140Watts should be enough for anyone

I was waiting for some Acrylic for the outside of my enclosure, I had taken my heated bed and moved it to the side while adding the upgraded hot end. I thought I should put it back now I have the new Marlin Firmware & I could adjust the hot end height etc. In the past I had levelled the bed quite easily but now for some reason it was just was not levelling at all. The bed was totally twisted.

I was trawling Amazon and saw the MK3 aluminium clad heated bed. I read about the MK3 and how it should have an even heated surface.
Ordering it was the easy part.
I have always found that the LED on the bed was a good sign of if the bed was on or not. I examined the bed when it arrived it seemed OK. Quite thick no visible warping. I also noticed that the LED would now be facing down and not visible. I thought I would just wire the LED to a resistor two wires and add it to the loom no big deal.

I tried to solder the heater wires to the pads with my 40 Watt soldering iron. It kept sticking to the pad it was like it was a magnet.
OK, I thought, this needs the 100 watt soldering iron gun. I tried heating up the gun until it had been on for several minutes. This gave me about 4 seconds of usable time then it started sticking too. After about 90 minutes I had managed to get the solder to flow on one of the pads. But the pads 2&3 had to be joined together there was no way I was going to solder this properly.

I thought about the reflow soldering process so I got the oven that my wife uses for her polymer clay. The oven was too small to put the board inside so I put the part of the board with the pads on the outside top of the oven and turned the oven on high.
You would think this would work!
The board was now hot and it gave a small improvement but not enough to solder both pads.
After spending 90 minutes fussing with the oven and the 100w gun. I added my 40 watt iron success the solder flowed. I needed an extra set of hands and got help to hold the wire in place and feed the solder while I held the 2 soldering irons together on the pad.
So if you are trying to upgrade to an aluminium heated bed, then now you know the key is to preheat the board so that the aluminium does not suck away all the heat from the soldering iron.
They are not the best solder joints in the world the one on the right is better but the 2 on the left wow they were difficult to solder neatly.

Mk3 bed about to be installed
New bed but no pillows

Fan of the all metal hot end

While making my enclosure I was looking at the hot end when I noticed that the thermistor was barely attached and was only hanging on by a thread of kapton tape. This sent shivers down my spine as I thought about how I could have had thermal runaway.
I then started to wrap the thermistor back into it’s location on the hot end. I broke the thermistor lead as it enters the glass envelope.
I started to look for another thermistor but at the same time I ordered from the UK the updated E3D v6.
I attached the replacement thermistor, thinking I would upgrade to the v6 later.
The v6 hot end uses a thermistor in a metal canister. Well after some thought (mainly about thermal runaway) I came to the conclusion that I would probably have to go and update the Marlin software anyway. I read that the newer software had a feature to prevent thermal runaway. Well if I am doing that I should check into the v6 hot end.
I looked at the E3dv5 & E3dv6, added and removed the hot end several times thought about what I would need to modify to get this done.  I found I just needed to remove some plastic that surrounded the cooling chamber.

I watched the videos about how to set up the Marlin firmware a few times and used the values that came with the printer and modified the values for the hot end thermistor etc.

Close up of the extruder
E3D Version 6 upgrade

Waking from my winter hibernation

A lot of great projects get sidetracked, I have been busy this winter with various items. Progress on enclosing my 3D printer has technically continued.
The making of the enclosure has slowed down but things around it have progressed, a sort of feature creep. I realized that I could make things better with a slight rearrangement in my goals.
When I reorganised the area to accommodate my larger printer. I saw an opportunity to add a cool location for my smaller Fabrikator mini printer.
It all started by fitting some shelves and that sort of snowballed.

I removed the old hood and put up a new shelf a little to the right.

Extractor fan in use
Ready for action

And the new shelf

Fabrikator Mini-printer on shelf
A new location for Fabrikator mini

The other major change was I picked some  parts and assembled a new computer and brought down my older computer to the work area because this had a better video card it seemed sensible that I got a better second LCD screen .

