GETTING STARTED IN 3D PRINTING

Over the last few years various 3D printers have entered the market at significantly lower price points than ever seen before, making 3D printing more accessible to a much larger group of people. One of the companies producing these lower cost 3D printers is Wanhao and I have been using one of their printers, the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Mini, over the last two months.

The Duplicator i3 Mini is a compact PLA optimized 3D printer, weighing just 7kg, with a print volume of 120mmx135mmx100mm. The i3 Mini is extremely easy to get up and running and setup, it comes completely assembled and all the user needs to do to start printing is plug it in and manually level its print bed which takes a few minutes following the included instructions.

The printer ships with an included 1GB SD card with various printable models preloaded on it, so the user can simply insert the SD card and print as soon as the printer is setup. Below are a few photos of one of these models, a little dragon.

The little dragon was printed using CCTree 1.75mm PLA filament.

I use Cura for 3D print slicing, which is the process of converting 3D models into 3D printable formats. Configuring your slicing application correctly for your 3D printer is extremely important and getting this wrong will result in failed prints. Configuring your slicing application involves setting values inside the slicing application that relates to the characteristics of your 3D Printer, for example print volume, nozzle size, filament diameter, print speed and so on. The values for these settings can be found in the printers’ documentation or by simply googling the printer in question and the splicing application that needs to be configured.

Here are some lessons I have learnt so far in 3D printing which might help anyone new to the process:

– Make sure filament diameter is configured correctly, getting this wrong will result in prints failing rather spectacularly.

– Infill is important, but far less is required than most people think, reducing the infill percentage of a print not only reduces the amount of filament used, but also drastically reduces print times.

– When orientating a model for printing in a splicing application, experiment with different orientations and support configurations, sometimes much better results can be achieved with a few minor changes.

– 3D printing is a slow process and takes much longer than most people think.

– Don’t be scared of getting things wrong and having prints fail, it is inevitable and great learnings can be gained from failures.

I will be posting more in the future about my experiences and learnings in 3D printing, but for now I will leave you with a few photos of something else I printed, a USB\SD card holder, which came out great.

GETTING STARTED IN 3D PRINTING

REVIEW – X-RITE COLORMUNKI SMILE

The ColorMunki Smile is a basic monitor calibration tool that works with both LCD and LED monitors. Most monitors do not show colors accurately with their out of the box settings and this tool is used to configure monitors so that the colors shown on the display is as accurate as possible.

This is very important for people who work professionally with photos and video, such as professional photographers and video editors, as they need know exactly what the content they are working on looks like.

My interest in the ColorMunki Smile is for a slightly different reason, I use two 27-inch Dell monitors on my computer, the S2716DG and the SE2717H, and as they are positioned right next to each other the difference in their color calibration was very apparent and abrasive to look at.

Using the ColorMunki Smile is very simple, you plug the device’s cable into a USB port and then start the included software that guides you through the configuration process. The device has sensors on its one side that need to be placed in an area in the center of the screen (as indicated by the ColorMunki Software) and the USB cable is long enough and equipped with a counter weight, so it can easily be hung over the top of the screen and positioned correctly. The software will then start the calibration process that takes several minutes to complete and when done a reference image will be shown comparing the before and after results. This comparison showed me that one of my monitors leaned more into the yellow spectrum while the other leaned into the blue spectrum. This process completely rectified the color discrepancy between my monitors.

At the time of this post the ColorMunki Smile costs $85(USD), making it one of the least expensive monitor calibration tools. It is however a very basic and entry level solution that is most probably not appropriate for professionals who are extremely dependent on their monitors being perfectly calibrated, but for everyone else it greatly improves the color accuracy for most monitors compared to their default configuration.

REVIEW – X-RITE COLORMUNKI SMILE

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE

About a month ago I upgraded from my old Faithful 3770k, running on the Z77 MSI MPower motherboard with 32GB DDR3 1866Mhz ram to the following:

  • Intel i9 9900k
  • MSI MEG Z390 GODLIKE
  • 32GB HyperX 3466Mhz DDR4 RAM
  • Samsung Evo 970 500GB NVME
  • Intel Optane for my Primary Spinning Disk (a Seagate Barracuda 4TB)
  • Corsair Obsidian 750D
  • Corsair H150i All-In-One Water-Cooling Loop
  • Corsair RM1000x PSU

I have 13.5 TB of storage in total of which 500GB is NVME and 1TB is SSD.

The below CrystalDiskMark results show the difference Intel Optane makes, both benchmarks were run on Seagate Barracuda 4TB Drives, one with Optane enabled and one without:

Without Optane:

Seagate

With Optane:

octane

The difference in performance between the two drives is actually astounding.

IMG_6849

I am still running my GTX 1080 for the time being, however I did upgrade my Primary monitor to the Dell S2716DG, a 1440p 144Hz G-Sync monitor.

This was really a worthwhile upgrade and the new PC is performing great.

Here are some photos of my new setup:

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE

REVIEW – AMAZON FIRE 10 HD (7TH GENERATION)

The Fire 10 HD is a tablet computer developed by Android. The one we are looking at today is the most recent iteration of this tablet, the 7th generation which was released in 2017.

