Thursday, December 13, 2012

Replicator 2 Update

Well MakerBot support has been great. They sent me the filament tube, they sent me a replacement Thermocouple and instructions on how to replace it. So after a small surgery my printer is up and running.  I do have a new support issue with them, wondering what I should do with a squeaky pulley. But, I'm sure they will help me with that as well.

Here's a short video of my printer running, hear the squeak?

So far I have printed sample files, and things I have downloaded.  My iPhone is sporting a printed case, and I have started printing a few X-Mas gifts for a friend. The quality I can get on the Replicator 2 is way beyond what my Printrbot was capable of.

Now I need to get working on some of my own designs.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What kind of programmer are you?

While listening to the latest episode of Build & Analyze this morning. Marco Arment mentioned this post over at Joel on Software.  This article really hits home with me. I like elegant reusable code, but most of the time it's more important to "Just get things working."  You can always clean it up later.

What kind of programmer are you?

Now where's the duct tape?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Replicator 2 update

MakerBot support is great.  Quick responses, great information, and very helpful. They are sending me the missing filament guide tube, even though I have a usable replacement, and all my other problems are currently resolved.

I do think the extruder mechanism is flawed. A spring loaded version is available for user modification and I will likely attempt the modification soon.

I've had a few problems with PLA not sticking to the platform, but I have not yet tried using blue tape on the platform, and I need to re-level the build platform.  Mark that up to user error and the learning process.

More to come as I get more experience with the printer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Experiments in Wet Shaving

I (used) to hate shaving. Electric razors suck. Disposable razors make me feel ill every time I throw a used one away. So how can I get a better shave, take better care of my face, and not waste money?

An article in the first issue of "The Magizine" clued me in to Wet Shaving. This is basically the way we used to shave. All you need is a brush, shaving cream, double edged razor blades, a good razor, and some aftershave. For the details go to the article I mention, or any of the great websites that talk about Wet Shaving.

I'm still learning how to shave this way. I don't always get a great shave, but I'm working at it.  The most important thing is I'm willing to shave more often, and I'm enjoying the process.

3D Printer Stuff

I learned a bunch messing around with my LC Printrbot. But to be honest I got tired of the constant tweaking, and the looming need to print new gears to keep it running.

So, I ordered a MakerBot Replicator 2.  Expensive but still less costly than professional 3D printers.  I hoped that I would get the Replicator 2 and with minimal maintenance I would be be able to print with no fuss.

UGH, so far not going well.  The plunger based extruder is causing me problems. I'm getting an unexplained heat read error. And I think my Y axis belts are loose.  I will have to perform some emergency fixes to even get started. This is not the experience I expected.  

So far MakerBot support has been helpful and I hope that I'll be able to work through the issues and start using the printer like I want to.  I'll update with more information once I get passed these issues.  Hopefully I'll be able to give a better review then.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Printrbot - Build and use.

It took longer than expected but the fine folks at Printrbot.com shipped my Kickstarter Printrbot LC a few weeks ago.

It took me 2-3 days to finish building my printer. Including a quik trip to Home Depot for some extra screws and nuts I was missing.  I followed the construction videos that were posted on Youtube, and the guides available at Printrbottalk.com.

Without the Printrbot talk forum I would never have completed the construction.  Towards the end of the build I ran into a couple of major problems.  

First, the cable for the extruder stepper motor was too short to reach the controller board.  I had to solder in 4 extension wires to make the connection.

Second, the main extruder gear was very wobbly and kept getting stuck at the same point.  I emailed the Printrbot folks and they sent me both extruder gears, and replacement pulley gears. Great tech support.  Looking back I think I could have gotten the original extruder gear working with a little careful grinding with my Dremel.  I will still be printing another set of gears as backup. It seems these pieces are the most likely to fail over time.

After fighting the software used to communicate with the printer, I finally was able to make the bot move. Several days of tweaking later, and I'm starting to be able to print half way decent items.  You can find an amazing assortment of things to print at Thingiverse.com.

I still have one major problem I have not been able to figure out. Occasionally, my bot locks up. It can happen when simply moving an axis or when I'm in the middle of a print. Thats a scrapped print.  I'm still trying to figure the problem out. I may have to send another email to Printrbot for suggestions.

Things I've learned.  This kit is very much a hobby kit, with all the little gotchas that you might not expect till you start using it. 
  • I really need to flat the shafts on the X,Y, and the Extruder steppers.  I've already had problems with the Extruder loosening, and ruining a print.
  • I need to add a fan to cool the plastic quicker, and make the prints more precise. Ordered from amazon, and printed a fan mount.
  • I need lubricant for the threader rods.  Ordered from Amazon.
  • Every few times I print I need to check the various belts and pulleys to make sure they are tight and in the correct positions.
  • I really need a spool for the plastic, and a way to mount it.  My plastic filament is very tangled at the moment. Printrbot has a solution for this that I may get.

Things I think Printrbot could do better:
  • Better instructions, more detailed if possible. Include getting through the first print.  I was able to find the info I needed, but not everyone will. I would hate to see people give up in frustration.
  • Include glass for the print bed.  It shouldn't be that hard to buy and ship glass with the packaged.
  • Include a mechanism for mounting glass on the print bed.

Conclusion:
  • So far I have had a blast getting my printer running, and there are bunch of things I still need to learn and do to take advantage of this awesome tech.
  • Using the bot is way more complicated than I realized it would be.
  • If you have the money I might suggest getting the Replicator from Makerbot instead.  However, it is 4 times the price.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nike Fuel Band - Part 2

Been using the Nike Fuel Band for a few weeks. I strongly recommend the Fuel Band or a similar product if you are having trouble staying active.  I am much more aware of how active I am on a daily basis.

