Friday, January 29, 2016

Some good news today + Weekend Activities

It's with great feelings that I can now say all the cats are on a partial raw food diet.  Paisley was the last hold-out, but she succumbed to the inviting temptation that is raw turkey (I think).  Of course, it has other nutritional stuff in there.

This is the food I'm currently feeding them from Rad Cat.  They seem to like this, an no one has complained, except Paisley at the beginning.  The two boys just wolf anything down..  Should see them, like cat garbage disposals...

I will be switching to mixing my own.  Will buy ground chicken / turkey (organic preferably) to mix in with the food.  It'll be significantly cheaper than Rad Cat and at least on par with their offering nutrition wise.  Am going to use Wild Kitty mix, which is made from all human grade ingredients.  This is a big plus for me.  Am hopeful they don't turn into wild kitties.....

For my weekend activies am taking a self development course, it's called Inner Vegas.  This is a first for me that am going for this course, and it's intrigued me for awhile  Initially heard Dr. Joe on Coast to Coast A.M and something just resonated.

I must confess, had little hope of attending this class as they keep the class sizes small and I was already #3 on the waiting list.  I did, however, have a feeling to contact them on Wednesday inquiring if there was any movement in list as stayed in Vegas specifically for chance to attend.  Didn't hear any news.....

So Wednesday night I asked "the people up above" to do whatever is in my best interest, giving them permission to help me out.

Suddenly, the next morning Dr. Joe called asking if was still interested, peppered me with couple questions, then gave me to his wife to sign me up.  And I'm in!!!  Like Flynn....

My goal here is not to gamble, as that's just not my thing.  My goal is to get assistance, to unlock what's in me, to help me manifest my dreams for the good of everyone...  That is why a thing like Secret Santa exists.....

Time for a nap.  Exciting energy packed three days coming up!

Best wishes to everyone!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fuel fuel everywhere....

Diesel fuel that is.  After spending several hours trying to fix it on the road, decided to move on and probably left a little line of it stretching from Yuma to Vegas.

It all started when was leaving Yuma and, ironically, dumping my garbage right before leaving the RV park.  I have a habit of walking around the RV and peeking underneath to see if anything is dangling or leaking or just doesn't look right.  In this case saw a steady drip drip drip...

The drips were coming from two different areas, one was near the radiator, other was just behind that.  Could tell, by the color, that one was anti-freeze, and by smell the other one was diesel fuel.  These weren't large leaks so felt safe to get going.

Finding leak
About five miles up the road, there is a large open air flea market that also had an equally large parking lot.  Had a feeling needed to check leak again so pulled in and left engine running.  Turns out that the antifreeze stopped dripping, but fuel leak was going pretty good, increasing in volume, but still drips now and then....  GRRRRRR..

Now, this type of analysis isn't really my thing, but when it needs to be done we must step out of our comfort zone(s).  In this case it was diagnosing things on the fly.

What I knew at this point:  Have a fuel leak.  Engine runs fine. Have a fuel leak.  Fuel leak doesn't seem pressurized as it's slow steady drip instead of spray or stream.  This also points to it not being on the intake, where the engine would exhibit some issues.  There is also deductive reasoning involved in that it's best to eliminate some of the more major possibilities.  Thankfully a diesel engine is fairly straight forward.

Leak area
Area where leak is is on the passengers side, in the rear, just to the right (looking forward) of the engine.  It is dark, and noisy, under there so hearing protection is recommended, if have it.  My preferred method of identifying where problem lies is using my cell phone camera, which doubles as mandatory picture taking for this blog!

If look at the picture, the middle piece is the fuel line, then there's an outer thing.  The fuel was originally coming from this outer thing, which looks to be some sort of protective sleeve.  While don't know for certain, this protective sleeve was probably added by the prior owner, and believe the joint shown was also done that way.  Unsure why.

Judging by the pictures, leak appears to be coming from the brass fitting where the two pieces of hose are joined together.  What I did to try and resolve the issue was take it apart, at this fitting, snip the hose back a bit, and reattach.  Did this a couple of times and still same result, which meant that the leak was coming from some other place, or the fitting was bad.

Was in parking lot for a good two hours investigating, then attempting to resolve it, when said enough is enough.  Leak wasn't all that bad, knew had enough fuel in tank, so picked up my tools and pulled the rig forward.  I then took the opportunity to clean up the parking lot, to the best of my abilities, so didn't leave a big mess around.  Still left some fuel on the pavement only because it's hard to get up.  As was writing that just remembered had kitty litter.......  ooops...  Not that I want a next time, but will now know.

Old hose connected
Got to Vegas with no problems.  Most of my reasoning for determining that it was safe to travel with that fuel leak is it's on the return line from the fuel injectors and it was a few drips here and there, not a full on constant drip.  While I felt bad about wasting fuel, and still feel bad, figured this was the best thing could do to preserve some sanity.

