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3d printing of Ralf David Eprom Burner Case pt 2


I believe I nearly have the finished .stl files.  I’m doing a final fit print now and into tomorrow morning.  There will be two files, two parts,  a bottom and a lid.  It may not be the best solution, but I dare say a better one than in the buff as it is now.  🙂

My printer is behaving, but the Hatchbox filament is taking a little while to dial in.  It wants to ooze a little more than the XYZ filament.  So I backed down the temperate from 220C to 218C.  I’m printing the lid now, so we’ll see how well it does.   Also setup a skirt/brim to hopefully eliminate the wad of filament that wants to collect at the nozzle.

Print time is rather long for the bottom, a little over 4hrs, but I’m printing at medium speed/quality.  The lid is supposed to take about 2hrs.   I’ll do the bottom tomorrow morning.  I don’t want to let the printer run over night.  Too many times it’s run amok and after only 5 minutes of inattention I’ve found a ball of filament dancing with the extruder on the build plate.

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3d Printing of Ralf David Eprom Burner Case


Progress on the 3d files.  First preliminary fit printing went well.  Found some obvious errors in dimensions.  Fixed them.  Now I am ready to do a secondary fit printing.  But…… the original filament cartridge that came with the printer is about out.  I have 3rd party filament, so the next adventure is going to be dialing the printer into the new manufacture’s filament.

I am also going to be switching entirely to Simplify3D software.  I’ve been using XYZ’s software, but the next batch of prints I want to attempt is going to require custom supports and that software just can’t handle it.  I have a new SDX cartridge case that I want to see if it will 3d print.    I maybe tempting fate…..

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Continuing saga on the new Da Vinci 1.0 Pro 3D Printer pt 2


Post four in the continuing saga of the new 3d Printer. So far I’ve fixed a misaligned Y axis, discovered how to level the print bed, how to use the slicing software that came with the printer to get the gcode to the printer and printed a few objects of increasing complexity and print time to see how well the printer functions on long prints. I’ve noted a few strange noises that I am concerned about, but at this time do not seem to affect the print quality. With the last two prints I also began testing the detail capability of the printer.

So far I have been somewhat impressed with the printer. My previous printer, when it was working right, produced very good prints. This printer at about half the price is giving it a run for its money, and I’ve just been using the stock settings and filament. There are hints that using a more refined slicer program such as Simplyfy3D, playing with the layer height and/or changing the filament manufacturer could drastically improve the print quality even more. I intend to explore all three options in time. Durability of the printer is another concern, but can only be answered in time as I continue to print.

One of the first major problems any maker has when they first start out is getting the print to stick to the bed while printing and only come off when the printing is done. Sometimes it is not as easy as it seems. There are several reasons for print lifting.

1. Bed not level

Bed has to be level period.

2. Wrong bed temprature for the plastic used

ABS needs bed temperature of 90C at least
PLA needs no heated bed

Other plastics need somewhere inbetween

3. Mismatching the plastic adhesion to the bed material when hot/cold

ABS likes to stick to tape or glass, usually Kapton tape or borosilicate glass
ABS slurry or Scotch glue stick application gives extra adhesion

PLA can handle bare aluminum, but prefers blue painter’s tape

Polycarbonite needs heavy duty adhesion like BuildTak sheets


My first printer was notorious for psyching me out. Ten minutes into an hour long print, usually after I had convinced myself that I could pop out of the room to do a quick job somewhere else in the house, the print would lift from the print bed.  It would then begin a tangled dance just above the print bed, growing with every extrusion of plastic.  I’d come back in and discover a plastic art master piece that would win acceptance in the most famous art museum of the world if they had a category for it.  I had a steadily growing pile of failed prints.

But I digress, so far once I had the bed leveled I haven’t had a failed print yet.  Using Kapton tape and a light smear of Scotch glue stick. It’s so nice to finally have a printer that behaves itself.  Or rather it hasn’t misbehaved yet. 🙂

The next major problem any maker has is the quality of print.  Sometimes it’s a search that never ends. Just about the time you think you have the right formula dialed in, the slicer software upgrades and something minor in how it slices changes, now your prints are a mess again.  Sometimes the filament manufacturer changes their formula and now you have to recalibrate your settings to get back the previous quality.  Sometimes you never do and you have to start experimenting with other filament manufacturers product.  Then you have the rest of the variables of temperature, different colors filament sensitivity, earthquake induced changes in bed leveling, (I’m serious….. Oklahoma is surpassing California in earthquake frequency) etc.

So this is where we are right now. Dialing in the right formula to produce the best quality print.  When we last were here I had printed one half of the KM-20 cartridge shell with the stock settings and filament to see what quality came out.  I was pleasently surprised.  But of course it can be better.  I tried mating the printed half shell with the injection molded copy.  It wouldn’t.  So I mused that maybe it would mate with another printed half shell.  It still wouldn’t.  So why?

There seems to be four most likely reasons.

First always is the model. If it ain’t there, your prints won’t be there.  Could there be a problem in the model itself?  Since I didn’t create the model, I don’t have source files just the end product of whatever cad program they used.  I did load the .stl file into MeshLab and noticed no obvious problems.  So for right now on this print I have to put this reason in the neutral catagory.

Second is the printer settings.  Specifically the layer height.  Currently I am using the default setting of .3.  Going down to .2 would increase the accuracy of the print, but would increase the print time.  It is a reasonable trade off for this type of print.  So the next print session will be at .2

Third is the filament used.  It’s amazing how much variety there is in a supposedly standard diameter of 1.75 amoung different filament manufactures.  Currently I am using the filament that came with the printer from XYZprinting.  I do have two rolls of Hatchbox, a black and a white.  I also have a grey roll from Jet.  I used Hatchbox with my other printer, but Jet is an unknown.  Changing filament is a process that can take half an hour to do.  It’s not just unload the old and load the new.  There’s several additional software steps and info entry.  And on this printer they did not supply a spool holder for 3rd party rolls.  Besides in any testing you only want to change one thing at a time.  So for now I will continue to use the supplied filament.  This reason goes into the neutral category for now.

Four is the slicing software used.  Currently I am using XYZPrinting Pro to slice and send the info to the printer.  While recent software updates have addressed several critical voids, the software is still primitive compared to Cura, Slic3r or Simplyfy3D.  My favorite is Simplyfy3D.  I’ve owned it for a couple of years now and it is well maintained and very customizable.  Granted it is not free, but you get what you pay for.  Customizing support structures is one of the unique features I haven’t found in any other slicer program.  Currently they do not officially support Da Vinci 1.0 Pro, but all the other XYZprinting models are, so it shouldn’t be very long before they do.  In the meantime some enterprising souls on Thingaverse in the Da Vinci Printers group have been experimenting on their own with Simplyfy3D and have come up with some scripts that allow almost complete compatibility. The missing factor is direct transmission to the printer. Currently XYZprinting software is still needed to transmit the gcode to the printer. There’s no direct access to an SDcard, but there is a mod for that. 🙂

So for the next printing session I will print both halves in the same printing session, at .2 layer height 20 % infill using the same software, filament and model. Here goes……..

Okay printing session over. 3 hours and 50 minutes worth


First picture tells most of the story.  Bringing the layer height down to .2 did make quite a bit of difference.  You can see less defined printer layers at the .2 compared to the .3.  The edges became more accurate.  There is still the split in parts of the lip and grove and in the horizontal bar at the bottom of the half shell.  Not much changed there, which leads me to believe that it is an error in the original .igs file or the conversion to .stl.


On the back of both half shells you can see the difference as well.  In this case I think applying an acetone bath would smooth out most of the remaining printer layer striations.  That would leave very smooth surfaces.  To get a textured feel and look would require applying light grade of sand paper/rasp etc.

Still the halfs do not mate.  Though it does look closer than before.  It would seem that 3d printing at least with the printer I have does not have the same tolorances that an injection molded part would have.  A redesign of the model allowing for thicker lip and groove measurements would be the next step.



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Continuing saga on the new Da Vinci 1.0 Pro 3D printer


Now I am feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof.  The previous two real prints were tools that helped me make other things on my projects.  On the smaller one the print time was only about 7 minutes.  On the bigger clamp jig the time was around 40 minutes.  Both came out as good as I was expecting.

Okay now it’s time to try some serious 3D printing.  For my first serious print I want to see how well the stock ABS blue filament and stock settings on the printer handle finer details.  I chose to try a print of the KM-20 cartridge shells made by Maszczyk.  I dl the .igs file from their website, bring it into Solidworks and convert it to a .stl file.  I then load that into the XYZPrinting Pro software for slicing and transmission to the printer.  I chose to only do one half of the complete shell to keep the print time down.  The estimated time is 1hr 30 minutes.  It takes 1hr and 40 minutes.

The printer never balks.  There’s a strange dragging sound sometimes when the extruder makes a long x axis run, but no obvious indication in the print that there is any resistance.  I mark that down as something to investigate further.

So how does it do?  Well see for yourself.  I’ve put the printout in blue next to the original in black.  Pretty good for stock settings.  Not an exact copy, but I didn’t expect that.