The Fire 10 HD is a 10.1-inch tablet with a screen to body ration of approximately 71%. The screen is a 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD panel with a 16:10 screen ration and a screen density of 224 ppi. The screen is by far the best part of this tablet, it is bright, crisp and has a very large viewing angle.

 The Fire 10 HD has a Quad-core processor consisting of two 1.8GHz Cortex-A72 cores and two 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 cores, making the tablet feel snappy and responsive. For a GPU the tablet uses the PowerVR G6250. The Fire 10 has 2 GB of RAM and comes in two variations for storage 32 and 64 GB but both can accept SD cards of up to 256GB.

The tablet has a VGA front-facing camera and a 2MP rear-facing camera which is capable of 720p video recording. The cameras are definitely the weak point of this tablet and to be frank they terrible to the point of being unusable. However, I have never actually used the camera functionality on any tablet I have owned so this does not really bother me.

The Fire 10 has a 3.5 mm stereo jack and the integrated dual stereo speakers implement Dolby Atmos Audio and they sound great, you can comfortably watch a movie without using headphones.

From a connectivity perspective the Fire 10 has dual-band Wi-Fi and built-in Bluetooth. The tablet has a micro USB connector used for charging the battery and data transfer.

The battery is advertised to last up to 10 hours and after 4 months of daily use I typically get 7-8 hours of usage between charges.

The tablet comes in three color options, red, blue and black and weighs in at around 500 grams.

fireback

A customized version of Android, called Fire OS, is used by Amazon on the Fire product range. This means that the default App store for the device is the Amazon App Store, however the Google Play Store can be easily installed to get access to the entire Android app library.

This device is great for content consumption, and this is predominantly what I use it for. From Amazon Prime video, to Kindle Books and Comic books, to Audible Audio Books, to Magazines, to Podcasts this tablet does an exceptional job at offering a convenient way to get access to a vast variety of content.

Since acquiring this tablet, I read significantly more comic books and magazines as I can easily and relatively inexpensively get access to them.

Now given all this, the real surprise of the Fire 10 HD is the price, coming in at $150(USD) if you opt for the Special Offer option, which means ads will be displayed on the lock screen of the device, or alternatively $15(USD) more to remove the ads. And given that the cheapest variation of the latest iPad is over $300 at present, this tablet offers exceptional value.

From a content consumption perspective, the Fire 10 HD is faultless. With access to the entire Amazon library of content, the selection is endless. So, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the iPad with a well-established ecosystem, or you are just looking for a convenient way to read your electronic books, comics and magazine the Amazon Fire 10 HD is a perfect choice.

REVIEW – AMAZON FIRE 10 HD (7TH GENERATION)

WIND POWER BEAST MODEL KIT

IMG_5864

I picked up this model kit from AMAZON when I was in the United States recently. It is an inexpensive kit, priced under $10.

I have always been interested in the works of Dutch Artist Theo Jansen, especially his StrandBeest moving sculptures, and this model is a great way of gaining understanding of how the mechanics of the legs function.

The model is easy to assemble, taking me under 40 minutes to complete, requiring no tools or glue and once assembled the model functions surprisingly well. The one complaint I do have about the kit is that the provided instructions are not always easy to follow, this is in part due to the very poor English translation.

Even given this fact, I would still recommend this kit, not only because of the learnings it provides in walking mechanics, but also as it looks really cool when completed and to top that off it is really inexpensive as well.

IMG_5948

WIND POWER BEAST MODEL KIT

Nintendo World New York and A Quick Update

I recently had the privilege of a two-week holiday in New York City. During this time I visited Nintendo World (located in the Rockefeller Center) and it was a great experience. There were a lot of amazing displays, showing examples of every Nintendo console ever made and even a Gameboy that was damaged in a bombing during the Gulf war that was still functioning. Here are some photos:

If you are ever in New York, I would recommend going to have a look.

Here are some other photos from the trip:

While there I also picked up a few things that I will be covering on the blog over the next few months:

Nintendo World New York and A Quick Update

Review – RAZER MAMBA TOURNAMENT EDITION

Recently my Mad Catz R.A.T. 5 died after several years of great service, so I found myself in the market for a new mouse. After shopping around I decided on the Razer Mamba Tournament Edition as it is a larger form factor mouse which I find more comfortable.

From a feature perspective it measures up against the R.A.T.5 as follows:

R.A.T. 5 Mamba TE
Year Released 2010 2015
DPI Adjustable up to 5600dpi Adjustable up to 16000dpi
Buttons 8 9
Connectivity Wired USB (braided cable) Wired USB (braided cable)
Weight Adjustable up to 150g 133g
Sensor Lazer 5G Lazer
Additional Features Adjustable length, Aluminium Chassis, Removable Thumb Rest RGB (Chroma, configurable)

The Mamba TE does offer a lot less as far as configurability of the mouse’s physical attributes (e.g. weight and length) is concerned, however I do find it extremely comfortable. It is fractionally lighter than the R.A.T. 5 at its heaviest configuration (17g lighter) but in all honesty I cannot feel a meaningful difference. I find that the Mamba TE does feel like a more refined product, which is to be expected with a product 5 years newer.
I loved the R.A.T.5 and I loved that it was built like a tank, however I am really enjoying the feel of the new mouse and it also looks good, especially if you enjoy RGB.

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Review – RAZER MAMBA TOURNAMENT EDITION