3D printer, the choice is made

Well, I have debated it for a while, and have made my decision on the 3D printer I will be buying. The final choice is the Rostok Max V2 from SeeMeCNC.

It really came down to not finding any particularly perfect printer, but this was the best compromise when looking at the three front runners in my previous post. So lets run down what brought me to this decision.

Very large print size for the price.
The ability to print ABS, and easily work with PLA as well with minor changes.
The included heated bed and LCD display.
Option to add multiple extruders.
Two years of production, so early adopter problems will be largely addressed, and a deep history to draw from.
Low mass delta head design, which offers higher potential speed.

Wood framed design. Functional, but not my favorite. I’d prefer metal of some type.
Bowden tube design. They have a reputation for being finicky, but necessary for the delta arm format.
3 week lead time. I don’t like to wait.
Big. It’s going to really hog up desk space.

Now, this is going to be a big project, out of all honesty. Kit based 3D printers have a reputation for being difficult to get dialed in and running properly, with a lot of trial and error needed. Things seem much more matured in designs than when I first looked into RepRap, so I am confident this is all within my abilities, but it’s still a big gamble for about $1200 after shipping and accessories.

I’ve also only funded about 1/3 of it so far. So I’ll be advertising my e-bay page a lot over the next few weeks until I have the money saved up to cover the bill. I really want to order it. But I also don’t want to go into debt any further than I already am with this business. Time to raid the garage again tomorrow and get some fresh auctions going.

The order has been placed at this point, my initial batch of e-bay sales has exceeded expectations and I have plenty more to start selling. I shouldn’t have any problem covering the cost of the printer within the next month or so. The are currently advertising a 3 week shipping time-frame, so I’ll update more when it arrives. In the meantime I will start looking into the software, as I do want to make my own designs and not just a bunch of trinkets from thingiverse.

More website update notifications

I have begun the process of transferring the product descriptions from the old ‘boards’ page, and putting them into the descriptions on the new shopping cart. As a product gets updated I am removing the link to the old product pages from the ‘boards’ page. Those product pages are still there for now, they just have no active links to get to them unless you already have the URL.

The easy ones are already done, now I am moving on to the trickier pieces. This is going to be a hit or miss project, and I will work on it time permitting, but I do hope to be done with it by the end of June.

Slowly getting there.

I’ve also uploaded new images for the system 3-7 and system 9-11 wiring harness schematics for the switch matrix tester. The old ones were a bit hard to follow and had a couple mistakes to them. The WPC/WPC-S/WPC-95 versions are not yet completed, but I’ll get those updated as soon as I get a chance. I think the new versions are a lot easier to follow. They are prettier at least. This should address the questions I have been getting on the wiring. Eventually I want to update the lamp tester harness schematics as well, but those will be further away as I haven’t received any complaints about those, and believe they are technically correct.

Deciding on a new toy, 3D printing

With all the little things I’ve been making, you wouldn’t believe how often I wish I had a small plastic widgit of some type. It could be an alignment jig for parts, a spacer between the PCB and battery holder in my flipper opto tester, replacement switch extensions for Starblade… all sorts of little things. So I am now in the market for a 3D printer to realize some of these things.

And then things get difficult. . .

There’s a lot of options on the market in price range and capability. Yet I do not thing the technology is matured quite as far as manufacturers are advertising it, particularly on the lower priced models. I think we are still a couple generations from the point it is openly viable for the consumer market, but still very advanced from when I had looked into it a few years ago during the early RepRap days. It is, however, sufficiently matured for me to dive in finally. I’ve been looking at a lot of different models, originally with an open mind and unclear budget, and have narrowed it down to a couple of different models. I have a bit of time to decide while I accumulate funding through some e-bay auctions.

The current front runner is the PrintrBot Simple Metal Kit.
A great price point, with a solid feature set, and a print envelope that covers the sizes I want to build. I purposely am steering toward the kit both because I love building stuff, but also so I can get my hands dirty and learn how it works. I am going into this with the assumption that any 3D printer will be maintenance intensive, so I might as well know where all the parts are and how they go together. It comes with auto leveling, a 150x150x150 print envelope, and is fairly well supported as an open source device. The only significant drawback is that it can’t print ABS without modification. So I am using this as my benchmark piece, and rating any other choices in comparison to this model.

The lower budget option is the Printrbot Simple Makers Kit
This is a lower priced variation of the Simple Metal. Wooden framed, not as beefy hardware, smaller print envelope, but otherwise very similar layout and feature set. The wooden frame is an interesting thing, and I am sure is perfectly fine, but it is a downgrade from the metal frame of the Simple Metal. But the current version offers all the fancy features, and it seems that Printrbot is more supportive of updating older wood models to the current status. I was originally favoring this model, but have steered away from it in recent days.

The last option is my higher end choice, the Rostock Max V2
This is a very different system from most other 3D printers, being known as a delta head. Compared to the Printrbots, it gives a massively larger print envelope, runs ABS plus other filament types, and really offers every feature I think I could use except for dual heads. I’m honestly not worried about dual heads yet, but would be nice to be able to add them later if I wanted to. The only thing is, can I justify double the price of the Simple Metal? Triple the price of the Simple Wood? If I have a good string of sales on e-bay, maybe. I would like to hit this point for sure. I also would really need to come up with some good product ideas to justify the cost. Though it would increase the options of what I could build due to the size and filament options.

