Zip Tie Caddy

Zip ties are one of those magical inventions that are simple genius, and I can’t live without them.  I have a fancy zip tie gun at work that does a really good job of tensioning the tie, automatically cutting at a set point, and keeping the tail captured.  They are expensive, so I found a different design that works pretty well and is affordable by mere mortals.  This calls for a custom caddy to keep all my zip ties organized and ready to go.

I cut up some spare plywood and played around with layouts a bit.  I think this is a good size.DSC_0899

I cut out a window to make tool access easier.

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I cut some more wood for a small base.  Narrow enough to make storage easier, but wide enough to keep it from tipping.  I really like how the rounded corners turned out from my router jig.

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I gave the two pieces a good painting and assembled.  I picked the color scheme of the zip tie tool.  The black zip ties contrast nicely against the orange background.

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To attach each zip tie bundle I used a zip tie that can be screwed down.  That looped into a zip tie around the bundle.  As you pull ties out you just tighten the bundle to keep things tight.

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It holds a variety of lengths and sizes along with my colorful re-useable ties and the screw down ones.  Plenty of room to grow too.

The handle was printed to match my hand size and keep with the color scheme.  Same deal with the zip tie tool holder.

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Corner Radius Routing Jig

Two hobbies collide as I print something super nifty for my wood habits.  A cool thing you can do with router tables is apply a template onto wood, and use a templating bit to match cut.  The bit has a bearing of the same diameter as the cutting edges.  It rides against your template and cuts away any underlying wood that isn’t shaped like your template.  Super handy, but you need a good template to start with.  Enter the 3D printer.

I modeled up this little jig so that it hooks onto the edges of a board and gives an exact radius.  It is hard to see given the color, but I printed a 1″ text in the bottom to note the size of the radius.

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Here is a picture of the jig fully seated, and what the resulting cut looks like.  Very clean and smooth.  The large circular cutout gives a lot of finger purchase so you can hold it tight and far away from the spinning bit.

One concern I had was with the material.  Would the cutting friction heat up enough to melt the plastic.  I did 4 cuts on a 3/4″ bit of plywood and everything looked good.  If I had a hundred corners to do, I would worry.  I could always upgrade to PETG.

The part is available in multiple sizes on thingiverse

June 2017 3D Prints

Lots of good prints this month.  I have got the new printer pretty well figured out and have ventured out into new materials and longer prints.  First up is a cool blade guard I made.  I picked up this nice boning knife for bbq goodness.  It is crazy sharp but came with no guard.  I printed a two piece guard with magnets set into the one half.  The two bits glue together.  It keeps the edge and my fingers safe and fits snuggly.

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Porch Cup Holder

I have some Adirondack chairs on the back porch.  They are reasonably comfortable, but have a distinct lack of cup holders.  I fashioned some a while back out of wood, but the sizing was all wrong.  These are perfect.  They hold coffee cups, large tumblers and small glasses alike.  The RTIC’s blue handle was printed back in September and is still alive after daily use.


Thermocouple Kickstand

I got a cheap thermocouple reader for reasons beyond my obsession with measurements… I swear.  It works well, but didn’t come with a kickstand.  I am used to all my multimeters having some way to sit themselves upright.  This one clips together, then slides on snugly.  It doesn’t add too much bulk and stands steady.


PETG

I have a few high temperature projects, so it is time to venture beyond the safety of PLA.  It is a great material to print with, but loses strength quickly when things get hot.  Enter PETG.  It is higher temp and strength like ABS, but less toxic, and lower warping.  One of my firsts was the Franken-Cooler.  Not without issue, but largely a success.

Next I made a small clip to keep the USB cables in my car in order.  They always get pinched in the lid when I close my center console.  This will keep them in the pass through.  Simple but effective.  I needed the higher temp material because cars get hot in Florida.

I made some mods to the camera setup on my prusa.  Someone made a decent set of parts to attach a common webcam to the Y stage.  The only problem is their main bracket was a bit loose.  I started with PLA because that was all I had.  It sits up against the underside of the heated bed.  If I need higher bed temps the part could fail.  I designed a lighter tighter fitting version with speed holes to help cord wrangling.  The PETG part will not fail due to excessive bed heating.

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While I was at it I found a lens adapter that could replace the original webcam lens with a very wide angle one.

The new lens give a much better view of the print bed.  I can see the whole thing instead of just the middle third.

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Finally I can take time lapse videos that don’t look terrible.  Behold the birth of a baby groot.

Franken-Cooler

My sous vide adventures have sometimes been serious mis-adventures.  Case and point was the Easter Brisket Saga.  I wanted something sturdy, large, and well insulated for large and longer term cooks.  Something that would be efficient and not heat the house as much.  There are some guide out there that recommend drilling a hole in a 24 quart coleman stacking cooler.  They don’t sell those in my area any more, and I didn’t want to online order one.  A local sporting goods store did have 48 quart coolers on sale for 16 bucks though!

Most guide recommend a 2-3/8″ hole in the lid.  The sous vide cooker will slip down the hole, but stop before the electronics get submerged because of a shoulder on it.  The larger cooler meant the device would sit much higher, and it comes out of the water every time you lift the lid to check on things.  Instead I printed a bracket to get it clipped to the side and held much lower than the stock bracket would allow.  I started in orange PLA to get the dimensions all worked out, then printed in black PETG.  It is a higher temperature material and should withstand the cooking temps.

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I cut the bottom section off the orange test part and used it as a tracing template for cutting the lid as tight as possible to the bracket.

A little sanding cleaned up the edges, and everything was looking nice.  The only trick being that the lid hit the top of the cooker when opened.  I was considering taking the hinges off anyways, so I just did that.

It turns out the lid on these cheaper coolers is hollow.  Not too shocking.  Instead of leaving it that way I shot it full of foam.  I don’t think I got every square inch, but it should be an improvement.  Either break off the excess or cut with a sharp knife once fully cured.

With that all setup I was able to start my first ambitious project.  I did an 8 hour run at 179F for barbacoa.

It was a really high temperature for sous vide, and right around the limit of PETG.  Though the cook came out well the bracket had a few issues.  The bottom had a little bubbling from the heat.  That wasn’t the issue though, there was a crack started where the outside of the clip sat on the cooler rim.  I played with it a bit and got it to break off.

When printing, that segment is printed as a bridge (filament free hanging out in space), so ends up being kind of weak.  To compensate in the second bracket (top in right and picture) I increased print temperature for better adhesion, increased number of bottom layers to make sure the bridging didn’t compromise strength in that area, increased thickness of that bridge, and the thickness of that outside clip area.

Even though it broke I am happy with this design.  It went for hours at a really high temp and only broke when I started prying on it heavily.  Anything that asks for a sous vide temperature this high can probably be done in the crock pot on low (~190F typically).  Still, the lid didn’t get too warm, and the sides of the cooler were room temp to the touch.  It was a great stress test.  This thing can sous vide anything!

Sous Vide Barbacoa

I am a huge chipotle addict and love the spice flavor and texture of their barbacoa beef.  Why not make my own?  I found some recipes you can make a home.  Some involved the slow cooker, but sous vide was also an option.

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I skimmed a number of recipes and came up with a simple ingredient list.  5+ pounds of chuck roast, AC vinegar, onion, garlic, lime juice, cumin, chipotles in adobo, salt and pepper.  No measuring, just seat of the pants cooking.

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Everything sat and mingled together over night so the flavors could soak in.  I stuck it in a jumbo zip back and into the bath at 179F for 8+ hours.  This gave me a chance to test my newly created frankencooler.  More on that in another post.

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I drained 80% of the liquid and poured it all into a bowl.  It was still looking pretty chunky, but a few minutes with a potato masher got it in good shape.  It tasted wonderful, though not quite the same as chipotle.  I was worried about it being too spicy, but it really wasn’t.  I might buy more adobo next time, and perhaps add some kind of tomato sauce or paste.  It is gonna have to go into the rotation.

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Our Beloved Killer Bees

We had to destroy our lone hive.  This was the hive that had been going like crazy and racking up a ton of honey.  The one that survived the longest out of any of our hives, and was obtained for free from an infested owl box.  I had been having increasing aggression problems with them.  It was slowly building as the colony got larger.  I haven’t been able to mow the back yard in a month because they would attack, and then stay mad for hours later.  It was to the point that we couldn’t risk someone else getting hurt.

I will spare all the gory details of how we did it.  Needless to say our backyard was a horror show, I have been stung nearly 30 times, and we are both drained from the ordeal.

We did manage to harvest about 30 pounds of honey.  The spinner worked well again.  Newspaper on the floor really helped keep it from being a slippery mess.  The only major harvesting issue we had was that our electric hot knife died before we even got started.  This was only the third time we ever tried to use it.

Sore, swollen from stings and sad at the loss of another hive.

April-May Prints

April was a pretty quiet month for printing because I knew the new printer was coming.  May turned crazy once I got the prusa up and running.  I already posted on my battery storage and drawer divers in another post.


Salt Grinder

A co-worker had a cool salt grinder that kept breaking.  He wasn’t able to get refurbs anymore, so off to printing we go.  The body is heavy stainless, but that center window is very thin plastic.  It falls over easily and snaps off the threaded area.  I printed a tapered part that threads and glues into the spot where the plastic window was.  In addition I made a little stand for it to sit in so you can’t knock it over as easily.


Tape Measure Pocket

I typically use a tape measure at the table saw to set the rip width.  It works, but I think a wooden ruler would be more reliable.  I printed a pocket for it to attach to my table saw side so it is always close at hand.


Wonderful Wooden Filament

Not exactly the same as woodworking, but fun none the less.  They make wood dust filled filament.  It prints well and has a neat texture to it.  This stuff was made for printing baby groot!  I tried a set of benchy boats; one stained, one not.  It doesn’t appear to stain well, but made a great looking fidget spinner.


Desk Trophies

One of the criticisms of 3d printers is that they are only good for printing desktop trophies.  They are good for lots of other things, but yeah, they make awesome desk trophies!

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Bit Holders

Ok, back to useful prints.  I wanted to better organize my various driver bits, so I made these organizers with nice spacing for you to get fingers in and pick out the bit you need.  The markers are made using prusa’s multi-color print.  The one where you switch spools at a set Z height, not the one that changes color mid-stream.  I couldn’t do that on my last printer, but I am very happy it works on this one!  Too bad they don’t sell filament in dewalt yellow.


Mom Stuff

Don’t look mom, this is all going to be a surprise for you!  My mom wanted some altioid tin organizers and paint holders.  I figured she could also use pen/knitting needle/cable storage stuff as well as some funky knick knacks.

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Arbor Press

I picked up a cheap arbor press for pressing bearings, pressing printed parts, etc.  I made a number of arbor press fittings sized just for skate bearings and bolts.  They have a square hole that gives a perfect friction fit onto the arbor press end.  The printer also provided a nice glue on storage rack for my press ends.  I couldn’t help myself with the two color printing, and made a crush hazard sign.  Watch your fingers.  I should print some pirate flare and turn this thing into an ARRRRRRRRbor press.


Random

Last but not least I found a cool box on thingiverse for holding spare printer nozzles, a handle for turning reciprocating saw blades into short hack saws, and a penny powered fidget spinner.

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I probably forgot something, but that is enough for now.  Since getting the new printer I have printed for 136 hours, and pushed out over 800 meters of filament.  That is kind of impressive.  I can stop any time I want.