Thing-o-Matic upgrade

I just ordered the parts to
  • get an Interface Board to test my firmware-addition for it
  • add additional end-stops to increase reliability and error-detection
  • add a Magnetic Rotary Encoder to my MK6 steptruder to detect that filament is actually being pulled in (more reliability due to fault detection)
  • play with the Frostruder and different materials
  • play with the unicorn pen-plotter (yes, I coult print one but I'm ordering anyway)
I hope to get these shipped with my repaired/replaced boards and start experimenting in a few weeks.
(With all these tool-heads I'll at least design some way to switch toolheads quickly including the electrical connections. Maybe even use these TOM-toolheads on the larger RepMan too.)

update: 2011-07-13 tracking says they jsut cleared customs and are here next weekend. :) I'm also preparing some upgrades to my RepMan printer.

GPN is over

4 days of GPN 11 are over.
I did not get to test out my theory for an automatic tool-changer for my milling toolheads for RepMan and Thing-o-Matic.
However I did manage to assemble an old robot-arm that was collecting dust in the basement for quite some time now, learned a great deal of things, talked with lots of interesting people and got to print my improved RepMan to ToM toolhead-adapter and my geared follow focus.
I may do a video about GPN like I did about EasterHegg but that will take...a while.
...oh and I did manage to get a remote controlled wifi IP-camera working.
I planned to use it to remotely observe the printer and hit the emergency-off remotely if needed. However even with the latest firmware update I could not trigger the alarm-relay on the camera remotely. It only triggers via movement-detection. :(
So I'll have to resort to some hack with tilting the camera fully down to hit a micro-switch and kill power or something.

Forrest Higgs: Flex cable carrier

Looks like Forrest designed a much better flex cable carrier:
Diary of a Technocratic Anarchist: Flex cable carrier
Check it out!


Thing-O-Matic: glue coming apart

I did already rant about the toolhead-mount on the Thing-o-Matic.
As predicted the 2 glued connections on the right and left side did come apart after a bit of traveling, shaking, heating up and cooling down.
Luckily in the google group Aaron pointed out that someone has already designed a replacement that eliminated this issue.
So I just retrofitted my TOM here "in the field" at Gullasch Programmier Nacht.
This thing is more then just a tight fit.
It's too tight and not tappered. So I had to use the battery operated Dremel Stylus on it quite a bit to make it "just" a snug fit.


mobile Thing-o-Matic version 2

To get my Thing-o-Matic to the Gullasch Programmier Nacht (a Chaos Computer Club event in Karlsruhe)
and take it along on all my traveling...
I redesigned my mobile workbench to be:
  • much more leightweight,
  • use 4 weels instead of 2, so I carry even less of the weight
  • be slim enough to not only fit through a train but also fit through a train with other people blocking the gangway
  • and... improved compartments for small tools and parta

I have a raw version of a HOWTO -video of the first one I build and hope to finish that one of these days.
I don't know if I'll make a video about the second yet.

Aus 2011-06-23_mobile_TOM_version_2

Aus 2011-06-23_mobile_TOM_version_2

Aus 2011-06-23_mobile_TOM_version_2


Me live on Freibyte

Remember a while ago when I recorded a show for Freibyte (a local radio show of the Chaos Computer Club Freiburg distributed by Radio Dreyecksland across 3 countries)?
My show has just been aired recently! :)

Video: [HOWTO] Illuminate your Thing-o-Matic

I just published another video.
This time it's a howto about a rather trivial modification for a Thing-o-Matic.
How to add an LED-strip, so you can see the build-surface properly (it's in the shadow of the Z-stage and un-illuminated).

I managed to get the Zoom H4n set up to directly record the voice-overs into my video cutting program.
This really simplifies the process of making such a video.
I only made 16:9 photos (no videos) while doing but that's good enough to describe this simple process.

I'm still not satisfied with the audio levels.
Recording with higher gain also increases the (low level) noise.
Using audacity's compressor too. Compensating using the noise-canceling only removes the noise in the silent parts. It is still clearly there in the voice. :/

I'm also thinking about adding a sound-effect to the HOWTO-intro animation but haven't sound anything that goes with the images yet.


idea for an automated tool changer

I have 2 excellent ideas for an automated tool changer for my PCB milling platform in combination with a Dremel flex-shaft in my adapted milling toolhead
and for a complete toolhead-changer (e.g. 3d printing to milling to plotting) for the RepMan that may or may not be adaptable to the much tighter Thing-o-Matic.

I plan to check out these ideas on GulaschProgrammierNacht this long weekend.
So stay tuned...



Video: [HOWTO] PCB milling on Thing-o-Matic video uploaded

It is done....
these YouTube-uploads take forever. ;)

On a side note: I did the voice-overs while driving in a high speed train.
I really like that microphone. :) You hear nothing of all the rumbling and hissing all around me.


PCB milling on Thing-o-Matic video finished

I just finished the Thing-o-Matic PCB -milling video.
I'll upload it when my train arrives and publish it together with the design files this night or tomorrow.

That new headset microphone it incredible.
To be perfect it just needs to be invisible. ;)
I recorded all the voice overs on a moving train with all kinds of rumbling and hissing around me.
Nothing of that is in the recording!

As I wrote earlier,
here is my video of the rewiring of that cheap, chinese microphone.

I changed:
* thicker cables
* better solder joints
* symmetric cabling
* grounded case

Video "autro"

Having good intros to HOWTO and REPORT -videos,
last night I recorded a standardized ending.
Just the usual stuff with "please subscribe" and a QR-code to the blog.
Sadly YouTube lets you only link to YouTube -content in videos.
Not to just any kind of URL.
(Maybe a cross-site-scripting issue.)

