The Ultimate Altimeter

Last day of Butthouse!

OK. I signed up for an online Secret Santa thing with redditgifts, and my giftee was into RC planes and such. I made this Altimeter for him, and published how I made it. Check out the Instructable: http://tinyurl.com/UAInstructable

Also, you can vote for my post (top right corner of the post) if you think it is worthy. If I win we get free stuff!

Bye.

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The magpi is here!

Hello people!

The magpi is here! The Micro Arduino Gaming Platform Interface (magpi) has been released to Instructables, and the rest of the internet! My dad and I have been working on it for a while now – coding games, printing cases, designing hardware, etc. – and we wanted to get it out there!

You can see the instructable here: http://tinyurl.com/lu65w3r

If you’d like to take the time, you can vote for us in the Arduino contest (“Vote” button in the upper right hand corner). You will have to make an account. If we win we get free stuff!

Thanks!

On the Internet, No One Knows You’re a Teenager

The internet is a very powerful tool. Weighing in at around as much as a large strawberry (seriously) this mind-bogglingly giant “network of networks” is a hugely important part of many people’s lives, and can be a great tool for good. People can dislike it for its creepy, strange, and NSFW content, but this is only one of the internet’s many glittering facets. The internet provides a global means of communication and can be used for amazing things.

Recently, I joined Reddit (watch this if you don’t know what Reddit is), and that gave me a very wide and thorough view of the way people and the internet work, and how it can be used to make the world a better place. Since then, I’ve been helping other people who don’t have 3D printers make use of 3D printing technology by printing things for people. This also lets me use the money from this to keep the 3D printer running and supplied with filament.

I found that while doing this and other things on the internet, I become a slightly different person. When I am allowed to intentionally select what I am a part of, and I have time to edit what I say and do (because it’s mostly in text) I am able to choose what people see of me. This has advantages and disadvantages. People that I interact with solely online will never know who I am in full, but they will also see a side of me that is more informative and polite than I could ever be in the flesh, simply because I have more time to think online. This brings us to the title of this post. Just like in the famous cartoon (except I’m not a dog), on the internet, no one knows you’re a teenager. The people I am 3D printing things for have no idea who I am. I have been told I write well for my age, and I would not be surprised if they thought I was an adult. And for all I know, I am taking 3D printing requests from extremely literate pandas with Reddit accounts. On the internet, no one knows that I am 15, and it doesn’t really matter. People think I am an adult, I act like an adult. I can’t see any disappointments there.

A Look Into my Week

This will be a look into my week. There will be names of some of my Kanban Board sticky notes and short explanations as to what they were and what I did. I will be doing this sometimes when there is no other big event to write a large post about.

Scale of the Universe

Looked at Scale of the Universe for about 30 min. It was very enlightening. Especially the part about the sun (haha).

Scale of the Universe is a website that ingeniously represents the biggest and smallest things in the universe. I highly recommend you take a peek at that.

Quadcopter Aerial Videos

Went outside to film houses around the land with quadcopter. At some point I will make a video of  “QIVC from the air.”

Stream Trips

Went to stream with Eric Bear and others. Found Glass Bottles and Watercress. Tightrope-walked across stream on small bent over sapling. Fell into stream. Twice. Made prototype catapult out of bent over sapling. Found old boot. It was awesome to find old stuff and to be outside for a chunk of time.

Stranger in a Strange Land Paper

Wrote paper for Lit. Class about Stranger in a Strange Land and what people think of it based on reviews. It was strange to talk about a book that many people really love, and many people really hate, and try to view it from both sides.

Cool Tools

Looked at some cool tools on the Cool Tools blog.

Cool Tools is a blog where community members post about and recommend their favorite tools. It contains posts about awesome products such as this Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad and this Lithium-Ion Mini ScrewdriverIt is extremely cool!

Fix 3D Printer

Replaced broken motor on the 3D Printer. Took Printer apart, untangled wires, unplugged old motor, plugged in new motor, re-tangled wires, put printer back together. Frustrating but a relief to have a working printer!

October MFS Trip

The October MFS trip was great. It was the first time that intend of replacing my “normal” schedule with doing other interesting things, I kept up with my other work while doing cool projects. This way, I didn’t have to scramble to catch up once I got home. These are some of the things we did. Some parents brought in a fog machine, so we got it running and filled a couple of rooms with fog. Then: Light bulb! There was a pumpkin sculpting class happening in another room, so I went over there and and told them my idea. A few minutes later we had a beautifully carved pumpkin with fog gushing out of its open mouth!

Photo Nov 03, 9 29 34 PM

A while late (after I went off to do some other things) a few people took the fog machine and started pumping fog out of the window. At that moment, a Google Street View Car drove past the building. Maybe in a couple of months, if you look up Manhattan Free School on Google Maps, you’ll see fog pouring out our window!

Geva, an MFS parent, brought in an extremely strong laser, strong enough that we had to wear special goggles and go into a separate room. After burning and melting several things as tests…

Photo Oct 23, 1 09 21 PM

Photo Oct 23, 12 58 16 PM

Before

Photo Oct 23, 1 24 22 PM

After (Back)

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After (Front)

a laser was attached to the head of the 3D printer and, using some code I wrote to control the printer from the command line, we were able to laser cut paper into shapes. Here’s a video:

Photo Oct 23, 5 30 38 PM

There is a plan to cut cool stencils out of vinyl with this at some point.

