Friday, November 25, 2011

More upgrades

Lately, I've been having more and more problems with my MakerBot not printing reliably, and I've worked out that the problem is very likely the power supply giving up. So, I've finally bit the bullet and bought an new power supply!

It's a 500 watt supply with two 12V 18A rails, that way I can have one rail power the steppers, and one rail power the heaters. I think that having a more powerful supply will help quite a lot!

Also, Finally bought the Acme rod upgrade :-) switching to 4 leadscrews should help quite a bit to eliminate the wobble, However, We'll see if it'll still be able to move accurately enough!

I'll post pictures once I get everything working!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Platform problems

While trying to print at insane resolution (0.1mm/layer) I had a couple prints stick insanely well to the platform, and while removing them, I managed to gouge my Kapton and aluminum tape layers (missed the PCB :-) ) so I've been trying to figure out a way to make a better platform.

I think I've found a way to both make the new platform, and instantly perfectly level the new platform.

The process would be to bolt a 3-4mm thick 10X10mm aluminum plate to the platform, then temporarily replace the toolhead with a dremel flex-shaft with a ball-end mill in it, and machine off the top layer of the aluminum, making it perfectly flat, and perfectly level with respect to the toolhead.

I'll post more updates as the idea develops!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Odd print problem

In my attempts to print at 0.1 mm/layer (i know, i know, it's not recomended with a 0.4mm nozzle) I've run into a slight problem. One side (right side) of the print is coming out with a weird looking gash in it!

Not sure what's causing the gash, if it's too much or too little plastic, but it sure is annoying... It seems to start small, then get wider and wider as the print progresses.

the part I'm currently printing is a 1cm^3 (1 centimeter cube)

Here's a picture of the problem:
I colored the flat area on the side with a sharpie, so that you can see the gash, there's also what looks like a bunch of bits of plastic fused to the part on the other side of the gash (where there's a bunch of dots).

New electronics INSTALLED!

Just finished installing my new Gen4 electronics! The first thing I noticed was the reduction in noise! this thing is amazingly quiet now, and with the MK7 Extruder, I've been pushing for higher and higher quality (test print running now at 0.1 mm/layer.

Hit a couple snags during installation, the worst of which was running out of plugs (even with a splitter on one of them) on my ATX supply! However, it was pretty easy to solve by hooking up the power supply from an old USB-IDE converter.

Pics of the build:

Other than the color of the boards, doesn't look that much different from the Gen3's, o wait, there's an extra stepper driver :-D YAY!

Interface board, with arrows drawn onto the keys :-) I'll probably print some keys for it later as well, make it a bit more proffessional.

This peice of flex tube goes from the boards to the extruder, I twist tied some of the wires to an empty mounting hole on the extruder stepper driver so that it stays upright :-)

Gen7 extruder and safety cutoff board! Got everything working, then accidentally broke a fan blade, so now it buzzes really loudly, gonna try n re-balance it, but that's not as easy as one would think...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New electronics

Finally upgrading my MakerBot to Gen4 electronics! just ordered them, plus a MK7 extruder!

My plan is to install everything on the Cupcake, use the Cupcake to print a printer that I'm designing, then transfer all the electronics and stuff to the new printer! afterwards i'll probably still keep the Cupcake around for fun, with gen3 electronics on it again.

UPDATE! the parts have shipped, expected delivery = 9/28! *happy dance*

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spa work

For the past couple months (though more lately) I've been working on refitting an old inground spa that my parents put in 10 years ago. The pump system's been giving us problems, and it's been getting more and more frustrating having to buy expensive chemicals (chlorine is over 150 a bucket, and a bucket lasts about a year) and filters (160 bucks each, new one every 3 months, well, 6 in our case, but that's really pushing it). So, I'm completely re-doing the entire system.

More after the break

Monday, August 29, 2011


Yeah, I hate spam just as much as you do. And ads. Especially those ads that appear under posts on blogs... and in sidebars... oh, wait, there are some on my blog? WHAT?

Yup, it's true, I've caved to AdSense... I'm not particularly proud of it, but it may earn me some extra bucks... Depending on how much I make in the next few months, The ads may stay... or may not... we'll see...

Because I hate ads just as much as you, I will say that there are great ad-blockers out there that will help.

Anyway, My apologies to all my readers for the new ads :-/ I'm just a college student trying to make a buck.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Da Vinci Days Wrap-up.

