Monday, July 30, 2018

Cura 3D Printing Lesson.....Finding A Simple Solution To A Printing Problem

A couple of days ago I had a scare while trying to 3D print some parts with my Creality CR-10 S4 3D printer.  I had designed a simple part that I wanted to reprint because of modifications that I found that I needed in my design.  I use Fusion 360 design software and Cura slicing software to make all of my parts.  I was about to set up the STL file in Cura for slicing the model when Cura informed me that an error had occurred with the software and needed to be reset.  I immediately followed orders and did so.  I then went through  the usual procedures to get my part ready to 3D print but when I loaded into my 3D printer the machine failed to start. 

Thinking now that I had done the setup wrong I tried all over again....and again.....and again.  Nothing seemed to work.  I simply could not get the 3D printer to start printing even though the day before I had been printing for hours and hours without any issues.  I knew for sure that the 3D printer was in good working order and assumed that it was a software issue.  So I unloaded my version of Cura (version 3.2.1) and reloaded it into my computer.  The software loaded into the machine fine but again did not fire up my 3D printer.  

The next step was to remove the version 3.2.1 Cura software and load in the latest and greatest version.  This being version 3.4.1.  I was hopeful that this would cure the problem with my 3D printer and I would be back to normal once again. I set up my part once again in the Cura software and loaded into my 3D printer and kept my fingers crossed.  It was a lost cause as my 3D printer still would not fire up and print the part that I had been working on.  

At this point it was late at night and I figured I might as well pack it in for the day and maybe get a reply from the Cura company after I had wrote them explaining what had been happening and requesting some help.  I was glad at this point to forget about it for the night.

The next morning the issue with my 3D printer was still on my mind and I had not heard from Cura on how to solve the problem.  After a little searching online I had discovered a couple of things that I still could try to fix the problem I was dealing with.  One was to take the SD card that I had been using and format it.  The SD card may be corrupt and this would cause the problem. Also another thing that I had not thought of was a simple error on my part that may have caused some of my issues.  When I unloaded the original 3.2.1 software I had not restarted my computer and then loaded the new Cura version 3.4.1.  I formatted the SD card and tried running the part again.  No luck.  I then said heck with it. I went out a bought a new SD card.  Even if this did not cure the problem I could always use another SD card some place else.  I brought it home and set up the new SD card and again had no luck. 

I then immediately went through the process of  unloading all of Cura software in my computer and reloading it with the latest version after restarting the computer in the middle of the process. I fired up the Cura software and had to reset the profile for my 3D printer when the problem of why my 3D printer was not working was starring me right in the face on the computer screen. 

On the setup screen in Cura you can set up a lot of different settings for your 3D printer to customize it. Two things for me stood out.  The two temperatures that you want the 3D printer to run at. The extruder and the heated bed depending on what type of plastic you are using.  The default settings in Cura were set to 230 degrees centigrade for the extruder and 80 degrees centigrade for the heated bed.  I reset the extruder to 220 where I normally like it and then realized why my  3D printer would not print any parts.  On my Creality CR-10 S4 printer I had swapped out the stock heating element with a new Keenovo unit that is a vast improvement over the original for printing ABS filament.  

I had unplugged the stock unit and it no longer is used. The Cura software was trying to tell the 3D printer to bring the original stock heating element up to 80 degrees centigrade and then print.  Since the heating element was unplugged and the heated bed was now being controlled by an outside heating unit and controller the 3D printer computer never could reach 80 degrees from the Cura settings and would never start the print because of it. 

I reset the custom setting in Cura to the bed temperature of zero.  Then the heated bed would be ignored when trying to print something. 

 My Keenovo heating element I manually set to 110 degrees to handle the work of heating up the bed to the temperature I need for printing.  By the way this is accomplished in less than two minutes with the Keenovo heater.  Something the stock heating element could never ever do. Well worth the money if you want to print ABS plastic.  

So after dialing in the Cura custom settings I loaded up the file for the part I had been wanting to print for an entire day into the 3D printer and pressed start.  Fifteen seconds later the 3D printer came to life once again and a short time later I was rewarded with a perfectly printed modified part! YEAH!

One more thing that I had also discovered through my investigation to solve my printing problem was that because I had not restarted my computer and reloaded the Cura software it was also not working correctly.  When I loaded my STL file into Cura to have the part sliced for my 3D printer it looked to be doing everything correctly.  In actuality the Cura software would load the name of the file on to the SD card and that was all.  The file had nothing in it.  Only the name was stored on the SD card.  

