Tools – MakerBot Replicator

I wanted to get into 3D printing so that I can start working on some physical interfaces for my design circuits. Traditional 3D printers are way out my price range but, along comes the RepRap movement and with it an army of 3D off-shoot printers.  Now, 3D printing is within reach of the hobbyist.  I decided to purchase a MakerBot Replicator because the company is pretty well known for quality products and the Replicator has a dual extruder.

MakerBot fully builds and tests each Replicator before shipping and packages each machine very well.


I followed the instructions from the MakerBot setup videos and manual without any issues.

The Replicator has an SD slot built in so that you can save designs to a card and run them straight from the machine.  I selected one of the sample designs already loaded onto the SD card for my first print.


Another option is to load designs into the ReplicatorG software, connect a USB cable and print from the PC or MAC.

Here is a screenshot of my next print loaded into ReplicatorG along with the results:


These are replacement feet for the Replicator as the stock set is cut rubber tubing which does not stay on very well. The design can be found here on Thingiverse.

I need to go through some more tutorials before I feel comfortable enough to create and print my own designs (there is a slight learning curve to the Replicator).

Onward I march so that I can finish up my Probotix FireBall V90 CNC build.

Tools – FireBall V90 CNC Build – Day 5

On day 5 I got all of the limit switches mounted to the machine.  I spent some time trying to figure out where and how I wanted to mount the switches.  I also needed to find an easy way to actuate them when the machine reaches a limit.  I scrounged around in my junk parts bin and came up with some pretty neat methods on how to actuate the switches at each limit.  The main requirements of my chosen scheme is to make it look neat and keep it functional.  Go here to read about the ongoing build and take a look at some pictures along the way.

Tools – PCB Shear

I typically send my circuit boards to ITead Studio to have them produced since it is cheaper than ordering them from US companies.  International orders can take a long time to ship..usually around 3 weeks.  This can become painful if I find a mistake in my design and have to re-order boards.  This is why I occasionally bite the bullet and have them made locally.  One of the techniques I use to minimize the cost is to place multiple circuit designs onto a single PCB.  The problem with doing it this way is there are no snap off tabs between the circuits like you would receive from a panel.  There are numerous methods that a hobbyist can use to separate the circuits such as a Dremel or saw.   I want a clean cut so using a Dremel tool is out of the question.  Also, the material the boards are made of is toxic thus, it is not recommended you cut them out on a table, band saw, etc.  A PCB shear will give you a clean straight edge and makes short work of cutting out the individual circuits.  I have seen some individuals using a heavy duty paper shear but, I wanted something that was more accurate with a longer lasting blade.  The shear is available from T-Tech.  The cost is a tad on the high side but, it is better to spend now and save later IMHO.

Here is a picture of the PCB Shear: