Monday, 4 July 2011

eMaker Reprap Master Class event in Bath (UK) 1st-3rd July 2011

The build weekend started on Friday night around 6:00PM with a great introduction by Adrian Bowyer to RepRap and the highly impressive community team that Jean-Marc had managed to bring together for us. –
Dr Adrian Bowyer, Dr Andrew Dent, Josef Prusa, Kliment Yanev, Ruben Lubbes, Rhys Jones and Sally Bowyer.

People had travelled from all over the UK and Europe to be at the event with everyone having an interesting reason to own a Reprap. Among these included the desperate need to print a Moustache ring and the desire to experiment with automatic PCB wiring; some just wanted a cool 3D printer or to meet up with the RepRap team.

We all started with the mechanical frame build using the Wiki and visual instructions, marching ahead with excitement and enthusiasm all the way till 11:30pm with only a quick break for lots of great Pizza and beer. 

Most of the frame construction was now finished. Jean-Marc and a few others stayed up until the early hours preparing parts for the next day (thank you all for doing that).

As Ruben has organized many of these events around Europe the Master Class was a very slick setup but I was very pleased to see it also evolved and adapted to live design improvements as we built the machines and found better ways to do things, the Wiki was live updated as we went along to reflect this.

Ruben and others brought many interesting printed objects including the amazing
Geared Heart by Emmett
Inspired by the  Broken heart by Greg frost (Geared)

And a lovely printed ceramic pot from Unfold even a working printed spinning wheel by Kliment (sorry I didn’t get a photo, but it was really nice). See it and read about it on Kliment's website here

We had a streaming live video of us to add to the excitement along with various comments on IRC keeping us all amused, many of them early on were about ‘girls’ actually being at the event.

Adrian gave an informative and amusing demonstration of successful pulley casting with resin using a silicon block and a jig that allowed trapped captive nuts to be placed inside the cast pulleys.

End of Friday night.
Saturday was electronics build-up and machine wiring, for many this sounded the most daunting but the Sanguinololu (V1.2) electronics although a little fiddly as the PCB is small and packed together it all built-up quickly and worked really well (I’m totally convinced now by this little setup), anyone who has used RAMPS and thinks this is a lesser design, think again.

We had drop-in visits during the day from other Reprappers and suppliers of the components we had used over the weekend, this again was great to discuss ideas and design improvements with them first hand.

After a very good night out on Saturday we all started slightly later on the Sunday for the heated bed build and electronics commissioning, this all went well. Kliment setup the firmware and tested all our electronics.

We slowed down slightly with wiring, especially all the wire crimping but stayed on-track of the build plan.
Jo helping this printer - print.
All the team provided constant help and advice to anyone not quite sure what to do next. It does not take long to realise that all the advice you absorb at one of these get-togethers would take months to get online. 

Participation takes thought and concentration making for a very intense, exciting and satisfying weekend, I can’t speak for anyone else but I was shattered at the end of it but elated to have an ‘official’ and working machine to take home with me. I believe building and servicing a Prusa Mendel is well within the means of most people and immediate good results were not hard to achieve thanks to the effort Josef & Kliment put into setting up Skeinforge, printrun (pronterface) and the Sprinter firmware for us.

Not my machine, but a nice looking pig print.

By Sunday afternoon all the machines got to the point where they could print (most opted for a nice pig cookie cutter
I printed my favourite calibration object – the Hollow pyramid Originally I had sticky X and Y axis causing some slipping on the axis while printing, I turned up the motor drive currents to compensate and it was better but still skipping.
This turned out to be oxide or unclean rods, a quick clean and silicon lube made the much better. I added heatsinks to the Pololu boards (very kindly supplied by Ruben).
The Pololu’s were still running too hot and sometimes thermal-tripping so causing skipping and miss printing.

Adrian measured my driver chips at over 85 degrees C with an IR thermometer (this was too hot) so we turned it back down and due to the now clean X and Y smooth rods it now made a pretty good print of the hollow Pyramid.

It’s clear from the many conversations we all shared that great and interesting things are set to happen in the RepRap community in the coming months, stay tuned, and get involved and if you ever get the chance to meet up with other Reprappers or go on a Reprap Master Class anywhere in the world make sure you DO IT!

Many thanks to Jean-Marc, all the RepRap team and everyone who attended and visited us over the weekend, we all made new friends and I think we managed to push RepRap even further forwards.

And a special thank you to Clare and Andrew for helping transport all my stuff and nice new printer back to my car at the end.

I'm sorry if I have forgotten anyone or anything, if I don’t write something right now about the Master Class I’ll never be able to pull myself away from my new printer J It’s already printing it’s first upgrade – Printable Ball Bearing Upgrade by GregFrost

And finally if you have not yet tried out Kliment’s printrun, check it out, it’s really great.