Monday, January 21, 2019

Ender-3 First Print/Project

For our first project we decided to build a Raspberry Pi Print Server (OctoPrint) and 3D Printer Monitor using an ESP8266.

This was a project I found on YouTube over the Christmas holidays and began the electronics portion before the printer arrived.  We used an old Raspberry Pi and setup OctoPrint on it to manage job submissions and host a web stream of the printer. 

OctoPrint is very straight foreword you can pull an image from the OctoPrint site and burn it to a micro SD card in a few min and follow the setup steps.   For a camera I'm currently using the v2 Pi Camera, but will be adding a Borescope which will be positioned to look closely at the print head to see how the adhesion is going.  Using the wide view camera time lapse of prints can be made.

Now that the OctoPrint server was setup we decided to use an old ESP8266 I had and use it to relay printer information to it as a remote station. This can be moved around the house and just needs a USB wall wart to power it.    The ESP8266 is a Ardunio development board with builtin wifi. Paired with and OLED we are able to see the progress done of a print as well as base plate and print head temperatures.   While it does not provide an image it will allow us to see if there is a temperature problem. Also when the printer is not running it shows the current time and weather.

The instruct able was excellent and we had no trouble following it. 3D-Printer-Monitor-Wemos-D1-Mini-ESP8266. This also proved to be our first real print for the case and it went well.

Ender-3 3D Construction

The build of the Ender-3 was very easy. The longest part was the replacement of the crimped on imitation XT60 power plug.

Unboxed and ready to install
First off we inventoried all the parts needed. Creality had each screw/bolt type separated in to labeled bags so that helped.  They also provided extras of every screw/bolt.

Crimped connectors on XT60
Then we had a close look at the XT60 Power plug. They are known to have problems with being badly crimped and not providing a good connection, sometimes leading to over heating and catching fire/melting the plugs.  We had a look and sure enough they had used the crmiped connection and a cheep knock off plug.  The walls of the plug were much thinner and the connection poles were not as beefy.  They also had the male end on the power side which is not suggested as it can more easily short if it was unconnected and the poles touched something.  So we cut them off and replaced them from out supply for our RC aircraft.
Stock fake XT 60 connector (left) vs. real (right)

When we returned the next night we began construction and were able to do a quick test print that evening. All and in all it took about and hour and a half to build it.
Jadon attaching control panel.

We followed along with the the instructions from Tomb of 3D Printed Horrors - Creality Ender 3 assembly and pro build tips.

Install went smoothly. We printed a level test print and all was good. Except that the filament stuck far to well to the stock Ender-3 bed.  We are still trying to scrape it all off 3 days later.  However the Glass plate works much better and give a very flat surface (almost to flat)

Jadon checking travel of the Z access.

Jadon and Eric with completed Ender-3 3D 
Printing part the Test Dog.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ender 3 Arrival

Last week we received a Creality Ender-3 3D printer, thanks to my lovely wife for our X-mas present.  Last night we unboxed it and began the inventory of parts.
Creality Ender-3 3D Printer

This was rated the best printer under $200.

Assembly will be begin this evening and hope to have a first print by the weekend. So far this new hobby has generated quite a project list.

  • Build and upgrade Ender 3
  • Build and install OctoPrint 
    • Investigate camera options (picamera, endoscope, time lapse)
    • Plan out temperature, voltage, humidity, smoke/fire detection systems.
    • First glimpse Ender-3
    • Design and plan for remote power cutoff for printer.
  • Build and install 3D Printer Monitor with ESP8266 Wemos.
  • Build and install remote fire/smoke detector and alarm system.
  • Design and build/buy enclosure for printer for better temperature controls and fume/particulate control. Possible venting out of the house.
  • Design and build ESP8266 Temperature/humidity monitor for PLA storage, using for alerts when humidity is getting to high.
  • Design and build Pi/Arduino system to monitor relative pressure in the enclosure to keep a negative pressure to contain odors and particulate out of the house and vent it to the outside.
Primarily this printer will be used to print quad copter parts, ham radio parts, and some random prints.

Jadon with parts!
All of it unboxed

Dayton 2016

Very LATE post.
K3YV (Woody) and I (W3EDP) made our trek to the Dayton Hamvention 2016.  As usual the trip began with our customary day at the Air Force Museum and a visit to John Silver aka "Stumpy", the legendary war pidgin. With most of the day spent wandering the fist set of hangers with "Real Aircraft".. you know the ones with props!! And a few movies and a quick visit to the modern aircraft. We followed up with a dinner with a few members of the Rooster Net.  It was a good day.
John Silver -War Pidgin

 Friday-Sunday we spent our days looking at interesting junk/treasures in the booths in the parking lot and finding new and interesting items that we never knew we needed in the Hara Arena.