DSC_2099 DSC_2100 DSC_2102 DSC_2103

The first thing I notice is that the original black half seems slightly smaller.  ABS used in injection molding is notorious for shrinkage, 3D printing doesn’t seem as bad.  I tried to mate the original with the 3D printed one and they do not fit together.  Next I’ll try printing another half shell and see if it will fit the first one.

Then I notice the finish. The original has a nice textured feel and look on the back.  The 3D printed one has the classic 3D printed look as each layer is built one upon another.  I have some smoothing material that I will try and report on in a few days.  I bought it a long time ago when I first got the FF Creator Pro, but never used it.

On the back of the original there is a round dimple that provides a very thin cover over the center screw hole from the back.  The 3D printed version tries,  but just can’t handle that dimple without support.  The print was started with the back laying on the print bed.   Truth be told I’m not sure how I could add support.  It’s just so thin, maybe around .1 mm, definitely not more than .2 mm.   The printer does handle the rounded top edge bottom very well.  That’s called a slight overhang in 3d printer terms.




Now we turn the half shells over to compare the internal features.  Again we see the classic telltale 3D printer finish in the center post and the inside sides of the half shell.  This can be minimized by lowering the printer layer resolution, but it increases the print time significantly.  I printed at the stock .3 mm layer resolution.  The lip and groves seemed to print well, until you get towards the bottom of the half shell.  Then we begin to see a strange split developing in an otherwise solid lip feature.  We see the same issue in the horizontal bar running across at the bottom of the half shell. It’s pronounced enough that I can get my fingernail between the two halves.  That I do not think is a printer issue. I believe that is a result of an error in converting from .igs to .stl in the 3D model.

Over all the print seems to turn out well.  Definitely will need to fine tune the original .stl file to eliminate the splits in the lip and horizontal bar.  The next thing would be to fine tune the layer height to improve the finish and accuracy of the print.  Smoothing the print using acetone is also an option.  The apparent size difference between the black original and the blue printed half shell is going to be harder to deal with.  I think the filament used is a  major factor there, with maybe a slight scaling down of the .stl file.  But it’s a very slight scale amount.

More to come.

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New 3D Printer Da Vinci 1.0 Pro pt 2


Over the next couple of days I begin dialing in the printer to a working state. First I have to learn how to level the bed, each printer is a little different. Then I experiment with various materials to find the right combination that will keep the print object stuck to the bed until the printing session ends and I want it to come loose. Kapton tape is a bitch to apply, but in my case seems to work better than the glass bed I tried. Add a little Scotch Glue stick application and it seems I’m ready.

I start my prints small. I have designed a couple of tools that I hope will help me put together my products for sale. First is a simple 1.5mm high 45mm long plastic piece that should help me crimp leads on the edge card connector for the SDX cartridge project. I adjust the height upwards and make several prints. The prints are coming out just fine.

I notice a ticking sound on the first layer or so and then it stops. Back to Google to see if anyone else is having the same sound. Yes, they are too.  No immediate concern and no definite reason.  A mystery still to be solved.  I will track the discussion.

Then I try a bigger print. I am using a ribbon cable connector that can be soldered into a pcb on another project. But I am having problems getting the ribbon cable clamped into the harness without damaging the solder pins on the connector. So taking a page from the yellow plastic mold on my ribbon cable clamper, I design another mold to allow the pins to seat into a recessed rectangular hole while the body of the connector is held in the clamp and the ribbon cable is able to be firmly pressed against the forking pins. Anyway…. almost another flawless print.  And it works.

DSC_2092  DSC_2096  DSC_2097  DSC_2094

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New 3D Printer Da Vinci 1.0 Pro


Well…. I recently sold my old Flashforge Creator Pro. We never really got along, it seemed that every time I was ready to do 3d printing it was feeling unwell. There were times when I looked at it wrong and it freaked. I swear. I wasn’t doing anything to it. I even left the room a few times thinking that my mad vibes were influencing it. Damned if it didn’t take that time to let the print break free of  the print bed and go swishing around with every move of the extruder head. Enough…. I wasn’t finished with 3D printing, but that printer had to go.

So up on Ebay it went and it was gone in a couple of days. Now mind you I don’t think it was a bad printer, I just never seemed to have any luck with keeping it going. Sometimes relationships are like that. 🙂

In the meantime I was surfing Youtube and came across a couple of videos on a new model of XYZprinting 3D printer. This new model allowed you to use 3rd party filament, had an aluminum heated print bed, had almost the same size build volumne as the Flashforge and was about half the cost. A teaser indicated that a laser engraver module was soon to come. Wow!

