April 14th, 2014 by Brian Evans

Been thinking about PCBs recently. This is Sparkman from Tom Flock as posted in comments on Sparkfun’s tutorial on artistic PCBs in Eagle CAD. The big takeaway for me is that I need to do some work with the ULP negasilk to create Uno-esque silkscreen layers. Another great example:

This is the awesome ProtoSpace Proto POV (Dutch) by Lennart Herlaar in Utrecht. This is a good example of using Illustrator/Inkscape/DXF to bring complex shapes in the form of vector graphics into Eagle. Tod Kurt wrote a thorough tutorial on this technique here.

Then there’s Saar Drimer of Boldport and his work on some fluid, organic PCB’s using an Inkscape plugin called PCBmodE. The promise with the tools he is creating is very interesting and something I would like to explore more.

White resin is white… and awesome

March 22nd, 2014 by Brian Evans

Tried out the new white resin in the form1 the other day. Prints came out fantastic–mostly opaque with just a hint of translucency with good bed adhesion and fine detail. No noticeable banding or layers either. I highly recommend this resin. These little dudes are from my freshman level foundations design course. The students are designing creatures using Autodesk’s 123D Creature iPad app that belong in some home or habitat. The guy on the left designed by Julia will live in a pencil sharpener and Taylor’s on the right, with supports still attached, is to emerge from a makeup brush. Great app if not a little buggy but the students took right to it.

Yes I make robots…

November 5th, 2013 by Brian Evans

Nomes – finished

November 4th, 2013 by Brian Evans

Just finished the Nomes yesterday and off they went to Santa Monica. These are some horrible photos but it will do for now so bare with me. These are four autonomous objects that all have identical programs and swing weighted arms from side to side for four minutes and off for one minute.

They are really bad at keeping time. And yeah physics eludes me. Too many variable to keep them synced but that’s not really the point. Instead it’s pretty phenomenal when they do all too briefly sync their motions. Can the difference of one gram of weight contribute to the unique behavior of an object?

New work

October 29th, 2013 by Brian Evans

I’ve been cranking out some work for an upcoming show I’m really excited about called Machine Muse at the Lois Lambert Gallery in Santa Monica, CA opening November 16. The work has to ship out on Monday so I thought I would take some ugly photos in the studio for now. The image above is the third incarnation of a piece I’ve been working on for awhile called Wirbel. This one has all new electronics, six arms, and is driven from wind speed data taken in LA in 2010.

Certain components are printed on the school’s Form1 SLA printer. The plastic parts are durable and look great. Crappy photos from my iPod in the studio so bare with me.

I’ll also be showing the piece that is now called Radiolaria. I received the massive order from Shapeways and assembled and programmed the five spheres the other day. They all working brilliantly.

The final piece I’m working on for the show is called Nomes. Yes my desk is that embarrassingly messy and no I don’t have any time right now to do anything about it. The prototype uses clear acrylic but I will probably use frosted instead so that you can see some of what’s going on inside but not everything. The grey outer shell is simply printed in PLA.

The plan at the moment is to have four of these guys hanging out on a shelf made of aluminum extrusion and frosted acrylic. Still working on the details.

Since the basic laws of physics seem to illude me, Im using a very monotonous repetitive moving arm that is out of sync with the speed that the forms move resulting in a net random movement. Or something like that. Im hoping to have the four objects occasionally sync up with one another. I do so very much hate the sound of servo motors but the movement can be pretty impressive. This piece uses a new Adafruit Trinket and a Hitec HS45 servo. Final images to come after the 15th.

NoCo Mini Maker Faire

October 4th, 2013 by Brian Evans

The first NoCo Mini Maker Faire is happening tomorrow, Saturday October 5th in Loveland, CO. Our Nerdy Derby track, above, will be present with students helping kids build and race cars. We’ve also got a booth setup with some examples of student work from our digital fabrication lab and my wife’s letterpress shop, Green Bird Press, will be present in full force. I’ve also seen some R2D2s, pinball machines, neon art, weavers, Sparkfun, and Epilog plus 150 other booths. Should be a lot of fun!

New Ultimaker

September 22nd, 2013 by Brian Evans

Either for the home studio or for the University, I get the opportunity to try out a lot of different kinds of 3d printers. Here’s the new Ultimaker I picked up for the University to replace our old Prusa RepRap and hopefully provide a more reliable FDM-style machine for the students to work with. Yeah, good timing with the announcement of the new version…. This is the second machine I’ve purchased assembled–the first the Form1–so I was excited to see if this machine was as easy to get up and running.

