Hackaday Prize Entry: Modular Stepper Control

Stepper motors are a great solution for accurate motion control. You’ll see them on many 3D printer designs since they can precisely move each axis. Steppers find uses in many robotics projects since they provide high torque at low speeds.

Since steppers are used commonly used for multi-axis control systems, it’s nice to be able to wire multiple motors back to a single controller. We’ve seen a few stepper control modules in the past that take care of the control details and accept commands over SPI, I2C, and UART. The AnanasStepper 2.0 is a new stepper controller that uses CAN bus for communication, and an entry into the 2017 Hackaday Prize.

A CAN bus has some benefits in this application. Multiple motors can be connected to one controller via a single bus. At low bit rates, it can work on kilometer long busses. The wiring is simple and cheap: two wires twisted together with no shielding requirements. It’s also designed to be reliable in high noise environments such as cars and trucks.

The project aims to implement an API that will allow control from many types of controllers including Arduino, Linux CNC, several 3D printer controllers, and desktop operating systems. With a few AnanasSteppers one of these controllers, you’d be all set up for moving things on multiple axes.

Sexiest Tiny Metal Core-XY 3D Printer

That’s a lot of qualifications, but we’re pretty sure that you can’t accuse us of hyperbole in the title: this is one of the tightest little 3D printer builds we’ve ever seen. Add in the slightly esoteric CoreXY kinematics and the thick aluminum frame, and it’s a speed demon in addition to being a looker.

[René] had built a few 3D printers before, so he had a good feel for the parameters and design tradeoffs before he embarked on the DICE project. Making a small print volume, for instance, means that the frame can be smaller and thus exponentially more rigid. This means that it’s capable of very fast movements — 833 mm/s is no joke! It also looks to make very precise little prints. What could make it even more awesome? Water-cooled stepper motors, magnetic interchangeable printheads, and in-built lighting.

The build looks amazing, and there is video documentation of the whole thing on [René]’s site, including a full bill of materials and designs. It’s certainly not the cheapest 3D printer we’ve ever seen, and the tiny build platform makes it a bad choice for a general-purpose machine, but if you need a second printer and you want one with style, the DICE looks hard to beat.

Thanks [Laimonus Mockus] for the tip!

Hackaday Prize Entry: MCXY – Mini Laser Cut Aluminum 3D Printer

With the easy availability of cheap and 3D printers from the usual Chinese websites, you might think that there could be little room for another home-made 3D printer project. fortunately, the community of 3D printer making enthusiasts doesn’t see it that way.

[Bobricius] has a rather nice 3D printer design in the works that we think you’ll like. It follows the MakerBot/Ultimaker style of construction in that it is a box rather than a gantry, and it is assembled from CNC-cut aluminum for a sturdy and pleasing effect. Whar sets it apart though is its size, at only 190x190x251mm and with an 80x80x80mm print volume, it’s tiny. You might wonder why that could be an asset, but when you consider that he already has a much larger printer it becomes obvious that something small and portable for quick tiny prints could be an asset.

Unusually for a home-made 3D printer, it has no 3D printed parts, instead, it is laser cut throughout. And also unusually all the CAD work was done in EAGLE, better known for PCB work. It’s a work in progress we’re featuring today because it’s a Hackaday Prize entry, but it looks as though the finished item will be something of a little gem.

Homemade 3D printers can be particularly impressive, for example, we’ve shown you this excellent SLA printer.

Endstops That Stay Out of the Way

In the course of building a new delta printer, [thehans] decided he needed his own endstop design that used minimal hardware. Endstops are just switches that get hit when the printer moves at the extreme of an axis, but [thehans] wanted something with a bit of refinement for his BigDelta 3D Printer build.

The result is a small unit that cradles a microswitch and needs only a single zip tie that mounts flush, resulting in a super tidy looking piece. In addition, it mounts on the delta’s v-slot rails such that the mount does not take up any of the machine’s range of motion, because the carriage can travel past it. It is a parametric design made in OpenSCAD, so feel free to modify it to accommodate other types of switches.

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MRRF 17: True Color 3D Printing

3D printing has evolved to a point where dual extrusion isn’t really that special anymore. A few years ago, a two-color frog print would have been impressive, but this isn’t the case anymore. The Midwest RepRap Festival is all about the bleeding edge of what 3D printers are capable of, and this year is no exception. This year, we were graced with a few true multicolor filament-based 3D printers. The biggest and best comes from [Daren Schwenke] and the rest of the Arcus3D crew. This printer is a full color, CMYKW mixing printer that’s able to print in any color imaginable.

