Print a CNC Mill

Watching a “Tom’s” video I was made aware of the Mostly Printed Parts CNC mill  that is made with 3/4″ electrical conduit.

Printing Parts

This job is 90 plus hours of printing!  The Prusa MK3 is pumping out prints but not all has gone well.  The printer formally known as an ANet A8 was taken out of service due to equipment failure…. so, I fired up the FLSun Cube.

FLSun Cube

The FLSun Cube kit had several problems and their support response was very slow despite appearing to be reasonable.  I’ve had the printer for a couple of months but only recently received replacement parts and finished the build.  I hadn’t printed with it.   To start, there are no information on settings for Slic3r or Cura.  I have some pretty rugged looking prints from figuring out the right settings.  In the end I am using Slic3r that came with my Prusa so I don’t have to work with different slicers for different machines.

In the end I dialed in PETG and PC on the Cube and at least some of the parts printed will be used in this CNC build.

Material Types

Having seemly dialed it in with Polycarbonate  I was having warping issues so I switched to PETG.  With a little Z-Hop on retraction, and what I would consider a large amount of retraction, and tweaking temperature I found PETG printed nicely.  Even without part cooling the stringing wasn’t too bad.  I found finding the right temperature critical to a clean print.  Too low and there are a lot of balls and rips, too hot there is sagging.  When it is too cold the balls and rips are collected on the hot-end and end up catching and stringing on travel movements.

Dialed in the PETG prints are close to the same quality as my Prusa MK3.  With a parts cooling fan it would probably be the same quality.  So being picky paid off.  I made sure the motion was smooth (thus the problem parts) before I fired it up.  Even as a basic stock printer (other than I did replace the fans ) I cannot complain about the prints.  However, bed leveling isn’t auto.  I print 4 loops on a skirt and 6mm of brim.  That way I can level the bed during the skirt and brim based on what I am seeing and don’t end up restarting to change the Z offset. I can only assume the probe readings change with temperature.


In the past I’ve had really good luck with PC and I ordered several spools from China that I decided would be the best choice for this job.  PC is harder, stronger, and more heat resistant than PETG but as I am discovering it can be tricky to work with.  I will try drying the filament and see if that helps.  When I first opened it, it would stick hard but now I have to really have it dialed in to get it to stick.  In the past I was having trouble with a spool of PC until I tested my dryer and then it started sticking again.  Hopefully that is all I am looking.  There is a lot to learn and for now I have two printers running that are teaching me a lot.  Hopefully I can come up with material management techniques that will address this issue with PC as I really like how it prints.


It took a week of printing.  It seems there is more than 90 hours of printing but I did reprint many of the parts.  At least the FLSun Cube is working and producing usable parts.   The MK3 prints are superior but the Cube prints are not bad.

For $135 you can buy the printed parts.  Considering the cost for the filament that is only about $100.  For $100 you can save yourself 100 hours of printing.

OK, I actually wanted to do the printing.  I want the printing experience!  A couple of more reasons to print your own, being able to select colors and materials.  After doing all the printing I have to say the online pre-printed parts kit is a  good deal.

And then for $286 plus shipping you can buy the hardware and electronics kit.    I spent $275 (which included shipping) purchasing the parts piece by piece.  The main difference is that I went with a controller I am familiar with and ended up with enough spare hardware to pretty much build another unit. Still, there isn’t much difference in cost unless I actually build a second one.

Before you follow my lead and start ordering and printing parts consider what the the original author is offering. I know at after 60 hours of printing and was looking at the really big parts still ahead of me I cringed.   He has a great site and you really cannot beat the deal being offered. For most people I’d recommend buying directly from the author. His site offers all the details.


Creality Ender-3

Today the Creality Ender-3 arrived.  This was originally purchased as a potential frame to replace the ANet A8 acrylic frame.  As of this weekend I have the printer formally known as my A8 working nicely again.  The key word is again.  If the Ender-3 does well the next time it starts demanding my attention may be it’s last one way or another.  But this post is about the Ender-3, not my old printer.

Price Point

The Ender-3 comes in at less than $200.  For that you have only one Z axis motor and that does not include bed leveling.  However, it does have a 24V heated  bed which is a big plus.

As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on auto-bed leveling vs manual.  They both have pros and cons so it depends on the printer and it is something you can add.