In Vegas, went to the auto parts store and was expecting to get 3/8" fuel line, but the guy behind the counter came back and said 5/16" fuel line was a closer fit, and it was.  As a matter of habit, I generally take what am trying to replace to the auto pars store.  In this case snipped off a small piece of the fuel line and took it with me.  He then matched it up and came back with proper size.

Upper hose barb

Install process for the top was super simple.  Only had to undo the hose clamp, with a small socket and ratchet, loosen the clamp and slide down, then pull hose off, gently as possible.  Want to be careful don't mess anything up up there..   Install process is precisely in the reverse order, with additional step of transferring old hose clamp to new hose.

One thing had to be careful of is fuel leaking out.  As mentioned, this is somewhat directly connected to the fuel tank, so if hose end is below fuel level am sure can guess what happens next...  A puddle appears.  To remedy this after unhooking hose, stuffed end of it up in the catacombs above me someplace so that it wouldn't slide down.

Next step is to replace the bottom part, where it was full of fuel.  With hindsight being the clearest, what I should've done is loosen clamp, slide clamp forward onto metal pipe, take hose off and put finger over end, slide new hose on and slide clamp back over.

Bottom new hose connection
What I actually did:  Loosen clamp, slide clamp onto rubber hose, take hose off and plug leak with finger (and nitrile glove).  Then slid new hose on and remove finger.  While new hose was loosely connected removed clamp off old hose.  Then had to take hose off, plug hole, slide clamp on new hose, then slide over metal pipe and finally tighten hose clamp.

As can see, there is some extra work that was unnecessary.  One thing I had to do, to remove the hose from metal pipe, is use a box cutter to lightly cut the hose.  I say lightly as didn't want to mark up the metal pipe.

While didn't trace this metal pipe all the way to the fuel tank, it does go quite a bit forward, and of course, has fuel leaking out.  My natural assumption is it's directly related to the tank.

Final step was to start engine and validate it is all leak free, which it is.  yippee!!!!

An updated picture of the cats....  Scatter and Bob this time..  Bob is growing like a weed...  Look at how long he is all stretched out.
Scatter (top) and Bob lounging

Monday, January 18, 2016

3D Printer heated bed repair

I was happily printing away when I heard a noise to my right, which is where the 3D printer is located.  Quickly looked over and saw flames...  Real, honest to goodness, flames, like FIRE......  Now I know why there's a STOP button....

I pummel the stop button with my finger and everything stops and all temperatures are set to zero, PHEW.  However, there is an aftermath, and a resolution, documented here....  Here is the complete album.

Angst ended here
I took divine inspiration from what Michael Peters did from the RigidBot Google Plus community.  My setup is very very similar to his, with some changes based on materials I could find and my overall setup.  Here is his larg'ish step by step documentation on what was done.

Now, my moment of angst ended like the photo shown.  Upon reading the community, everyone says this connector is a ticking time bomb, yet I never thought it would happen to me..  Famous last words, amiright?  Am lucky in that the damage started on the far right and stayed away from the thermistor leads, otherwise it would've been more work and/or replace bed itself.

My lug
As didn't know exact parts he used (part numbers and the like), did the best I could.  My first bit of hassle was finding the copper lug he referenced in the document.  Wound up getting these from an auto parts store (AutoZone I think).

Finished "lug"
To resize it, used a Dremel and snipped off the end, then trimmed the side.  Did both of these with the copper piece in a pair of lockjaw pliers.  I know, not safe but when in need do the needful.

In the picture, you'll notice that one side is smaller than the other.  In a later picture will notice had to do this to keep the hole as far from the outer edge as possible, and trimming only one side let me do a little less work.  Used a little buffing wheel to make it shiny and remove oxidation.

Hole Marking
After cutting the lug up, marked an area on the platform to get drilled out.  While marking the hole, also decided to mark the outer edges as will have to scrape the green stuff away.  Not sure what it's called, but green coating is protective and covers the copper underneath, preventing damage, and also insulates it so nothing gets shorted..

Starting the hole
To get the hole started, used a scratch awl to make an indentation, then a small drill bit to make the first hole.  As Michael said in his document, it's best to start small and go larger to prevent cracking the board.

Hole complete!
Kept enlarging this hole, ever so slowly, until used a 5/16" drill bit.  When using a 1/4" bolt, this gave, ideally, 1/32" on either side as an insulating factor.  In my case, had to expand this a little, details to follow.

Almost to the end
Then came the scraping, and more scraping, and more scraping.....  I used a retractable box cutter to make it happen.  While I didn't use it for nefarious purposes, it came in handy for this task.  With the blade extended, very lightly traced along the black marks.  Traced very lightly so wouldn't cut through the copper itself.  Then slowly, and lightly started scraping the green stuff off, holding the blade at about a 30 degree angle.