The bizarre mixing hotend, powered by a brushless motor

The electronics for this printer are, to say the least, very weird. The controller board is BeagleBone Black plus a CRAMPS running Machinekit. The hotend is bizarre, feeding six PTFE tubes into a weird water-cooled assembly that mixes and squirts filament out of the nozzle with the help of a small brushless motor. Thanks to a clever design, the end effector of the hotend weighs only about 150 grams – about the same as any other delta printer out there – and this printer is able to move very fast.

Over the last year, we’ve seen a lot of improvements in the state of multi-material and multi-color extrusion for 3D printers. At last year’s Maker Faire NY, Prusa’s i3 quad extruder made an appearance alongside the ORD Solutions RoVa4D printer. These are two completely different approaches to multicolor 3D printing, with the RoVa mixing filament, and the Prusa merely extruding multiple colors. Both approaches have their merits, but mixing extruders are invariably harder to build and the software stack to produce good prints isn’t well-defined.

Even though we’re still in the early years of full-color filament-based printing, this is still an awesome result. In a few years, we’ll be able to look back on [Daren]’s efforts and see where our full-color 3D printers came from – open source efforts to create the best hardware possible.

[Daren] has been working on this printer for a while, and he’s been uploading all his project updates to hackaday.io. You can check out the build log here.

Printing Nintendo Portables With SLA

Downing] is no stranger to building portable consoles, employing all manner of techniques in the process. However, when it came time to start on this commission, [Downing] decided to take a different tack – employing a Form 2 SLA printer in this Nintendo 64 portable build.

Modifying home consoles to become portables often involves tricks like Frankencasing – hacking together original factory parts such as controllers, cases, and accessories, and using body filler and a lot of sanding to create a template for vacuum moulding, which then results in a seamless final product. It’s possible to get some really impressive results, but it does limit the builder to relying on existing parts.

By using the Form 2, [Downing] was able to take advantage of the SLA printer’s ability to create parts with good surface finish that would normally require a lot of post-print finishing when 3D printed with more common FDM technology. This was particularly useful as it allowed the creation of custom buttons and small parts that “just fit” – normally such parts are made from stock pieces that are then modified.

The build also features a few other cool features – there’s a breakout box which allows the connection of extra controllers, as well as hosting AV out for hooking up to a television. The breakout box connects to the portable over an HDMI cable. It’s a tidy choice – it’s a standard cable that has an abundance of conductors available so you don’t have to be particularly tricky to get 3 controllers and a few analog signals talking over it.

In the end, [Downing] wouldn’t use SLA printing again for the case itself – the process was too slow and expensive. In this respect, FDM may require more work after printing but it still comes out ahead in terms of time and money. But for small custom parts like buttons and structural brackets, the Form 2 is the machine for the job.

Video after the break.

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Replica Fallout Terminal

If you’ve played Fallout 4, you’re familiar with the wall-mounted terminals in the game. They’ve got a post-apocalyptic aesthetic and the glowing green screen that calls out to anyone that grew up with computers and hacker movies from the 80s and 90s. Remember the first time you set your command line text to green? Don’t be embarrassed, we were all young once.

[PowerUpProps] liked the Fallout terminal so much they developed a replica. It’s a build that leans heavily on maker standards, a Raspberry Pi and 3D printing form the basis of the terminal. With ready access to such powerful tools, it makes starting such a project much more approachable. The key to the success of this build is the fine attention to detail in the finishing – the paint job looks incredible, and when photographed appropriately, it could be mistaken for the real thing an in-game screenshot.

An interesting touch is the use of a dark green acrylic window in front of the LCD, which gives the display a tinted hue. We’d like to see this compared with a clear glass window with a classic fishbowl curve to it, combined with greening up in software. The creator readily admits that this looks great at the command line, but is somewhat of a letdown when using the GUI.

Perhaps the only thing the prop build could use is some sort of user interface — the keyboard is only 3D printed and there’s no mouse or other pointing device included. There are some creative solutions to this problem, which we often see in other Fallout projects, like the ever popular Pip-Boy replica builds.

[Thanks to Sjoerd for the tip!]