Disruptive Making In Sight?
If you’re an adventurer, time to put “another one on the pile.”
Since I’ve done so much in life already (multiple careers, kids, sailing, flying, inventing, computering, writing, webbing, building, metalwork, solar, engineering, broadcasting, scuba, turning…well, the list goes on for a while…) it’s NOT like there’s any shortage of things to do around here…
But, since there’s magnificence in Madness (and mine is considerable) it became clear that one more hobby couldn’t possibly hurt, could it?
Today, we launch our first “Build Companion” over on the stealthily developed https://ultra-make.com website.
Thing is, 3D printing have become very affordable. And since a printer only weighs 20-pounds, or so, it’s not like there are a ton of barriers to people of all age groups getting involved.
This could easily turn into my second most favored hobby. After ham radio.
The reason is ham radio offers a bit more “randomness experience” than 3D printing.
In other words, when you go over to Yeggi.com and start looking up designs, there’s hardly any “randomness” to what’s going to happen:
- You download the 3D (usually .stl) file.
- That gets extracted to it’s readable.
- You then “slice it” into what your printer likes to print.
- You pick the color of filament to print.
- Pre-heat the printing bed and extruder.
- Hit print from…
- Then go away for 1 to 12 hours while the printer does its work.
- When you come back, the print comes off the machine, any flashing is touched up.
- And you’re done.
Yes, you too can own a $200 unit to make $2 plastic parts…. But there is some logic to it…
Randomness In Hobbies
Not sure why people are attracted to randomness, so deeply.
You take one of my favorite pastimes (pre-Covid) when casinos were open. I could play most of the evening on a $100-bill. Sometimes coming out with $600+. Other times coming out with enough “free drinks” in us to make $100 seem like a decent tip for the free hooch.
So randomness is obvious in gambling.
It’s less so in fishing and hunting, but there when you look closely, nevertheless.
Whether that 12-point you’ve been putting corn out for all year comes by your deer stand is a matter of chance. Unless you’re shooting a Barrett .50, in which case, if the deer happens into the same county.
Same with fishing. You know there are some “lunkers” down at one end of the lake, but will they be biting on single-eggs, or will they be up on the surface where a dry fly (and a whole other type of fishing) would be more effective. (I gave away the fishing gear after 10-years of sailing.)
I’ll spare you by lecture on using 4-sugar cubes and a rubber band for single-egging. We pioneered that when I was a kid and Pappy serious about catching the boat’s weight in fish every year. Many years we did, occasionally including the oars and outboard to boot!
The Random Radio Bands
This being the Texas White Tail deer opener this weekend, I’ve been focusing on DX (long-distance) work on the 20 and 15-meter ham bands. Conditions were good Saturday.
There, just like tossing bait out to fish (chumming) you’ll sometimes put out a call in the general direction of somewhere “interesting” (eastern Europe, for example) to see what’s coming in.
Other times – more in the hunting vein – you’ll hear some exotic faraway place and “stalk” that station. All you’re after is a signal report exchange and confirmation for whatever award you’re interested in.
There’s very little of this kind of “randomness” when it comes to 3D printing…
Unlimited Creativity Matters
Both hobbies – ham radio and 3D printing (and we could toss in recording in our studio while we’re at it) involve gobs of creativity.
Where 3D gets interesting is when you start working on https://TinkerCAD.com and coming up with your own designs.
As you may remember, I came up with a new improved-performance antenna system recently. And I am debating how to reduce that to a 3D printable file to share with others.
You see, there are still “issues” in 3D – it’s a science but – like music and ham radio – wide open areas for “judgment calls” on the practitioner’s part.
For example, the spacers along the length of the antenna are easy tro render in 3D. BUT, the ends become structural. And since this is a heavier antenna than many, maybe it would be preferable to just leave well-enough alone. Last thing I need to some squad of lawyers screaming “Product liability!”
Our Hobbies Reveal Us
Many times I’ve mentioned the Gregorc C Style Delineator (described deeper in an article over here). It’s one of the reasons Elaine and I get along so well.
When we were dating (circa 2000) I was still in Higher Education, so we both did the Style Delineator. What we found was that we are just about perfectly symmetrical. Ideal partners. That means about equal parts of concrete random, concrete sequential, abstract random, and abstract sequential in our thinking.
Since we had both been previously married (twice!) we wanted to see how close we could find someone to match our own thinking styles. (It was us!)
The problem now? (It’s minor, but expensive!)
We like to do everything.
Which is how we ended up in a double-wide in the woods. Because it was the only place we’d have room for all the shop hobbies (wood, metal, now plastic printing, plus jewelry, plus have a room for writing, gym for working out or walking, electronics lab, recording studio, and on and on…
My (lame-ass) justification for 3D printing is that it will “fit into” a lot of our other interests.
(Umm…trying to think of an illustration.)
You know how when you have a cup of cornflakes and put a cup of milk on it, the result is not 2 cups, but more like a cup and a third?
That’s how I’m figuring 3D will fit. It’s an augmentation of existing hobbies. Like air conditioning, but more solid?
Let’s say I need something that’s a ham radio part (the front waterproof panel gasket for my Icom M-700 marine SSB for 60-meters which is a channelized band) and it’s totally unobtainable. Courtesy email from Icom Service to prove it. Now I can print the gasket on the larger printer using thermal poly urethane (TPU) – a rubbery material. Emboss it with my call sign? (A bit gauche, but WGAS, right?)
If Elaine wants to make faux wrought iron corner accents for decorating the (movie studio-like sets) in the house? Well, 3D will do that, too.
If she needs some doo-dad for painting or drawing, they may be printed. Want to tinker with a spirograph? Easy print.
And if the starter gear goes out on my Briggs and Stratton V23 lawn tractor motor electric starter? Yeah, baby….hand me that roll of ABS, would ya?
Before Going to Ultra-Make
A few more points about 3D as our latest delusion: In fact, I will hold it to 3 simple ones.
You can buy a 3D printer at almost any complexity level you like. Here’s a SainSmart Ender 3. About 50% assembly needed. On the plus side, it was a $169 flash deal from Amazon Woot! earlier this year.
This is the second layer of stuff-in-the-box.
You need patience. OK, it’s a weekend. Beer and patience, then.
A print like the one going here can take 4-hours to complete.
Bigger prints can take 12-16 hours on the larger format printer.
Hobbies are like drugs and potato chips as we figure it.
Betcha can’t have just one.
(I should have put in black filament for the top couple of layers, but a marking pen for the colors gives you the idea. “What, that Ure lazy???” Shhh…)
If you’re not bored by now, click over to here as we offer a lot more background and lay out some work flows on the Ultra-Make site here.
Write when you make something besides money,