Tag Archives: 3D Printing

A Winter’s Night Visit to MakeIt Labs

Let me begin by setting the scene. Imagine bone-chilling cold…It was colder. I was going to wait outside for Fred (AB1OC) and Jamey (KC1ENX) but the biology supporting my internal survival mechanism had other plans.

Bravely, I opened the door and was quickly greeted by John Bottoms. Interesting name, but a cool guy. We chatted for a bit and it turns out he’s working on embedding AI into VR…I think I have that right. He quickly pointed out that Thursdays are MakeIt Labs busy days since that is when they host their open house. I did see all around me many people working viciously on their projects. Truly, it was maker heaven.

Not long after, Fred and Jamey showed up and we were ready to begin our tour. Well, almost ready. There was a brief, but awkward exchange among two of the volunteers about who would be giving the tour. I was starting to wonder why it was so long and drawn-out. Odor-eaters in my shoes? (Check), Deodorant applied? (Check)…so it couldn’t be me. Eventually, the two fellas realized a better alternative to suit both their agendas was to elicit the help of a 3rd fellow. That fellow was Doug; he’s good people.

Machine Lathe
Machine Lathe

Doug began by taking us into the garage. Man, you all have to see this place. Woodworking shops, machine shops (including lathes, CNCs), a litany of other heavy power tools to make the biggest kid drool), a plasma cutting machine, a mechanic’s shop to bring your vehicle to tune it up — change the oil — or add nitrous. This. Place. Was. Awesome.

CNC Plasma Cutting Table
CNC Plasma Cutting Table

Fred was definitely familiar with the tools and instruments there. Jamey and I looked awed but bewildered. During our combined awe-strike, Fred found himself in a conversation with another knowledgeable gentleman named Andrew about plasma cutting through steel. It began harmless enough. They were telling each other about the thickest piece of steel they ever cut through. But soon, you could tell the other could not be outdone. By the end of it, I swore I heard tall-tales of karate chopping through 4 ft. titanium able to withstand a nuclear strike. All pretty cool stuff. (I may have embellished a little)

CNC Vertical Milling Machine
CNC Vertical Milling Machine

We continued the tour to the electronics portion of the lab where they had 3D printers (and another one in color), a spare electronics parts room, networking stations, dudes flying around mini-drones. We also saw they had a fabric station where folks could come into sew. I was surprised there wasn’t a line for this. Making blankets seems like the right thing to do currently.

CNC Laser Cutter
CNC Laser Cutter

We saw multiple conference rooms available, a room for the FIRST robotics team they adopted, office space for folks with startup companies — something for everyone.

Laser Cut Wood and Polystyrene Projects
Laser Cut Wood and Polystyrene Projects

By the conclusion of the tour, we got to meet a member of their Board, Bill. (Hi Bill!) This guy was definitely on-board with bringing amateur radio to the masses. He liked our ideas of setting up for Kid’s Day (or some variant of it), of our near-space balloon project, teaching license classes and/or intro. to amateur radio courses, and even helping us advertise before we arrive. I think he saw the strong parallels between what they do and what we do. This could truly begin to be a very useful symbiotic relationship.

So with our visit over, I would recommend to those of you who have not had the pleasure, get yourself out to MakeIt Labs. If you have questions, please contact myself, Jamey, or Fred. (Fred became a member tonight, so he knows the secret handshake). I think if you have ideas, projects that you’ve always meant to get done but haven’t found the time yet — this is the place for you. I think after you see this place, and if you were on the fence about getting involved in the Club’s Youth Outreach effort, I think you’re going to be all in after visiting.

See you on the air,
Brian, AB1ZO

3D Printing a Raspberry Pi Case

In a previous article, I wrote about jumping into 3D printing for fun and home-brewing.  I decided I wanted to try printing a custom case for my Raspberry Pi 2 Model B that I found on Thingiverse.  I chose one that had VESA mounting tabs with 75mm spacing in order to mount to the back of an older LCD monitor I had laying around.  I am doing this to create a dedicated mini-computer for running my M3D 3D printer.

Custom Cases for Raspberry Pi found on Thingiverse.com

I’m printing the case you see above on the left.  There are other upper case options for mounting mini-fans should you need to provide extra cooling for your RasPi.  And if you are handy with one of the many 3D modeling software packages out there, you can mod this case (or any case) to fit your specific needs.


I acquired a spool of black PLA filament (Hatchbox) from Amazon.


While not specifically branded by M3D, I wanted to try other sources because the Hatchbox brand was less expensive on the order of 2.8:1 than the M3D branded filament.  I was taking a chance because I am learning that getting the temperature right for a brand not tested by the printer manufacturer  can be tricky.  I did have issues of the print starting to lift off the print bed (M3D is non heated).  But I recovered from that by tacking down the corner with a hot glue gun.  Maybe this would have printed better on a heated print bed or if I would have controlled the surrounding temperature better.

Almost completed lower RasPi case
Completed RasPi case lower


Back of case showing “raft” before removal and cleanup


Cleaned up lower ready for test fit


Fits like a glove!


Given the experience I had with printing with the Hatchbox filament, I wanted to see how printing the case upper would be using the M3D filament.   I just chose one of the other M3D filaments to contrast the black lower.  The printer’s program calculated this to be a 14 hr print.  But, the output is looking good for far–no lifting of corners or warping.

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About 12 hours later… DONE!

Print completed for the RasPi case upper


After removing the raft and cleaning up stray flashing (inside)


After removing the raft and cleaning up stray flashing (outside)


Fits great!  Just need to figure out the case screws.

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to print the case version with the VESA mounting tabs on the back of a monitor.  In this case, they needed to be 75mm spacing.  Aligned nicely!

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This was a fun project.  While not a perfect printing experience, it was good enough for a first major print project.  Lessons learned will be turned back into the printing experience and improved upon on subsequent projects.

After mounting this RasPi w/case to the back of the monitor, the next mini-project is to get the RasPi working with the 3D printer.  There appears to be groundwork already done in this area, and I will follow the path already paved.

-Wayne / AG1A


3D Printing for Fun and Homebrewing

I recently picked up a mini 3D printer made by M3D.com because I wanted to channel my inner-maker and see what it was like to dabble in 3D printing, but I didn’t want to spend the $1k-$2k or more for trying out something that I might not like.

This particular printer has a capability of printing objects up to 5.9″ x 5.9″ x 5.9″ in both PLA and ABS.  It is not the fastest printer out there, but with a little patience and sub $400 price, I was willing to give it a try.


After unpacking the printer and settling on the white filament for my first dive into 3D printing, I looked for something that was simple, small, and easy to print.  I picked a flop-eared bunny for one of my daughters for Easter.  I pulled this 3D model from a well stocked source of 3D models called Thingiverse.


It was easy get the print up-n-running.  Here is a sequence of photos during the 4 hour process with the final image being the bunny with all raft and supports removed.

IMG_20160326_123731 FB_IMG_1459020390763 FB_IMG_1459024391176 IMG_1021-1

Now that I got thru my first successful 3D print.  I started thinking more of what can I print that might be practical and useful?  I know I have always wanted something to keep my charging cords from falling behind a desk or nightstand, so you can print these:


And how about a nice custom case for that new Raspberry Pi you recently got?  Or custom printing some other little project box?


There are many helpful projects you can print that already exist on the Internet and many colors to choose from.  Want to strike out on your own and brew your own custom widget?  Here is a chance to learn 3D modeling and there a quite a few freeware versions of software to choose from.   I recommend going to a site like 3D Printing for Beginners for starters.  There appears to be quite a bit of info on this site to keep you busy in learning about 3D printing.