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Conclusion

Soooooo... with all these shortcuts, only 2K of memory to go around and mechanics hacked up out of old CDROMS and bits of wood, does it work? Well, it mostly does. It took some fiddling with the 'ink' to get a consistency that doesn't 'run' into the rift the needle creates. I eventually got good effects with a mix of banana liquor, food colouring and some corn starch. I put it in the microwave for a small while to get the corn starch to turn everything into something that's more like a gel than a liquid. With that, I had something I could make nice lines with.

I didn't have much time, so I only hardcoded two figures into the firmware: a box and a spiral. Although simple, these figures gave some pretty nice effects:


And here's a movie of the printer giving some shots of jello the treatment:

If you want to replicate this project or just would like to see how the firmware works, I've (as usual) released the sources under the GPLv3. Get them while they're hot!

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14 comments

Noob wrote at 21 Feb 2017, 13.29:

Dude that's awesome! As a student who just started to get into programming and robotics and all that kind of jazz this is the kind of thing that I look forward to trying out! (of course without alcohol)

Wellington wrote at 1 Jul 2015, 3.23:

Cool, congratulations friend !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark wrote at 19 Feb 2015, 8.51:

Check out the GRBL project. It implements a fairly decent gcode based CNC controller on a mega328/arduino.

fencedGeeker wrote at 7 Nov 2014, 2.01:

awesome, I like it. thanks~

WZ3F wrote at 7 Oct 2014, 23.10:

Pretty damned slick!

Harm Dunnewind wrote at 2 Apr 2014, 22.24:

Your exemple inspired me to make some models for schools with just paper, glue and pieces of old pc and cdroms.Can we exchange about it ?

Teckthor wrote at 18 Jan 2014, 20.11:

Brother I am impressed with your work, congratulations loved you and I will try reproduzilo is mesmerizing CONGRATULATIONS

Sprite_tm wrote at 29 Dec 2013, 10.43:

alfredo: Thanks; the article was double-checked both by me and some others but we did not catch those two mistakes. And the 'counter phased PWM' sounds somewhat similar to what I do; my solution only is two lines in code though.

alfredo ricciotti wrote at 28 Dec 2013, 11.11:

Great as always, thanks for your gems. Only a few small remarks on the text: On the bottom of page 2 it could be read: "As you can see from the splatter damage, it's prerry important", I suppose that 'pretty' become 'prerry' in the hurry of writing the article. On page 3 it could also be read: "telling it to go to 0 degrees for two milliseconds, then then telling it to go to 45 milliseconds" , I suppose that should have read "telling it to go to 0 degrees for two milliseconds, then then telling it to go to 45 degrees for four milliseconds". About this last one I am not at all certain as it is a strange way to make microstepping (for me, of course), usually I apply a counter-phased PWM to the coils, but in the end it could as well be the same thing.

Rob Zazueta wrote at 27 Dec 2013, 19.28:

Awesome, thank you! I've been nervous about trying it. I guess the worst case scenario is that I melt the cable and wind up having to solder directly to the pads on the motor. Good to know it can work, though.

Sprite_tm wrote at 27 Dec 2013, 15.23:

Rob: Yes, I basically soldered some flatcables directly to them (luckily they're the flexible cables that can be soldered to) and wrapped them with heat shrink to make them less fragile.

Rob Zazueta wrote at 26 Dec 2013, 21.51:

SO cool, so simple (comparatively - I feel like you boiled the whole 3D printer thing right down to its essence here). One question: How the heck did you wire up the CD-ROM motors with the weird, tiny molex flexible cables? It looks like you may have just soldered directly to them and wrapped the whole thing in heat shrink - am I right? I have a few of these lying around from ripping apart old HDs and would love to put them to good use.

IanTheBuilder wrote at 26 Dec 2013, 19.59:

Really cool hack!

Spartacus wrote at 24 Dec 2013, 19.24:

Amazing job of improvisation and creativity. I'm off to find some old CDROMs and DVDROMS in my collection of random/old desktops. Thanks for the inspiration and instructions! Keep up the hacking!

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