Mar 20

3D Update

Over the last few weeks, the stringing problem kept going with the 3D printer. And of course, that caused things like the printing head snagging on a piece after 12 hours and dragging it off the bed…

Not great timing. I did reprint and it worked, this time with the experimental tree support structures which look really neat mid-print:

That orientation was pants though, so for the next segment, it was rotated through 90 degrees:

That worked much better.

Of course, when trying to plug one into the other…

Well, sod.
Print another in the right orientation though and…

Mind you, snapping those together was right on the edge of breaking them and it seems like PLA is *not* the right material. Also, that was the last of my first reel of PLA – I came within an inch or two of running out mid-print:

So I got some more, this time not from Creality because a lot of internet experts were sure that creality filament was the source of reliability issues with prints. So eSUN is the new hotness:

First up, as this is PLA+ not PLA, a new temperature tower…

Final layer stuck to the head, but that’s okay, it’s expected that the print ends in failure because you’re looking for limits.

Looks grand under the magnifying glass. 210C it is so I think. Calibration cat time!

And now I have a cover for the end of the Y axis bar as well. I also printed off a light bar to hold some LEDs for lighting….

And then printed a centerfinder/caliper setting gauge that I’ve been trying to print for ages.

The idea being it can be a centerfinder for spindle turning and give you preset (in 5mm increments) references to set a turning caliper off of. Handy.

But for the dust extraction stuff, it looks like both PLA and PLA+ are non-runners. There’s no flex in them so when you push hose segments together, they’ll snap in half rather than flex a little and snap together. So I ordered some PETG as well, but ordered the refil instead of the reel by mistake (eSUN does refillable reels) so now I get to print off a filament reel using filament and this is getting a tad meta…

Two sides down, one hub printing now, and then I can change filament over to PETG, print off a temperature test tower, and get back to dust collection parts.

BTW, finding that blue tape on glass is a much more successful surface than the ones I’ve tried so far. Even hairspray didn’t help much.

More pressing on the 3D front though is that the setup is currently the jankiest setup I’ve janked in a very long time.

That’s three separate power lines in that photo, between the ender3’s PSU, the lab PSU and the raspberry Pi. There needs to be some rewiring, but since all this is getting moved off its desk when the nice man from Ikea arrives, I’ve just not done it yet. (This whole room has to become a home office for two people now, so the printer is going to its own table in the corner).

I have, however, switched over to using OctoPi to drive the ender, and it’s marvellous, it’s where all those timelapse videos come from for a start. It also gives a browser UI to control the printer and monitor its progress via a webcam (a repurposed PS3 Eye in this case because I had one and they’re cheap as chips, but the Raspberry Pi camera and a few others are supported too).

Oh, and I even managed to print a dial indicator holder finally. So. Progress 😀

But next up, moving all of this, rewiring all of this, possibly enclosing all of this and generally a metric buttload of changes. So, y’know, that dust extraction system may take longer than planned. But these days, that’s the standard state of affairs…

Mar 20

Hunkering down.

Lots of changes going on at the moment. That’s the nature of sharp transitions – lots of work to get over that step change and then we can settle in. In our case, we’re lucky, mostly we’re having to buy stuff we’d planned to buy over a few months in a few days, set up the home office so both of us can work from there (buying from Ikea instead of making stuff, the horror!) and doing the five million cleanup tasks round the place that normally we can ignore because we’re not here all the time. And the home schooling of course. That’s more a challange because we have to also do day jobs, and the gained time from not commuting every day isn’t quite enough to make up the gap. Oh well.

On the fun side, it does mean a few tools for the shed got bought ahead of schedule (and there might still be one or two more in the next few days depending on how things shake out).

Nothing fancy here, but damn useful…

So now I can do some new things with the lathe. With a bradpoint bit, it just looks like you could make things like cord pulls, but with the fostner bits, you can make little vases and the like.

This wasn’t strictly needed, but it was going for so little and it’s so damn pretty…

What can I say? Tools. They’re a weakness 😀

The hockey pucks arrived as well, and I drilled out a 10mm hole in them, they’ll replace that spacer nut and add some vibration damping into the mix as well.

It’s a bit of a pain to do that job without socket drivers, and I’ve put mine down somewhere and haven’t been able to find them. As usual 😀

Also got that shelf drilled out for all the bits and pieces I have to worry about at the moment (though there’s a wider set of jaws on the way as well, and two new toolrests because that tiny short one is an absolute pain in the fundament when roughing out a spindle. Those 30-year-old record and coronet lathes from the woodworking course have spoiled me 😀 ).

