Week 40, 2015 – Ideate, Iterate, Create!

Sorry, again with the ‘pictures on the way’, I have to clear off the workbench so I can take pictures of a bunch of stuff…so no pictures in this post yet.

Yes, I know the first weekly of the month is usually the acquisitions update…but most of my purchases won’t arrive until next week, so…
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I’ve been busy with a couple projects this weekend, related to some of the stuff I bought– the few bits that are here already, namely some audio rigging for my podcasting/video setup –and I figure this is a good time to cover this bit of process.

As someone who has spent the majority of his adult life ‘almost making things’– always failing for one reason or another –it is not lost on me just how absolutely mind-blowing it is that I now have a literal god damned magic box that just substantiates my ideas from thin air.  (Or more accurately, from the 1s and 0s of the designs on my computer, and spools of plastic filament.)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah. So, I got this cheap little microphone boom, and I got a new mic cable.  First things first, I needed a way to attach the cable cleanly to the boom and manage it.  Calls for some little cable clips, methinks.

Ideate!

btw, I thought ‘ideate’ was a ridiculous portmanteau I came up with, but apparently it’s an actual for-reals word that only sounds ridiculous and made-up. Go figure.

I figured I’d better keep it simple; no point getting flummoxed at this stage of the process by trying to outsmart myself design-wise… So just a simple double-clip. A square clip to attach to the boom’s square tube frame, and a circular clip for the cable.  Out came one of my trusty digital calipers, and soon I had the measurements; the frame tubing was nominally .410″ square, and the XLR mic cable was a little under .250″ in diameter.  So those are the numbers I worked with.

Three minutes later, I had the simple design ready to print.  Dropped it into Simplify3D, warmed up the printer, and 5 minutes later, I had the part.  Fit like a charm! It was slightly loose though, and that brings us to…

Iterate!

One of the wonders of 3D printing is pretty easily summed up in the name of the process/industry it has given rise to; Rapid Prototyping.  Not only does it allow you to near-instantaneously go from idea to reality, but to quickly and inexpensively go through countless design iterations, working out flaws, testing refinements, and so on.  I mean, it costs me $0.11 worth of plastic to print eight of these clips, so printing one, trying it, tweaking some things, and printing another hardly costs me anything, except time…and at 5 minutes a pop, that’s not a huge concern when I can be working on plenty of other things (Or relaxing!) while the printer does its work.  So, anyway… The clip was a little loose on the frame, so I made the dimensions a little smaller.  That still didn’t seem to do it, so I tried again, but now it was too small, and still loose…there was something missing. So I took the first one, and squeeze the legs together– bending them a little –and when I stuck it on, it stayed put. Aha!

So this time, I set the dimension back to what it was, but I designed a 5° inward bend on the legs. (I had also, in an earlier iteration, merged the outlines of the circle and square completely, to make the cable lie flatter on the boom…the original design only had them overlap 50%.)

Create!

Knowing this design was as perfect as it was going to get, I printed eight of them.  About 30 minutes and 1.8 meters of filament later, I had them, and they were great!  They still don’t stay put on the frame perfectly– not like on the cable, but the cable has a really ‘grabby’ rubber surface –but they’re no longer loose enough to slide around under their own weight.  Maybe I should try dual-extrusion printing them with a NinjaFlex inner wall to grip the metal tubing.  (I still haven’t received my Teflon tubing yet, so I haven’t reassembled the left extruder…)

Week 42, 2013 – PCB Process Revisited

So, as some of you know, I’ve had no end to trouble producing printed circuit boards (PCBs); there’s always some damn thing that isn’t quite right…  Toner transfer is always a crapshoot, quality-wise.  And photo-resist is iffy because my laser printer can print good high-density positives, but not negatives, and my CraftRobo can’t cut rubylith fine enough for the kind of PCBs I’m making…

I’m left with two options;  Screen-printing resist to the board. (Since burning screens is a positive image process)  Or! Using lithographic film in an emulsion-to-emulsion contact exposure with my laser printer transparencies to yield perfect high-contrast negative films to expose the dry film laminated photo-resist on the PCBs with.  (I can also use lithographic ‘duplicating film’ to turn so-so positive transparencies into film positives with perfect contrast.)

Right now I’m just waiting on money for supplies.  Like a hundred bucks in chemicals, film, and darkroom stuff.

In the meantime, here’s some YouTube links!

Screen Printing!

No, this doesn’t involve the PrtScn key on your keyboard, I’m talking about Screen Printing— traditionally/colloquially referred to as silkscreening —squeegeeing ink through a stenciled textile mesh to print an image!

I’ve been wanting to develop the capability for a while, because it has uses in almost anything you can imagine.  But for one reason or another it’d never materialize.  Well, I finally fixed that…and I can’t even remember how that happened… I just have the stuff now, haha!

Anyway, I figured the first thing I’d do, is print something on the canvas cover we made for my 7×10 lathe.

Lathe cover, yay! ヽ(゚∀゚)ノ

I’ll detail the process, after the jump!

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