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Let's talk / Getting Started

Posted by johnnyr 
Let's talk / Getting Started
November 05, 2009 11:27PM
Hi guys, I am starting this thread so we can start getting printing.

I am Johnny Russell.
I live in South Pittsburg, Tennessee
I have a MakerBot.

I am not in Atlanta, but there is not a group forum set up closer to me.
I am printing my first Mendel for myself, and as soon as I can get it going I am putting it to work printing more.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 11, 2009 07:35PM
I see you're planning to move up from a MakerBot to a Mendel. I'd be interested in your impressions of the MakerBot. Has it been a good first step, or -- if you had it all to do over again -- would you hold out and wait to get parts for a Mendel?
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 13, 2009 11:14PM
I am very happy with my MakerBot. I have had issues from time to time, but it is not designed to be industrial, it is made to make a RepRap. Acrylic is not a strong material and there was an issue with the extruder design when I got mine that wore down my motor & held me back. All warts aside I have printed all my first Mendel except for the drive pulleys, and that makes my MakerBot a worth a great deal to me. (now to work the warts out of the Mendel will be the next joy)

If I had it to do over again, in the same time frame I would definitely buy my MakerBot again. I needed to get started and Mendel was not close. It would be a lot harder decision today with Mendel factories sprouting all over the world smiling smiley


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2009 02:12PM by johnnyr.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 14, 2009 06:32AM
That's interesting: the MakerBot "is not designed to be industrial, it is made to make a RepRap." That shifts my ideas about the machine,

How long is the line waiting for Mendel parts from your MakerBot? We're not in line anywhere, and would like to queue up. Since we're not very far away, it would be a nice trip to see what you're doing and get a better handle on all we're tackling.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 14, 2009 02:11PM
I sounded way too critical of the MakerBot, it is an awesome kit. Industrial machines break too, and I am sure I will destroy my Mendel several times. I also plan on keeping my MakerBot running alongside Mendel.

If you would like to set up a time to get together and talk/work RepRap stuff you can contact me at ultimachine.com
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 14, 2009 02:58PM
No problem -- I can read that to be gentler. I have a similar sense, though -- that I want a MakerBot primarily because I can't just send off my money and get Mendel parts.

I would like to see your setup, so I'll contact you at your website.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 17, 2009 05:48PM
Better yet, we would be interested in loading up and bringing our stuff down if some people want to get together and play reprap. Are you a member of Freeside or another space we could meet at?
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 22, 2009 11:16AM
That sounds great. I'm waiting for a couple of answers from people who are out of town to see what their schedules are, and to determine whether we could meet at our Tech Center.

Assuming our Tech Center (in Marietta) is available, maybe we could look at something like December 12, so we can get the word out to users all around the area.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 22, 2009 09:18PM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/2009 09:19PM by SheepdogRD.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 24, 2009 08:28AM
Guys, are you still planning to meet. I live in the Metro Atlanta area and would like to join to get a peak at the RepRap. Regards, Michael
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 24, 2009 03:00PM
December 12th is good with us. We plan on being there with our MakerBot and Mendel (: that should be completed this weekend smiling smiley
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 24, 2009 04:02PM
Excellent. We have the Tech Center for the day. What time would y'all like to start up? Considering johnnyr has a couple hours of driving to do, it's probably fair to let him have the primary say on that.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
November 30, 2009 04:05AM
Good deal SheepDogRD. I'll say anytime from 12:00 noon on is good for us. Looking forward to it.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 07, 2009 09:29PM
Saturday, December 12 at noon sounds good. We'll have the building open about 11:30am for the early birds. The Abacus Technical Center is at 1190 Kennestone Circle NW, Marietta, GA 30066, in Suite 120. Park in front of the building. You'll see the company name on the door.

If mapping software or your GPS has trouble with the address, just use 1200 instead of 1190. Once you arrive at Kennestone Circle, take the first driveway. Building 1190 is on your right, and we're almost all the way to the far (south) end.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 07, 2009 09:34PM
Cool smiling smiley
See you there.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 10, 2009 01:57PM
SheepdogRD, I just want to make sure that this is still on for Saturday. Right? Is there anything that I can bring? Regards, Michael
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 10, 2009 02:29PM
Yes, it's definitely still on.

Bring anything you'd like, especially if it has to do with RepRap and similar devices, or with 3D scanning. Parts produced by such machines would be good to see. If you have RepRap parts for sale, bring 'em.

We have vending machines for soda, bottled water and snacks. For lunch, Burger King, McDonald's and Subway are very close by, and there are lots of other restaurants and a mall -- Town Center at Cobb -- a few miles north. The Big Chicken is 5-10 minutes south.

See you here . . .
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 10, 2009 07:11PM
Is the meeting on 12-12-09, noon, at Abacus Tech Center also open to a newcomer? I am interested in learning what is required to build a Mendel. If this request causes any problems, I will understand. This request is kinda-like inviting myself. I am in Dalton, about mid-way between Marietta and So Pitt.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 10, 2009 08:32PM
Please join us -- it's open to anyone interested.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 10, 2009 08:59PM
Thanks. I will bring my notebook and lots of questions. The sounds like a good project.
Greetings All,

What a shame.

Several students in the Mechatronic Engineering Department at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia have taken it upon themselves to each build a RepRap. We are SO excited by the prospects. We were studying for finals on 12/12, but would have certainly attended your meeting if we had only known. Next time for sure.

In our design process we are wondering if anybody has used 5/16" stainless rod instead of the metric near equivalents. It seems that if we shift to US measurements for the hardware that it will be much cheaper and easier to source.

What/who did you guys use?

Thanks so much and hope to meet you all soon,

Garrett Boyd Bailey, Sr.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 17, 2009 09:31PM
Sorry you missed it too.
I used 8mm from McMaster, but 5/16" should work fine as long as you adjust the hole it fits in smiling smiley
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 18, 2009 04:31AM
A 5/16 inch rod is about 7.94mm, or .0025 inch smaller than 8mm rod. Is the plastic accurate enough to even see that difference? On the other hand, if you're printing your own parts, you can adjust the hole diameters in the plans.

Garrett, how do you plan to produce the Mendel parts?
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 18, 2009 09:02AM
Hi, guys.

I'm Rob Sweet. I work as a software engineer in N. Atlanta. I'm new to RepRap but I've always loved to tinker with mechanical things and I really like the idea of having a Mendel so I can print up whatever gizmos I come up with. It's very exciting to me that we're getting to the point where casual hobbists can do their own rapid prototyping. smiling smiley

I was out of town on the 12th so, unfortunately, I've missed the party. How many people showed up?

On the imperial/metric thing, it wouldn't surprise me if somebody had already put out a set of plans adjusted for imperial. It certainly seems like having imperial plans would benefit the US community.

So is anyone coordinating an effort to get Mendel parts produced and distributed? I'd like to get my hands on a set and once I get my Mendel up and running, I'd be happy to make a couple sets for others. It seems like it wouldn't take too long to get Mendel parts to everybody locally who wants a set if we work together. Who's interested and what's the plan?

Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 18, 2009 04:08PM
We had six at the meetup, with several no-shows. If Johnny's up for another trip, I could see us doing this again after the New Year. We could use the Abacus Tech Center again, if that location works for the group. I'd want to set the meeting time further in advance, and get notice out to a larger group, especially at SPSU. I'll bet we'd jump the size of the group significantly.

