Though I’ve managed to miss a lot of the 3D Printing Meetups lately, I managed to make it this month, and since the speaker unexpectedly canceled, I got called into duty as a replacement.

Without a ton of time to prepare, I ended up recycling a presentation I’ve given before, about Milwaukee Makerspace and what we do there. (I did manage to update it a bit and add in some 3D printing specific content though.)

Anyway, here are my slides, which you can also find on Speaker Deck and SlideShare. And if you don’t like these, I’ve got plenty more presentations.

Hackaday

Recently Hackaday posted some tips about tips, which I assumed was to get more people to submit more items, and be better at submitting items. So I submitted an item, and they posted it: 3D Printed Camera Arm Saves $143.

I submitted an email with a few of the important points, and some of them got mentioned, and some of them didn’t, and then there were comments.

Disclaimer: I like Hackaday. There is often good content, and then there are the comments. Some comments are good, and some are not. They seem to have gotten better in recent times. (Hackaday even addressed the issue of negative comments in the past.) Still, comments on the Internet are comments on the Internet.

But hey, since I have my own web site and don’t just leave comments on other sites, I can post whatever I want here, including my responses to some comments.

For $7 of material — and a $1000 3D Printer — and 20 hours of design time — and several iterations and testing later — it’s a pretty slick system!

Thanks, Waterjet! I obviously ran out and spent $1000 on a 3D printer so I could make one thing. It’s not a tool I use all the time for many different things. I’m sure I’ve spent more than 20 hours in total learning how to do 3D modeling, but hey, I don’t watch sports, so I needed something to fill my time. Oh, and you don’t have to buy a 3D printer, you can probably join your local hackerspace and use one there. We have three at Milwaukee Makerspace. Yeah, I also spend my free time helping create a hackerspace. You’re welcome.

I don’t get it, is it a joke? come on, ten minutes with a piece of of wood a drill and a hacksaw could have made something less flimsy and looking nicer

Thanks, fonz! I’m still waiting for the blog post that describes the version you’ve made. Oh, what? You didn’t make anything? You just leave comments on things other people made? By designing a thing and making the files available, I’ve shared something that others can build upon. I think there’s value in that. But hey, I really do want to see the scrap wood version you’re working on. I’m especially interested in how you make hexagonal cuts with your hacksaw. Perhaps you can write up an Instructable on that.

I also learned that I’m cheap (I knew that) and I waste my time (duh) but hey, if you too need such a reminder about how you do things wrong, just post your project to Hackaday!

Here’s the thing, kids… I don’t really like watching sports, and I don’t sit around drinking beer. I spend my time learning new skills and trying new things. I make things, and if they don’t work, I try again, or I move on and hopefully I’ve learned something. I share the things I do in the hopes it will help or inspire others. If someone wants to spend 10,000 hours building a replica of the Millennium Falcon out of toothpicks, more power to them! I’m, not gonna knock them for it. In this case, I made something that is actually a useful thing, and to me there’s value in that.

stats

And yeah, being on Hackaday definitely brings traffic to your site. This was not the goal of submitting something. I actually share this stuff because I think that’s what needs to be done with knowledge and experiences—they need to be shared. This is how we all collectively learn things and (hopefully) advance humankind. Or, you know, we could just leave comments on things.

RED Rail Mount

You may remember the Matte Box Flag‘s that I laser cut a while back, or the more recent LCD Arm that I 3D printed, well, there’s another accessory done now, and it took months and months to get it done. (Well, most of those months were due to procrastin—I mean, working on other projects.)

So our story begins with the RED Matte Box, which fits fine on the RED Lens, but when you slap a Zeiss Super Speed in place, the Matte Box can’t attach to it, no worries, RED sells two parts to solve your problem.

Rod Support

Universal Mount

Just drop $350 USD on two parts and you can now secure your matte box to the 19mm rods. This is an ideal solution, but as you know, I’m cheap, and I’m DIY, so away we go!

RED ONE

Here’s how it looks underneath. Those two piece attach together and let the matte box ride the rails, and there’s some latitude for adjusting the height of things. It’s nice hardware, for sure.

RED Mount

Once again I commend RED on publishing nice photos of their products…

RED Mount

…because it’s fairly easy to clean these up and trace them and create 2D profiles that can be extruded to 2.5D designs.

RED Mount

That’s much better! In fact, since it’s 2D I actually laser cut some wood to do a test fitting, since my 3D Printer was down for a bit when I was working on this.

