Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Intersection of Modeling and 3D Printing

My introduction to printing tanks, and then bling for tanks, was a natural progression towards further work that intersects modeling with 3D Printing.  As a youngster I assembled the standard plastic models, then as an adult I did a couple more advanced models and spent some time flying R/C aircraft.  Now, with 3D Printers in hand, I am trying my luck again!

My first challenge was to acquire and master the technology that enables the printing of tiny little things.  This meant a printer upgrade that I have discussed elsewhere on this blog.  This upgrade gives me the ability to print some really tiny little things ... obviously important when working at 1:100 scale!

I designed a pretty wide selection of "bling" for Flames of War gamers capitalizing on my printers ability to handle the size and detail.  All of what I have done are on Thingiverse in the public domain (the Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-Commercial license).
The are also available for purchase on eBay with 50% of all proceeds going to the MS Society.

My latest, and largest, design is that of a model of the famous Bailey Bridge of World War II.  I discuss it in several posts starting here.

The next challenge was to gain the skill, and patience, to paint tiny details.  I still have a ways to go given where I am versus where other folks are in this specialty!    My first couple of
attempts were truly pathetic but I did improve to the point where I am not embarrassed by my work!

All of the above now comes together in a small diorama as shown to the right.  This is a mash-up of multiple 3D prints including:

  • The Bailey Bridge that I mentioned above but decorated for war!
  • Terrain started as a print with a rough cutout of the landscape.  I then plastered it with Smooth Finish Wall Filler for texture.
  • The tank is also a 3D Print though certainly not from one of my models. The model is from the work of M_Bergman though I did do the painting!
  • The tank is also sporting some bling printed from my collection of bits and bobs.
  • The retaining walls for the ramps leading onto the bridges are 3D Prints as are the telephone poles.

I am not sure how much impact 3D Printing is having on modeling as of yet.  Printers are coming down in price but they are not cheap and they can be a pain in the ass to operate.  On top of that is the level of proficiency required to create things beyond simple shapes.  I am confident that printer costs will continue to fall and that reliability and ease of use will continue to improve.  I am less confident that "easy" design tools will play a role in bringing 3D Printing to the masses.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bailey Bridge Model Kits for Sale!

Below is a Bailey Bridge Kit consisting of three sections, or 30 full scale feet, integrated into a mini-diorama (which is still a bit of a work in progress). 

Four versions of this kit are listed on eBay in an auction format.  

I am doing this as an auction to assess interest and to help come to a price point for future sales.  As usual 50% of proceeds go to benefit the MS Society.

Build instructions are here on Instructables.  The model files are in the public domain here on Thingiverse under a Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-Commercial license.  Background on this project is here on this blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Beta Build for the 1:100 Scale Bailey Bridge Model

Three people from the Flames of War group on Facebook have volunteered to do a test build of the 1:100 scale version of the Bailey Bridge.  Their kits have been printed and are going into the post today.

Obviously I want feedback on the Assembly Instructions on Instructables and general feedback on the model but I also wanted to call attention to the following area in particular:

  • In step 3 of the instructions I mention cleaning of the parts.  The four panels that you need have some particularly bad oozing.  This is a new issue as the part used to print cleanly.  Rather than wait while I try to figure it out I have sent you the kit but have also sent spare panels so you can experiment with cleaning with a little less risk than if you only have four.  These spares would not be the case for a normal kit.  There are also a number of spares for the Rakers and Bracing Frames.  I expect the normal kit would have one spare of each,  Anyway, the feedback that I am wanting is to know how the cleanup went.
  • Each of you has asked for a ramps set.  I would be interested in knowing what you did with this part of the kit as I don't have the game board to marry up the bridge so was winging it as to what would be needed!  Obviously interested in whatever changes you suggest!
Thanks again for the help.  If you could use the comments section below for feedback it would be helpful for sharing between yourselves and as a record for future builders!

Four Flavors of a Bailey Bridge

A full scale Bailey Bridge could be (and still is!) built in a variety of configurations depending on design needs all using the same basic parts.  Giant erector set for bridges.  My 1:100 scale kit is not quite so flexible given some of the compromises that scale and expediency forced on me.  That said I do have the following four types covered (at least in the full source which will be up on Thingiverse soon)!
Somewhat obviously from looking at the above pictures the first descriptor is the number of panels used on each side and the second the number of levels!  The more the longer and the more weight can be supported.   There is a field manual that engineers use to determine what configuration is needed.  Once that is determined the manual tells the builders exactly what parts will be needed.  Really impressive.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bailey Bridge 1:100 Scale Model Test Builders Wanted

I am looking for a couple folks to do a beta test build of my new 1:100 scale Bailey Bridge model per this Instructable:

I would like one of these folks to be located in the UK for speed of getting them the model. Regardless of where you live I will pay for the postage.

