Farewell Plateau; Upward & Onward!

My last 3D printing update post lamented that I had plateaued. I hit a point where I was trying to print and nothing was sticking. Pun intended. The filament suddenly wouldn’t adhere to the heated printing bed, for no apparent reason at all. I was flummoxed.

I paused operations for a few days and in relative silence pondered what could be the problem. I’m no thermophysicist, and the internet can be a place of answers, as well as a place of frustrating dead ends.

I’m always grateful and sincerely appreciative to the people that extend a knowledgeable and patient hand to me online after I’ve exhausted my resources and patience. I make sure to do diligent research before asking because as we all should know by now, asking a question online before even googling it yourself is akin to voting for Donald Trump to some people. The worst mistake a human being could ever make in the history of all time, from known beginnings to the unrealized end, in other words.

When the 3D printer isn’t making its quiet robotic noises, this house seems so quiet. So it gave me some time to think about my printing issue, as well as focus on a hundred far more important issues. And I got some good writing done, which I’m going to shop around to appropriate publishers. Writing’s another pastime of mine, but I take it more seriously because it has a direct influence on my relevancy and marketability as a marketer. And writer, for that matter. But I do so much o fit that I thought I’d at least organize it for public consumption.

Anyway, getting far off-topic which begins to happen I begin to tire. Which is an awful situation when you want to keep on going. My 6-year-old daughter knows the fight well. As do I. We’re two peas in a pod when it comes to battling the sandman.

So my printer was giving me a hard time and I had a new stock of filament I just ordered from the manufacturer of my printer, Anycubic. I’ve been very happy with the printer, the service, and everything that has to do with Anycubic, so I didn’t want to doubt their filament being of good quality. But I was running out of answers. So I turned to the Facebook group that revolves around the type of printer I have. And a guy helped me along, and I learned some valuable lessons about my slicing program and bed-leveling good tips while he and I tried to tackle this together.

He told me what brand of filament he likes to use, and I went to check my stock because the brand sounded so familiar I thought I may have some in stock. But what I found out is that I’m an idiot.

The filament I’d been trying to use for a week or two now ended up being ABS, instead of PLA, which is a big difference and answered all the questions and solved all the problems I’d been having. Completely different types of printing media/material requires a completely different set of factors set to use it. Most notably it needs to work at hotter temperatures. But a bunch of other settings is different between PLA and ABS. Which isn’t “Anti-lock Braking System.” At least I had that figured out. D’erp.

feelers & calipers
My measuring devices to keep the bed flat and Z-axis true

Whether I accidentally ordered ABS or Anycbic sent me ABS instead of PLA isn’t a big deal at this point. I can still use it at some point. But it goes to show that, at least in my case, most of the time it turns out to be user error, not the computer or machine’s fault. I’m humble enough to admit I can make some dumb mistakes. We’re all human, which some people don’t seem to believe.

And with that resolved, I stumbled upon some magnificent printing projects, people and software, and all sorts of things that excite me when that happens. It’s why I’ve stayed up all night trying to do 150 things at once. So many new, cool things to explore and do! I love it! And I’m also beginning to learn to tell the chaff from the wheat.

That’s how it goes sometimes. A drought followed by a flash-flood rainstorm that pours buckets of gushing water over your head non-stop.

So what did I discover? Glad you asked. I’m always on the lookout for toys and puzzles to make for my daughter. And myself. And I found a trunkload of great ones, including one that’s going to blow her mind. There are a lot of items on the big sites like Thingiverse, Cults, and Instructables. After a while, you’ll discover many of the “makes” there are forks of other’s works and projects and files that have become dilapidated and neglected over time. Much like the “Customizer” feature Thingiverse keeps featuring and leaves available yet is broken and decrepit. So the novelty eventually wears off after you’ve scrolled through 10,000 files and projects

But I discovered Thangs.com which has great stuff, and this guy ->Angus in Australia is making a go by converting his knowledge of 3D printing into income, which is admirable. That takes a lot of work and years of experience. And selling his files. And he props up others in the “3D community” who are also masterful. He makes learning what may be mundane and his style is very entertaining and fun.

I also discovered a cool “Image to Lithophane” site which my little girl might like.

I also discovered FreeCAD, which is similar to openSCAD. And of course, you have Tinkercad which I’m deliberating about maybe using to introduce my daughter to this hobby. There’s a Toybox app, and Thinger app which she would be curious about. Fusion 360 may be out of both her and my reach cost-wise, and Blender also is an open-source top choice that I’m teaching myself. Being able to manufacture anything I want myself is the end goal. And I’ve been hyping up this printer to my daughter who hasn’t even seen it yet, though I’ve given her a stream of toys and boxes, obviously printed by someone who just pulled up to the curb with a newfound interest in 3D printing.

But I’m going deeper and learning more, which I’ll share with her in several ways. The prints being “prizes” as she so sweetly calls them, of course. But I’m also going to show her what’s under the hood and what makes the magic happen. Code and the nuts and bolts. She won’t be interested. But she’ll learn. It’s a fact of life that we’re entering where we shouldn’t forget that everything doesn’t happen by “magic.” as it seems more and more these days.

Even adults are thrown off-course in these days of the “Internet of things.” Wi-Fi signal goes out at the house? Suddenly we’re naked and don’t know if we can boil water and go stock up on milk and bread and TP. I’m sure there is a HUGE variance as to where people are in adopting “the internet of things” but more and more appliances, lights, video cameras, and things people are becoming used to “just working” in the “modern world” via apps on smartphones or whatever, will be caught flat-footed when someone changes that semicolon into a bracket in the code and everything falls to the floor.

What to do? Who to call? Do you even know how to call should your smartphone and/or internet die suddenly?

There will be the educated and the ignorant, and a big rift between the two. My daughter is 6; she has a good reason to be unaware of the mysteries and complexities of the world. But if you’re between the ages of 16 and 80+, you have no excuses except laziness and cerebral shortcomings. And chances are you’ve always been and will continue that way. So this isn’t relevant to those. At least they provide a lucrative market for those that do know how to help, for a fee.

Here’s something I discovered at Harbor Freight, which is a chain store for DIY hobbyists in the US, snd a candy store for tinkerers, and a business that must have a waterproof-tight supply chain for what they carry and the modest margins they seek.

The front light

A $1.99 LED light that can be stuck just about anywhere. It has a bright LED light along the vertical side and another “flashlight” at the bottom. And it has a magnet to plop it on anything ferrous. Additionally, it has a swiveling hook that can be hung/hanged wherever you need it. I can see it being useful for attaching to the underside of car hoods when working in a dark, dirty engine bay. or in a crawlspace, or just bout anywhere, really. Good for camping, can hang it up in your tent,

The hook can be adjusted to make a stand so the light can be set up as a spotlight, like when you’re having to change a flat tire and need to see what you’re doing in the pouring rain. Yes, I’m describing my life.

However, it fits perfectly under the trestle of my printer, shining down on what’s being printed. For $1.99, you can’t beat that.

backside of the lamp

I tried putting a strip of LED lights up under there, complete with a switch, which I could hook up to the printer so when it was running the lights would be on. 2 problems with that point of attack: The lights weren’t bright enough, and the adhesive on the lights was a joke. And the battery pack for the switch for the strip was warped so I had to use a paper clip to make it work right. Pretty much failure all around. But not totally unsalvageable. See below.

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