It’s even on a bit of a sale on Amazon. Thirty dollars less than normal. Okay, so I’m sold. So a few days later it comes in via the UPS truck and I spend the next hour or so unpacking it and setting it up. I don’t turn it on yet. Not yet. I poured over the documentation and watched the Youtube videos first. Then I sleep on it.

Now intially my impression is good. This printer just seems a little more finished than the Flashforge, more consumer friendly. It should be, it’s supposed to be you say. Flashforge Creator Pro is a workhorse, it’s a man’s 3D printer. Rubish. I’ll give you that the FF Pro is heavier built and has dual extruders, but it still seems unfinished, unrefined. The Da Vinci 1.0 Pro just seems so much more polished.

So now it’s morning and my anticipation is high. It’s plugged in. I’ve read up on what it’s supposed to do when I flip the power switch. I even have a small simple print ready to test the printer. Moment of truth. I flip the power switch.

At first everything is proceeding normally. The lights inside come on, the led displays the initialization message, the extruder starts moving to home position. I’m thinking al…..right….!

Bang! Grinding….. Bang! The lights start flashing. The machine is beeping hysterically. The led flashs and finally displays Error 31.

I slap power button off frantically, merciful silence. I’ve just ruined the printer by turning it on and lost nearly $600 I can’t afford to lose. So thinking I have nothing to lose, I turn the printer back on. Same horrendous banging and grinding as the extruder attempts to go to home. Finally the error is displayed on the led screen again. I turn the printer off again in frustration.

I think great….. leave it to me to have problems with a new printer that nobody else has. I begin to have dej vu.

But the extruder hot end isn’t hitting the bed and I’ve already checked half a dozen times to make sure I haven’t left any packing material in the machine, so what is causing the noise and error. Onto Google and several hours pass. It’s a new model. Not many people have bought it yet, much less had problems.  Finally I find a single post on an obscure webblog. Like me the poster had just turned his new printer on and had the exact same thing happen. He has contacted XYZprinting and they have diagnosed the problem as a misaligned Y axis. Their solution, decidedly low tech. Bring the extruder assembly all the way forward and then pull hard on both sides where the black plastic covers are.


Well what the hell…. It can’t get any worse, can it?

I’m glad I didn’t find out. I do the hard pull and after a few minutes gather my courage up to flip the power switch back on. The printer comes on like before and the extruder assembly proceeds to home it’s axis. A little whine, a little stutter and then the quiet whir of the power fan on the back. The printer is homed and waiting patiently for my next command. I realize I need to tell my body to breath when the dark spots start dancing in my vision.

At that point I decide to leave well enough alone.  I call it a day.

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Happy New Year-New SDX cartridge design


Well….. it’s a new year now.  Hopefully a better one than last year.   🙂

I’ve started a short sale of some of my older works.  Unless there is considerable demand I don’t plan to restock once I sell out.  Eventually I’ll post the schematic and board files to reproduce them, but I’ll hold onto them for awhile longer.

I’ve also settled on an Super SDX pcb and cartridge design.  At least it’s in beta.  I guess I’ll have to get my 3D printer up and running again to test it.  :0   I’ll also release it for dl.    You should be able to find it as the last dl link to the right.

I may also redo the first two cartridge designs.  But I’m gonna work on some other things for awhile.  🙂


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Merry Christmas: Beta 3D Atari Cartridge Files


As promised here are the beta 3D Atari Cartridge Files.  I say beta since unfortunately my 3d printer is being cranky and I am not able to print out a prototype.  So I advise you to do that before you send these files for production.  I’m not responsible for that 1500.00 bill from the plastics manufacture.  🙂

Inside the zip file you’ll find the source Solidworks model file, a pdf with the max pcb dimensions, various .jpg views and a .step and .stl versions of the source file.  Your 3d printer should be able to do a resolution of at least 1 mm.  I think I took out any critical less than 1mm dimensions.   This is a generic shell.  I am still working on a shell that will allow a top pass-thru.  It should follow this version closely, but will have some differences of course.

I give you permission to use these files to produce cartridges for commercial sale and private use with the stipulation that you attribute authorship to me and send me 1 complete item you are selling and 1 empty cartridge.  You can modify and distribute these files only if you also include the source zip from me and again attribute me as the source for the modified files.


After a request to add post and hole snap together, I played around and came up with the first modification.  Not sure how well it will work.  Please post any comments to this here.  Changes, requests etc





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FlashForge 3D Creator Pro Sensor Cable part 1


Last year I took the plunge into 3d printing.  It was terrifying and intoxicating at the same time.  I jumped at every strange sound the printer made, sure that box of wires and exposed moving gantry of hot spewing plastic was going to jump it’s tracks and shoot it’s guts around the room.  You laugh…..   I swear I believed.  It made all kinds of weird noises and smelled… well….. hot!

Little by little I got use to it.  It didn’t run off it’s tracks and it didn’t come apart.  I began to leave it alone while it printed.  Only a few minutes mind you at a time.  And then the time came when I started it up and went off for 30 minutes or more.  Then one time when I came back from the kitchen and found it had printed a stringy mess of a test 8bit cartridge shell.

That turned out to be the x axis belt that was extremely loose.  Once I tightened it up everything was fine.  Time went on and I eventually moved to my new home.  After several weeks of unpacking and sorting things out I finally tried the printer again for the first time since the move.

Gremlins had found my printer.  I swear…  Horrible sounds issued from the inside as the extruders approached the far right rear.  It stuttered and ground, then seemed to clear and prepare to print.  But everytime it got close to the far right rear unholy noises spewed forth.  Print aborted with power switch forced into off position.  Some frantic searching on Youtube and Google turned up a possible cause.  The X axis wire harness was bad.  But I only had about 40 some hours on the printer I wailed….

I assure you that printer didn’t blink an eye.  It just didn’t care.

Well this wasn’t the first time something inanimate had turned a cold eye on me.   I fixed that right up with ordering 2x x axis wiring harnesses from Flashforge, cursing at the shipping charges all the way to the commit button.  They came in and I took the hex wrench to the side and bottom covers.  Off they came and after much turning and upside down viewing (not the printer mine you) of the cable pathway I had the harness installed.  The covers went back on and everything plugged back in.   I powered the printer back on, leveled the bed and started a print.

The extruder traveled closer and closer to the far right rear and then began to studder and grind.  Oh *&(#(&%(@!

Off went the power switch again.   Now what?  There was one other cable that connected to the x axis motor.  It was the sensor cable.  From somewhere in my memory I recalled a cable that came packaged with the printer.  So I dug in the box with the printer parts and came up with the cable.   Off came the covers again, I spent more time practically on my head threading the cable through the guides again.  All plugged in and buttoned up finally again.  Power went on and I bed leveled again.  I initiated the print again.   And waited for the fatal noise again.

It never came.  Instead the extruder moved through it’s paces like a race horse.  I danced a victory dance, oh yea……  Oh yea…..   🙂

Two days later I came back into the hobby room and prepared the printer for another session.  I had printed two proto parts and after making some adjustments to the 3d model I wanted to print a hard copy to see what else needed to be changed.  Print initiated and I turned to my workbench to do some soldering.  Behind me came the sound of studdering and grinding.


I shut the printer off and stewed.  And regrouped.

Stay tuned for part two.


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Preliminary 1050 Front Bezel 3d Model


Since before Guus Assmann released his beautiful 1050 Mega Speedy I have been wanting to design a bezel that would fit the 1050, be as original as possible and be modifyible.  It’s not really realistic that the bezel could be mass produced since there is probably only about a thousand or so 1050s that would need something like that and injection molding would still be out of sight cost wise.  But I thought that maybe the bezel could be 3d printed on an individual basis with what ever modified design to accomadate the various 1050 external mod controls.

When Guus released the Mega Speedy, he also kicked that project out of the closet and into high gear.  Over the last few weeks I have been plugging away, fighting with Solidworks to come up with a prototype design.  This is initialy just going to be a vanilla design of the bezel.  Once the fit is tweaked and then confirmed, any modifications can be done to the model. Then printed out on a 3d printer.

Wouldn’t you know Murphy would make an appearance.  I do have a Flashforge Creator Pro 3d printer.  However I have had problems with the dual extruder nozzels.  They are not level.  As long as I only did small objects that wasn’t a problem, but the bezel is almost at the max of the printer’s build size, so when I go to print,  the nozzel that hangs a few hundredths of a mm lower drags across the print area, destroying the build.  The set screws controling the level of the nozzels are frozen and not adjustable.  I have ordered a replacement nozzel mount and am waiting for it’s arrival.

In the meantime I have decided to release the prototype .stl file.   This will allow anyone with a 3d printer to print their own.    You need to make sure that your build size is large enough.  Dimensions are at least 200mm L  X  100mm W  Be advised that although I have measured and remeasured, I would be surprised if the bezel is an accurate replacement yet.   What would be nice is if you can report back how much off it is.

This is a work in progress so all the dimensions are subject to change.  I will be printing a prototype once my printer is up again.