lessig:

There are a couple times in my life when I have felt like I’ve just leapt off a tall building. On the whole, I’ve decided, I’ve not had this feeling often enough.

So today, I leap again — with certainly the biggest chance to fail of anything I’ve ever done.

Today we launch the MAYDAY…

I’m participating in the 6th edition of Thing-a-Day!

I’m participating in the 6th edition of Thing-a-Day!

Prusa Mendel Visual Instructions: LaTeX version

I have nearly finished converting Gary Hodgson’s wonderful visual instructions for assembling a Prusa Mendel to LaTeX. I was going to wait to publish this until after ironing out all the style problems, but since Prusa just released his upgrade to the printer today and an update to the guide is imminent, I figured this post was in order.

You may ask “Why LaTeX? What’s wrong with the current format?” There are a number of very good reasons why a collaborative guide should not be written in the Microsoft Publisher format:

  • Microsoft Publisher saves documents as large binary files, which don’t work well with version control systems. LaTeX files are pure text, which enables version control systems to show differences between versions in a coherent way and also to store only the differences between versions rather than the entire file, which saves a lot of space.
  • Microsoft Publisher saves documents in a proprietary format that no other program can read or write. Therefore, anyone who wants to edit one of these documents has no choice over which program he/she uses to do so. By contrast, since LaTeX is plain text it can be edited with any of the vast number of text editors out there.
  • LaTeX does a great job of separating content from style, a model that has worked out very nicely for HTML/CSS. What does this mean? It means that when you want to add content to your document you won’t end up spending hours mucking about fiddling with margins and line-spacing.
  • LaTeX makes it easy to split up the document by sections, allowing one to use a separate file for each section. This enhances collaboration by making it easier for multiple people to work on different parts of the document at the same time. Moreover, all the images used in the file can be edited independently by those who don’t want to “get their hands dirty” with LaTeX.
  • Adding a table of contents and an index are one line operations.

If you are interested, please take a peek at my github fork of the project. It is a bit tricky to get your build environment set up correctly, but you don’t need to build it to contribute copy/graphics changes. I think if we all work together this can become a much bigger thing: a Prusa Mendel Assembly/Maintenance/Usage guide, rather than just assembly.

How to add a Flattr button on every tumblr post

When I first started using Flattr (If you don’t know about Flattr yet, check it out! It’s pretty cool), I wanted an easy way to add Flattr buttons to my tumblog posts. I found this blog post that explained how to do it. This worked great for awhile, but recently my buttons recently stopped working and were just displaying “Error”. On investigation, I discovered that it only occured (for whatever reason) on posts which hadn’t yet been flattr’d.

I found that if I upgraded the button HTML to the HTML 5 version, they started working again. I also took the time to make several upgrades to the button HTML. The buttons now:

  • Use the title of each post as the Flattr title (this will be empty if you don’t set a title on your post, so make sure to always set a title!)
  • Submit the tags of the post as the tags for the Flattr “thing”
  • Intelligently use a meaningful description based on the post type.

Read More

Lesson learned: never print while rendering an openscad file. It kept pausing and leaving enormous globs all over.

Lesson learned: never print while rendering an openscad file. It kept pausing and leaving enormous globs all over.

My bot was never complete until I made it a name tag. :)

My bot was never complete until I made it a name tag. :)

Prusa Mendel RepRap: Step Eleven

The last step of building a Prusa Mendel RepRap is mounting the build plate. I am using a heated build plate so I also had to mount that. The screws recommended for mounting the top plate were really long and I wanted to conserve as much precious Z space as possible so I used slightly shorter screws and have had no problems. If you decide to do this just keep in mind that you want them to be long enough so that you still have some play in the springs and the build plate needs to be able to clear the fender washers.

There are some suggestions for ways to mount a PCB Heated Bed in the RepRap wiki, but nothing really concrete/authoratative. I decided to just use some M3 nuts and bolts and that has been working fine for me. I would have liked to use M3 bolts screwed up from underneath with a washer on the underside, then a washer, a nut, and another washer between the top plate and heated bed, and then a washer and nut on the top of the heated bed. I didn’t have the right size bolts though, M3x10 is just a hair too short, so I left out the washer on top. Next time I’m at the hardware store I’ll get some better bolts, and probably screw them top down.

Here a picture of the top plate and heated plate mounted. I used double-sided tape from MakerGear as a build surface (accidentally laid it on some paper, that’s what all the white stuff is), which I would definitely recommend against. I am using Kapton tape now, and it works far better.

I also mounted some leftover MDF on the back panel to hide/organize all the electronics, which works very well for me.

My printer is done! Next post I will provide a summary of my experience with lessons learned. 

I was finally able to print something of my own design. A truly useless creation, but possibly the worlds first. It’s a trumpet mouthpiece with a built in mustache!

I was finally able to print something of my own design. A truly useless creation, but possibly the worlds first. It’s a trumpet mouthpiece with a built in mustache!

This is a video of the first mostly successful print on my new 3D printer, christened “Polybot”

A RepRap is born: Polybot

I’m jumping the gun a bit on this post, but I’m just way too excited to wait. My 3D printer is finished! My 3D printer printed an ugly, stubby shot glass(ok, so I have one little kink to work out) as per the custom today and I christened her “Polybot”. The “Poly” is partly because of her maker(Polymaker) and partly because I hope one day she or one of her descendants will be used for much more than printing plastic objects. Cheers, and make on!