So to conclude here.  Check the little things first! Temps, plug-ins, settings, etc.  It was the simple things that got me messed up and after letting it sit overnight I had the solution present itself quicker than fussing with it for an entire day.  No matter what I am more than happy to have my 3D printer chugging along happily once again.  Lesson learned.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Blender Motorcycle Concept Project Part 4

After taking careful measurements of the Blender motorcycle concept I have been playing with I find that the single seater looks good and that is about it.  In reality it would be way to small to actually build for real.  The cockpit is to narrow and it only stands four feet tall so there is very little headroom in it.  So back to the drawing board once again today as I scaled the body up to a more roomy size.  

Select any image to get a large view

With the larger scale of the body I increased the width of the trike body to three feet not including the rear fenders.  This in turn increased the overall height to five feet. With these changes, the width of the complete model comes in at four feet wide.  The surprising thing was that now the vehicle could easily be a two seater and it still looks good.  

With the increased overall size of the Blender model it looks to have more capacity to be used as an electric as well if and when I ever plan on building this thing for real.  Again at the least it will make a very interesting model to build with my 3D printer.  Something to think about it the future. 

As for a real vehicle I would set these images aside as inspiration for the real thing.  Like my earlier posts about such a project it would take a lot of designing and technical work to get this off the ground. The real work would be under the skin and probably all the paperwork just to get it licensed to be able to drive it down the road.  Not even to mention what kind of price tag this would come in at. A long term dream vehicle project for sure.  At least for now I can dream and play with the design and not spend a fortune in the process. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Blender Motorcycle Concept Project Part 3

I have been showing my Blender motorcycle model concept to a lot of people over the past week and everyone thought it would be great to actually build it.  I agree that the idea of building a self-balancing electric motorcycle would be very cool but I would have to learn an awful lot to accomplish such a complex project.  This is actually being done by a company named Lit Motors. 

Lit Motors

 With that in mind I thought I would make another version of the design by modeling something a bit less complicated that is still good looking and has the capability of actually being built without having to go back to school to learn some high tech stuff in the process.  This is what I came up with.

Select any of the images for a larger view.

This design as you can see is a three wheeler which eliminates the need to have it self balancing so that's a good start for the idea.  

I still like the idea of having an actual vehicle like this to be an electric.  It would be a big challenge as this being a small vehicle it would be a job to figure out where to put enough batteries in the trike to have a decent range.  Still would be interesting to think about just the same.

In these computer images I made changes to the original design by making it a three wheeler along with going to solid styled rims instead of spokes and using car tires instead of motorcycle tires.  All in all I like this design just as much if not more than the two wheeler I modeled up in part 2.  

Not sure if I will ever attempt making this Blender model a real vehicle. Not that I think the idea would not be fun. be  It would be a HUGE project to say the least and would take a lot of design work along with a bunch of cash to get it off the ground. 

 I might at least look at making this Blender model a real 3D printed model for display or possibly even have a radio controlled version to play with.  If I take this a couple of steps farther I will pass on the progress to you if I do and let you know how it turns out.  Stay tuned as usual. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Blender Motorcycle Concept Project Part 2

The past couple of days I've put a bunch of hours work in on my Blender motorcycle concept project. Lots of good ideas have come up because of it and so it is and interesting thing to work on and also inspirational at the same time.  In part one I completed the wheels for the motorcycle which turned out very well.  I was not sure at that point if I was going to model a regular looking futuristic motorcycle or redo an earlier model that I had created years ago.  The second idea won out so here is how it all turned out. 

(Select any image to get a larger view)

This is the starting point for the Blender concept cycle redo.  I liked the idea of modeling a motorcycle that was fully enclosed with a clear bubble canopy.  Also with this idea would be that the motorcycle would be electric and be self balancing.  There is a real motorcycle currently under development like this from a company named Lit Motors.  A very interesting machine so I thought I would make my version of what I would like it to be if I could build one. 

I liked the bubble canopy but thought it best to have it be split so that access to the drivers seat would be a bit more believable.  I also did not know if this was going to be designed for one or two people. In the image above more details were added with side mounted video cameras instead of mirrors, single arm front suspension and a near complete interior at this point. 