Da vinci days was a ton of fun! printed things out all day long, and showing off the MakerBot!
My table at DV Days!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Odd code added to the end of some files

Every once in a while, a chunk of seemingly random code will get added to the end of a part file: Here's a sample

G1 X8.11 Y0.0 Z20.0 F3000.0
G1 X8.04 Y1.06 Z20.0 F3000.0
G1 X7.84 Y2.1 Z20.0 F3000.0
G1 X7.49 Y3.1 Z20.0 F3000.0
G1 X7.28 Y3.54 Z20.0 F3000.0
I found this at the end of a Gcode file that I had printed from just fine at least 10 times, then, when this code ran, it ruined the part I found it on.

The odd thing is that it's in the middle of the code that should be end.gcode, but the end file does NOT contain the extra lines!

Any ideas?

UPDATE: Here's a link to a sample part file, both failed, and fixed... it seems that "comb" is causing the problems. Unfortunately, when this one failed, the nozzle plowed through the part, both ruining the part, and cracking part of the acrylic of the extruder mounts :-(

Here's a picture of what the failure looked like:
Circled in red are the points where the extruder hit the plastic,
the blue line is the original height of the wall the extruder hit.

Friday, July 15, 2011


While printing parts to be ready for DaVinci Days in Corvallis, I tried "Multilpy" on one part, and it did a great job... of showing how out of control the ooze is on my bot!

I have a Cupcake Ultimate, with MK5, and the "plus" heater. Everything is tuned amazingly well, printing raftlessly with no problems at all! Except ooze :-/

Pictures after the break!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Come See me at Da Vinci Days!

Hi all! I will be showing off my MakerBot at the DaVinci Days art and science festival in Corvallis Oregon this Sunday! DaVinci Days is an incredible festival, with hundreds of local artists showcasing awesome combinations of art, science, and FUN! More info at!

If you're in the area, Please come visit! It'll be a blast!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Raftless Printing!!

I finally got my Cupcake tuned well enough to print raftless, and it's amazing! Huge thanks go out to Aaron Double (AKA TwoTimes) for the sheet of thicker Kapton tape! That made ALL the difference in the world! I'll be posting pictures of raftless prints soon! Check back on this post in the future for pictures!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I think Google's Spam filtering system may have just completely failed... I had over 800 emails in my spam folder, and about 400 of them just jumped back to my inbox, as well as about 20 new spam emails not being filtered correctly... I hope they get this fixed, and soon, since I get an average of 850 spam emails per 30 days (spam emails older than 30 days get deleted automatically) and I really don't want them all piling into my inbox!!!

\end angry rant

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Insanity! Again!

I was planning on printing quite a bit of stuff last weekend and this week, but packing and finals have taken up all my time! I'll be printing, tuning and upgrading tons over the summer though!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Went to the OSU Surplus store today, and was able to get some serious networking power for pretty cheap...

Got bored, and after a friend did a similar thing, I decided that the right thing to do with 160 ports worth of network switches was to turn them into a big LED display... yup... pictures after the break :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Spool Holder!

Inspired by CharlesPax's spool holder design, but lacking the room to bolt the spool to the side of the bot, I set out to design my own spool holder! Designs and STL's can be found at, and more pictures after the break!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Orbit love charm by CDavis

Latest printed part! First part printed with my new hot end, and it turned out great!

The part can be found at

New hot end!

Just finished my first print with the new MK6+ (or, as I think I should call it MK5+) hot end, and it's awesome! Heats up incredibly fast, and stays very stable, even at 250C

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Just ordered the bearings for a lowrider XY carriage :-) Hopefully that'll quiet the machine down a bit, and possibly allow for higher speeds

Once I've got the new thermal core installed, I'll start printing pieces, pics to follow at that time!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Hi all!

Cool new tech I thought I'd share with you: Flattr. It's a way of putting your money where your mouth is when you say something you see looks cool!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Hi all,

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted in quite a while. I'm having an insanely busy term at OSU, and haven't had time to blog lately... As much as I'd love to, I probably won't be able to blog too much until this summer, since the term's only going to get crazier from here.



Spent some awesome time with a local RepRap group in Corvallis! They blogged me so I'll blog them back :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Recently I've been having some curious problems with my Makerbot. When I print parts with large flat bases, the first two layers (solid) completely delaminate from the rest of the part. (it makes more sense in the pictures) Not sure why it's happening, and I've tried several ideas (raising print temp, lowering print temp, putting the MakerBot in a warmer room...) to get it to stick better, to no avail. Current configuration + settings: Acrylic platform + settings posted earlier on this blog
Bottom of the rest of the part,
 where it came unstuck
top of the piece that delaminated
 (the white lines are perfectly smooth,
 it's the top of the two solid layers)

Any ideas as to why this might be happening?

