More SPEED!!!

Now that is a catchy title.

Plan B

A faster DUE based controller for Plan B is now in prototype phase. It has most of the features of a Megatronics V3, including most of the pinouts (but not all). This controller was made to get the printing speed of Plan B up to acceptable levels. With huge amounts of ram memory for buffering, and a fast, 32bit, 84MHz processor, it is orders of magnitude faster than the 8bit 16MHz Atmega 2560 the Previous controller ran on.

This new controller may get a version that is for sale. This can not only be used for Plan B, but in theory should also be usable for normal 3D printers. This might happen, but it will depend on demand and cost. Schematics and sources will be posted regardless of a version for sale.

The controller comes together with more updates and improvements. A small list of improvements:

  • Speed firmware upgrade, now printing at 150mm/s (Done)
  • Double direction printing properly implemented (Done)
  • Rolling spreader upgrade (Done)
  • Acceleration for spreader motion (Done)
  • Select files from SD card (In Progress)
  • Make Plan B converter software stand alone (Pending)

Have a video printing a single layer. First I will go to Groningen with it, then I will post the files and upgrades for a faster Plan B, and perhaps I will make a controller for sale.

Events

I will be on the Maak Festival (maker faire) in Groningen (the Netherlands), 12 April 2015 (maakfestival.nl). If you want to see Plan B in person or want to talk, Groningen will be the place.

Also I will attend the Maker Festival Twente. It is in Enschede (also the Netherlands), 30 and 31 May 2015. (makerfestivaltwente.nl)

Moving

I am moving to Enschede May this year. This means that: 1, I have more space for bigger projects but 2, I will be quite busy for a while, and so site support and projects will move a bit slower for a while.

Geodesic greenhouse

I have build a geodesic greenhouse. I might make it a page on this site, it will appear at some point on instructables. I was planning on using it for Hydroponics experiments, but I will not be using it myself. I am moving, right after I finish it. My parents will use it the old fashioned way. It is almost done, but here’s a picture of it.

Ignore the beam in the middle, that will be fixed later.

Ignore the beam in the middle, that will be fixed later.

Hydroponics controller

I was working on a hydroponics controller. I have gotten some doubts about the execution of the project since I started on it, fearing that it is overly complicated, but it is now a workable machine. The problem is that I am going to move, and the greenhouse I built for my hydroponics setup is not coming with me. I am moving to an apartment with a nice balcony, so I will take some space from that to place my plants. Updates when they happen perhaps.

SAMSUNG CSC

The controller and all of the stuff Related with hydroponics, like PH and EC sensors, and pumps.

 

 

 

My 3D printer broke

This one died

This one died, which sucks, like, a lot.

This one is being repaired right now to give me 3D printing back.

This one is being repaired right now.

My UP! Plus that I got last year broke. This sucks, I really liked my printer, I made almost all of my stuff on this printer. There is currently no backup for the UP! plus, this means that all projects that require 3D printing are delayed until further notice. No props, no Plan B improvements and no 3rd generation 3DP until I get a 3D printer working.  I will see if I can get one of my old 3D printer, the Mendel V2 (a generation 2 relic) to work, but it might take a few weeks. I will see if I still have warranty on the UP!, otherwise I will refit the entire printer with open source electronics.

Forum

The forum is running almost a month now, and there are 4 active users excluding me. A big forum might look at this and laugh, but it makes me smile. There is however an issue. However, the login is not perfect and was recently fixed because loging in was impossible (now it is possible again though). I added an active preview, but it caused some issues on smartphones and left html things in the posts. It was removed yesterday. If there are any suggestions on improving the forum, please tell me. I am convinced that it can be better.

Plan B BOM updates

I forgot the flags on the BOM. They have been added. Also a few nuts and bolt appear to be slightly too short, I will try to fix this soon. Also Important, the M8 threaded rods had some discrepancies. The bom said 185, while the drawing said 130 (it was 130mm). I now fixed this. Another warning.

Apologies if it caused any inconvenience and if you have more flaws or mistakes in the files, please contact me, either through the contact form or the (now fixed) forum.

Hydroponics

While it is still in it’s early concept stage, I want to start with my first medium scale hydroponics setup coming spring, but I don’t want a standard system. While that would be fun, it would also be slightly uninteresting, especially for this site. I want to have it fully automated, or at least as automated as I can make it. This means automatic PH, water level, temperature and EC monitoring and adjusting. I have started with some sensors needed to run a system like this. I will make a page for my hydroponics and subpages for different parts of the system. I will still be working on 3D printers and most notably the next gen powder printer, but I need side-projects and I hope this will be a good one. Also with my UP! out of the running the hydroponic parts are nice 3D printerless projects.

A capacitive fluid level sensor, a contact free, solid state way of measuring a fluid level, has already been made for the system. More will follow the coming months.

Plan B experiments

With the FDM printer out of the running, all Improvement projects are delayed. I might as well use this time to start some experiments with other powders. A few things I want to try are:

  • sugar and meringue
  • Ceramic and maltodextrine
  • Gypsum and maltodextrine

All will be bound with a water alcohol mix. The nice thing about all of these powders is that they cost less than €10/kg. Posts will be made when there is success.

Plan B update blog

Plan B is live, response has been mostly positive. Tuesday 19 August I posted Plan B on the internet. It had been a year in the making at that point, but I finally was happy enough with it to post it. It still needs many improvements, but I can make those in good time, and maybe there will be more people from this point onward.  I will tag some Blog posts with Plan B from here on out, for the people that want to stay updated on Plan B, but don’t care about the rest.

