Hictop 3DP-18: Marlin FW Example Configuration

I’ve been quiet on here for a while but anyone how follows me on Facebook will know I’ve not been idle, one of the things I’ve been working on is getting my Hictop 3DP-18 printer running stock Marlin Firmware.

The main reason for doing this is that despite the Open Source basis for the Hictop Prusa i3 the firmware for is isn’t readily available.  Some have had some success getting hold of a copy but I couldn’t be bothered with that for a few reasons, namely that the stock firmware seems to be based on an older version of Marlin and didn’t include any of the new hotness in v1.1 like Unified Bed Leveling!  UBL is a combination and culmination of a number of other bed leveling techniques and I thought it may help me get my printer more stable by making it more forgiving, so far it seems to work a treat!

The example configuration can be found on my GitHub repo here, I’ve submitted a pull request to the main repository for the project but not sure when what the time scale is for approval.  I’ve reviewed a pull request for a friends project before but this will be my first contribution to a major Open Source project!

One thing I haven’t enabled in my configuration is the filament runout sensor, this is because I noticed that it was creating a lot of drag on the filament which was starving, for lack of a better word, the extruder and the reasons why is explained in this video.

Example Config Link

Nerf Gun Shooting Gallery

This is a work in progress as it has turned out to be far more complicated than I thought it would be! I’ve learned a lot about how to design parts for my 3d printer and how to use the laser cutter at Reading Hackspace too though so already winning!

Over the passed few years my friends in the Reading Beer Festival Games Team have been talking about building a shooting gallery using Nerf guns to keep things nice and safe.  This year I offered to give it a go and the spec quickly escalated/became more fun!

As I’m building this more for the team than the players it needs to be easy for them to use while dealing with the festival punters who are typically moderately inebriated…  Resetting the board easily, keeping track of the score and setting up for the next game seems like the three things to concentrate on.

The game works, or will work, as follows:

  1. Press the start button, the counter should reset along with the targets
  2. Give the player a Nerf gun and a clip with 12 darts
  3. The player shoots the targets, which reset once hit, and the score is tallied

Having a bunch of clips that have 12 darts and a button that resets the game means resetting should be a lot easier than having to do it manually so that’s easy win, enter the Arduino!

I bought a bunch of hobby servos of eBay to use to reset the targets and designed a hinge with a magnet to hold up the target and a switch of some kind to track when a target is hit.

I’ve got a design working for the hinge but need to replicate it for all five targets.  More details once it’s complete but here’s an incredibly satisfying video of the mechanism in action!

3D Printer Built!

As long time readers of the blog may remember I tried to build a 3d printer many years ago without any success.  The problem was that at the time I didn’t really have a need for one, didn’t know what was involved or what parts I actually needed.  I also bought printed parts from one person on eBay, the metal bits from another seller, the electronics from another group again and so on.

Needless to say this did not make for an enjoyable experience.

Every time I got into building it I hit the point where I realised there was a part I didn’t know I needed and I’d put it aside for a few months.  Rinse and repeat.  It got to the point where the printer I started to build was obsolete so I’d have had to start again anyhow, so I donated what parts I had to the local RepRap usersgroup and they used it to build a printer for a local school.  I was happy with that.

Fast forward to now, or at least a few weeks ago, and I had need of a few random parts.  A case for a Pi, bits for the Roomba rebuild, bits for the Mini, the list is ever increasing this time around!  To that end I bought a Hictop Prusa i3 from Amazon which included everything which meant the whole project was instantly more streamlined!  One weekend of hacking, unhacking and rehacking later and I have a working printer!

I’ve printed out a few things now from Thingiverse but I’ve also started designing someone from scratch, more details on that soon, but this is proving a wonderful experience!

TaW: Week 3 – Dual Stepper Motor Controllers

After a trip to the Reading Hackspace and a few hours with one of the excellent soldering irons they have I’ve made short work of the two dual stepper motor controllers for my 3d printer.  The only components missing are the drivers which are ESD sensitive so I’m fitting once the main controller board is complete and all three boards are ready to be fit to the printer.

Week 3 - Dual Stepper Motor Controllers

Next up, the main controller board.

Prusa Frame Build Finished

Quick update regarding the printer, the frame is built and all three axes are finished.  Next up is sourcing the hot-end and electronics.  I’m lucky enough to have a RepRap user group nearby in the Thames Valley RepRap User Group who have a custom electronics board so I’ll be sourcing a kit from them.  They also hang out every month at a bar near me and are regulars at the Reading Hackspace.  Speaking of which, it’s been way too long since my last visit…

Hopefully I’ll get the rest of the parts soon and have the printer up and running before Christmas, if nothing else it’d be nice to be able to print some custom presents for people.  That and the parts for a mobile robot base, something I’ve wanted to build for years.  For now, an obligatory photo;



.NET Gadgeteer In Space!

The title is a little misleading, it isn’t quite space but damn close!  Got your attention though I’ll bet. 😉

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation to my peers in the UK Support organisation at Microsoft and along with the digital camera “hello world” project that is fairly standard for Gadgeteer I came up with a few ideas to give as examples and the most fun one I could think of was to make an instrument payload for a weather balloon.  I’ll be giving another presentation shortly and I thought I’d make an earth-bound prototype as a proof of concept.  On the off chance someone would see my demo and buy the parts to do it for real I thought I’d ask the Gadgeteer team if the modules would actually be fit for purpose.

About an hour later I was having a coffee with Steven Johnston from the University of Southampton who will shortly be sending a module up, great minds think alike it seems however they had a head start and plenty of experience in these matters.  By pure chance he was on site today!  He gave me these photos to share of their project in progress including a 3d printed enclosure to hold all the parts;

He has offered to keep me up to date with progress and you can be certain this wont be the last post on the topic, that fact that such activities are within our means is astonishing and the sky is no longer the limit!


RepRap Prusa Mendel Build

In a change to our scheduled broadcast (ie. I’m having a few issues with the desk build) I’ve decided to press my coffee table into service and crack on with the build for my 3d printer.  I’m building a RepRap Prusa Mendel with parts purchased off eBay, so far I’ve purchased everything but the components for the electronics board and the hot end for the extruder and I’m way under £200! 

It’s looking like it’ll come to around £250 in total, maybe a little more.  For a 3d printer.  Times are a-changing it seems and becoming more awesome by the day!

I’m not going to write much about the process of building the printer as I’m following someone else’s build write-up and I can’t top them!  Instead, here’s a picture;

prusa build

More to come, I’ve a lot to do yet but as I’m not waiting on my desk any more I should be posting more frequently again.