I’m not sure about only one Z motor but on the smaller format it doesn’t sound like it is an issue from what I’ve read.  And again, if it is a problem I suspect it is possible to add a second motor.

Design Difference

While based on the Prusa i3 design it doesn’t use linear rails. This doesn’t seem bad to me since the majority of  issues I had with my printer formally known as an A8 were related to the smooth rods and bearings.  I am interested in seeing how rollers in a V-Track compare.

In addition to 24V on the heated bed there is textured coated PEI. I’ve read that you can mess with the bed leveling trying to remove a print but if so I’ll clamp a piece of glass on it.  I’d rather have the coating than not.

The Kits I’ve built

To date I’ve put together three kits.  The ANet A8, which arrived in November of 2017.  It was my first and I found my background in electronics was called into play.  The experience was a box of parts with some instructions and enough You-Tube videos to walk me through it.  At least it got me started and I had become familiar with 3D printing using it.  There was a short period of time it was stable but then it started demanding more and more of my attention.  It got to where I was spending more time working to get the printer functional than I was printing.

When the Original Prusa MK3 kit that I ordered in January arrived in May I had a completely different kit experience.  The documentation was very good and the quality of the kit  top notch.  Seeing how smoothly the X and Y axis operated focused my attention on detecting binding of any kind.  Prior to seeing how smoothly the MK3 operated I didn’t know what I should expect.

Looking to see what different frames offered as well as getting a printer with a larger format I opted to purchase an FLSun Cube.  There were some instructions but they were not even as good as the ANet instructions.  I didn’t mind and took my time making sure the motion was smooth.  It wasn’t!  One of the Z axis rods had spots that were more than 8mm in diameter and the bearings were binding. One of the Y axis rods was so bent despite only being a drive shaft caused binding in the corner bearing. After working with customer service for a month I received parts.  The Z axis rod was slightly bent but within tolerance otherwise and addressed the binding issue I was concerned about.  The Y axis rod was bent almost as bad as the original and might have worked but I had ordered the same parts while waiting so I had a straight rod.  My point is that quality of the smooth rods seems to be an issue.  It took me over a month to get the printer functional.

Kit Overview

After my experience with kits it will be interesting to see what I think of Creality’s kits.  So far I’m impressed.  The box arrived ahead of schedule and is very compact.  I’ll try to video the build but I found with the FLSun Cube that only works if it goes well.

The Build

Next will be my take on the build.  Creality is gaining a reputation and I will see first hand how their instructions compare with what I consider to be the ‘Gold standard’ for kits and DIY printers, the Original Prusa MK3.


Color scheme for a “Mostly Printed Parts” CNC

A color scheme can be very valuable when properly implemented.  I am in the process of printing parts for a “Mostly Printed Parts CNC mill”.

The different axis’s in FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, Slicr3r, and Cura X are consistent with  X axis is Green, Y axis is Red, and  Z axis is Blue.  It makes sense to print the moving pieces in the color of their axis!

Color Scheme for MPP-CNC

Referring to the ‘Green’ axis instead of the ‘X’ axis will help someone who is not familiar with the equipment.  It may also assist prevent an experienced operator from making a mistake because there is an obvious clue as to which axis is which.

There is one final moving part in this color scheme, the combination of X and Y.  This is the Head’s position on the X and Y coordinate, which could be considered the ‘Dot’ so I selected Black.

The rest of the parts are not moving parts and as such can be any color.  However, I decided that Green and Red would work for Left and Right, with Green for the left mounts.  Unfortunately I started printing with the idea of printing the M (Mirror) copies in a different colors which puts Green and Red on opposite corners from each other which makes no sense.  When I realized this I started thinking about an overall color scheme.

I started with the tool holder. Blue would have been confusing because the Z axis pieces are mounted perpendicular to the blue pieces.  I decided Yellow was a good color.  It makes the working end of the unit obvious and yellow indicates ‘caution’ which makes sense.

In order to make it easy to identify which parts I renamed the files adding an order in front of the name.  This chart is a summary of the colors I used.

Color Scheme
CNC Color Scheme



I’ve identified the start of a color scheme for the X Y and Z axis as well as the XY location. I’ve also coded the left and right sides, as well as the tool.   I believe this is a minor enhancement to what I’ve read is a great design.

Look forward to future posts on the building and operation of this unit and a picture of the finished unit in full color.


Ender3 – Yet another printer

It seems one printer isn’t enough, but why buy another printer?  First, the technology is changing fast.  Second, they are cheap.  Third, it is a good way to get a lot of electronics cheap.  Fourth, even if you have a great printer you want to know that it is really the ‘best’.

Ender 3

A pre-sales sale isn’t typically for the novices.  As I’ve gotten to understand printers my upgrades have gone from printing accessories to changing out the brain, display, extruder, and trying different designs. The ANet A8’s with it’s acrylic frame has been a concern but replacing just the frame cost more than I spent on the printer.

Looking for a solid structure the Ender 3 seemed to have nailed it.

Looking for a 24V heat bed for fast heating, that is covered.

Looking for the compact Prusa i3 form factor…

At less than $200 and decent reviews I finally decided to pick one up for it’s frame and some extra electronics.

Starting Point

I’m no longer a novice and while I have a lot to learn still I can say I’ve come to understand what I am looking for in a printer.  I almost didn’t buy the Ender 3 despite the ridiculously low price because in my mind it is just a starting point.

My ANet A8 was my original starting point and while it has been a ‘real’ learning experience I don’t have a lot to say about the A8 that is good other than it has taught me a lot.  I am hoping the Ender is a little better as a starter.


The reviews were decent but not glowing.  It doesn’t have auto-bed leveling to start.  Also the build plate is ‘tacky’ and things get stuck which messes with the bed level when you are prying them off.  Printing on a removable surface (like glass) is probably a good idea.

The print quality will be slightly less than a E3D head so that might be an upgrade.  Since it is a Prusa i3 like design I plan on switching to a direct-drive head anyway unless it’s stock extruder prints better than I expect.

Finally, I’ve replace the ANet printer controler with a Rumba board and over time I may swap with the Creality Ender 3 and try running my Diamond Head or multiple heads.


My ANet has been my ‘project’ printer but I really don’t like the Acrylic frame.  After doing a lot of research I determined replacing the frame didn’t make sense and have purchased yet another printer instead.  I think I will get the frame I am looking for and expect it will quickly become my project printer.  The ANet frame may or may not keep printing afterwards because it seems to require more of my attention than other printers so I may just parts it out.

I have enough hardware now that I can start re-purposing some of my equipment.  Even my FLSun Cube, which I really feel was a ‘bad’ purchase’ isn’t really a loss.  It is slow, big, and needs upgrades and I’m not going to spend any more time on it for a while.  It needs a new brain and display!.  Don’t go with the color touch screen.  The menus aren’t there!

Everything about the Ender 3 frame appears great and is exactly what I want.  The machine itself… I prefer a direct drive extruder but I’ll wait and see.  It will be interesting to see if the controller is open to upgrades or if I will have to replace it to upgrade.

I was looking to spend as much to replace the frame on my ‘project printer’ as the Ender 3 cost.  As long as the frame works out I don’t see how I can go wrong.  So yes, another printer is on it’s way!

Vancouver Drones – Second meeting

The second meetup for Vancouver Drones was on Mother’s day and many members didn’t make the meeting.  I presented on building a hobby drone and we talked about dealing with the public when flying.  The good news is that we all agreed that the attitude towards drone flying seems to be softening and becoming an interest rather than concern.  We discussed how to present a positive image and deal with it in a productive manor when they voice their concerns.

Next Meeting

The next meetup is June 10, 6:00 PM at Frenchman’s Bar Park (near Lake Vancouver on the river).  Bring your drone; the agenda is flying.

Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park – 9612 NW Lower River Rd, Vancouver, WA 98660 – Vancouver, WA, us

Latitude:  45°41’0.25″N      Longitude: 122°45’58.20″W


Next meeting will be a great opportunity to see different types of drones in operation and talk with their pilots.

I’ll bring the two racer drones I’ve built in addition to my Mavic. I am interested in talking with someone with racing experience and learn more about tuning and flying the ones I’ve built.  It should be a great opportunity to see how other people fly their drones and gain experience with professionals around to watch and solicit input from.  Hope to see you there!

Parts for a DIY Drone

Building your own DroneBuilding your own Drone

I’ve outlined an example build of a RoboCat 270mm racer.  The links are not recommendations but rather a way of allowing you to drill into more detail on a specific item.  I order from and am familiar with their site so I linked to products on their site but may not have actually ordered from the vendor so the links are not recommendations.

Minimal parts:


⦁ Racer – RoboCat 270 (as an example)

270mm Frame
RoboCat 270mm Frame

Motors x 4 – 2204 2300KV

Motors for RoboCat

Electronic Speed Controls (ESC) x 4


4 in 1 – ESC

4-in-1 ESC
4-in-1 ESC – 20A

⦁ Power Distribution Board (PDB)

RoboCat PDB witgh LEDs
RoboCat PDB with LEDs


Power Distribution Board (PDB)
Power Distribution Board (PDB)


Flight Controller

OmniBus F4 Pro with PDB and OSD

OmniBus F4 Pro V4 with OSD and PDB
OmniBus F4 Pro V4 with OSD and PDB

OmniBus F4 Pro with OSD and 12V BEC

OmniBus F4 V3 with OSD and 12V BEC
OmniBus F4 V3 with OSD and 12V BEC

⦁ Battery

3S 65c Lipo Battery

3S 65C 1800 mAh Lipo Battery
3S 65C 1800 mAh Lipo Battery

Optional Addons

LED Lights

Motor Mount LED Lights
Motor Mount LED Lights

GPS Module


FPV Parts

Camera & Transmitter (More later)

Any camera that you can mount in the drone.

A standard 5.8Ghz transmitter, and for racers one with ‘racing bands’.


There are many choices in transmitters.  The Taranis X9D Plus is good if you want a lot of switches but probably overkill.  The Taranis QX7 comes in with a smaller form factor and unless you need more channels is a money saving option.  Either way, the IRangeX module allows you to fly Hubsan, Eachine, and other brands with your Taranis making it one controller to fly them all;)

Taranis X9D Plus

Taranis X9D Plus
Taranis X9D Plus

Taranis Q X7S

Taranis QX7
Taranis QX7

IRangeX 4 IN 1 Multiprotocol   IRangeX 4 in 1 Module for FrSky Transmitters

IRangeX 4-in-1 Module for Taranis
IRangeX 4-in-1 Module for Taranis


Indoor Trainer

With the knowledge of parts involved in a build you are ready to put together a racer drone.  However, flying a racer is not the same as flying a commercial drone with altitude holding and hovering.  Racers fly in Acro mode and have told me that the horizon mode is ‘bad’.

After completing building my drone I read up on Acro mode and realized I needed a trainer.  Apparently you will crash a lot while learning to fly Acro mode.  A simulator may work but I haven’t found simulators that really work for me.

Luckily the Eachine E011 can be flashed with ‘SilverWare‘.  This is significant because the little Whoops can be easily converted to FPV by simply adding an All in one camera/transmitter that works on 3 volts.

All in one Camera / Transmitter that works on 3 Volts
All in one Camera / Transmitter that works on 3 Volts


Finally select some goggles.  I like box goggles and Eachine has a nice unit that can also be used as a monitor.   The Eachine EV800D 5.8G Diversity Goggles.

EAchine Diversity Goggles
EAchine Diversity Goggles EV800D 5.8G 40CH Diversity FPV Goggles

Eachine E011

EAchine E011 Tiny Whoop
EAchine E011 Tiny Whoop



PDX Drones – April Meetup

The PDX Drones meetup occurs the second Thusday @ 6:00 PM and is typically attended by around dozen members and one or two new people.

What to Expect

The Lucky Lab is loud. You will have to look around for a group with one or more drones out on the table because there probably won’t be a sign.

The format is several groups talking about the things on the table near them that one of them brought.  If you see something interesting just introduce yourself and join in.  Someone might notice you but there is no organization so be bold.

PDX Drones meetup is a chance to share your interest in drones and gain some exposure to the  different aspects of drones. The environment is too loud to have a group discussion but you can have a beer and talk with others about their (or your) drone(s).

Reasons to Meetup

I keep going because I learn from other peoples experience. For example, after seeing a home built racer I realized I could easily build my own drone.  I went online and did a little research, ordered parts (not a kit), and have built several drones.  I’ve worked with several different flight controllers, frames, and nav-aids (like OSD and GPS).  I now fully understand the different components and how drones communicate and transmit.  I am more capable at detecting a problem and better equipped to understand and deal with it making me a better pilot.

