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  • 101Hero 3D Printer Arrives and Fails Miserably

    Posted on December 7th, 2016 admin 2 comments
    Test Star on Tree

    Test Star on Tree

    My 101Hero 3d printer from Kickstarter was billed as the world’s most affordable 3d printer.  At $104 USD plus shipping, it was pretty close.  The 101Hero achieved its low-cost design goals by using injection-molded plastic parts, small stepper motors, minimal electronics, and a tiny light-weight extruder head.

    The big question, of course, is:  Does it work?   The short answer is:  No.

    The unit arrived well-packaged and in good condition.  Assembly went fairly easily, despite sparse written instructions, as there is a fairly good assembly video available online.

    First Fish

    First Fish

    All parts were in the package, including a selection of unidentified filaments in various colors; all necessary hardware was there; there were no visible manufacturing defects. The resulting printer was far from sturdy or stable, as might be expected from a light-weight plastic frame.

    The Developer Version (DV) contains both an SD card slot and a USB Type B port; I used the SD card.  The website has a tiny downloadable test file that prints a six-point star for setting up the printer.   The print is two lines wide and three layers deep.   It took a few minutes to get the printer adjusted, but after that it printed several very nice stars that I hung on our Christmas tree.

    Next, I selected what looked like a good print from, the 207 Fish Bone, in a white filament that I assume is PLA.   The first few layers were mushed together; despite all the

    Dorsal view - note the slope

    Dorsal view – note the slope, and the stringy part at bottom

    test stars, it looked like the extruder was not moving up enough with each layer.  After a few good layers, the head moved up too fast, and started laying strings of filament in mid air.   A few minutes later, it settled down and began printing fairly well except that periodically the head would jump about 1 mm “up” and “right” as I looked at the print bed.  It would then print a dozen or so layers well, then jump again.  These jumps can be clearly seen in the photos.

    A little research suggested that the jumps were mechanical, probably when the filament snagged on the top of the printer or got caught on the wiring or when a slide bearing grabbed a bit on a

    Nicely wrapped wires, and filament holder

    Nicely wrapped wires with fancy retainer clip, and filament holder

    rod.  Okay, so we’ll clean up the installation.  A little gold tape to bind the wiring and snazz it up a bit.  A few decimeters of aluminum angle and a smooth bolt created a filament holder. A little light motor oil on all the rods.  I loaded the Motor Movement test file from the 101Hero site and ran the head up and down a few times.  No snags, all movement smooth and easy.

    Time to try the fishy again.   This time we’ll use black filament (PLA?).   The first few layers go down beautifully.  I can see detail — gill slits, an eye, the teeth, the place where the hinge of the tail will go.  But there are some issues.  The fill does not quite meet the outline in places.  Still, three layers build one atop the other.

    After that, though, the same error as for the white Fish 1 occurred – two offset steps and a wild, random-seeming tangle of strings laid in mid-air.   This time, rather than waste filament and time, I aborted the print.

    No snags, no hesitations, the slides moving cleanly, filament feeding smoothly.  But clearly, something went very, very wrong.


    Stringy Fishy


    Started well. Note two steps to left in image (visible in tail)

    The RepRap Print Trouble Shooting Pictorial Guide shows stringy prints with stepwise offsets, but the solutions involve changes to print settings and g-code that simply should not apply.  This is a special file from the manufacturer of the 101Hero, and it should not contain g-code errors.  It should, after setup, print these custom files flawlessly.

    So instead of spending my time printing, I’ll be diddling around trying to get the printer to work.   You get what you pay for, I guess.

  • Manitobah Mukluks – A Canadian Aboriginal Company?

    Posted on November 30th, 2016 admin No comments

    Went online to buy my wife a Christmas present on Black Friday:  A pair of Manitobah Mukluks, the high Snowy Owl waterproof ones.  The special Black Friday deal was a free pair of furry moccasins (this week, they offer free mittens20161130_1637591 — order now!).

    Manitobah Mukluks is “an Aboriginal-owned company” whose “vision is to build a vibrant, global brand that makes a significant impact in Aboriginal Communities.”  They boast “one of a kind, hand-crafted works of art,”  for their top product line.  Their tagline is “Authentic Aboriginal Footwear”.   CEO and founder Sean McCormick is of Métis descent; he says:  We…take pride in being Canadian, which is why we continue to produce 20 per cent of our footwear at our Indigenous-owned production facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba.   Well, hey, that’s cool, let’s buy a pair.  Wonder where the other 80% are produced.

