3D Printering: Electronics Boards

If you’re gearing up to build a 3D printer, one of the first things you’ll need to look at is your options for electronics boards. Whether you decide to optimize for cost or capability, the choices you make during the planning stages of your build will drastically affect what the final project will look like and how it will behave.

There are a ton of electronics boards out there, so for this installation of 3D Printering, we’re going to take a look at what’s available. Hit the link below to give Hackaday more pageviews read the rest.

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An interview with [David] of Ultimaker

cura

After interviewing the creator of Slic3r and the folks at Shapeways, [Andrew] is back again with his adventures in 3D printer videography and an interview with [David Braam] of Ultimaker

About a year ago, [David] looked at the state of the art in 3D printer control and Replicator G. While Replicator G, along with Pronterface and Repetier-Host both convert 3D models into G-code files as well as control the printer while its squeezing plastic out onto a bed. [David] thought the current state of these RepRap host programs were janky at best, and certainly not the best user experience for any home fabricator. This lead him to create Cura, a very slick and vastly improved piece of host software for the Ultimaker.

Cura isn’t just a fancy front end on an already existing slicer engine; [David] created his own slicing algorithm to turn .STL files into G-code that’s immensely faster than skeinforge. Where skeinforge could take an hour to slice a complex model, Cura does the same job in minutes.

There are also a bunch of cool features available in Cura: you can rotate any part before sending it to the printer, as well as pulling voxels directly from your Minecraft world and sending them to your printer. Very, very cool stuff, and if you’re running a Ultimaker or any other RepRap, you might want to check it out.

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Midwest RepRap Festival

We’re a US-centric site, but aside from events in New York or California, we don’t see many hacker, maker, or 3D printer events aimed at the parts of the country filled with corn and WalMarts. The 1st annual Midwest RepRap Festival aims to change that with enough events, speakers, and activities to make Elkhart, Indiana look like the hoppingist place around.

Officially, the festival started yesterday but the schedule of events really ramps up today. [Josef Prusa] will be taking the stage talking about the state of the RepRap, and a ton of 3d printing vendors will be there showing off their wares and selling some really cool stuff. There’s also tons of experienced RepRappers available to help you tune your machine to perfection; just as well, because the festival is going for the world record for the greatest number of 3D printers printing simultaneously.

If you’re around northern Indiana, you might want to check out the festival and send us a few pics or videos.

An industrial RepRap

rep

It may just be another 3D printer, but [Jonas] and [Simon]‘s Kühling & Kühling RepRap Industrial is a cross between a work of art and a beautiful machine tool. It also looks to be a pretty nice 3D printer, to boot.

The Kühling RepRap is built out of 20mm t-slot aluminum with plastic sides that keep the machine’s internals at a toasty 70° C, just about the optimal temperature for making large, complex prints. The machine has two extruders with all the cables tucked away in 3D printed cable carriers. One really interesting bit of innovation is the tool less belt t tensioning system.

On the list of upcoming features, [Jonas] and [Simon] say they want to add a touch screen controller powered by a Raspberry Pi, and a controller that’s even more capable than RAMPS electronics boards. No word on how much a Kühling & Kühling RepRap will cost, but like any quality-looking tool, we don’t expect it to be cheap.

Midwest RepRap Festival

midwest-reprap-meetup

Midwesterner’s should take note — here’s an event that’s happening somewhere other than New York or California! We jest, of course there are great events in the Midwestern states every year, like the Kanasas City or Detroit Maker Faires. This event puts focus on 3D printing. The Midwest RepRap Festival will be held in Elkhart, Indian March 15-17, 2013. Despite the name, the event is meant to encompass all things involved with any brand, make, or variety of 3D printing.

The owners of a local business called The Royal Phoenix have opened their doors for the weekend. Organizers have arranged for [Josef Prusa] and [Johnny R] to speak. There will also be build events (one session will show the build process of the MendelMax 2.0) so feel free to bring your own equipment for help with construction or getting it dialed in.

There is no registration fee, or tickets. But it would be best if you did fill out the questionnaire so they have some semblance of how many people might be coming.

Touchscreen control for a Reprap

display

After you’ve got your Reprap running smoothly with acceptable resolution and good quality prints, the next order of business for any 3D printer hobbyist is headless printing. While the greatest and newest 3D printers come with controls to allow jogging, homing, temperature control, and printing from an SD card, the home-built versions will require an add-on attached to the electronics board. [Marco] has been spending his time improving the character LCD control panel projects we’ve seen for Repraps with an awesome graphical version that emulates the control interface found in the Pronterface control software.

The biggest problem with adding a control interface to a Reprap is the number of pins available on the electronics board. While an electronics board like RAMPS has enough spare I/O pins to drive a display, other boards such as the Sanguinololu and the Melzi are extremely limited in their expansibility. To get around this limitation, [Marco] used a 4D Systems serial touchscreen display.

This display only requires two pins to fully interact with a printer running the Marlin firmware; the graphical processing, communication, and SD card access is handled by the on-board PICASO micocontroller, leaving the ATMega on the electronics board free for important things like printing stuff out of plastic.

[Marco] has a git full of modified Marlin firmware and firmware for the 4D Systems display. There’s also a neat printed case for the display, making a very professional-looking standalone controller a weekend project instead of a months-long ordeal.

Thanks [Antonio] for sending this one in.

Hackaday Links: September 21, 2012

And then Obi-wan said, “you were supposed to be the chosen one!”

Yesterday, a little bird told us Makerbot will be moving to a closed source model for their newest printer. This was confirmed, and now [Zach Smith] a.k.a. [Hoeken] – creator of the RepRap Research Foundation and co-founder of Makerboth Industries is weighing in with his take on the situation.

Hey! Free stuff!

Remember that DIP28 ARM chip with BASIC? Remember how I told you Coridium will be giving a few hundred away as samples? Yeah, that’s happening now.

Replacing a scroll wheel with titanium

[Rhett] has been using a Logitech mouse for a few years now. Recently the scroll wheel became corroded, so [Rhett] replaced it with a titanium version. The perfect match for the trusty battle axe, theIBM Model M keyboard.

Web-based IDE for the Raspi

[Phil Torrone] sent in a video of something he and [ladyada] are working on. It’s a web-based IDE for the Raspberry Pi. We’ll do a full review of this when it’s released.

Intro to software defined radio

So you have one of those TV tuner dongles and want to get in to software defined radio. Where do you start? [Al Williams] over at Dr. Dobbs has a great introduction to SDR, and gives a few pointers that should help you get that cool looking waterfall plot very quickly. Thanks for sending this in, [Chris].