Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New year coming, new directions to blog (Meta, Video)

Happy holidays.. It's meta-time just before new year hit's all of us. 

Now, I think that it's about to give up posting short notes of various 3d printed items. After all, I've been making them quite a while, and even though I have lost count of the trinkets been made, I do know that I have spent over two kilos Pla-printing material. So what I was saying, is that novelty of the printing just for printing's sake is gone, and from now on I'll be using it as a tool for other projects. Projects that have been on back-burner due this new printer.

But before giving up entirely I decided to write a bit intro of couple items.

This on is nice 20 mm wide and cable guide made from 12 printed pieces. I'm planing to install to my Huxley printer so that it'll protect those heated bed wires. The main idea is to stop the cables connections breaking apart from stress caused platform movement during printing.

And: What's 3D printing without some shapes that are next to impossible manufacture with other types of machinery?

This Alien Egg, an abstract design, that is hollow inside. It weights very little compared to it's size and strength.

Of 3d design.. I'll get to the point, if there ever was a point. Point reminding me that I'll need to widen the coverage of the blog. During these first couple months (7 weeks)  of blog/vlog I have made just one teardown video, no reviews, and only electronics related stuff has been about me soldering the electronics board of the Printer.

So what I have at the list.. Some talk and examples about Polymorph, yes it's plastic too, but somewhat different material. Reviews of couple nice and useful electronics tools/meters. Some ideas of electronics, using old and new chips and components. Also some work with lasers and combining various building technics. Fixing various items and hacking something new from those that can't be repaired to original use.

And.. also more videos.. I think I'll skip the numbering and credit screens from videos that ain't so essential. Like that Alien Egg printing video, that lasts about 50 minutes, and has no texts nor voice over.  It's currently uploading to Youtube, and should become available at:

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A fix, I hope

Two of these.. 

I have finally decided to start making new parts in purpose of fixing the on/off issue of this printer. With Bowden type extruder, there is always a risk of the bowden-tube been too stretchy or getting lose.

At Emaker Huxley, this 3mm PTFE tube is attached with an Pneumatic connector, which is nice and quick way, and does usually work reliably enough.

Unfortunately that didn't seems to be case with my machine. I am not sure if it's due variance at parts or have I done something wrong while building the machine.
with four nuts+bolts and two cable ties

Earlier I have tried some alternative fixings, like glue and heatshrirk tube. Unfortunately the PTFE (best known with brand name Teflon) tube is extremely slippery so making solid fix is kinda hard.

I do hope this one works,.. There is room for improvements, in case someone is interested. All the design files are available at

Monday, 19 December 2011

Time to reveal our mystery cookies..

So here they are, with sugar coating on top. I do hope they are bit easier to recognise, the pressed pattern did lose some shape while baking, but frosting should help.

For the upcoming years, I really need to think about making that frosting-extruder -module for my 3d-printer.

Hello Chulhu cutter is my own design, the DrWho relarted files are found from Thingiverse site.

Now I have to find some use for the excess frosting. what it could be used for? ... except of course making more cookies?

Note: This design is freely available at

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hello cookie, cookie cutter tested and working.

Never had I guessed how much time it takes to design and make two part cookie cutter. But at least the first version is done and tested.

As you can see I now have some cookies cooling down. I'll think I leave the decorations for tomorrow. So, it you can't tell what the cookies are, it'll be revelated at 19th.

About the printer, I think I got it fixed for now. One can't expect home made equipment to have same uptime and reliability as fifty-hundred times more expensive office machines. At them moment it works nicely, but I need to check some technical details and its likely there will be some hardware tinkering ahead.

Addendum (19th) : Well, the printer was kind enough to make those cutters ok, but the next bigger print failed (at early stage)... Ah well.. repairs are part of the learning process here.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Zenithink ZT-180 ePad teardown, Video #6

This time I decided to make a quick teardown video of Zenithink ZT-180 ePad I recently purchased secondhanded. It's amazingly easy to open as soon as you know the trick. I have not yet bothered taking the logic board out since all essentials are shown as is. There are some oddities in this machine, like using cheap painters masking tape to cover and fix parts, but that may well be left there by some earlier user.

Meta: I have not lately been making these 3d-printing related updates. I have been occupied with other activities, so no new cookie cutters designed/printed yet.  I also need to do some repairs for the printer, there's a known weakness on one part and it hinders the printing process. Perhaps I'll make a video of that too while I'll try to think best feasible way to fix issue.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Cookie cutter, how to design in 3D

After publishing my first Finnish blog post about 3d printing a friend of mine asked, how about making some personal cookie cutters for Xmas. Especially she was looking for some Lovecraftian style cutters, that are not available on any regular stores. My drawing skills aren't really up to reach that kind art, but I'll at least will try to explain a simple way to make them in case someone is willing to provide the 2D drawing.