Some of the things I learned at the meetup are:
(1) To build these machines, it takes a good deal of attention to detail.
(2) It looks pretty easy to make parts, but not so easy to make really good parts; I can see us developing quite a scrap pile to remelt until we get the hang of bringing everything together correctly. I suspect successful part-making will entail a good deal of experimenting, and a good deal of time online reading about techniques others have used -- both the successes and the failures. It's good to know what to try and what not to try.
(3) This is not a "set it and forget it" process. The machine needs a babysitter, or at least someone paying attention to it. If things go badly astray, the machine can be pranged; keeping a close eye on it avoids that.
(4) It might be a good idea to devise sensors that make the machine self-monitoring, or at least give it an alert system to get the operator's attention. Some sensors on the drive motors would be worthwhile; if a motor is working too hard, the drive mechanism may be jammed, meaning the head may have come up against something solid that it shouldn't be contacting.
(5) There are several printing materials available; Johnny found the PLA easiest to work with, and will be a supplier for it. My gut reaction at first was to go with ABS, simply because I'm familiar with it, but PLA may have some interesting properties, so I suspect I'd begin with black PLA when Johnny gets that in.
(6) Black parts look way cooler -- more professional, too -- than the natural parts.
(7) This is not the sort of machine that can operate quietly in the corner of an office. It doesn't produce high-volume noise, but there's a lot of sound coming from it as the head travels, and the sounds are probably only acceptable to people with an interest in the machine and its products. Disinterested significant-others would probably not be pleased to listen to it working, so it's a garage or shop tool.
(8) The mechanical parts are relatively easy to get, though I know of no one producing a kit. The printed parts are next to impossible to find. We effectively need to make our own.

I haven't heard of anyone coordinating the production and purchase of parts, yet. There's certainly enough interest to do group purchasing of components. I think what we need is to get a MakerBot going, produce enough parts for the first Mendel, and assemble the Mendel as fast as the parts come off the MakerBot. Then we could get that machine to someone who will agree to produce Mendel parts while the MakerBot is doing the same again. It would be interesting to explore how much a set of quality Mendel parts would go for: $200? More?

I'd even be interested in seeing what it would cost to get one or more sets of the printable parts machined in aluminum on a CNC machine. That certainly flies in the face of the project's spirit, but it might be a rapid route to getting the parts that no one seems to have. Anyone have time available on a CNC machine?

I'd be interested in getting together with others for a group buy of the mechanical components. If we have Garrett, Rob, and me, plus some students at SPSU, maybe we'd have enough interest to buy ten sets of components, which could reduce the cost somewhat by lower price and reduced shipping expense. Then we just need ten sets of printed (or machined) parts.

I'd start the group buying if I can get commitments. We need to determine best sources.
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 18, 2009 11:09PM
We are down for another trip. Is that price you mentioned above an offer? smiling smiley
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 19, 2009 10:14AM
Another trip down? Excellent. Let's get some input on a good date -- a Saturday or Sunday would be best -- with plenty of lead time so we can get the word out far and wide.

As to the price -- I'm seriously considering getting on the list for a MakerBot for January 20th shipment. Somebody has to get this going, and maybe it's me. I figure a MakerBot is a great learning tool, and it would give us a head start.

I'd enjoy building it and getting it going. Getting it in toward the end of January fits my schedule pretty well. We have a good lab to run it in.

I came up with that price looking at the cost of a MakerBot -- $750 -- plus material, and figured the price of a set of parts should pay for the machine and material after x sets of parts. I set x=4 and came up with $200. Whatever we set x at, the residual value of the MakerBot would be a return on the labor and other costs in making the parts. From what I saw of Johnny's machines, producing a set of parts is no small task.

But I'm talking more from speculation than knowledge. Johnny, maybe you could give us more insight into what it takes in investment, materials and effort to make sets of Mendel parts. How would you value them? How else would you suggest we get this rolling?
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 20, 2009 12:33PM
I've got a background in network telemetry and a general interest in telemetry and monitoring so the idea of adding sensors to make a Mendel more self-sufficient is pretty interesting to me. Really, it seems like the babysitting wouldn't be nearly as important if you knew that, in the event of a problem, the thing would just stop instead of going berserk. Never having used one, I don't know what the common problems are or if they'd be easily detectable but it seems like an interesting conversation to have.

On the cost thing, $200 is a number that I've heard several times for Mendel parts. What would you think about each of us putting in $200 as a 'deposit' that we'd get back if/when we contribute back a usable set of Mendel parts? It'd be $200 of motivation to get a set printed that somebody else can use to get their own Mendel up and running and sets left over after we've all got one could be sold to recoup the cost of the MakerBot and/or donated to a local school or something.

