Author Archives: Rob

FallI always find myself so conflicted when summer turns to fall.

I’m happy because so many great things come with autumn.

The first being the simple fact that turkey day is rapidly approaching and this year I have not one, not two but THREE Thanksgivings to go to. I’m going to need a pair of maternity jeans by the end of that weekend.

The second being hockey season. I’m a huge hockey fan and can’t wait for the regular season to start.

On the flip side, I’m sad about the weather getting colder. I’m a huge lover of the outdoors and spend the majority of my summer either outside of tinkering with my 3D printer.

Oh wait, did I forget to mention that I made my dream of owning a 3D printer come true this summer?!? Booyah baby!

What? Did you think I would have ignore my blog all summer because I didn’t feel like writing?!? Of course not, I’ve been building stuff in the third dimension all summer and it’s been awesome.

Another big change for me this summer, not sure if you’ve noticed it by now, is that I’m only using one space after my periods. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and count them… then go back and read my old post with the dreaded TWO spaces after the period. I’ll wait.

Oh good, you’re back. See, I wasn’t lying to you!

I have to say, at first my thumbs were saying “ummmm no way and I only clicking that space bar once when you’re done writing your brilliant sentence. No spacing way!

Strange side note, I only hit the space bar with my right thumb. My left thumb just hangs out and does nothing apparently. Not sure if I’ll even be able to change that buy I’ve got the one space after a period thing worked out to a tee.

So, just so you know, now that it’s fall and the weather is cooling off and the hockey season is about to start I’m probably going to be sitting behind the keyboard a little more writing you brilliant single-spaced-after-period posts about this crazy thing we call life.

Now back to 3D printing an entire set of miniature figurines of my boss to play pranks on people at work.

Photo Credit: hyperboreal

8592837554_e02715f7b1_zAdditive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is a new way of making products and product parts from a digital paradigm.

A 3D printer creates modules by placing layers of material one on top of another, with an electronic schematic, until the desired module has been created.

Commercial 3D Printers

3D printers use various kinds of additive technologies, but there is one strong commonality; they all create a three dimensional object by building it layer by layer, until the entire object is complete. It’s similar to building a Paper Mache object for a grade school project.

Manufacturers have traditionally used the printers in the creative process to construct production models, but until recently, the apparatus has been cumbersome and too costly
Many of today’s 3D printers are used by product designers, architects, and surgeons to make prototypes to use in student presentations.

Today’s 3D printers use a variety of substances that can be pushed into 3D layouts. The only requirement is that the design must allow the layers to be applied in increments.
The speedy, state-of-the-art printers of today are very expensive. Many cost upwards of ten thousand dollars, but the companies that purchase them save many times that amount in the prototyping process.

The Digital File

A 3D printer needs to have instructions so it will know what to print. To solve this problem, a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file is created with the use of a 3D modeling program. The program creates a file that is dispatched to the 3D printer. The printer’s software minces the design into numerous horizontal layers. These layers will be printed one on top of the other, until the 3D component is complete.

Personal 3D Printers

Besides commercial 3D machines, personal 3D printers are now available and with a price tag ranging from $200-$2050, they are much less expensive than the commercial variety.
There are a myriad of uses for 3D printers, and more are being discovered every day. Almost anything you can think of or dream of can be printed.
Some unique examples are:

• Jewelry
• Art work
• Holiday ornaments
• Sewing patterns
• Parts for appliances
• Toys
• Home decorations
These creations are made from many different types of materials, including metal, plastic, glass, gold, and silver.

Advantages of 3D Printing
• 3D printing is used by crime scene investigators to help solve crimes.
• 3D printing allows architects to create prototypes of their designs.
• Surgeons can use 3d printers to print out pictures of body parts for reference prior to surgery.
• 3D printing enables artists to create objects that would be very complicated to construct with traditional processes.
• If errors occur, changes can be made immediately and the prototype can be reprinted instantly.
• 3D printing saves time and money; it decreases energy usage and minimizes waste.

Additive manufacturing is the process of configuring a three-dimensional item from a 3D schematic. This is accomplished by the use of additive procedures in which consecutive layers of material are built under the computer’s power. This unique technology has paved the way for many new possibilities in a variety of provinces.

Photo Credit 1

Blackout-Free-SprotsAlright, I’m back stateside after an amazing trip to Canada. I definetly want to go back and am trying to find a way to move there… even if it’s just for a sort term work assignment.

