For many, MiSTer, and FPGA projects like it, are the future of retro computing and gaming.
Why? What about it has people so excited that they will pay 4x the price or more than alternatives?[Read more…]
For many, MiSTer, and FPGA projects like it, are the future of retro computing and gaming.
Why? What about it has people so excited that they will pay 4x the price or more than alternatives?[Read more…]
Previously we looked at the options available for Amiga emulation on the Raspberry Pi.
In this video we look at how to set up your Raspberry Pi 3 or Pi 4 (or now 400 – read to the end!) with the 32gb PiMiga disk image:[Read more…]
In my Glowforge Review I have been keeping some information up to date but it is time to give our long-term thoughts.
Our first Glowforge laser engraver arrived October 2018. A few months later we bought a second Glowforge Basic. Since then they have been operating pretty much non-stop.
I felt this was sufficient time to allow for a long term Glowforge Basic review!
As well as the Glowforge units, we also have two other laser cutters, use laser cutters at two local makerspaces, and sold our massively upgraded K40 laser cutter too. This gives us something to compare against.[Read more…]
When I bought my Amiga 500 I was excited to be able to test my programming on real hardware, but unfortunately I can’t effectively do the development on my 500 due to the fact the systems I was aiming to use all require beefier hardware, and obviously I don’t have the money to buy physical versions of all the hardware I need to test performance with.
For the development computer, I can obviously use my Windows PC and WinUAE. That’s tried and tested.
Turns out for many people, the Raspberry Pi is the best Amiga to own in 2020, especially for plugging into a modern TV and for compatibility with game controls. At least until the folks behind TheC64 release an Amiga version![Read more…]
In this article we will look at how you can build a Raspberry Pi Commodore 64, using an actual original Commodore 64 keyboard. Under the hood is the fantastic “Bare Metal” BMC64 Pi software. No expensive keyboard adapters required![Read more…]
Monoprice has been in the 3D printing game for some time. They have had a variety of 3D printers available that cater to a wide variety of users. Monoprice recently released the MP Cadet 3D printer which is geared towards beginners. The description on the Monoprice website starts off with “The perfect printer for beginners just starting their journey …”. Monoprice sent me their MP Cadet 3D Printer to review and as you read on, you’ll see how it manages for beginners as my 5 year old daughter was the primary tester for this printer.
The MP Cadet arrived nearly fully assembled. The only piece that needs to be truly installed is the PTFE tubing for the Bowden extruder. The remaining work involves removing the packaging and foam protection from shipping.
With the power brick plugged in you can begin by loading your filament. It is unfortunate that this is where I hit an issue. The extruder was pushing the filament through until it reached the hot end then the extruder motor started skipping steps indicating a clog.
I had to do a full disassembly of the hot end components to clear the clog from the factory. Monoprice was able to show me very clearly how to remove the hot end for the tear down however for a beginner printer this would have been a very discouraging start.
With the clog cleared, I loaded filament again and we had extrusion! Time to play!
This thing is one cute printer! It’s barely bigger than a 1 Kg spool of filament but it is loaded with features. It has WiFi connectivity, auto bed levelling, and a removable magnetic bed! The fact that one single fan is used as the heatsink cooling fan and a part cooling fan leaves something to be desired, however we’ll see if it becomes an issue. I like that it has a protective cage in front of the hot end to keep curious hands from wandering into fans or touching hot nozzles.
I printed the dragon and lucky cat available on the micro SD card and they both turned out fantastic! This was a great start of printing with the Monoprice MP Cadet.
Since this seems to be geared more towards beginners, or even kids for that matter, I wanted my 5 year old daughter to give it a go. I connected the printer to my WiFi network using the Monoprice instructions and downloaded the app from the Google Play store. Once the app was ready, I could load the MP Cadet and then print files from the cloud!
My daughter scrolled on my phone until she found the model she wanted and clicked it to print! The GCode was downloaded and then uploaded to the MP Cadet over WiFi and began printing. This was an amazingly simple process for her to start a print. A few minutes later, we had a cat ring ready to wear on the magnetic print bed. She removed the bed, removed the print and purge strip and off she went. She was hooked!
She kept printing more and more models via the app until she exhausted the options that were available to her that she like. Print after print, she uploaded the files, removed the print herself and the purge strip. I taught her to put the bed back properly and she would start another print. It truly was a fantastic experience to share with her and she fell in love with this magical printer that she was controlling.