    On first try, the boots were out of stock, and the online chat agent told me there were no rain checks for Black Friday; out of stock meant out of luck.

    Still, I hunted around on the web site and found a place where I could post my email address to be notified when more stock came in.  I thought I might be notified later in the week, and would get the boots without the free moccasins.  Too bad, but no tragedy.  To my great surprise, within a couple of hours I was notified that what I wanted, the right style and size, were now in stock.  I immediately placed my order.

    Free Moccasins

    Free Moccasins

    They arrived within a week.  Wow, that was fast!  I don’t usually recommend companies or products, but these guys were good.  Both mukluks and celebrity porn moccasins  look nice and fit well.

    They came with a Certificate of Authenticity, which guarantees that “the product you have purchased was made by a Canadian Aboriginal Company…as certified by CAMSC…the official certifying organization in Canada for Aboriginal-owned businesses.”

    They do look quite nice, but not quite….authentic.    Vibram soles, well, yes, that makes them waterproof.  Okay, a modernization for urban customers.   According to a MM chat agent, the footwear is made from rabbit fur (a by-product of domestic meat industry in Europe) and suede and grain-leather from cattle.  Again, a modern adaptation, as domestic trapping could not supply the amount of product needed.  Fair enough.

    The moccasins have a label stiched in that reads “Proudly Canadian”.    But inside each moccasin and mukluk is a tiny tag that, when you flip it over, reads “Made in Vietnam”.  Can you say, “irony”?

    Okay, so Indigenous-owned does not necessarily mean “Aboriginal-made”.   At least, not made by Canadian aboriginals.  Kind of disappointing.  Still, I’m sure the Vietnamese are indigenous to Vietnam.  So nothing about this company is misleading, right?  It’s not really inaccurate, right?

    Wherever they’re made, they look nice and warm, and my wife likes them.  Brownie points for me.



  • National Square Dance Day – Nov 29, 2016

    Posted on November 28th, 2016 admin No comments


    TUESDAY – NOVEMBER 29, 2016

    Square Dancing has its roots in traditional English, Irish and Scottish folk dance. Square dances were first documented in 17th century England. Today, square dancing is mainly associated with a romanticized image of the Old West, and cowboys wooing Southern belles during dances organized in saloons.


    Right hand star

    Right hand star

    To celebrate this new annual event, which is being celebrated in both the USA and Canada, how about the Square Dance Clubs that do not dance on Tuesday evening organize a group of their dancers and go visiting one of the Clubs that host a square dance on Tuesday – November 29.

    This a wonderful opportunity to gather and celebrate square dancing, have some fun, meet new dancers, and maybe even steal a mascot.  And it’s also a wonderful opportunity for the general public to see some modern square dancing, so be sure to invite some non-dancing friends to stop by, meet the dancers, join in the fun or take part in the after-party.

    For information about square dancing in your area, google “square dance (your city)” without the quote marks or parentheses.  This should get local club contact information.  You can also try


  • Ottawa Wins 104th Grey Cup

    Posted on November 27th, 2016 admin No comments

    An exciting game, where Calgary tied the score with 10 seconds left in the game.  Ottawa won in overtime by an unconverted TD.

    CFL Officials. I was unable to determine ownership of this photo.

    What impressed me throughout, though, was the officiating.  How those guys in the striped shirts can see things so quickly on the field and in the mêlée just amazes me.   In almost all the cases, the control-room review backed up the call in the field.   They were quick, they were accurate, they were fair and impartial.

    Back in 2009, CFL officials were paid between $550 and $850 per game; officials are all part-time and one official reported making $15000 a year officiating.  In 2014, the average CFL player salary was close to $90,000; with 16 games per team in the regular season, that’s $5500 per game, roughly ten times the pay of the officials.   Yet the game wouldn’t work as well without the officials.

    I think they’re underappreciated and underpaid.

  • Calling at a “Country Festival”

    Posted on November 26th, 2016 admin No comments

    We called last night at an LDS church in Bonnie Doon for their “Country Festival”.  This was our third time with this group, starting with Trek 2014 then last year’s Trek followup hoedown.

    The event, a free social evening organized by the church, consisted of games, dinner, an auction, and dance.

    image-pattycakeAt various games, participants could win play money to be used during the auction.  The games were old “penny carnival” favorites and some western-themed activities

    • Ring Toss around water bottles
    • Bean Bag Toss
    • Ball toss to knock down beverage glasses
    • Steer roping (where a sawhorse “steer” waited patiently while standing particpants tossed a lasso)
    • Calf roping (ditto, except the cowpoke was on a barrel “horse” while roping)
    • Target shooting with an Airsoft assault rifle

    image-girlFollowing the games, we had a very nice chicken dinner, then the auction for homemade pies and various other items, including an uncured wolf pelt.   The bidding was fast and furious, especially for the blue-ribbon pies, and as a result the auction went a little overtime.

