The Makerbot is finished at last! As I sit here writing this post, my brand new Makerbot Cupcake CNC is printing out a set of mounting brackets I designed to mount a canoe paddle on my wall. My room is filled with the smell of melting ABS plastic (not a pleasant smell) and the sound of stepper motors.
The extruder controller board I had ordered came in the mail yesterday, and I immediately installed it, and had used it to extrude its first noodle of ABS plastic. After installing it I began printing a “minimug” as a test and as a vessel for some celebratory sake, but there was a problem.
At first I checked the Makerbot Wiki Tips and Tricks page, and learned that the X-axis might have been missing steps, so I fiddled with the trimmer pot on the stepper controller board for the X axis. The weirdness continued, and sporadically. After playing with the ReplicatorG control panel, I surmised that the there must have been some sort of weird friction on the X axis rods. Lubricating them didn’t seem to help, so I decided to smooth the rods with steel wool. Upon taking the X-stage belt off, however, I noticed that lying right next to the shaft of the stepper motor were two set screws. The very same set screws, in fact, that were supposed to be holding the drive pulley on the shaft of the stepper motor. Hmmm… As I suspected, when I pulled the drive pulley off the shaft, there was a little resistance – enough to turn the pulley – but it was loose enough that too much strain on it would allow it to slip, sort of like a clutch gear.
I steel-wooled the rod anyway, just for good measure, re-tightened the set screws, and put a little dab of super-glue on them just in case. Since the screws are on the stepper motor, which vibrates a LOT during the print, I thought it wasn’t a bad idea.
Having just finished my mounting bracket, I got to do something I have been waiting to do for a while: browse through Thingiverse and pick something I wanted. I decided on a Utah teapot. What’s so crazy awesome about this is not just that you can flip through a website and within 30 minutes have nearly any physical object you want (which is less time, I might add, than it would take to go to the store, find it, and buy it), but that this is what many very intelligent people say that this is what the future will look like, that not only will we not need money, but that it will become obsolete. OK, so I realize that it sounds very hippie of me, but who knows, maybe their right. I just know that I’ll never need to buy combs or plastic wall-mounting brackets ever again.
(Side note: Makerbot 00056 has still not been named, but I have decided that a name from Star Trek or possibly another icon of science fiction would be appropriate. Since Star Trek has the replicator, I think that’s the most likely candidate, but I may change my mind.)