Other things that happened included:

Photo Oct 22, 2 31 58 PM

Destroying stuffed animals,

Skateboarding and Ripstiking in the park,

and of course, tons of Pokémon!

First Successful 3D Print! and My Challenges and Frustrations

Today, my 3D Printer (which we named Magritte after the painter) printed its first successful 3D Print! Yay! Here’s a video of that:

You might say: “Wow the process you went through to get to this point looks really quick and easy! Cool!” Sadly, no. Not including the issue of unfolding the printer, there were several things that stopped me from being able to print. First, the thing wouldn’t print at all because the bed was not calibrated. This was easy to fix, once I figured out that I had to fix it. So at this point I thought that the printer would print. I was severely mistaken.

Whenever we started a print, it would go for a couple of minutes and then just freeze. This would happen over and over again. We changed software settings, temperature, and all sorts of stuff, but it wouldn’t complete a print. Finally, after hours and hours of prowling the Printrbot forums, and many experimental prints, we figured out that you couldn’t print from a Mac. Dang. So we hooked up the only non-Mac computer that we could continue to use reliably–an ancient Toshiba laptop.

After downloading the correct software, we discovered that the newest version of one of the pieces of software didn’t work and we had to use a different one. Then, we couldn’t connect to the printer at all. It turned out that we needed to install a special USB Serial driver. That required like finding the way through a maze of files and settings of a operating system that no one in the family was familiar with.

And, even now that we’re printing, there is still a continuing challenge that I face: Keeping myself from punching a hole in that old dinosaur of a laptop. It is super slow and only has a track-point style mouse control that malfunctions every few minutes by sending the cursor flying in one direction or another.

This whole process was really frustrating for me. I spent quite a long time doing research on the printer, waiting for it to come, etc., and then once it was here, I had to wait days until I could even have a semi-working machine. I think this has taught me some more patience.

But here we are, with a growing pile of successful prints, and an even bigger pile of failed ones and scrap plastic. Time to buy more spools of filament!

Printrbot Jr. (v2) 3D Printer Unboxing Guide

So 3D Printers. Yeah. If you’re confused right now then read this.

I recently got really excited about 3D printing and decided that I wanted to have a 3D Printer, and now I do. I got the Printrbot Jr. (v2). It came in the mail today and I unpacked it only to find that it was  perplexingly hard to put into its ready-to-print state, and, on the entire internet, there were no unboxing videos or instructions on how to set it up. This post will serve as an unboxing guide for confused Printrbot owners (I hope).

This is what the 3D Printer looks like right when you take it out of the box:

IMG_1369

This is how it should look when it’s ready to print:

Photo Sep 12, 3 50 05 PMThe print bed (the flat red part) needs to be folded down (towards the camera in the first picture). In order to do this, the two wooden support pieces that hold the Printer in place during shipping must be removed. They are locked in tightly and it’s a confusing process to get them out. First, you’ll need to cut all the zip ties (not pictured) that hold the two wooden pieces on to the printer. DO NOT cut any zip ties that have been trimmed down by the manufacturers (like the ones holding the bunches of wires together), and do not have their long tail piece. These are permanent and should not be cut.IMG_1375

One of the two support pieces has holes for the metal rods that go through it. You need to get this piece loose in order to fold down the bed. The piece can slide up and down, but even when it is up as far up as it can go, the bottom of the piece is locked in place by the frame of the bed assembly (the part that sits on the ground).

To fix this, find this nut (it’s at the bottom of the threaded vertical rod):

IMG_1374This is the mechanism that raises and lowers the whole extruder assembly. Turn the nut until it goes up enough for it to fit snugly in its place in the wood above. Then, turn the small round-cornered rectangle of wood at the bottom of the threaded rod clockwise for a few turns. This should raise the extruder assembly.IMG_1376

Once it is raised enough, you should be able to slide the wooden support piece up, detach it from the other support piece (this may take some brute force. Just do it carefully), and then wiggle them both free.IMG_1379

Ta-daaa!

But wait! The bed still wont fold down because the extruder is in the way!

To fix this, simply keep turning the threaded rod clockwise until the extruder assembly is as high as it can go. Then push it back so the extruder is out of the way.

But wait! The fan is still in the way!

IMG_1382

*sigh* Pull the fan up and out of the way.

Photo Sep 12, 3 45 38 PMThe bed can now fold down, but will be tilted.

Photo Sep 12, 3 46 36 PMFind these small, black screw things, and pull them out so that the bed assembly can be level. Then, put them back in, and screw them into the bed assembly to lock it in place.

Photo Sep 12, 3 50 05 PM

You’re done! Now follow the setup instructions on printrbot.com and make sure to level your bed!

Now hope that your bot will work! Mine took days of troubleshooting and lurking around vague forums until we finally got it up and running. Also, I hope that the people at Printrbot will make setup instructions for the Jr. (v2).