Saturday, September 16, 2017

3D Printed Lightsaber

This was a long project to work on. At least a year ago, I found this article about a 14-part 3D printed lightsaber based around a replica of Obi Wan Kenobi's lightsaber from Star Wars. I downloaded the files before I even had a 3D printer - that's how interested I was in making this; it may even be the primary reason why I wanted to printer in the first place.

And so pieces started getting printed, some of them finished in an hour or two, others taking 8-10 hours each. When it was finished, I had this:
and the first real test-fit of all of the pieces
But the best part was getting everything painted to look like a metal artifact from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Closer detail shots below:

Sunday, September 3, 2017


New camera: Pentax K3 II
New Lens: Pentax 16-50 f2.8
My Panasonic GX1 has done well by me for the last 5 years, but I when I started looking around at newer options, I got caught up in this Pentax model and lens. A bigger sensor (APS-C) means better low light performance (for indoor and nighttime shooting). A fast f2.8 lens (with zoom!) means even more opportunities to get shots that would be completely lost on the GX1. 

The camera itself is beastly. So much larger than my Panasonic (snapshot below of my GX1 with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens). It also weighs 3lbs with the lens, and even more if I were to put on the extra battery grip.

Suffice to say, there's some tradeoffs between the versatile mirrorless GX1 and the SLR Pentax. That being said, I've never had an issue with some bulk or weight (my telephoto for the GX1 is fairly substantial and negates any size benefits of the body anyway). So far I've been very happy with the performance of the camera, and my new best friend for editing, Adobe Lightroom. i figured that it would behoove me to find a good editing solution since I no longer work on my Mac Mini for photos (PC only these days), and Lightroom really is a fantastic product. I'm not the biggest fan of subscription services for software, but I've found myself using it enough to justify the cost. All in all, I'm really happy I upgraded, and find myself investing more time in shooting and editing again.

Some recent samples:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spiralized Vases - 1 hour 30 mins each

links to files:

These two vases are done using a technique where the file is printed as a hollow surface, and the entire outer wall is printed in a growing spiral pattern, meaning that the walls of the vase are one continuous strand of filament. The twist vase took a couple of tires because the base wasn't adhering to my printer bed well, but the finished pieces are lovely and, as an added bonus, they both do hold water! I liked that they're quick to print too, around an hour and a half each.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tycho Crater - 13 hours

I recently discovered that NASA has a repository of lots of 3D models and files available to download. As I sorted through them I discovered the Tycho crater (the big circle on the lower 1/4 of the moon in the image below.
Tycho Crater

Tycho is around 86km across, and my print is just around 80mm across; giving this a scale of around 1,000,000:1. The print is a topographic model of the the crater, with ridges rising and falling, and the "island" in the center. The peak is 1.6km in real life, and around 1.5mm in print. The whole tile is 98mm squared (3.8")
 putting harsh, bright light on an edge helps create and define the shadows of the surface
 a low steep angle overlooking the crater's rim
high, vertical angle to see the crater floor detail

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ionic Ruins -16 hours

Link to model:

For my dad's birthday I found a model on Thingiverse that had similarities to the Parthenon in Greece. I printed in micro scale to get a sense of what it would look like (1.2"x0.8") before blowing it up about as large as my printer bed could handle. When it finished, 15 hours and 50 minutes had elapsed.

Some things I learned with this scale;
1: The edges will warp on large pieces, so I either need to use a raft/brim support structure to account for that, or use something other than painters tape as a bed layer (the solution I'm going to go with is using Kapton tape)

2: I need more patience with long prints

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Something New: 3D Printing with Monoprice Mini Select V2

Yesterday was my 30th birthday. I haven't posted much on this blog in the last few years, but I'd like to go back and fill in some gaps in the coming year, even if the photos and events took place in the past.

That being said, the latest entry into my collection of gadgets and gizmos is a 3D printer. A couple of weekends ago, I went to my second Maker Faire in San Mateo with Michael, and for a second year, I was enthralled with the vendors of 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser cutters. All of these tools present a great intersection of creativity and technology, and I've been thinking about them for a while and how they could fit into my life.
my new printer sitting in front of my PC

Now, I haven't done too much in the way of 3D design before; years back I modeled the living room using Google SketchUp, and that was a good exercise for getting the lay of some basic 3D work (and also helped sort out my living room at the time). My strategy with learning printing will be to understand how the printer and its settings work, and then move on to working on actual modeling.
feeding the plastic filament into the extruder; this will draw it down to the heated nozzle for printing
an important part of printing is to level the bed, so that each layer is even; 
some filament feeding through the heated extruder
  All set up and ready for a test print

The great thing about this approach is that there are so many resources out there to get me started. This printer has quite a community of people who are working with it, so I can look up settings and tips to make my prints better. As for my first endeavor? I prepared the print bed with painter's tape, leveled the bed so everything would be even, and loaded up the test file included with the printer.

3D printing is done using a digital model that has been "sliced". This means that the model has been processed through software that tells the printer exactly what to do with each layer. The language that the printer speaks is called "G-code".
loading the sample "cat" G-code file that came with the printer
After loading the file and setting the temperatures, all that's left to do is wait.
And wait.
And wait.
and wait some more
almost there...
finally finished!

All things considered, it took around 3 hours to  finish the first print. But I was pretty happy with the results!

So what did I learn from this process so far? Preparation is key. I've seen other users' pictures of first prints that weren't nearly as sharp in their layers. Mine isn't perfect, there's definitely room for improvement, but I also wasn't dialing the settings for this specific print. My future prints are going to be with settings I can adjust, so there's more opportunity for trial-and-error. Second is that I need to get more filament. This print used basically all of the supplied sample, and now I need to get more before I can print out anything else. Finally, patience. These prints take a LONG time. My 3D printer can do layers a little smaller than 0.1mm, which means a lot of time is needed to build up things that are just a few inches tall. 1 inch of height requires over 250 layers of filament, and the printer can only go so fast maintaining both speed and temperature. I'll be doing a lot of waiting, and that further enforces the idea that preparation is important; I don't want to be 5 hours into a print before something goes wrong.
after removing the "raft" that helped keep the cat stable