While I'm thinking about it, is there a reason for starting with a MakerBot instead of trying to buy Mendel parts to begin with? Is it just that Mendel parts aren't available?

Any chance the next meetup could NOT be the weekend of the 16th? Like many folks, I'll probably go somewhere for the long weekend and I'd hate to miss it again. smiling smiley

Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 20, 2009 03:34PM
The idea of the MakerBot was from three primary factors: (1) Mendel printed parts are seemingly impossible to find, (2) Mendel parts are well within MakerBot's capability, and (3) that's how Johnny got started, so we know it works.

There's also the factor that I'm a pain when it comes to quality control, and I figure the best way to get parts I like is to make them for myself.

On setting a date, I was thinking we should go for January 23rd, January 30th or February 6th. The next weekend is Valentine's Day, so that's probably less than ideal.

As to a deposit, we could do that. Or we could collect a group of people, and I'll start buying parts, with those in the group committing to buying the parts (at cost) as they arrive. Or we could all buy some parts after we agree on who's ordering what, and swap parts and cash as they arrive.

I'd think the way to order parts would be in the order they're used in Mendel construction, so, as soon as the first printed parts are made, the first person in line can start building. We could sit down and agree on the sequence of purchase and on the order in which we get printed parts.

If the group is interested, I'm willing to act as Central Receiving (the Tech Center has a dedicated receiving department that's open all day long, so we wouldn't have missed deliveries) and Distribution; I could email notify the list of participants as the parts arrive.

What do y'all suggest?
Re: Let's talk / Getting Started
December 24, 2009 09:40AM
Any of those dates would probably work for me.

Good news! I've got a friend locally who has access to an FDM machine. He's not familiar with the Mendel but I sent him some info and he may be able to make me a set of Mendel parts. If so, we might be able to start with a Mendel instead of a MakerBot and save that cost. Nothing is solid yet and the guy that my friend needs to talk to is away for the holidays so it might be a week or two before I know if I can get the parts made.

I'd be happy to have you handle the mechanical parts ordering and Central Receiving. I'm not home to sign for deliveries and my work mail gets routed through the receiving dept. in another building so I always worry about packages getting lost in the shuffle. You're talking about the mechanical hardware, right? I assume that we'd all order things like steppers and electronics individually as there's no real cost savings in batching that stuff. FWIW, I've already ordered my machined extruder parts (from the guy in this thread) and my steppers. I figure I'll wait on the electronics until I'm a little further along in the process.

On the deposit thing, I was really just trying to think of a way to motivate people to make a set of Mendel parts to pass along to the next guy in line. Somebody in a different thread actually posted the same idea. If I've had to put up $200 (or whatever number we deem appropriate) to get my parts to build my Mendel and I can get that money back by donating back a set, that's a pretty good incentive to get the Mendel finished, learn how to use it, and get to printing a set. My concern would be that Guy #3 gets his set of Mendel parts, starts building his Mendel, and then Wife #3 complains that he's spending all this time on it or work gets busy or whatever and he puts off finishing it and printing parts for the next guy or maybe stalls out completely. The social commitment of 'get a set, make a set, give a set' will motivate some people but combining that with the prospect of getting a not-insignificant chunk of cash back would motivate more, I think. This is a friendly thing so exceptions could always be made if there were extenuating circumstances.

On ordering parts, it seems like maybe we'd want to stick with metric hardware at least for the first one just to get the factory rolling but I'd be very curious how many changes would be needed to use imperial hardware. The lengths of everything would all the the same, it's just the diameter of the bars that would be slightly different, right? Would that really matter for anything besides maybe the configuration of the bearings? I can't think of anything else that would really care about the precise diameter of the bars but, never having seen one of these in person, maybe I'm missing something. From what I've read, the RepRap was specifically designed to have very forgiving tolerances for the precision of the parts it's built from so it seems like maybe you could get away with imperial parts.

Have a great Christmas, guys! smiling smiley
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