All that stuff would have been ordered over the next 4-5 months, but feck it, our essential supply lines have to take priority right now which means food, medical supplies and equipment and the other essential things. Woodworking tools are not really on that list. And the small companies I’m ordering from could use the cash right now.

Looking a bit tidier now at least, and a couple of calipers arrived as well.

Now I need to figure out how to get 12V out of the power supply for the lathe.

A bit of reverse engineering may be needed here. Or I could use one of the small mains power supplies and just tap into the mains power in here. I don’t want too many mains cables running around the place and batteries are right out.

Last project from the woodturning class. With the schools now closed, that’s the last project from the course we’ll be doing for a while 🙁 But the course may be able to send on homework, and I have all the tools and enough to be getting on with, so as problems go, these don’t even count as problems right now.

The next few months – if not the next year and a bit – are going to be the Interesting Times from the old curse. Humans are creatures of habit and most habits take one to two months to change fundamentally. The odds of this lockdown ending before then seem quite slim; which means on the far side of this, we’ll have an entire global population that has gotten used to working from home where possible, to the idea that the internet is a utility rather than a luxury, that the way we lived up until 1100h last Thursday was not the only way you can live and that all the old “we can’t afford it” reasons given against things like universal free healthcare, universal basic income, flexible working and so on, are all false and always were. Forgiving all student loans in the US would have cost $1.4 trillion and was “impossible” and “ridiculous” before last week. The Americans dumped $1.5 trillion into the market a few days ago to try to stop the dow jones freefall. It bought them 15 minutes of calm before the freefall resumed. They didn’t even ask anyone before doing it. “Impossible” and “ridiculous” were rather laid bare at that point.

And since this pandemic is likely to kill a huge number of people, those kinds of lessons are likely to be copper-fastened into peoples’ minds by tragedy, so the odds of them being rolled back may be lower than the cynic in me thinks.

If so, you’d wonder what else is going to be different in the new world we walk out of this lockdown into.

Mar 20


Well. Isn’t this an odd place to be in.

So we saw SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19 coming at us a few weeks out thanks to medical twitter, but like most things of this nature, no matter how much warning you get, it still hits before you’re ready for it. $DAYJOB had closed offices in affected areas some time ago, and were encouraging anyone who wanted to work from home to do so in Dublin for a while and we were preparing for a sudden closure – things like planning what we needed to bring home from the office, when we’d pull Calum out of school, that sort of thing. We did a slightly heavier shop on the weekend than normal so we had two weeks of food in the house so we could just close the door and not go anywhere while we waited to see what happened next or if we developed symptoms.

And then 24 hours before our plan was to kick in, events overtook plans and the entire country was told to go home, isolate themselves from everyone outside the house, and slow the spread of the virus. And since not everyone watches medical twitter or worries for a hobby, this came as a bit of a shock and people resorted to the emergency behaviour that worked for earlier emergencies which had interrupted supply lines (like heavy snow and brexit). Cue heavy demand for toilet paper as the entire nation collectively loses its, well, shit. That’ll pass over a few days as the retail sector proves (becuase few are listening to mere words) that we’ve had two years of worry over brexit and supply lines which led to a lot of increased robustness and buffer sizes, so that’s not going to be a problem. Meanwhile, I can save all my energy to worrying about what happens next, because, y’know, everyone needs a hobby.

The thing is, while this virus is about as dangerous as walking across the motorway unassisted, what we are watching is the certain death of the world we were living in up until Thursday morning (and which has been dying in a wave spreading out from Wuhan like a wave for the last five months). This pandemic doesn’t look like it’s going to be a short sprint affair, the nearest vaccine is a year or so out. Sociopathic plans of gaining herd immunity with a live virus aside, we’re stuck with massive disruption until then. That’s going to result in fundamental changes to life as we knew it. Before 9/11, I sat in the jump seat behind the captain of the 737 landing us back in Dublin airport after a flight from the UK, just for asking to do so, and that was normal. After 9/11, asking would get you on a security list or two, if not actually arrested. Even if the pandemic magically stopped right now, it’s already had an impact an order of magnitude larger than 9/11, both in lives and societies and economies. To imagine we’ll go back to the normal we knew last week is somewhat overly optimistic.

As to what actually happens after the entire world gets an object lesson in how the universe doesn’t have any regard for ideology or politics, and how you can’t cut funding from healthcare for decades and still save everyone when a new disease hits (something that climate change was predicted to increase the frequency of some time ago), and how voting in people who aren’t competent to do important jobs can bite you down the line — well, that’s the interesting bit in May you live in Interesting Times, isn’t it?

Good luck everyone. Hope we’re all here in a year laughing at how this thing was a huge overreaction. But for now, I’m staying home.


Hey, at least I can still go to the shed…

BTW, in case you’ve not seen this already: