Update on what’s happening

Things of late have been a bit busier than I anticipated, however this isn’t a bad thing, just unexpected to a degree. The matter I mentioned with Centrelink is partially resolved; trying to get in contact with them to ask them to explain anything was ultimately useless, I effectivally gave up and decided I’d pay the back the whole amount regardless of whether it was actually fair or not. A payment plan has been set up with them (naturally Centrelink was very quick/helpful to do that), but not able to give them too much at least at this stage. My work has been good and mostly enjoyable, and definitely the job that I’ve been wanting, although I can’t really say the same about the pay. Things haven’t been as great as I originally thought, but they haven’t been too bad, means there are less funds than I thought there would be for projects. Another bit of good news is that I’ll be moving in the future, although yesterday we were effectively (they chose someone else) rejected by the landlord of a prospective place, but we also have been offered and accepted for a 3 bedroom house which will be a big improvement from the 1 bedroom unit we currently have. This also means for around 3 weeks, my website will most likely be offline, I’ll be seeing if I can temporarily host it at my parent’s place until I get internet at the new place, but that has not been planned as of yet.

Now to projects, there hasn’t been a lot of progress on my own projects in terms of the number of projects I have planned/working on. But the good news is my 3D printer is mainly done, I say mainly as it’s not reliable enough to be complete (in my mind anyway). The reason behind this is because it’s not reliably extruding (grinding the filament instead) and the mechanical endstops aren’t great. It’s been suggested to me by one of the CCHS members to use optical endstops which will work better in more ways than one, including not having a physical connection which can move the endstops which has happened more than I’d like to admit. In spite of this, I have managed to do a few successful prints such as the one I’ve put up on youtube. Although until I can reliably extrude, I won’t be able to do some of the larger objects I want to do.

I’ve been preparing for the standalone controller for a 3D printer (or can be hooked upto a PC which is how it’s initially going to be until the firmware is stable and ported) and done some VHDL (first time in a while) for a CPLD that will be featured on the board. I haven’t named the project as of yet, but it hopefully will be finalised and built up in the coming months. I may run either a tindie or pozible campaign to try to build up a few boards.

One thing that will definitely help with that board and future boards is I acquired a small infrared reflow oven with some difficulty initially (as I didn’t want to pay too much, max AUD$250, and that ended up biting me) but it works as I thought. It’s not great as the temperature is uneven, but I’ve already planned to fix it by rewriting the firmware (which will fix other issues like debouncing at the same time) and add in PID control as it seems it does not use a PID loop to accurately control the temperature.

This also means I’ll be looking at trying to make a pick and place machine at some point (maybe using an attachment on my 3D printer) but that project won’t have a high priority as I’d prefer to get some of the projects such as the 3D printer controller, as well as the UAV board done when possible. I’m starting to get into KiCAD, sort of spurred by the fact CCHS started a session dedicated to using KiCAD (although I didn’t get a chance stay long for the first one thanks to my hours) and also Contextual Electronics ran a series called Getting to Blinky which has been extremely useful for me as it’s easy to learn by seeing someone else use the tool.

I have 3 weeks off work coming up soon (quite a bit will be unpaid sadly which will put a strain on me) due to the Christmas break. The good news is that I’ll be able to work on several things like the PCBs for several projects (although I do hope to have the PCB designed for the 3D printer project mostly done before then) as well as the Halo Spartan armour which both me and my girlfriend will be using for quite a bit of next year. I also plan to try to set up a small electronic lab, although I will need to get a reflow reworking station at some point.

I’ll hopefully do a small review/worklog of the IR oven as I work on it, and the next likely time for another blog post will be either just after the 3 week break or possibly during it. I might also post a project page for the 3D printer controller in the near future.