A win for modularity

After making the new version of my remote control holder last week, and hanging it on the wall, I saw a problem. Really, it was an aesthetic issue rather than a functional issue, but something I wanted to correct none-the-less. When the remote was placed in the holder, it would rock to one side or the other. The bottom wing was flat while the bottom of the remote is curved; the space on either side of the remote between the wings was larger than the width of the remote.

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Since I made the holder in such a way that each wing could be easily replaced, I decided to make a new bottom wing with a curved bottom, one that would match the curve of the remote. I found a nice website that has a calculator to determine the radius of a circle, given the width and height of an arc – exactly what I could get from the remote. Humorously, the resulting circle radius came out to be 35.18mm (“3518” was the title of one of my earliest released songs, some 20-years ago, and based on a random sample I grabbed off the radio of one of those “calculate hard math problems in my head in seconds” guys).

Bottomwing

Running this object through ReplicatorG produced a 17-minute print job. Perfect – exactly why I designed this version this way; easy to make changes and print new wings.

I printed the new wing design and it came out just as expected – on time and with fine resolution. I then decided this was a perfect time to try something I hadn’t done before, but had been meaning to: generate gcode with a faster feedrate (make it print faster). The normal setting is 30mm/s, so I upped it to 50mm/s. This change made the time estimate go from 17 minutes down to 13 minutes. More important than the decrease in time was the anticipated change in print quality; I figured that almost doubling the print speed would ruin the gorgeous print quality I’ve grown used to.

Running the file through ReplicatorG to my Thing-o-Matic got things underway and I waited impatiently for the printer to get up to temperature. Finally it started printing and I could immediately tell the difference in speed. What was interesting was that I have always experienced a sort of moire pattern on the bottom layer of raftless prints, and the change in speed lessened the pattern; this was a good thing.

By the sixth or seventh layer, however, it became apparent that the speed change also affected the print quality – most notably at the corners: they were more rounded and less vertically straight. This was a bad thing.

In the end, the overall quality differences were minimal. On a piece like this one, where it would be hidden the majority of the time, I wasn’t concerned about these differences. For larger pieces, or items that I really wanted to maintain quality, I will stick with 30mm/s, but I did go half-way for all my other prints today to 40mm/s with satisfactory results.

Here are the pics of the 30mm/s and 50mm/s side by side and some close-ups of the poor edges, as well as the bottom layers and the moires they exhibit.

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Finally, I returned home, pulled out the old bottom wing and put in the new, curved version. Replacing the remote in the holder yielded exactly the result I had hoped for: the remote stays straight, despite the gaps at the side. Yay!

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