Returning from a 3d printed Sabbatical

It’s good to be back. Turning on the old computer… deleting 12 months worth of emails in one go. So my sabbatical is over and I’m back in the old… er… building. New job.

I’m not Head of Software anymore but doing something completely different. Change is good. But lets start with what happened. Last time I blogged I was going to start a 12 month break and off to build a rabbit hatch. Like with a the best plans of mice and men, it didn’t work out quite as expected.
Unfortunately after preparing the R&D department (my cellar) and the fast prototyping machine (3d printer) not to mention the necessary server backup (git on the NAS with a backup to the AWS),  two from three rabbits passed away. Felix and Lili both died in the same week. Lili was probably pining after Felix. As a last ditch attempt to save the third (Klopfer) we gave him back to the pet shelter where he came from with the wish he would be found a better home. We decided we were not in the position to deal with fluffy bouncy animals. Klopfer is now living happily bouncing around with new friends.

So much for that plan… what to do with the R&D and protoyping department (cellar)? Well you have to find things to develop and protoype. A quick search around the internet and a whole cluster of options appear. The number of started projects (and sometimes the spectacular failures) will litter this blog for years to come.
I’m very proud of my 3d printer because it helped so much and I can recommend it to anyone with two months to spare. I got myself this kit. Spent two weeks putting it together and two weeks “adjusting” it to get decent prints. Then I spent two months printing new parts for it. With these extras (thanks to the reprap community and k8200 community) it now looks like this: 20141202_073917

With the help of these communities (great things) I managed to get the resolution from the standard 250 um to 90um (Z-axis).
You need time and patience but it’s worth it. The original kit is very good, but with the help of the experts online it became a top of the line product. The bits of it I printed myself you can see in the picture above… they are the bits that aren’t in grey or black. For the experts: Yes, I really can print directly on glass.

From the product design it’s a bit hobbyist (especially the cable ties)… clearly not the Cupertino look and feel, but it works like a dream. The best mod is on the left side: The orange printed box on the left contains a raspberry pi, with a cheap webcam (as I made it this wonderful Basler Camera wasn’t available – plug plug). The lighting assembly (also left) is an LED lamp from ikea.
The printer client on the pi is served up a an HTML5 side with a live picture of it printing. This is VPN routed through the NAS to the rest of the world. Meaning I can check the printing from anywhere in the world on my phone. Why? because I could. Anyhow I’m going to stop here and the stories of quadrocopters dropping 20m the ground (they don’t bounce) due to software bugs, VR googles, international minecraft servers, my experience of “Google Now” in Seoul… I’ll leave those to other articles. I have to get on with my new job. But we’re out of time… more about that later.

Ciao, Mark.

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