Monday, January 29, 2018

Becca's Bathtub....Make That Becca's Enclosure Pt 2

More projects are back on track once again this week with work progressing nicely with my friend Becca Kacanda who has been continuing working on a fiberglass project that she started last November.  Like me she was side tracked because of the holidays and so she is moving forward on this project once again and I am helping her to learn this new way of making things with fiberglass mold-less composite construction.

Here's Becca with the latest progress that she has made on the project a few days ago.  She had finished putting on the foam strips on the enclosure which will be one of five that she has planned in the coming months. I think I was just as excited as she was about the progress that she had made on this portion of the build.  The outer lip of the enclosure was shaped using additional foam Styrofoam strips to lay down the shape that Becca wanted and then a filler layer of fiberglass resin and a micro-balloon mixture to make the white filler you see in the photo above.  The resin putty mixture was laid down to smooth out the stepped layers of Styrofoam.  In the process she learned how to add these strips along with mixing large batches of resin/putty and lay it all down smoothly.  She did a great job first time out.  She'll be able to teach my fiberglassing class no problem when she finishes this project.

  In the next couple of days I will help Becca with more prep work to get the enclosure ready to be fiber-glassed.  Once the fiberglass has been added to the structure and cured then Becca will do her thing which is more artistic in nature and I will have to learn from her at that point.  She works with collage materials.... glass, paper, photos, pennys, bits and pieces is the best way I can describe it.  I will just have to see what she comes up with once she gets that far along with this project.  I will stay in touch with her along the way and keep you updated on her progress.  
  At this point it looks like a little boat instead of something that will be artistically pleasing that will end up in a art gallery.  Just like half of the projects I build they can take several forms before the project has been completed. Either way it should be interesting to see how it all turns out.  I also told Becca with most of my projects it has to get ugly before it gets pretty. This applies to this project as well but so far both of us like what we are seeing. I will keep you up to date on Becca's enclosure project as she moves forward.   Have a good one!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

My New Creality CR-10 S4 3D Printer And New Keenovo Heating Element

I thought I'd better get this post out before half of my readers start to think I have disappeared off of the face of the earth.  At least that's what I feel like when I haven't posted anything for at least a week or more.  Writer's withdrawal..... or something like that.  Better than writer's cramps or writer's block I guess.  Anyway today I wanted to get you caught up on what I have been working on over the past couple of weeks.

As most of you already know I am big into 3D printing.  My trusty Makerbot Original Replicator 3D printer is starting to show it's age and the fact that I can no longer get parts to repair it if it breaks down has led me to tracking down a replacement printer.  After a lot of research I broke down over the Christmas holidays and purchased a new Creality CR-10 S4 3D printer.

This is a BIG printer.  Or at least a lot bigger than my Makerbot Replicator.  The Replicator has a build area of 6" x 9" x 6".  I thought this was large six years ago.  My new S4 has a build area that is 16" x 16" x 16".  I am talking days to print something that will fill that area.  The largest thing I printed on the Makerbot took 10 hours to make.  It did a fine job but I thought 10 hours was an awful long time.  Now I am thinking of things that I can build that will make that look like a quick job. 

With my research on the Creality printer I read, saw, and heard a lot of great things about this printer. This is what I was hoping for.  Fast and easy assembly, wide variety of build materials, and honest reviews from real people.  But one thing I did not imagine was the cost!  My Makerbot six years ago cost me $2000.  The Creality CR-10 S4 cost me a little over 1/3 that cost......$700 and free shipping! I was sold.  I ordered it the day after Christmas and three days later it was in my hands.  

Since that time I have assembled it and corrected a couple of minor problems with it to get it up and running.  Assembly was quick and easy.... almost.  The print head moves from side to side on the X-Axis.  This needed to be tightened up in the assembly to make it move and track smoothly.  The problem I had with it was that I could not get this adjustment to work.  Luckily a friend of mine has the exact same machine.  I called him and between us we figured out what was going on.  He told me to tear the print head down to examine the assembly closer to hopefully figure out what was going on. His printer did not have this issue.  Sure enough after I took the simple assembly apart I could see plain as day that the mounting plate for the head was bent slightly.  After flattening it in about 10 seconds I put the assembly back together again and then I could make the final adjustment to make the assembly work perfectly.  I printed a test part after connecting everything else to the printers control box and I was up and running with a beautifully created test part.  

As with all of my other 3D printer projects I plan and build I use ABS filament.  I want to do the same with this printer but found out that the factory installed heating element for the heated bed is far from adequate for the job. So on to the next adjustment.
This will be the next addition to the new printer.  It is the Keenovo heating element for the Creality S4 printer.  Again with my research I have been in direct contact with real users that have made this upgrade.  Instead of waiting 30-40 minutes to heat the print bed up this unit does it in less than 10 minutes and will get the temperature up to the 110 centigrade that is needed for printing ABS filament.  With any luck I will have this new addition in my hands this coming week. 

As before with my research I needed more information to have this all work with the new printer.  With the control box for the printer it tells the original heating element for the bed when to warm up. What happens when you replace it with the Keenovo?  The old heating element is now gone and the printer is controlled by an outside heating element that has it's own control box. Then what?

