What does the fox say?


Yup it’s printing! ūüôāIMG_20140603_221140 IMG_20140603_221135More updates soon!



Update June Week 1

DSC_1598¬†This is the makerbot 3D printer that we’ve been working on for weeks and it’s now almost ready to rock and roll.

We spent most of last week trying to work out why it was moving 10cm rather than 1cm.

This week was spent reconfiguring the firmware trying to get it to move the correct distance.

DSC_1597¬†We took some shots of the motherboard for our own reference. It’s a MakerBot MotherBoard v2.4. It says Instructions are at wiki.makerbot.com/mb2, however, that page has since been taken down by makerbot as they’ve gone commercial. However, thanks to the wayback machine, the MakerBot Motherboard v2.4 article is reachable.DSC_1594

Much like the motherboard, the stepper motor board has similar scribes on the PCB. It says Stepper Motor Driver v3.3, instructions wiki.makerbot.com/smd3 (Wayback Machine).

DSC_1593Then there’s the extruder board, which says Extruder Controller v3.6, and docs at wiki.makerbot.com/ec3 (Way Back Machine).¬†That’s it.

With all this information we should be configure it correctly and connect everything where it’s meant to go.

DSC_1588Our next job is to get the extruder and hot end correctly connected up.

At present it’s not wired correctly and there’s limited details on how it should be connected, so it may be a case of trial and error to ensure we’ve got the motor connected correctly.

DSC_1587This is the “MakerBot Automated Build Platform v2.0”, this is described as a bigger build area with a¬†conveyor¬† which will clear the build surface area between prints, which is nice.¬†From that I found the original Thing-O-Matic product for sale on there website in 2011 (Wayback Machine).

This lead to the official Thing-o-Matic documentation including the assembly instructions and user manual (Wayback Machine) as well as the MakerBot documentation on their current site. Which is useful.


Si and Kate were toying around on their laptops with SketchUp, producing 3D models, including a tardis (Kate being into Dr. Who is an understatement apparently).

They seemed to get stuck in pretty quickly, which was most impressive. It won’t be long before we’re knocking out Dr Who memorabilia left, right and centre.

DSC_1581Mikey came down again with his robot again, this time it was working, but it needed a tidy up job doing on the circuit, as well as needing to be configured to do a 360 degree turn.

Before we wrapped up, Mikey had almost got it all working. Details to follow.

DSC_1580The beast 3D printer was moving forward as well.

Now we’ve got the aluminium X/Y Carriages done we’ll be able to get it all joined together and ready to start moving the printer head (hot end).

The Raspberry Pi will need to be updated and have printrun installed, and the touch interface configured.

DSC_1579Here’s DanR on the case with the MakerBot 3D printer, trying to get it configured with the correct firmware so it will move the correct distances.

I believe we did get it working in the end through a process of trial and error.

DSC_1578Here’s the full crew getting stuck in with their various projects, or helping with existing ones.

It’s not like there’s nothing to do, we’ve always got projects going on and plenty of bits to play around with.

If you’re not sure about something, you can always ask.

DSC_1577I thought I’d do a quick tour of our storage room this week just to give people an idea of what we’ve got for you to play with.

DSC_1574The rack on the left has various tools, including soldering irons, saws, multimeters, hammers, screwdrivers, paint brushes, glue gun, to name a few. The rack on the right is our disassembly rack. These are components (such as motors) salvaged from various machines (such as printers, scanners).

Our other racks are crammed full of computers, computer components and an array of electronics and electronic devices. Far too much for me to begin to list, so you’ll have to take a look for yourself!

See you next week!

Update May Week 3


Last time at Potteries Hackspace…

After the suspense I left last week I decided to go the whole hog and start with a recap, so if you cast your mind back a bit you’ll remember last time…

We were looking at connecting the Raspberry Pi to a touch screen monitor and well we’re one step closer. Everything is connected, it’s now a case of configuring the software.¬†3D printing… Soon.

Dave and Will came down armed with their laptops and random bits of hardware, such as a roomba that Will was working on, with a front mounted camera.

Eye spy with my little eye!

The idea is that soon enough we’ll have a video streaming wireless robot roaming the hackspace that¬†you¬†can control. Pretty neat huh?

Look busy everyone, I’m taking a photo…¬†Here’s the team busily working on the 3D printer and roomba robot¬†respectively.

Here’s the end result. It sort of looks like a monster that found its way out of our storeroom at the moment, but before long we’ll be able to transform it into a proper piece of kit that looks the part too.

Plus lots of masking tape…

If you were paying attention, you’ll also see Jib’s bike in the background that John and he were working on.

On yer bike!

We’ve got videos this week of the Roomba in action.

Next time at Potteries Hackspace…

  • Dave’s coming down with the mission to fix Sarah’s printer. Will he turn up and get it done?
  • Will DanW turn up with the bits we need for our 3D printer?
  • Will I actually get this this Raspberry Pi connected to a screen!?
  • Will’s finishing his Roomba robot to go full wireless and become a hackspace scout with a full web based API so you can annoy the hell out of us. Will Will will his will power and not wilt?
  • Will I ever stop making bad jokes?
  • Will any more people turn up to check out what’s going down at Potteries Hackspace?!

Who knows… but find out next time here at the Potteries Hackspace blog…

See you tonight at 7PM!

Update May Week 2

This week was pizza night, but we were pretty distracted by all the action.

DSC_1516First off, DanW very kindly got stuck in with his PAT testing kit. First for the chop was my donated angle grinder, which was great because I actually needed to use it.

Thanks to DanW and his handy PAT checker and some sticky labels we’re now a little bit safer.


Paul, Si and Tom were all getting stuck in to getting Sarah’s 3D printer up and running, which isn’t far off now. Just a case of connecting the hot end and reconfiguring the firmware and we’re ready to go…

What would you print? Let us know in the comments!


Ben and Finn were getting stuck in with their robot project. It looks complicated! I’m glad they know what they are doing! ūüôā

Let’s just hope the three laws of robotics are applied!

Keep an eye out here as I’ll be posting it’s progress here.


This looks technical. There’s a multimeter involved and everything.

Turns out it was a software issue. I think they needed to reverse the polarities.

Everyone knows you always reverse the polarities


Thanks for fixing my angle grinder Dan.

This plug dates back to before british standards were actually a thing.

Life saver, possibly literally.


This angle grinder can now go into the log for approval as it passed the PAT check after the plug was swapped for a good one.

Dan managed to do about 30 items before running out of sticky labels.

I’d say it was a thankless job, only I do remember thanking him many times, but another one won’t go amiss, so thanks Dan!


Charlotte was practicing her cup song, she even wrote a little tutorial for it.

Maybe we’ll have a few more tutorials heading our way soon…

Sorry guys, no videos this week, maybe next.

Speaking of next week…

Will we get Sarah’s 3D printer actually printing? Will we get the Raspberry Pi connected to our 3D printer with a screen? Will more people turn up with interesting gadgets? Will there be videos!?

Find out in next weeks post!

PS. Sorry for no pizza photos, we scoffed it all down before I had thought to take any.

Update April Week 4

DSC_1274This is our tap, there are many taps like it but this one is ours…

The first hack of the session was thanks to DanW who brought down a hose pipe connector kit. Adding this was essential to making the water flow better for our coffee and tea making facilities. I know, I know, the excitement is overwhelming!

DSC_1260DSC_1273DSC_1276DSC_1263Moving very swiftly back on to our 3D printer, we reconnected everything back up from last week to see where we were up to.

Only this time we thought we’d give it a go on Linux, after all the eventual plan would be to use a Raspberry Pi to interface with the RAMPS kit.

DanR got his laptop out and started hammering away at the keys in an attempt to get the “printrun” software we’d tried before to run on Linux.

However, through no fault of his own an error was returned. “ImportError: No module named printcore”, apparently this is a known issue on Debian based Linux systems.

Oddly enough, printrun works perfectly on Windows, so we went back to that until the issue on Linux is resolved with the developers.

Through this software we were able to figure a few bits out, set the dimensions in the configuration and recompile, then upload the updated firmware to the Arduino.

We did successfully manage, with some accuracy to get the bed to go up and down the threaded bars, especially since we’d correctly configured the work area¬†dimensions¬†however there was a bit of a wobble.

DSC_1267DSC_1271Discussion quickly turned to how we were going to solve this problem. We talked about the possibility of moving the existing threaded rods to the corners and adding two additional ones which would be belt driven. Another idea after confirming against the Ultimaker was to use a larger drive nut, or indeed use two drive nuts, simply adding an additional one above the bed, opposite the one below.

Meanwhile, John was getting on with his on-bike sound system. The previous wooden lid had rotted away so he took the opportunity to replace it with an all weather plastic solution.

DSC_1270We also discussed (re)assembling the vacformer into a fixed position, however we’re in need of a heater unit.

Anyone got one of those portable halogen heaters spare?

Better check the attic…

Update: These are the missing videos footage that I forgot to publish.

Update April Week 3


DSC_1042Mark this as the day we officially got our 3D printer actually working.¬†OK, so it’s not printing yet, but everything is moving.

With thanks to Si for his soldering skills and getting things connected, DanR for overseeing the firmware, Tom for completing the chassis we were able to to hook it up to the power and start getting things moving.

DSC_1040As soon as we attached it to the mains we had a little movement, this was good, but not quite what we wanted yet. We hooked up a terminal on the USB virtual port COM4 at 250000 baud and discovered an error.

DSC_1045The first thing we needed to do was re-configure the Arduino¬†Marlin firmware, we set the motherboard as “RAMPS 1.3 / 1.4 (Power outputs: Extruder, Bed, Fan)” and¬†TEMP_SENSOR_0 as “100k thermistor – best choice for EPCOS 100k (4.7k pullup)”.

DSC_1041Using the Arduino software we were able to compile and upload the updated Marlin firmware to the Arduino. This was exciting.

As we are using the Marlin firmware we needed the Python based printrun on a windows machine to actually interface with it.

DSC_1039As we had only attached the extruder so far we decided to test that first, however we couldn’t seem to make it do anything. We realised that it wouldn’t do anything until the thermistor had reached temperature, so we set the temperature.

First the reading went to room temperature and we were all a bit downhearted by this, but a second request for it to increase temperature seemed to do the trick. We watched as the software reported the temperature increase in a nice little graph.

It was time. The thermistor had reached temperature and now we could tell the extruder to move.

Success! Cheers went around the room as we saw the motor whir and the cogs turn. The excitement was all too much. I had to sit down… I did take some videos though…

That’s not all!

In the midst of all this, while while we were up to our eyeballs in wires and code for the 3D printer,¬†we had a few visitors down to come and check out the place. Si kindly introduced himself and showed them around. Thanks for coming down and we hope you’ll come back soon, hopefully we’ll have a finished product by then!

DSC_1051Not only that but John had brought down his battery powered EL wire, so he got to work putting that into a board, which flashes “Hack” in blue and “Space” in orange. A sort of beacon to say: “We’re here!”.

DSC_1053Also, Steve very kindly brought down a spare graphics card (or GPU).¬†We thought it might be fun to get a mining rig setup, sure we’re a bit late in the game, but it would still be a fun project as there’s a few ideas that may give us an edge against competitors. Focusing less on the revenue and more the challenge.


Thanks everyone, see you next week!