Open the 3d cad program you intend to use and draw/trace the intended cookie figure on X-Y plane as an continuous 2d line. While drawing, also be sure that the shape is correct size and stays strictly at the X-Y plane. Mine is kinda primitive Tree-shape..

Next. Perpendicular to that, draw the wanted profile of the cookie cutter. Usually the cutting edge of object is made quite thin, and the handling edge has some widening.

With these two shapes ready, use the Follow-me too. With the Follow-me tool, wonder around the original shape so it becomes 3d object with desired outline and profile. At this point one could consider changing the design for making it a bit more user friendly, like rounding the corners and making the holding area wider.
When you are happy with the shape, save the draving and export it as an STL file for further processing.

Use the printer software for slicing the 3d object and create Gcode file for the printer. Before continuing with the printing, it's usually good to preview the print at the preview window. If everything is fine, set desired options and print.

And with some 10-20 minutes later you have your own freshly printed cookie cutter, or.. as in my case happened. you'll realize that you'll need to make some adjustments to model before it's really any use in real world.

And the first version of my cookie cutter is there, I'll need to wait it to cool down before lifting it from the build bed. PLA is quite soft while warm, so one must be careful not to bend this kind of thin walled objects.

For next one I think I'd thicken the walls somewhat, also rounding the sharp corners could be good idea.

PS: As a final note. I have not done any official check concerning food-safety of these plastics used with 3d printers, so I don't assume it would be legal to start selling these cutters for people. I would really like to know if anyone has done the research. The plastic in question is PLA 4043D ...

Update: I have made normal speed recording of the printing this object. It's currently uploading to Youtube, so it should be available someday at this address:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

First fix, video #4

This video is recorded at 30th of November. Like I then mentioned at Repairs and reshoot -post, I managed to mess with the X-drive belt while printing the oversized object. I fixed belt at the same night, but have not edited the video until today. While I'm writing this the video is rendering and I'll link it here as soon as it is available at Youtube.

All in all, the fix was easy and took me about 15 minutes. I might have been able to do it a bit faster if the camera has not been in way at a time. So far the problem has not repeated itself. I didn't mention it on the video, but I also added a dash of glue to the belt end. I do hope it'll help it to keep well put.

I have also renamed posts which have video files embedded. I hope it'll make finding the clips easier.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Designing freestanding spool holder

Freestanding filament spool holder

Since I got this 2.2Kg spool of natural PLA, it's been clear to me that I need to have sone kind of spool holder. With small printer like Huxley there is really no point trying to bolt large filament spool at the side. And while there were many ideas at the Thingverse, none of them was what I was looking for.

So, I felt need to design and print one of my own. I knew that by keeping it simple, I'll need just some plastic parts alongside bearings + 20cm threaded rod.

First I made the A-like shape with the3d program. Extruded it to be 5 millimeters thick and made a hole for connecting rod. The length of legs is limited by printer's bed size, and thus the entire object must fit under 14*14 centimeter area.

Originally I hoped the leg-parts alone would be enough, but this spool was after all a bit too large so I had to design those raiser feet under it. Having larger printer would have done the trick, but I'm not going to build bigger one just yet. :-)

This spool makes my Huxy look so tiny
Now the spool stands nicely right next to Huxley. Time will tell, if the leg parts were made sturdy enough. I think they will hold the weight quite nicely.
All design files are freely available at

Monday, 5 December 2011

Video #1, Intro

Ok, so it's out there, in public, finally. At youtube, amongs millons of other videos.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A small object to make..

As mentioned earlier I got this small replacement part to design and print. It is an fixture to hold window blinds adjustment rod neatly. This definitely ain't complex part and I know that these are sold at stores. But as an example of a home made thingy.. It's not bad at all..

My part at Sketchup
It took me some time to get the 3d shape in a form I'd like since I'm no expert on 3d cad work. Also I needed to fix the model couple times as the exported stl -file was declared to be non-printable. For printing I used clear PLA so I had to paint the part. Painting itself was not difficult, a friend of mine has nice set of miniature paints and they seem to stick nicely to this kind of plastic.

15 * 20 mm part, ready to use
During the design process I noticed that by altering the shape somewhat I could make this part much more solid, but I decided to keep changes as small as possible. If it holds, good. If it breaks, well, then it's time to make some modifications to design.

