22 June 2014

Another useful 3D print for the Aquarium

My daughter has an aquarium in her bed room and some times when we are away we want the fish to get their food automatically, so we have a feeding machine. The problem was though to find a good spot for it. My wife asked me if I could come up with something so I though I could maybe make something on the 3D printer. First thing was so measure the thickness of the glass and start drawing a design in Cinema 4D.

Here is a close up of the design. It is a simple 15 x 15 cm plateau with an edge below with a 5mm gap so that it fits around the glass. I though it would take a couple of version to get an exact fit, but actually the first print was perfect right away :) My daughter chose this green color for the plastic. The whole print took about 20 hours on the Ultimaker 2. So again it was a nice feeling to be able to design and print something useful with the 3D printer :)

New Studio PC

I told you I'm currently rebuilding my studio. The first thing that really needed an update was my studio PC. I ran on a quad core2duo with 4 Gbyte of RAM and Windows Vista 32 bits for a long time, but it started to crash on me. I wanted to upgrade to Windows 8.1 anyway and get more inputs in the machine. I had two RME PCI MADI cards in there and a UAD2 quad card. So time for an upgrade :)

Here is a picture of some of the parts that went in there. I decided to use the same ASRock X79 extreme6 motherboard that I use in my render servers for the render farm and also the same Hexacore I7 processor. I put in 32 Gbyte of RAM and a OCZ Vertex 4 SSD to boot the OS from and run my applications. I got a new UAD-2 Octo card and the quad will move to my mastering PC that still had an UAD-1. This one is no longer supported and doesn't run moders plugins anymore. And finally a RME PCIe MADI fx card with 3 MADI inputs and outputs giving me 192 channels of digital audio in and out!

Here is the finished result. After this I started installing. Unfortunately it didn't work out as easy as I had hoped. The Windows 8.1 installation went like a breeze. Also the RME card drivers installed easily, but when I wanted to install the UAD-2 card every time Windows crashed with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Not nice. First I replaced the power supply since the old one was only 430 Watt. The new one is 700 Watt, but this did help unfortunately. Then I moved the UAD-2 to another PCIe slot and that did the trick. Then it installed and also worked! After this I had trouble again with the RME card. I used the WDM and had digital artifacts on my audio signal. I switched to ASIO and then everything was fine. I don't really understand why, but to be honest I don't care :) ASIO works fine and I was using that on my old PC too. Now I have to install all my software and see if I can open my old projects that I'm still working on. But the first step is made in the studio upgrade.

07 June 2014

Two more Ultimaker 2 prints

 Here is one more print I did on the Ultimaker 2. Looks a bit like the Pixar lamp doesn't it :) I really love it. It was printed in separate parts that you could snap together. Well snap sounds easy but actually it took quite some force and even pliers to get it fitted in, but I think it looks great now. The whole thing is only 15 centimeters tall, so that should give you an idea of the detail. I had most trouble printing the foot. With the white material it just didn't look very good with infill on it. So eventually I decided to print everything without infill at all. So all parts are completely solid. The difference in quality compared to the K8200 is amazing I think.

Here is another print I did. For you who don't recognize it, it is a robot for the famous Terminator movies. I was printed with support that I had to break up and I didn't really clean it yet. Unfortunately it was not completely successful. The part of the head you don't see isn't there ;) After 50 hours of printing the whole thing fell over and I had to cancel the print. I still don't know what happened. I will have another go at it for sure. In the mean time I learned a lot again about working with the Ultimater 2, so I'm sure at some point I will have a full one, but I already love the detail on it.

03 June 2014

My second generation 3D Printer the Ultimaker 2

After building the K8200 I was very enthusiastic about 3D printing and I already printed lots of stuff for other people as well. For printing real 3D objects I found the resolution of the K8200 too low though. It can print with an accuracy up to 100 micron (0,1 mm). In it self that is not bad, but then I came across the new Ultimaker 2. It actually can print up to 25 micro (0,025 mm). I can tell you that is a lot of difference. Also it is pretty quick.The downside is though that I have to learn printing all over again. Different speeds, different temperatures and different materials and of course different software. I spend the last months getting to know this printer and finally I'm getting some results.

Here is a picture of the first serious thing I printed. A fully working wrench :) It is printed with some support material that you have to break away. In this picture that is already done. But as you can see the result is pretty spectacular. I still have lots of problems with the printer. Some prints came loose from the heated bed and fell over. I don't know why. Some print I have trouble with warping/curling of the material. I just got new software again where I can adjust temperature per layer. Unfortunately 3D printing is still not as easy as people that sell these printers want you to believe, even with this second generation printer. But eventually I will get there. Getting to know the K8200 cost me a couple of months as well.