I only ask that you can:
  1. Assemble the model as soon as possible (it is not a long build)
  2. Provide some constructive feedback on the model and the build process / instructions
  3. Take some pictures and share them with me.
As soon as I can get a second party test assembly I will put all the source files out on Thingiverse and start offering them as part of my Bling Collection.  

Here are the options available
Two or Three Sections (20 or 30 full scale feet)

Ramp or No Ramp

55mm (only the road showing!) or Scale Width (game play versus diorama)
If you are interested please message me on FB and I will get the first UK person and the second UK or first non-UK person a model kit of their choice.

If you are actually still reading this!!! and you are building a diorama that would need a longer scale version of this kit, or if you wanted that diorama to show one under construction, please message me. I would love to see a copy in a nice diorama.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

More on the Topic of Interchangeable Nozzles

In previous posts there have been examples of things that I am doing with my new 0.25mm nozzles on my Ultimaker 2's and the Olson Block from 3DSolex (now being sold in the UK by GoodTube.   Two great examples are both 1:100 models that are part of my bling collection that I developed for the Flames of War community.

The Bailey Bridge is a particularly good use of interchangeable nozzles as the road part of the bridge is printed using 0.15mm layers from a 0.4mm nozzle and the detailed parts at 0.125mm layer height using the 0.25mm nozzle.  In the former case the extrusion width was default and in the latter case I forced it from the default of 0.3mm to 0.25mm.

The question is...knowing that you can force an extrusion width, though this is not optimal, what exactly would it mean in terms of print quality?  The answer can be seen below.

The lesson is obvious.  You can force the extrusion width down but you are going to lose quality.  This clearly makes sense when you think about plastic squirting out of the nozzle but I still wanted to see a picture.  Technically I should be using my 0.15mm nozzle instead of forcing the 0.25mm nozzle but that nozzle is a little too fussy for running as much as I run the 0.25mm nozzles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bailey Bridge Design Background

Once I decided to do the Bailey bridge I hit Google and look to for pictures and plans if possible. There was actually more than I expected to find. The challenge was finding any two that seem to agree with each other in terms of assembly. Given how long this general design has been around I guess this is understandable.

I decided to make my own hybrid to some extent in an attempt to meet my goals of making it 3D printable, as close as possible to the real thing, and easy (sort of) to assemble at 1:100 scale.  Obviously there are a number of compromises in the design to make this possible!

This illustration shows the key elements of the bridge.  There are a number of them that got lost on the way to 1:100 scale such as the End Post, Sway Brace, and the rest of the smaller parts.  The Raker got translated into Braces that support the Panel and are large enough to print and handle.  The Stringer left the building when I wisely decided to print a one piece road bed rather than one built from components (honest, I did think about it)!
These are various configurations that can be built from the basic building blocks.  I can support the Single-Single and Double-Single but the others would require some additional work and/or parts.

 My Base Plate vaguely resembles this one!

The Walk Way does not appear in that many of the diagrams but does in pictures.  I liked this one.

Transition from the first build to the second looks pretty good.  Am not sure what to do about the ramp to the walk way but that is the only issue remaining in terms of design change.  A little construction boo-boo in that one corner is a little higher than the others!
 First build...
...second build.  In the image viewer you can go back and forth between them... :-o
 Detail on the ramp we need to do something with.
 Note the Base Plate.  Looks just like the full scale version (not)!
 Detail on the road bed.
Thats it until the build instructions and then this model will be on sale.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Flames of War, 3D Printed, Bailey Bridge

I have had a long term interest in building models, from the typical airplanes and tanks of a young me, to radio controlled planes and boats as an older me.  The stuff that I have been doing for Flames of War is another avenue of that interest.  At the moment I am working on designing a 1:100 scale version of the famous Bailey Bridge of World War Two.

From Wikipedia:
  • The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge. It was developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by British, Canadian and the American military engineering units.
  • A Bailey bridge had the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to assemble. The wood and steel bridge elements were small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without requiring the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks. Bailey bridges continue to be extensively used in civil engineering construction projects and to provide temporary crossings for foot and vehicle traffic.
I am doing the design in Sketchup from images of plans that I have found on the Internet.  I am trying to be as accurate as possible in terms of following the famous design, but I am obviously having to make allowances for the scale such that it be assemble-able, for the fact that I am 3D Printing the parts, and finally, that I want to minimize print time as much as possible.

I am at the point now where I have an initial design and have done a first complete assembly.  There are, obviously, some fit issues but you can still see where I am going with this model.  The bridge as I have chosen to construct this version, is neither fish nor fowl.  The original Baley Bridge would have been in one of several configurations, Single-Single, which I have chosen for one side, and Double Single which I have chosen for the other side!  I am not doing a Triple version though one could use the parts for a Double Single to create a Double Double.....!

