I'm Austin Wilson.
This is Strange Space.

It's a blog about me, my hobbies, and maybe a little mad science. 

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I'm heading out to CarolinaCon tomorrow. Gonna see a lot of talks about hacking and other craziness with the FALE guys. I'm really looking forward to many of the talks this year and honestly can't wait. 

In other news, Neil printed a penis. So, yeah.

New Set Up

This is probably my last full post on the vapor bath for a while. I did most of the tests I wanted so other than posting the occasional photo of a new print, there's not a whole lot left to cover. 

But I did decide to ditch the glass jar. It was cheap but it had too many problems. The bottom was rounded and that made it hard when balancing parts. It took a long time to heat up, and the opening was too narrow.

So I bought a 3qt pasta pot for $15 at Target instead. It heats better, and you can easily get parts in and out. One improvement I didn't think about is that the layer of acetone vapor is a lot more visible on the walls of the pot and its much easier to gage how much to add to the pot. 

Fusing Test

I reprinted the calibration objects from the tolerance test so that they would fit together. I wanted to try out fusing pieces together with the vapor bath, as it would be really cool to print models in parts and then lightly glue them together before fusing them into a single model.

I wasn't sure if this process would be all that great at fusing to be honest. I figured it would only effect an outer millimeter at most and that parts would more or less peel apart. But it filled in surprisingly strong. At least enough to where I couldn't casually pull it apart. I'm probably going to try again with a flat surface to flat surface pair of objects to see how that turns out. Obviously this pair could bind from both the inside and out and be much stronger for it. But now that the theory is good I can test the limits and see what minimum contact is required to make a good bond.  

Paint Test 2

Second round of paint tests. I tried two suggestions I got from after the first round. One was a figernail polish (right squirrel). That leaves a really glossy coat and takes some skill to apply. It sticks better than the enamel's did but still scratches off with little effort. The bad boy of the left however was sprayed down with primer. It's about $3 a can and sprays on easily. Once dry it's easily the best painting material to use. It does not chip easily, I think I was digging bits of the squirrel out with my fingernail when trying to get the paint off. 

So I think a base of primer (who would of thought that huh?) plus whatever hobby paints you have handy should make for some really awesome models. Now I just have to learn to paint for this info to be worth a damn. 

Side note: Thanks to Cory Docktrow who did a blurb on Boing Boing about the vapor treatment.

Calibration Trials

To the left is a screwless cube I printed up a while ago. The front left gears were treated, and eventually the others were too, but I thought I would take this photo for comparison's sake. No changes in dimensions on this one, however the flat surfaces were much slower to smooth out than the rounded edges of the gear sections. It has to be an issue of surface area, the flat edges just don't have enough contact with the gaseous acetone to smooth out at the same rate as the curved surfaces. Thats just an assumption but it seems to be holding true for other things I am treating. 

Below are some calibration objects I designed. I printed them up and the cube is supposed to be 20mm accross (measured at 20.22) the holes are supposed to be 10mm diameter (measured 9.32 for the top and 9.4 for the sides. The cylinder stack is 20mm diameter at the bottom (19.86 measured) and 10 mm diameter at the top (9.82 measured). After doing the treatment the worst of the dimensions were off by 0.2%. So if you are used to working with printed parts, theres nothing that's really going to change for you. Keep in mind that when measuring your parts it's easy to deform the plastic with metal calipers, even when it's completely dried. I was getting some very wild variations before realizing that I was deforming the part. 

A couple side notes before I sing the praises though. One is that acute angles tend to fill in pretty well at the vertex, I noticed that on a couple of herringbone gears that they moved the same as before but appeared to be offset by a slightly larger amount. The two sets of teeth were not meeting as flush as I would like but the surface has smoothed out, with a slight redesign it might be a more responsive gear. A logical aspect of a post proccessing procedure that can change the qualities of a part is that design changes may need to come into play earlier in the process. If you need tight tolerances and smooth parts, it's simply another thing you are going to have to design around at early stages. Luckily we can make as many prototypes as needed.

Wired did a write up of the technique  and interviewed me for it. 

Pretty cool. Anyways no updates for the moment but I'm working on some stuff today and should have a pretty long post up tonight about tolerances and/or measured exposure time for parts. 

Paint Test

I picked up some model paints and gave a shot at painting the squirrels. One is a blue spray enamel, which applies easily and uniformly. The other is a brush paint of red enamel. I left some of the squirrel bare to compare the surface. The brush paint was a little hard to get even, but that probably has more to do with my skills than the paint itself. Unfortunately the smoothness of the surface seems to work against you as both paints scratch off easily after drying. A fingernail is all it takes to get the blue enamel off and the red wasn't dry enough to try by the time I took photos. 

