Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer

Our son was jonesing for a 3D printer. He originally picked the Cube 3 (by 3D Systems) and while it looked pretty decent the reviews didn’t favor it at all. It seemed you either loved the printer or you hated it. On the plus side though it was an awesome price at $189.99. I almost bought it figuring how bad could it be till I looked at the filament. The filament looked like it had to be bought in print cartridges that are proprietary to that machine and cost double what a reel of filament(non-proprietary) cost. That finished off the Cube 3 in my view. For the cost of their cartridges they could give the printer away and it still be a bad deal.

I started to delve into everything I could do to learn about 3D printing and printers. So after learning a good bit about printers here is what I can pass on. There are 2 main types of printers:

  1. SLA (Stereolithography)- now these are awesome
    • Pros
      • the resolution is awesome
      • looks less like a traditional print
      • parts look stronger (this is more opinion based on reviews)
      • diffrent resins can be used for diffrent results
    • Cons
      • Resin is a bit of a mess
      • one review I saw says resin has a short shelf life
      • more expensive
      • resin is light sensitive
      • Isopropyl Alcohol used to clean parts
      • High cost – cheapest I found was $2000
  2. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) – not as awesome but so much cheaper
    • Pros
      • Cheap some models are less than $200
      • There seems to be a huge selection to choose from for materials to build from
      • Some machines can extrude more than one material
    • Cons
      • resolution is not as good as SLA printer…they may exist but I haven’t seen any that come close
      • depending on how you orient your part your results could be good or bad (I am sure this could be true for the SLA as well but I just didn’t see much about this for SLA)
      • Filament should be stored out of moist areas (in a humid areas people have had jams if the filament has picked up moisture out of the air

The 3D Printer we chose

The criteria I had for picking a printer while not very scientific was better than tossing a coin in the air. I chose the Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer for these reasons:

  • it was rated with 4 out of 5 stars with over 50% being 5 stars
  • many people that reviewed it on YouTube were happy with it
  • It was around my price point of $200 (it actually cost $220)
  • acceptable resolution for the price
  • had a heated table and could print different types of filament
  • no proprietary filament like the Cube 3D

We also bought 2 different brands of filament for the printer since the biggest critique against the printer was that if you actually got the free filament with the printer it was such a small amount as to be annoying.

I will have to do a new post to say which one we liked best and for that matter if the printer lives up to its hype.

36 Hours …Book Review

I grabbed this book as I like reading end of the world books. While this wasn’t as good as One Second After, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the interesting things are the links to prepper sites and an app that tells you when something like this is happening. I am going to but the 2 other books based on this one already and will update this post accordingly.

CAD Programs

I went to technical school to be an engineer but what they don’t tell you is that a 2 year degree in the real world makes you a drafter. I spent many hours learning AutoCad and since I no longer work as a drafter I didn’t have access to any CAD software. Designing stuff is still fun for me so I spent hours trying to find the best CAD software that was most like AutoCad. Of course since I don’t make any money drafting I also wanted to buy the software cheap or free! Here is the list of CAD programs I checked out.

My Benchmark
  • AutoCAD (~$1320 annually) is now subscription based and not even something I would consider since it is a subscription.
  • AutoCAD LT ($360 annually) is probably exactly what I would have bought if it wasn’t a subscription.
My CAD Winners
  • SketchUp (Free version) this is pretty slick for a new user and if you are just learning a CAD type program I would recommend it. The Pro version is around $700 and a bit to high for me to justify the cost but if I was ever to use it for a side job I would buy it and make sure the job covered the cost. It is more of a 3D modeling program than 2D. While I really liked it it wasn’t that close to the feel of AutoCad which is what I was really after but it still made it into my toolbox.
  • DraftSight there is a free version which did everything I wanted. I went ahead and bought their pro version cause while it was a subscription it reverted back to the free version if I decided to not renew. The pro version is normally $300 but they have deals all the time and think I got it for $150. Renewal each year after is $99. Looking back I should have probably not bother with the pro version cause I simply haven’t messed with those added features yet but who knows.

This isn’t even close to all the programs out there but after all my research these are the ones I selected. Comment below if you have found others like AutoCAD.

Our Piece of Heaven… Land in the Mountains

We live near Charlotte, NC. Although it is awesome to be close to darn near anything a person could want, it does come with a few trade-offs. The trade off that is the biggest concern happens to be sheer volume of people and the land space that we are all crammed into. The traffic…don’t get me started.

Road
Road outside our driveway

When I was growing up I always wanted a big piece of land to plunk a house on. In order to do that in an area close to where we work, well that just isn’t going to happen without a lot of luck and a lottery ticket. So what does one do if they want a large piece of land and everything near them is expensive? We went to the mountains and bought a piece of land. Sure it takes a bit of time to drive there but the air is cleaner, there isn’t a lot of noise, the stars at night can actually be seen and the best part is everyone has their own space.

Camp site
Camping spot in the winter

The process to building a full blown house is simply not possible right now because of money required and the fact that we do not want to go into any debt to do that. Right now we use the land to do some camping and for some good old fashion exercise by working on the land and hiking.

3D Printing

Ok why do I want one of these so badly? They are not even being made yet but it just seems like it would be really cool to make whatever I wanted (some imagination required).

Pros

  • you can make anything you want…there is even a guy that open sourced gun parts for 3D printers
  • the resolution is awesome …most 3d printers look like someone used a tube of toothpaste to make the objects

Cons

  • it cost $3300
  • the size it prints is very small

Form 1 3D Printer

Mosquito Control

I saw this video the other day and since we seem to have some real issues with the blood suckers around the yard I figured I would give this a try on a budget. So I had these fans sitting around the garage gathering dust and thought they may be under-powered but would be good to decide whether or not to spend any more money in this way.

I decided I would put them together in a 2×2 manner to get the most air on one area.

Here is the finished product working hard in the yard.

In most blog circles this would be an update but I am slack and I have put the fan outside 4 days of the last week. So I bet you are wondering how well it is working. It works great if I have it in the right place otherwise there is simply not enough air drawn to the fan to catch the blood suckers unless they happen to fly to close. If they do happen to fly close they are caught. The first day I had it running it got about 20…I was quite happy with that. The last 3 days I moved it around the yard and was lucky to get maybe 10 more. I plan on tracking electricity usage to see how much that is. I noticed even on the day I had it going and it got 20 it didn’t happen all through the day but happened right around dusk which of course coincides with when the experts say they come out. I also noticed that if I don’t want to leave it on all the time I can just point the fan in my direction and they really can’t get to me. So if it don’t catch them from the one side the other side of the fan keeps me cool and keeps them away. All in all a good use of my time. I think I will add some wheels to it so it is easier to move around. Almost forgot if you decide to make one for yourself and don’t want to use it to fan yourself with if may be to your advantage to line the fans up in a row since most all the mosquitoes get caught around ground level. Course that is only an opinion based on a week of use.