The machine shipped with this nice little selection of test prints, which were at the same time impressive in quality but also promised some work ahead. Typical Ultimaker stringiness meant retraction needed some work and the tape on the printbed was both torn and the flat part of the large torture test piece had peeled up meaning the print bed was not at all level. Before I started digging around the interwebs to find proper settings for the new machine I thought I would see whats on the SD card and use the controller to print something right away.

The controller is a joke. I’ve avoided these in the past because I don’t see the value in them and actually using one proved it for me. It’s nice to not have to have your computer attached to the machine the whole time but the user interface is horrible and only barely usable. The new Ultimaker 2 has a much better display and UI. Oh well.

After poking around the SD card I found the Ultimaker robot so I gave that a shot. The first time it failed because of the printbed but the second time around I manually adjusted the z-axis to get the layer height right and here’s what I got. Although the file has some crazy g-code in there to knock the robot off the platform and start printing a new one in succession… scary when you don’t expect it. How about not including weird files on the SD card?! Figuring that the layer resolution was looking sharp I set about leveling the bed and found something that would be a good test for the Ultimaker, if not a little ambitious.

Here’s a Zeppelin Trireme from Arnold Martin sailing a sea of failed prints. Oh how things went wrong. To start with, getting the bed level was rather tedious. I also really don’t like printing on blue tape as it seems there is a small margin of error between squishing the layer too flat and the layer just not sticking at all. Then I had all sorts of problems with the motors overheating and shutting down mid-print.

To get things working I had to dive under the machine on more than one occasion to adjust the tiny little trim pots that control the current going to the motors. Oh and thanks Ultimaker for making those trimmers turn in the opposite direction to just about every other driver out there. Now, why would a printer shipped fully assembled and calibrated ship with motors that could raise a blister on your finger when you touch them? Oh and I also had to re-lube all the drive shafts with some PTFE grease to get things to move smoothly enough to work with the adjusted driver current.

After the miserable zeppelin attempt I went ahead and started on some upgrades like this new extruder drive gear from Felix to replace the pathetic lasercut drive gear that comes standard. Hopefully this will help the retraction and make some better prints.

Many who have used the Ultimaker call it the Lexus of desktop 3d printers but so far I am not at all impressed. For nearly $2,500 delivered, I think I rightfully expected plug and play performance but that is nowhere near what I received. Instead I spent my entire weekend working on a machine that I intend to demo to the students Monday night. I had considered purchasing one for myself, drooling more than a little bit over the new pretty version of this very machine but at another $200 that just is not going to happen. This summer I built an ORDBot for about $700 which, even though there are some things I don’t like about it, has produced much greater print quality in a much shorter amount of time. In the end, if this is normal for this kind of high-end machine then I seriously doubt that a completely plug-and-play 3d printer even exists in this current market.

Radiolaria – final test

September 21st, 2013 by Brian Evans

Final test of the new piece now titled Radiolaria, for the upcoming show at Lois Lambert Gallery in Santa Monica in November. I think there will be a small group of five of these guys, each with a slightly different shell and behavior. The shell and internal arm is laser sintered nylon 3D printed by Shapeways. I really like the crispness of the white nylon and the movement is that much better with the lighter weight shell. Here’s a sample video:

Inside 3D Printing: San Jose

September 17th, 2013 by Brian Evans

Here’s the presentation for this morning’s Inside 3D Printing conference in San Jose.

Simple Grey

September 14th, 2013 by Brian Evans

Just picked up some of Form Labs new Simple Grey resin for the Form 1 at the university. This stuff is awesome! My first print didn’t entirely work because I tried to be smarter than the software and use some of the settings that I had used with the clear resin before. After going back to default print settings this is what I got. I also like to pack things tightly together so that all of the support bases connect – seems to improve the odds of success. So all of that becomes this:

Sean Huxter’s Treadbot v01 and a dodecahedron from Wouter Glorieux’s Platonic solids set printed at 0.05mm layer heights in about 2 hours and 25 minutes. The grey resin is much easier to cleanup and properly snaps off the supports. It doesn’t have the gooey uncured resin feel like the clear did. This is a much better resin and I am looking forward to working with it more in the future.