Back in the beginning of June, I wrote a blog post about how I scanned a Vertical Blind Valence Clip on my paper scanner and then imported into TinkerCad to produce a 3D reproduction. Well it got the attention of an online company that ordered 30 sets of 5 clips. They plan to sell them on Amazon. I would really like to have a second Davinci running prints but that will have to be financed from the first one. I'm hoping this will help.
It was not a quick process. I had to make a file that included 6 clips per session which was the most I could fit on the platform and still have some space. The print would take about 2 hours so I would run it around the clock including at night. On some occasions the print would get messed up and I'd wake to a massive ball of thin plastic strings. It was strange because the next print would run fine.
Clearly, a 3D printer is not made for mass production but I completed the task and shipped the clips. Hopefully they sell well enough that I get a second order. It may take some time but the Davinci 3D printer may not be just printing plastic, it may be printing the means to a second printer.
I saw discussion recently where people were showing how they cut out their circuit boards. I've used a Sheet Metal Notcher for years to cut my boards. It allows me to use the $59 ExpressPCB prototype service to multi-panel designs and then easily slice them apart with a Sheet Metal Notcher.
The notcher has a strong blade that cuts a perfectly straight line in the board. I use the silkscreen to mark where the cuts need to be. I line up the cut and pull the lever for a easy slice of the board. I made a mount for the notcher in my workshop and placed a plastic bucket at the bottom to catch the boards being cut. Watch the video below for a demonstration of cutting a multi-panel board.
Amazon put my book "Beginner's Guide to Embedded C Programming" on sale with free shipping for Prime members at a price that is cheaper than I can sell my own book. So if you were considering buying this book, I would grab it now because I don't expect this sale to last long. I get the same royalty either way so it doesn't hurt me if you pay less so I encourage you to save money and learn Embedded C Programming. Click on the picture below and it will take you right to it.
I really don't know how they can sell it this cheap but I'm sure they have a plan. The book is getting bit older but its still very relevant. And all the software tools I use and the hardware can still be downloaded or purchased from Microchip or Digikey.
All the source code and the MPLAB IDE with built in HI-TECH C compiler can be downloaded from the link on my cbookfiles page. The PICkit 2 Starter kit I use in the book is in stock at Digikey.
Honestly, I'd love to sell you my book from my website as the book sales help fund everything I do here at elproducts.com but I cannot beat this deal. I discount my book at this my site to help those getting started but Amazon is blowing that discount away.
Get it while it lasts.
I recently received a message from a reader of this blog that had tried to build a version of my PK2 PICkit 2 clone programmer around a PIC18F4550 (40-pin) instead of the PIC18F2550 (28-pin). They were getting a Vpp Voltage Error when powered up and connected to the PICkit 2 software. Turns out I had the same issue on one of my custom designs that had the PK2 built into it. I had tried to figure out the cause of the error and found I had grabbed the wrong resistors for the base of the Q2 and Q4 transistors. What should have been 10k (brown-black-orange) were actually 300 ohms (orange-black-brown). So I replaced them but not before replacing the L1 inductor and the C1 47uf capacitor.
The resistors were definitely wrong but after replacing them I still couldn't get it to work so in frustration, I set it aside.
Then when I got the message through my contact form asking me about the Vpp Voltage Error I decided to pull mine out and do some debugging again. Only this time I compared it to a working unit. I probed the various points of the working programmer with a probe from my oscilloscope and saw that the Vpp voltage on both sides of the L1 inductor were 5 volts at idle.
I remembered seeing a lower voltage on one side of the inductor in previous tests of the failed unit so I probed it again and found that the L1 inductor had 5 volts on only one side. So even though I had replaced it, it was not working as expected. I disconnected everything connected to the dead side and still the voltage was zero. This told me nothing was shorting the inductor to ground as I thought may have been happening. Could I have replaced an inductor with a bad inductor and created a new problem in addition to the wrong resistors?
I decided to replace it again only this time I didn't fully bend the leads to fit the tight space I had created in the board design. I think I mentioned in the PK2 build blog post that I didn't allow enough spacing for the inductor leads and maybe I bent the leads too much and broke something internal trying to make it fit flat on the board.
I removed the old one and then carefully bent the leads of a new inductor to fit the hole spacing in the board but with a relief bend in the lead instead of 90 degrees. This left the inductor sitting off the board but at least the leads weren't bent 90 degrees.
A quick plug into the computer USB port and the PICkit 2 software reported everything was working as expected. No more Vpp Voltage Error. I now had voltage on both sides of the inductor.
So take this as a lesson if you build the PK2 design, make sure the inductor is not bent too tight to break the inner wire. Apparently some of them are very fragile. I will fix the layout in the future so this problem doesn't happen again. I sent the reader an email describing this but have yet to hear if it was their problem as well. I decided to share this with everybody in case anybody else has one of these sitting around with a Vpp Voltage Error.
I finally replaced my 2006 iMac with an i5 unit I bought on EBAY. I've found the best way to buy Apple computers is used and typically EBAY has the best selection and best price. People tend to care of their Mac computers and unlike PCs, Macs don't have to be refreshed every 2-3 yrs to make them work again. At least that's been my experience.
I've been wanting a new iMac for a couple years but couldn't justify the expense because my 2006 is still running good. But its a core duo and I need a core 2 duo or newer to run some of the latest software. I can't run Microchip's MPLAB X for developing PIC® code and my Davinci 3D printer software required OSX 10.8 and 64 bit processor which the core duo is not. I've also been using cloud type applications such as TinkerCad for creating 3D objects and MakerCase for 2D objects and they weren't running all that well on the core duo machine. So I went shopping.
I wanted to see if I could get an i3 version for under $600 but kept finding machines with issues or didn't have all the features I wanted. So I looked at the i5 machines to see how much more they would cost. That's when I saw my computer. An i5 running at 3.6 GHz. I would have preferred more RAM than 4 GB but other than that the machine looked perfect and at $649 with free shipping it was as close as I figured I was gonna get. The reseller had good ratings and I read some of the feedback and it was all good. I showed my son who is our local Mac expert and he said he would buy it if I didn't. So I'm writing this on my new iMac. I've installed MPLAB X and the XYZ Printing software for the Davinci 3D. MPLAB X is working great. I had problems with the XYZ software as it kept locking up but I contacted their tech support through email and they sent me a new version which is working fine.
The old iMac? No it's not going up for sale on EBAY. It's now in my lab as it has Parallels installed with Windows XP and I use that for creating circuit boards and writing Great Cow Basic and PICBASIC PRO code for PICs. And the Mac portion still runs many programs just fine. So it will live on in the lab.
My Davini 3D printer from XYZ Printing is back in action printing all kinds of products. I ran a bunch of vertical blind valence clips and noticed the print bed was off a little. I adjusted the bed while the print was going and you can see in the picture below the filament plastic is laid down almost perfect with a slight flatness but rounded on top. And its sticking to the heated bed without lifting. This indicates the perfect bed to nozzle clearance based on my experience.
Also note though that the first print at the front of the picture has some out of place discolored plastic in its first layer. Typically the printer runs a test strip on the side to start the plastic flowing and then starts the print. But I've updated the XYZ Printing Software and now it no longer is creating that test strip.
I have been running the software on a small NetBook Computer running XP but recently moved the printer to my office where I have a iMac running Maverick 10.9.3 operating system. The software from XYZ Printing was locking up so an email to the tech support got a quick response and a patch version to try. It improved but still had some issues that they are working on. I hope to get a new patch soon.
The loss of the test strip though is irritating as it results in prints that have the discolored defect built into the part as seen in the picture below.
The print actually produces five valence clips and only the first one has the issue with the discolored print. So I sent these pictures to XYZ Printing and hopefully they can help resolve it. Maybe a setting changed that I don't know about is the cause but the software is pretty simple to use and I don't see a setting for test strip.
I'm getting very good prints out the printer with the replacement extruder. I like to run them in Excellent mode setting which defaults to 0.2mm height and 30% fill. This seems to result in very good quality prints.
Below is a video of the Davinci laying down the first layer. You can see the bead just roll out and stick perfectly (other than the first few strips). I believe this is what you want to see after adjusting your heated bed to extruder nozzle clearance.
I also don't add the suggested stick glue to the platform as the heat of the bed and the heat of the plastic are enough to hold it. Frankly, I find the glue somewhat useless to be honest. The heated of the bed just melts it and the stickiness is limited at that point. A proper set bed seems to do the trick.
My new extruder arrived Wednesday the 25th. I shipped the defective unit on the 20th via priority mail to California so I consider this a quick turn-around. The serial number is different so I believe its a new part or at least a rebuilt unit. I quickly installed it in my Davinci 3D printer and then had it load filament. The display showed it staying at 10 degrees C and no hotter. At first I though maybe my mother board also failed but then I remembered there was another connector (the larger one on the right in the picture) that I forgot to connect. I had to pull the thing apart again and hook up the connector and then everything started working as expected.
The next step was to run a test print and thats when I found out the mounting bracket I had slightly bent when I was removing the defective unit was not put back in place properly. The extruder tip was way off from the heated platform so plastic was just streaming in the air.
I stopped the print and bent it back into place and could see the extruder tip lower as I did it. This appears to be a very critical setting yet its easy to bend it. I then decided to run a calibration test, which I could only ever get it to pass once before. Miraculously it passed first time with equal numbers across all three test points +175 each. The target in the documentation is +240 but it showed calibrate success. But I've learned that isn't always worth trusting.
I ran another test print and this time I printed three small gears from that robot arm I mentioned in a previous post. I positioned them one at a time above the set screws on the platform and then ran the print. The back two gears had the plastic well off the platform and the filament was not sticking at all so I adjusted the base screws at each location as it printed to get the setting I wanted. The front gear made good contact with the base and printed fine so I left that adjustment alone.
