I am not against America; I am as much of a patriot as anyone

I am quite active on Facebook, taking particular interest in matters of nutrition, as my blog post on 280 Paleo/Primal pages will attest.

Amazon ImageSusan and I now spend the winter in Florida and I notice something that I first noticed during the year I spend in upstate NY back in the mid-70s.

Everything in America seems more extreme than in the UK.  It was in Kingston, NY that I first became interested in self-sufficiency and alternate energy and foraging for wild foods.  I carried Stalking The Wild Asparagus round in my pocket, and Mother Earth News was my bible.

There seemed to be a huge gulf between the log-haired, sandal-wearing hippies who were building earth-sheltered housing and building early prototypes of the Toyota Prius, 35 years ago in their garages, and people driving gas-guzzlers that only did 10mpg, and hacking down forests.  When my time with IBM in Kingston was up and I went back to the UK, everything there seemed tame.  I couldn’t find the dedicated environmentalists, but we were all driving cars that did 30-40mpg, and insulating our lofts anyway. In the UK the ends of various spectrums seemed not so far apart.

It seems the same to me now, but the issues are different.  Now it seems to be a battle between Big-Ag and those who would like not to get diabetes, CVD, Alzheimer’s and cancer, and between intelligence and what seems to me, as a part-time outsider, as wilful and celebrated ignorance.

For a while I kept quiet, because I was never quite sure what side my American friends were on and I didn’t want to offend anyone, but quite quickly I realised that I couldn’t, in all conscience, keep quiet.  It would have done violence to me, and would have been unfair to a country that has done a lot for me (like given me my loving wife and family!)

Recently a Facebook friend expressed hurt at what was perceived as my attacks on America. I see what I do as a defence of America, so it seemed like time to explain what I was up to.

I wrote my friend a letter: “I am not anti-American“.  I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Discussing 3D Printers and Fab Labs

StackExchange curate some excellent Q&A forums. They also have a fairly rigorous open process for deciding which new forums to start. A proposal for a forum dedicated to 3D printers, laser cutters and other sorts of personal manufacturing is currently going through that process. Today they entered the “commitment” phase, asking people who would like to use the forum to commit to asking at least 10 questions in the first 3 months. If you’re interested in this forum appearing – and I suggest you probably are :) – then please visit this link and make your commitment known. http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/22246/3d-printers-laser-cutters-personal-manufacturing cheers Phil

The Making of the Arduino

There’s a really interesting article by David Kushner, in the latest IEEE journal, on the history of the Arduino, including the fact that it got it’s name from a little-known 11th century Italian king, Arduin. What’s the connection? Well, in the town where he ruled there’s a bar named after the king, and that’s where the devlopers of the Arduino hang out. It’s a moot point whether it’s named after the king or after the bar!

Lead Nuts …

Two M8 studding connectors as lead nuts

Two M8 studding connectors as lead nuts

I have been thinking of using M8 studding connectors rather than a single M8 nut on the z-axis lead screws of my 3D printer.  My sense is that the x-axis motion would be more stable, and with two connectors, held together in the same plastic piece, it reduces backlash (but I don’t know how to measure that … it just feels like it; I can feel the backlash in a nut, but not in the pair of studding connectors).

Below is a screen capture of it in Google Sketchup.  You can download the SKP file here.

The STL file is here.  Basically the connector is just an M8 nut that’s 23.7mm thick.

M8 studding connector

M8 studding connector

It’s starting to look like a 3D printer!


Not printing yet ... but it's starting to look like a 3D Printer

I would be further on, but I discovered MUCH too late that a whole batch of the 624ZZ bearings were faulty.  Had to disassemble the whole thing, check all the bearings, and replace the faulty ones.  The centre race is a few thou too slim, so when you put a washer either side and tighten it up, it binds on the outer race and won’t go round.

Anyone want 60 bearings that won’t go round?

Will fire it up tomorrow, hopefully, if I can find my laptop and get it going.

Whew! So what to Make now?

Well, I’m back in the UK after my totally mind-blowing trip to Eindhoven, and my head is totally spinning.

In front of me is my new copy of “The Power of Making“, the book that had a profound effect on me a couple of weeks ago, and I’m thinking, “so what do I want to make today?”

And Susan gives me the heads-up on the state of our finances (grim), so I guess the answer is, today I better make some money!

Better get writing, designing, manufacturing, and, most importantly, selling.

Today I’m looking at the potential of mini (and, maybe, not so mini) t-slot profiles in the education, prototyping and just general Making markets.

More later.  In the meantime, if you don’t know about these things, check out:

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