• NoJack, Now Available in Threeee-Deeee!

    by Scott

    Friday night was a big night for NoJack, as our electronics-wizard-slash-pool-boy Rithy spent some time over at Noisebridge printing out an early version of the alarm’s outer casing, which you can check out in the photos.

    We’d already had a go at 3D printing using the RepRap printer over at Noisebridge, but had run into problems with it (problem #1: it wouldn’t effing work, problem #2: fire). Luckily Justin, a Noisebridge regular, was nice enough to bring in his own UP2 3D printer for us to use.

    For those of you not familiar with the technology, 3D printing is a fabrication technique that is becoming increasingly popular because it allows users to rapidly print out three-dimensional objects. The basic setup for most of the printers that print in plastic include a motor that runs along three axes, and is attached to a head that melts the plastic and deposits it on a print platform below.

    First the computer model of the three-dimensional object to be printed is “sliced” in software, which cuts the object into horizontal layers and then tells the printer how much material to put on each layer and how to lay it out. The print head then proceeds to extrude molten plastic at each level, building upwards layer by layer until it has created a full three-dimensional object.

    The UP2 printer that Rithy used is slightly easier to use and more user-friendly than some of the other home 3D printers available because it automates certain adjustments that would have to be made by hand on other machines, and because it has its own suite of software for slicing the image files and controlling the printer. With the UP2 Rithy was able to print one part of the housing in about two to three hours. To speed up the process he also printed some parts on the RepRap printer at Noisebridge, but this one is a bit more finicky and harder to operate (at this stage home 3D printers can be rebellious if not properly built and adjusted).

    Because of a miscommunication with the designer of the housing (who we found via freelancer.com), the scaling of the image files we used was a bit off. And by “a bit” I mean waaay off. That’s why the individual pieces being printed out in the photos look ginormous. But it’s all part of the learning process, and the next time around we should be able to fix the scaling issues and print out a properly-sized outer case.

    Minor issues aside, it’s pretty amazing that three people with limited CAD capabilities can source a design from a designer in Brazil, receive the files electronically, and then print out a three-dimensional version of the housing in San Francisco. With 3D printers, the future is now!*

    *Or, you know, whenever you get the damn things adjusted and set up to actually work properly. So like a couple hours. Maybe.

    You can check out Justin’s site here: http://www.linkreincarnate.com/

    And check out UP printers here: http://www.pp3dp.com/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=37&vmcchk=1&Itemid=37

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    Early prototype of the NoJack housing which, due to problems with the scaling that caused it to print way too big, won’t actually fit any bikes. Would be a pretty good alarm for a tree though. 

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    The UP2 printer in action. 

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    The RepRap printer in inaction. Look at it, just sitting there all smug, daring you to try to print something on it.