that exist for laser cutter work.

First, the Elliptical box plugin by Bastiaan van der Peet.  You can find it here:  Is allows you to make elliptical boxes that are mostly living hinges.

Next up is the tabbed box maker.  The original version was made by Elliot White and you can find it here: but I like the modified version found here by Paul Hutchison.  This allows you to make tabbed fit together boxes, which is fantastic.

These plugins I can speak for being excellent.  I loved using them, and highly recommend them.  So next a few I've just found and can't wait to try:

The living hinge: by drphonon.  This one seems like fun since it allows you to create a living hinge in any rectangle.

The laser jigsaw piece cutter, by Neon22.  I'm not sure how much I'll use this, but it seems neat.

Also by neon22 another tabbed box plugin:  I don't know what more I'd want out of a box maker plugin, but I want to give this one a try too.

Finally the Ratchet drawing by kie27.  This allows you to create a ratchet for a ratching mechanism.


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Getting back

It's been almost three years since my last post,so I'm going to get back to updating this on a more regular basis.  So let's recap the last few years.


3d printing:

I now have 4(ish) printers.  I have the Thing-O-Matic which lost it's ability to heat it's bed.  Considering the print quality is pretty bad on this machine unless run around 35 mm/s I doubt it'll get much future use.  I  did end up building the i3 and had it running for a few months.  The quality was never great due to high levels of z-banding due to wooden frame not being very rigid.  After a few months I also snapped the knock off j-head hotend.  That printer was recently taken apart completely and rebuild using pieces from an incomplete Original Prusa i3 Plus I bought off ebay.  The two printers combined together to make a very rigid and nice looking printer.  I'm still in the process of wiring it and getting the frame square, but I hope to have it running in the next few days.  I also ordered MK2 and MK2s upgrade kits from Prusa.  This will allow me to use the left overs from the Original Prusa i3, to create a full Prusa i3 MK2s.  The final printer is a recent buy that I got on a whim.  It's a Tronxy X1, which is a  kit that runs for around $150.  I wasn't expecting much from this printer, and thought that if it didn't work out, at least I'd have some v-slot and steppers to use for other random projects.  I'm shocked to say that not only does this printer work, but it works incredibly well.  I've been able to produce not only good looking prints, but functional items.  I just last night printed Emmett's geared bearing and it runs pretty smoothly.  So for now I'm waiting on my MK2s parts to ship, and working on calibration the Tronxy x1's profile while finishing the i3 build.


Laser Cutting:

I bought a laser cutter.   Why?   Cutting things with a laser is awesome.  Anyway, I got a K40, which is a cheap Chinese laser cutter.  Mine came with extremely locked down software and a control board to match.  On a few long jobs I had it decide it was done and simply move from the top left to bottom right of a piece and cut it in half.  Given the horrible software UI and the odd behavior I switched out the Moshi control board for a Cohesion 3d mini board, and LaserWeb3 on the software side.  Since then the cutter has been great, I've been able to do cutting and engraving without to much trouble.



Really the only tinkering I've done here has been to upgrade the laser electronics and solder new power and fan connections.



Last year I bought a an OSVR headset and a Gear VR  as a means to get into VR.  The Gear VR has been pretty nice, but it causes my phone to overheat on certain apps after short usage.  Due to that it's largely used to show people VR, but mostly sits around.  The OSVR however has already been sold off.  The software for it was flaky at best, and it lead to a few incidents of me getting motion sick.  I've heard the new versions are better, but I've moved on since I bought a Vive.  The Vive is by far one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  The nicest thing I can say about it, is that it simply just works, and does what you'd expect it to.  There is no missed tracking, no slowness in tracking your hands, it all just works.



After having had enough pictures with my micro 4/3 cameras that came out blurrier than I wanted, I abandoned the format.  I sold both my GF1, and the Pentax Q in favor of two used DSLR bodies.   Now I'm fully back in the Canon DSLR world and so far very happy with the results.


Video games:

I do tend to post about those over on


That's a brief over view of my hobby activities for the last few years.  There has been more, but I plan to break those up into future posts.

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Prusa i3

After some consideration I decided to go with a Prusa i3 as my second printer.  The design is relatively simple, and should be right in my $500 price range.   I'll post a BOM once it's finished, and document my build process.


3d Printer build?

For the last few months I've been taking a break from 3d printing.  I've started printing again recently, but I've also been trying to decide if I want to build another printer.  I currently have a ramps 1.4 setup, 5 Pololu drivers, some high strength 8mm precision smooth rod, and a 8x8 heated build plate along with some belt and pulleys. My final two are the Rostock, a very cool "cheap" to build delta printer, and the Prusa i3,  a very common reprap build.  Over the next week I'm hoping to price out the builds for both, and decide what I really want to build.

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3d printing on hold

After talking to a few community members, most notably Jetguy, I have decided to put my extruder building on hold, and go with some more simple modifications

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Planned Stepstruder mk7 upgrade

I've been printing very little lately, I've found that ABS prints have been curling more than normal lately, and that PLA prints have just been failing all together. I assume this is due to the extra heat and humidity in my office, but I have a plan to fix this. I'm going to try out the idea here: along with some tips from Jetguy over on the makerbot vintage group. I plan to create a barrel as Matt Donley describes, but a bit longer than the standard size. In the gap that'll exist between the hot end and the cold end I plan on lining the thermal barrel with heat sinks. I'm hoping these two modifications will be enough to allow me to print in PLA reliably. First I need to figure out if I want to try to tap a steel tube or if I want to drill out a bolt.

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nRF24L01+ with Arduino

I've been playing with some nRF24L01+ as of late. I've got two hooked up my Arduinos and have been trying to get data transmission working between them. I fear that since I got them so cheaply they might be flawed, or that Wifi has been interfering with them.  More testing will hopefully shed some light on this.

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Thing-O-Matic Calibration III

My printer has been pumping out some good quality prints in both ABS and PLA for the last week or two.  I've upgraded to linear bearings and a ball bearing follower on my x axis, a mk8 nozzle, and rigged a fan to blow on my extruder stepper, and my filament gap.  With this setup I've been printing both high quality ABS prints, and even gotten off a few hour or longer prints in PLA.  I was having some heating issues on Sunday night were the temperature seemed a bit low during a print, soon into a PLA print my safety cutoff board's light went out and it caused the heater to turn off.  Upon restarting my machine the light comes on and all connections on the board are secure.  As soon as I try to heat up the head(as soon as voltage is sent to the board) the  green light goes out, given this I assume it's not a loose cable on the main boards end, but rather a blown component.  I suspect the relay, the big 2w resistor, or the power rectifier are either shorted or blown, so I've ordered replacements for all of them.   This will end up leading to more general maintenance on my bot: installing linear bearings to replace bushings, greasing the rods, checking all the screws to make sure they are tight ,and re-wrapping the extruder.


Thing-O-Matic Calibration II

I spent about an hour and 1/2 working on calibration on the Thing-O-Matic last night.  My prints are coming out very oozy on top.  The fan on the extruder also isn't running, so I need to open up the bot tonight and check out the connection.