Even though there was a lot of green stuff left after scraping, figured had exposed enough copper to get great contact with the solder.  From that picture did scrape a little more, though was worried would scrape too much so decided to stop.

Dry fitting
In order to clean this, for good contact and easy flowing solder, I used some Carb / Choke cleaner.  Brand doesn't really matter, but some brake cleaner would have been better.  I was too lazy to walk outside and get some brake cleaner.

Another dry fitting of the copper piece proved that had shaved off just enough.  Next step was to solder it in place, which was harder than I imagined, though finally got it.

Now, just as am writing this, realized didn't capture a post image of what the top side looks like.  Rest assured, it's soldered in place securely but doesn't look all that pretty.  That's not the reason no picture, it's I plum forgot.  There's a larger overview picture that will be shown later.
Bolt centered

Due in no small part to the "fun" I had while soldering everything in place, the copper lug came a little off center.  Rather than try and remelt all the solder with my 40 watt iron, chose to use a dremel to make things right!  This picture is after I made things right!

Here is another step where I deviated from the guide, only because couldn't find a nylon shoulder washer locally. NOTE:  First prices I found on Amazon seem astronomically high.  Not sure if it comes in a multi-pack or not, but still very high.  With that aside, this is what I should've used.

Gasket Sealer
In my case got the chance to use some Gasket Sealer, picked up from Ace Hardware.  According to the package instructions this is good until 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much higher than bed is capable of.  Not sure what electrical resistance is like, or long term durability, but will find out soon enough.

I squirted this stuff in the hole, around the bolt, and let it sit overnight.  Neglected again to take a picture of this process, though have one later.

Negative wire pad
All of this work was for the positive wire.  It is now time to hook up the negative.  In this case only had to clear a space on bottom of the board.  Judging by this, I would have to say top of the board is almost exclusively positive current, while bottom is negative.  That's only a guess on my part, educated, guess nonetheless.

Now, here is my glorious soldering job, at least on the negative wire.  The soldering iron I have seems to have been a "tad bit" underpowered for the job, though was able to make it work.  There shouldn't be all those blobs of solder, yet at this stage didn't want to change a thing.  Was more than ready to stop it all.

Add caption
Here will also find the completed assembly for the positive (red) wire  Notice the gasket material (black) under the nut and connector?  This is what let sit for the night.  This allowed the liquid to settle down and around the bolt where used the dremel to make nice edge clearances.

Now came a problem..  Only had one meter (~3 feet) of wire, and if followed the instructions, wanted me to create a stress relief loop (great idea).  Problem with that is would've needed to splice additional wire in place, as control board is on other side of the printer.  It was here that a novel idea cometh upon me.

Add caption
The novel idea was to run wire directly underneath the bed to control board.  In and of itself this provides a stress relief of sorts.  And, yet again, fail to take an overview picture of the whole thing, though here is one of the spots where put a glob of sealant, then pressed the two wires in.  Can also notice how I routed this away from the thermistor.  Didn't want the potential to give it improper readings.

As a cheat trick, instead of waiting overnight for the stuff to firm up, turned the heat on for build plate (also to test) and set it for 60 degrees Celsius.  Within 10 minutes the outside was firmed up, and within twenty everything was firm enough.  Not quite sure what the longevity of this will be, or if additional damage could happen to the board (like green stuff peeling away), but for now it seems OK.

Wires connecting to board
On the other side, after getting it in place, I scavenged one of those cable clips from the satellite dish install on top of the roof.  It was a little too big so used some zip ties to secure all the wires in place (two power and two thermistor).  It seems to keep everything in place really well with no movement.

One change not documented in pictures is the thermistor cable.  I had recently begun taking apart my MakerFlop(Bot) CupCake 3D printer for parts, and had a female connector that accepted two prongs.  Simply cut the old thermistor wire, attached this new one, spliced everything together, and it's all acting hunkey dorey after plugging it in.

There are two additional changes I did, the first was to replace the aluminum build plate with glass, and second is to put cork underneath.  As a temporary solution got some glass from Home Depot.  This came in at exactly build size area, 12 x 16 inches.  Ideally would have wanted 13 x 16 inches so that the clips (holding glass in place) wouldn't reduce the available build area.

Money shot
Here's the money shot...  Everything in place and printing.  If notice the clips holding glass on, underneath will also see some thin cork.  This cork helps prevent heat transfer from going down.  Doesn't prevent all, but a good portion.  Am thinking of enhancing this by adding another layer of cork as well as maybe some aluminum foil sandwiched in the middle.  Unsure if that will help with anything or just be a pain.

