3D Printer – It’s Here!

I decided a few days ago that I was going to buy the Monoprice Mini Delta. I also decided that I would wait until after Christmas to place my order – no point in jamming up the rush with all of the other packages in transit.

So, I ordered it around noon yesterday (26th). I was notified that it was shipping from Kentucky via FedEx Home Delivery. It showed up TODAY (27th) BEFORE 10 AM! I was planing on spending part of the day clearing off my desk in the library (a flat space with lots of office type stuff covering it) for the printer. I’m still finishing that up and should be done soon so I can at least unpack the printer. Gotta check out to make sure the lights at least come on.

I also ordered filament from two separate sources. One from Amazon (Hatchbox PLA – Silver) which has not yet shipped and the other from MatterHackers (PolyMaker PolyLite PLA – Red) which will enter the USPS mail stream later today.  It’s supposed to ship Priority Mail so it will no doubt get here long before the Amazon order even though I ordered from Amazon on Wednesday and MatterHackers on Thursday.

MatterHackers is out of stock on almost everything right now and the PolyLite is a bit more expensive than the Hatchbox but it gives me a chance to try out a couple of known good filaments. I’ll no doubt be ordering more and I think it will probably be from MatterHackers. Hopefully they’ll have replenished more stock by that time so I can order some Blue and Black filaments.

It will probably be at least Saturday before I can actually try out the printer. I’m HOPING that it will come in on Saturday but considering it’s coming from California I’m not going to be that disappointed if it doesn’t.

 

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3D Printing – Checking Out What’s Out There

From time to time I have wondered about 3D printing and have never really carried it much farther than the wondering part. This time I got a little more serious and started some investigation.

I’m thrifty (cheap) and I don’t really know how much I would get into this so I kept my investigations to the low priced printers. I looked at 5 (so far): Creality Ender 3, Monoprice Select Mini, Anet A8, TEVO Tarantula and Monoprice Mini Delta.

All except the Monoprice Mini Delta are cartesian coordinate (XYZ) printers. The Mini Delta is a different animal in that it uses the delta style (use your favorite search engine) of positioning.

Each of these printers have their own issues. Some more than others but none of the issues are things I couldn’t resolve myself. There is LOTS of help out there about the issues and how to solve them. Often they involve printing replacement or supplementary parts on the printer itself.

Do I have a favorite? Of course! It’s looking like the Monoprice Mini Delta is going to be the winner for several reasons:

  • It has a heated bed. This makes getting the part to stick to the bed easier.
  • The bed is auto leveling – a necessity for any delta style printer. This is a time consuming manual process on the other printers.
  • It’s faster than all of the others mostly because it uses the delta system.
  • It’s fully assembled out of the box. The others, except the Monoprice Select Mini, are kits. REAL kits with a pile of parts and various levels of instructions for assembly.
  • The frame is all metal and quite rigid.

Does it have flaws? Of course! It doesn’t have an on/off switch (stupid but easily solved). The bed size is small but I wasn’t planning on printing anything big anyway. The main board fan is overly loud. It has problems feeding non-rigid filament stock. It requires some tweaking of the software slicer (pretty easy to fix).  The wifi interface is unreliable but I probably wouldn’t use it anyway.

All of these things (except the print size) are fixable or can be ignored (wifi).

All of these printers can print with a variety of materials such as PLA (by far the most popular material) and ABS. PLA (polylactic acid) operates at a lower temperature and is easy to work with and inexpensive. ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – LEGO bricks) produces much sturdier parts but needs higher temperature and gives off nasty fumes.

I haven’t bought a 3D printer yet but with this much research (several days now) and the itch to buy myself a Christmas present you know it can’t be long now.

Traffic Circles

I can hear it now – “I hate them!”.

You’ll have to get over it. More are coming every year. They provide for increased and quicker traffic flow when used properly.

How often are you at the front waiting to enter the circle only to have someone exit leaving a nice gap – but you weren’t ready. You didn’t know you were going to get a chance because they didn’t use their turn signal.

Traffic circles work best when the flow of traffic is smooth and continuous. That only works if drivers exiting the circle let other drivers know they are exiting. If you have ever been through Tallmadge circle in rush hour you know it can work pretty well. That’s because people who use it then have learned how to use it properly.

I know there’s more to it to make it better but good communication is a good start.

So don’t be afraid of traffic circles – and use your turn signal.

Driving in the Rain

Driving in the rain, particularly in the early morning or evening, can be a bit of a challenge. It’s important to be able to be seen and to see other vehicles.

That’s why, in Ohio at least, you are REQUIRED to operate your headlights if you are using your wipers. It doesn’t matter why you operate your wipers – you just need to turn on the headlights.

NOT your PARKING LIGHTS! Parking lights are for PARKING. You can be cited for moving while you have only your parking lights on in Ohio.

This is not that hard. It’s mostly to make you more visible during nasty weather. It’s for YOUR OWN GOOD!

A New Motherboard for the Desktop PC

After more than 6 years I figured it was time to upgrade the hardware. There is nothing (almost) wrong with the old hardware – it’s just a bit dated.

The old motherboard was populated with an AMD Athlon XP 250, 4 GB of ram, an ATI video card, a 4-port USB 3.0 card, and an Adaptec 29320 SCSI card. Windows 10 did not like the USB card and the video card had a fan issue. Otherwise it all works fine. If I was to reuse this board somewhere else I would probably just drop the video card and use the on-board video.

I upgraded to a new motherboard (Asus with a B350 chipset), CPU (AMD Ryzen 2200G), and memory (8 GB). I kept the SCSI card but otherwise everything else is new.

I had a few issues:

1. I use two monitors (one is actually a TV) and the board supports up to three using the usual three different connectors – after you install the real drivers. The problem was that the Windows driver picked one – the TV. An annoyance of course but at least I could start the ball rolling. My first attempt at drivers was to install from the DVD that came with the motherboard – almost always a bad idea. It was in this case too. The result was basically unusable. I downloaded the CURRENT drivers and all is well now.

2. My backup software (Backup4all) didn’t like that I changed the motherboard and invalidated the license. I’m still working on this but if I had known before the upgrade I could have ‘disconnected’ the license then reactivated after. I’m waiting on a response from them for a final solution but I have a temporary workaround.

3. And Windows 10 was not happy. When I tried to reactivate it said ‘NO!’. There is a pretty good explanation of what to do after a major hardware change but it didn’t work because I don’t use a Microsoft login. There was no way to associate a previous activation so I could reuse it on the new hardware. A call to Microsoft was super unhelpful. Fortunately I had a spare license key which worked perfectly.

If I had set up a Microsoft account for login BEFORE I upgraded the upgrade would have gone smoothly. If you are not using a Microsoft account login I recommend that you set it up NOW before you need it so your license can be associated with the Microsoft account. You can turn it back off later and go back to a local login.

4. One last observation about this process – Allow a FULL day to do this kind of update. Don’t start at 8 PM like I did. Without problems that would have been plenty of time but I should have known better – Murphy was just waiting for me on this one.