All posts by Brett

Aldi’s Cocoon Create Touch

Got a question or feedback? I would love to hear it on twitter at
@SuperRoach !

Aldi is selling for the second time a 3D Printer – what a whacky thing to do right? It’s called a Cocoon Create Plus, and will be available for $499aud starting May 13. If you don’t want to read any further, the short version is that yes! It’s an extremely good value printer. If you are curious about using one, go for it. The printer has one minor flaw that doesn’t stop it from being recommended.

Cheaper ones have flaws and work needed to bring them up to this quality level, and with minor upgrades this printer can compete with a Prusa Mk2 – Which is going to be roughly $1200 to get over here.

I am part of the Committee at the Ballarat Hackerspace and have setup and experience with various types of 3D Printers and thought it would be handy to have some common questions and answers people have asked about it.

Is this printer worth it?

Yes. The price is very good value for what you get. For full disclosure, there are 3D Printers available from around $200 to well beyond $2,000. However it is very true that you get what you pay for. This printer is unique in that it has plenty of features to make it last for a while and work reliably, while being built in a way to upgrade a good amount cheaply if you desire to do more with it.

Price wise this printer would typically be $650 or more in Australia – these ALDI flash deals are usually good and in this case it’s true.

I heard that this printer isn’t safe?

This printer is a rebrand – so any problems that the original printer had this one does too. The original one was sold without proper insulation on the springs to the heated bed, which could potentially be a fire risk if they dug through. To give you an idea of how they handled it, here is the original safety notice.

Wanhao sent out washers to people they had on record, and you could ask them to send out some if you wanted and they would do so for free. In Australia, the distributers Winplus handled it well albeit quietly, shipping out these as requested.

To be honest though, having a 3D Printer meant that anyone was able to 3D Print their own fix – spring cups! I’ll update this incase anything new comes up – but I’m pretty confident any issues will be handled by Winplus quickly.

Will there be plenty of stock in ALDI?

Probably not. The nature of these deals are that they are once off.  This helps with the frenzy of people wanting to get a bargain when they go on sale. This item goes on sale May 13th, so you may want to wake up early for the Saturday.

The last time ALDI had a sale selling a 3D Printer, there were people waiting on the day of the launch running to go get the printer.

When that printer was on sale by the way, it seemed to typically be at the back, and not in the “glass cabinet” that’s usually at the front of the store. Lets see where it ends up this year!

How do you know what this printer is like already?

This printer is a rebrand, and the original is very popular. It has been solder under many different brands such as Makerselect (common in USA), Balco (Dick smith/Kogan) and Cocoon Create. The original maker is Wanhao and that name gets complicated quickly (Wanhao USA for example is also a rebrand and not the original people). Knowing this, you can look at the printers and see what’s already out elsewhere! For example, the previous printer last year at ALDI (The Cocoon Create)? It’s a Wanhao Duplicator i3. This printer was originally released in January 2015, before being sold in ALDI mid 2016. Plenty of time for people to have snapped up the alternate brandings and see what it’s like!

The reviews were very positive – the price point was great, the Steel frame means it will last a while, and the hardware while not top end gets the job done well.

This new printer is a Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. This printer was released in January 2016. Specs wise it is almost identical with one major exception – there is a touchscreen on the front of the printer!

This means the control box is integrated to the printer underneath the heatbed for a neater look. This is mostly good except for two problems I’d like to point out –

  • When you use software to control the printer remotely, a screen is redundant
    • Octoprint is easy to setup if you have a Raspberry Pi laying around
  • Having it integrated inside the printer means you can’t safely use an enclosure to contain the heat – important to maintain consistent temperatures for materials like ABS,  which will warp when the temperature changes too much or there is a draft in your house.

I have the Balco 3D Printer. It looks like this!. This is the same with minor upgrades from ALDI’s printer last year, and very close to the one about to be on sale – with the exception of no touch screen and a seperated control box.

Can you make anything practical with it?

This is a common question, and it gets some sneers from actual users of 3D Printers. To them, of course there are practical things to print, but what’s practical is different to most people!

I may like a Toothbrush pusher, a soldering wire helper, small drones,  Other people may like custom cases to match what they will use it for. Some people like printing Trolley Coin jigs so they don’t need to put coins in to use a Trolley at the supermarket. Other people like making fun looking Pegs. Have a look around on Thingiverse, I think you’ll find both useless and practical things on there.

PS – Don’t mention Fidget Spinners (I don’t mind them!) in discussion groups online. They get angry.

Can I print a gun?

Sure, knock yourself out with this – a loaded gun ready to print.

While it is kind of possibly to do this, it’s not recommended – because of the strengths of the material you are using, if it does work, it will likely be a single shot weapon. If it doesn’t work…. well you may need to worry about a missing hand or worse.

3D Printing also has not enabled a new market for weapons to be made either – Materials from Bunnings or a blacksmith have existed for a long time to do the same thing and they have not got the same attention. Don’t fall for the media hype on this.

How does it work?

Remember Etch a Sketch? Where you could draw on a sheet and reuse it. Imagine doing that layer by layer stacked on top of each other, until you’ve made an shape. That’s 3D Printing!

You buy reels of plastic, which looks like Noodles. Plastic noodles. You feed this into a square shape (hot end block) on the 3D Printer, which then feeds it through to a hot part, that melts it as it pushes it through on to the flat bed on your 3D Printer. It cools down quickly and retains its shape as it moves around, which makes it appear like the printer is drawing plenty of lines and zigzagging to connect them together.

How hard is it to use?

An important preface – this field is still experimental. It’s not a kettle. Things can go wrong and the more you can troubleshoot or ask around online for help, the better of an experience you will have.

The printer itself is pretty easy to setup – in terms of using it when you’ve bought it home, you can be printing after about 15 Minutes of setup.

How do you make something?

Making something from scratch is the real meat and bones of it. In the long run, learning to modify or make your own objects is the real benefit or fun part of having a 3D Printer. Childrens shelf lock too small? Make one custom sized for your own drawers! You will make something using a CAD Program, such as Sketchup, Fusion360 or plenty of others. Some people like weird applications like OpenSCAD (if you like writing in code), Oculus Medium (if you like making things in VR), or Blender (if you are a Masochist) – and that’s okay!

Where do you get files from on the internet?

Everyone will tell you thingiverse. I’d agree. Seriously, go to that site now and type in a word. You’ll find someone has made something about it already.

There are plenty of more places to get 3D files. Feel free to suggest them so I put them on here!

It’s also a great place to share files you’ve made, as people can remix or you will get feedback on it. It’s nice to see photos of people printing out your creations!

Can I print Miniatures with it?

Yes, I’ve been asked this enough to have it’s own point. When printing things for your next D&D or whatever campaign, be mindful that anything you print, needs to be solid enough to not break too easily, and will need to be cleaned up and painted by yourself – this means a bunch of prep time, and steady hands for painting.

I’ll edit this part latter and show some pictures of some random designs I printed. I’ve found that under 50mm sized items, will lose enough detail for you to consider if it’s worth it.

More reviews

This wiki page will be updated surely with plenty more information soon. It’s an excellent resource to see if there are easy upgrades to do or stuff like that for it.

This Youtube video has been doing the rounds heaps. Its… okaaay I guess?

If you are on Facebook, this is a nice community of people around the printer that ALDI have rebranded – Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus users .

Tell me some more weird trivia about this printer in Australia

The distributer of this printer in Australia is Winplus. They struck a deal with Aldi who told them “We want an exclusive deal to sell a 3D Printer”. They complied and made the Cocoon Create. ALDI’s sale happens, and then things go quiet for a few months. Then Kogan suddenly has a printer that looks suspiciously familiar. It turns out that Winplus had created a new shell company, called Balco.

This printer was the first Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2.1 in Australia, and was launched for the amazing price of $399 and free shipping – what a steal!

To give you an idea of how much of a copy the printer is, go check out their websites: Cocoon Create and Balco . These websites appear to be almost identical with the exception of slightly different filament available.

Linux Conference Australia 2016

I’ve had an amazing time being on the organizing team for Linux Conference Australia 2016 in Geelong.

Organizers

While I am processing all the wonderful things that have happened, I’d like to share the things I have already made. For photography, I have a selection of photos for each day, as well as a collection of timelapses and edited videos made for the event. It is a great place to try new things, everyone is encouraging.

Continue reading Linux Conference Australia 2016

Mana Bar Melbourne opening

I got to have some fun at the Mana Bar Melbourne Opening. Had a good chance to talk to owner Yug about how he finds it.

Also, I was able to do an Interview with Lark, who were nice enough to play some Zelda tunes for me. After the fact, I realised I should have asked for some Battlefield themeage. To hear that theme with the Violin would have been amazing!

Pimping out their facebook though, they are available at

http://facebook.com/larkband

 

And the actual video interview I done with them:

http://www.gamestah.com/file/view/5137

XLan 2011 Event Wrap up

I was lucky enough to involved with New Zealand’s largest Gaming Lan Event for the role of commentating on the games as well as setting up an group of computers to enable us to record and stream what we do throughout the event and on to the web.

Logistically to do such a thing can be stressful, however when it all comes together it is well worth it. Here is a video from ON3 regarding the size of the event as well as what it is.

For more of a description about what I was doing there, we were interviewed as well. (I’m the one on the right!)

Overall the event was great, and I think I can provide some insight in a few points about what I learned and I felt done right and could be improved on. Above all, at a live event nothing ever goes perfect and it is how you cope with these hiccups that lets you get on with having a good event.

Read on to find out more about what I feel are important parts to doing a event like XLan

Continue reading XLan 2011 Event Wrap up

Universal Stupid Bus 3.0

The following write-up is my experiences for some little known nuances which in the future can be a surprise which can make your computer date much quicker than you intended, with it not being able to handle some of the future devices which will be coming out to the Universal Serial Bus 3.0 Specification.