Now, from what I gather, after people see the money shot, it's time for cuddling.  Here's Paisley and Bob laying on my organic duvet, enjoying quality time together.
Paisley and Bob

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cat update

I must say, to start off with, I listen to everyone's advice equally and weigh it with my own internal (fluctuating) thoughts.  One time, year or so ago, a wonderful friend told me that, with a male cat, I should feed him really good food as they're prone to certain things.  Now, at the time I was feeding Scatter and Mia Acana cat food, specifically the Wild Prairie type.

Being on the road like I am it's very difficult to find this particular brand, so I get the best I can get, without overpaying just to have a "name brand".  Some of them are awfully expensive, with decreasing cost vs benefit the higher it goes.  Acana has a sister brand though don't remember the name.

First found this particular food at Chopper's Holistic Pet food, and have been getting stocking up when can find it.  Got hooked on that particular cat food when I e-mailed the company some time ago asking if they use GMO Alfalfa, as noticed Alfalfa in their list of ingredients.  I got back a lengthy e-mail from one of their higher ups directly addressing my question, and giving me all sorts of other information on how the source their ingredients.  This endeared me forever.

I do my best to give them the best nutrition, but sometimes that's not enough to prevent an occasional vet visit.  Such is the case on Christmas Eve day.

Scatter didn't eat for a good two days, and constantly threw up bile, a clear liquid.  Now and then, though rarely, I would see him drink water though never eat.  He also seemed to lose energy.  I tried to get him in to see the holistic vet, which will mention later, though there were no last minute appointments available.  I then brought him to place they recommended, Desert Inn Animal Hospital.

Dr. Nick looked at Scatter, had an X-ray done, and nothing was found.  He suggested it was just a passing bug and gave Scatter an anti-biotic, something else, and then a thing to calm him down.  I have no complaints about the service.  Must say I learned a good lesson that day is that the initial appointment fee was very reasonable ($51), they gave Scatter an x-ray and that was $225+.  Granted 3 x-rays, all done on computer....  Wasn't expecting such a pricey x-ray and to say I was stunned is an understatement.  Scatter got his first ever Scooter ride!

To that end, I made appointment with one of the holistic veteranarians in town at Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital.  Am very impressed with this place and happy brought Scatter in here.  He didn't want to go, and didn't want to stay, even though the vet was very nice, so much so that used an ear thermometer thing instead of the traditional way to measure cat body temperature (think of one way exit area).

I mainly kept the appointment to ask about overall pet health. She, being Dr. Joanne (so little notepad paper says), mentioned that she feeds her three cats a raw food diet.  I have, in the past, thought about doing this with Pia and Mia, even going so far as getting a meat grinder that could handle bones, but never did as they had a lukewarm reception.  Dr. Joanne helped me immensely in this and she gave me some detailed feeding instructions that she uses.

While, for the moment, I'm choosing to use raw food for their dinner, this is what she does for breakfast and dinner.

Per cat:
  1. 1 1/2 - 2 Tablespoon Rad Cat (Chicken or Turkey)
  2. 1/6 can of typical cat food
  3. Adjust as needed to maintain appropriate calories for weight

This is going to be a bit pricey long term, but if it can help me avoid another expensive x-ray am all for it.

To this end, am looking around at making my own raw cat food again, not by grinding meat up myself, but by purchasing ground meat (with or without bones) and then adding the vitamin supplements they need.  Have found couple places that offer supplements in a pouch that just mix with the meat, which is the route will start with.

On other cat news, Bob is now enjoying the RV lifestyle.  He's the kitten I rescued awhile back, and brought into the humane society to be adopted.  Well, I dropped him off on a Tuesday, instead of Friday like had wanted to, and then picked him up couple days later.  Three cats is a handful, especially around dinner time....  And they're all being cared for to the best of my ability.

This will seem a little strange, but I didn't actually adopt Bob from the shelter....  Someone else adopted him on my behalf.  I would've done it in a heartbeat, but at the moment time was of the essence to get him in line to be fixed.

People always say, "oh, you're a cat person"...  My thoughts on this is that there are no "cat people" or "dog people" or "rat people", there are just people who like companionship.  I would really like horses now, though currently out of my reach.  I would really like a dog, yet they are a fair amount of work which don't want to expend right now.  So, cats it is, and they're fairly self sufficient, sans changing litter box.  Speaking of which...

Am looking at changing Paisley's name, the female cat I adopted in Longmont, CO.  This is because her name doesn't seem to fit her, can't explain it.  Am thinking of name beginning with J, though that might change, something like Julie, Jane, Jopree, Jennifer, JoJo, who knows.

Best wishes to everyone for the greatest year ever!

Monday, January 11, 2016

3D Printer happiness

I knew this day would come, but never thought it would take this long to come.  Am happy to announce I'm pregnant..  OK, well, not really pregnant, but do have a new "kid" in the terms of a functional 3D printer.
First print, little dismal

After I wrote this article, over a year ago, put the RigidBot project on hold for couple of reasons.  The primary reason being didn't have any place to permanently keep it.  Now, as I transformed my dining room table into a U-shaped desk, refocused my efforts on the 3D printers I do have (with more on the way).

