3D printing and painter’s tape

Whoa! Over one year has passed since my last post. I changed a couple jobs, losing most of my online time in the process but I assure you I’m not dead, not yet.

Last month I got into 3D printing, got myself a Malyan M150, a cheap chinese i3 printer but solid enough for some hobbyist work. It has all the basic features I need plus a metal heated bed.
I’ve already printed multiple items, including a tiny penis keychain ( yes! my fist print was a penis! ), a bunch of wristwatch stands for my growing poor man’s watch collection and a bunch of precision tests: a boring cube, the same tiny boat benchmark everybody prints, a T62 tank printed at double the default speed and 0.3mm layer height and a 1cm tall figurine printed at 0,1mm height and half the speed.

Now, my along the printer came a beautiful plastic scraper I suppose to be used when removing prints. I still haven’t figured out how to correctly use it, so I’m using my old friends The Hammer and The Screwdriver to pop prints from bed, which caused an awful lot of scrapes on the paper sheet covering the bed. Looking for replacements I found out some people use different materials, including paper, glass, PEI, vinyl and glues with varying prices and qualities. Some people thought of using blue painters tape, I admit I never ever heard about BLUE tape in my whole life and I found out nobody in Italy even knows of it. I decide to put a test on light yellow tape usually found here and I bought a 3M/Scotch Tape 2214, 50mmx50m roll, capable of withstanding 60°C of temperature for at least 1 hour without degrading (there was one rated at 100°C, but the shop did not have it in stock).

I immediately put a strip to test, using a ruler to level it evenly, but my prints did not stick to this tape. After some throwaway tries I found out the bed must be heated to 70°C for the first two layers to make PLA stick, after that it can be safely cooled to 50°C. I stress tested this setting with two prints for 9 hours total and the tape still went strong, the two pieces unstuck easily when the bed cooled to room temp and I was still able to remove the tape from the bed leaving no trace behind.


UPDATE (May, 3):
Looks like all I said was bullshit. Less than 8 hours from this post, I was printing a 4cm tall piece and the printer decided to kick the print down 0,5cm from the end. I didn’t see the print dropping, I was in another room and I noticed the printer started making a different sound, I came to check to find my piece down and the printer happily printing in the air.
I’ve already printed the same piece under the same configuration, only difference being a 195°C extruder, 5°C lower than my previous prints. This print had a better quality, but it looks like a glob of PLA formed on top of my print and the extruder hooked it and dropped the print or the print was not sticking to bed anymore or both.


Another Update (May, 9):
After some days without using the printer I tried again the same object under the same setting, this time it printed fine. I then printed 30+ little hearts that will be used in another project and everything was ok.

Counting Plastic Beads, now with a GUI

After making a command line version, I decided to make a GUI one. Not that there was a need to, but I was trying out Eto.Forms GUI library and this was a great excuse to try different features.
The program is single classed (two actually, but the first class only job is to run Main and create the second class), 140 lines, no cool programming or any great pattern example, it gets the job done and that what counts here.

Launch the application, click **load** to select your image and click **count** to get a list of colors (Hex format) and how many bead are needed per color.
Note: the counting includes background beads, if the same color is used for both background and front colors, you may want to edit the image in your favorite editor and change background color.

Should work on both .NET and Mono on all main desktop OSes (Win, OSX, Linux).

Download here: Beadscount GUI (549) (all platforms in the same zip, you can run the .exe using .NET or MONO or use run .app on OSX)
Source: on github.

Here’s a couple screens:


Over tinkered voice chat for my 3DS

Almost one month ago Monster Hunter 4 came out, delivering the killing blow to my dying social life. Now, being the asshole I am, I have almost no friends and none of those have a 3DS to play videogames with me. But here comes the Internet, where you don’t need many friends to be happy and, thanks to a forum, I got some people to hunt with me on MH4. The problem is: 3DS has no voicechat and I love voicechatting with other players. We got around this limitation using a VPS and installing a Mumble server, but you need another device for using it, like a PC or a smartphone. And then you can’t use headphones on both your pc and 3DS, fuck it.
Easy solution? Use a stereo mixer or something like that, but I didn’t want to waste 25€, I had to improvise using what I had readily available.
So my solution was using an USB audio card, an Asus Xonar U3 that was lying around since the laptop it was connected to broke, plug both microphone and headphones in that card and use my PC’s line-in (set to loop) to get audio from the 3DS.


This setup has the added benefit of listening to music in my headphone while playing.
The only downside was that in this case “size matters”: the only 3,5mm audio cable I had for 3DS-PC connection is extremely short and I have to keep my hands on the desk. I tried switching mic and 3DS output ports but for some reason the mic stopped working if plugged to my PC’s line-in and 3DS to USB audio had a noticeable hissing.
It might be a bit overkill for this use but hey, I was able to make it for free and if it’s stupid and it works, it’s not stupid at all!