So inconclusive results at best. You can easily spray a part but you probably don't want to put it in any situation where something might contact the paint and scratch it. This would still be neat for painting busts after doing 3D scans. Perhaps roughing up the surface with pad or fine sandpaper would let the paint stick better. Or maybe different types of paints, I honestly just went with the first thing the guy at the hobby shop recommended for painting ABS. 

I think they look good, for a quick test, and are a hell of a lot nicer looking painted than the old models would have been without a vapor bath. But still far from perfect technique.

Not a Torture Device

No this isn't some bizzare stress position punishment for bad squirrels, I tried treating him while elevated on carpet tacks. I had to press them in about a milimeter to get the things to stick but they were still very unsteady. The bottom of the squirrel finished up nice though with only the small pin pricks to show for it. 

Getting a full part treated without damaging it is still a challange, but I think this followed up with a heat gun or maybe direct acetone application could be used to get an entire part coverd. 

This weekend I plan to do a lot more trials with the treatment procedure. I might actually measure the acetone and write down the exact exposure times. Crazy talk, I know, but I really want this to become a part of the process and this "wait and see" approach to treating parts is fun but a little unreliable for my tastes. 

I'm also going to be doing some experiments with painting these guys with a spray on enamal and a brush on enamal tomorrow, so I should have a post for that by Friday. I really, really, really want a 3d printable tabletop war game. Easily paintable parts is a must for that, and since we already have a decent surface texture to work with hopefully some off the shelf hobby paints can make it viable. 

I also plan on doing some tolarance tests with the treatment, seeing what changes to inner diameters and overall length that the treatment causes. Oh and I want to take a multi-piece printed part, glue it together with acetone, then treat it to see if we get a full fusion of all seams. Now that would be cool for war gaming; printing up your bits seprately then treating the whole model at once to finish the surface. 

That's a lot for one weekend though, so well see what I can get to and I'll keep playing with this for a while. 

Vapor Bath or Bust

Here is another experiment with the vapor bath I wrote about yesterday. This bust was 3d scanned from a guest at Fablocker. The resolution on the scan itself is pretty poor so after scaling down to be printed the busts usually look a little rough. Up top is the bust with support and with it removed, this is usually where we say done, but with the vapor bath we have one more post processing step. 

It looks a lot better in my opinion. The sheen really brings out details and and the layers aren't as distracting any more. I usually print busts in white ABS when available as it didn't show white marks from removing the support material. But with the vapor bath smoothing over the whole surface that's not a concern anymore, I hope to print a supported part in color soon to give a better demo. 

This is also where I found out about the problem with holes. Any hole in the surface of the printed part is going to allow acetone vapor on to the inside. This means that your part is being smoothed (and weakened) both inside and out. This will also consume a lot of acetone vapor without showing much improvement on the part. So all parts I'm printing for vapor treatement are getting 3 horizontal perimeters and 3 top layers in slic3r settings from now on. Filling holes is still a problem but maybe this is something practical the 3doodler can handle. Spot fixing parts actually seems like a better use of it than an art toy to me.

Neil has the article we wrote up on the RepRap Blog for all those who want to check it out. It's been a fun night and we will not be running short of glossy squirrels any time soon. 

Acetone Vapor Bath

Neil was playing around with giving parts acetone vapor baths to smooth out the surface. His intial results with some pony figures for his daughter were promising, so I decided to try the idea out a bit more. The above is thre squirrels that I printed up off the same machine. The first squirrel is what they looked like raw off the plate (.35mm layer height), the second is after a five minute vapor bath and the third is after ten minutes. No real difference between the five and ten minute exposures, so it deffinately works but there is still a lot of palying around to figuring out the details of the technique. I came up with this simple infographic to walk you through what I've done so far if you want to give it a try. Post links to your results if you do.

Not Dead

Been a damn long while since I updated. tl;dr is that real life kept me from doing anything interesting or being able to post about it for a while. Got some hot new stuff incoming though. Neil Underwood and I have been working on something really cool for the 3d printing community over the last couple days. I'll be sharing more about that as the days go by.

We don't need no stinking spools...

Actually yes you do need stinking spools. I foolishly scoffed at Neil's suggestion of printing up some Aleph Object spool mounts. Then I tried to print with 5 lbs of ABS hanging on a threaded rod. It bound up overnight and ruined two prints, because enthusiastic as I am I did this with two spools on two printers. So yeah I printed the damn spool mounts yesterday, and just spent the last two hours respooling and untangling one of the loose spools.