To that effect, here is my lengthy story on what I did to get this working.  While not everything is in it's final form yet, it's come a long way and is in a great place now.

Reason for changes

No matter what change is being done, or suggested, there's always a reason change should be considered.  Sometimes we're not sure why go down a different path than we do, but in the long run will get back on the proper, and right, path.  Such is so with this printer, and what I've replaced from stock.


As identified in my previous article (linked above), the electronic components were in pretty bad shape overall.  While I did give up on them fairly early, almost immediately, a fair number of people have had success.  Others took similar routes to me.  Some switched to a 12V system (more options) while others kept with the same 24V system, but different electronics.  The main difference between 12V and 24V (or others) is heater cartridge for the extruder (what melts the plastic) and the heated bed.

I chose to use the Rambo board, due to it's compatability with 24 Volts, and it's all in one quality design and manufacture.  Granted, it's a little pricey, especially as had to buy a second one due to a bad solder job after I snapped the USB connector off due to carelessly placing it.  With that aside..

Install and configuration, in hindsight, is fairly easy.  Will cover software configuration later on.  In short, the board is based on Marlin, and not the fish silly.


Every one craves and/or needs power, muahahahaha (evil laugh).  What I'm talking about is of the electrical power variety.

I chose to replace standard power supply with a higher quality one, and gave the old RigidBot power supply to someone as I drove through Salt Lake City.  The guy who received it was very happy, though not sure if it truly worked, or was a dud.  Just hope it didn't start smoking like some others reported, as smoking is bad for your health....  Oh how I know.
Meanwell SE-600-24

The power supply I decided on is a Meanwell SE-600-24, and ordered it from TRC Electronics.  Will order from them again if have the need to.  Hooked it up with some heavy duty power cord 12x3 (12 gauge stranded with 3 wires in a housing) around for a project I didn't finish, so utilized that for this.  Cut the length in two and attached all three legs (output) of the power supply to the three different in puts to the board.

One input is for the heated bed, one for the extruder itself, and one is for power to the electronics board (which then changes it to 3.3 or 5V).  This is all spelled out in the diagram for this board.

Here is where I did something not so good, in that for each leg, I use the same color for both the positive and the negative.  I know, I know, but at least kept all positive in one wire bundle and all negative in the other.  Maybe that'll atone for some of my sins here?  Or elsewhere?


This also took some time to overcome..  My RigidBot extruder was one of the faulty ones where the heater block had a flaw in the manufacturing process.  This flaw was that there were some things drilled to close to each other which resulted in a hole between the melt channel and where the thermistor screwed in.  Through the little tiny holes it is possible, and highly likely, that the melted plastic would cause a mess.

To this end, my extruder search ended up with me qetting a QU-BD MBE V9 Dual Extruder, with stepper motors and 24V stuff.  Had to order the fans separately as believe 12V came included, but did get 24V heater element.  Now, there were a few problems, which I remedied, by replacing a few parts.

In the picture on their website, there is a big white thing between the motor and the fan / heatsink.  I removed this as didn't like that there is one set screw to control feeding pressure.  It's also somewhat of a hassle to adjust.  Replaced this with the stock RigidBot extruder parts.  I like these as had them on hand.  Thought would like them more, but think would have chosen metal parts to help dissipate heat from the stepper motor controlling extrusion rate.

Final extruder in action
Was able to successfully extrude for quite awhile, though after about 10-20 minutes it would plug up.  No matter how hard manually push the filament in it wouldn't extrude any more.  If pulled it out, let the end cool, insert and push, it would extrude beautifully.  Heat buildup outside of the "melt zone" caused this as it starts to melt the filament before the barrel was designed to.  It's a common problem with this extruder.

There are a couple ways to overcome this.  Could have used some thermal adhesive to dissipate the heat faster, but instead chose to get an M6 x 30mm heater barrel, drilled out some to accept a PTFE sleeve.  Long story short, without the buzzwords, is it's a standard heating barrel, but there's a lining (not silver) that is a good insulator and is very slick to make things slide smoothly.  This prevents the early expansion, yet limits barrel temperature to about 260C or below.

One reason why chose this extruder initially is it came with it's own mounting plate, they call it a universal one, which was somewhat close.  Of course, it was much more involved than just sliding that on.  Had to manufacture another build platform before could use the universal building plate.  This is because the original one didn't have enough room where needed it, and didn't want to chop the original to shreds.  Picked up a sheet of light steel from Ace Hardware and made something which works.

