Archives April 2012

It flew!

I got a stable flight out of my quadcopter at last.

I played it safe, and took it to the parents’ house seeing as they have a larger garden than I do, and made a few test flights. Only a low level hover, but it was controlled, albeit very roughly. Just goes to show how much practice it is going to take before I can start flying it properly. It wasn’t the most stable of flights I must say, I think amongst other things theĀ propellersĀ and motors all need balancing. It all was going fairly well until I got a bit to cocky and lost control. Only broke a propeller, so not too bad. Since then I’ve also secured the flight controller (an OpenPilot Copter Control) a bit better, which will hopefully keep it level and prevent any major drift and I’m going to make sure the motors are balanced. One recent purchase was a pan/tilt platform so I can put a cheap cam on the front to get a birdseye view of the flight. I’m very tempted to get a full FPV rig too, but I think it’ll be better to walk before I run.

Initial flights were in a + orientation, with one rotor being at the front. I’ve since changed that to an X orientation which means that there are two rotors at the front and the forward direction is in the middle of these. This makes attaching a camera a lot easier, and is the prefered orientation for FPV flying, so might as well get used to it from the start. I could do with some coloured propeller blades so that I can see which way is forward from a distance. Either that, or I may attach some LED strips to the two front arms.

In other news, I’m just building a new hotend for my printer. After the last .5mm one backed up, I tried the .25mm nozzle I got but I think that was a bit too ambitious. After a few hours of tweaking settings, I still couldn’t get a decent reliable print out of it. I’m just waiting for the fire cement to set properly on the new one, and then I just have to solder the wires onto it and mount it. One thing that is being a pain is the thermistor legs are very thin and fragile. I’ve already broken two and they aren’t the cheapest of components. They definitely need to be handled with care and strengthened up.

I also nearly melted another MOSFET buy hooking up the heated bed. Checking afterwards, the bed has a very low resistance (approx 1.5 ohm) which means the MOSFET gets very hot rather quickly. After a bit of digging in the forums, it was suggested that I put a heatsink on it. Nice idea, and easy solution, except the Sanguinololu board that I’m using has very little room to attach one. I’ve got a few different ones to try, and hopefully I can get one fastened on.

So, if the hotend is set by this evening, I may get chance to hook it up and give it a test! I may actually finish this project at some point!

Slow week

Easter weekend started off well, I actually got a test print off my printer! Unfortunately, the nozzle started to back up and got clogged, and whilst I was trying to clean it out (needed the heat one to do this) I seem to have shorted out the heating resistor which had the knock on effect of over heating the MOSFET, which also melted the plastic connector next to it. Not really a big issue, except I had no spare MOSFETS handy, so back to RS to order them. It did give as rather bad headache after a couple of hours in my cellar after the meltdown. Must get some better ventilation installed at some point!

On the plus side, the couple of small prints that I got off were rather good, and looked to be quite accurate. Once I get the replacement parts installed and a clean (or possibly new) hotend I can get some better prints off, along with some pictures and video! The hotend is turning out to be the most difficult part of the whole build, and also the part that seems to be least documented. Lots of different types of hotends are available on the reprap wiki, but none seem to be a clear choice, and also very little info on mounting them to the actual printer. Once I get that part worked out properly, it should just be a case of a bit of calibration!

The parts arrived after the long weekend, but by this time I’d come down with a bit of a cold. Nothing bad, but enough to put me off doing any intricate electronics. Of course, typically, the weekend is now approaching and I’m still feeling bunged up. Quite an annoying cold this. Also have a few extra hotend types to try.

In other news, Good Friday was the Alex Reunion. The Alex was a night club that a large number of people went to regularly in Lancaster, especially on its GRIP (Goth, Rock, Indie, Pop) nights. It was a very popular place, and had a great community behind it. The club closed down 10 years ago, and I thought it was high time that someone got everyone back together. That someone turned out to be me! The wonderful manageress at the Yorkshire House let me have the function room upstairs for free for the night, knowing full well that it would be busy with a good group of people. Nice easy (but busy) night for the staff. Thanks to the notoriety of the Alex, I had to do next to no publicity. All I did was to create an event on Facebook, and that was enough to get me worrying about the capacity of the venue, and the number of people turning up.

