First 3D Print – Projector screen replacement part

3D print - projector screen replacement part

3D printing has gaining popularity in the recent years, and since a few years ago, Richmond Public Library has had ‘MakerBot Replicator 2’ stations available for patrons to use to create their own objects. This week, I had the opportunity to use the 3D printers for the first time to print a replacement part for a projector screen.

Backstory

Some time in March, one of these plastic caps popped off the projector screen we use for youth ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish, and disappeared. It turns out that this small part (about 1cm in diameter), is a critical component for the proper functioning of the projector screen. Without this tiny cap, the locking mechanism for the vertical support does not provide enough force to keep the screen up.

A side lesson learned here is when shopping for projector screens, it is much better to have physical notches and metal components on the vertical support instead of relying on friction and dinky plastic caps.

Modeling the replacement

I was lucky in that I still had one of the caps and that both caps were of the same shape so I brought the remaining one home with me as a reference. I was also lucky that the shape of the cap was that of simple shapes: a cylindrical base, hexagonal prism on top, and a cylindrical hole in the center. I chose Tinkercad to draw the model because it is free and easy to use.

Tinkercad screenshot - 3D model of projector screen replacement part
3D model of the projector screen replacement part in Tinkercad

With the help of a ruler and the remaining cap, the entire modelling process took less than 30 minutes (most of that was probably going through the Tinkercad tutorial). I then exported the result as an .stl file, which I brought to the library for printing.

Printing at Richmond Public Library

I joined a 3D Printing Orientation at the Brighouse branch earlier in the week. All patrons who are wanting to use the 3D printers are required to go through an hour-long orientation to learn about some basic software, print settings and the library’s 3D printing procedures and policies.

At the library, using one of the iMac stations, I loaded the .stl file into the MakerBot program for the staff to check over the settings and print time.

Previewing the print on the Makerbot app
Previewing the print on the Makerbot app

The staff then loaded the printer-specific file onto an SD card, and brought it to the printer, loaded the red coloured filament I requested, and started the printing process.

After about 15 minutes, the machine finished the print. It cost a total of $2.20: $2.00 for the timeslot (fixed blocks of 1.5 hours) and $0.20 for the filament material.

3D print - projector screen replacement part
The red copy on the right is a 3D printed replacement part for a projector screen. I chose red because it stands out better.

Installation

I originally was worried the hole might have been a little bit too small since it looked a bit smaller than the original, but it fit just right.

The hole fit the metal pin snugly.

Putting it all together, everything fit perfectly. And the screen is now once again in working order.

Fitting the cap and pin back into the lock, everything fit perfectly.

Conclusion

For $2.20, this was a cost-effective way to make a replacement for a simple part. I have no idea what the proper keywords are to find a replacement part online (what would you call this thing?). Even if ordering a replacement part was possible, it would probably come out more expensive and take longer to arrive.

The only test now is to see how durable the material is, as it does have to sustain some force for the locking capability. I did specify a 100% infill (should be solid inside), so hopefully it holds up.

Post-summer update

I can’t believe it’s September already.  The weather is starting to become cool and wet, days are becoming shorter, marking the end of what has been an incredible summer (and year to date).  It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so with the changing season I thought I’d share a bit of an update of 2016 so far.

Some of these warrant their own blog posts, but until I have time to write the full thing here is a summary. Continue reading “Post-summer update”

Amateur Radio and the Vancouver Sun Run

Earlier this year, in search of a new hobby, I took an Amateur radio course (also known as ham radio) and received my license about a month ago. Amateur radio is all about non-commercial communication over radio waves.  Most consumer walkie-talkies (like ones using the FRS) work only over several kilometers in the best of conditions.  Believe it or not, Amateurs are able to use equipment to communicate all over the world, and even into space contacting the International Space Station using radio frequencies.  This kind of communication was probably more popular decades ago when there was no Internet, or cheap long distance phone calls.  However, Amateurs still involve themselves in activities such as contests contacting the most people, and on a more practical level (at least to me) emergency and volunteer event communications.

So putting my new license into use, last Sunday I helped out with the Vancouver Sun Run as an Amateur Radio operator.  With about 80 other Amateurs, we were positioned in pairs along the entire 10km route.

Sun Run 2016 Burrard Street Bridge
I’m in the background along the bike lane in the yellow vest. Photo credit: JAWS123, used with permission.

Continue reading “Amateur Radio and the Vancouver Sun Run”

A visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery

Yesterday, for some odd reason, I woke up wanting to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery.  I haven’t been in that art gallery for probably more than 10-15 years.  When I was very young my mom used to have a membership and brought me on Sundays after church to participate in some kids art activities, but I haven’t been since then.

As it was Tuesday, I took advantage of the Art Gallery’s admission-by-donation time in the evening.  It’s the only day of the week that the Gallery is open late in the evening so I could visit after work.  Also, I wasn’t going to pay $24 to look around.  I was originally going to pay $5 to get in (really just wanting a quick look around not expecting to be interested too much), but the sign at the door suggested a $10 donation, so I went with that. Continue reading “A visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery”

The 4 Liters Water Challenge

At one of our recent EDGE youth ministry sessions talking about the Corporal Work of Mercy “giving drink to the thirsty”, we challenged our youth and ourselves as leaders to complete the 4 Liters challenge.  On a normal day most of us use over 350 liters of water, however, for many other people around the world, water is not as abundant and people may be lucky to get four liters of water each day.  So the challenge is to live in “water poverty” for one day, using only four liters of water over a 24-hour period.

I ended up picking last Thursday to do this.  I was working from home that day since our team would be going Go-Karting close to where I live.  Since I would be home for the majority of the day anyway, I figured it would be slightly easier to measure my water consumption.  On the other hand, you could call it slightly cheating – it definitely was not a regular day for me.

So to plan out my 4L day, I roughly allocated 1L for my morning routine and breakfast, 2L to drink during my “work” time, and the remaining 1L for the evening and dinner.  Here’s how my day went: Continue reading “The 4 Liters Water Challenge”