    The dance, originally scheduled for 8-9 pm, started about 8:45 and went until 9:40.   We had five squares to start, and wound down to two squares as the night advanced and people trickled home.  It was a good dance and people seemed to be having a good time.

    A big thanks to the church for inviting us, and to all the volunteers (especially the young people) for their work in organizing the event.

    Photos courtesy Dawn Gray.  We blurred the faces but left the smiles!image-pattycake-2

  • Kickstarter: 101Hero 3D Printer

    Posted on November 23rd, 2016 admin No comments


    The 101Hero is the smallest and cheapest 3D printer I had seen during the summer (there are some that have since passed it).  It’s a delta printer with a tiny build volume and slow print speed.  But it was so cheap!  Even though I came in late and had to spend $104 USD on the indiegogo pre-order, plus $30 S/H, that’s a third of the price of the M3DPro and a sixth of the cost of the Trinus.  Obviously, I started high and have been stepping down.


    101Hero Delta Printer

    The price and simplicity of the 101Hero attracted me.  It also attracted Angus Deveson at Maker’s Muse — I was surprised to see his name in the backers list, so I checked out his video.  He jumped in early and got it for $49 USD, smart kid.

    Yes, it’s made of plastic.  Yes, it’s slow.  Yes, it has a small build volume.  Yes, it uses cheap geared stepper motors.  Yes, it might be a shaky POS.  Yes to all the above.  But… but…Really?  A 3D printer for $100 USD?  Will it work?  Will it be another Peachy scandal?

    Amazingly enough, the 101Hero might even be the first printer to reach my workbench.  A batch of 2000 was shipped in October, according to the company, and today I got an email asking to confirm my order and delivery address.  The M3DPro is not scheduled to ship until next spring, which means probably next fall; and the Trinus might ship this month.

    Now, how have I managed to back three FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer campaigns?   I started with the Trinus, black porn added the M3D Pro, and now the 101Hero.

    Guess I got a little carried away.


  • Lumos Bike Helmet

    Posted on November 21st, 2016 admin No comments
    Lumos illuminated bike helmet

    Lumos illuminated bike helmet

    One Kickstarter product I’m awaiting with eagerness is the Lumos Bike Helmet, a snazzy-looking high-tech helmet with built-in brake and signal lights.   The brakes are controlled by accelerometry, while the turn signals are manually operated from a wireless switch mounted on the handlebars.  An optional smart phone app is available to control braking preferences and monitor life of the USB-rechargeable battery.  Both helmet and switch are water resistant.

    Some 6,000 backers kicked in $800,000 for the helmet.  The lowest pledge level was $85 USD for the helmet,  which is set to retail at $179 USD.  This is not outrageous; my Specialized helmet cost $120 CAD (about $85 USD).

    Lumos front LEDs

    Lumos front LEDs

    User Feedback

    The Lumos has received a lot of attention in various media, and is being tested by the City of Ottawa as part of a road safety program. The goal is to make cyclists more visible to motorists, with the signal lights being more noticeable than hand signals in low-light conditions. Apparently some elitist cyclists diss the unit as being “car-like”.  Nobody will force them to use one, I guess.

    Reviews from those who have already received their Lumos are almost universally positive, 5-stars all the way with lots of praise in the comments.  Once I get my Lumos, I’ll post a review here.

    LucidBrake, a Kickstarter Alternative Brake Light

    Another cycling brake light I backed, the Intelligent Brake Light called LucidBrake, cost $100 USD, the same as my pledge for the Lumos.  The LucidBrake will mount on all of my bikes, and I also made a helmet mount for it (on a $40 Bell helmet).   I think it was a bit pricey for what I got, but it does its job — being bright, letting people see me, announcing that I’m slowing down — quite well.  However, I have lost three of them (the method of attachment is not as secure as the inventor would like to think).  The company has graciously replaced the unit in each case, but it’s still not the best solution.  I have to tether it to my bike to retain it in case it falls off, yet I really don’t want to leave a $100 light attached to my bike when I park it.   Hence the helmet attachment — when I take the helmet with me, I also take the light.