Friday, March 11, 2011


With all that space (see previous post), and access to the world's largest repository of collective knowledge (the internet) Students of today have unprecedented access to different kinds of information. Where in the past, a student wanting to get information on a topic would have had to walk to the library, look through a catalog, search through the shelves and check out a book that may or may not have the information that they're looking for. The web is different. With just a few clicks, a student can search the sum total of all knowledge on earth for what they want, easily skim through huge amounts of data, and find exactly what they were looking for.>

Storage Space

When it comes to computers, one of the biggest reasons to have one is storage. For the price of one textbook (approx $200, from personal experience, yeah, textbooks are expensive), you can buy a 2 TeraByte (2 trillion byte) hard drive ( On that hard drive, You can store 7.813*10^9 (7813000000) pages of text (that's close to 1/10 the size of the ENTIRE library of congress)  ( The average computer nowadays has around 100-200 GB of space (100-200 billion bytes) (from various advertisements and sales websites of major computer companies), which is enough to store 7.8*10^8 pages of information. ( With that kind of storage space, it’s possible to store every assignment you’ll ever need to turn in, plus music, movies, pictures and more.

Laptops In Class

One of the greatest tools I have ever used in school is my laptop. Hands down. The ability to keep all my schoolwork, all my music, all my entertainment in one portable place is invaluable to me.

Opponents of laptop use in schools always say that laptops are more of a distraction than a tool. And while I'd like to say that that's a total falsehood, sadly, it's not. I'm the first to admit the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools to get through a boring lecture. However, I still take copious notes, and audio recordings of lectures, enough so to submit them to the school note-taking service and get paid. However, the problem arises when students pay no attention, and only play online for the entire lecture. Upon seeing this, Teachers react in different ways, some simply ignoring it, while others impose strict rulings. One professor at the University of Missouri "bans laptops in her large lecture courses", and says this has led to "Huge increases in attention and better performance on exams" (Bugeja, Michael. "The Age of Distraction") While I'm sure that a strict ban like that may benefit some students, It would not surprise me at all if other students suffered. I know I would.

I see bans like that as a real limit on a student's independence. Especially in college. Students are paying for the courses, and the professor's not required to guarantee them success. I regularly attend class to see a room only half filled, even though the 200+ person roster is full with waitlist. What's the difference between attending class and not paying attention, and just not attending at all? I guess my point is that If students don't care about a course, They won't do well. While it may be beneficial to some students to have a ban on laptops, I believe it can be detrimental to others. My belief is that in a college atmosphere, it should be solely up to the students to manage their distractions. If they can't handle the distractions, then it's their problem, not the schools. As my chemistry professor Dr. Richard Nafshun commented to a half empty lecture hall, "There's one customer that you can always count on to be happy about being ripped off: A student." I think that this, while it really shouldn’t be true, exemplifies the problem. Students of today are so immersed in their own wants that they no longer pay enough attention to their education.

Technology In Education

The next few posts here on my blog will be focused away from my MakerBot, and towards my education.

Specifically, towards the dilemma of using, or not using various technologies in education. Personally, I use many different technologies doing schoolwork on a daily basis, and I think that all students, no matter what their opinions on technology, can benefit from the use of technology in education. Each post in this series (all posts will have the label TIE) will focus on the use, and misuse of one particular piece of technology in an educational setting. I'll try to cover the bases, touching on everything from laptop computers to cell phones and power point, but I don't have all year to write, so I may have to leave some things out.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


*UPDATE* Webcam may or may not work depending on it's mood... it seems to be angry alot recently...
*UPDATE 2* Seems to be working better now, using a different software :-) bonus is that it's a live feed now, instead of a picture every 5 seconds!
I just added a webcam to the MakerBot so that you all can see when it's printing!

I'll generally try to leave my last couple printed parts on the platform to give you something to see other than a blank bot, but I'll make sure to tweet when I'm starting a print!

The link to the MakerCam is

and my Twitter URL is:

Friday, February 18, 2011


Plastic plastic plastic... SHEESH it's expensive....

