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2nd Massive Earthquake to hit Oklahoma

I don’t normally post off topic, but Oklahoma just suffered it’s second massive earthquake in less than six years.  ……well massive by Oklahoma standards.  Preliminary 5.6.

I was on my workbench when a minor tremor began.  I thought at first that my cat had headbutted my leg.  He’s prone to do that when I’m ignoring him and I was.   He weights at least 12 pounds, so yes he can make the chair shake when he does that.  But the tremor continued and when I looked up he was in the doorway of the room, coming into the room, no where near my leg.  Then the tremor got rougher and I began to hear things in the kitchen rattling.   My magnifying lamp began to sway in time.  My lcd monitor tipped forward and then back.  Suddenly there was a sharp jolt, a rolling sensation and then a smaller jolt.   My cat jumped,  spun around and dug his claws in for a hasty retreat from the room.  I knew then what it was.

In the rest of the house I could hear things shifting and falling.   The trailer continued to rattle and quiver for a couple of minutes longer, but the main quake was over.

It’s been nearly two hours now.  There seems to have been a couple of minor tremors since, but it maybe just my nerves.  Reports are slowly coming in.  Some damage in Pawnee, but so far no injuries.  It appears that the epicenter was close to the town, just like the first one that hit very close to the city of Prague Ok in 2011.

No damage at my house, my cane fell down in the living room.  Mostly jangled nerves seems to be the only real damage.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

I’m thinking about changing my avatar.  I used to think tornadoes were the norm.  Now it’s getting to be earthquakes.

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New Hardware, Continuing Work


Well another summer has come and almost gone.  Just have to get through the dog days of August.  🙂

Today I get to announce new hardware for sale.  It’s literally amazing what the Atari 8bit computer was able to do some thirty years ago.  And the ability of some genius  engineers to pull the most out of her.   I’d been looking for as much info as I could on CSS products, specifically the Super E and Gang E programmers when I ran across this gem.  I didn’t even know it existed.  I got to know it well, at least the hardware side.  It may not be a polished as the Thompson Pro Burner or as well known as the CSS product, but this Atari 8bit computer based eprom burner rocks.  Check out the product page for the Ralf David XL/XE Eprom Burner Bundle.

After spending so much time on the burner, I almost forgot the other smaller projects I was working on too.  In the coming weeks I should have several more new hardware pieces to offer.  So stay tuned.  :))


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Sad Day: The HAG is dead, RIP

I grew up listening to this man. I know it’s not hip anymore, and it was a different era then, but there are days now I turn off the tv and radio and fire up my old record changer and crank the volume up. Ole Possum, Buck and his buckaroos, Whispering Bill, the Man in Black and the rest of them are alive again and in their prime.

So few are left alive now. Fewer now. Something undefinable is being lost and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But at least we still have the music and the memories for awhile yet.

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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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Wizztronic 256k Memory Board Cease and Desist request


I have been sent a cease and desist request from a Steve Cohen.  He is claiming he owns the copywrite on the Wizztronics 256k memory upgrade boards for Atari 800XLs and that he has licensed the rights to an unnamed third party.   He is demanding I discontinue offering my reimaged boards for sale immediately.

While I have no way to know if this is true, it doesn’t matter.  I am in no position financially to resist.  I have taken the product from my website.  I will still offer the memory chips necessary to actually upgrade the memory until my stock is exhausted.   Also I will offer the additional three chips necessary to upgrade the version of the board for the newer Antic to work with the older Antic (CO12296) until the stock is exhausted.

I wish I could say I made any money on this, but I didn’t.  The items did not sell very well.  I still have 75% of the boards made.   Still it wasn’t my intention to make money anyway.   From all appearances this board appeared to be abandonware.    I didn’t want it to only be available to a few collectors and a museum or two.

This Steve Cohen should get with this third party he claims has licensed the rights and find out why the product is not being actively produced and supported.    The only other place I ever found original boards was Best Electronics.  This was about five years ago now.  At that time I was told I had purchased the last one in stock and the owner did not expect to recieve any more stock as the item was no longer being made.  This may have changed, but I don’t see the item on Best website for sale.







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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.  🙂