With the remanufactured extruder base, another problem appeared.  Wanted to still use the Universal one as am looking to use the second extruder, so needed way to mount it.  Came up with a solution in where would use one of the M3 bolts attaching the base to the bearings, and then a bolt on other end to keep it from moving.  Will have to revisit how have it aligned when add second extruder.  Wrote this in hopes that it'll give someone an idea on what to do.  What could have done is just made the new base accept the two extruders, but wanted to easily remove extruders instead of having to undo eight screws.  They made it hard to work on.


Including stepper motor wiring here also.  This was done contrary to what is illustrated in the wiring diagram, contrary on many levels.

  1. Diagram shows wire colors, as connected to the stepper motors (along bottom edge) as being red - green - yellow - blue.
  2. Wiring to have stepper motor work, is red - blue - green - black (black).
  3. Final stepper motor wiring (reversed) is black (black) - green - blue - red.

Granted, this is confusing, and it is to me too,as was baffled when the extruder motor (from Quintessential) used colors that didn't seem the norm...   Not that I know what the norm is, nor do many people just yet.  Their motors seem to have same wiring as ones from RigidBot and the colors still don't match wiring diagram.

Needs to be organized, works though!
It seems that the original firmware settings for RigidBot had these wires reversed, so kept it that way if only to ease my stress level with getting it running.  If do this again will make sure it's the "standard" that's found in original firmware.

The end stops were somewhat functional though the included wiring for them was abysmal.  I also chose to replace these and had to hack away at the plastic end stop bracket to mount these new ones.  Used some guerilla glue to secure.

I had an additional problem, as documented here, where extruder motor would cut off.  Thankfully, after several wasted days, due to my own blindness, it was discovered to have been loose wires.  A quick bit of solder fixed it all up.

As mentioned above, to provide wire to the Rambo board, used some 12x3 (or 12/3) wire which had.  Total output of the power supply is 25 amps @ 24V.  Over 3 channels that's about 8 amps per channel, if equal output.  Max fuse on the board is 15 amps, for heated bed, and believe this wire is rated at 20 amps, give or take.  This should give me enough leeway to stay happy and healthy and relatively safe.  Everything's relative, right?  Or a relative..


Originally had no idea which firmware to use, then remembered, that Pronterface tells you when connecting to a printer, and it listed Marlin 1.0.0.  Turns out to be a customized Marlin, which is linked above, but also linked here too.  I did download Marlin, and then modified appropriately with customized settings, such as changing values for the extruder, choosing a different mainboard (301), automatically having extruder cooling fan turn on when it reaches 50C (or off if fall below), plus couple other smallish things.

The current firmware I'm using is listed here.  It's my own repository so it's a point in time, but something known to me.  Will be updating as necessary, though updates could be sporadic.

To load firmware, the Arduino software is needed.  If remember right, just this software is needed, as well as drivers included in the software, to update and load the firmware.  It's been awhile since done it so don't remember for certain.

The loading process is similar to connecting to printer via Pronterface.  First select the comm port, then click the upload button.  Arduino software compiles it first, then uploads.  Make sure that disconnect from the printer in Pronterface else might (will) get a cryptic error.

Couple more things to note, some settings are primarily firmware driven, such as steps the stepper mover must take to extrude 1 mm of filament, how many steps it takes to move platform, or printhead 1mm, how many amps are supplied to the stepper motors, and quite a few other things.

Reason bring this up is that if have problems, like I did, with the stepper motor not moving all the time, it could require changing the firmware.  There was also the problem of the up /down axis (Z) not moving up at the same time.  On the RigidBot there are two motors controlling that, and they must both move same amount each time, without issues.  For this maxed out the amps (1.0) can send.


While firmware is software, people generally refer to these two as separate, as firmware is run at the hardware level, handling all the low level, but important stuff, and generally doesn't need any user input to function at it's basic level.

Software, on the other hand, controls things in a different way, soliciting input from users, displaying output, and all sorts of other jazz.

From what I am aware of, there are two main software packages for controlling open source printers.  One is Pronterface (Printrun), the other is Cura.

With my limited viewpoint so far, Cura is more glitzy and keeps things simpler.  One major downside, for me at the moment, is it doesn't seem to let us control the printer directly as don't see any sort of "control panel" to raise / lower the bed, turn heater on (for preheat), etc.  Unsure if it expects to rely on "hard panel" on printer itself, or what.

While the name Pronterface doesn't evoke details of beautiful and stylistic printing, it does the job in a rather gung ho way.  Interface is different from Cura (which has softer colors), some things are hard to find, but it is rather full featured and gives people the most control over the printer.

For now, am sticking with Pronterface, though will give Cura a go later and see how it handles things.

Money Shot

Bed Leveling

This is of note, and pretty standard.  There are four metric bolts, and some springs, that control the bed.  What I did was to raise extruder to the top, turn off motors, and manually adjust each side so there was the same amount of gap.  From this point lowered bed using Pronterface until tip of extruder touched plate, then raised a little.  Turned motors off again.  Now I carefully moved print head around to each corner, adjusting as necessary until bed is leveled.

