Fixing the Fixture


I (somewhat) jokingly posted something the other day about how my wife asked me to 3D print something, and was totally serious this time and not sarcastic about it. To be fair, she’s heard me say “I’ll just 3D print one!” about 100 times this summer, and was probably sick of it, but when you live in the future, it’s pretty damn exciting.

Or story begins back in 2009 when we moved into our current house. The light above the front door was just a bare bulb, with nothing around it. I’m assuming there was a glass ball at one point, and it must have broke, or been stolen, or dematerialized. No matter, we can fix it.

3D Printed Part

While at Home Depot the wife found a cheapie plastic majigger that would fit over the light bulb, so we bought it. This is also when she suggested I could “make it work” and thus, I agreed.

I ended up using OpenSCAD to design a simple ring that would press-fit the new piece, and have the needed holes to fix the fixture… and adapter, if you will.

It fits!

It worked! As you may notice, there are no mounting holes. I often don’t bother making holes in the objects I print because I’ve got a drill press, and it makes much more precise holes than the RepRaster 5000 can. (And just to be clear, the clear piece is not what I printed. I printed the black piece. Got it?)

Holes for screws

Here’s the piece after I drilled the holes and secure it into the fixture with two small bolts. Sadly the small bolts are a little long, and stick out the top, but hey, it’s still an improvement.


So now on the front of the house is this lovely cheapie plastic majigger instead of just a bare light bulb. Home Improvements FTW!

This is one more thing where I really don’t know how I could have done this as elegantly without a 3D printer. Using open source software I designed the needed adapter and then printed it out using open source hardware, and the total cost of materials (ABS plastic) was probably less than 50 cents. As I said… living in the future and all that.


We Must Adapt

Just a note for any one toting around an Apple laptop, be it an old iBook or a new MacBook: Get a video adapter!

More than a few times in the last year I’ve seen someone show up with an Apple laptop, and then look at the VGA connector on a projector, and have an “oh shit” moment where they realize things won’t plug into other things.

Even before my (pre-owned) iBook arrived, I had tracked down the needed VGA and s-video/composite video adapters on ebay. (I got both for under $20.)

I tend to carry my adapters around with me, and even offered one up at BarCampMadison to someone. Of course Apple in it’s infinite wisdom likes to change things each year, so my adapter didn’t work. (I ended up just letting the presenter use my iBook, though I warned him if it wasn’t interesting, I’d take my iBook and leave.)

For the modern folks, it looks like the Mini-DVI to VGA Adapter is pretty cheap, around $20. That should work for the MacBook and 12-inch PowerBook G4. If you have some other model, track down what adapter is used and order it today so you’re ready for the next user group meeting or BarCamp presentation.