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Archive for October, 2017

22
Oct

Solutech PLA Filament

Having a couple of 3D printers means that for the care and feeding, I need to keep an eye on the mechanics and feed them, what seems like, endless amounts of filament.

Filaments I’ve obtained from our local makerspace who supply MG Chemical filaments, or via online. All dependent on what I’m looking for. While getting 1Kg for what I deem as a decent price is nice, there are times when that isn’t possible. If I want it, I get it. Simple enough.

Amazon seems to be trying to be one of the best sources of filament on the market, no doubt because of the free shipping. But their prices are up and down like a spasmodic yo-yo. One day a filament will be “on sale” for $14, the next day it will be $38. The day after $26. You have to watch the price roller coaster like a hawk if you’re using a lot of filament.

Still, I am always on the hunt for new filaments to test to see how they work for me. Therein lies the point. How they work for me. In my printer. For my models. I don’t assume for one second that everyone will experience the same results as I do. At best, might give you a heads up on what you might encounter.

I’m using my delta Kossel printers and those can work significantly different than others.

Standard Brands

My normal PLA filament brands are, in no particular order, Hatchbox, AMZ3D, and MG Chemicals. These are my goto filaments.

Why three different brands?

Simply put, while I’d like to say that all PLA flows, melts, and has the same finish after printing, my experience is that each of them is just different enough that they lend themselves well to specific types of print jobs. Or printed objects if you want to cut to the chase.

General purpose printing, MG Chemicals, and AMZ3D are fairly close. I do tend to use more of AMZ3D because for the same cost, I prefer the non-cardboard sided spools. Having said that, there are some colours in the MG PLA that are nicer than their counterpart in the AMZ3D line.

HatchBox Colour

Hatchbox has Pantone colours so when I need to use that, and I want a premium filament, out comes the Hatchbox. This used to be more true than now. Red PLA used to look more orange to my eye, but that has changed enough so red from most of the companies is actually red, not off-shore red or orange. Yep, they finally get it.

But while Hatchbox has a great filament, I’ve experienced something odd when printing their Red. The dye they use it vaporized coming out of the nozzle to a fine mist/fume and it has tint coated the front of my hot end heat sink. Least I think it’s the red, I also have some Hatchbox transparent red I was printing, but those are the only two red PLA filaments I have.

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Before I took that photo, I’d used a Dremel with a brass brush to clean some of the red off. It was seriously coated.

Solutech PLA

Which brings me to a new brand I picked up from Amazon. Mainly because it was on sale, it’s advertised as “true colour” and I need some orange. No, not for printing Halloween pumpkins…

I ordered a spool of orange, and blue. Never did anything special in the printer, just loaded the orange filament and started a print job. At the same settings I’d use for my standard filaments.

In the photo you can see the filament looks sort of red on the spool but seems to print out in “early pumpkin”. It is getting near Halloween but really, it’s the digital camera doing the not so accurate colour rendition.

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First observation, Solutech PLA is “free flowing”. At my normal temp of 206C, I was getting some little blobs and whiskers which means the bowden was easily pushing the filament through the nozzle with little resistance. As I said, flowy.

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I found it flowed like hot butter. I ended up dropping the temp down to 202C. End of flow issues and whiskers. I didn’t bother testing to see how much lower I could go, but even at 202C it was flowing nicely. When the head moved it wasn’t leaving tails behind anymore.

Solutech – Hatchbox

There are some designs that just don’t lend themselves well to printing. Everyone has done the 3DBenchy to death but for my own tests I tend to print things with threads.

I’d designed a spool holder a while back so I printed one in Solutech Orange, the other in Hatchbox red. Printed at 50mm/s, 0.3mm layer height.

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As you can see the final prints look identical. And they are. But getting them to that point took some doing.

First Hatchbox PLA tends to cool quickly so doing the threads was easy. I had the cooling fans barely on and my standard temps were fine.

Solutech on the other hand, wow. With the same cooling fan speed, the PLA was holding heat like crazy, and the thread edge curling was nuts. Dropping the temp 8C from the Hatchbox setting and ramping the cooling fan speed up to 80% was required to curtail that.

Just to see what might happen, I re-printed them at 30mm/s (slow) and Hatchbox didn’t need a fan, Solutech did, although not as much.

This all reminded me of a bad golf shot where you hit a tree, cart part, and ball cleaning station but still end up beside the pin to tap in for a par. The results don’t indicate the means it took to get there.

Solutech Summary

Every filament out there brings its own little set of nuances to the table and 3D printing, to my mind is never going to be plug and play.

Solutech is not worse than any of my other filaments (wish I could say that for all the filaments I’ve tested), but it certainly requires different settings depending on what I might be printing. Thus I have to pay attention. Not a bad thing either.

7
Oct

Telus PureFibre Experience Hit and Miss

ISP providers are jumping on the bandwagon with promises of speed, and ah…well, speed. Because there’s not much else they can bring to the table as far as internet goes.

Of the two local providers in my area, Telus and Shaw, both have hooked up their teams of Clydesdales to the speed wagon.

So the first thing I’ll say is the one you ultimately pick will be the best one, “in your area”. That’s right. In your area. Where I am Telus can provide the better connection speeds and maintain that throughout the day. Shaw, well, I can tell when the kids get out of school, or it’s bed time for the masses because that’s when the internet speeds pick up again.

Plus the internet is all I’m interested in, TV is about as interesting to me as watching paint dry.

Internet Speeds – Simplified

At first glance, 150Mbps (mega bits per second) sounds nice, but what caught my attention was the 150 Mbps speed for sending (uploading). But before we have a look at those “big” numbers, let’s take a look at some real world translations.

The first and foremost is the Mbps vs MB/s… so 150 Mbps is 150 mega bits per second. Sounds really fast.

We convert that to what we really understand and that’s a BYTE. A single digit, letter, value. Thus in the word, “tart”, there are four characters or bytes, each of those bytes is made from 8 BITS. To send or receive the word “tart” we have to send or receive 32 bits (4 x 8 = 32).

Therefore 150 Mbps = 18.75 megabytes (bytes/characters) per second. In math, take the Mbps and divide it by 8 to get MB/s.

Why is this important? Assume for the moment you’re using some cloud storage and you have some rather large video files that are going to be uploaded. Video files can be rather large so if you check the properties or info on the file, you’ll see the size of it in “megabytes”.

To illustrate take a single 22MB video file and here’s the absolute BEST time it will take to upload to a cloud or some online server:

Advertised Mbps Speed – real MB/s – Time

  • 15Mbps – 1.875MB/s – 11.73 seconds
  • 25Mbps – 3.125MB/s – 7.04 seconds
  • 50Mbps – 6.255MB/s – 3.52 seconds
  • 150Mbps – 18.75MB/s – 1.17 seconds

As you can see, if you only spend time downloading from the net, then yes the 150 down is nice (OS updates download much faster), but if you’re sending out cloud, backup or server files, VPN, then 150 uploading starts to become a lot more important.

Hence, what you can best use is heavily reliant on what you do on the net.

Telus Pure Fibre – Street

As opposed to impure fibre perhaps? Maybe fibre optic (which they tend to spell as Optik) makes it sound more trend setting.

I tend to send out a lot of data, so having some speed for sending is quite attractive to me. Secondly, to go from my current 50Mbps service to 150Mbps was only a Starbucks coffee difference in price. What’s not to like about that.

Telus has been busy installing fibre in our area for quite a while now, and eventually they showed up and asked if I wanted it put in from the box across the street to the house. Considering there is a conduit with their copper wire in it, they have a multitude of excuses of why they won’t use the existing pipe. Things like ground heave, tree roots, alignment of the planets, truly some of the lamest excuses I’ve ever heard.

To cut it to the bone, time is money. It’s faster and cheaper for them to simply use a pressure washer/vacuum sucker to carve a 3″ wide trench across your lawn to your house to lay in their own cable system, than to do it neatly. To their credit they do fill it in and use what looked like 3Kg of lawn seed. It’s grass, it’ll grow back.

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But they should have seriously thought this out a little better. Nah, a lot better. Some bean counter no doubt got a raise over floating this one out there.

None the less, I’d suggest if you have to have this done, make sure it’s when the grass is in growing season. It’s going to take a while to regrow.

Telus Pure Fibre – House Outside

Not exactly sure what beers or drugs the mental midgets were on that installed the box on the side of the house here, but they jammed it so close to the original copper phone line box that you can’t open that box any more. Which, as I see isn’t my problem because it’s a Telus box.

The first phone service installer that is forced to work in the box is going to enrich their vocabulary. A lot. Meh. Too bad.

Telus Pure Fibre – House Inside

Once you ask for the inside installation, you’ll get a visit from an “installer”. If you have some preconceived notion of how you’d like it installed, you have two choices. First you can forget that idea right off the bat, or you can stand your ground and don’t budge. Might mean you don’t get installed though.

Remember they aren’t doing this as a service to you. They are doing this to make money. If that happens to benefit you, that’s just icing on the cake.

The installers are paid by the install, not hourly. And I can fully understand why that would be (there’d be those who would work well and free loaders who would milk it like a dairy farm).

Thus, the installer wants to take the shortest route, has all kinds of excuses why what you want to keep things neat won’t happen. Stand your ground or tell them to buzz off.

For the gear you need to have connected, there’s the ONT box that receives the fibre cable, from there an ethernet cable to the Actiontec T3200 modem/router.

We have a very accessible crawl space (it’s 4ft high in there), the installer wanted to punch a hole in the living room wall. I wanted to use the furnace room in the center of the house. Apparently too much work for the little guy.

My idea was once in the crawl space, it’s quick run to the center of the house where the furnace room is, power and bingo. Out of sight, and neatly done.

Since the living room isn’t used that often, we finally decided to use the corner where all the wiring for the house is any way. Yeah, I caved in, my fault…sigh…

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Ultimately it’s not bad. We have a plate on the wall for the fibre and coax cable (more on that in a minute), the big white box is the ONT. Yellow ethernet wire from the ONT to the modem/router. If I tossed the thing out, I’d have to fix two small screw holes in the wall that hold the ONT in place.

What struck me as rather stupid is that Telus doesn’t supply a proper wall plate for fibre or coax connections. The big white cable you see sticking out of the wall SHOULD be mounted properly with a terminal and right angle connector so it doesn’t stick out in the room. So this half baked plate should be shoved up some bean counters butt. And rotated every now and then until they get the message.

Telus Pure Fibre – Inside Drops

As I said previously there’s some COAX cable involved. Cable like your cable company uses for your TV. Umpteen years ago when the house was built we were pre-wired for TV so coax all over the place. The junction box sits 6″ away from the Pure Fibre box. The box and cabling hasn’t been used in years since we don’t use cable TV.

The room where the computers live is at the far end of the house, they take a COAX cable from the router, hop out to the cable box outside, use an inline coax connector that goes to the room where the computers are.

Once there, they supply an Actiontec MoCA ECB6200 adapter. It converts from coax to ethernet.

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The wall plate has a nice connector on it, but Telus again, in their infinite stupidity doesn’t provide a right angle connector for the coax line so it sticks out into the room. At least they give you the ECB6200.

If you’re thinking that wires could be avoided altogether since the T3200 has wifi, be aware that that 150 promised speeds are only feasible if you are using a direct ethernet connection. Wifi may, or probably won’t be able to achieve the higher speeds.

Lastly, if you have multiple computers where the MoCA adapter is Telus doesn’t give you a switched hub for connection. They only supply ONE ethernet connection. Again, rather short sighted of them, but makes for a happy bean counter.

Fortunately I have a well equipped network stash so I used a five port ethernet gigabit switched hub to connect up the 3 computers and one printer needed.

Telus Pure Fibre – Range Extender

Telus no doubt realizes that their Actiontec routers/modems Wifi distance can be measured with a yardstick. Having said that the installer left me with a Web6000Q range extender. And casually mentioned it would give me two wifi networks in the house.

I kind of missed that comment, but later realized that Telus is again in the bean counting business, not evenly remotely interested in customer satisfaction.

A range extender is supposed to mirror the main wifi name, switching between 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz and handing off so you always get the best signal. As in the most speed. Bang for the buck.

With the Web6000Q, the web GUI has the settings to do this, but the firmware in the model (as of July 2017) doesn’t support anything of the like. You end up with three networks. Three? Yep. The T3200 creates a 2.4 and 5.0 and hands off to the one in itself that gives the best speed. The Web6000Q creates a different 2.4G and 5G network with different names, in spite of the setting no hand off at all.

Eventually this oversight might be fixed in firmware, or not.

During my tests, my Apple Airport Extreme with the 1T drive had 15% more signal strength and better throughput than the 6000Q. Go figure. So the Web6000Q sits on a shelf.

Telus Pure Fibre – Install Overall

What I wanted was a fibre line through the crawl space to the furnace room, a return coax line to the coax junction box outside, from that coax box, a coax to ethernet adapter in the three areas of the house where the computers and internet devices live.

I’ve seen photo’s of other installs, which is largely reflected by the installers willingness to put in something they’d want in their own homes, and if a third rate install is acceptable to them they need to find a different line of work, I’d give my own install a C-. Below average if you will.

Of course I’m using my own ruler to measure the install, and I know how to install. For others who don’t, I wouldn’t want them to be taken advantage of, but I know better. Time is money.

On the other hand, I have the ability to fix the half baked effort so it’s not earth shattering to me. I know what I want and I can do it myself.

Telus Pure Fibre – Speed

Finally we get to what we wanted in the first place. Speed. After all, that’s what putting up with all this crap was about in the first place.

And oh boy, do I have speed.

Telus said 150Mbps, I’m easily pushing 175-180Mbps. And you wouldn’t think a lot of things would be noticeable, but they are. Web sites tend to load that little bit quicker (web sites are the slowest go because of all the links buried within them), but cloud/ftp/email/streaming absolutely scream. We used to wait a little bit on Netflix for a movie to start, ah yeah, not any more. Instant.

Sending video files to my server, wow. What used to take minutes takes what seems like seconds. I have to actually check sometimes because it sent so fast.

OS updates for the computers, those are almost a gigabyte every time. What used to take 5 or 6 minutes now comes in under a minute. It takes way longer to install now than it does to download….

Online backups actually have some speed to them.

The installer showed me a photo of the local box our area connects through. A huge box with a lot of connections in it but presently it has exactly one. Mine. Apparently we’re the first one in the area to get Pure Fibre installed. So our speed might change as more jump on board. Or not. Hard to say.

Summary

That’s my experience with all the facets of getting 150/150. As I said it’s a few bucks more than what I have now so the money is not even in the picture. The speed is a welcome change, but again that’s because I send out as much as I receive some days. So the extra upload speed is what I want.

The installation, well, it’s not pretty, it is fairly neat, slightly dysfunctional in that it could be done much better for better coverage in the house. The grass will grow back in.

Would I recommend Pure Fibre? No. As I said at the on set, you have to look at what works best for the area where you are. If that be Telus and you get a good install, great.

Me? Yeah, I’d do it again, but I’d get it installed the way I want, not the way they want.