I’ve finally finished the controller for the TVRRUG Open Motor Controller with a few really stupid mistakes.
The mistakes I made are all dumb, the simpler one to fix was that I misread a brown line on a resistor as a red line. Much swearing and de-soldering ensued and 3 resistors where taken off and replaced. The one that caused me the most headaches was the fact that I started soldering down the long IC socket without checking all the pins had passed through. Stupid! Taking the socket back out I managed to break the socket. After getting a second socket I managed to rip one of the pads off the board while clearing the old solder out.
Luckily the TVRRUG are quite handy at solving awkward problems and with all the boards being open source I discovered (with some help) that a simple jump wire could resolve this problem (Thanks Mike the Bee).
Once the fix was in place I ran the electrical tests and all was fine! Now I just need to think about how to mount all of these together and build the cabling for it.
A little over a month ago I decided that what would be really useful to have in the workshop would be a 3D printer. I’d been looking at these for a while and seen several more commercial variants, but I’ve been more and more taken with Open Hardware since I’ve been at the Hackspace and finally decided that a RepRap would be the best thing to build.
But why? Why build a 3d printer of all things? Well let me explain. Over the past couple of years I’ve been getting more and more into working with hardware, and specifically electronics. I seem to have gained an urge to make things that (to me) are awesome. My home sensor network project is one example of this, though from some time ago my bluetooth doorbell is another. Making things seems….. right in many ways. When I started programming I was always told that you needed to find your “itch” before you’d have a project that was successful, but all my itches seem to be in the physical world, not inside my computer.
Things that are functional but could be a little bit better are everywhere! A good example is the desk I’m sat writing this at. It’s really designed for a desktop PC, not a laptop, and is a bit small and… well… not great. Importantly it was free… however I think I can make this better (much much better) with a little thought and a little work. Back to 3d printers specifically, there are things that could be made a little better with some thought and a bit of printing. On the back of my workbench is a piece of board covered in little holes, what would be immensely useful would be to have some bulldog clips (or somesuch) that could be attached to that board to allow me to pin plans of what I’m building to it. Another useful thing it could do with is a few spools to hold my various reels of wire. on my desk in work, I could do with a few nice looking little things that keep my cables on top of the desk neat and out of the way. The brackets on my bookshelves could do with a little improvement too. These are all small things, and not massive in their own right, but if I could sit down, design the thing, and then print them when I needed more, how amazing would that be? The other driving force at the moment is the fact that I can’t for the life of me cut enclosure boxes correctly. I really suck at it. With a 3d printer I could design the enclosure and just hit print! Again another improvement.
Most of all though, at the moment I have a bit of a drive to make awesome things, and making something that can make more awesome things seems like a no brainer to me!
Making my life even easier, is the fact that there is a local group operating out of the Hackspace (amongst other places) that have designed all of the various reprap bits and assemblies already. The Thames Valley RepRap User Group (TVRRUG) have already done a group buy and build of a version 1 system and are now on the version 2 system. I’ve signed up to be a builder in round 2 and have now received my control electronics to piece together. After a morning at the Hackspace, I’d managed to assemble the first of the two motor controller boards, and a few hours at home got me the second. I just need to piece together the Motor Controller board on Tuesday evening at the Space and then it’s a waiting game for the frame assembly to arrive
All of the guys involved with the TVRRUG build should be congratulated. They’ve made building a RepRap not only easy, but fairly convenient too.
More updates to come as I finish building things.