Addendum: I forgot to add the cad files.. Both Sketchup design and stl-export are freely available at:

Friday, 2 December 2011

Messing with Meshes (sorry a bit complex stuff)

Hello, I have been busy trying to understand terms like 2-manifold, water tightness, normals and  meshes.

More often than not, when you find or design nice looking 3d object that you'd like to print, while the object is good enough for visual viewing,  it's not for 3d-printing. Many 3d programs (including Sketchup) are not accurate on how to define the objects. And while these issues are not important on screen viewing, the manufacturing expects better qualilty and consistency.

In principle making your own 3d object is simple 3 step process:
  1. You design object at right size on 3D program and save it as .STL
  2. Using slicing program (Skeinforge, SFACT, Slic3r) generate the G-code file 
  3. Use Pronterface to upload G-code to printer and print.
But... That happens so easily only on occasion. Usually there are some problems which need to be addressed during the process. Sometimes there are problems that don't prevent printing, but will cause uncertainty of the result, other problems can prevent printing the object entirely. Other can hinder later modification of the objects.

To put it simply(*), the Skener/slicer will need and object that is 2-manifold to create printable G-code. If the STL file has any holes or other mistakes (like duplicated faces) the slicer program has to make some kind of guesswork of the most likely object the STL file is supposed to represent. Quite often this result is similar to what was intended, but there may well be some nasty surprises.

Also, while the OpenSCAD program I used to scale objects on my earlier Blog entry does import stl-objects that aren't 100% correct, it can't render them properly nor can it repair them for saving. So the OpenSCAD scaling trick works only if the original object is valid 2-manifold.

At the moment I'm trying to learn how to use MeshLab . It's quite large and complex program intended to be able evaluate, simplily and fix these kid of issues on various file formats. At the moment I can't say that I have had much success with it, but I'd expect this take some time.

(*) For nonsimply answer.. It takes a lot of university level mathematics to go trough all the details and issues of open and closed surfaces, and I'm not going into there.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Repairs and reshoot

After yesterday's printing I noticed that while hitting the top frame, the x-carrier had not only lost it's z-axis calibration but also the x-direction belt has become loose from one end. I must assume  my original assembly was a bit weak and the extra hassle at the end of printing the angel figure was just the final straw.

To reattach the belt at the carrier part, I'll need to remove the printing hot end and open up the carrier assembly. It should not be a biggie and I think I might even try to video it with some explanatory documentation while fixing the issue. Also the print bed level + head distance calibration will be necessary to do before I can continue printing.

I also got a small project to do with printer. A certain small plastic fixture is broken and there's need for a replacement part. It would be my first real 3d designed item that's for real use.

Otoh, I do know that my intro-video is a bit late. Perhaps I'll get it done too? Someday?

Size limit, xmas decorations and usefull items.

As I have now moved to clear pla, I decided to try some objects I could use led-lights with. This xmas angel printed quite nicely, but the printer ran out of room just before the end. So the wing tips are perhaps 1mm too short. Well, I'm sure the gift receiver don't mind.

This angel figure is 10cm high and 10cm wide. It's now cooling, while I write this post. I'll need design and install light fixture and battery some later day.

All in all, the adjustment to different PLA type has gone quite well. I received this natural clear pla reel Monday 28th Nov. and have since printed some useful items with it.  Like the vice that can be used on electronics soldering.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

OpenSCAD, scaling existing STL object

I found this nice hand figure from open stl library and wanted to print it for ongoing D&D game. As it happens though, this printed part fits well on scale for Large size (4 squares) and we happened to need Normal size (1 square). So OpenSCAD to rescue. After some reading of the manual, all I needed to type in was just this:

scale([ 0.5, 0.5, 0.5 ]) 
   {import_stl("G:STLs/hand.stl", convexity = 5);}

Then press F6 to compile and render, and select menu for STL export.

Result bellow. I printed this smaller hand with support-material enabled, so I'll need to clean it up before use.

Somewhat unreleated sidenote: I have noticed that sometimes my phone fails to upload entire picture to Picasa albums. There's no error message but about half or 1/3rd of the picture becomes grey. I'll need to test this further..

Friday, 25 November 2011

Next step, the 3d design software

As fun as slicing and printing various pre-designed object is, the real reason for having your own 3D machine is to design and make your own parts. And for that, I have started to download and install various opensource/freeware 3D cad softwares, for testing and evaluation. I have decided to test these three first.

First of them is Google Sketchup . I have met this software before, and have been occasionally using older versions. It's development began of making 3D buildings at Google Earth, since then it's been grown more versatile software and it can be used to make many kind of objects. Negative side is the lack of direct .STL exporting, but there are at least 3 different export modules available for free. Positive side is that it's well maintained, has plenty of manuals and tutorials so learning goes fast.