I also changed my blog-template to have "subscribe" in "please subscribe" be a link now.
Everyone does this and for good reason.
You need subscribers to have any chance of becoming an YouTube partner at some point and thus
a) loosing the 15 minute limitation and
b) choosing your own preview-image for the videos.

This made me re-upload at least the recent HOWTO -video showing my Thing-o-Matic quickchange -upgrade for the Automated Build Platform.
Mainly because I'm linking to that video from the upcoming and now nearly finished PCB-milling video.


still sound issues and upcoming video

After the bad echo in the EasterHegg Video I'm currently testing a new, good microphone and playing around with some cheaper ones to learn more about sound.
At first I wanted to go with a lavalier but everyone told me to get a headset instead. After thinking about it for a long time, I did indeed settle on a headset because I can freely move around without the microphone ever moving relative to my mouth.
The new mic is a Countryman Isomax H, a hypercardoid headseat.
In the video shots it is more visible then I hoped it would be but I guess that's still okay.
However it is absolutely great for not picking up any sound that is anything else but my voice.
I made a short recording in a small hotel room with lots of echo and heavy contruction work going on next door. (Use the left-right balance to switch between the Zoom H4n microphones and the Countryman. You probably have to use a good headphone.)

One of the cheap microphones I'm playing around with is a chinese copy of a Shure Beta series handheld supercardoid.
it is with this one that I noticed another issue with my Zoom H4n field recorder:
it does have a 50Hz humming whenever I touch the metal microphone or even just the
unconnected XLR plug.
I found a way to rewire that cheap microphone and a solution to this humming.
That is why I'll be releasing another short HOWTO video about this modification first,
before giving the the (already prepared) PCB-milling with a Thing-o-Matic video.

Next in line are a multi-part video (stupid Youtube 15 minutes length limit) detailing step by step the assembly of a Thing-o-Matic
and I'm preparing to upgrade my RepMan to a dual-head system and will of cause document that in detail too.

(Use the left-right balance to switch between the Zoom H4n microphones and the Countryman. You probably have to use a good headphone.)


3d printed geared follow-focus

I wanted to wait until I have part II of my 3d printed shoulder rig video ready but a lot of other videos are piling up alreeady,
so I published my geared follow focus today.
The advantage to the gearless one is that not pressure on the lens is required to create friction.
Thus the lens is not pushed off center and the part can not break if you over-tighten the adjustment- slider.

(90° gears not shown because I only have them as STL and not in the volumetric CAD assembly.)


Achievement unlocked: PCB milling

After I already gave a preview of the milling platform,
I was not able to do the first actual tests.
...it works.
I was able to mill the top side of a Makerbot Endstop v1.2 nearly instantly.
I used my Repman milling toolhead, the Repman to T-o-M toolhead adapter, the new PCB-holder platform and the quickchange-modiciation to remove the automated build platform.

A video with all the details is comming soon.
(I already made the footage but need to organize it, make voiceovers,...)

Illuminating the Thing-O-Matic

Another thing I finally did:
Add LED lights to the Thing-o-Matic.
One of the design flaws of that device is, that everything happens in the shadow of the large Z-stage.
This when printing in black ABS, you can't see what is happening.
With the preparations for PCB milling that was even more unacceptable.

So I got myself some self gluing, cuttable LED strips that operate on 12V and started soldering...

rewiring cheap microphone-copy

I found some extremely cheap but decent remakes of the Shure Beta 58A microphone in china sold no-name as "Vocal Dynamic Microphone with Leather Carrying Pouch".
Sound quality is quite decent considering the price but the internal cabling was a mess.
So...I took that thing apart, replaced the bad solder joints, way too thin cables and the missing 3rd cable and rewired that damn thing.
Took me like 5 minutes and 25 USD + customs to get a quite decent supercardoid vocal microphone.


New tool: Ersa gas powered soldering iron

I said it before and I'll say it again:
I just can't walk past some good tools.

This time I got myself a good gas powered soldering iron to be used while traveling.
A pretty cool one at that. Lots of tips, heat-shrinking, burner for light welding, lots of power.


building a mobile workbench - Version II


After a first version done in wood and by modifying an existing bag,
I'm currently contemplating building an improved version of my mobile workbench.
This time using aluminum profiles.
It could include a foldable work-table, a drawer for the small tools, lockable doors,...

Still undecided if I actually want to build it.


PCB Milling Platform for Thing-O-Matic (PREVIEW)

Just some photos of an early prototype..... :)
PCB-milling on the Thing-O-Matic using a dremel-flex-shaft toolhead and a special PCB-holder platform interchangable with the automated build platform using a simple quick release modification.

Video: [REPORT] EasterHegg 2011

I finally found the time to finish my EasterHegg video.
it was supposed to become a report with lots of talk and facts about 10 years of easterhegg.
In the end it has just become a general vacation video with impressions from the event.
As my recording of the "10 years of EasterHegg" failed, numerous requests for the slides where unanswered and CCC-Wiki, Wikipedia&co did not provide much info I simply skipped all the talking and inserted CreativeCommons music instead.


copy milling

I'm still working on PCB milling.
I'm thinking about 3D 3-axis CNC milling with Skeinforge.
5 axis CNC milling is out of my leaguge.

However....with such a rig I could do manual 5-axis milling by copying a master that I "simply" 3d printed.
This could be the way for me to design and test complex prototypes in ABS on the 3d-printer and later copy them to metals or wood.



I am currently finishing the EasterHegg2011 video, writing a few lines for FreiByte, doing the voice over for another HowTo video (mobile 3d printer for traveling)...
Ordered a sensible microphone to finally get rid of echo and unavoidable background noise,
am working on a geared follow focus,
a PCB vice table for the TOM for PCB milling
and preparing to sell some lens gears on ebay.

I hope to get PCB milling working for GPN in Karlsruhe in 3 weeks.