I was skeptical that the birdcage was going to print but she was optimistic as a 5 year old should be and she proved me wrong. It came out better than I could have hoped for this printer. That combination heatsink and part cooling fan appears to be working as needed.
After using the app to the extent she wanted to she decided to pick a new model. She picked a Bulbasaur planter and we used the Wiibuilder2 slicer provided on the SD card. Slicing was simple and quick with no fuss.
This was yet another good quality print that came off the MP Cadet 3D printer. She was happy, and that means I was happy.
This printer absolutely served it’s designed purpose as an entry level kid friendly 3D printer. While we did have the hot end jam, I don’t believe this should be a common occurrence and most folks should be able to unpack and print.
My daughter absolutely loves “her” 3D printer. She likes to pick the filament and the model and print herself these little trinkets and toys. I’m hopeful her interest grows and she’ll begin to want to model some things as she gets older.
The MP Cadet is a very capable printer. At $250, it’s not the cheapest 3D printer out there however it has some nice features and definitely pulls it’s weight. It doesn’t print fast, but it prints well which is what matters.
The limited build size will probably put some folks off, however the little guy certainly plays its role well. I’m happy that it is providing an experience for my daughter that she wouldn’t have normally got with my other printers. The cute size attracts her to it and the small build volume limits the model size which means the prints that are coming off aren’t going to take too long. We’ll be keeping this around for a while 🙂 .
I have previously reviewed the Artillery Sidewinder X1 and since that time they have relased a smaller slightly different version called the Genius. It is meant to be very similar, like a baby brother, to the X1. The X1 eventually produced some nice prints for me after troubleshooting with the manufacturer. The Artillery Genius 3D printer costs $368 USD at the time of writing this article from their AliExpress shop linked from the Artillery website. Let’s see how the Genius does…
Everything appeared to be well packed and undamaged when I received the Artillery Genius 3D printer unlike the two previous X1s I received damaged from shipping. The printer was packaged nicely with typical black foam.
Assembly was meant to be very straight forward. The instructions are clear and the steps are quite easy. After fully assembling the printer I encountered my first issues. The x carriage gantry was loose and no matter how many adjustments were made to the eccentric nut on the bottom wheel, the carriage remained loose. It was very frustrating.
I attempted to loosen every wheel and adjust the screw inside of the hole in the carriage to minimize the distance between the top and bottom wheels but this did not solve the problem. I then put a straight edge on the carriage and noticed it was slightly bowed and therefor no matter what adjustment I made the centre distance of the wheels would never be close enough to allow a tight and stable x carriage. I had the same issue with the bed carriage. I put the review on hold while I waited for a new x-carriage and bed carriage from Artillery.
Once the new carriages arrived I swapped them out. To my surprise, a direct swap did not work. I had to again loosen all the screws, and attempt to minimize the distance between the top and bottom wheels to have enough adjustment with the eccentric nut to tighten the carriage onto the extrusion. There is definitely a tolerance issue that Artillery should address on these X carriages. I haven’t experienced this issue on any other printer I’ve assembled in the past.
With the bed and x carriage finally adjusted perfectly I was able to start printing. The results were poor. There are very inconsistent layers and z banding.
I was directed to support where I tried a variety of things and that’s when I discovered that the z axis does not use eccentric nuts for adjustment at all. Instead, Artillery uses injection molded pins to hold the wheels in place, which flex, instead of what we are typically used to seeing with most printers that use aluminum extrusions and v-wheels for motion. It’s pretty dissapointing to see this design. The screws that hold the injection molded cover on and keep the wheels in place, thread directly into the injection molded plastic pins making a very weak connection that is very easily stripped.
Continuing on with my troubleshooting journey I tried a variety of prints. I confirmed that e-steps were accurate, rebuilt the extruder, rebuilt the z axis, and still cannot get consistently nice prints. The rainbow print was the best, most likely due to the silk filament I used hiding some layer inconsistencies however it still shows some banding in locations.
Support from Artillery has been responsive but slow. You open a ticket on their website and wait for a response. Once you respond to their request, you wait some more, usually a day or two and then if they happen to have some suggestions you try those and respond back. While I credit them for having a ticket system, their support team have been unable to solve the issues with this particular printer.
The Artillery Genius 3D printer does have some nice features. It is very quiet, has a direct drive extruder, and a responsive touchscreen. The build surface usually held my prints down, and the dual z axis setup is meant to provide a nice stable platform. However my results have been poor from the beginning.
