Creality Ender 3; all aboard the 3D Printing Wagon

TL;DR: Scroll down to the first picture if you just want to get into the nuts and bolts of my Ender 3 setup teething issues..

I resisted getting a 3D printer for a long while, because the cost vs potential use cases/fun ratio seemed poor.  I also had access to 3D printers at my hackspace ( – so why would I need my own?

The amount of fettling that most of the people at the hackspace seemed to do to their machines was also pretty off-putting. I gave up doing hardware and even OS support (plus hosting mail servers in my living room, Linux in any form, etc etc) many years ago, because fettling is ANNOYINGGGGG.  I want things to Just Work. I writes the codes and it just works, precioussss.

However. This is a bit of a digression, but bear with me. However.. Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone et al. Cheap home electronics, widely available. So many blinkenlights. It drew me in. Ah, computing like it’s 1999. Config files. Library issues. It’s even worse now.. But also, so much better! It’s exciting and wide and annoying as all hell. So you have all these projects and sensors dangling on bits of wires and every project is a horrific Frankenstein’s monster. Enter.. the 3D printer! Theoretically!

Whilst one of our members, Jim, very helpfully ran a class at the Hackspace on Fusion 360, I still wasn’t managing to really get into it. Migraines mean that driving to Hackspace is not always a thing, and 3d printing takes so long you have to be around for ages to get anything done. I decided that if I was going to iterate designs and get to grips with this 3d malarkey, the only way forward was to have one at home.

Enter, the Creality Ender 3 3D printer. At £150-185, depending on how long you were prepared to wait for it, it seemed the price presented a comparatively low bar to entry, with really good reviews all over.

This is relevant later

I bought mine from Amazon in the end, because I’m impatient and I wanted to be able to return it easily if there was anything wrong. In terms of direct support though, it would probably be best to buy direct from Creality.

That is a lot of pieces too many pieces you may even say SPOILERS there were leftover pieces

It comes partially pre-assembled, and while putting it together wasn’t quite the 10 minute task they specified, I think it took me a bit over an hour of slightly post-migraine addled fiddling to get it together and doing a first test print. Pretty good.

Helpful cat disapproves of nut and bolt filled pillows.

First suggestion. Watch this very short video of the assembly process. It might be my migrained brain, but the parts orientation wasn’t that obvious from the step 1.. step 12 leaflet included.

Second. Once you’ve put it all together, see if it seems square and solid. If not, undo all the main frame bolts a couple of turns (not undone, just loosened), straighten it all up, and tighten it down again. Mine got a bit warped during assembly somehow.

Third. My printer wouldn’t extrude very well. It turns out it seemed to have some sort of higher temp filament stuck in the nozzle – I turned up the pre-heating nozzle temp to 240-ish and pushed through some filament, and that seemed to clear the blockage.



Fourth, while the instructions say to use the CR-10 printer settings in Cura, I found that this line:

G1 Z15.0 F6000 ;Move the platform down 15mm

appeared to make the extruder try and go through the bed, dragged around on the bed scratching it up, and generally behave like a very bad drunk. I deleted it and it was all good.

Go home CR-10, you are drunk.

Last, while the piece of paper bed levelling isn’t a bad start, using something like these tests will really get your level dialled in nicely.

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Level

Ender 3 Level Test – thingiverse

Many bed levelling tests…

experimental tiny thing

Vanatron: Camper in disguise! Post trip update..

Extreme hiatus! blog resumes.. maybe.

After a few ridiculous DIYing in campsites/laybys/on beaches episodes whilst travelling, I managed to get everything _pretty much_ working, although with a definite air of redneck chic action.

One of the most bodged things was the water tank. The tank itself (40l stainless steel from jay wolfe metal work) was good. The water filter and tap (from pozzani pure water, the Kitchen Spring RIX250 System) also, flawless.

Things that were not so good..

  • Filling was extremely awkward and invariably resulted in a little bit of spillage
  • The pump has a pressure switch. This means that if the tank runs out, OR if you are on rough ground, an airlock in the system will cause the pump to never turn off.
  • There is no inline switch to isolate the pump (see above)
  • The wooden cabinet is completely unfinished and thus less waterproofand more.. spongelike.
  • One of the plumbing fittings I made in a french campsite eventually came apart 5 months later and the pump pissed water everywhere before I could stop the van and get to the main power isolation switch.

Resulting in the following scenes of mouldy destruction…

hiding under the tank..
the base..
under the carpet


I bought a caravan type locking water filler with overflow from ebay, and very bravely fitted it…

let’s not lose the key

Naturally, it rained as soon as I cut the hole, so I drove around for a day with a piece of sushi rice packet taped over the hole, waiting for the anti corrosion paint to cure..

Extreme vinegar and teatree anti mould attack, and a fan heater on in the van for a day sorted the mould out.

Then, four coats of random eggshell later, and the tank is refitted with a proper filler, a switch that importantly can be reached from the driver’s seat, and the tank is optimised for use!

Super Secret Science Project: WITH QUILTING

It started with some mud.

I’d been thinking about an alternative alphabet thing for a while, and when two scientist friends decided to make a new tiny scientist.. well. GAME. ON.

Playing in my shed with some clay, the idea to make an AMAZING nightlight out of porcelain arrived. It would look smooth on the outside but has the alphabet and pictures etched on the inside, so when the light is turned on – magic pictures!!

.. this idea lasted until I remembered my homebodged raku kiln will not fire to vitreous porcelain temperatures.

THEN I decided I would make fabric alphabet cubes, I would PRINT these. With PRINTING.

I purchased some lino and cutting tools. Awwww yissss toys. Then some more printing inks. More colours. IMPORTANT.

I started making letters (mostly) at random.


block printing for the win
block printing for the win

I went a little bit mad for a while..

han solo on everything
han solo on ALL THE THINGS


Then I decided that I would make the entire alphabet, and make it into a quilt.

Some maths later, I realised this would be about the size of a house.

The letters of the new person’s name! That is what I will do.  Well, balls. I have only made one of those letters so far.

I made the design..

draft design
Fibonacci, Bitchez

My fancy new phthalate, PVC, BPA, BBC, ITV free screen printing inks arrived..

painting on the design
painting on the design


finished blocks
finished blocks

There was a lot of fannying around decided what to use as a backing fabric. I ordered some bamboo velour (which is lovely), but then found some rust corduroy in my stash which seemed perfect. Warm and soft, yet tough and hard wearing. It contrasts very nicely with the coolness of the linen top, and provides a very substantial feel.

Next – fannying with whether to use quilt wadding (this is all new to me) and which wadding to use.

I want to make it be properly washable, so I was thinking of just having the linen top with a cotton or bamboo plush/velour backing, so that it’s hardly quilted at all. This is because I am suspicious of the washability of batting. Even if I am, I only want very light quiltingpaddinginserttechnicaltermhere.
Is batting bad for machine washing?
Actually I’ve got some polyester nubbly fleece and plain fleece (actually maybe i gave the last away I am not sure). Could I use that as the ‘quilting’?how about thin wool felt? That would survive a 40 if adequately quilted, right?

How do I make the layers stay together nicely for sewing in a way that doesn’t leave a residue? Can I use water soluble glue?
I think I have a walking foot.
I don’t know how it works.

I gleaned from the wonder that is Ravelry, that there are all sorts of strange glue sprays you can get (in america) and that they use elmer’s glue (which I worked out is pretty much just starch glue).

After endless research, I gave up on these crazy bought products and made some starch solution in a spray bottle (because a: couldn’t find this Sullivan brand mentioned by Intarweb ‘Merkins b: hate aerosols c: hate perfumed products) and used it to flatten everything out and then stick it together. It worked a treat! No pins! I hate pins. OH YES. YOU WILL DO MY BIDDING.

NEXT: a tester to check nothing would shrink in a horribly incompatible way and the ink wouldn’t come off etc etc etc

super pretty test thing
super pretty test thing made by vogons


Onwards!  Now I must finish all the block prints and their pictures..

OK this is not all of them but I am getting bored of all this typing.

The most troublesome bit was definitely the border. I watched a bunch of videos on youtube, whereupon I decided that a lot of people are bonkers. I played with some bits of paper and came up with the following method (which I did not entirely use, I made it much more complicated for myself)

making table mats with mitred corners
making table mats with mitred corners

Finally, I presented it to the new Autarch of Abingdon (HAIL)

She liked it a lot. I can tell.
She liked it a lot. I can tell.

TL;DR – I made a quilt!

Attack of the Giant Robots

Today I realised that the robot (a giant robot from Studio Ghibli’s Laputa – Castles In The Sky) head I started yesterday had some scale issues. Given that I am making it to go in a fish tank, and given the size of the robot torso vs head, I was looking at some kibd of outsized craziness. So I made a smaller one, and started on the detail for the bigger one’s eyes. Maybe the big one will be a garden ornament..

reference pic:

robot laputa

They’re made from a clay with a high iron and mica content, so they’ll go orangey with a oxidative firing, and have shiny speckles.

Given the variable success of my rather random firings, anything could happen.