Secondly is OpenSCAD . It's a bit strange program for anyone expecting typical Cad-package, since all objects are made buy defining the shapes on text scripting. Good part is direct STL support and wide acceptance on RepRap community. For example source files of the Emaker Huxley printer I have are released on OpenScad format. I'm not saying it's a bad program, but just warning that at the first time it may feel a bit odd, since the approach is more like programming than3D designing.

Third on I have installed is FreeCAD   This is totally unknown program for me at the moment, so it's likely be the last of these three to test. Can't really tell much of it at the moment, but I know some people do use it for 3d object making.

Other free software I could install include Blender, but it's so big and I'm trying to find something relatively simple and nimble program.  There are also lot's of commercial 3D cad/cam packages (like Soldworks, Mastercam etc), but none of those are within reasonable budget for me. I have also found some potentially interesting free-to-use cloud based 3d tools, but so far none of them had what I wanted.

As a last note I'll add one pic, a partial collection of items I printed but have not shown before. All of these item's are either part of the Huxley or freely downloadable from Thingverse.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Printing a snowflake, video #3

A friend of mine wanted to see a video of the 3d printer building a real usable object. Since most complex objects print a long time I'd chosen quite simple snowflake design for the subject of this video. It's only 2 layers high and has nice complex shape. Total printing time is about 7 minutes, and the video includes removal of the finished object at the end.
As I'm quite sure none of recipients are likely to read this blog before x-mas, I can tell my plan for these printed snowflakes this early. I'm planing to use these as a part of my home made x-mas cards, and I'll post a update with pictures of making.

As a footnote. You may notice that this video looks quite different from #2. It's partially due me using new video camera (Kodak Zi10, using 720p/60 mode), but the biggest visible difference comes from the editing software. This camera is bundled with minimalistic software (media impression), and I do have to admit it indeed is quite easy as long as one is happy with the limited options available.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A week of blogging

Well, it's been week with full of the Huxley and 3d printing. The first bundle of PLA filament is getting thin, so I had to make an order of new stuff. For a change, I decided to have big (2.3kg) roll of 1.7mm natural PLA.. It's not absolutely clear or colourless, but it'll be interesting to see how much material change affects the printer settings and print result.

As a part of upcoming development I couple days ago purchased parts for Frugal style glass printing bed. First version will be made of clip frame glass and some metallic holders.
Clear glass and holders.
I have heard that glass is a good material for heated bed. Printed parts tend to stick well, and the glass surface is nice and even. Biggest issue will be the sudden temperature changes, since those can well break the glass plate.

One reader asked about the videos.. Well, I have been so keen on testing the printer that I have not taken much video of the printing process itself. I'll try to take some this week and hopefully also get other material available. At the moment this blog looks way too much dedicated just to 3d printing. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A fine mess..

To anyone considering having a 3D printer. If your system uses a filament extrusion, be sure to get/build some kind of spool system. Sooner or later you'll end up spending considerable time untangling the wire.

Filament tangle, looks so tame on 2D photo.
I know there are some filament sellers who sell on spools, but this particular 100 meter sample material was a part of the Huxley kit and was packed on ziplock pouch. Have to look various filament sellers options soon, as I have no idea how many meters I have left.

Not only is there tough decision on where to order, but also what colours and how much. Big spools offer some discounts, but storing the material can become an issue.I think I'll stick with PLA plastic at least for the beginning. I know this machine type should be able to print ABS, but it's not as friendly for environment as PLA and also needs higher work temperatures.

Whistle I printed yesterday works quite well. Perhaps it's not the best available (or cheapest) on market, but it definitely works.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Print a Whistle

Normally they talk about whistle blowing, but in this case it's all about whistle printing. It's my first (semi) complex 3D printed object. It looks quite good and I'm in progress on cleaning up the internal support needed for printing.

At this hour I don't dare to blow it, I'm sure my neighbours would not like sound. Ah well, I'll clean it up and then use it later. This whistle even has 3d printed pebble in..

 Another picture of some items I printed yesterday.. Just trying to get to know the software, settings and to learn what this thing can do.
Sometime soon I'd need to start making my own designs and print them. But at this point it's easier for me to use premade STL files.

Things I'd need to do are: Easier adjustment for Z-height. Some kind of filament holder (wheel?) and then start to make spare parts for this machine for possible need and/or selling them to someone wanting to make similar machine.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Artistic impression

These printer settings are still a bit faulty, cause the final result is more artistic rendering,  than technically correct. But the resulting Pla -printed white snowflake is anyhow such a nice item that I think I have by accident solved my X-mas gifts/cards for this season.