On the plus side the mount is awesome and solid as hell. On the down side I have another spool to untangle tomorrow.

Neil and I once discussed making some printable RepRap merit badges for various achievements in 3d printing. I gotta say, hand spooling 5 lbs of ABS is as a deserving of a merit badge as anything else. 

Escapist Expo

I got to go to the Escapist Expo this weekend. It was the first ever convention by the online magazine, and lucky for me it was nearby. I drove out to Durhma on Friday to catch a few of the panels. I showed up again Saturday to get a better look at the crowd and some more panels. I decided to forego Sunday as a day to hang out in Raleigh with some friends there. 

All in all, it was a good first convention. I've seen numbers of about 2,000 attendees, though I'm not sure if thats total individuals or the sum of all attendees over three days. I mostly stuck to panels but there were several video game tournament and demos and M:tG tournaments going on as well. A few of the local game companies, notably Red Storm Entertainment and makers of the Gears of War series, Epic Games put up some good displays on the expo hall floor. 

After the panels I got to talk to Chris from Dice Hate Me Games, Dan Yarrington of Gamesalute, and Daniel Solis.  I playtested Daniel's new game Belle of the Ball. It was a fun and uniquely strategic card game. I look forward to seeing what he does with all the feedback he got over the weekend. It's always a pleasure to meet so many creative and driven people, it really helps to motivate you in your own pursuits. While I don't think I'll be designing any bestselling games soon, a lot of the buisness and kickstarter advice given during the panels is applicable to any startup. 

So it was a fun weekend, I look forward to seeing the Escapist Expo grow. I know I'll be ready to attend again next year.

Wire Organizer

 I posted this Wire Organizer on thingiverse. It was a pretty simple design if a little shrimpy at first. But Ben helped me out and lengthened it with some high end mesh editing software to manipulate the dimensions.

I actually designed it around the same time as the dual 40mm fan mount from a while back. I just hadn't taken the time to upload it yet. In all honesty it isn't very useful unless you are doing the first build of a machine (like Ben was) or doing a rebuild of a machine (like I was). If you have a functioning printer then your wires are as organized as they need to be, tearing them all out just install this would be an asthetic choice. 

Down on the Farm


Real life has prevented me from updating the blog for a while. I've been looking for a job just to get some part time cash. But mainly I've been spending my time at Fablocker building a mini bot farm with Neil. The above picture is my Mendelmax and his Prusa; the two intial workhorses of our little endevor. We finished up another Mendelmax in the first week, and are about to wrap up working on a third Mendelmax this week. We managed to print some Reprap parts with the plastic we had on hand. We've made enough off those to do a bulk order of plastic and should be doing production printing again in mid-September. Here is a video of our workspace that I took last week. 

I also want to rededicate myself to the blog. I need to be more active on here and the Reprap IRC if I'm going to start running this farm in earnest. So updates are going to be more frequent in the future.

Comic Con Sat & Sun

So I started Saturday with the Penny Arcade Q&A. Perhaps the most interesting part of that was their new kickstarter campaign to rid their site of ads and bankroll some side projects they have neglected simply due to begin too busy. It's definitely an interesting campaign and I'll be watching it to see how it all turns out. Other than that it was a lot of "state of the industry" talk about video games. 

After that was the Disney Channel new shows panel. The first show they covered was "Fish Hooks", which I really don't have much to say about other than I don't really think it''s my kind of show. The second show was "Gravity Falls" which is awesome. Alex Hirsch has created a wonderfully animated and funny show. It's already a bit of an online sensation and the mystery plot hooks are certainly keeping people interested. At least half of the Q&A was directed at Gravity Falls with a lot of kids showing real curiosity about the various characters and magical events in it. The third show was Craig McCracken's and Lauren Faust's new show "Wonder over Yonder". It's not scheduled to air until late next year so they only had about a one minute clip to show.  As far as I know this is the first thing they've worked on together since "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends", so having been a longtime fan I'm very hopeful about this new series.

After that there was a cast and crew signing for the Disney Shows, so I got some posters and cards signed there. Later that evening I went to the Kevin Smith panel. He was funny as always, but also had a lot to say about artistic opportunity in this day and age. He was very adamant that with Youtube, social media, and online funding apparatus that anybody can make a movie and get it seen today. You're not going to rival the Avengers or anything but It is a hell of a lot easier to get people to just watch your movie than it was even as short time ago as the early 90's when thing like Clerks couldn't hope to get more than a few local theater screenings. 