Just how strong are these prints anyway,

I had people asking me how strong these prints are. I have destroyed 2 prints, just to satisfy anyone curious. (I hope you are happy now)

I first loaded up the torus with 14kg. This was held without any sight of damage. Then I found someone (around 70kg) willing to stand on the part. The part broke, but only after the person applied the full weight. Then I found a misprinted vase. The person also stood on that. The same thing happened. It didn’t hold, but only after full weight was on the part.

I am quite surprised at the strength of the part, though I am a bit sad that the torus broke (I will print a new one soon). These parts are made of gypsum, glued with CA. Neither have remarkable mechanical properties.

In short. The parts are quite strong. Maybe with the current materials not FDM printed ABS strong, but drop onto concrete from few meters without damage strong. More exact data will follow as I will do some more exact testing on strength in the coming few months.

I tried to improve the speed once, it was awful,

I tried to speed up the printer to 120mm/s. While mechanically this is a piece of cake (the printer had no trouble moving at 120mm/s) the electronics didn’t like it quite as much. The result was missing steps and thick lines at some points. The problem is that the Atmega 2560 with the current firmware simply can’t keep up. It can’t change the on/off state of the nozzles fast enough. In the future, there will either have to be: Better firmware, a better microcontroller or more of them running different functions in the printer.

Finally the Arduino haters out there have some reason to hate it (like they didn’t have it before).

I personally love Arduino, despite it’s flaws. The pure simplicity of the system has made Plan B possible, only now it is probably time to get something a bit more powerful.

When will stuff be for sale

People asked if and when stuff will be for sale. For people in Europe this can be quite soon, USA and the rest of the world maybe not (I don’t know shipping cost yet). Upon request I can have a few sets manufactured in maybe a week. Getting other materials is also a mater of ordering parts or printing them. The only thing is the boost demultiplexer circuit. I have a shipment of circuit boards currently in transit. When I receive these and they work, I can make complete functional kits. I can’t give exact cost of one kit, but it will be in the neighbourhood of €1000,-.

Please bear in mind that Plan B is an experimental printer. You are buying a prototype, a first generation. It will not work instantly, it will not work constantly, you will have to tweak a lot of things and do a lot of experimenting with materials. With that you can help making it better for future generations of printers. If after that demotivating speech there is still anyone who wants one, contact me. If I receive enough serious requests I will order a shipment of parts and either open a shop or get a local 3D printer part supplier to sell them.

Planned things:

With Plan B finally live, I am finally able to relax a bit. The past few weeks I worked really hard getting everything done. I will now calmly move on with some experiments I didn’t want to do without Plan B being posted.

Upgrading the spreader to a smaller diameter and make it rotating. I think some issues with the layers breaking up are caused by the spreader having too great a diameter. This pushed too hard on the previous layers. I am going to design a smaller and rotating spreader that can be made without a lathe. If this helps I will post all files and things required.

Ceramics printing. In the materials, I talk about printing in ceramics powder that can be fired in a kiln. I hope to do this as soon as possible. I will order ceramics powder, Maltodextrin and a bottle of sake and I will find a place nearby that has a kiln to fire the parts. I will show the results as soon as it is here.

I have looked around looking for a printhead with more colours and more resolution. Plan B will not be able to hold these parts, but perhaps a future 3DP printer will be able to hold this. The printhead in question is: “hp cn642a” It has an unknown amount of nozzles, at least 300DPI and 4-5 printheads. I also know several suppliers who sell empty CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) cartridges for this printhead, making the conversion step a thing of the past. At this point I have no idea how the nozzle control even works, but given the fact that there are 38 contacts on the back, I doubt that there is any microchips in there, making control fairly straight forward.

With this I can make a printer that can print in full colour. The firmware can’t handle it yet, the software can’t handle it yet, the hardware can’t handle it yet, but I will try and make it happen regardless.

 

Input from you people

I am open to input from anyone reading this. What do you want to see printed? What do you want to know about the material? What do you want to see improved? What do you want to see tested? I can’t promise I will do everything, but I will try as hard as I can to help.

Oh my heavens, is that a blog post?

yes, yes it is.

This post is here to say, yes the blog is going to be used. In this blog I hope to keep the few people that will accidentally click on the blog button posted on what is currently happening, preferably with pictures, though most probably not always. The blog will not be a weekly thing, it will not be a biweekly or a monthly thing. It will happen when something has happened.

First order of business… Plan B. Plan B is an open source 3DP printer, aimed to bring more possibilities to the open source community. Now that the turret has been finished and has mildly flopped, I finally have my undivided attention back at Plan B. Plan B already works, prints have been made on it, but Plan B has not been posted yet. There are 3 reasons for this.

1: Plan B still needs more work perfecting it before I want to post it. While I know that it will develop faster when more people have access to it sooner, I don’t want to post a half done design.

2: Writing the documentation is a huge task. I am very busy filling the dozen pages around Plan B. I have had too many project fizz because the initial documentation was too little or a video was posted 2 weeks after initial posting, I want to do this one properly.

3: Plan B still lacks a slicer working. While Plan B can read ordinary Gcode quite well, it prints around 20x faster using it’s own special code. Some delays happened in this slicer, mainly the slicing part, the exporting part is just fine. While I have enough files for testing, it is not yet stable enough to be released.  It is still in progress, some other backup plans have been set in motion as well as a temporary solution, but this needs some more time.

So in the mean time, enjoy this picture of a creeper printed on Plan B and as a super special reward for finding this page, a timelapse of the creeper being printed:

Creeper 1