It is necessary to adjust as needed if noticed the first layer is little thick in someplaces or a little stringy in others.  With not much practice can see what's properly squished vs not squished.  When it's needed, adjust in small increments, 1/4 turn or less, to get the proper squishiness.

Additional printing enhancements

Makeraser - Got this from KickStarter as well.  Creates an ABS slurry (mostly acetone) which put on the print bed.  Using this creates a surface that PLA adheres to better, am assuming ABS would too.

Printing filament - OH MY GOODNESS, didn't realize had so much.  Need to find things to print now.  Have 5 kilo's (11 pounds) of 1.75mm PLA in various color spools, plus another 15 pounds of 3mm ABS, plus 20 pounds of ABS / PLA pellets for my FilaStruder.

Food grade silicone - To spray and lubricate the rods and threads and most anything that moves, except for motors.  Lubrication is KING!

Additional changes

As most any 3D printer owner will tell you, changes are inevitable.  My anticipated updates to the printer include the following:
  • Install LCD display to control printer
  • Print mount for LCD (already in print queue)
  • Print updated platform for main board (printing now)
  • Add Max end stops
  • Make dust cover for filament spools on the rack
  • Add second extruder
  • Possibly get big nozzle extruder to print super fast.
  • Make somewhat enclosed build area (reduce drafts)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Letter from Michael

I listen to Coast to Coast AM most every day, not by listening to the radio but downloading the mp3 files of show following day.  One of their Christmas traditions is airing a reading of this letter from a U.S. soldier in the Korean war back home to his mom.  It's an uplifting letter regardless of your beliefs.

Direct link (copy/pasted here).
Coast to Coast link to letter (poorly formatted)
At bottom is YouTube video of reading.

First we will have the Letter from Michael...
There's a story about a young Marine named Michael who wrote a letter home to his mother while he was in the hospital after having been wounded in Korea in 1950.  A Navy Chaplain named Father Walter Muldy apparently was given the letter, checked the facts and concluded what was in the letter was true. A year later he read the letter in public for the first time, to a gathering of some 5,000 Marines at the Naval Base in San Diego.  Here is the letter:

Dear Mom,
I wouldn't dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard but I have got to tell somebody. First off, I am in a hospital. Now don't worry, ya hear me, don't worry. I was wounded but I'm okay you understand. Okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month.

But that's not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn't have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I always have.

When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me? "Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh chord of Heaven adorning," you know the rest of it. Well I said it everyday. Sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold, my breath was like cigar smoke.

I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I'd ever seen. He must have been 6'4" and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start conversation I said, "Cold ain't it." And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather.

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly. I looked at him, "I have never seen you before, I thought I knew every man in the outfit."

"I just joined at the last minute", he replied. "The name is Michael."

"Is that so," I said surprised. "That is my name too."

"I know," he said and then went on, "Michael, Michael of the morning ..."

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn't I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen. Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael. Neither of us spoke for a time and then he broke the silence.

"We are going to have some trouble up ahead."

He must have been in fine physical shape or he was breathing so lightly I couldn't see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself, well with the Commies all around us, that is no great revelation. Snow began to fall in great thick globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out. And I was marching in a white fog of sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

"Michael," I shouted in sudden alarm.

I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, "This will stop shortly."

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol, there was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise.

Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them. Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn't anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

"Down Michael," I screamed and hit the frozen earth.

I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing. Mom, those guys couldn't have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits. But there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least, that was what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit, now I know..

I remember feeling strong arms around me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I was dying. Maybe I was even dead, I remember thinking well, this is not so bad. Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor. As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an angel. In his hands was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights. Well, that is the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me. I do not know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment's rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

"Where is Michael," I asked.

I saw them look at one another. "Where's who?" asked one.

"Michael, Michael the big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."

"Kid," said the sergeant, "You weren't walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in when you disappeared in the snow."

He looked at me, curiously. "How did you do it kid?"

"How'd I do what?" I asked half angry despite my wound. "This marine named Michael and I were just ..."

"Son," said the sergeant kindly, " I picked out this outfit myself and there just ain't another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it."

He paused for a minute, "Just how did you do it kid? We heard shots. There hasn't been a shot fired from your rifle. And there isn't a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn't say anything, what could I say. I could only look open-mouthed with amazement.

It was then the sergeant spoke again, "Kid," he said gently, "every one of those seven Commies was killed by a sword stroke."

That is all I can tell you Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain. But that is what happened.

Love, Michael********
   We have search the internet trying to find the Marine soldier named Michael's prayer which he said every morning.  Finally, we found a saintly elderly priest, Fr. Joseph Reitz, who knew the prayer.  Here it is: 
Michael, Michael, of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today
And in time of temptation,
Drive the devil away.
This prayer must be prayed upon rising every morning.

