Blame it on the heat, yeah, yeah…

So I discovered that apparently it wasn’t the heat that made my Thing-o-Matic freak out! (Which, really, at 109 degrees that day was the first thing I went to, especially given the outrageous heat coming off my Macbook Air).

Last week I had plugged my laptop into the same outlet as the studio’s window AC unit to try to keep the MBA a little closer to the cooler air of inside the studio. This time I did the same thing, but out of convenience — I was able to run the printer inside with the overhead doors open since EL wasn’t with me. Everything seemed normal, but as soon as I plugged in the USB cable from the printer to the laptop, my ToM went cuckoo with the same garbled screen on the electronics as last time, and after I shut it off wouldn’t come back on. It was only maybe 90 degrees inside the studio, so heat shouldn’t be doing this.

Impatiently, I tried turning it on/off every 2-3 minutes; unplug for a while, blow on it all, unplug the electronic readout, turn off the AC, turn off the ceiling fan, rock back-and-forth huddled in the corner, etc. Those ATX computer power supplies aren’t always the most reliable things in the world and I wondered if mine had totally blown. After looking up these symptoms online for what felt like an eternity, but in reality only maybe 10-15 minutes, I flipped the switch and it came on and the electronics read a nice “Thing-O-Matic”. Yay. Now I plugged the MBA into the same outlet as the ToM on the opposite side of the room from the A/C unit and cautiously plugged in the USB… Nothing happened! Yay take two. Okay – time to turn back on the AC and the ceiling fan. Gulp. No problems! Woot!!

With things seemingly working, I quickly loaded up ReplicatorG and ran the calibration script (yes, I do this at the start of each day since I move the printer at the end of the day and the conditions are always changing), calibrated, and started a build of the first item before anything else went wrong.

To my relief, I had no more problems the rest of the day and was able to print four items. While printing, I had time to reflect on the situation, and that is when I realized the connection between both times the machine when crazy: the Mac was in a different outlet than the ToM, and one that also had the AC unit. All previous times I printed, I had kept both the ToM and MBA plugged into the same outlet outside under the overhang. So my new working theory is that the power from the outlet with the AC unit is not a good one to run the laptop on, at least not to then plug any USB device into. Perhaps a good power-conditioning UPS is in order for the studio?

While my prints were a success, my measurement (and forgetfulness of the shrinkage of plastic) were not, so I’m going to adjust and re-print later today. Then I’ll post about the wonderful new non-mundane item I’m making; one that also includes paint finishes, leafing finishes, and electronics.

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