The poor QC on the carriages, combined with the ineffective injection molded components, should not exist on what I would consider a premium entry level printer with its price tag. The build volume rivals the likes of other very popular entry level 3D printers, however it costs much more with the features they’ve included.
I have seen some truly nice prints in the Genius Facebook group and because of this I do not think that all of the Genius printers suffer from the same issues that mine currently does.
I will continue to work on this printer and update the review if my results do change.
If you are anything like me you’ve thought about what other materials you can 3D print and one of those materials that comes to mind is chocolate. It can be melted down, and formed into amazing ideas by artists, and since it can be melted, extruded and cooled it makes sense for it to be able to be printed. ChocoL3D out of the Ukraine has taken it upon themselves to make a chocolate extruder. The ChocoL3D chocolate 3D printer extruder can be mounted on your 3D printer of choice. ChocoL3D sent me one extruder to test and review.
The package arrived and the box itself is a work of art, it is wooden with a slide out cover. All the components were nicely organized and packaged inside the wooden box with ribbons to help remove the items from the firm grip of the foam.
Inside the box you have the extruder components, vat, variety of nozzles, stepper motor, heater cartridge, thermistor, and screws. I planned to install this on an Ender 3 and was provide an STL from the company to print a mount.
All the components feels like they’ve been made very well with the fit and feel feeling great. From the manufacturer’s website, it says ” Extruder and tank are made from aluminium and plated with titanium nitride (TiN) to prevent oxidation and ensure food safety. Gears are made in Polyoxymethylene (POM).”. The nozzles are made of stainless steel.
Assembly was fairly straight forward if you’ve ever taken apart your printer, or installed a different hot end or extruder. With the old hot end and extruder assembly removed and unplugged from the control board I installed the adapter that was provided by ChocoL3D onto the X carriage. They provide a variety adapters for different printers on their website support page. I then followed their assembly instructions to complete the hardware installation.
I connected the heater cartridge and thermistor to the Ender-3 control board and moved the existing extruder stepper motor cable over to the new chocolate extruder stepper motor. Mechanically I was ready.
Slicer settings for chocolate as a material will be fairly different and luckily they have a setup tutorial video on their website. I was able to make the adjustments needed in Simplify3D by watching their video as I do not use Cura.
The other complex piece to printing chocolate is the chocolate itself. There is a difference in what ChocoL3D calls natural and unnatural chocolate. There are cacao fats in natural chocolate, and vegetable fats, such as palm oil in glazes or unnatural chocolate as per ChocoL3D. I saw another review on YouTube with the reviewer having more success with unnatural chocolate so I went ahead and found some chocolate chips, based on palm oil, for $7 Kg on Amazon.
I watched the videos, bought the chocolate, and setup the slicer and it was time to start printing. I started with a mustache and while it did print it needed some tuning. The top layer left something to be desired. That being said, failures aren’t always failures when printing with chocolate. This “failed” mustache tasted just fine 🙂 .
Next I tried this hammer. I increased the flow a little bit. and I was really happy with the result. My daughter certainly enjoyed eating it.
I followed up with a variety of prints trying different settings. On simple bulky shapes like the hammer things were pretty good. I did have trouble with more complex prints, generally relating to cooling of the chocolate.
The chocolate bunny ears just didn’t seem to cool enough even with really slow layer times to allow it to cool more. Same applied with the unicorn, and top of the emoji (with edible supports!). I was playing with slowing down the layers on short layers and you can see a big difference on the following vase. The first was my initial settings, and the second was extending the layer length time in S3D.
I did print a blower fan duct and added a fan but I got mixed results. Sometimes the fan itself seemed to cool the nozzle to much and clog it. Since we are printing at a temperature of 37C for this chocolate, it doesn’t take much for a fan to cool the nozzle too much and solidify the chocolate. I ended up turning the fan off again just to complete a print and make sure everything else was working as required for this attempt at a chocolate lightsaber:
A couple more completed prints:
Using my 3D printer to print edible chocolate has been a really cool exercise. It is not as easy as printing with normal filament and with the community for this not being very large, you are in relatively uncharted waters. Luckily, ChocoL3D was really responsive to me on Facebook anytime I had a question. It needs some fine tuning to get there but some of the prints that ChocoL3D showcase on their website really show how capable this extruder is.