Laser cut prototype

(It was a nice diversion, and honestly I just really like laser cutting things.)

Somewhere along the way though, I pretty much abandoned the idea of recreating the stuff RED has and figured I should just design my own. Maybe after the whole RED Arm debacle I realized their designs are sometimes lacking…

Anyway, I was overly complicating things, so I decided to go simple. Also, we’re 3D Printing here!

Rod Standards

Also, if making any rod-related things, I highly recommend you grab the Rod Standard Graph PDF from the OConor site.

RAIL Mount STL

This is what I eventually came up with. It’s mostly an extruded shape, but it does have some holes for the bolts including bits to lock in the hex heads, just like the Arm does. I wish I could say I just 3D printed this and that was it, but it’s far from it.

While I was working on this I was also working on calibrating the RepRap after the recent repairs, so I had a bunch of issues with things not printing as well as they should, or not exactly the right size, you know, like a 19mm hole printing at 18.673mm or 21.298mm. So I moved back to a bit of prototyping.

RAIL Mount DXF

I used the old STL to DXF trick (thought slightly modified) to create a 2D design from the original 3D file. Once I had a DXF file I could use the Silhouette Cameo to easily cut some thick paper to get an idea of size and dimensions. Eventually I was happy with how things were looking so I moved on to plastic.

RAIL Mount Small STL

Here’s the DXF file extruded to 5mm tall, with the idea being that I could print this much more quickly (and with less plastic!) that doing the full print which is 25mm tall. This worked well, and I was able to test fit it on the rods, but I was still having a few weird issues with the 19mm hole sizing.

RAIL Mount Part STL

I ended up pulling my 5mm STL file into OpenSCAD and doing a difference to subtract most of it and just leave a portion so I could print this and test the hole sizing even faster. This too worked quite well.

This all might seem like a crapload of work to get what I wanted, but there was much exploring and learning along the way, and believe it or not, that’s most of the fun in doing it for me. If I just downloaded and printed something, well, that’s good if you want a thing, but not as good if you want to learn the process of creating a thing.

RED Rail Mount

The final piece, with two 1/4″ hex bolts, some nut knobs (as seen previously), and two smaller screws and wing nuts to hold the matte box in place. There was a little bit of delamination in this print. I may try it on the LulzBot TAZ 3 that we just got in at Milwaukee Makerspace, as I think it will be a good test.

RAIL Mount

Hey, it works! It fits on the rods and holds the matte box in place. Simple enough, right?

RED Rail Mount

railmount15205

wiki

I’ve long been a proponent of wikis as knowledge bases within organizations. Since I discovered WikiWikiWeb in 2000, I was struck by the power and simplicity of wikis. (This was a year before the launch of Wikipedia, and many years before most people had even heard of Wikipedia!)

The first wiki I launched for a company started small, and eventually grew into a tool the Interactive department used for crucial information used by the staff. Some people believe that keeping data locked up within their own notes—or worse, just inside their own brains—creates job security. If no one else knows how something works, you become invaluable. My argument goes the opposite way, that creating a wiki and sharing all the knowledge shows your commitment to the health and well being of an organization.

During a job interview in 2006 I mentioned how I left behind a 200+ page wiki at my previous position, and without a doubt, that was the one thing that brought up the most questions from my interviewer. (The position wasn’t right for me, but I always secretly hoped they launched an internal wiki.)

Inc Magazine has a nice article titled A Micromanager’s Guide to Trust, with this great bit:

At Staff.com, Martin came up with a novel solution: He created a wiki that describes how to handle some 500 operational issues.

Exactly!

While I’m sometimes a bit too busy to do all the wiki maintenance I’d like to do, the Milwaukee Makerspace wiki has grown to become the operational manual for the organization. This is even more important when you realize that each year a new group of leaders is elected to the Board of Directors. And since the group is a “club” and not an “employer” people are free to leave when they want. (Meaning, there’s no firing or laying people off, but we do have to deal with people who just “disappear” sometimes.)

To me, this all goes back to the original idea of why I find/found the Internet so interesting. It’s about sharing information, openly and freely, with others. It’s about storing knowledge and having it easily retrievable. Wikis accomplish these things, and for that, I am mighty grateful.

(Oh, and my favorite wiki for the past fear years has been DokuWiki. Check if out if you need to implement a wiki for your organization.)

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