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Nothing New

February 11, 2014

I've been having health issues for the last month, and not sleeping again, so there's nothing new. Hopefully, another round of tests and doctors appointments will spot the problem this time...

I have fooled around with more 3D models, trying to come up with a concept for a case mod, or an external drive enclosure. All my ideas so far are both uninspired and too expensive to print. At this point, my 3D printing options include:

  • Shapeways does a wonderful job, checking the models and reprinting them if they fail. It's just too expensive and slow to really refine a design.

  • The MakerBot Replicator at the public library is free and I can get things printed in a day, but they have only two machines with limited hours. Both machines are in high demand and I don't feel right trying to do long prints on them. They are intended for people to learn about 3D printing, not for me to create desk toys.

  • A third option is the local Hacker Lab, which has 3D printers -- a Stratasys Dimension 1200, and some Printrbots. Unfortunately, the Stratasys machine is $10/hr to use plus $5 per square inch of plastic.

    The Printrbots are "free"-ish (I think they want you to put in cash towards materials now and then), but I'd also have to pay a $20 fee to learn to use them, and a $10 day pass each time I go there. Given how unreliable I've been told they are, it could take a few trips to get something large printed. I'd also have to babysit them for many hours while they print.

I spent a lot of time designing my "Luggage" model from the Discworld books. Since I couldn't find a sensible way to print a 5" by 7" version, or even a 3" by 3" version (which I would use as a case for the OUYA), I printed a desk toy version, just to see the final result.

As usual, Shapeways did an excellent job, and there's a lot of detail in the print. Here's a close-up. On the other hand, it took weeks to arrive, and now that I have it, I realize it's all wrong.

When I did this desk toy version, I made it rectangular instead of square, and forgot to adjust the spacing of the rivets. So they are tighter vertically than horizontally.

I was also thinking I would hand paint it, but when it arrived I realized I would never get a brush into the tight spaces behind the legs or at the back of the mouth. I really should have printed it in three pieces (lid, chest and legs) and added holes and pegs to glue it together.

I could print it again of course, but I've already spent too much on it.

It's tempting to buy a cheap printer, but I tell myself I could do an awful lot of Shapeways printing for the price of even the Printrbot machines, let alone a Replicator. So I don't see that as sensible.

I've been poking at the project code a bit in the last few days. I'm still very short of sleep (which means writing ridiculous numbers of bugs), but I have to start working on something again, or I'll just get depressed.

Hopefully, I'll have more for you next month.

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