Another example is that I have flown small ‘toy’ drones manually for years but pretty much lost interest in them.  Then I saw that they could be easily turned into First Person Video (FPV) craft.  I also wanted to improve my skills flying manually with a camera and little Whoops make great training devices.  You can crash them over and over and with their protected hull around the props I have yet to break a prop despite hundreds of crashes.   I’ve improved my manual piloting skills more during this last rainy season than any other time.

At a PDX Drones meetup there is always a couple of regular attendees even throughout the winter but once the weather breaks lots of different types of drone enthusiasts show up. Racers, professionals, newbies… you never know what to expect.

Another Meetup Group in the area

Vancouver Drones   in Vancouver, WA just started with it’s first meeting this month. Several members of PDX Drones were there as well.


This review covers the past year and explains what to expect.  I have lined up several other pilots to fly with, once the weather breaks, including professionals who are making a living with their drone.

If you have an interest in drones and meeting people in the area who fly this meetup is worth dropping in on once in a while.


Core-XY with Cyclops and Chimera

To date my only experience in 3D printing has been with the Prusa i3 design.  With that in mind I wanted to make my next printer either a Delta or Core-XY.

My interest in 3D printing revolves around multiple materials and I am anxiously waiting for the release of the new MM unit by Prusa, which should be in May.  While I wait on my order I decided to research the ‘competition’.

Core-XY or Delta?

Joseph Prusa is a leader in the industry so I am using his newest offering as the standard to compare others against.  I think the MK3 is a great printer, but the proof is how it compares to others.

I really like the Cube design of the Core-XY because it looks structurally sound.  I also like the idea of both X and Y being handled on the extruder level.

The Delta works works with a different coordinate system, which introduces  a learning curve.  I haven’t seen any compelling arguments in favor of the Deltas so I cannot justify taking on the challenge at this time.

Instead I found a Core-XY Cube offering that gives me a larger build area,  dual extruder (or mixing extruder), and they even threw in a WiFi link. They have already filled the order and I should see the printer on Wednesday, less than a week from when I ordered it from China.  It was the frame I wanted, dual extrusion and a mixing head to try out.   It will be interesting to see if there is any real difference in the i3 and Core-XY prints.

Someday I may get around to working with a Delta but for now I think I have more than enough research lined up.


Now that I have hands-on experience with 3D printing on the MK3 I am trying to zero in the the best printer for my needs.

3D printers are inexpensive as equipment goes so I am enjoying the freedom to seriously research the options. Soon I will have a printer with with a dual extruder and that allows me to get an honest side-by-side comparison with the MM kit Prusa is offering.  As an added bonus I will be able to work with a mixing head as well.   It will be interesting to identify the pros and cons of the different approaches.  



Vancouver Drones – First meeting

Yesterday evening Vancouver Drones – Professional, Hobby and Sports met for the first time.  Bob, the coordinator, has opened his conference room and brought together a group of like minded enthusiasts.  It was a great experience.

Primary Purpose

Vancouver Drones focus is to promote the safe and intelligent use of small unmanned aerial systems.  The sUAS category and rules covers remote controlled flying ‘objects’ weighing 0.55 to 50 lb.

Bob is providing an incredible setting for a small group of enthusiasts to meet and share experiences.  I was able to gain exposure to new equipment and learn from other’s experiences.

Vancouver Drones – First Meeting Summary

Education is a clear focus.  The format is each meeting being coordinated by one or two members presenting a predetermined topic.  This started with a brief discussion of the airspace rules by Chris, a local professional that is flying in the area.  He introduced us to  what questions to expect, from whom, and how to deal with them. He also covered some fact about the local area that were useful.

We also had a chance to gain hands-on experience with the Brother AirScouter along with a real-life story.  Chris was totally delighted with it. It clearly demonstrated it’s value to him on a commercial shoot.  He was only reviewing the one he had but he had already put one into his budget plan.  They start at around $700 so it is an investment.   I immediately recognized it’s value because back in the day of film I shot with one eye on in the viewfinder and the other watching the action.   I do remember that learning to focus on two views at once took time and effort but I’m happy to say you don’t loose it once you have it. After all these years it didn’t seem strange to me at all. In fact, it is what I’ve been looking for as a solution to many problems I’ve face flying my drone.  Guess I have to put one in my budget too.