So, Good Friday came around, I got some old posters photocopied (thanks Sarah), a projector was loaned to me (thanks Coops), and I totally cheated on the DJing! Sarah also loaned me a banner from the very last night at the Alex. A roll of paper was hung on the wall and pens supplied for people to write their memories and thoughts. Sarah has lovingly looked after this for the last 10 years and it took pride of place on the wall of the reunion. Thanks to the projector, I also had nearly 300 photos projected onto the back of the stage, which kept people enthralled when they first arrived. Lots of good memories. The playlist for the night was one of the most fun, but most difficult, part to do. So many classic tunes were requested that it was very hard to narrow the selection down to just one nights worth. I also had to exercises my geek, to cut out any silence from the end of the tracks. A quick bit of scripting and I had a program called sox cutting off a few seconds here and there from all the mp3 files I had selected. It actually cut enough off for me to be able to squeeze another track in! Song editing, and using rhythmbox, meant that the sum total of work I had to do for the night was to press play and leave it. I wanted to enjoy the night too, and not be stuck behind a computer!

I’m happy to say that the night was a screaming success. The room was packed, I had people dancing all night (Kari and Dany especially!), we made the walls drip, and lots of singing to the last few songs. The comments left on the Facebook group for the Alex were wonderful and made the grin I already had even bigger. There have been lots of requests for a repeat performance, but currently I have no plans. Definitely won’t be one this year, but I may be able to be talked into an annual one.

For anyone interested, here is the playlist from the night:

  • Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
  • Would – Alice in Chains
  • Animal Nitrate – Suede
  • Common People – Pulp
  • You Love Us – Manic Street Preachers
  • Love Spreads – The Stone Roses
  • Nuclear Holiday – 3 Colours Red
  • Paranoid – Black Sabbath
  • Symphony Of Destruction – Megadeth
  • Walk – Pantera
  • We Care A Lot (2009 Remastered) – Faith No More
  • Enter Sandman – Metallica
  • Blue Monday – Orgy
  • Don’t You Want Me (Original Version) – The Human League
  • Kick In The Eye – Bauhaus
  • Vision Thing – Sisters Of Mercy
  • Sin – Nine Inch Nails
  • The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson
  • Sonne – Rammstien
  • (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do – Filter/The Crystal Method
  • Firestarter – Prodigy
  • Def Con One – PWEI
  • Jump Around – House of Pain
  • Anthem for the Year 2000 – Silverchair
  • Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters
  • Chop Suey! – System of a Down
  • I Alone – Live
  • Celebrity Skin – Hole
  • Hey Dude – Kula Shaker
  • Rocks – Primal Scream
  • Place Your Hands – Reef
  • Girl From Mars – Ash
  • Pure Morning – Placebo
  • When I Grow Up – Garbage
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous – Republica
  • Laid – James
  • Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
  • Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
  • Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
  • The Size of a Cow – The Wonder Stuff
  • Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Seperated) – The Offspring
  • Wuthering Heights – China Drum
  • Basket Case – Green Day
  • All the Small Things – Blink 182
  • The bad touch – Bloodhound Gang, The
  • Girls – Beastie Boys
  • My own worst enemy – Lit
  • A Certain Shade Of Green – Incubus
  • Blind – Korn
  • Sway – Coal Chamber
  • Davidian – Machine Head
  • Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  • Screamager – Therapy?
  • Weak – Skunk Anansie
  • Riverflow – The Levellers
  • American T.V. – Terrorvision
  • Stupid Questions – New Model Army
  • Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam
  • Been Caught Stealing (2006 Remastered Album Version) – Jane’s Addiction
  • Add It Up – Violent Femmes
  • I Wanna Go Where the People Go – The Wildhearts
  • Epic – Faith No More
  • Welcome To The Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
  • Rag Doll – Aerosmith
  • Poison – Alice Cooper
  • Creep – Radiohead
  • Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Hey Jude – The Beatles
  • Birdhouse in Your Soul – They Might Be Giants


Nearly there! The hotends have arrived!

I got a nice parcel delivered today. Two nicely build hotends for my new Prusa Reprap. After all the issues with the Huxley, the Prusa has been a total doddle. The last piece I needed for it was a hotend, and after having some issues sourcing some of the components, I had a look on eBay for any pre-built ones. I found one guy shipping some from Poland that looked perfect for what I needed, not only did they have all the molex connectors already done in a way that is compatible with my Sanguinololu board, but he was offering a twin pack with one .5mm and one .25mm nozel. Oh, and a pre hobbed bolt too!

Prusa build

So, with the body built and the electronics tested, all I have to do is figure out how to attach the hotend and I can start building. I’ve already posted a video a few days ago of the body moving nicely, which is further than I ever got with the Huxley. Never know, maybe by this weekend I’ll be able to print something! Just have to finish work first.

Here’s the video of the first test of the electronics.

Prusa build