I originally made my Word Clocks using PICAXE micro-controllers, some LED drivers, and plain, white, LEDs.

A while ago, I decided to upgrade them to colour LEDs; specifically the WS2812B type of LEDs which are serially addressable, and can be controlled directly from a micro-controller. I also changed the micro-controller to an Arduino. I originally built two of these clocks, and in the updated versions one is using an Arduino UNO, and the other an Arduino Nano – the same micro-controller, but in different formats.

The clock continuously, randomly, fades the colour of each word from one colour to another.

Word Clock in time mode

Word Clock in test mode


The next thing I thought I’d create was a box for the circuit board of the 3x3x3 LED cube. Seems like it should be easy (famous last words). Note to the people on YouTube who make Wings3D seem so simple and easy and can create a car in 20 minutes – I’m hating you right now.

After a few false starts, I finally managed to produce a box, and I even managed to include a hole in the side for a panel mount socket for powering the cube. I had originally planned to make a lid as well, but since it took me about 3 hours just to make the box, I decided to give the lid a miss.


I also included some small pillars on the bottom that the circuit board can rest on. There’s a few extraneous edges in my model that I couldn’t get rid of – still a lot to learn with WIngs3D.


Printing the box took about 3 hours.

Printed Box


One thing that was concerning, the slicing program – ReplicatorG/Skeinforge (50) – produced a tool path the shook the printer a great deal. As it was printing the walls of the box, which are about 2mm thick, it did one layer length ways, and then the next layer crossways which creates a stronger bond between the layers. But when doing the printing crossways, because the travel was so short there was a lot of vibration as the print head went back and forth quickly. I think this vibration caused the glass plate on the print bed (which is held in place with some bulldog clips) to shift which meant the walls ended up being a bit wavy:-


So I need to work out how to get the slicing program to produce a better tool path. Maybe slow the printhead down when doing short distances – don’t know if that’s possible.


Next thing was how to hold the board with the LEDs on to the box. If I’d thought about it earlier, I could have incorporated these into the box directly. I created some little brackets which fit over the wall of the box, and then hold the LED board.

PCB Clip

PCB Clip

PCB Clip

PCB Clip

I printed 4 of these. They only took a couple of minutes each.


Final result.

Boxed 333

First thing I decided to have a go at designing and printing were some legs for my Word Clock.

I had already come across Wings3D when I downloaded KiCad for creating schemas and PCB layouts. I've never used Wings3D for designing anything, so this is going to be a learning excercise.

I worked out the design and measurements for the leg and went to design it in Wings3D. One thing I found alien was that WIngs3D has no concept of millimeters or inches or any term of measure, it just has units. The actual size of the object is just how you, or an external program, interprets those units. Not really sure what I was doing, I decided that 1 unit would be one centimeter – which actually turned out to be a stroke of genius later on.

Leg Wings3D

There are lots of extraneous verticies and edges in my model where I was playing around with Wings3D. I didn't really understand the principle extruding edges and faces out from an object, so this model is made from 4 shapes; one along the bottom, the upright and the two triangular supports. I also couldn't work out how to combine the objects in to one object; for example, the upright extends in to the bottom piece, I think this affected the way the final object was printed because you can see where the printer tried to print the faces that were imbedded within another object.

After completing my design, I exported the model to an stl file, and then imported that in to RelicatorG.

(Note regarding ReplicatorG: when I installed it, it needs to point to a Pyton interpreter. I had installed the latest Python 3.4, but I couldn't get ReplicatorG to recognise it, so I installed the earlier Python 2.6, which solved that problem.)

   Leg in ReplicatorG

Once the file was loaded, the model appeared really tiny (smaller than in the image above). Doing some Googling, I discovered that the square grid in ReplicatorG represent centimeters, and the units used in Wings3D have been interpreted as millimeters; so I had designed my model as 5.4 units long (thinking 5.4 centimeters), and ReplicatorG has used that as millimeters – so my model was 5.4 millimeters long. A simple fix was to use the scale function to make the model 10 times bigger – and viola.

I didn't bother trying to play with the ReplicatorG settings and just left everything at the default and went straigt to printing the model.


It took an hour to print each leg. The first leg printed out no problem, but half way through the first attempt at the second leg ReplicatorG seemed to freeze and it stopped printing. So I had to kill ReplicatorG, cancel the print on the printer and start again. It printed fine on the second attempt.

LegsF LegsB
Pretty smart, if I say so myself.

I decided to buy a 3D printer because I have some project ideas which I 3D printer might help with.

I went for a Wanhao Duplicator 4X as it seemed fairly reasonable and had some OK reviews. It has 2 extruders, which might mean you can print objects in two different colours and/or materials – I will have to test. It comes mostly pre-assembled; you have to fit the print head to the shuttle, a simple matter of two screws, fit the two reel holders on the back and fit the two fillament guides.

It also comes with 2 rolls of fillament – one ABS, the other PLA.

The main frame of the printer is made from 5mm perspex. It also comes with some side panels and a hood which you have to assemble. These are to stabilise the temperature within the printing area.

Wanhao Duplicator 4

I had an issue with the way everything was packed. The two reels of fillament were stored in two boxes placed inside the printer below the print bed, and the print bed had been lowered right down to hold them in place. It took a while to work out how to get those out of the printer without breaking anything. I didn't want to turn on the printer until I had taken all the packaging out, but in the end I had no choice. So I plugged it in and turned it on and found a Jog option within the menu which allowed me to raise the print bed and get the fillament reels out. This should have been in the instructions.


It also comes with a class plate to place over the heated print bed, and to cover the glass plate with some special heat resistant tape. The glass plate is held on the print bed with 4 supplied bulldog clips.

