James Lovell’s Work Log

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  • Post last modified:April 22, 2024
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  • Post category:Work Logs

Update 4/20/2024

Xavier was able to make the freecad files for the 3d print of the faceplate as per my last update. We got our presentation put together from the EMI sponsorship meeting and we have a fairly decent idea of what the project is going to look like next semester in order to hit the ground running as early as possible. That includes what tests to do, what tasks have priority, and what the goals of the project going forward are. Those being specifically a focus on assembling and testing the Extruder at varying speed, temperature, and mixture settings to get good material.

As for tasks this week. I’m going to make a time to go to the oshe lab around 10-11 AM and start the print for the face plate. It’s a bit on the big side and the computer says it will take 7 or 8 hours to finish which means we will have to baby sit this thing through the day, which has been part of why we haven’t gotten to it yet over the weekend. Once we get face plate in hand we can mount the Screen and two inkbirds to the frame and connect the wiring for the heater coils and the thermistors and the supporting wiring. That’s really the only big thing left to try to squeeze in this semester.

Other than that its going to be our group getting together at our usual meeting time to work on the semester report together. between final exams and the report I don’t think we are going to get plastic extruded from our device this semester without rushing and doing something unsafe.


The project is wrapping up for the semester which is kinda sad. We are devoting most of our time to reports and documentation rather than forward progress on the module as it stands.

If I can find time for it I want to get with Xavier and finish making the freecad files for the controls box to mount on the frame. He said he was going to work on that and I taught him how to navigate free cad enough to get by. I designed the faceplate with him sitting over my shoulder. we drew up the technical drawing to work out dimensions. It will hold the two inkbirds and the display we are going to connect to our control menu stuff. I would like to push myself to finish a block to hold it all as that would make mounting everything MUCH easier but I can see us running out of time in the next few days and just having a half built final project. I know that as it stands the inkbirds can be wired in and powered on to prove that our idea works, but as this is version 7? 8? we already know it works as proof of concept. Konnor (our sorta project lead?) stated that we are just going to do what we can and not rush the first operation and testing that we will use for the beginning of next semester. then we can do all the testing for what speed to set the motor, what temp to set the inkbirds, and what percent recycled material to use.

As it stands we have most if not all the pieces we need to finally get somewhere, but its time to pack it up. I guess it would best be used to make a list of tasks for next semester… or maybe I could ask Shane If i could pop into the lab over summer? really I just need to do some 3d printing and routing of the wiring.

Focusing less on the material which is at work stoppage its time to talk about

For this week I have been working on the EMI presentation that we borrowed(stole) from Growbot. We are going to start giving updates to GM on a regular basis as part of their mentorship/partnership. I’m reworking one of thier old presentations to make a template so we have all the headings and formatting done and going form there.

Make template

fill in 1st presentation stuff.

assist in all the end of term documentaion and paperwork.

update 4/4/2024

We wrapped the barrel in heat tape and wire to get ready for actually heating plastic this weekend and also got the faceplate for the control panel created in CAD.

We are looking for the right connectors to connect the nicad wire to the ink birds without having to half disassemble the recycle bot each time we need to get into the barrel. quick disconnects and high temps are a bit of a thing to work around. we are thinking ceramic connectors, need to go digging to see if any are on hand. hooking up the connections the hard way wouldn’t be the end of the world, just not very nice looking and it gives us more work later.

current task is getting the barrel heated and trying to dial in the heat zones. to do that we need to get the mounting for the ink birds figured out and then power them. power shouldn’t be an issue, we have wiring and the power supply is wired up. need to double check the output on the DC meter to make sure we are giving the birds what they want to be happy. might need to adjust the potentiometer on the output side to make sure voltages are correct. at first glance it looks like 3-32 v input.

  • UPDATE 9- 3/31/20204
  • Hopper 3d print worked out for the mold, but the mold itself didn’t. I’m going to shelve it for now after discussing the project requirements with some of the other members. In a nutshell I’m going to knock together a temporary funnel going into the top of the extrusion barrel out of a sheet of aluminum. this has long term drawbacks but given where we are in the semester we can still have a working product on the cheap and in a hurry.
  • I will revisit making the part long term out of a different clay and I can reuse all the work I did in the first place to make the mold and design something in line with our longer term goal.
  • Since we got funding there has been a design goal add from the sponsor folks that comes down to chasing the highest quality out of our build, and that means changing our design approach for at least how we prepare filament like oven baking it and then quickly mixing it when extra dry. or desiccating it , or a combo of the two.
  • Update 8 – 3/23/2024
  • Made the negative of the part from the picture below and 3d printed the mold. I realized what i was doing wrong with the boolean print I was making, and it was indeed something simple with menu navigation.
  • I need to go in to the lab Tuesday and make an attempt at molding this part into reality. Might need to drill some holes into the top/ bottom of the mold or the part when I’m done. gonna see if this method really works or not. It seems like a good idea, but Its improvisation with a bit of planning. The question is if I have selected the correct material or not, but the design/print for the part is well built.
  • As a group we FINALLY got funding and we gave a parts list to order to our group to get ahold of. its running late and assuming stuff ships fast we can start getting everything we looked at built. its our biggest concern to make it work.
  • I’m waiting to mount this part till we get a bracket built for the heat tube and its… a thing. gotta see what we can pull off. its going to hit crunch time, and if we are lucky we will be able to have parts when that happens.
  • UPDATE 3/17/2024
  • Creating bracket mold. I sourced a material form the local hardware store for under 10$ its a fireplace mortar that is rated to up to 2000*F, and should harden to support the bracket and the hopper full of plastic. might not be the best large scale solution, but it will work and be safe. I was also able to do a crash course in FreeCad and make a 3d print design of what size the bracket should be. Now that i have that ironed out, I’m making a negative of that part. I’m stuck trying to make it with Boolean subtraction, which should make a perfect negative of what i want in a mold, but it’s kind of janky doing that operation in free cad. My next resort is to just sketch a negative of the part i designed and make it that way, which should take me like a solid hour of work when I make time for it. The plan is to make the negative one way or the other, print off the mold that results from it, and fill that mold using the fireplace cement to make a small part that is thermally immune to our heat tube and then attach the hopper to the top and we are in business for feeding plastic into the hopper.
  • concerns – making sure we get the frame assembled and get the pieces working together before we hit the busy time for all classes and reports is kind of buzzing in the back of my mind. I think we can do it, but we have to really get on it. we are still missing parts like the NIcad wire we should have and the second inkbird, which to be fair is sorta optional. 1 will work, 2 would give better response and control for heating the plastic without overdoing it. it all comes back to waiting on our outside funding to go shopping and shipping for stuff. We got the frame cut this week and that helps a lot, so we can start putting the pieces together to have something to show for the time that has gone by, but I can already tell there’s going to be a big crunch later when we get everything together, and whether or not it works out comes down to Konnor’s contact coming through on funding.
  • UPDATE 3/10/2024
  • TODO lsit stuff.
  • Learning Free Cad to design a negative of the bracket we are building. We decided against wood as overtime it would break down at the molecular level if exposed to constant heat. Making a print is proving difficult as the part has awkward tolerances that don’t really match up. like the corner screw holes match up by a millimeter or so. trail and error. We are looking at making the part we need out of clay/ ceramic.
  • I have about half the design done, having trouble making an extrusion/ Pad. its slow going but pretty neat. the plan is to make a model of the thing we want, invert that and use the negative print to act as a frame for making ceramic.
  • I still need to go to a hardware store and see what kind of clays are available that can handle heat. honestly I might be over engineering it, we could get away with placing a dowel in the center, installing some long post screws into the holes and then just molding a big blob of clay around the dowel and screws then fire it and move on with an ugly easy part. it might turn into a thing where I need to make a negative mold even larger like casting. where I make a shroud for the outer dimensions of the part.
  • I need to check in with the other members as we are going to start assembly this week. cutting the frame and mounting components. so there’s a small time crunch on the bracket and prototyping. but thats the joy of prototyping.

  • UPDATE 2/18/2024
  • taking measurements form the part, create a sketch design bracket for the hopper the meet the heated parts.
  • Oshe CDR sched.
  • Group slides
  • check about buying status again.
  • get with others about CDR presentation.
  • 2024-02-04 to do list
  • still need to check with others in group about making sure all bits are bought.
  • talk with team about some of the smaller details like quality of life details. (lights to indicate heat sources are on?)
  • double check with shane on CDR.
  • 2024-02-03 To do list . Rough electronics parts list completed. not up to full parts numbers or sourcing for buying components but a list of all the big parts is together.
  • Check in with team about the funding meeting and try to close out our project shopping / order list.
  • Look for a generic voltage supply since ours was scrounged from an old project and will make our build a little janky.
  • Compile results from whenisgood poll.
  • CDR!! Get together with Georgia and maybe Shane about CDR and making sure everything is sorta in order. find the best times in the evenings and just tell people to make it. folks might have to miss labs or something but its what it is…. it reminds me of scheduling for dnd, trying to get a gorup of adults together you just have to make a time and full send it.
  • concerns: just gotta figure out how to herd 50 cats.

  • 2024-01-27 task list for week 4
  • Create an electronics parts list for recycle-bot extruder module rebuild. (DONE)
    • get together with other members in weekly meeting and ask for requests. (DONE)
    • power killswitch questions (kinda vague, not important at this point in the build, dropping it going forward)
  • work with team to find a way to hold extrusion barrel to resist torque of motor and to maintain a steady position for easy plastic extrusion. (we have a prototype idea worked out that will need testing once we have the big parts in hand and on the frame)
    • check with team for dimensions of barrel on order and seek insulation solution
      • bracket under insulation or over insulation from commonly available parts source.
  • concerns: still waiting on funding and we are in pre design purgatory.