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Archive for September, 2015


3D Design

Discovery. It’s a fun thing. Sometimes rather eye opening as well.

As a long time Mac user; since 1985 if anyone really wants to know, I’ve watched as the Apple OS matured, bloated, got better, changed directions, and fell off the tracks more than once in all those years. They aren’t perfect by a long shot, after all authoring a complete OS with all the supporting apps is more that a few lines of code to get right.

However having said that probably the number one usage of any computer is a web browser and email. Thus those would be the areas where if you’re going to make a difference and show off what you can do, that’d be it. To the point there’d be no use anyone developing anything similar.

Sadly, Apple is a ball dropper when it comes to both of those. Safari and Mail are the weakest “links” in their software app chains. Both run like an under inflated tire on the 30 year old family sedan. However just like that tire, they’ll get you there, but it’s not a warm and fuzzy experience.

Now the precursor to all of this was that I was designing in 3D for the Kossel. While I could use a native app, it was actually easier to use Tinkercad. A free online service for designing 3D widgets…so to speak. Open an account, design, download STL, slice, print, repeat….

Tinkercad runs in a web browser and uses, what else, WebGL. As do a lot of online web game engines. You’d think Apple would be on top of this since they seem to be more in the entertainment field than useful tool arena, but, nope. Turns out a 3rd party browser blows their doors off.

To illustrate the difference, I used a online service called Unity and their WebGL test online. In a browser, just like Tinkercad uses.

The computer in this case is an iMac, late 2014, 27 inch, i5 3.5GHZ, 8GB of memory. Here’s the results in Safari:

WegGL Safari

I have been using Safari with Tinkercad all the time and while I noticed a few hiccups, performance was still pretty respectable.

For fun I ran the same test with the latest Firefox:

WebGL Firefox

The numbers clearly indicate that Firefox is the browser of choice for Tinkercad, even if you never use it for anything else.

When I was using Firefox the whole design experience was buttery smooth.

But admittedly Safari did work. My thought then turned to my older MacBook Pro. A MID 2012, i5 2.5GHz, 13″, 4GB.

First off Safari:

WebGL Safari MBP

Then Firefox:

WebGL Firefox MBP

Ah yep. Safari on the 2012 MBP, Tinkercad was unusable. With Firefox, it was definitely usable.

Rather than just take my findings, here’s the link to the WebGL test I used at Unity. Run it in your own various browsers and see what performance differences you find. When you find the best, use that with Tinkercad.

Unity WebGL Test

I’ve never owned a Windows computer but perhaps there is differences there as well. Might be worth checking out too if you’ve found dodgy performance in Tinkercad.


Kossel Power Plate Update

Earlier I’d made some adapters for the power supply to fit on the top of the Kossel 3D printer I’d built.

Kossel Power Supply modification

On the bottom of the frame I’d made a simple plate for an AC outlet to keep things neat.

However this left the USB cable from the Arduino MEGA hanging out the side of the frame with no strain relief on it so it is easy to jerk things around inside the Kossel. Not a good thing.

A quick search around eBay and I found one of these USB to host cable extensions for a couple of bucks.

Kossel USB Extension

I managed to find one that was only 12″ long, since these do come in sizes from 12″ to 36″.

Next, I redesigned my initial AC plate to accommodate the new USB host connector.

Kossel AC USB Plate

Now with the cables in place, things are once again, neat…

Kossel Cabled Up

If you’d like to print one of these plates for yourself, here’s the link to the STL file…


Vacuum Adapter

Apart from printing stuff that I use with the Arduino’s, there’s a number of non-Arduino things that have been shelved for a long time because, simply put, there was no solution.

Until now.

One of the jobs that has to be done in studio here is dusting off the recording console. I looked for a decent brush to do the job and finally found one more than a year ago. It fits well between the strip faders and has enough bristle length it doesn’t hang up in the knobs on the console.

Vacuum Brush

Course the problem is that the nozzle size isn’t going to fit any vacuum I own, built-in or Festool shop vac. It actually looks more like the beginnings of a prosthetic than a vacuum attachment…

Vacuum Brush Poor Fit

A few false starts in Tinkercad and I finally got something that worked…I purposely made the one end undersize and added a single wrap of electricians tape to give a super tight fit.

Vacuum Brush Adapter

Although Capn’ Peg Leg isn’t enamoured with the colour, the fit works perfectly.

Vacuum Brush Fit
This was sort of a “can it be done” project. Now that I know what it takes, I can make adapters that will fit the Festool vac system and have it link up with my non-Festool power tools for dust collection. It’s going to be fantabulous not to have my Hitachi 12” mitre saw spewing sawdust in the air like a deranged water fountain…!

For the taper fits, in Tinkercad look for the Shape Generators –> Community –> about page 21, it’s labeled as “Cylinder w/parameters”.