So there is my conundrum right now. How can you guys help? A couple ways

1. Info! If you’ve used the above models, I’d love feedback on any of them.

2. Buy Stuff! Either via e-bay, or the new store front, funding is what brings these things into the realm of possible. I am not going further into debt for this, but still want to make it happen.

Drop Target Sliders Sold Out

The last of the original run on drop target slider boards has now been sold. For the time being, please visit Marco Specialties to order them, I sent a fair sized shipment to there in March. I do plan on having more made, I just don’t know when in the project list this is going to be.

Now selling bare tester boards

Due to popular demand, and having more shopping cart space available now as well, I’ve decided to make the bare boards for most of my testers available as separate pieces. The only ones I did not make available were the bench display unit and flipper opto tester. The bench display is a more complex unit and has some pretty specific part requirements with the LED blocks used, and the flipper opto tester also has that specific 9v battery holder on it. That, and I have to clear out some inventory on them as well.

There are a couple requirements that come along with these. First is that I don’t provide much by way of support. I’ll probably put some parts lists on the product pages, but no assembly instructions will be provided, nor any additional support outside what I already have for the regular assembled testers. There are also no returns or exchanges on these.

So look for the new ‘bare boards’ section in the storefront, and pick up some deals if you feel technically inclined.

Website is now ‘live’

After a long week, I think we can consider the new website to be live and running finally. The new blog is, obviously, running fine. The new shopping cart has reached an acceptable level of setup, if not 10% perfect yet. E-mail is running stable. So I declare the store to be open and running! Links on the main site page at www.siegecraft.us have been updated accordingly. So the main entry page looks very similar to what it was, but the storefront will be very different.

Then, I need to celebrate, so it’s time for a sale!
From now till July 1st, $15 off bench displays, $3 off flipper opto board testers, and 50% off 9v battery leads (new to the store too.)

It’s been a slow month due to all these website issues, so I can hopefully put this all behind me and get back to paying down debt and putting money toward new product and tooling. I have a long list of product ideas, and am looking at a few basic 3D printers as well. At least I can get back to finishing up older projects too and continuing the cleaning and streamlining of the shop. Did I mention I’ve been working on the wave solder machine again?

I’m also adding a number of smaller items to the shopping cart software as well. I do have a large number of molex connectors and pins on-hand for my existing product line, as well as other little parts that tend to sit around in large numbers. The new system is easy enough to use that I have no reason not to add these into my product listings. Pricing will not be the cheapest on the market, but still will be in a fair range. I’m not really looking to get into the small parts market on any significant scale.

Shopping cart in progress

Learning new software is rarely fun, particularly when in a hurry, but I am making rapid strides on the shopping cart. As I mentioned, it will be a very different look and feel than the current system, and will be almost a complete redesign of the website. So I hope you aren’t offended that I am trying not to rush too much on this. There’s a few stages to this that I need to handle, so here’s where I will put the updates as I go. I’ve decided to handle these in a certain sequence so that it prevents any accidental orders by customers before the site is ready, but once products start hitting the storefront, it will be fine to start placing orders even if not all products are uploaded just yet.

Shipping rates and methods will remain the same. Payment will still be handled via paypal as before. I will be adding a large number of small items to the site, since I won’t have that annoying 15 product limit from the old website. So I will actually be making available the bare boards for most, if not all, products I sell. Same with lots of connector housings and pins, things like that.

1: Choose and Install Software – Complete – Not much to report

2: Configure the basic theme – 80% – Basic image structure is looking ok, had a new issue pop up, but not a concern to stop me from going live.

3: Configure the payment processing and shipping – 90% – Have the shipping issues worked out, now just to deal with charging sales tax when appropriate. I have so few SD and WI sales, that I may just go live before fixing this completely.

4: Import photos and configure products – 100% – Starting to add products, picking up speed. Fixed a big issue with prices not showing correctly.

5: Link technical instructions from old pages to the new cart info pages – 0%

First post of the new era blog


Welcome to the new “Siege Blog”, home of news updates and random ramblings from Siegecraft Electronics.

Yes, I used to have a blog.  It was a long running blog, nearing 500 posts since 2009 and covered many, many topics.  Then I got frustrated with my website in many ways, and decided to transfer it to a new host. I have decided to start a new blog, do a new shopping cart, and a massive streamlining of the website as a whole. It had become too broad in nature. Many areas were neglected and forgotten, some of them completely broken. Much of it distracted myself and my readers from the core content that had formed around my business. So now I am declaring that the newly created blog is active, the website is active, and I can get along with doing the remainder of the hard work to get it running again.

Now that the blog is running, and I can start getting to work on the shopping cart, so that I can properly start selling to my wonderful customers again. I thank you greatly for being so patient during this unexpected upheaval. I hadn’t planned for any of this, but it was necessary in the long run to just get on with it and fix all the broken stuff. When the cart goes live again it will be a completely different format than before. I am for a more professional feel to the website, and more readable formats. I hope you like the changes as they occur.

I do apologize for removing all the great technical info that the old blog contained. This is only temporary, to be honest, as I did back it all up on my PC before deleting it from the website. So the technical pages will be eventually re-introduced in one form or another. It’s going to be a lot of work on this end, but I aim for a much more user friendly end result.

Expect a bunch more website status updates for a while, before I get back to doing the fun stuff that brought me all you great readers. But it is coming, I have a lot of great things to share soon.