Enclosure for Taz 4 3D Printer

I’ve owned a TAZ 4 for around 9 months and it has been a pretty frustrating experience to date, resulting in me getting very little value out of this printer so far.

The issues are not specific to the TAZ 4, which I think is a great piece of hardware, but more an issue with having it sitting in my home office. I work from home, and generally work long hours, meaning that I haven’t been able to use the printer often (the combination of noise, heat, and fumes mean I can’t be in the room for extended periods when it is running). Also, I’ve run into issues with prints cooling down too quickly and peeling off the bed.

To solve all of these problems I have now moved the printer to the garage and built a very simple and low cost enclosure out of plywood. The first test print ran for nearly 6 hours and turned out perfectly. I should have done this right from the start.


The cost of the enclosure was well under $100 and the bill of materials (all from Lowes) was:

  • 1/4″ x 24″ x 48″ plywood sheets x 4 (back, sides, top)
  • 1/4″ x 3″ x 48″ plywood strips x 2 (top and bottom of front)
  • 1/4″ x 6″ x 48″ plywood strip x 1 (to fill gap in top)
  • 5/8″ x 5/8″ x 36″ wooden beams (for supports)
  • 18″ x 24″ acrylic sheets x 2 (the doors)
  • Hinges (for the doors)
  • Magnetic pads (to keep the doors closed)
  • Wood glue and wood screws (very short ones)

The basic size of the enclosure is 36″ W x 30″ D x 24″ H, although mine ended up being 36 3/4″ wide due to a miscalculation of how the hinges would work, and this is why there is a 3/4″ gap where the doors don’t quite meet.

I managed to find a great low cost workbench to put the enclosure on. The workbench is made by Edsal and the SKU is UBM4830. I managed to buy this for $108 including delivery from Walmart.com (fulfilled by zoro tools). The workbench is 30″ D and is very sturdy.

The enclosure does not have a base and can therefore be lifted off when required. I had thought about making a lid with hinges but my woodworking skills are limited and I didn’t want to over think this.

For lighting, I’m using some holiday lighting but I plan to make something a bit nicer using some Adafruit neopixels soon.

SparkFun AVC 2015 recap

Well, that could have gone better… SparkFun AVC 2015 is over and was an epic fail for G-Force 2.0, our entry this year. G-Force 2.0 was a minor update of our 2014 entry, which came in second place in peloton class. This year, the chassis was made from laser cut wood and was much smaller and lighter than last year, allowing me to use faster motors with lower torque. Other than that, the electronics and software were largely the same. I really don’t know why it performed so badly. The navigation was very unreliable and I’m wondering if it is because the compass was closer to the motors and the ground this time and maybe was picking up interference.



I didn’t have much time for testing before the event and that ultimately was the issue. I have the luxury of time now to do more testing before next year.



G-Force progress 3/23

This weekend I finished assembling and painting the chassis and I’m pretty happy with the results. It looks much better than the original version at least.

IMG_20150323_101644284The motors and ultra-sonic sensors are installed and everything is looking pretty tidy so far. I made custom 3D-printed mounts for the ultra sonics so that they would sit flush with the wood and to help secure them in place.


Now I need to take a step back and figure out the plan for the rest of the electronics.


G-Force progress

After a break of several months I’ve finally had my second attempt at a laser cut wood design and this time all the pieces did fit together! There were some gaps that needed filling so it wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough. Here’s a quick photo of the new chassis for my autonomous vehicle. I’m really pleased with the results and I can see that I’ll be doing a lot more work with laser cut wood. It looks much better than my attempts at manual wood-working!


Next steps will be to prime and paint the various parts before gluing everything in place, then I can get started on the electronics, which will be largely the same as last year.

G-Force 2.0 Concept

I had some time this evening to start playing around in Sketchup to design a rough concept for the next version of my autonomous vehicle. This time around, I’ll be using laser-cut wood rather than my own woodworking skills. One design goal is to make it easier to access the motors and electronics for repairs so I’m designing “access hatches” this time, which I plan to cover with 3D printed panels.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.43.50 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.39.48 PM

Sparkfun AVC 2015 Rules Announced

If you haven’t already seen, Sparkfun just announced the rules for this year’s competition. It’s a shame there is no aerial course this year, but let’s face it; it was only a matter of time before there was a nasty accident.

There are still some details to be announced, such as the details around the special 150 point-earning short-cut. I’m definitely planning on entering again this year but probably need to wait until all details are available before I start designing a new bot.

Also this year there will be a battlebot competition. I’m intrigued by this but it is something I so far know nothing about so I think I’ll just be a spectator for this event.

Mini Dalek Gripper Arm

After a crazy few weeks and weekends working on a new software release at work, I finally have some time to play with my new 3D printer and get back to work on a hobby project I’ve taken on for my local maker space. We’re putting together a Rube Goldberg machine and my section will be based around my mini Dalek robot. The plan is to have the Dalek receive a ping-pong ball from the previous section and then transport it to the next section and release it. It sounded so simple to start with but I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to attach the gripper arm and servo to the steel tube that I was using for the plunger arm.

This morning I had time to design a custom mount in Sketchup and then 3D print it. I made a mistake with aligning the mounting holes on one side but it’s close enough and works really well. Here are some photos.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 9.22.44 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 9.24.25 AM IMG_20150207_100012909

The Darby Digger

andygrove   January 4, 2015   3 Comments on The Darby Digger

My Dad told me about the Darby Digger many years ago and I just saw another mention of it today and I thought I’d share it here. The Darby Digger was a steam-driven machine for ploughing fields. It was invented around 20 years earlier than the tractor that we are familiar with today. My great grandfather, Robert Hasler, helped build it. Here’s a photo of Robert Hasler driving the Darby Digger (around 1879).


This next photo shows the Prince of Wales who came to see a later version of the Darby Digger. Robert Hasler is standing in front in this photo. Early versions of the Darby Digger actually walked on six or eight legs but later versions used wheels.


I was looking for more information online this evening about this and was amused to find that is was picked up by Make magazine back in 2006 (http://makezine.com/2006/11/01/the-darby-steamdigger/).

I was also amazed to see that someone built a fully working scale version of one version of the Darby Digger back in the 1970’s and took a video which is now available to watch on YouTube.

I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it would have been to create a machine like this, driven by steam power, in the late 1800’s.

First 3D Prints

andygrove   December 23, 2014   No Comments on First 3D Prints

I’ve been learning how to use Sketchup to design parts for 3D printing and have now printed my first useful part – a simple mount for an HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor. There are plenty of designs I could have downloaded from Thingiverse, but I wanted to design my own as a learning exercise. Here’s the rendering of the design in Sketchup:


Here is the 3D printed part. This was a medium resolution print in PLA.


The ultrasonic sensor fits quite snugly, but I’d probably need to use some hot glue to secure it in place. This feels like a good first step in 3D design though.