I've done some looking around, but still haven't found where I'm going to buy my next spools of plastic... Here's my research so far: Google Spreadsheet

I price printed parts that I sell by the gram+print time+human time+extra parts, so I converted all plastic prices + shipping to $ per gram (or in most cases cents per gram)

As you can see, The cheapest plastic I've found so far is the Alibaba traded plastic, but their minimum order is 21 KILOS, which is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more than I need...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weighted Storage Cube

After printing Emmet's Heart Gears was looking at various derivatives and parts using the base gear structure, and found whosawhatsis weighted storage cube version! It turned out quite nice, printed in shiny black ABS. All the gears spin nicely, though the teeth don't quite mesh sometimes... I think I'll try shaving off the bottom layer or two of each gear, that should help quite a bit...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Makerbot just came out with a stepper extruder... but, alas, it's not easily compatible with Gen3 electronics... I'm kinda dissapointed with MBI, since, I'd love a stepper extruder, but it seems that I'd need a set of Gen4 electronics, and being a college student, I don't have the funds for that at the moment... Unfortunately, Gen4 + Stepstruder upgrade comes out to close to $500... which is way out of my price range. I'll probably upgrade at some point, but it's really too bad that the 3000 cupcake cnc owners out there are being left in the dust!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines day!

It's valentines day, so I thought I'd post my latest love themed print: Emmet's Heart Gears After some fussing about trying to figure out the assembly process, I finally got it put together, and it's AWESOME! the gears move really smoothly, and the whole piece feels quite sturdy.

Printed at 0.4mm/layer with 25% infill on non-heated acrylic with a raft. Plastic is the Makerbot fluorescent red :-) under a black light, it's amazing, but my camera has difficulties shooting at things bathed in UV...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Little bottle cap

While perousing the isles of OSUsed (the campus surplus store here at Oregon State University) A friend of mine found these great little bottles, from the chemistry department, appearing to be made of pyrex.

They have threads on the neck, but no cap, and seeing as I have a MakerBot, I figured it'd be a good idea to make one!

A bit of quick design (and a couple failed attempts) later, I had a cap!
The cap works great, not waterproof yet, but a quick dip in acetone would fix that... For me they'e mainly decorative, but I could see them being quite usefull!

Designs are Here!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Iris box (and a companion cube)

I got my Iris box (or rather, J_Hodgie's iris box to print well at last! allbeit with some issues (the layers don't seem to like to stick together all that well)

But, It printed!!!

I didn't print the entire base, just a ring, that way i can use it as a fan airflow control later on...

Seeing what the iris looked like at the end of the print, I couldn't help but drop a companion cube ( through it :-)

Max platform size print

I just printed the largest based part I've printed so far, but again, ran into the issue of the part sticking TOO WELL!!!

Usually I wouldn't complain, but after this print, the entire base 3 layers of the part detached, staying on the raft, as the raft clung desparately to the platform.

Oh, and did I mention, the print took an hour and a half!!!!!


The part is a gear one of my friends for their ME101 project, hopefully it'll come out better when printed in white...

Possible laser etching attachment

I'm working up designs for a laser etching attachment for my makerbot (think, and am thinking of using a laser similar to ( this to etch/burn leather and wood (i would go with a supre high power diode, but I think this laser would work fine... However, before I can purchase the laser, or even do too much of the design, I'm sending the FDA an email requesting permission, as it is above the legal limit for laser pointers in the US. I believe that I should be able to get an exemption for this laser module, since it will be used within a device, and not as a pointer... Fingers crossed...

Friday, February 4, 2011

First couple long prints done! And not too shabby either!

I just finished printing the leafs and one of the rings for, and with the high-res settings I have running, the leafs took 1.5 hours, and the base ring took 1 hour 9 minutes... whew... I'll post pics when the entire thing's done!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ENGR 248 Midterm

I'm currently in a class at Oregon State University called ENGR-248 (Engineering graphics) , which is an intro class for 3D modeling. Personally, of the various CAD softwares I've tried (AutoCad, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, Blender, Openscad, and a couple others I can't remember) my favorite is definitely Inventor. However, Here at Oregon State University, they use SolidWorks :-( Luckily, the programs are fairly similar, but the class is definitely reinforcing my preference of Inventor over SolidWorks.

Back to the point:

For the midterm in the class, we had to design a part based on a a couple other drawings with dimensions and such, and I decided it'd be fun to print it!

I scaled the part down to 1/4 size in RepG and pressed print! 40 minutes later, I had a physical copy of the part I designed for the midterm!