Many devices you buy now use the Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 Standard and plug – keyboards, mice and even Hard Drive docks. It’s built to give a variety of gadgetry to be able to talk to your computer in a standard way. USB 3 Is a newer standard offered to give much more room for the neat future devices that need it.

The common item to think of when wanting to use USB 3 is for Hard drives – you will be able to copy files much faster to and from it with a USB 3 Device. Let’s backtrack briefly to find out the different kinds of USB 3 that exists in order to try and find out what went wrong.

Continue reading Universal Stupid Bus 3.0

Shortcuts/Hotkeys in jQuery

I had to search for a while to find a nice way to be able to do Hotkeys in jQuery, and thought I would post what I found that finally worked.

Jeresig adapted what comes up as the top result for searching for jQuery hotkeys, however it’s out of date and partially functional now.

This one worked:
http://www.stepanreznikov.com/js-shortcuts/

Sample syntax is better summed up in the link, but uses the following syntax:

$.Shortcuts.add({
    type: 'down',
    mask: 'Ctrl+A',
    handler: function() {
        debug('Ctrl+A');
    }
});

// Dont forget to start it!
$.Shortcuts.start();

And that’s it. Worked happily once I added in the reference to it, and trying it out now.

The project I’m using it for is a live titling scoreboard, with the difference being is that it’s made in html and jQuery. Shortcuts are a quicker way to update the score, and any score updates will make the board animate to show, then slide the text away.

Ideally, I would have loved to be able to send hotkeys to a webpage while focus is on a separate program, but have not found any proprietary ways to be able to do it. Even sending a hashtag to the webpage so I can act from it would be sufficient.

Augmented reality–a pre primer

I’m toying around with the idea of learning more about augmented reality at the moment. I found it was a bit tricky to find about the actual making part of it – while there is a bunch on the web for trying it out.

Demo reels tend to have the best bits!

The premise is holding up a shape that has a black rectangle around it, which will be picked up by a web camera, then ran pattern detection to find the presence of that shape. When the shape is found, that can then be used as a registration or “Zero point”. The detection of the pattern can allow interaction in a 3D space – You can move the shape you are  holding around, and the rotation and position will be reflected.

Another option is that with a pattern placed on a table, a 3D object can then be controlled by a traditional input surface like a keyboard and mouse, the best example I’ve seen of that so far would be an ad for BMW, for their Z4 car:

Augmented reality on a flat plane surface

 

More information about this after the jump!

Continue reading Augmented reality–a pre primer

Making a USB bootable flash drive

Occasionally I need to install a operating system or a recovery partition to help fix a system that is overrun with viruses, or to start the computer from fresh.

Each time I look for a nice, quick way to make my USB drive bootable, and it’s always been a mess! Many command line based solutions which should not be needed for a majority of the time.

There is a nice, graphical solution out there which also has a list of distributions for you to have it get the iso, and prepare the entire drive for you in a couple of clicks – yay for low maintenance!

Continue reading Making a USB bootable flash drive

Samsung Galaxy S–Speed performance improvements in 2.2.1

While many Samsung Galaxy S users are just beginning to enjoy the Froyo update which has been released to their phones, here is a taste of what will be coming shortly–2.2.1

Although the version bump is only 0.0.1 , the improvements in user interface interaction makes this just as important as the froyo update itself.

I noted inside this video that Pulse is now on par with it’s iPhone/iPad version, which is right up there with my favourite mobile news applications.

The following is the links I used for updating the firmware that my phone uses:

Continue reading Samsung Galaxy S–Speed performance improvements in 2.2.1

Call of Duty frag highlights review: Mazarini and paradox Play With Soul

The following clip refers to the video available in the following location:
http://www.clanheat.com.au/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7389&p=63021#p63021
It is assumed that you have seen this clip before, as it contains an indepth analysis of the video itself.

Sometimes there are videos that ooze so much effort and dedication, they are just begging to be written about. It’s common to write about actual movies with a script, budget and actors, but there is many other facets of videos which can appeal to people. There are short viral videos which lends itself well to youtube, artistic independent films, and music videos. All of them have their own fans.

Mazarini and paradox: Play with soul is a frag highlights clip that is by far the largest scale production I have seen for Call of Duty 4, and is a serious contender for any other game’s clip highlights as well. It contains frags from players Mazarini and Paradox, both playing for the clan eSuba. Both professional players, taking on skilled players. The clips themselves are highlights from both players while they have been playing Call of Duty 4 in the previous few years, with production of Play with soul being in progress for over a year.

In contrast to many other clips taking typically a few months to complete, this shows a lot of source material as well as Mazarini’s dedication, and perseverance to be able to turn out a finished clip that is of an excellent standard.

Continue reading Call of Duty frag highlights review: Mazarini and paradox Play With Soul