Friday, 15 May 2009

It's all very dark

I've been trying to take photographs, as I've been hassled about the lack of them, but no go so far. I tried to take some with the camera that is on my laptop, so I could angle it at the subject AND see on the screen what the outcome would be, but the "camera" screen is just black. I've checked through the Readme and all the troubleshooting information, got someone else to go through it, too, but all I can conclude is the camera no longer works. I haven't used the camera since 2005, when it worked fine.

This means I need some help to take the photo's, but my willing helper turned out to be not-so-willing when I asked that the parts be held up against the wall as a blank backdrop!

So for now, sorry folks, I'm stuck.

Ditto with the electronics.

I am looking to get the 3rd generation electronics. The boards + components (in kit form only) are only available in the US and the costs put me above the customs threshold, even if I make the orders from the 2 separate sites. And not everything is available, anyway.

Here is a table of the current state of play:


RRRF org shop


Full kit


Full kit


3rd generation motherboard - v 1.1





stepper motor drivers - v 2.3 (times 3)


$2.50 x 3


$3 x 3

opto endstops - v 2.1 (times 3)

Link says “product not found”

$0.50 x 3

Out of stock

$1 x 3

extruder controller - v 2.2





I am considering having to buy just the boards abroad, and try to get all the components here. Talk about rapid learning as I've never done any electronics like this.

I have been reading the section on "reflow" soldering (, and trying to find a hotplate - we only have a gas cooker/stove (not a good idea!). Argos only has a double one (with several reviews saying it died very quickly), ditto the camping sites. The single ones on Ebay work out around the same price as the Argos double one. I'm still hunting a cheap and reliable version.


  1. :-)
    We're not hassling you! I just like photos!
    Seriously, it's a lot easier to diagnose problems and give advice if you can see it, and they make explanations so much easier.
    Don't worry about quality, backgrounds, stuff like that. I've got an old curtain (red) that I use as a worksheet, and we have a plain blue/green carpet. You'll see that in every one of mine, just because that's behind it.

    For the solder/reflow technique: I suspect it should work OK if you use a frying pan on a gas hob. The principle is the same (hot metal sheet)

  2. The import duty is only the VAT that you would have to pay locally anyway. The sting is the charge that Parcel Force make if the sender does not sort out the duty. Even with these charges I find a lot of things are cheaper to buy from the US. That was especially true last year when the dollar was 2 to the pound.

    Reflow isn't the only way to do surface mount. You can use a soldering iron and solder as long as none of the chips have pads underneath, which I think is the case. You do need to use flux though and a steady hand. This is a good guide have been following the blog of an experienced electronics constructor for some time and he has started building the makerbot boards recently. He made his own hotplate.