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Welcome to Maker's Corner / 3D Printing

Discussion in '3D Printing' started by AA7BQ, Mar 25, 2021.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    It has recently come to our attention that a lot of us are into building and fabricating gear, tools, and gadgets of many types. This forum, the first in a group of topics, will cover 3D Printing. What's different about this forum, however, is that it's not limited to Amateur Radio but rather to all topics involving 3D printing for any purpose. So, while you may post a design for a toothbrush holder here, we're really hoping for some useful amateur radio gear.

    Full disclosure: I recently bought a 3D printer and used it to make small project boxes for some ESP-32 chips and I had so much fun that I had to tell everyone about it. I'll be posting several articles that frankly, don't have much to do with ham radio, aside from the fact that the design and building techniques I'm using are applicable to nearly every activity.

    My 3D printer is a Crealty 6 that I'm reviewing for our Maker's Corner partner, Gigaparts. They graciously loaned me this great machine to try out and it was my first ever 3D printing experience. I'm really looking forward to reviewing more equipment and seeing and learning about our member's projects.

    So please feel free to start a new thread and share your 3D experiences with us.


    Here are a couple of the project boxes that I printed, along with the ESP-32 chips I'm using.

    N7DWX, KD2UHD, KG5THG and 5 others like this.
  2. NN5AA

    NN5AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is just fantastic, Fred !!

    I've seen many different objects printed, what I've been wondering is if it would be cost effective to actually use one of these units to print a chassis and/or enclosure of some larger size, maybe along the lines of an SX or SP model footprint.

    Figure you could use some sort of composite for different levels of shielding for different parts of the chassis build, yet keep the overall weight down, possibly ?!?

    Possibly another way for home-brewers of electronic gear to 'Advance the State of the Radio Art' !! :)

    73, NN5AA
  3. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nice work Fred.

    I think the Ender is the best bang for the buck.

    I have the Ender 3 Pro and really like it.

    I would guess that your enclosure really helps to maintain temperature. That is really nice.

    I think it is best to keep a smoke alarm near your printer. I have a video camera mounted on mine so that I can babysit remotely.

    Enjoy, Have Fun.

  4. WB2LBV

    WB2LBV Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have an Ender 3 Pro as well, although I haven't done much with it lately. The stuff I have printed has been mostly trinkets, some radio-related items were hotspot cases and knobs which are actually useful. Below is a pic of a knob spinner I printed for my G90. I have yet to get into doing my own modeling, which is where having one of these really becomes valuable as you can then create your own things- until then you are using the .stl files created by others although there is a huge assortment of them available on Thingverse and other sites. Go to Thingverse, enter almost anything you can think of into the search, and as long as it isn't too obscure (and sometimes even if it is) chances are someone has made it and posted the files.
    The Ender is good as a starter machine as long as you don't mind doing some tinkering (beginning with the inital assembly out of the box which is sort of a Chinese erector set). It's very reasonably priced and has some desirable features that the really cheap ones don't, such as a heated bed with a flexible/removable mat and the ability to print with ABS as well as basic PLA. There is also a huge support community for it and lots of inexpensive mods available to improve and customize it for your needs.
    As far as being able to print large items and use more exotic materials. those things require moving well up the printer food chain and are likely beyond the reach of the average ham/hobbyist unless you are able and willing to invest a good deal of money and time.

    G90 Spinner-
    N7DWX and KA9JLM like this.
  5. K0AWG

    K0AWG Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is great. I have an Ender 3 Pro and am just getting into radio. I've been hoping to find somewhere it would be easy to find projects especially for amateur radio. Thanks for putting this together.
  6. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    So what do you use for design? I'm fond of Fusion 360 although I know that there are a lot of alternatives out there. I've used it on my CNC router and so I was familiar enough to get started with it here.

    I have to agree with LBV that it did arrive as a box of parts, which were fairly well labeled. One thing, which I thought was most incredible, was that a machine such as this one did not have a clearly written assembly manual. Sure, it got me going, but the language used was as stiff and incomprehensible as could be.


    I just have one question, not just for Ender but for all Asian suppliers: How difficult is it to find someone who speaks and writes English as a first language to handle your documentation? Why don't they appreciate how poor grammar affects people's perception of a product?

    It seems to me that from a human perspective, more trust and confidence are transferred when the message comes in the reader's native tongue. For example, if I was considering two otherwise equal products and one had a properly written English manual and the other like the one above, I'm going with the one with the good grammar. The Chinese are fearless competitors and yet they don't seem to get this...
  7. WB2LBV

    WB2LBV Subscriber QRZ Page

    The 3 Pro assembly manual is nicely printed with pictures, but no text (I guess that's how they get around the grammar problem ;) ). So it was a matter of interpreting those pictures to actually build something functional from the box 'o parts. This is something I'm usually very good at but I did manage to make some mistakes. I figured them out and fixed them in short order.
    For those who want to approach this as more of an appliance that just plugs in and works, first you may want to re-think your expectations and second you probably want to look higher up the food chain at a printer that comes fully assembled so you can at least skip that step.
    And yes in general we've all had to get used to "Chinglish as a second language" when reading manuals.
  8. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    Another thing that I'd like to point out is that from a learning standpoint, the software is the most difficult part. Sure, just about anybody can load models onto an SD card and print them, but, if you want to make or customize your own designs, then you'll need a 3D graphics program.

    I'd say that I spend much more time fiddling with the software than I did with the hardware, but that doesn't include print times. Here's the think about 3D printers. They are S L O W. You can expect it to take 3 to 5 hours to make a box the size of a pack of cigarettes. More expensive printers are faster, but there are physical limits that dictate the maximum material flow.

    73 -fred
  9. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey Fred, that's really slick!
    I just got myself a nice Grizzly drill press, and have an X-Y vice coming in. It's been a while since I've done any serious machining, so maybe I can contribute to this thread ( pun intended), as well.
  10. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The magnetic mat is nice, But is only recommend for use with PLA. I use a Glass plate and glue sticks for ABS, Tape can work well also.

    The Ender 3 Bed Springs mod is worth doing for bed leveling. It stays put, Instead of constantly having to level the bed.

    The most challenging thing that I have printed is Nuts & Bolts.

    Your printer calibration has to be near perfect for your nuts to fit your bolts.

    The very small screws with fine threads are the hardest.

    Have Fun.

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