Monday, October 6, 2014


Found at RE-PC in Tukwila, in the 'tested good' bin: Thermaltake TR2 RX-550PP PSU $10.00 18A available on two independent 12V rails should be sufficient to supply the motors and electronics on one rail, and a heatbed and hotend on the other

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SHELFstRAP 3D printer

I think I need to start with a RepStrap first. I just want to get printing cool stuff, and building a plastic recycler. I think it would probably would be easier and far cheaper to get as many materials from the local McLendon's, Home Depot or Lowes piecemeal. I want a dirt cheap Strapped-Budget-RepStrap, especially since I am nearly dirt poor right now. I'll document what I find, and post a running tally of materials in case someone wants to build a printer out of whatever they have laying around. Today I was checking Home Depot to see what kind of rods they have, and to build a Mendel style printer would probably cost at least around $100 just in smooth and threaded rods, and none stainless steel. It would probably be cheaper to get a set of premeasured rods on eBay or Amazon...but I pay cash for everything, and avoid online purchases unless necessary, since when I want get as much as I can locally first. So Steel Rods and brass bushings is too expensive right now. I was inspired to look in Lighting for the aluminum extrusion they use in track lighting, maybe I would get lucky. ____Introducing the SHELFstRAP! I was instead drawn to the track shelving units you can fix to wall, and drop in supports and shelves on the notches. So I picked up a couple of these tracks below following to test out. I'll get some of the shelf supports to cut up with a Dremel and mount some skateboard bearings to make carriages: Rubbermaid 24" Single Track Upright (FG4A6701UTLTY) $2.50 ea (x2) These could go together like a sturdy Erector Sets with the right bolts bolts and a Dremel!

Saturday, October 4, 2014


I have been too busy raising a family, but still, after not updating this blog for 3 years it's high time to sweep out the cobwebs. Time for a random stream of consciousness.
The answer to the question is:
This is why they software was invented to do place and trace. I recently discovered EAGLE PCB and am playing around with this now to do PCB work.

Still exploring methods of PCB manufacture, but the Cricut is put away for the time being. What's changed? For one, 3D printing has taken the world by storm.

A fellow MSFT nerd and former coworker from 2008, Jerry, recently got me interested in the world of 3D printing after I discovered his Youtube channel, Barnacules Nerdgasm, and found him geeking out on maker technology in his videos..

Barnacules went to the World Maker Faire 2014, representing Ultimaker, and posted Vlogs of his experience on his channel. Most of the stuff he documented was absolutely mindblowing, like an 18-foot tall Delta printer named PartDaddy...

But there was one booth he featured that stood out from the rest of the Maker Faire.

There is a man from Togo, Afate of WɔɛLab, who built a 3D printer out of scrap E-waste. Running a hackerspace in his own country, they obtained a 3D printer, but when they wanted build another, they realized they could find all the materials they needed in the their own landfills. This inspired me that this is the kind of maker niche I want to get into, and also a printer I want to build. Anyone who has read my blog over the years knows that recycling and re-appropriating e-waste is something I enjoy.

Seeing this kind of stuff stoked a fire and made me want to jump back into the maker game, full speed. So I challenge myself, to build a WAFATE printer completely out of eWaste.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Place and trace

Why is this concept so incredibly difficult to master? I'm serious, it is literally an art-form to be able to take a basic one-dimensional logical schematic of a circuit, and design a two-dimensional (or 3D) physical layout on PCB's....and to do it efficiently.

This is a mastery I have desired to perform for years, but alas I am a rank amateur at that, even a beginner. I am still having a hell of a time trying to wrap my head around the concept of layouts by ordering where components go on an X-Y grid and drawing traces between them, and I think I understand why people spend gobs of money to go to school to become Electrical Engineers.

Luckily there is some software out there that can assist with the Layout portion of Electrical circuit designs. I will be evaluating some in the next few weeks and give my thoughts on each.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From Cricut to Circuit - Part IV - Results of an etching and component placement

It's been awhile since I posted, but am getting back into the hobby while I have the time available. Here is something I have been working on for the past couple of months when not busy with real life. I picked up a Dremel 4000 and workstation, turning it into a miniature drill press. This board has about 200 holes in it, and it took me about 45 minutes for each one. Here is one without the components.

With the components placed on the second board.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

From Cricut, to Circuit - Part III - Implementing your circuit

I will go into some of the things I have discovered so far after etching your circuit and preparing to use it in your project. First things first, when preparing to cut the PCB pattern using the Cricut, SCALING IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. This bears repeating...


Make sure you get the pattern in SCAL to match the EXACT scale and dimensions of the SVG layout you are working from. I tried to cut an even more intricate pattern, based on the following design, which is a clone of a Phase-90 pedal: Tonepad's Pez 90

Here is what I was able to etch out of this. Still waiting on the Dremel I ordered to complete the board by drilling all the tiny holes in it.

(This was an old saved post from 3/23/11 and have the details posted in a newer one)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From Cricut, to Circuit - Part II - Etching Your Circuit

7. Prepare layout for etching - The first attempt of this was to see what would actually happen when I dropped the board into the Ferric Chloride. What came out was some mixed results. the pattern was etched as expected, but there were some unwanted side effects with the process. There was a slight amount of undercutting underneath the Vinyl, which caused a bevel at the edges of the copper traces. there were some spots under the Vinyl Where the FeCl had gone completely underneath the vinyl. Not perfect results, but perhaps still usable with some tinning. The most interesting part was where the Sharpie marker had hit the edges of the Vinyl. There was almost a perfect edge at those spots. (circled in red)

By this point, I had also just discovered that the ValveCaster board I etched was missing a specific component (by the layout creator's design) and probably wouldn't be as useful as I wanted...

However, this was great for an experiment, and I learned a lot from this, but I was ready to try a different tactic...I took another layout for my 2nd attempt, this time for the Pepper Shredder pedal, which is more involved and intricate. Taking another layout:

And converting it into another SVG cutting path:

Cut it out, and applied it, and etched it. I missed the step this time of pressing it with a iron, so the undercutting was more extensive than the first one, with it going almost 1 millimeter under the vinyl.

Not pictured is where I followed another's advice and marked out large sections of the copper board with sharpie, to conserve Ferric Chloride. There was one point where I had used a piece of paper as a straight-edge and marked across the board, between the intended patters, as a separator. Well, there was some ink-crawl underneath the paper and the sharpie ink hit the vinyl again. After wiping it off with Isopropyl Alcohol I discovered on etching that where the Sharpie ink hit the vinyl again, there was almost a perfect edge to the copper traces. Maybe I was on to something here. Time for a 3rd attempt...

I cut out another set of patterns on the Cricut in Vinyl, and applied it to another Copper board. This time, I liberally applied a wet sharpie to all the edges of the vinyl to see what result I would get this time:

I then thoroughly wiped off the entire board with Alcohol to remove the Sharpie ink on the surface. After running it through the etch, I discovered this was the secret to get minimal undercutting, although it presented another issue of its own. Be sure to remove ALL extra sharpie ink off the surface, or you may find yourself with short-circuits (which are easily cut and can be scraped off an Exacto knife)

(click for full-size)