All posts by Ilu

Getting the Fabrikator Mini II to fabricate

I recently bought a “Turnigy Fabrikator Mini II” 3D-printer from HobbyKing. Together with two reels of filament, some extra parts and shipping it was only 200EUR and I’ve wanted to try 3D-printing for a long time.

The printer arrived 4 days later and, while unboxing it, I noticed there were some loose parts dangling around in the electronics compartment down below.

Some shaking and rattling later, I discovered these were one of the four fixations for the Z-axis which had come loose during transport. I grabbed a screwdriver and stripped the printer down until I got the remaining parts out from where they were stuck and was able to re-attach them to the Z-axis sled.

The printer came with a small amount of test filament and a SD card containing a large test object as well as an old version of RepetierHost. I replaced the RepetierHost with a recent version from the website.

After installing the software and getting a much smaller test object from Thingiverse I tried my first print. Sadly the loose Z-axis fixation was not the only fault with the printer. The part attaching the print head fixation to the Z-axis threaded rod was also broken somehow. There were three nuts nuts on the threaded rod. Two riding on the tread and one being much too large for the rod.

After some research, I figured out that the two nuts riding on the thread belong into the plastic part which then has to be sealed by the larger nut. The important part when putting these back in there (and gluing the fixation nut into the plastic part) was that there is a small clearance between the two threaded nuts which has to be adjusted so that the plastic part sits absolute tight on the threaded rod and is not able to wiggle up and down.

After fixing the Z-axis there was only one thing left to tend to: when printing objects that were placed in the middle of the heat bed by the slicing software, they turned out to be slightly offset from the center. This happens because the 0x0 position of the X and Y axis is slightly beside the print bed.

After some research I figured out that there is a G-Code command which resets the head position in the firmware without moving the head’s position. The following G-Code works for me, if I put it into the “start code” field of the printer settings dialog in RepetierHost:

G28           ; home X, Y and Z axis
G1 Z5 F5000   ; lift the print-head 5mm
G92 X-3 Y102  ; offset the head position by 3mm and 2mm

Please note that the Y-axis in the Fabrikator is inverted and has it’s ‘100 position’ at the homing switch, instead of the 0.

Final thoughts

The printer is sold as ‘ready to go’, but my experience (and the experience of others which I was able to find on the internet) shows that is not always the case. HobbyKing seems to handle returns well (I didn’t try that) either by refunding some money, or by offering to take it back (I don’t know about shipping cost in that case), or by replacing broken parts.

I’m a complete newbie to 3D printing, but after some test jobs I’d say the printer is worth the money: it has a sturdy frame; it is small (that is a pro in regards of desk space, but a con when you want to print something large); and the printed objects turn out quite nice even if you have no experience with 3D printers at all.

So, if you always wanted to try 3D printing without spending much money, and if you are prepared to do some fixing should your Fabrikator arrive in the same state as mine, I’d say go for it.

Project DoomBox

I had several spare parts from my previous PC projects in my possession and wanted to do something with it. So I decided to do my first PC case-mod with retro parts. The finished PC should be able to run DOS games like DOOM 1/2, Duke Nukem 3D and others.

These are the spare components I used:

To make the PC complete I ordered several parts from Amazon:

This is what I came up with:

The chest has several holes in the bottom as air inlets. The fan of the power supply blows out the hot air on the back.

I used the RJ45 coupling to get ethernet to the backside and soldered the PS/2 adapters for keyboard and mouse myself.

The display and the speakers get their power from the ATX supply so everything turns on when you hit that power switch… 

On the software side I used FreeDOS as an operating system and made myself a game launcher menu using DJGPP and the GRX library. I was even able to find code to play samples with the SoundBlaster. A short video of the box booting into the menu and running doom is available here.

This was actually the second try on the launcher menu. I already implemented a version using FreeBASIC which worked fine on all my PCs and in DOSBox but failed to switch into graphics mode on the DoomBox. I tried to change the graphics board, but with no effect. Seems to be an issue with the mainboard itself as swapping out all the other components didn’t work either…

 

SwinSIDuino

Two recently build nano SwinSID

Recently I built some nano SwinSID following these instructions.After testing one of these little buggers in my Franken-C64 I decided I want to try to connect it to an Arduino.

SwinSID in heavily modified C64

Some wire placing and code writing later I was able to access the SIDs registers and now I wanted to make some music…

Wiring done

The idea was: use a PC based C64 emulator and replace the SID emulation with the SwinSID connected via USB. First I tried jsidplay2, but I had no luck understanding the timing for the emulated 6510. Luckily I found kernal64, a C64 emulator implemented in Scala.

I had never before used Scala, but as it is Java based I was shortly after able to do this:

 

Please find my patched kernal64, the Arduino-sketch, schematics and some instructions here.

 

A Wifi modem for the C64

As there is a growing number of ESP8266 base Wifi-modems for retro computers out there I decided to build one myself.

My personal feature list:

  • connected to and powered by the C64 userport
  • simple, AT command based interface
  • usable with existing terminal software for the C64 out there
  • 2400 baud (I wanted to keep the circuit as simple as possible)
  • an OLED display for status information and show effect

The parts list (links are provided for reference and convenience only, they are no affiliate links):

The schematics (Updated on 20.08.2017):

The firmware can be found on GitHub, I used an existing firmware, removed stuff I didn’t need and added OLED support. To compile you need the Arduino IDE, the ESP8266 arduino core and the esp8266-oled-ssd1306 library.

Wifi-modem booting and connecting:Connected to Wifi:Connected to BBS: