Midwest RepRap Festival


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


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].

3D printer control for the Raspi

Instead of dedicating his laptop to control his RepRap all night, [Walter] is using a Raspberry Pi as an Internet-enabled front end for his 3D printer.

Before [Walter] got his hands on a Raspberry Pi, he set up his laptop next to his RepRap and let the machine do its work for hours on end. Obviously, this tied up his laptop for a while so when his Raspi was delivered he was eager to offload the responsibilities of controlling a printer to his new Linux board.

Right now, [Walter] has his Raspberry Pi set up as a web interface able to control his printer similar to Pronterface. We have to note that the Raspberry Pi isn’t driving servos or feeding filament onto the bed; those responsibilities are still handled by the RepRap electronics, but the ability to use a 3D printer over the web is still pretty cool.

[Walter] is putting the finishing touches on his 3D printer web interface, after which he’ll upload everything onto the git. Planned features for future updates include uploading gcode from the web and an option to connect a webcam for visual feedback when controlling a remote printer.

Video demo after the break.

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Multicolor print head allows RepRap to print rainbows

Multicolor 3D printers have been around for a while, but most of these machines – like the Makerbot Replicator – suffer from alignment problems and the inability to mix colors on the fly. [RichRap] came up with an interesting solution to this problem by having three filament extruders feed into a single hot end, allowing him to change and mix colors on the fly.

To print in multiple colors, [RichRap] developed a three-extruder x carriage that sends colored filament to a single hot end. Unlike the Makerbot Replicator, [Rich]‘s extruder can mix and blend different colors into each layer of a print.

The electronics portion of the build, [RichRap] controlled the X, Y, and Z axes of his printer with a RAMPS board, but used a slightly modified Sanguinololu board for the extruder motors. A single motor driver for the extruders is connected to a trio of toggle switches, allowing [RichRap] to switch between filaments on the fly.

[Rich] has a very cool build on his hands, but it’s far from a perfect solution. Right now, any one of the three colors can be used to print, but printing with two or three colors simultaneously requires a change in the firmware. We expect someone to solve this problem in the near future, allowing the holy grail of a CMYK print head to come to fruition.

You can see a demo video of [RichRap]‘s tri-color print head after the break.

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Help us decide if this huge reprap array is the largest fleet to date


Take a minute to think about what your dream job might be.

Done imagining you are a ridiculously wealthy bachelor?  Good.

Back here in the real world, [Caleb Cover] has come into what might be one of the coolest hacking-related jobs we’ve seen in awhile. He recently snagged a gig working for Aleph Objects as the fleet master for a large array of 3D printers. His duties include the care and feeding of 30 MiniMax-style repraps, a job description we sure wouldn’t mind having.

Aside from merely gloating about his newfound employment, [Caleb] wrote in asking if we knew of a reprap setup larger than the one he is responsible for. We couldn’t come up with one, but perhaps you can.

Right now, [Caleb] says that he’s working on seeing how well the machines can produce parts to replicate themselves, which will certainly make this the largest collective set of production 3D printers sooner or later.

While you hunt down other large reprap setups at your monotonous desk job, check out the video below to hear the symphony of 3D printing that greets [Caleb] at the door each day.

Think you might have seen a 3D printing setup more massive than this one?  Pics Vids or it didn’t happen.  Seriously, we want to see em!

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Toorcamp: Type A Machines

Type A Machines designs and builds 3D printers in San Francisco. [Miloh], one of the founders, brought two of their flagship Series 1 printers to Toorcamp. He printed out a variety of models including water tight cups and quadcopter arms.

The RepRap Arduino MEGA Pololu Shield (RAMPS) is used to drive the stepper motors for each axis, as well as the extruder. This is attached to an Arduino MEGA running the Marlin RepRap firmware. Type A Machines ships the printer with Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament, which is biodegradable.

On software side, you start with a 3D model in STL format. This can be exported from 3D software such as Google SketchUp or Autodesk 123D. You then need a slicer to generate G-code and machine control software to command the printer. [Miloh] used Slic3r and Repetier for his workflow, but he also pointed out a good summary of 3D printer workflows.

The Series 1 was launched at the Bay Area Maker Faire this past May. It has a print volume of 1200 mL, which is the largest print volume of any desktop printer around. The Series 1 brings another option into the low-cost 3D printer market.