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.

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.

Prusa I3 MK2s Build

I finally got my new printer.  Nearly 2 months after purchasing it shows up the day after my birthday!  That is one serious adventure in a cardboard box.

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I rolled out some paper onto the dinner table and got rocking.  I couldn’t help but setup my gopro and get a time-lapse of the assembly.

The total build time was between 5 and 6 hours plus some tweak and tune time.  The first print had to be the prusa logo in honor of the great maker.

Print baby print

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With it up and running I got to bootstrapping.  The kit comes very complete, and really is a wonderful printer.  That having been said, the little knob they included to run the interface isn’t great.  It rubs and is awkward to use.  Print a new one!

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A lot of my filament is from when I first bought the monoprice back last summer.  It spent a lot of time sitting out collecting dust.  Someone made a nice clip in dust filter that goes right on top of the extruder.

Next came a replacement for the spool holder.  The one included works, but you have to sort of bend it out of the way to get a new spool on.  Plus something with bearings would DSC_0832roll a lot smoother.  Any catches or resistance in the spool rolling could cause Z banding as the extruder fights to pull in filament.  Thingiverse had a great assembly that sits on top.  It included a printable threaded nut and bolt that turned out gorgeous!  Skate bearings pressed into the rollers so the spool rolls with little resistance.  A filament guide keeps it running true.

Speaking of spool holders, my one major disaster so far has been this print job.  Sometime over night the extruder actually pulled the spool off the holder.  Nothing broke except the filament guide (just print another).  It turns out the spool was wrapped poorly and kind of synched itself off.  Poor spool wrapping perhaps.

I monitor all my prints with a webcam and octoprint.  This works out well while on the other side of the house, or on the go.  The only trick is that I have to leave a light on after dark.  Instead of leaving the room lights on constantly I designed and printed some brackets for holding thin under-cabinet LED lights.  Serendipitously one light will fit in a slot the spool holder had.  Only a small printed wedge was needed to keep it secure.  The other two went on my bracket.  It clears the extruder at full height.

It is turning into a proper looking monster!  Let the print games begin.

 

Battery Charging Station

I am mildly obsessed with flashlights.  These flashlights take fancy 18650 lithium ion batteries that can be recharged.  I have a lot of light accessories, spare batteries from laptops, and other things that need storage and organization.  Similarly cameras tend to have their own specialized batteries that need storage and charging.  I built a flexible station to hold all my chargers in one place.  Later I added an extras organizer from a repurposed storage box.

I started with all the specialized chargers I could find.  Two for flashlight batteries and two for cameras.  I decided to go for the pedal board route.  Guitarists can have a lot of effects pedals for their instruments.  Instead of having them all splayed across the floor they tend to put them on a thin box using velcro.  The box has slits that allow cables to pass inside the box out of the way.

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I built it to fit a shelf in my office closet and made it wide enough to expand with new charger capacity if need be.  Nothing special, just some pine I had hanging out.  The chargers are held at about a 60 degree angle, and there is space in the back to strap down a power strip.

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I wanted it dark to help hide the dark cables and velcro.  I never have good luck staining pine, but mixed up a water based dye blend.  It turned out great!

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With velcro and power strip in place I could start attaching chargers.

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A 4×1 outlet extender lets you plug in chargers that are supposed to go directly into a wall outlet.  I added a device called a blackout buddy.  Eaton makes them and they are red cross branded.  It plugs in and charges itself.  When the power goes out it turn on the light so can see.  Now when our power goes out I can find my way to the flashlight stash in the dark.  It fit like a charm on the shelf in my closet.

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Next up I pulled an old drawer storage box thing out of the trash.  It used to have board games in it, but was destined for the dump.  I thought the all-wood construction it was worth saving.  After re-gluing a few bad joints it was in good shape.

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The bottom drawer houses all the extra batteries I had from laptop pulls and random purchases.  I printed a number of organizers to keep them from touching.  Every organizer positively holds the battery in place so they can’t come out and can’t touch each other.  Keeping them from touching is an important part of preventing battery damage and fires.  Plenty of room left to store more batteries.

The middle drawer has random flashlight stuff.  O-rings, manuals, cases, etc.  I printed some dividers to hot glue down to keep the drawer from being a mess every time you open and close the drawer.

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Lastly I threw some of my DSLR gear in the top drawer because I never really had a good place for it.  3D printing and woodworking come together to help organize and support my camera and flashlight fixations.  What a gorgeous synergy!

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Feb-Mar 2017 3D Prints

Between travel, other projects, and a wounded printer, I haven’t made a ton of prints recently.  Here are the ones that bubbled to the top.

Bluetooth Antenna

I use bluetooth ear buds in my shop at nearly all times.  They are comfortable and go nicely under a set of ear muffs.  The bluetooth in my shop laptop has a really limited range.  Sometimes the EMI from power tools causes enough problems to interrupt the music.  I bought an external bluetooth dongle.  It worked better, but I found that raising it up away from the laptop and monitor made it work the best.

I used a pin contour gauge to try to copy the shape of my monitor.  It is a pretty complex shape and I didn’t quite get it perfect.  Still, a little hot glue holds the bracket on well and zip ties keep the USB extension held high and proud.  I was hoping it would look like a star wars droid antenna, but fell short.  Other than the visuals, it works like a charm.  Long range tunes without interruption.

Magnetic Door Holder

The weather is getting warm, but it is still nice enough to keep the doors and windows open.  The wind often catches the door into my shop and slams it shut.  I printed this bracket assembly and glued in magnets to hold the door open.  A large machine screw holds the two pieces together and allows some pivoting between the door and bracket.  I screwed it down to a mobile work bench, so the angle between it and the door can vary a few degrees.

String Trimmer Winder

I use a black n decker string trimmer for yard edging.  They come with spools (AF-100) that auto-feed the right amount of string and can be exchanged quickly when one runs out.  The trick is they sell for 6 bucks a piece.  Not a horrible price, but considering you can reload them for pennies, I had to find an easy way to do so.

There is a base that the spool plugs into, and a winder that chucks into a drill (1/4 nut and bolt required).  The base keeps the spool stable and guides the string while the winder lets you power through a whole spool in no time.

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This one was complex enough to use that I made a short video explaining its use.  Thingiverse Link