I thought I would add some additional pros and cons. What I stated in my previous post is still valid.  These are from using the device for about 3 weeks.

Pros:

  • Provides an incentive to be more active. I check the "Fuel" amount regularly and actively attempt to improve it.
  • Syncing with my iPhone is easy and convenient.

Cons:

  • It would be great if the Fuel Band had an api that food tracking apps could use.
  • I'd also love to see a sleep tracking feature like the Fitbit has.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nike Fuel Band

Got a Nike Fuel Band and so far its pretty awesome.  I haven't been using it for a whole day yet, but I'm hoping that it will provide a little more motivation to be active and hit my daily goals.  Once I've been using it for a week or two I will post an update with more information.

Here are the pro's and con's based on my initial impressions.

Pros:

  • Comfortable. Make sure you get the correct size. Large for me.
  • Nice interface. easy to use, cool display.
  • Seems pretty accurate so far - hard to tell for sure till I use it more.
  • Wireless syncing with phone is nice.


Cons:

  • Way way way too expensive. Should cost half as much.
  • Why do I have to connect it to the computer first, why can't I set my account up with the phone app? Did I miss something?
  • Had to try a few times to get the Bluetooth to connect.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Paper by Fifty Three

There has been a crazy amount of publicity for the new iOS app Paper by Fifty Three.  There are several similar apps, but none of them are as fun to use as Paper.  It has just the right level of simplicity with an easy to use interface.

The app is free but all the tools you will want to use are sold as separate in-app purchases.  To get all the tools currently costs $7.99, and I think this is an ok value for the amount of time I have already used this application.  Should they have charged for the app up front instead of doing in-app purchases? I dunno, some people hate in app purchases, others are ok with them.


Pros:

  • Beautiful and elegant application
  • Easy to use tools

Cons:

  • No way to save to Camera roll
  • Can't zoom in - can't really decide if this is a bad thing.
  • Would be nice to be able to move pages around in the notebook
  • Would be nice to have the ability to change pages to lined or graphed
  • In app purchases for the tools you actually want to use. Would be easier to swallow if they were $1.00 each instead of $1.99 each.

I would expect some of these issues to be fixed in future updates.  I would also expect there to be new features sold via in-app purchases.

If you like to draw, and you have a stylus I would suggest getting this app.






Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Nest

I wanted a Nest bad when they first came out, but I waited too long to order.  When they recently became available again I ordered right away and a few days later we replaced our old "smart" thermostat with the shiny new Nest.

Imagine the change you went through when going from a dumb flip phone to the iPhone or other smart phone.  That's what it's like with the Nest.  It learns your schedule. It's very easy to change the temp whenever you need to, and you can do this directly, or via the web page, iPhone, or the iPad, and you can do all this remotely.  Want to turn the temp up or down while an hour from the house? You can.

It's just works.  Sound familiar? If you didn't know better you would think it was from Apple.

SodaStream - Replacing Pepsi.

I have been trying to kick the pepsi / coke habit for years, with limited success. Most recently this has taken the form of drinking seltzer water drinks.  We purchased a SodaStream and I have to say it's very cool, and I'm doing better than I would have expected.

The first thing to realize is not to bother with any of the drink syrups. If the samples are any indication, they all taste like ass. You can also get the SodaStream on Amazon, but it's probably the same price at your local Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I haven't managed to enjoy a plain glass of Seltzer water yet.  I need flavor.  My current drink of choice is the following:

  • Open one package of Citrus Splash crystal light and add the powder to empty glass.
  • Add 1 tbsp or less of water  to the glass.
  • Swish around trying to dissolve all of the crystal light in the water.
  • Add carbonized water to glass slowly. There will be some extra fizzing, but if you're slow it will settle down.
  • Add ice.
  • mmmmmmm enjoy.
Other flavors of the Crystal light also work well with seltzer water. There are a bunch of recipes on the net that involve natural fruit juices that we plan on trying.  I'd like to cut out the artificial sweeteners that  are used in Crystal Light.

If you try it out let me know, curious to know if you have any good recipes. 

iPad Rev 3

On March 7th 2012 Apple announced the latest version of the iPad. I'll call it iPad 3 cause it's easier, but Apple calls it the iPad (3rd generation).  For the record the name change doesn't bother me at all.  You can find a run down of the new features all over the internet. But it boils down to:

  • Retina display 
  • Larger battery and improved graphics processor to support the new screen
  • Updated Camera with 1080p video recording.
  • LTE / 4G support on AT&T and Verizon
  • New software and updated software to take advantage of the new screen.

So... What did I get?  I got the 32g Wifi only iPad 3.  I'm now wishing I had gotten the Verizon LTE version just so I would have the option of using it.  However our iPad 1 had 3G and we used it only once. So for now I'll settle with what I got.  Maybe I'll get it in the iPad 4.

Should you get it? If you don't have an iPad then absolutely. If you have a 1st or 2nd gen iPad, then I dunno, really a personal decision.  I got it cause I like to mess with the new stuff and just because I wanted it. :)

Mini-Review:
  • The display is amazing
  • I haven't played any games yet that really take advantage of the new graphics processor. However, a few of my drawing programs seem laggy when drawing.  Not all of them, I think this is simply due to the apps needing to draw more pixels, combined with the apps not being updated / optimized for the new iPad.
  • The new camera takes decent pics, gonna do some video to play with the new iMovie, I might post something here.
  • iPhoto for the iPad is awesome. Gonna delete some other apps.

The new Apple TV has 1080p support now which you can notice depending on the content you are viewing.  The bigger news is the new Apple TV software.  It made the 2nd gen. Apple TV seem much faster.  And the "App centric" interface changes might hint at more Apple TV Apps coming.

Now back to Draw Something...