The electronic form of this document is copyrighted.    

Quotations are permissible as long as this web site is acknowledged with a hyperlink to:
Copyright © These Last Days Ministries, Inc. 1996 - 2014   All rights reserved.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Security consciousness

There are several apps in development to combat an increasingly hostile environment where everyone, and their relative, is trying to track us and figure out who we are, often without just cause.  Sure, in some cases warrants are obtained, but these devices get everyone's information, not just the "official target".

Most people have heard of Stingray devices that are used by federal, state, and local agencies throughout the country.  When I was last in Washington state heard that Tacoma, WA. had purchased, and supposedly used(using?) at least one Stingray.  Here is a recent article about one consumer group that's suing them.  Here is another article by a local television station confirming it, more or less.  If they're using one (or more), who knows who else could be.

There are a few apps that can detect these fake towers with variable accuracy, such as SnoopSnitch or AIMSICD. These apps are still in their infancy, but everyone who can use them I would suggest you give it a go.  They are not foolproof, but something is better than nothing.  I have downloaded AIMSICD and not quite sure what to do with it yet.  There is also a cell phone which can detect, and avoid, these fake cell towers, yet don't recall name and can't find information on it.  It was about $3,000.00 though, so a little pricey for most people.

Reason am writing this down is two fold, one is so don't forget, the other is to let people know.  Was searching for another place to host my 3D printer and arduino code and I eventually wound up on the AIMSICD page, which started the whole thought process again.  It's up to us individuals to protect our privacy, if we want to, as everyone wants to strip it away.

For any internet searching I do, I exclusively use StartPage, which is a secure search service that anonymously searches Google on your behalf.  StartPage also has a proxy available and this lets you browse pages securely.  What this proxy does is it loads the page on a remote computer someplace, and then forwards it to you.  This ensures no cookies or other tracking software is directly on your computer / device.  So, if want to search for a pink flamingo's without anyone knowing, it's all on you.

Have a happy and safe New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year, and reminders

Best wishes to everyone for happiest New Year ever!

I spent the evening out and about and went to a club in the Vegas area, named after a colored animal.  It was a very good experience, with exception of getting a taxi back.  Didn't ride scooter out there as was chilly, but should have as waited an hour to get ride.  An Uber ride would've been much quicker, and when I go back will use that, or bundle up and brave the chilliness.

This club was very interesting, and also a major step outside the box for me.  It's all about making progress.  Normally stay in for New Year, but something told me to get out and see how people actually mingle.


For those with filters, any type of filters, don't forget to change them if do it on a yearly basis, such as the water filters I use.  Use two types, one for my Waterfall purification system, and another for my Berkey ceramic filters.  Much to my surprise, the website I found which listed the Berkey filters for sale, also listed detailed information on what makes up the ceramic filters, found here.

RO Update

Truly like the Reverse Osmosis system I installed here, and the last update here. It's still running flawlessly and am going to do a couple very small upgrades in the near future.

Water Quality - Eye of beholder

One very important piece of knowledge I had, prior to upgrading to this system, is that the RO system really does remove most everything, even the things that our bodies need.
  • Water normalizes itself, so potential to leech minerals from our body
  • According to Chinese medicine, it is "too yin"

Included here is some research I found that backs up my decision to do all this water filtration.  It really does sound like a lot of work but really isn't, especially taking into account water is 65%, or so, of our mass.  Research is like beauty in the eye of the beholder, one can find articles that backup both sides of the issue.  I chose articles based on what I thought felt good and seemed true.  Sometimes truth is in the eye of the beholder too..

In this article the author wrote a very descriptive article on tap water itself, and mentioned RO water as being good, though no mention of adding minerals back in.

Another article I found regarding dead water, and a second article (from Holistic blog) that contains certain steps that can be done to add minerals and nutrients back into it.  She mentions several ways to do that, from adding salt to making "spa water".  While this is all good and great I don't see any true consistency.

All of this, and other things, add up to why I "filter" my RO drinking water though the Nikken Waterfall, after it passes through the Berky filters (silver is a disinfectant).  It removes quite a few things that the RO system removes, as shown in this WQA (Water Quality ?) test certificate, and the silver in the Berkey filter makes sure no bugs are in the water.   The Waterfall system adds all the minerals back into the water, alkalizes the water, restructures, and makes it alive allowing the water to be more compatible with the body.

While alive water, as this article states, is best from a spring, or other trusted natural source, the reality is not everyone has access to water of that quality.  Sad, but true, and this is another reason why go through all this effort.  The long run will tell if it's all worth it.

I also have a hand-held shower (there's a standard shower head too) too that makes the skin oh so soft and adds nutrients back in during the shower, as skin is the largest organ in the body, so we must take care of it.