Archive for June, 2018

AMPduino [from 2011 Draft]

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Another unpublished post dredged out of the distant past — this one apparently complete.

Soon after I got my friend Cort hooked on the Arduino, he said he wished he could easily carry it to the office to play with over lunch, to the tire shop to work on while he waited, etc. I offered him three-ring binders and boxed cases, but that wasn’t quite what he was looking for.

AMPduino case

After some discussion, we settled on an empty plastic case from a videocassette. I visited our Media Resources department, had their video director help me scrounge up a suitably large case (Cort says “U-Matic 3/4″ helical scan”), and updated the labeling.

AMPduino case, inside

Cort cut out the spindle posts and then stickied down the Arduino, a couple of breadboards, and some other things useful for prototyping and now does all of his development with the AMPduino. Handy for the workbench, the kitchen table, and the tire shop.

Filament De-Dusting for the MakerBot CupCake [from 2013 Draft]

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

I’ve just found this post I had started drafting in December 2013 and hadn’t finished. The remarks about reliability and long periods of disuse are still pertinent — this was one month before the last time I attempted to use it — as is the dust solution.

In the four and a half years I’ve owned my MakerBot CupCake 3D printer, I’ve never had it working well enough to use for more than a week or two at a time. My real frustration has been a lack of understanding what has failed and how to fix it, so much so that it’s been almost two years since I most recently gave up and put it away. [Written in December 2013, and I haven't used it since January 2014.] I know there are newer, more reliable printers on the market; but it sure seems like it should be possible to get the CupCake to work reliably, if I’m willing to upgrade critical parts.

In the intervening time [meaning 2011 to 2013], my friend Joel has run some prints for me on his Thing-O-Matic. Recently while chatting over a print in progress and checking whether the filament was jammed (solution: his build platform’s aluminum heat spreader was bolted tightly around all the edges, expanding when hot, bulging up in the middle progressively over an afternoon of attempted printing, and blocking the nozzle which was enough to jam things up), he mentioned that his nozzle had jammed to the point that he couldn’t even push filament through by hand with pliers (yes, my problem exactly) and that he had solved it (oh???).


Joel had disassembled his extruder and lightly drilled most of the filament out of his clogged nozzle with an undersized bit, as I had in the past; then soaked out the rest of the plastic with acetone, as I had also. But when removing the clogged filament, Joel noticed it was quite dirty and made the mental connection with dust on the filament. When he reassembled, he added a toothbrush to wipe dust off the filament on its way in and has also made a point to keep his supply bagged and/or boxed. Since then (and until the expanding heat spreader), he’s had no further troubles with clogging.

This is not a new issue, but I had never heard anyone indicate it had so completely jammed their nozzles that their extruder wouldn’t extrude.

And it fixed my CupCake. Mostly. For a while.

Filament-wiping sponge holder, freshly printed


New Tray for Fischertechnik Computing Box

Monday, June 18th, 2018

My weekend’s entertainment was making this wooden tray to hold the parts from an Apple ][ era engineering construction toy.


I’m Not Dead Yet

Monday, June 18th, 2018

I see I haven’t posted for three years. Well.

I started this blog to share what I was working on with a handful of close friends, rather than email the same thing to each. I don’t recall that commercial blog hosting was prevalent at the time like it is now; I was at a different place in my career and finances were tighter; and I already had my own domain and ran my own server; so I just set up WordPress at home. In the basement. On my DSL connection. Where it still is.

The WordPress software uploaded the fact that I was blogging and I started getting picked up by Google. I did a few projects of interest and got a few more readers than I expected.

For a while, I had a generous arrangement to host my image files elsewhere, offloading that bandwidth from my home broadband; but that came to an end a while back. The combination of increased bandwidth requirements (making ultra-slow load times) and an increasingly busy schedule has meant no posting for quite a while.

I’ve been looking into migrating the blog to commercial hosting and Ed Nisley has generously shared information about his hosting service and their capabilities, which sounds like just what I need. I’m hoping to get that migration underway sometime soon … which might mean inside the next three years.

Meanwhile, maybe I’ll do some posting again. Images will be horribly slow to load; but anyone who wants to read can read and anyone who doesn’t is under no obligation.