Again more research was in order.   Lots of emails and searching gave me the answer.  The process to actually make something with any 3D printer is to first design your project or part in a good design software.  I use Fusion 360 software because it far exceeds my needs and is free.  Once I have the part designed it needs to be put into slicing software.  The software that the Creality uses is called Cura.  Cura takes the computer file and slices the part into layers and works out the next file so the printer will understand what to print on each layer.  I am not a programmer so to me it's still quite amazing that anyone could figure out how to make this part of the process actually work. 

Once the parts has been changed into the file that the printer needs it then can be printed.  Not a difficult task to get to this point unless you no nothing at all about designing your part in the first place.  This is where Fusion 360 is good as it has a lot of users like me that have a lot of  videos online on how to design what you want to make. So that a help for sure. 

But how do you solve the problem of not using the original heating element in the new printer?  This turned out to be simpler than I had imagined.  In the Cura software is where the changes need to be made.  

I started with this screen in Cura.  I could not see where to change anything on the right side of the screen so a closer look was in order. 

At the top of the screen is the settings pick to show the menu as seen above where I selected "Configure setting visibility..."

From this menu I selected "Printers" and then "Creality CR-10 S4"

Then I selected "Machine Settings" which gave me the menu I was looking for where the check box for "Heated Bed" was. I unchecked this box and now am set up so the printer control box will not try to fire up something that no longer exists.  Yeah!  

It only took me two weeks to figure this out with the help of a lot of nice people who took the time to answer all of my emails and questions that I passed out to them.  I could breathe again.....whew!

The last steps that I am still working on is the enclosure that is needed to be built for the 3D printer.  When you print with ABS filament you get much better parts using an enclosure to retain the heat in the printer build area.  That will be the subject of my next post as this one has already gotten to be plenty long.  But with this post I hope any of you who want to make heated build plate upgrade like I am doing will get the answers they are look for also. 
Have a good a good day with your latest project!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Progress Over The Years..... My Automobile Artwork

I am not a full time artist. At least this is not something that I do on a daily basis or even a weekly basis for that matter. I enjoy drawing automobiles and started when I was in grade school.  If someone at that time had told me that I could have made a living at drawing cars it would have changed my life no doubt. I have done well for myself over the past 60+ years of my life and am very happy with what I have managed to accomplish and am still working on in my retirement.  But drawing cars has always been one of my passions that I always end up going back to from time to time.  With that in mind I thought you (the reader of this post)  might light to see just a small example of my progress over the years.  In my last post I had shown you the pen and ink artwork that I created with my British sportscar artwork business.

This is one example of the artwork that I created over 20 years ago for my British sportscar business. I started with drawings like this which later were converted to make t-shirts.  Each drawing took around 24 hours to create.
Later on in the business I started creating full color drawings of my cars. I am rather proud of this MGTC that I made during that time and so the business grew because of my efforts. Again another 24 hours were needed to change or create new drawing of my cars to full color with shadows and reflections that looked even more realistic. This was in the early 2000's at this point in the business.

I went from line drawings to t-shirts and later on to clocks that I was shipping worldwide.  I even made some nice money along the way. A labor of love to be sure. After seven years I closed up shop and moved on to other projects.

From this point I created artwork of my own cars once again. The Mini Cooper artwork shown above I made for a poster that is hanging in my workroom still today.  It was a great car and I am happy to have owned it and have a nice drawing to show it off.

Now as you can see I am still creating automobile artwork. Only this time it's full 3D computer graphics.  I still have a passion with creating automobile art and I guess I always will. Each of the 3D computer graphic vehicles above took roughly 100 hours to create. It would have been excellent to be able to create this level of artwork when I started, but back then computers and software for drawings were still in the stone ages compared to what is available today.

Each of the styles that I've created over the years have their own following. The next step would be to start creating automobile artwork for virtual reality. Something to think about as my son is deep into this tech with his own business creating new virtual reality video games and running his own virtual reality arcade.

Anyway I thought you'd like to see where I started and where I am now with my artwork efforts. I hope you enjoy my creations and the labor of love that went into making each style for my business.  Maybe you will find a passion in your life and never let it die also.  If you can also make a few dollars along the way it is just icing on the cake too. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

British Sportscar Artwork Is Where I Started Drawing Cars

Over 20 years ago I started creating pen and ink drawings of British sports cars. My reasoning behind this was the fact that I owned one for many years and simply could not get a drawing of my car.  No one did them. Or at least at the time I could not find anyone that made drawings of British sports cars. So I drew my car and members of the car club I was in at the time were so impressed with my work that they to wanted their cars drawn.  This led to starting my own business and producing prints of ten different British cars. This then led to t-shirts. Then to color t-shirts. Then finally to clocks.  

I was in business to be sure as I was shipping my products world-wide!  I made some nice cash at the time for all of the work that I did. After seven years of running the business I said that was enough and I closed up my little home business and moved on to other interests.  

I don't regret running the business and I had a lot of fun creating the artwork for it.  So I was happy to check it off of my bucket list and go from there. I still have all of the original artwork and even some of the t-shirts stashed away.  

With this in my past I always thought since I am writing for this blog that it would make a good post to show you what I created all those years ago. The only problem was I did not have the artwork saved on my computer that was clear enough to post it without it looking to put it bluntly..... like crap.   This changed over the past week or so when I was fortunate enough to find my original computer files that are still bright and clear to show the detail and effort that I put into each of my drawings at the time. Each car took roughly 24 hours to create and were hand drawn on mylar film in ink. I am rather proud of my early work in drawing cars and so with that in mind I wanted to show you them today in this post. Click on the images below for a larger view and enjoy.