    A Couple of Issues

    • The  Lumos has white front LEDs and because of this it lacks a visor.  Wonder how that will be in the summer sun.  I might just pick up a cheap used helmet and transfer the visor. I imagine I can rig up some magnets for snap-on use during the day.
    • On a road bike, when I’m riding “head down”, my helmet-mounted LucidBrake points to the sky and is less visible, the same way a traditional right-turn hand signal is hard to see in that position. Here is where a rear-rack-mounted signalling system has an advantage.  I think the Lumos brake and signal LEDs will be similarly hard to see when head-down.  I have to remember to sit up a bit before a turn so the signal is visible.

    The Lumos is due to arrive within a month, only seven months later than the promised April delivery (not bad for a KS project, actually), so I’ll have it by Christmas.

    I bet the lights will look pretty in the snow.


  • Waiting for a Trinus 3D Printer

    Posted on November 20th, 2016 admin No comments

    Over the past year, I’ve had fun backing some Kickstarter projects.   So far, I don’t think I’ve backed any duds.  Two games, For the Birds and Wombat hentai porn Rescue, eventually came, though months after their forecast shipping dates.

    babd42993f7f43aada53e06ef5804672_croppedThis seems to be common with successful KS campaigns.   In the technology area, the creators are  technicians or engineers whose focus is on designing and prototyping a successful gizmo.  Once their campaign is funded, they come up against new challenges in terms of suppliers, production, warehousing, and shipping–things they’re not trained, prepared, or equipped to handle.  Finding yourself with several thousand more orders than you expected is a pleasant surprise, but it’s still something that has to be faced and coped with.

    The Trinus 3D printer, the first I backed (the others are the M3D Pro and the 101Hero), was originally expected to ship in August, 2016.  Only three months later, in October, they started shipping.   A three month delay is not too bad.  Apparently, Canadian orders are due to leave the warehouse in China around now, and arrive in Canada in two or three weeks.  I might conceivably get the printer by Christmas.

    Ho, mobile porn ho, ho.

  • Are Instant Noodles (Ramen) Toxic?

    Posted on November 20th, 2016 admin No comments

    I love crap like this! Health sites are spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) and outright misinformation about instant noodles.  Eat them and die, fast-food freaks!

    For example,…, and you’ll find it at the ever-popular Dr. Mercola’s health misinformation site.  No doubt Dr. Oz has already weighed in.

    However, the actual study shows a CONNECTION between instant noodle consumption and metabolic disorders but doesn’t prove that one causes the other.

    I eventually tracked this down to the Journal of Nutrition at It appears to have had nothing to do with Harvard except that some of the authors studied there.  If you read the study, you’ll learn that that Korean women who eat two or more packets or ramen a week have a slightly elevated chance (p < .04, which means a slight statistical probability) of having metabolic disorder compared to women who don’t eat noodles. Korean noodle-munching men had no statistical difference over non-noodlers.

    Instant noodles was only one of 63 foods studied, and was involved in a “non-traditional” fast-food-heavy diet. The study’s authors concluded that “Our study had several limitations. First, we cannot infer a causal relation given our cross-sectional study design.”

    In plain English, they can find a CONNECTION between instant noodle consumption and metabolic disorders but can’t prove that one causes the other.  As we used to say in the lab, “correlation is not causation.”

    It pays to do a little research before you believe the stuff you read.

  • Kickstarter: Trinus 3D Printer

    Posted on November 19th, 2016 admin No comments

    I was a fairly early backer of the Trinus 3D Printer on Kickstarter.  The project was wildly oversubscribed by 3147 backers and raised $1.6 million.  While this does not quite match the wildly enthusiastic support for the M3D Micro back in 2014, where close to 12,000 backers put up $3.4 million, it’s still a solid response to what looks like a solid product.

    Trinus 3D Printer

    Trinus 3D Printer

    My son and I had jointly owned a Cupcake, an early (2005?) consumer printer kit made from laser-cut plywood. It worked, sort of, but was always a bit finicky and problematic.  It cost about $800 USD at time.  I think assembling it was more fun than using it.

    The Trinus, at $349 USD in its base form, is all-metal, with a straightforward industrial-style design.   Where the Cupcake had a zillion little bits to assemble, the Trinus comes in 11 pieces, four of which are identical single-axis slides. The version I backed has a heated bed, an enclosure for printing ABS, a laser engraver head, and some filament.  My deluxe package cost $629 USD including shipping and handling.

    That’s a lot more printer (and laser engraver) for a  lot less money and assembly.

    How times change.

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