Anyway, the bridge that I have constructed consists of two bridge segments which were 10 feet long making the bridge 20 feet (or 6.096 meters or in 1:100 scale a 60 millimeters).  Obviously we are talking assembly by tweezers here!

Once complete the bridge will be available, as a kit, on eBay with the other "bling" that I have created for the game Flames of War (which I don't even play)!

Here are some more images of this project.  In later posts I will talk more to the design and also how to assemble the model once I make it available.

More on this project:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Someone Said Field Kitchen?

Yes, why yes they did and so I designed and printed one!  This has really pushed the limit for what my printer can do with the 0.25mm nozzle upgrade that I installed from 3DSolex.

The entire set consists of the following items:
  • Field kitchen trailer.  Based on a couple of pictures that Google provided when I searched for WW2 Field Kitchen.   Not intended to be based on something historically accurate!  It does have an oven and four burners though.
  • Two gas bottles for the above (Google says that many of these portable kitchens were gas fired).
  • Two jerry cans for fueling some warmers at the serving tables (no, I did not print warmers and the only reason these are here is because I had them but not used anywhere)
  • Tent for serving the repast (Could be longer but took too long to print as it is).
  • Four large tables for serving or dining (officers anyway).
  • Four chairs for the officers.
  • Assortment of crates (six or so).
  • Two cabinets subdivided for storage.
  • Two small tables or large shelves (depending on how they are placed)..
  • Two trays of fresh bread.
  • Four trays of Christmas Lunch (two of turkey and two of some huge fish that is native to FoW land).
  • Four large pots with lids on.
  • Four large pots with lids off (and two loose lids).
This collection has been listed on eBay and will be available on Thiniverse soon.

Friday, October 30, 2015

3D Printing in Air

One of the harder things to understand, or visualize, about how a 3D printer works is how it prints in air.  Or rather the fact that a 3D Printer (of my type, a fused filament fabrication (FFF) printer) has to employ some special techniques in order to print structures that would require it to print in the air.

An FFF based printer works by laying down layer after layer of plastic in little strands of plastic that are extruded following the plan calculated by a slicing program.  In a way you can think of building in bricks as being somewhat similar.  Each line of bricks representing a line of plastic.  Consider three types of structural elements:

  • An overhang.  An overhang can be built using bricks as long as each course of bricks that extends into the overhang is only projected into that overhang a little beyond the previous course.  The next course of bricks will then keep the first course from falling.  Allowing the concrete to set before going to high is a good idea.   The same principal applies for building an overhang from extruded plastic.  A little at a time with active cooling so the plastic sets.
  • An square opening (e.g. for a window or door).  In this case the brick layer has to use a support above the opening on which the courses of bricks are layed.  An FFF printer is capable of building it's own support by something called bridging.  The slicer knows that it needs to string threads of plastic across the opening and that is exactly what it does (using various tune-able settings to make it work).  Subsequent layers of plastic are then layered on top of the bridge.
  • An arch.  For this type of shape a supporting structure must be built on which the brickwork is layed in a pattern where once the mortar has set the structure will be stable and the support removed.  An FFF printer can also print support structures that allow for complex shapes to be printed without concern for building layers or bridging a square opening.  There are a number of downsides to this approach however.  It takes a lot of extra time and plastic and all that extra plastic has to be removed...often leaving blemishes on the model being printed.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

3D Printed Tank Related Bling (Flames of War) for Sale!

What started as a way to experiment with my new 0.25mm nozzles ended with having a selection of Flames of War bling for sale.   Note that there is now a minimum order of 20 quid for this bling due to the effort involved with small orders.  All proceeds benefit the MS Society. (except for the Bailey Bridge which will be at 50% until it renews).

The first of these eBay sales allows you to select a custom assortment of bling that will be printed to order:

These are not very profitable items to sell as they take a while to print and the price point competition seems to be for injection molded plastic...with which a 3D Printer can not compete.  That said I would like to see someone put some of the bling to work (and maybe share some pictures)!

Comments on Pricing

When I first listed these things I offered free shipping thinking that an order for just one item would be rare.   That turned out to not be the case as there have been a lot of single item orders.  Since I practically have to pay to sell these things by the ones I tried adding postage but offering a rebate in terms of good for orders of two or more items.   Well two of two buyers either did not understand the offer or did not want to take advantage of it.   Given that one of these buyers was for a single item I do still feel vindicated in taking some kind of action.  What I have decided to do, however, is simply increase all prices by a little to cover shipping but offer these items with "free shipping".  Trust me when I say that I am glad this is a hobby not a business!  Besides, half of anything sold goes to the MS Society, a charity for a disease that is close to me.

Shipment Costs
< 5 GBP> 5 < 15 GBP> 15 GBP
United KingdomFreeFreeFree
North America2.51.5Free
Australia/New Zealand2.51.5Free
South America2.51.5Free