Holy crap… I’m building a makerspace!

Okay… to step back a bit, it’s not QUITE that complex. I’m building a private, small (size and scale) maker space. It’s going to be a bit of an ongoing experiment to lay the groundwork for *actually* building a large scale, public space in a better location down the road and hopefully making it open to public membership.

I just secured a current location in Santa Monica in a great area that’s close to the expo line and down town SM. It’s only about 350 sq feet, but its bigger than you’d think and more importantly, the lease is exceptionally well priced for our needs, includes power and internet in the cost, and has its own entrance/exit with 24/7 access that I can apply some smart automation to.

We’re going to start off small… I and a few Rioters are going to be moving some 3D Printers, tools, accessories and other related stuff there. Though, no major power tools, no CNCs, nothing that would disrupt the 9-5 lives of our fellow tenants in their tech offices out of both politeness and necessity. My hope is that my fellow Rioters and friends can make good use of a shared creative space for 3D Printing, Cosplay making, prop fabrication, circuitry noodling and other stuff in a relatively small but shareable space via evening creative sessions and fun group weekend collaborations. I’m not going to ask for a specific fixed dollar amount from folks in order to partake in the space to fully offset the cost, but hopefully people will contribute enough in their own way that I’m not fully out of pocket entirely, and it can be self sustaining.

It’s a month to month lease so we can experiment as long as its working for us, and either sunset things if they don’t or use it as a springboard to securing a bigger, more appropriate long term space and turning it into a public venture. Additionally the monthly cost is reasonable enough that I am comfortable shouldering it myself as part of the experiment, worst case.

I have no idea what I’m doing and this is probably a stupid idea I’ll regret down the road, but I’m incredibly excited and highly motivated right now!

On a related note, if anyone is interested in investing into an *actual* Makerspace on the Westside of LA with me, that changes things greatly and offsets the challenge of bootstrapping an idea from scratch. Let’s talk.. You know how to find me.!

MakerBox.me – Not for me.

So a few months back I saw that someone finally put together what might hopefully be the first awesome 3D Printing monthly box service. A fan of Loot Crate, I thought it should check it out and see for myself. There was still time to sign up for the inaugural kit before the deadline, so after mulling over the rather pricey (but understandable) $69.99, I committed.  After taxes though this brought it up to $76 and some change. :/

(It’s worth noting, we’re talking about a 1kg spool of filament, which typically retails for $30-50 plus shipping on said 1kg and other stuff, so the price didn’t seem TOO unreasonable at the time.)

This is what Maker Box touts:

  • A new specialty filament from only the top renowned and tested manufacturers including: Made Solid, NinjaFlex, Taulman3D, 3D Fuel, Form Futura, 3Dom and more!
  • Upcoming materials may include Glow In The Dark, Metal, Wood, Bronze, Carbon Fiber and Flexible Filaments.
  • Maker tools one would need for tinkering such as screwdrivers, scrapers, pliers, wrenches, duct tape, etc.
  • Fun 3D downloads, reference sheets and guides.
  • Exclusive deals on free apps, printers, website coupons, courses and more.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few delays leading up to the shipping, (though they were proactive in explaining the delays to weather, and promised a free gift to be sent out after delivery of the box.) It finally arrived however, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed. Make no mistake, I’m not unrealistic… I expected like most monthly subscription crates for there to be a bit of wiggle room and certainly NOT to hit some kind of “wow this is worth way more than I paid” jackpot. That said, the results have been lackluster at best.

The box itself was packaged in what was clearly meant to be an attempt to be clever, and I applaud that. The painted on Maker Box name was witty and neat, though the actual execution left it looking messy and cheap. I am not a designer, and I am not well versed in how to critique the application of a design idea to function in a well verbose way, but I do know when something has “missed the mark” which this sadly did. I can tell what they aimed for, but sadly it fell short. (There’s also excess blue paint accidentally smeared over other portions of the box as well.) The mailing label was duct taped to the box, on only two sides, leaving the rest of the label loose and exposed. Anyone who has ever shipped something USPS knows this is a recipe for disaster, with the way they handle packages.

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Moving into the box, there were two flyers, one advertising something and the other being a code for 3 months service for Trinpy.com. Not terrible, but considering these are 2 of the 5 things in the box we’re running out of value real quick here. There was also a scraper, a common and much needed tool to remove stubborn prints from the bed, everyone needs one.. but really once you have one or two, you’re pretty much set. No harm in sending one, but it’s definitely of the exceptionally cheap variety and likely less than $1 or $2 in value at most, especially considering a very stubborn print will easily bend this type of metal instantly.

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Next up we have an interesting tool. It’s a hand held, I guess, hole boring tool? Hard to say really, especially since there is no literature at all tagged with it? After a little digging around, it turns out it’s a pin drill set. Quite neat, but not really useful for me and my applications. At first I thought it was a set of nozzle cleaning heads, but when I opened the case and looked closer I saw all the bits were drill bits… it’s neat, looks nice, likely of some decent value, but.. well, a miss in my book.

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Lastly we have the intended crown jewel of the box, a spool of filament. This one appears to be from 3D Fuel, and is a biodegradable Algae filament. Interesting for sure, but nothing to write home about, and I don’t really consider biodegradable PLA to be on par with say, Glow In The Dark, Wood, Metal, or other “alternative” filaments. That said, I *do* recognize it’s technically a “unique” filament, and currently I understand it is rather pricey compared to PLA as a result. Unfortunately however, even though I am signed up for the 3mm diameter plan (3mm and 1.75mm being the two standard formats) this filament is 1.75mm… making it completely useless to me unless I swap out a significant portion of the hardware on my Ultimaker 2 in order to support it. :/

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I tried to look up the filament to get a sense about what it is more, and a better understanding. There is a URL on the box, but unfortunately the site shows this when you visit it:

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Definitely not at all confidence inspiring… Even less inspiring is all my research I can conduct indicates this filament ONLY comes in 1.75mm, which means they more or less just said “fuck it” to everyone who signed up with a 3mm plan. Thanks guys.