On a technical note. This softness partially comes due fact of printer head being bit too high from the build platform, thus allowing the extruded plastic too much room to wiggle side by side.. Also there seem to be some technical issues on printer itself, the Z-axis bearings seems somehow gotten loose at one end. I have no idea how that happen, but I'll better fix em before trying again.

PS: For those interested... the original STL source file used for 3d print is freely available here, thanks for the designer.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My Huxy prints

With some IRC help and testing, I got the printer to work late last night.

First test 'cube' .. 10*10*5mm. Quite a small print, but it's definite progress. Next things are calibration, testing and tidying up the wires. At the moment the machine looks quite scary.

Monday, 14 November 2011

No more Dynamic template

For some reason the dynamic template messed up the entries so I had to move back to old-style blog.

Short update: The microcontroller board seems to be working fine, now wiring it to Huxley. I hope to get my first printing attempts later today.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Solderng Sanginloulu, video #2

Next part of building the Huxley is making the micro controller board. I have all the parts and printed instructions so it should go quite smoothly. I have done soldering before, and I think it's a bit like driving a bike, learned once, you'll never forget.

  This time I try to record the progress with my mobile phone. It's a bit older model and it does not support 720P properly (only about 15fps), so I'll record this one on 480W. I do hope I'll get clean audio this time, and try to keep myself out of the picture.

I'll need to cut/FF quite a lot. Can't expect anyone wanting to spend 1 and half hour watching me soldering and ranting some random ideas.  :-)

Video is visible at the Youtube. There are still a lot to learn about AV recording and editing, but I think I dare to publish this one.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Learn and improve Vblogging

There are plenty of things that definitely could be better, but at this time I'll try to keep on commenting my earlier attempt of Vblogging, which I tried to start at 9th. And with reasonably honest opinion I think that there were painfully obvious problems on Audio, Video, Content, Delivery and Production..
Easiest to fix to acceptable hobbyist level seems to be Video quality. Even though the camera (40eur 720p minithingy) makes ok video at bright, the indoors had way too little light. I'm sure there will be some color issues with those cheap lights I use, but getting rid of grain and noise in picture should help a lot.

Audio. One of the first things to do is to remember remove battery of the wall clock, it's way too close to optimal camera location. Also external microphone seems to be more-or less mandatory item for getting decent sound quality and isolation from background noises. As a stopgap I could try to use my home PC for sound recording and combine it with video at editor, but I think I'd prefer to have video camera with external microphone support.

Content, well the content is the King. And even though I do hope on having enough interesting ideas and stuff for plenty of blogging there may well be some work to do for organisation and definition. I have no intention to go as far as writing down the lines and read them from paper, since that would definitely ruin the feeling...

Delivery, especially the voice. I have 2 possibilities to think of. Use my native tongue (Finnish) with subtitles at English or try to get by with my exotic accent. I think I should stick to English, as it is much more widely understood and many native ain't too hot on subtitled material. Some words ain't easy, but I do hope my pronounciation is good enough.

Production. Like trying to learn how to use equipment and the software I have here. With frugal budget, one can't expect to have all premade or high end... so some improvisation, work and ideas still needed. Learning to use video editor better could definitely be a good idea, also should consider location/shoot backgrounds... I know that with this size apartment, it'll most likely require me to tidy up  -- So not all of this is a loss :-)

Friday, 11 November 2011

First Post

 ... and also first lame joke.. :-)

So, today is 11.11.11... I was supposed to start this blog couple days ago with an introduction video, but after spending hours with video editing software I decided that the material I shot at 9th november was definitely not good enough for any serious release. Perhaps I'll let you see it in some distant future at Blooper-reel, but not now.

What is this DIYTao and why it perhaps deserves a blog? Important quesiton I know, and I'm not sure if I even have any decent answer. Somehow the idea of this blog started while watching videos of EEVBlog, and thinking of ideas and projects I might share amongst other people. And since I also become interested on 3D printing (especially RepRap systems) and 3d object design I've decided that I might try to make some kind of publicly available lab notes of my projects.

Starting with RepRap.. I'm in middle of building my own printer, it's Huxley type (yet unnamed) machine, that I purchased via IndieGoGo. I have got most of mechanics and printing system in place, next project is to solder the micro controller board and do final system wiring and testing. I hope to get first usable prints (and videos) done within a week.

Besides 3D printing, I'm likely to talk/write will be hobby electronics, some board design tricks/trips, photography, some reverse engineering and hacking. Home made DIY fixes and frugal projects with various materials, recycling, repairing and renevation.