  The goal of this trip was to find a QRP radio that I could use while traveling/hiking/car camping.   Contestants were the Yeasu FT-817ND, The Elecraft KX3,  or something new and small.
The requirements were:
  • Small size (including additional items needed)
  • Weight (my back is heavy enough with medical gear)
  • Operating time. (must use LiPo batteries or something similar for weight)
  • Cover 10-80M   ( I have not used 160m or 6m and don't expect to soon.)
  • SSB and CW. (Not CW operator but plan to, hence the need SSB to start with)
  The Elecraft KX3 had the advantage of a larger screen and built in ATU, but disadvantage of price, and it did not seem to rugged. The Yeasu 817ND had ruggedness that I liked but long in the tooth and the small screen and nested menus with lots of dial spinning turned me off, despite the price and I would need to buy a tuner to go with it.

KX3 beside KX2
  Luck! Elecraft brought out a new radio this year the Elecraft KX2, It fit the bill nearly perfectly. It's almost half the weight of the KX3 and a bit smaller. It does not have 2m option or AM, but  I have no ambitions of doing weak signal FM from PA mountaintops, and if I do want to I can use an HT.  The K2 uses the same screen as the K3 so it's easy for my aging eyes to read.

Elecraft KX2
  I put in an order for the KX2, with ATU and paddles.  Time to learn the code again. Come on brain.. you heard a bunch of it in Augsburg and used to be able to decode a fair amount on the fly. You can do it again!
  So now comes the wait for delivery. Sadly I did not make my choice till later in the weekend and missed out on the 50 they sold at the show. When I first stopped by at 14:30 on Friday there were 2 left.  First impressions to come hopefully shortly.

   I was followed home by a few other trinkets to include:
  • Arrow Antenna J-Pole - for working public service events to be mounted on a tripod for easy use of my Kenwood D710 go box. 
  • Arrow Antenna 146/437 - to try my hand at satellite and ISS.
  • Book on Introduction to Amateur Radio and Satellite. 
  • Heil Cables to connect a Heil HM-10 mic/boom setup, I picked up at an estate sale, to my Icom 756Pro.
  Things that failed to follow me home but maybe should have:
See you next year Dayton!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 PA QSO Party

This year for the PA QSO Party a a few of us decided to leave the clubhouse and head up to the cold north lands of "God's Country" in Potter county.   We took our campers and setup camp in the Potter County Family Campgrounds across from the historic Potato Inn.

Campers were setup up in a light flurry.

Antennas were constructed and radios setup and we were ready to be on the air

Woody (K3YV) building dipoles.
Mike (N3LI) supervising
Woody (K3YV) building yet another dipole
Eric (W3EDP) Working the party.

We worked the contest and were short a few counties but overall a good effort.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Assateague National Seashore

This week I'm camping on Assateague island in the MD  in the national seashore.

While horseback riding is the main goal here ham is seeking its way in.   I am running my Ten-Tec 555 Scout on 20m in the general portion of the band.   I will be activating the island for Islands On The Air NA-139 at location FM28KEDJ.
I hope to hear from a few people despite my low 20m dipole tied to the popup.

A dozen contacts were made from as far away as Michigan, Mississippi, and Moscow RU. I was able to participate with Jamboree on the Air 2012 and talk to a few Scouts. Unfortunately the 20 band did not allow me to make a 2 way contact with friends in State College and the campsite, horses and trailers did not allow for the 40m antenna to be setup.
I attempted to get my activation listed via htttp:// and entered my information about the trip multiple times via their form and for a day it showed up as an activation but has since disappeared.  So my activation of Assateague may not be valid as far as they are concerned. I will still make  and send out a special QSL card for it with grid square, and island info as well as a nice photo of a Assateague horse.
I will add a list of contacts shortly and get QSL cards out soon.
 For now we say goodby to Assateague till next year and hope the ponies weathered hurricane Sandy well.

Monday, May 14, 2012

UV-X4 unboxing and mini review

  Well I picked up a UV-X4 when looking for a 2m radio for my XYL for when she passes her Technician test.  The UV-X4 looked small and was inexpensive enough that if it did not work as expected I was not out much.