At this point I also recessed the rear license plate and added small access panels on the side to act as canopy handles to open or close the motorcycle.  I had not worked out the rear tail or signal lights yet but the design was shaping up rather nicely.

To give my Blender model a better reference to it's size I imported a lady that I had created in a piece of software called Makehuman that I had on file and so she became the driver.   I did some quick reference measurements using the lady (I call her Kathy) and set her up to be 5 foot 8 inches tall.  This along with measuring the tires which matched my Honda Goldwing I was able to work out the full dimensions of the model if it were a real vehicle.  The real motorcycle the best I can figure would be 12 feet long, 45 inches tall and right around 2 feet wide.  This made for a tight fit for Kathy but I did manage to squeeze her into the cockpit.   I also worked out in the image above the front and rear signal lights, tail light and headlight layouts.  

In the interior of the motorcycle I originally had the steering wheel to high.  This caused an issue with trying to see the gauges on the dash along with the small video monitors that are used for the rear view as well as both left and right views.  

With the model being just a model I realize that a tremendous amount of actual design work would need to be done to make this Blender model and actual living breathing vehicle parked in my garage. As I said earlier I managed to squeeze Kathy into the drivers seat. Barely.   In reality the design would need to be taller and wider to accommodate a real person.  You need the vehicle to be closer to 3 feet wide not two and probably another foot taller.  It would give you a lot more elbow and head room inside.  Also to make it electric would be a real trick as this is a very small vehicle.  An interesting design study just the same. 

One thing nice about playing with this design is getting to see what It might be like to actually build and drive something like this.  The image above gives you a good idea of what the dash layout might be like and what you would see going down the road.  The dash could be a full computer screen to show the gauges that you would normally see and just above it are three small video monitors that give you a constant rear view as there is no rear view mirror.  It would be worthless as you could not see anything out the back of the vehicle with a mirror.  Also on both sides  of the rear view monitor are video monitors for the left and right views.  An interesting thought to have the video cameras instead of mirrors.  This could some day be the norm.  At least I hope it will be.  

Also the steering wheel could be replaced with a joystick.  It actually would be safer in a crash but might be more than a handful when trying to drive it.  Something the auto industry has been playing around with for decades.  Anyway this is my futuristic Blender motorcycle.  I hope it will give you a few ideas for you next Blender project or maybe a real project that will sit in your garage someday. We can at least dream and create our visions using Blender 3D.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Miniature Bowling Alley Pt 3.......... It's Completed!

First off happy Fourth of July!  My holiday started off with a bang this morning when I put the finishing touches to the miniature bowling alley that I have been working on.  I was a bit concerned about having to paint and varnish two different section of the alley and keep things looking good when I got done but all worked out well as you can see from the photos below.

Here's the bowling alley closed up and ready for either storage or transport. I added a small brass handle to one side of the bowling alley (case?) and two small latches on the end to securely keep it closed.  The pins and ball are stored inside the closed bowling alley so that nothing can be lost when it is put away after being played with.  The alley has a double pivot 3D printed hinge that makes this all possible. The alley folds up to a dimension of roughly 11 inches wide, 7 1/2 inches tall, and 2 feet long. 

This is a good shot of the alley set up and ready to play.  Ready to play it is not four feet long. Impressive to say the least.  I was really happy how the red paint turned out and it only took me a few minutes to correct any flaws that I had found after removing the tape that I had laid down to protect the varnished sections of the alley.  (Big sigh of relief and a smile on my face too!)

The laser engraving that I put on the side of the alley is well protected now with the five coats of varnish that I had applied to the bowling lane over the last week or so.  I had to take great care not to mess this up when I painted the lower section of the alley.  I was happy that it looks this good. 

What bowling alley would not have lane markers on it?  I thought this was a nice touch to the little alley and again being laser engraved and then varnished these markings should not rub off after hours of play.

To make it simpler to set up the pins correctly I also set up pin markers on the alley as well.  I had to get the correct spacing for the pins so I did some searching online and found the correct pattern and used it to get the correct scale for the spacing of the pins.  Should work out very well. 

This gives you a good view of how the alley looks when you are playing the game.  I like it for sure.

That's about it for this project.  I am very pleased with how it all turned out.  Again with not having any large problems makes for an enjoyable project so it's a good way to start my 4th of July.  Hope you have as much success with your ongoing project as well.  Have a good holiday!