Everything appeared to be working good so I stopped the print and then loaded a new file for the vertical blind clip I created and ran that print and it came out nearly perfect.
Adjusting the base to extruder head is extremely critical. You don't want them too close or the bottom layer will be crushed and spread like peanut butter on bread. You also don't want the gap too large or the filament won't stick. Using the three identical items positioned just above the adjustment screws and then adjust it while it prints seems to work the best.
Overall I'm very happy with the response I got from XYZ Printing. It did cost me shipping to California but that's better than no replacement at all. They were very responsive via email and they shipped the extruder back to me via Fedex so I go it quicker. I can continue to recommend this excellent printer at an unbelieveable price when compared to the competition.
It didn't take long to get a response from XYZ Printing (the manufacturers of the Davinci 3D 1.0 printer). I sent an email to the address on the warranty card and within 6 hours had a response. The first response had me check the connectors to make sure they weren't disconnected. They sent a picture to show me what to check. Mine were in place. I even took some voltage measurements at each connector. 0.018 Vdc at the top and 2.22 Vdc at the bottom.
The next email came the following morning asking me to send them the sales invoice, which I got from Amazon, and also my contact info and shipping address. I suspected I was going to get a replacement extruder but no mention of that yet since they apparently needed to verify I bought it new. I sent the info and then waited another few hours. The next email included their shipping address and asked me to send them the Extruder Nozzle. I was a little confused because to me that sounded like just the brass nozzle so I asked for a picture of what they wanted sent and they sent a picture showing the whole extruder unit. And so the fun began.
There is a video on the XYZ Printer site that shows how to remove a piece of stuck plastic, which I have already done before but this one had the full line still in place. I tried pulling out the plastic from the top but it wouldn't release because the nozzle was cold. So I pulled the release clip to release the whole extruder and had to fight against the plastic line to get the unit out far enough so I could cut the plastic line. In the process I slightly bent the bracket above the extruder. It was easily put back in place. I cut the line just above the black guide and then the unit came out with a little wiggling. I had then had to cut one tie strap on the heater cable and then disconnect the heater element connector. From there the extruder was out ready to be shipped.
Now it would have been nice to have the new extruder first so I could just put the new one in while I still knew what needed to be connected. It also would have eliminated half the delay in shipping out and back. I'll also have to remember the steps when the new one comes. I learned a little bit more about the printer in the process though.
On the circuit board is a infrared detector pair (one led and one sensor). This is used to monitor the amount of plastic being used. I'll cover that in more detail in a future post. For now, I'm off to ship the extruder so I can hopefully get my Davinci 3D up and running again real soon.
In the future I also hope they offer parts for sale because after 180 days my warranty is up. It looks like the heater element is just held in place by a set screw. Assuming that is the root of the failure, I could have replaced that for a lot less money. So far though, XYZ has been responsive and helpful. I appreciate the support I'm getting.
I started a 3D print on my Davinci 3D printer last night and went to bed. In the morning I expected the design to be complete. Instead it was half done. The Davinci 3D printer showed the build complete on the LCD but it clearly had stopped issuing plastic half way through the build.
I ran a quick test of the extruder by having it load a new spool which should heat up the head and then start oozing the plastic stream. But the head couldn't get past 22 C or room temperature.
I read through the warranty card and it says the extruder is covered for 180 days. I bought mine 40 days ago. So I sent the serial number and the details of the failure to the email on the warranty card. I have been building stuff just about every day so its been working fine but now its dead.
The LCD says it best: "PLEASE WAIT". So now I wait.
I printed a case design for the Maximite Computer board and it has some long rectangular holes that needed support on the Davinci 3D printer. The software included with the printer has an option you can select for automatically printing supports to hold up the plastic. Without the supports the plastic sags and the results are not pretty. I learned that the hard way as seen in the picture of the blue box.
The automatic support prints a zig-zag wall that is very thin and quite easy to remove. As you can see in the pictures above, the strip pulled out as one piece. What I found though is the walls I designed to stay in place were a bit too thin and two of them broke loose when removing the supports. There should be a post between the VGA connector and the Keyboard connector and then another between the keyboard connector and the black 26 pin. I'll have to re-design that section to make them a little stronger. Rounded corners should help. And since I've learned how to make thin walls that remove easily (even if by accident) I may just design my own supports rather than use the automatic zig zag supports.
I printed this in Good mode not Excellent mode so its rough. Its a 10% fill as well so that affected my posts and the quality of the print. I wanted to get quicker results so I chose the lower quality. This proves once again that printing in Excellent mode setting which defaults to 30% fill is the recommend starting point. 50% fill does a great job for those designs that need that extra fill. This was printed at 0.2 mm height as well.
At least now I have a better understanding of the automatic support feature built into the Davinci 3D software (and you do too). I'm sure it will work great for large over hangs like when making a head statue but for this small area I'll design my own little support posts.