I know, you're probably saying 40 minutes for such a small part??? well, I used the wrong skienforge profile (used the 0.2mm/layer 197PWM profile) which runs MUCH slower...

the part looks OK, other than the increasingly aggravating Z axis wobble...

Interestingly, Even with the Z wobble, the outside dimensions of the part were still almost exactly what they should have been (+- 0.05mm)

I am quite pleased with the part overall, and may even use a version of it in my designs for a better Z-stage :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Uh Oh...

I recently opened up my MK5 Plastruder to clean it out and check the tension on all the bolts, but to my horror, something was amis: My question, is the black goop in the pictures normal? or is something going very wrong...
I know for sure the goop wasn't there when I put the MK5 together the first time, nor was it there the last two times I took it apart...

The goop is a pasty oily completely opaque substance, but is a bit stickier than normal motor grease... Any ideas? should I wipe it all off and rebuild the MK5, or should I stop using the motor? (it still works great, runs fine and smooth with no stalls all the way down to PWM 175... even when pushing filament...)

Not too sure what to do...

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated

*UPDATE 2/2/2011*
Thanks to everyone who responded here and on the Google Group! It's nice to know that this isn't a fluke, and that the motor is in fact OK... now to load the filament back in and start printing!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bolt tabs! (and another mod!)

While trying out the Makerbot Industries ABP, I found that I needed a way to catch the parts that came off the belt.

Now I no longer use the ABP much, but the platform is still quite useful for staring recently printed parts.

Originally, I had two strings holding up the platform, looped around the right and left x axis end brackets, but it kept slipping off, so I created the bolt tabs to prevent it from slipping.

The designs are on Thingiverse! Feel free to make some!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hex Game Tiles

My good friend Robert came to me with an idea for a board game, we sat and drew up the designs for the base component, and here are the first prints!

Skienforge (uhg)

Of all the problems I've had with my Makerbot, the biggest of them have come from Skienforge, the little program that slices up models into layers of gcode for the machine to print.

I've given up on using the MBI Automated Build Platform for the time being, the plastic belt curls up too much to print super thin (<0.25mm)

Even so, I've now gotten my 'bot tuned down to a nice 0.2mm layer thickness! Here are my primary settings:
  • Layer Thickness: 0.2mm
  • Width / Thickness
  • Perimeter: 2.5
  • Infill: 2.125
  • Flowrate: PWM 197 <- I know a lot of you who use MakerBots are probably cringing at this number, it's so close to the stall point of the motor. However, I love this flowrate for one huge reason: No Strings.
  • First Layer: 1.14 * Operating
  • Feedrates
  • Operating: 34 mm/s
  • Travel: 50 mm/s
  • Raft:
  • Base: 0.75 * Operating
  • Interface: 1.2 * Operating
  • First Layer:
  • Perimeter: 0.8 * Operating
  • Infill: 0.9 * Operating
I also use an outline with margin of 3, that way, I don't have to pull off the test extrusion, I just let it start the outline, and the test extrude hangs off the side nicely out of the way!

I gotta give a huge thanks to Coasterman for his post on His settings are the ones I use (with a tiny bit of tweaking) and they work incredibly well for me!


Quick post! Just colored in the last of the text on the front of my makerbot and I must say, it makes the whole machine look a lot more fun!

Disconnectable Extruder

The next mod that I did was to cut all the cables running from the controllers to the extruder, and insert a connector in between. The MK5 extruder has a 6-pin connector, 2 for heater power, 2 for motor power and 2 for thermistor reading. The connector on the controllers however, is a 12-pin connector. Currently, It has 6 open slots, which will allow me to connect other peripherals with similar connectors, such as the Unicorn pen plotter, or the Frostruder.

Indicator lights!!!

The first mod that I added to my Makerbot was a set of indicator lights, one for the platform, one for the extruder. They're a pair of 12V HO scale train streetlamps, that I've wired in to the MOSFET output on the extruder board. I have them wired in paralell with the relays that provide high-current power to the heaters. To go along with them, I've temporarily added some foam to hold them in place and indicate which one's which, but I plan to print a better bracket soon!

First post W00T!

Hello to anyone reading this, I'll be using this blog to share my experiences running a Makerbot Industries Cupcake CNC 3D printer. I'll share parts I make, Designs i create and modifications I add to my Makerbot. The blog will be tuned towards people who know at least a bit about the Makerbot, but others are welcome to ask any questions they wish about the machine and it's workings.