Wrapping it up

Bob knows how to run a good meeting.  I like that we had an agenda and he did a great job of herding us cats.  Bob wrapped it up close to on time with plans for the next meeting.  It is really nice to have someone keeping things on track and focused.

Vancouver Drones – Next meeting

Vancouver Drones meets the Second Sunday @ Six.  It is easy to remember, just think SSS.  Space is limited so sign up on

Our next meeting agenda Dave will be presenting some of his videos and others may participate.

I will be presenting an introduction to building drones.  With several videographers in the room I should be able to get some good footage of the presentation to share.  That is a video I’ve been wanting to create.


I believe Bob has provided fertile ground and planted a seed.  He is providing the environment and structure and has offered a clear vision of what he is trying to accomplish. I look forward to participating.

These days drones are entering into everyone’s thoughts one way or another. It is up to drone users to keep those thoughts positive by flying safely and working hard to avoid being seen as a nuisance.

The initial meeting consisted of nine Part 107 Pilots, several of which are actively involved in the drone industry. It was a quiet place we could talk and interact without outside distractions, and it was focused.  Bob did a great job keeping us on topic and on time.

Recreational pilots, racers, and Whoop flyers are all encouraged to join. The next meeting’s agenda is set by the members at the end of each meeting so topics are driven by the members.  The first meetup was amazing.



Up and Printing with my new Prusa MK3

After a couple of days printing with the MK3 I’ve had more success than months with my A8.  I’m not complaining because I purchased the A8 to learn about 3D printing and it accomplished that goal well.  I am simply lamenting on how nice it is to just print and not be looking at what upgrades I could print to make my printer better.  I believe the MK3 is a trend-setter and now with a little experience with the printer I am more convinced than ever that Prusa has delivered again.

MK3 – Second Day Impression

Getting used to new equipment is usually a challenge and  I’ve found the MK3 is no different.  It is a lot like working with an infant.  You have to give it what it needs, when it needs it, and it doesn’t know how to communicate well. It is simply clear that it needs something.

For example, it is cool to load and unload filament on the MK3.  That also means always having to use menus, some of which are not always available.  I’ll talk more about those in another post.

Yesterday I discovered that for some filaments, specifically my Crystal Series transparent orange PETG, doesn’t properly register with the filament sensor.  That is to say, it sees it only part of the time.  I must turn off filament sensing to print with this filament.  I suspect this may be a problem with other translucent and clear materials.

Eliminating the filament detection also helped me deal with auto-loading.  I’ve found, at least while I’m getting used to the printer, I like to make sure the filament is through the tube and down to the gear before engaging. I’ve found some filament is harder to get through than others, especially if it is the curvy from being the end of a roll.  Turning off Auto Loading simply means you must push the button to load the filament.   When Auto Loading is active as soon as the filament is detected it will beep and start loading.  Sometimes I had  trouble getting the filament through the tube and down to the gear fast enough and would have to cycle it again.  It is nice to have an option.


I am very pleased with my Original Prusa MK3 printer.  I’ve been printing with PolyCarbonite (PC) and absolutely loving the results.  The bearing races for air-soft 6mm BBs I printed spin and spin.  I printed a fidget-spinner and am seriously impressed with how well it works.

With my A8 I printed parts.  They were rarely of the quality I was looking for and printing was not consistent or easy.  I spent a lot of time tuning, researching, and working on upgrades, and got in only a little printing.

In contrast my almost everything with the MK3 has been stellar.  The build, first printing, tuning, and more.  Moving on to other materials I am getting to know the printer better and truly enjoying the results.  I have absolutely no need to upgrade anything.

I’ll leave upgrades to the MK3 with Prusa.  I have the Multiple Materials kit (MM 2.0) on pre-order which is now scheduled to release in May. It sounds like that is a ‘bolt on’ rather than conversion so I the printer remains the same even with the kit.

The MK3 is a solid machine.  I am impressed with the quality of the equipment, detailed build instructions, and overall operation.  I am very pleased with my new printer.