Awesome get together

Had a great time meeting everyone with the helping hands project, and the kids today in Chapel Hill. These are some amazing and wonderful kids!  They had food, and games for the kids along with a bounce house.  

Then they were able to try the two electromechanical hands we have been working on, and that too was a huge hit. I got some amazing and insightful feedback and I'm ready to start on version two of the hand with what I learned.  

Then we broke out the 3D scanners and scanned some of the kids stumps, and also their heads. The first was to make custom fitted arms and hands, the second was so we could 3D print little busts of them.  

I am so glad I got involved with this project, it's so much fun.  

Update on what's been happening with me

I know a lot of people realize that I've had some health issues lately.  Well I've decided that I'm not going to try and be coy about it, I was diagnosed with Prostate cancer back in January and have been working with an Oncologist here in High Point. 

I recently created a site for friends and family who would like to keep up with what's going on, that way I'm not flooding this blog with those updates, I want to keep this focused on my projects, the Arduino class and other really fun stuff :)

You can go to MyLifeline Site and see what's going on, and if you want to comment or give support you can sign up as well.

Thanks to everyone who's helped me get this far, and I know that I've got some of the best friends in the world now I've gotten so much support and encouragement.


Tour To Tanglewood!

I've been volunteering at the Tour To Tanglewood for the past few years as a Ham Radio operator to help provide communications for the riders and organizers.

I miss being able to participate in riding in the event and raising money, but I think the need of the Ham operators is a bigger help to the Tour.

But I found out that not only can I do my Ham Operator volunteer work, I can actually raise money for MS by being a Virtual Rider!  So this year I've registered to do both, and I'm joining the Team that is organized by a co-worker Matt Aloi and supported by our company Inmar.

So if you want to help some people who can really use it please click here and donate whatever you can to the Tour to Tanglewood!!




Just wanted to update anyone who is interested, I had some surgery on 6/5 and things have gone well. I'm slowly getting better and drove for the first time for a short distance today. Still bothers me to sit in a car for any period of time. 

My abdomen is still stiff and sore in spots, but overall everything is healing well. I started rehab exercises on Monday, and while things are going slower than I hoped I am improving.

Thanks for the prayers and messages, I do appreciate it, and I hope I'll be back to normal soon. 

Hexapod is running!

Took some time this weekend to work on my Hexy hexapod.  I've been playing with this for a year or two after getting it in a kickstarter, got frustrated and put it away for a while.  Had some ideas to get it to run better (mostly because of power issues) and implemented them this weekend.

It's working fantastic (well except for a few stripped servo gears) when it's wired, but wirelessly it's extremely jerky and it's missing commands.  So the next steps are to replace the servo gears with carbon ones, and replace the controller with an updated one and install an Arduino as it's 'brain' to send the commands over serial so there's no wireless delay. Then I'll use a PS3 controller to control it and it should work awesome.

More Bumblebee stuff

At dinner tonight I got to thinking about the best way to power the Raspberry Pi and it came to me.  A very simple, effective, and inexpensive solution.

Instead of using a 7805 regulator I am using a BEC that normally I use in my RC airplanes.  The one I have right now is rated at 5 amps at either 5 or 6v.  Sure enough when I wired it up to the Pi everything started up just fine and I'm running some test prints just to be sure, but I think it's going to work out great.

It even has a low voltage alert in case for any reason it stops getting the clean 5v, and it has filtering and smooth regulated power for the Pi.  Best part is they only cost about $6 and install in a flash.

So all I have left is to cleanly mount it and the wiring, then make a board for the lights and add switches to them both so I can turn the lights off and on, and install my emergency stop switch that will kill all power to the motors and the Rambo board in case of a  mechanical issue.

Bumblebee II is running again

I finally got both my printers running again, the Hippie was pretty easy, it just needed a new hotend as the thermistor on the current one (which is over a year old) broke.

The Bumblebee II I was switching back to the E3D V6 hotend, and I was finally able to get it to print reliably and consistently.  I think the whole issue was related to my extruder, up until a few months ago I had been using a Maker Gear geared extruder and it had tons of torque so adjusting it wasn't that critical.  I switched to a Bulldog XL after the planetary gear was worn out in the Maker Gear extruder, and I had been struggling with getting consistent prints.  Half way through the print the filament would stop feeding, or it would strip it out.  I did some experiments with temperature and filament tension on the Bulldog and finally got the right settings.  I have to run the E3D a little hotter probably because of the active cooling, but the prints have been coming out great finally.

I started working on the onboard power system for the lighting and the Raspberry Pi and the lighting sections are working fine, but the Pi doesn't seem to be working correctly.  I need to pull out a monitor and keyboard and test it tonight, I'm not sure if it's not delivering enough current, but I also ordered 1.5a 7812 and 7805 chips from Mouser just so they won't run as hot.

Latest update

Well since I didn't go to the maker faire I started doing a lot of long awaited fixes and upgrades to my Bumblebee II printer.  I'm putting the E3D V6 hot end back on it, building a regulator board to provide power for the Raspberry PI, and power for the lighting so I won't need separate power adapters.  I'll only have one power cord going forward.  I also am going to do the same thing for the Hippie so it too will only have the single power cord.

I'm toying with the idea of converting the Bumblebee to a Bowden extruder, I've got all the components except I need to print the extruder itself and the Bowden mount.  I think once I get some other things printed that I need to get down that'll be the next thing, then dual extrusion.

I have a prusa I3 kit to build, but it's going to be a group build with the robotics class so they can learn about 3d printers more, and we haven't gotten that scheduled yet.  But I've been going through the kit and looking at the parts and I have to say I'm very impressed for a $320 kit.  The only thing I think I'll be changing is using a RAMPS and a graphic LCD instead of the melzi, but I might try experimenting with the Melzi first to get the auto-bed leveling working.

I am also going to start building my 3DR rostock printer, which I'm very excited about.  That thing is just going to be a blast I think :)

Burlington Mini Maker Faire

Unfortunately due to work I am not going to be able to present at the Maker Faire.  It's a bummer because I had some nice signs setup for the display, and I was really looking forward to scanning people.

Burlington Mini Maker Faire

Work has been very busy lately, and that combined with the upcoming Maker Faire I haven't had a lot of chances to work on much.  I still need to make some minor fixes to my printers to prepare for Saturday, and I have to make some signs and start printing out the Yoda heads :)

I have ordered another printer, this is actually a kit from Banggood for an acrylic Prusa I3.  I'm going to add a heated bed to it and we'll see how well it performs.

I have also been working on cleaning up my two workshops at my house in preparation for the Laser Cutter build.  I've finally got the last parts I needed (the laser tube, power supply and controller) so I'm ready to start the assembly.  The first step is to hook up all the electronics and make sure that's all working, then I'll be starting on the frame.  I still haven't decided what material to use for the panels, but I might get some panels from Inventables to use.

Then I have my Rostock 3DR to put together, I've had all the parts, but again no place to build it.  I had let my workbench get cluttered and it's just not good to try and put together a printer in a cluttered workspace :)

I also want to put together my 1.75 extruder for filament, and also the chopper so I can do colors more consistently.