I think that this type of extrusion system is well made and worth it for someone who doesn’t mind tinkering and really wants to print in chocolate. At between $250-$350 USD, depending on wait times, for the ChocoL3D chocolate 3d printer extruder kit alone, it’s not a cheap system, however it truly does feel like a quality product made in small batches. I plan to continue to use this extruder and see how far I can take it. The print I’ve given to friends and family have truly been some conversation starters…
Sovol had been on my radar for a little bit with their SV01 3D Printer. I liked some of the unique features they were offering such as a rectangular build volume. I happened to enter one of their contests and won one of the printers! I’ve been using it for a little bit and wanted to share my experience, because I have to say… it’s been one of the better printers I’ve used in 2019! Join me in my Sovol SV01 3D printer review.
Build Volume: 280 x 240 x 300mm
Extruder Style: Direct Drive
Stock Nozzle: 0.4mm
Maximum Extruder Temperature: 250C
Maximum Heated Bed Temperature: 100C
Power Supply: MeanWell 24V
Control Board: Creality V2.2
Thermal Runaway: Enabled
Heated Bed: Yes with Carbon crystal silicone glass surface
The unboxing procedure was uneventful which is what we want when we’re opening up our printer for the first time. Everything was nicely packed and there was no shipping damage. All the parts were accounted for. I removed all the parts and assemblies and we went ahead and started moving onto the assembly process.
If you’ve assembled an i3 style printer such as a Creality CR-10 in recent years this one will not be much different. If it’s your first time assembling a printer, it is a very easy process. The printer top assembly is mounted to the base assembly with 4 long allen screws that go through the base and thread into the z axis aluminum extrusions. Once that is completed, the LCD screen is mounted, as is the filament holder and filament sensor. The Z axis endstop also needs to be installed.
After the printer was assembled it appeared to be a nice rigid printer. The 2040 X axis extrusion provides a nice stable track for the extruder and hot end assembly. The dual z axis lead screws keep the gantry level as it moves up or down. It really felt like an improved lovechild of the Artillery Sidewinder X1 and a Creality printer. The later because there are many branded Creality parts on this printer including the control board. I recently saw that Sovol has started offering Creality’s upgraded V2.2 silent board with TMC2208 drivers for the SV01.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the way the extruder was mounted as I found it to be cumbersome if you wanted to spin the gear to feed the filament however that’s a minor thing. This is where I also noticed the filament wasn’t smoothly moving through the filament sensor. It felt like it was grinding on something sharp inside the filament sensor housing and didn’t pass through easily. I also noticed at times some small marks on the filament from the sensor. The printer powered on with a flick of the switch and we were off to start a print. I like the design with the power plug input on the rear of the printer, however the power switch located on the side where it’s convenient to power on of off the printer.
Having previously used an Artillery Sidewinder X1 which is also direct drive, I modified the profile I was using in Prusaslicer by decreasing the print volume to the SV01 specs and started printing. The print came out fantastic.
The prints that the Sovol SV01 produced were smooth and clean and everything you’d like in a print.
I did notice a touch of underextrusion at times and I checked the e-steps which were surprisingly right. I say surprisingly as many low cost printer’s I’ve tested haven’t had perfect e-steps. I then increased the flow in the slicer and the underextrusion went away.
I still wasn’t happy with the filament sensor so I did end up place a dummy piece of filament in the sensor to bypass it after a couple prints and filament swaps where it just didn’t feel right. Aside from the sensor, I sliced and printed model after model and was really happy.
The print surface was fairly consistent with respect to adhesion. I was able to print the free Enterprise model from Fab365 without issue.
Some larger prints did have some corners lift unfortunately. I recommend playing it safe with a brim on prints you really care about that have very large surface areas or really small. For the most part adhesion was not an issue for me.
The Sovol Facebook group is active with over 1500 members at
the time of writing this article. They’ve had a few giveaways in the group and
the members are friendly.
I’ve been using the SV01 for review purposes and out of the box, it has been one of the best printers I’ve had the privilege of reviewing this year. The print quality has been consistently great with a nicely tuned profile. That irregular print platform size actually comes in handy when you need to print something a bit bigger but don’t have the space for a bigger printer.
The dual independent Z axis leadscrews combined with the 2040 X axis extrusion and 2040 Y axis extrusion make for a nice stable printing platform. The direct drive extruder performs well. I’ve often seen the Sovol SV01 3D Printer on sale for $269 USD which is a phenomenal price for something that prints so well. While there a few minor things that could be improved, I highly recommend this printer based on my experience with it and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next from Sovol!