In the end, I pretty much canceled my subscription about 5 minutes after going through the box. It was a neat idea and if they can refine the process down the road I may get back on board, but right now I really feel like I got far less value out of this than what I paid (especially when their site claims “The MSRP value of every box will match or exceed the price.”, and when combined with a clear disconnect between them and the customer experience, I just felt like this isn’t for me.

3D Printing a Cosplay “Sign”


For a bit of a “Throw Back Thursday”, (as all the cool kids are doing on the Internet these days), I thought I would share a little project I cooked up back in the summer.

My girlfriend is an avid cosplayer (as well as costume designer) and as I was making some accessories for her for Anime Expo I came upon an idea: She often has her photo taken, as many cosplayers do, and then typically exchanges business cards with the photographer in question to make it easier for them to tag her in their photos later. What if I designed and printed her something to help smooth that process?

My idea, was to design and print out a plaque that is roughly the size of a legal envelope, that had her name on it (which is the same name as her Facebook Page) as well as a QR code in the lower corner that goes to her page. Now, when she has her photos taken, she can pull it out of her bag and have them do one more quick closeup of her face holding up the sign, and when the photog is processing their pics they can easily scan the QR code or just reference the name on the card to know who she is.

For an added bit of personal touch, I did the design of the name itself in her own handwriting, by simply having her “sign” her cosplay name in my modeling software using my Intuous tablet. I printed it in two colors, a blue base (her favorite) and switched to a white filament for the raised portions to denote the border and her name. I then printed out an appropriately sized QR code, and bonded it to the sign by simply applying a layer of ModgePodge (this stuff is so amazing!) and that was it! I already have some ideas though on how I could enhance this a bit more for a Rev 2, by adding some space behind it to allow her to store some of her business cards for quick retrieval.

It’s an easy enough project that I think I might setup a process on-line to let other cosplayers order them from me as well! 😉



Thorn: Learning to process and paint a 3D print for maximum sexyness

In preparation for PAX Prime 2015, I decided to create my own Thorn, an Exotic Hand Cannon from bungie’s “Destiny”. Now, 3D Printing is what I do best. I can crank things out for people all day long, tweaking, modifying, etc. However, painting and decorating? Not so much. Can I do it? Probably. Have I done it before? Nope… guess it’s time to learn on the job!

This was an experiment in making a full on prop end to end, and I have to say, I’m happy with the results! Looking back there is a lot I think I did wrong, and while it might not be highly visible on the surface, I know it and at least now I’m better prepared for the next time. Practice makes perfect and all that…


2015-08-08 15.06.08 This was the Chamber and trigger assembly. It’s multi parted so that pulling the trigger will toggle the hammer. The chamber itself rests against a place on a pin that allows it to flip out as well, because let’s face it these are things you expect any revolver you hold in your hand to be able to do!

The parts came out a bit rough on the back side, but a hand file and sand paper easily resolved that issue. The large pin however, and especially the pin inside the chamber that holds it to the plate, were a tad flimsy. I had to tweak the pre-fabricated model I found online multiple times, and print 4 or 5 of them, before I got one structurally sound. Then I kicked out 2 more of each as a back up “just in case”.

2015-08-12 20.51.53-1 2015-08-11 09.39.12 To the left, is the middle of the barrel. The right, was when I did a test-fitting of the left and right halves of the chamber housing around the chamber and the trigger assembly, with the grip holding it together. Things fit fairly well, though I noticed some warping on some of the edges I needed to work around/clean up.

I also at this point realized the pins that the trigger and hammer hinge against are fragile, as half of each one broke. Unfortunately, they are attached to each half of the body which is a 6 hour print each… so reprinting wasn’t practical. Instead I opted to replace them with some recycled metal pins from something else and just embed them into the plastic with epoxy.

On the left, you’ll see some ugly lines in the middle, that’s where I paused the print for several hours before it finished. Oops. I didn’t think it would be nearly that obvious, but it was. On most of my smaller prints this has never happened before in any noticeable way, but I guess it has to do with the volume of what I was working with and the fact some very smooth/vertical surfaces were at play.

2015-08-14 09.54.56-1 (1)Here’s the whole thing assembled for a test fit. All in all I was happy, and it gave me a good sense of what to expect once the glue was on and I was in a hurry before it dried.

It was a bit too snug in a few places, (don’t want parts breaking under forc when final assembly happens) which made me glad I did the test fit, since I could sand down those dovetails and make it lock in smoother as well.

2015-08-17 00.55.58-1Now on to the more messy step: Along with gluing the parts together (no I didn’t use wood glue, LOL. I used an epoxy that works well with PLA) I then wanted to smooth the joins. For that I did a few layers of wood glue because it sands down nicely to take on the primer just right.

You’ll also notice I had already primed the chamber. It’s just resting in place for this photo, once it was primed I planned to hand paint it separately and install it for final assembly.

2015-08-18 09.51.38-1Here we are, with the primer laid down. At this point the only thing left was a final sanding and then the painting. I didn’t take any photos of the paint in-process though, so we’re gonna have to jump right ahead to the money shot!

Unfortunately, around this time that I learned some of the filler compound I had used to fill in some gaps from the joining ended up oozing slowly (we’re talking over several days) deeper into the body, leaving some gaps visible.

And now.. the glamour shot!

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