Thursday 14 November 2013

I'm still here!

In the effort to break my 6-monthly posting, I'm going to start documenting my projects a little better and get some posted.

I'm planning some mini-projects, redux of old projects and finishing some big projects...

With access to 3D printers at work (, I've been able to accelerate lots of projects and get things designed and built within a matter of hours. So, lots of mini-projects already done and dusted - plus many more to come.

A few projects have taken a back-burner; mostly the RC projects as the weather is a turn-off for anything outdoors. I'll probably get into them around spring-time, in time for a summer completion. A real nuisance with the weather is delays for quite a few model kit conversions I'm working on, as I have nowhere dry to spray paint. Falling short of building a spray area indoors, I'm having to wait for low winds and dry weather to get primer and base coats done. I've built quite a few models as far as is possible without painting, so stuck there.

Model Making
- 28mm Model Building/Painting
- 4mm Plastic & Card Models (1/76th aka OO) plus lots of on-track plant models
- 4mm Layout (1/76th aka OO)

- Train Control System (LCB)
- Train Control Panel (DCC/Traction)

- RC Platform (aka UAV/Rover)
- RC Hovercraft Rebuild
- RC Boat Rebuild (set back due to rebuild/painting of hull)

Mini Projects
- 4mm Faller Car System Conversions (3D printing chassis and steering to adapt 4mm models for self-driving)
- 3D Printed Servo Mounts (90% complete, just some mechanical tweaks)

I promise my next post will be within a week and will be a project report, complete with pictures!

PS in my defence, I've drafted lots of posts, but for one reason or another never publish them - normally lack of pictures or wanting to make more progress. Dumb, I know.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

The last few months have flown by - hard to believe it's nearly the end of May...

So, having part-written countless blog post drafts, I've not had the time (nor inclination I suppose) to finish them. Suffice to say, I probably should.

Having had my Birthday recently, I'm now inundated with lots of bits I've been wanting for ages and claiming was imperative for my 'making' needs. Highlights include tonnes of buckeye couplings, a couple of new locos, a Faller car system kit, a loco kit and some DCC gear.

I'm pushing forward with my model rail layout at the moment, with the awful weather I've not really bothered with the R/C vehicles, though I have sorted most of the electronics out for the projects I'm working on. What is mostly outstanding now, is time to design and 3D print the parts I need to complete those projects and some time to paint/finish them.

The rail layout is naturally growing and evolving far beyond the original plans, but it is moving forward. I'm working on the design at the moment and a little stuck with it, but over the next few weeks or so I should be laying track and roadways. I'll be visiting Miniature Wunderland in Hamburg as well very soon, so hopefully that'll also give me the inspirational shove I need to finish the design.

My workbench is also getting busy, with a number of model conversions on the schedule, in addition to the electronics and 3D print projects I'm working on. Pictures will start flowing shortly, I promise.

Finally, head over to and check out what I've been working on since January - we'll be officially launching really, really soon, but in the meantime we're 'beta' launching with a smaller set of products. Sign up to the newsletter and you'll be in the running for our prize draw as well.

Okay, back to the workbench...

Monday 21 January 2013

Building a 3D Printer

Much has been happening on the 3D printing front. A few delays in sourcing parts (as will be explained), but otherwise things are going smoothly.

After some research and help from the donor of the seed parts, I chose the Ecksbot as the basis for my first 3D printer. Even before completing the first, I've got plans for an OpenBeam-based printer with a larger print area and finer print resolution.

I initially thought the electronics aspect would be the cause of the delays - I suspected I'd get it built and it would gather dust as I desperately tried to source the electronics and wire the thing up. Not so (so far), the biggest delay has been on a couple of the mechanical parts.

From the outset, I wanted to source parts from good businesses with great products - a combination of British, German, Japanese and even US-made parts. My aim is to find as many manufacturers in the UK and EU to source my parts from for all projects. Of course, if I were to be an utter purest, none of my projects would come to fruition, so I have been forced to source from China for some bits (the electronics at the moment being the sole parts for the printer).

Seed Parts
Printed in British-made extruded PLA, all are the standard parts (the majority of the Ecksbot parts are already are based on the improved versions of the RepRap's parts) with the moving parts in orange and static in black.
Mechanical Hardware
The majority of fasteners are A2 stainless steel hex cap-heads some of the M3 are rounded heads, similarly the threaded rods are A2 stainless steel. The smooth rods have been the hardest to source, even at the time of writing, I've still not found a company able to supply them to me for a realistic price - not to mention the majority of suppliers have neither responded nor acknowledged me.
Looking around at the available hot-ends, it proved easier to get it straight from Eckertech especially since they engineer and test each one to high tolerances. Plus, their pre-sales support was helpful in selecting a nozzle size. I plumped for the standard 0.4mm nozzle, even though I will want finer printing in the future, it's best to start with a standard construction and work from there.
Electronics & Motors
Settling for a RAMPS 1.4 platform, PCB heatbed (with custom made aluminium heatsink) and a set of upgrades including the LCD panel and SD reader. Not much to say here until it's built up and I get to grips with the pros and likely cons of the RAMPS platform.
Once I can source the remaining parts, I'll be able to complete construction. I've built up as much as possible (working around the missing parts when the structure permits), so I'm keen to get these last few parts. The shopping list now; hobbed bolt, smooth rods, T2.5 belt and stepper motors. The hobbed bolt will also be coming from Eckertech, the belts and motors I just need to collect, leaving the smooth rods to procure.

Next update should hopefully see construction complete and the majority of electronics connected.