To enable printing to my Fabrikator mini I mounted a Raspberry Pi up on the wall and added a camera so I can see monitor it on one of my screens while I am busy doing other things.

I made a space for my fume carrying hose from my larger printer so it could be nicely sandwiched straight up the wall and the shelf. I added a power bar that I can easily access.

Printing from afar (Redux)

I always thought leaving the printer unattended was risky.
I have never printed overnight. Recently. I noticed that the bed was taking a bit longer than usual to heat up. Routinely I pushed in the connector to the 12 volts to make sure it is seated properly.
I noticed it was a little warm.

Was this normal, I thought?

After finishing the print I checked the connector and this is what I found.

Melted connector

The connection had been arcing and the connector had been melting.

I checked the connector and it was rated at 10A. The bed as standard would draw around 11A, Yes there might be a derating factor for a lower voltage,


I chose to change the connector for one that is not pluggable.

So I was right; is it really safe to leave a 3d printer unattended? Probably not.

Is using the internet to start a print while you are not home a good idea?
I am not even going to try!

Linux stop motion

I was testing out a camera my wife had bought that is designed to take stop motion pictures. She wants to take pictures of her garden growing (if we get ever get warm weather).

Because I will have to do it again at some point in the future I thought I would document the steps I used.

The software that comes with the camera does not work with LinuxWine. So I started looking at how I could do this.

The pictures were in the format WSCT0000.JPG where 0000 was number counting up in my case from my pictures started from the number 0635.  WSCT is a name that is from the camera manufacturer.
1) I needed to rename the files to a common name,  to rename the files by going to the directory then going to the terminal and typing rename WSCT “”  *.JPG
This basically removes the WSCT prefix.

2) The next thing I realized was that the pictures were very large so I reduced them down to 800×600 using the Imagemagick command mogrify I typed the following.
mogrify -resize 800×600 *.JPG
This command overwrites the existing files, so make sure you have the originals.

3) Next was to join them all together using ffmpeg command this is where I had issues it did not like having zero as a prefix (0635.JPG) son I ran the command rename again to remove the prefix zero and add a letter p so my file names were now starting p635.JPG. This is because the next command would not run unless it had a prefix before the number (before %d).

4) Finally I completed the joining by running the following command
ffmpeg -f image2 -start_number 0635 -i p%d.JPG output1.mp4
This time, because I had changed the prefix, it worked.

5) Joining the pictures together, obviously there is no sound, so I used Kdenlive to transcode an audio file that I found in the Google free music collection.

Korora Linux vs Mageia for 3d printing

After playing around with some KDE distros recently, I came across an article saying that Fedora was going to incorporate 3d printing software. I then remembered that I had been using Korora Linux about a year and a half ago. I downloaded it to see what it offered and was pleasantly surprised.

Whilst there were some minor issues with updating using the Apper program, it was an upstream issue that has been reported and is being worked on I used YUMex instead.

I installed Pronterface and Slic3r and it was really easy. Simple as installing from YUM. In Pronterface I clicked connect but it did not connect. I realized it was a permissions issue. I did a quick check and found that to fix it I needed to add myself to the tty group. That was all the installation configuring needed.

As for other choices, the repositories have several other 3d printer utilities that can be downloaded: skeinforge, Cura, netfabb basic are a few that come to mind.

Overall, I really like Korora KDE edition. I had no issues setting up and running 2 monitors, and I have a spinning cube desktop. Considering the age of the computer it runs pretty well.

While Mageia5 has not quite been released, using Mageia 4 I did have to go and set up Slc3r and Pronterface from GitHub. It took quite a while and it was a lot of reading to figure out if I had all the dependencies. It is mentioned that it is proposed but I am not sure if the drivers will be added to Mageia 5.

I am pretty sure when I do my next full back up and reinstall of my main computer I will be moving from Kubuntu over to Korora.