I might still be all hopped up on maple syrup and poutine (look it up) but I’ve got to say that Vancouver is one heck of a city and I’m sad that I didn’t go to the Olympics when they were there in 2010.

Now, beyond the things I learned and shared in the last post I also learned a few more things that will change the way I (and possibly you) will watch sports forever.

You see, not too long ago I cut the cable in my house as I wasn’t watching it nearly as much as I should and I was watching is way more than I should.

After an all day Teen Mom marathon (don’t judge, I bet you have watched it too) I finally decided that I had to pull the plug and stop getting cable TV.  This would force me to only watch the shows I followed and wanted to watch by streaming them online.

I’m a big NHL hockey and NFL football fan so I knew that I needed to learn a way to stream those two sports online.

I found out that NFL GamePass let you watch NFL games online but I also learned that it wasn’t available in the USA.  I didn’t think much more of it until I had to learn the trick to get hulu while I was up in Canada.  Once I knew that I could virtually reside in the USA from Canada I knew that I was going to be able to virtually reside in Canada from the USA.  This trick will allow me to get an NFL GamePass account up in Canada and then stream every NFL football game online from here at home in the US of A.

The next thing I learned was that there is also a NHL GameCenter blackout workaround which will let you watch NHL hockey blackout free no matter which city you live in.  Three cheers for not having to put up with “in-market” blackouts anymore!  I bet some of these crazy Calgary Flames fan pictured here are happy:


So, to sum things up… Canada was awesome.  Not only did I fall in love with the country, their people, their yummy brews I also learned about how to unblock website from around the world and virtually reside in different places.

So, until I negotiate that work assignment in Canada, you will likely find me virtually residing there so I can catch all the NFL and NHL action from home rather than having to go to a sports bar.

I shoot, I score!

Vancouver is greatAs I mentioned in my last post I got a free trip am on a work assignment to Canada.  This is my first time visiting Vancouver and I couldn’t be more excited.

If you don’t know anything about Vancouver, well you should go back to your geography teacher from high school and give them a stern talking to for not telling you about this amazing place.

One one side there is the ocean and the other side there are the mountains.  In between there are a massively huge amount of people crammed into very expensive real estate.

From my short time here I’ve learned a few things:

  1. The high priced real estate is well worth it for the amazing scenery and outdoor living potential
  2. The Grouse Grind is a great way to make your calves and hamstrings hurt (don’t worry about my buns, they don’t hurt because they are made of steel)
  3. You can’t get Hulu Canada (this is the one thing… but more on this in a bit)
  4. Restrooms are called washrooms up here.  If you think about it this makes WAY more sense.  Buuuttttt I do sometimes, especially in the middle of the afternoon at work go to the restroom to rest and nothing else.  So, that makes sense too
  5. The beer is strong up here and it will make your head hurt in the morning when you’re used to drinking water bud light like I have been doing since my good old college days started more than a decade ago
  6. I want to move here

Let’s examine a few of these in more detail:

Real estate.  Some people think Vancouver has a huge housing bubble and some of them are so scare that it’s a bubble they have removed all sharp objects from their homes so they aren’t accused of being the ones to pop it.  I can definitely see the appeal of wanting to live in Vancouver (see #6 above) which, just like the coastal cities in the USA, means that you’re going to have a lot of demand for real estate.

This demand and the fact that there is only so much land before you hit the ocean or the mountain is partly to blame for the high prices.

This next part has not been confirmed but one guy I was talking to was saying that there is so much money being invested by people living in Asia that there is something like 20% of all condos in Vancouver are vacant and just being held by investors hoping the prices keep going up.  This is crazy to me… why not put a tenant in there (since rents are sky high too) and at lease make some money while you wait for your investment to go up.  Oh well, to each their own.

The grind (as the locals in Canada call it) is a great little hike that is one heck of a workout.  I will be getting a massage when I get a chance as my calves have never hurt this bad… and I thought I was in shape.  NOT!

I went to watch some hulu when I got home from having two or three too many strong Canadian brews only to find out that it’s blocked up here.  What the deuce?!?  Canada has centralized healthcare but they don’t have hulu.  That doesn’t make sense to me at all.

Luckily I am a very proficient google use and I did a quick search of “hulu Canada” and found this guide on how to get hulu in Canada: and I was watching my favorite shows in no time.  If only getting Canada’s health care system in the States was that easy.

If you ask a cute waitress in the pub where the restroom is, she will look at you as if you are a little slow and you probably killed your chances of partying with her and her friends.  True story.

Bud light is good, any Canadian beer is better.  I was trying to ride the rail last night at this place on Granville Street (I think that is what it was called) and I didn’t make it very far considering that there is nearly twice as much sauce in the brews up here than in a Bud light.  No wonder Canadians are skinnier, same amount of sauce in less cans means less calories ingested.  These people are smarter than we give them credit for.

I want to move here, plain and simple.   I’ve only been here a short time but it’s to die for up here and way way way way nicer then where I live now.

Well, those strong brews are calling my name so I better get going.  I will be sure to ask for the washroom tonight.

Until next time!

Photo credit 1

I'm Going To Vancouver, Canada

I had a very interesting day at work today and no it wasn’t because I skipped work yesterday to help a friend move.

My boss came in this morning and, I’ll admit, that I was a little worried because I did yesterday off and I though my boss might be coming in to tell me that a few people were pissed off and that it wouldn’t be happening again.

But no sir!  I got good great awesome freaking news today that I get to go to Canada for work (a.k.a. A FREE TRIP!!!)

Apparently there is some big shot investor or client or maybe it’s just a quasi-famous Canadian that that wants to know more about our little widgets and since I’m the best engineer in the world, I’m the guy who gets to go.

Now, I don’t really remember who I’m going to see and why I’m going to see them because once I heard “you’re going to Canada” my mind started to wonder wondering what it is going to be like up there.

I’ve never been to Canada but I have traveled extensively and have met lots of Canadians… but for some reason they were always telling me they “were sorry” about something.  Not sure what that was all aBOOT (ZING! haha!).

Since we all know that, in 2013,  the best source of reliable and 100% factual data comes from YouTube I heading over there to find out more about Canada and specifically Vancouver where I will be headed.

The first think I learned was 11 things I should avoid saying so I don’t piss off any Canadians with the beedy little eyes and flappy heads.

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Moving A Couch

Yes, it’s true.  I did skip work today and, boy, did it feel good.

Now hear me out before you start the typical internet troll behavior of calling me a drag on society and a deadbeat American worker who’s frustrating their employer which will lead them to ship jobs overseas.

I had a very good reason for skipping work today.  I have a friend who just moved to town and I wanted to help him and his wife get moved into their new (rental) home and show them a few of my favorite spots to fill my belly and wet my whistle.

I did have one “very important” meeting today where I needed to represent the engineering department on a change we are making to one of our products.

So, you might ask… how did I spent 6.32 hours of my day breaking my back moving oversized furniture through undersized doors and stairways, then enjoy a super duper delicious gut bomb from a greasy spoon all day breakfast diner only to follow it up with 3 pints of stout at the dive bar down the street without causing my boss to have a ulcer?

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MakerBot Replicator 2

If you read the about page you will know that I’m a tinkerer and an engineer.  Like most engineers I took apart my grandfather’s radio when I was little and (with a little help) was able to put it back together with relative ease.

When I was going to engineering school out lab had a SLA machine that was valued somewhere around a quarter of a million dollars (yes, $250,000).  This thing was amazing.  It would make parts that were so precise and accurate that it make most fabrication shops look like there were being run by a bunch of untrained monkeys.

There were two big problems:

1.  The cost of the machine at $250,000 is a little outside of my snack bracket to get one for my house

2.  The cost to build a part was over $1,000 once you took into account the material, maintenance and “laser time”

These two reasons are why I haven’t started my own rapid prototyping shop out of my basement and, instead, have relied on a friend who does have a pretty sweet 3D printer to build the odd part that I want to test a design for.

Of course I’m talking about one of the first print at home 3D printers that was within the snack bracket of most aspiring engineers and tinkerers of the world.  The MakerBot 2.

The MakerBot Replicator 2 is a 3D printer that allows you to use PLA filament to build plastic parts layer by layer at home.  It’s quick enough to build yourself a custom made case for your iPhone or Android smart phone in under 2o minutes.

Need a few extra shot glasses for your party… give the bot half an hour and you’ll be sipping the finest or Vitamin-T (tequila) from your very own custom shot glasses.

The build platform, which controls the maximum size of your part is 6.1 by 11.2 by 6 inches.  If you want to build a part that is bigger than this you will need to scale it down and build a scale model to represent your final product.

3D Printer Build Area

For most part, especially when you use the scale-it-down approach, this build platform is plenty big.  Making your parts smaller help to keep the build times shorter and the cost to run your machine and the cost of materials at a minimum.

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Expect great things to come!