02 June 2014

Kurzweil KSP8 Battery Replacement

After I replaced the battery yesterday in the Sony DSP V77 I realized I had some more equipment that actually did complain about battery replacement. One of them is this Kurzweil KSP-8 also a very nice effects machine famous for its LaserVerb preset. This thing is actually a surround machine but you can also use it as 4 x stereo :) Quite powerful. It was still working fine, but I though let's replace this one BEFORE problems arise. So I opened it up.

Then I stared at the PCBs for a while and was getting crazy because I couldn't find any battery. I did look up what kind of battery it was and it was the same CR2032 that I had in stock so it should be spottable. Well I'm not sure if you are familiar with the abbreviation RTFM, but this was a clear case ;) There is a hatch on the bottom site of the machine where you can easily reach the battery without taking the whole machine apart. Duhhhhh :) Ah well good news is it stopped complaining now and I hope it will for a while. Again I hope this tip will help someone else :) Back to relocating and rewiring equipment.

01 June 2014

Sony DPS V77 Battery Replacement

The last time I wanted to use my Sony DPS V77 it didn't work any more. I though it was broken and that made my quite sad since it is a very nice vintage digital effects processor. I was already looking for a new on on E-bay and saw that prices have risen on these machines. So I thought maybe I can repair it. Then I switched it on and off a couple of times and noticed that sometimes it actually did start up, but the display was looking funny. So first I thought it was some kind of memory problem.

Today I had to take it out of the rack anyway, since I started renovating the studio today, so I downloaded the service manual and thought I could maybe find the problem. And one of the options it gave is look at the battery Voltage. So that was the first thing I did and guess what? It was way too low. So if you have one of these and it is acting funny. Check that first! It doesn't give you any warning or anything.

Replacing is it quite simple. The battery is a standard CR2032 and I even had a couple in stock. It is fitted in a nice fixture so you don't even have to do any soldering. After replacing it I measured again and now it was fine. I powered the machine up and directly it gave a correct init procedure again. I changed the preset, switched it off and on again and it came back with the same preset. Problem solved :)

If you ever come across one of these machines on E-bay or whatever do give it a serious consideration. They sound really good for the money. Lots of producers use them as a secret weapon. If you want to hook it up digitally you do need a special break out cable, but you can still buy those on E-bay too once in a while. OK now I'm going to put it back in it's new spot. I'll show you where soon.

Lexicon 480L Reverb

One of my all time favorite reverbs is the Lexicon 480L. I have looked for one in a good shape including the LARC remote controller for a long time and finally I found one on E-bay from the Netherlands. I didn't like it to be shipped so I picked it up personally. I need to find a nice spot for it now. I'm currently working on a small studio rebuild that I will tell you all about on this blog. There is one more reverb I'm looking for and that is the even more classic Lexicon 224. They are even harder to find though. As you can see it even came with 2 expansion cards and a digital break out box. I'm going to find out now how the digital interface works, since that would suit my setup better than the analog I/O interfacing.

Very Powerfull 3D Work Station

I promised to write something about the new 3D work station that I put in my new office. Even though I can use the render farm for animations it is nice to have a very powerful PC to work on the 3D projects. Primarily you need a very powerful video card to use the GPU for screen calculations. I installed a Asus Nvidea GTX 690 for this. But also CPU power is helpful since you do need to render out a single frame on high quality to see how it is going to look later on when you render the animation on the render farm. And you don't want to wait for ever. So in this machine is a special work station mother board from Asus called the Z9 PE-D8WS and on there are two Intel Xeon processors of the type 2796 V2. Actually the fastest processors out there. They actually have 12 CPU cores each so that makes 24 CPU cores in one machine!

I also installed 64 Gbytes of RAM and it boots its OS and loads its applications from a super fast OCZ Revo Drive 3. This is kind of a SSD drive on a dedicated PCIe card. The there is a OCZ Vertex 4 for the data I'm working on for the project and a Raid 1 set of two Sata disks for storage of larger files. The Asus mother board is very big, so I needed to buy a very large case to fit it all. And then to keep things a bit quiet I installed a lot of large cooling fans with a special fan control unit that you can see in the picture below. This really is a monster PC that makes working on the most complicated projects a breeze. For your idea this PC scores 2960 CB points in Cinebench where my normal Render Node Servers in the render farm score about 1000 CB.

The fan controller is also very nice. It has a touch screen where you can regulate the desired temperature for each fan. There are sensors attached to this controller on certain spots in the machine, like CPU's, GPU's, drives etc and it regulates the fan speeds to keep this temperatures. This results in a very quiet PC when it is idle and just a little bit of noise when it is at 100% CPU. I also have some software where I don't have licenses for the render farm yet, so for those applications I also use this machine to render frames for customers on RenderFarm.NL. I recently did a series of Vue renders on this machine for a customer. It is not a cheap machines as you can imagine but it does have the power of three normal PC's. I already had a lot of pleasure from it. I hope this post can help anyone else that need to spec a very nice 3D work station. But for animations do contact me for the use of the render farm so you can work on other projects on your work station during the rendering of your animation.