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

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.