Entries in Category Engineering and Inventions

Building a New Desktop PC After Nine Years

In the last month I assembled a new desktop computer for myself. This is my first significant upgrade in nine years, a timespan that my teenage self in the mid-nineties would have found unbelievable. At the time the upgrade cycle was something like three years long for anyone, even non-gamers, trying to keep up with typical software demands. In other words, the slowing of that cycle has allowed me to skip two major upgrades entirely, and I might even have kept going for a few more years except that my old video card was starting to fail with increasing frequency, and it wouldn't support DirectX 10. Although I'm not much of a gamer anymore, I had become aware of Planet Coaster, a sort of spiritual successor to the RollerCoaster Tycoon that consumed quite a lot of my time in the early 2000s, and obviously I had to play it.

AMD CPU after nine years, on the left, and the new motherboard, CPU cooler, RAM, and video card on the right.

3D-Printed Organizer Bins for Crimp Terminals

3D-printed bins, in black PLA, keep a larger variety of parts organized.

I recently needed to crimp some right-angle “flag”-style quick-disconnect terminals, which meant buying yet another crimp tool (turns out you can't use the same one you use for straight terminals) and yet more small parts, which of course have to be kept organized. To replace the various disconnected organizers I was using for this type of part I purchased a 15-inch Flambeau Merchant Box with lift-out tray, $19.99 at Orchard Supply.

I used the lift-out tray to acommodate a sheet of 1 1/8 inch Kaizen foam, a product I've used before to make drawer organizers for my office. Kaizen foam is made of layers that can be peeled from each other (but not as cleanly as you might want), so that you can draw an outline of a tool on the foam, cut straight down to the appropriate depth using a razor blade or other knife, and then hollow out the foam to that depth by digging with your fingers. This gave me a place for my crimp tools plus some room for future expansion.

Y-Axis Stop Upgrade for Prusa i3 3D Printer

The new part triggering the microswitch. Success!

Since day one of using Crystal Palace, my Reprapguru Prusa i3 V2 clone, I've been planning to fix the poor design of the y-axis stop switch. The Reprapguru design is annoying but marginally usable with careful adjustment and frequent human intervention, but after making a small bumper part on the 3D printer and screwing it to the bearing housing (all of forty minutes of effort) the problem is solved and I don't have to worry about it anymore. Not bad for a full year of irritation and procrastination!

Read more here.

Reprap Guru Prusa i3 3D Printer Update: Fixing a Z-Axis Problem

Plastic dust from the spinning nut on one of the couplers.

I recently fixed another problem with my 3D printer: damage to the z-axis caused by unsecured wires getting in the way of the z-axis limit switch. This caused the nuts to turn entirely out of their housing as the printer reached zero mechanically but couldn't trigger the limit switch to turn the motors off. Read more about the fix here. This is another reason I need to get back to the task of making cable chains and other wire management features to make this printer a little cleaner and better contained.

Pelican 1550 Case 3D Models

I recently designed something to fit inside the Pelican model 1550, one of their excellent “Protector” line of rugged, watertight cases. Although Pelican helpfully provides exact 3D models of the inside of their cases, I needed the outside geometry as well for documentation purposes. Using their models as a starting point, I built the rest of the geometry from measurements. I didn't need it to be nearly as detailed as this, but I wanted to release it on Grabcad, and I wanted that release to be as useful as possible to others. As a result this became a bit of a labor of love; I haven't gone into my time-tracking app to find out how many hours I have into this mostly because I think I'll be dismayed by the answer!

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