Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Alternative iPhone Music App

The stock iPhone Music app has been getting worse and worse. I finally gave up and searched around for a better music app and have settled (for now) on an app called Ecoute. Ecoute is pretty simple. There isn't much there besides an app to play your music. You can easily create playlists on the fly and it just works where the iPhone Music app really doesn't. If you find the iPhone Music app cumbersome, you don't want to subscribe to Apple Music then give Ecoute a try. Sure it's $1.99 but just works. It's what a music app should be!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

CAD Applications for 3D Printing

By far the biggest limiting factor in 3D printing is easy to use CAD software. Here is a list of the best CAD software applications that I've found.

Sketchup - Great for woodworking, but unusable for 3D printing since it only is good down to 1/16 of an inch.

Solidworks - By far the best software package out there. Very expensive out out of the reach of the average person. The student version is $100, the regular version is $4000 with a $1500 yearly license but the one you really want if you want to build assemblies is the $8000 version with a $2000 yearly license. You don't actually own the software and it's more like buying a car than buying software since you have to go through a sales guy that deeply discounts the price at the end of the year, but if you are making money on what you're building then this is the software you want.

AutoDesk - I see people get amazing results from this. I'm not one of them since there are some serious bugs on the Mac. For some reason the model will just disappear in the middle of working with it. I also can't stand the fact that all saved files are in the cloud.

FreeCAD - This is an open source totally free CAD package that is rather good. I doesn't work on the Mac at all. They have a version but don't bother, it's way too old. Lulzbot uses FreeCAD exclusively supporting their open source tradition. If you have Windows or Linux, this is a pretty good package!

OpenSCAD - Like FreeCAD it's open source but it's different than all the other CAD programs out there. At first I was put off by how it works but I now appreciate it. You program everything. This is cumbersome for large models, but actually it works pretty good once you get used to it. My only complaint which has been solved openjscad.org is that you can't anchor an object to a point on another object and have it's world view relative to that point. Rather everything is translated from 0, 0, 0. If they fixed that one problem this would be a much more powerful and competitive product. But I love the parametric functionality and for some things this is what I've been using. Also you can send someone a file in email without an attachment!

ViaCAD - I've settled on ViaCAD. They have some inexpensive options and a lot of features. It makes a lot more sense to me than AutoDesk and I can save files locally and it works on Mac!

Monday, January 11, 2016

3D Printers Part II

A few weeks back I posted about my experience researching 3D Printers and in depth details about my purchase of one specific printer here. Over the Holliday break I had the fortune of bringing home the school's Pegasus printer to calibrate and I have worked with my friend's Taz 5 a lot more and I have changed my mind. I have decided to wait for the Taz 6. It should be out in a few months and it improves a many things over the Taz 5.

The Pegasus overall is an inexpensive printer kit and you get what you pay for. I made a lot of custom parts and modifications. If I get a chance I'll post the STLs of the printed mod parts. The good about the Pegasus is it is inexpensive and a good first step into 3D printing and it will give you a lot of experience. I also really like where the filament roller is. Don't get frustrated though, because it has some down sides that don't happen with all good printers. First, it takes a lot to get it calibrated. Making sure all 3 axis are perpendicular is tough for any printer, but since the parts in the Pegasus are on the lower end to save money there are a few other problems. The stepper motors overheat and when they overheat the print head can end up anywhere. The software must have a firmware update because some things just don't work. I don't like the digital calibrate and the bed screws make it difficult to manually calibrate the bed. Calibrating the X axis is very difficult. The changes I made are to add a bowden tube to prevent any feed problems. I modified the filament holder roller mechanism. I printed out some open beam wire clips. I made a system to level the bed with a class clip and a hand twist nut head. And the Z stepper motor lead screws have a cap on them so you don't accidentally hit them or bend them. That's the short list. There's a few other changes.

The Taz 5 has an X calibration issue that the Taz 6 should fix with a number of other worthwhile changes to an otherwise very solid machine. I like the all-in-one electronics box on the left size. You can see the parts lists, STL files and photos of the TAZ 6 here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cookies notification in European Union countries

Apparently there's some law in the European Union that requires me (the blogger) to inform you (the blog reader) if I use cookies and if so what I do with them. I do not use cookies. I only publish little tidbits of information and interesting things I find interesting and useful. But this blog is hosted by Blogger which is owned by Google, and Google does use cookies. Here is what Google does with your cookies. I also have Amazon ads on this blog. However I need to find some time to remove them as I haven't been receiving any money due to something I forgot to read or do. I don't know what their link to using cookies is but I'm sure they do just as much as Google. There's also some map thing on the sidebar that I'm sure uses cookies and sells your information. And in the future I may add other widgets that use cookies. Rest assured if you are viewing this blog with a web browser someone somewhere is using a cookie and storing it in Big Data. If they aren't then your ISP is harvesting your data and tracking what you do. If they aren't then some government somewhere is and they also know what kind of underwear you buy. There is also a small chance that some hacker community out there is storing your data. I like to call these bad hackers Bad Data. So rest assured none of this is happening by me. All I do is look at the pretty graphics that Google provides to see if anyone in the world read this blog.

If you want to know how to delete your cookies click here. If you want to disable cookies in which the entire internet stops working click here. No it really doesn't stop working but they will bug you into turning them back on! So instead, browse in incognito mode by going here.