Glass Plate

One issue I had with this is that when the printing bed was raised up near the print head, and the print head moved to its home position (back, right), it caught the bulldog clip and pushed it off. Luckily it didn't damage the print head.


After putting the printer together, the first task is to adjust the print bead so that it is evenly spaced from the print head across the whole area. It does this by moving the print head to various points on the print bed and you have to adjust some screws under the bed to raise or lower it – You're supposed to just be able to slide a piece of A4 paper between the print nozzel and the bed. One minor issue I had was that when it moved the print head to the front of the print bed, the print head was positioned too far forward and was not over the print bed – so I had to do it by eye.


The printer also comes with a 2GB SD card which contains a couple of sample prints. Printing the sample using the PLA filament (white) worked fine, first time, but printing the sample using the ABS fillament (green) didn't quite work – They are both supposed to be butterflys.

Sample Prints

When printing the ABS sample, it seemed to be using the same temperature (220 for the head, 110 for the bed) as it did for the PLA fillament. Reading some posts about other people's experience with printing in these different materials, I am assuming the failure is down to the wrong temperatures being defined for the ABS sample print. So I will have to experiment with that.


Also, one of these is quite useful for getting the printed model off of the print bed, because they stick pretty well:-

Plastic Knife

It's some sort of plastic knife or slicer – I don't really know. I happened to have one in the draw under the sink. It's been in the draw for ages, but I don't remember where it came from or how it got there – Probably fate.

After printing is complete it's a good idea to let the whole thing cool down for a bit because the model is still pretty flexible just after printing and trying to pry it from the print bed can mishappen it.



So far, so good.


23. July 2013 · Comments Off on New Pond · Categories: 3D Printing, Garden, Pond, Pond, Projects · Tags: ,

The pond in my garden is in a bit of a sorry state; it's leaking and it's in a bad location where it is difficult to get to most parts of it. It's also surrounded by bushes and trees and much of the debris from these end up in the pond. So I have decided to build a new pond with raised sides which will hopfully be easier to manage. Clicky

Current Pond

13. July 2013 · Comments Off on New Pond · Categories: 3D Printing, Garden, Pond, Pond, Projects, Wildlife

July 13 (2013)

This is where the new pond will go. Currently it’s a gravelled area with potted plants:-

01 - Current space

Step 1 – Move all of the pots. Some of them are concrete, and damn heavy:-

02 - Pots moved  03 - Moved pots

Step 2 – Remove the gravel:-

02 - Pots moved  05 - Big pile of gravel


July 14

First trench. Don’t judge me; this clay soil is hard to dig – it sticks to the spade like glue. Plus it’s hot:-


Plus I took the afternoon off to go see Pacific Rim. It was disappointing. Sort of reminded me of a Japanese Manga film, but in real life.


July 15

2.5 trenches – It’s too hot for digging:-

07 - Two point five trenches


July 16

Finished digging the trench for the wall foundation.

Blocks, ballast and cement delievered. Moved 180 blocks from the front to the back:-

09 - Bags Of Ballast 08 - 180 Blocks


July 17

Started pouring foundation. Not sure how you make sure it’s up to the same level all the way round.

10 - Pouring Foundation

Also went to see a man about hiring a small excavator, cos I really don’t fancy digging out the hole in the middle; the trenches were hard enough.


July 18 and 19

Poured some more foundation. Wheelbarrow has a slow puncture, so had to keep blowing that up.

11 - Foundation 2


August 21

Weather and other things meant it’s taking a bit longer than I wanted, but now the foundation for the wall is now poured, and I’m ready to dig the hole:-

12 - Ready for digging hole


August 22

With this:-

13 - Mini excavator 14 - Mini excavator

which was damn good fun to use.

Of course, in typical British summer style, after four days of blistering heat it starts pouring with rain the moment the excavator is delivered. Bah.

Waited till about 12 for the rain to stop. No such luck, so looks like I’m getting wet.

A few hours later, I have a hole in the ground, and a big pile of what goes for soil in these parts, which is basically clay. And the 2 inches of rain this morning didn’t really help matters. But hey-ho:-

15 - Hole in the ground 16 - Big pile of dirt

Will have to tidy up the hole by hand as it was too much faffing about trying to use the digger.


September 22

Bad weather and other things meant progress stopped for a while. But managed to start doing the block work today:-

17 - First row of blocks


September 28 (2013)

Managed to do some more block work today, with the help of my brother (thanks bruv):-

18 - More block work

Unfortunately (or typically) rain stopped play mid afternoon. So we went and played some GTA-V.


June 26 (2014)

Finally had the will power, and time, to do some more:-



August 23 (2014)

20 - 2014-08-23


August 24 (2014)

21 - 2014-08-24

Had a go at creating a 3D model of what I hope it will look like when finished, but discovered that the 3D printer can’t do very thin vertical structures:-

Screenshot 22 - 3D Print


August 30 (2014)

23 - 2014-08-30


August 31 (2014)

Have a tenant already …

24 - Tenants 25 - 2014-08-31

Nearly done, but have run out of sand.


October 11 (2014)

Finsihed the block work a couple of weeks ago (forgot to take a picture).

I got a cheap submerislble pump from Screwfix to pump out the water that was in the hole.

26 - 2014-10-11 - Pump

Suprising how soft the mud was at the bottom of the hole; I was sinking nearly up to my knees.


Got some pond liner underlay and liner from PondKeeper.co.uk. I went a bit mad and got 82 meters:-

Underlay  Liner

I started to fill it with the hose pipe, but it started raining …

29 - 2014-10-11 - Start filling


October 14 (2014)

A week later, we’ve had enough rain to fill it:-

30 - 2014-10-14 - Full

And the walls haven’t all given way. Which is a bonus.


October 31 (2014)

Mould for corner cap Mould filledl