  I found the UV-X4 at it is Chinese made and similar ones can be found under a number of names such as Baofeng, VGC, Vero.  I found the UV-X4 while looking into the UV-3R as a possible radio and found that a Texas company is importing them with their branding. Since I ordered another version the the Baofeng label has come out UV-3R+ that is similar yet has some important differences that may tempt some. I'll go into that later.

  The UV-4X is a 2m/70cm radio with a frequency range of 136 - 174 and 400 - 470 MHz and while labeled as Dual Band it is more of a Dual Watch as the second frequency that is displayed cannot be monitored at the same time as the primary band. The radio is FCC part 90 type accepted. It has a built in LED flashlight, is field programmable and weighs only 4.3 oz. It is available in 5 colors, Black, Red, Yellow, Blue and Camouflage (green plastic with dark green and black paint).  At first look how can one say no for the price of $65.  So I ordered one to test and see.

 Please see my album for unboxing photos

  When a friend ordered his UV-3R+ from china he enjoyed 2 weeks of anticipation joy. My radio arrived in 2 days in a nice small box from Texas.  It included some Chinese writing but most of it was in English.  The manual was quite readable with little "engrish".  The primary differences between the 3R+ and the X4 is size, headphone/programing and battery.  The radio is slightly smaller both in width and depth. 

The belt clip on the X4 is held on with one screw while the 3R+ is held on with two.

 The headphone jack of the X4 is similar to the Yaesu single jack and same port provides programing as well as speaker/mike/ptt, while the 3R+ has a Kenwood style double plug (it's reported Kennwood plugs work) which may provide more strain relief on the port over the Yaesu style.  

  The major difference is the battery and charging.  The 3R+ has a battery that is built in to the back cover and comes with a drop in charger while the X4 you must remove the battery or charge it via USB through the radio (a plus for those of us who are on computers all day or do not want to carry a drop in charger base everywhere).   While I love the idea of a drop in charger I like the smaller size of the X4 for shirt pocket carrying.  

  Results tryout:  I have been using this for just over 2 weeks and so far I have been quite happy with it.   I replaced the stock antenna with a  MALDOL MH-209SMA with very good results. I have been able to hit all the same repeaters even from in buildings and signal reports have not changed from the stock antenna.  It allow for less worry about strain on the radio when dropping it into pockets of jackets.  For the money I recommend this as a small beater radio or a inexpensive way to start your HT radio collection but not as a primary radio.  I will be keeping one in my pocket or glovebox for a while.


  After having it 3 weeks I have found the battery lasts about 3 days being on most of the time and broadcasting from time to time.

Update 1:
  The radio for the XYL arrived and I found that the case does not close as easily as the first. The tolerances for the case were not as high and there were minor pieces of plastic I had to remove by hand.

Update 2:
  I have found that if you carry your UV-X4 in your poket with other things it can get powered off and occasionaly back on.. some times with the Power + U/V button which does a factory reset.  While it does not happen often. The two times I has I was not near a computer to reload the programed chanels.

Update 3:
  From one of the members of my club who purchased a UV-3R+.
Fellow Baofeng owners:

I've just made a rather important discovery about my Baofeng UV-3R+ radio.

The + and - terminals on the back of the battery pack seem to be live and unprotected!

Probing + and - with a DVM, I read 3.90 V.  That in itself wouldn't necessarily be bad... there might conceivably be a bit of internal leakage which would allow a meter reading, yet still prevent significant current flow.  However, I thought that this did warrant further investigation.

I next connected a 75 ohm resistor, in series with a DMM, across the battery terminals.  I got a reading of ~ 50 mA current flow through the + and - battery terminals.  That's very close to the expected theoretical value of 52 mA (3.9v / 75ohm).  I also got nearly identical readings with my spare battery pack.  So I conclude that there is NOTHING internal to the battery pack which protects the terminals against current drain or short circuit!

That's rather unsettling because I have been carrying the radio in my pants pocket, along with a ring of keys.  Luckily I didn't feel anything warm down there!

Be advised, this is a potential safety concern!  Don't let anything short out the + and - terminals on your Baofeng battery pack.  It's a Li-ion chemistry, and worst case it could fail in a very unpleasant way!

Greg ~ K3GEM

Update 4:
    A friend and I modified the volume to give a better range of volume over the range of the knob. As it was it was to loud on the lowest setting with limited range.   We basically did what is show in the following video UV-3R volume modification     or on this page
Though we used a 36K resistor.  The mod went well with no catches.  A worth while fix.