Ultimaker Build Workshop

In March I was at the Delaware Division of Libraries to lead an Ultimaker Build Workshop.   These printers will go out to 7 or 8 of the local libraries in Delaware for public usage, once the policies and procedures are all finalized.

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build

We started the day with an eager group of 15 Librarians and Library staff, and a whole lot of parts!  Most of the group paired off and got to work, starting with the easy stuff:

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build

When you order a lot of 3D printers, you end up with a lot of plastic filament as well!  All of their kits came with orange and blue, so they’ve got a ton of it now!

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build

An unexpected side-effect of teaching a workshop to Librarians:  they tend to be very organized.   This helps tremendously when trying to find a specific part in the directions.

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build

Each group learned from each other, it was ‘see one, do one, teach one’ all in a one-day class.

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build
By the end of the first day, people had made a ton of progress!  It was great.

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build

Delaware Libraries Ultimaker 3D Printer Build


These staff members will go on to be the 3D Printing Subject Matter Experts for their respective libraries, and will know a LOT more about how the units work since they built them by hand. Keep an eye out for one in a Delaware library near you!

3D Printer Village 2013

For the fourth year running (wow, really?) I organized and managed the 3D Printer Village for World Maker Faire in NYC.     What started as 12 of us in a single tent back in 2010 has now exploded.

For this year the 3D Printer Village was made up of 13 tents, with 85 different displays!

Organizing all of this takes weeks of space planning, power routing, signage, etc…   It also means that you get on-site a little early and get to see stuff like sunrise over the rockets:

World Maker Faire 2013 - 3D Printers
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Introducing BotBuilder

After a few years of running the World Maker Faire 3D Printer Village, one of the most common discussions we always have with people is “Does anyone teach a class on how to build or tune your own 3D printer?”

So I went out and made that.   Our first workshop is in October 2013, and we’re building Prusa i3 ‘single plate’ printer kits.   I’ve gone to great lengths to get really nice parts, and we’ve done  a lot of work up front to make sure that they’re easy to assemble:

BotBuilder Prusa i3 Kit - Complete

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Make Magazine 3D Printer Shootout 2014

The first Make Magazine Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing was one of their most successful issues.   We took a new approach with it in that nobody had really sat down and tried to objectively compare the various printers on the market against each other.   Combined with a collection of great how-to articles around 3D scanning and finishing, I was proud of my work on the issue and probably sold 50 of them myself just referring people to it.

When Make inquired to see if I would be interested in writing for the second edition – I jumped at the chance, and booked my flights.

Make Magazine 3D Printer Shootout Weekend

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Prusa Mendel i3: 3D Printer


After crossing paths with Jo Prusa at the last few World Maker Faires in NYC, he always jokes that I only have corporate printers with me at the Faire.

This year I decided to build a new Prusa i3 single-sheet printer for the summer and fall Maker events in our area.

This isn’t meant to be a howto – I followed this one for most of my steps: http://www.sub-design.co.uk/i3build/

Here are some pics from the printing and assembly process.

Prusa i3 Printer - Parts piling up
Frame acquired, starting to print parts.

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iMakr Store Visit: London


While in London for a business trip, I walked and took the train for a bit to get to the iMakr store – the “World’s Largest 3D Printer Store.”

The store had opened a few weeks earlier, and even on a rainy afternoon there was foot traffic inside, browsing the wares.

iMakr Store - Prints for sale / on display
Prints on Display

The retail (upstairs) space is about half printers on display, and half printed designs available for sale. These ranged from the expected (chess sets) to the unexpected – and clearly not printed on hobbyist printers – jewelry.

iMakr Store - iRapid Printer
iRapid Printer

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Sewing for Geek Hobbies


A few years back Amy got a sewing machine and with all of the other things going on, it hasn’t been used a ton.  Amy made some curtains for the house as well as a great Halloween costume for my niece, but otherwise we haven’t done a ton with it.

I had her show me the basics of it and having watched a ton of relatives sew everything from boat canvas to wedding dresses over the years, I felt like I could work it out.   For the most part that was true, even if she did have to show me the thread routing half a dozen times.

Anyway, I’ve blundered through a few things in the last 6 months when need arose – starting with the image above: a laptop sleeve and a small drawstring bag.

I was psyched with this first effort, even if I didn’t quite know how to really make something. Lesson learned: my lines aren’t super straight, and I need to leave more material to sew, and trim it of later. I Think stuff has fallen out of this smaller bag already.

Next up: a tool belt. I volunteer at a community bike shop and frequently need to have a few tools on me, as well as a place to wipe my grimy hands from time to time. I bought a pattern for this a few months back while out shopping with Amy but never got around to it. Recently I sat down to try:


Lessons learned: there’s probably an equal amount of sewing that’s not visible on the finished project as there is visible – doing it ‘right’ takes a lot of work. Oh, and I have no idea how to really use a pattern, but made it up as I went along and I think it mostly worked out. I’ve clearly got something wrong somewhere as the back of my stitches look like crap, but I’m all about function over form, so this is a win in my book.

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Six Months In: Chevy Volt


In August we decided to trade in our 2003 Mini Cooper S and got a 2012 Chevy Volt.   After just completing our sixth month with the car I figured I’d put down some thoughts on it.   Ours is a black / black cloth / white trim model, probably the most basic model offered.

Picking up the Volt

Turns out that even the ‘base’ model is fairly loaded, which makes sense given the relatively high price tag.  We’re extremely happy with the car so far and have given a lot of people rides in it and answered a ton of questions about it.  Rather than review it, I figured I’d just give a quick 6 month set of notes:

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Quadcoper Build



Ever since seeing the “Build Your Own Predator Drone at 99.95% Discount” talk at Shmoocon 2010 I’ve been tempted to build an aerial drone.  Busy with other projects I never got to it, but this past Fall at World Maker Faire Amy saw the AeroQuad guys and was intrigued enough to get me a quadcopter for my birthday.

While an R/C quad isn’t quite the same as an un-piloted one, it’s a good first step in my mine since learning the flight dynamics and electronic basics will be super useful.  In addition, some of the autonomous drones are ‘put up’ using R/C before they take over and run through their programmed flight path.   I fully intend to go down that route at some point, and will probably get some gear from DIYDrones.

While I would normally stick to something open source – the lack of spare parts availability spooked me from pursuing the AeroQuad platform.   One of the most common quads going is the DJI Flame Wheel 450 – or “F450″ as you’ll see it in a lot of places.   There are a few good things for novices in the DJI realm:

  • Spare arms (or booms) are widely available, and cheap ($5-$7 each usually) – even dyed interesting colors.
  • The DJI flight controller – NAZA-M is well documented and very common.  There are tons of videos on YouTube detailing every setting with possible implications
  • It only takes a minute or two to switch from 3s (3 cell) to 4s (4 cell) LiPo batteries so you can run either
  • It comes with both 8″ and 10″ props for running with various loads and different battery voltages.
  • It has a built-in and configurable low voltage alarm on board.

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Revel without Revelers


In the aftermath of Hurricane (I refuse to call it ‘Super Storm’) Sandy, we had family come stay with us in Pennsylvania as we were relatively unscathed.   After the first week in exile, my in-laws decided to spend a few nights in Atlantic City, perhaps as a stop en route to warmer destinations.

I’m not sure how they landed at Revel, but they weren’t there long before they called us:   “The place is empty, you have to come down for a night at least.”

Revel without Revelers
Lobby View – Revel

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