Sunday was pretty laid back. By sheer coincidence I happened to walk by the Cryptozoic Entertainment display in San Diego and found out about the Lookouts comic. Lookouts was a side comic of Mike and Jerry from Penny Arcade that I hadn't heard anything about in a while. Well they had issue one out so I picked up two copies, the comic con exclusive cover and the cover done by Mike. I got those signed before going over to pick up the Bloody Brock Samson action figure from Entertainment Earth. I got that signed later that afternoon by Doc and Jackson, the creators and writers of Venture Brothers. There was a scheduling mix up and a lot of people had lined up for the signing. but they were generous enough to stick around and do signings until the con closed at five to make up for it. 

That was the end of Comic Con 2012 for me. It was my first time out for the big event, though I doubt it will be my last. 

Comic Con Thu & Fri

I started Thursday wandering the con floor. I got a print from Mike Krahaulik and Jerry Holkins, the Penny Arcade guys, signed. I also got a print from Scott Kurtz, the guy behind PvP. According to my friends the con was a little light on swag this year, but I picked up a couple of posters, buttons, and assorted crap. So I'm pretty happy.

I went to a few panels that afternoon. Hotel Transyvania was kind of interesting, I actually had no idea Gendy Tartakovsky worked on the movie until I was there, but you could see his influence on the movie from the clips they showed. 

Wilfred was a great panel. The preview episode was hilarious. Jason Gann and Elijah Wood really had the crowd going. After that was Archer, again with a great preview episode. Too bad the series doesn't come back until January, but the cast was pretty responsive to some admittedly dumb fan questions. It was funny either way. 

Friday was spent just at panels. Venture Brothers was probably the best panel I've seen just because of how funny Jackson and Doc are. The show is written how they talk, all of the witty banter and obscure off-the-wall references are just them in their natural state of being. The animatic clips they played were killing the audience, we also got some previews of new characters and new costumes for old ones. 

I tried to make the Regular Show panel, but it was in one of the smaller to mid size rooms, and was full before I got there. In the afternoon I caught the Buisness of Webcomics panel, again with Scott Kurtz, Rober Choo the buisness side of Penny Arcade, and Brad Guigar from Evil Inc. The take away from that panel is, unless you already have a webcomic you have no buisness caring about the buisness of webcomics. Far too many of the questions were of the "what if?" variety; with the "if" part being "if I had a webcomic". Start a webcomic if you got some jokes or a story to tell and produce quality content. Don't focus on money first because in all likelihood that won't matter until a few years in anyways. 

After that was the Magic: The Gathering panel. I don't play anymore, but I always liked hearing the game designers talk about what they do. The Return to Ravinca block is going to be amazing. I know its going to make a lot of fans happy as the original Ravinca block is probably the top of most people favorite block lists. Apparently they are all really on board with EDH, er, "Commander" format and intend to keep producing content for it. 

Comic Con Preview Night

Went to preview night with the whole crew yesterday. I didn't go to the floor, but we did see some of the TV previews.

666 Park Avenue: Pretty cool. It's Devils Advocate the series, but still seems promising.

Arrow : Pretty fun to watch but also a little goofy. 

The Following: Awesome. Kevin Bacon did a great job in this. Looks like it's going to be a really interesting crime drama / psychological thriller kind of series. 

Revolution: Meh. The actors and characters might save this series from the poorly explained premise. It's J.J. Abrams so expecting a meaningful explanation in the long run is probably out. I'm guessing "aliens did it". 

Comic Con San Diego

I'll be heading off to Comic Con tomarrow. I'll be joining my friends Clif, Jay, and Colleen, who have been attending with the Lost Podcast for a few years. This will be my first time out to the big event, and my first time in San Diego, so I am super excited right now. I'll be updating here, on facebook, and twitter while I'm at the Con.

On another note, I know I've been neglecting the blog. I thought I would be able to maintain focus on just my projects and hacker stuff. But I'm not that active yet, mostly due to lack of funds for big projects. So I will be broadening the focus of the blog to just whatever I feel. I've already reorganized a bit and so I'll see where to go from here.

Ramps Board Case

Designed a new Ramps Case and uploaded it on thingiverse. 

Still having issues with some waviness on my prints. I noticed the Fablcoker "coins" I was handing out at the Maker Faire were pretty rough. 

I also haven't done much playing around with this black ABS, so I probably need to do some temperature adjustment. I plan to print up a bunch of Round-2-its this week and do a write up on some of the variations I'm getting.