Two important Fusion 360 Preferences tips

One obvious and one more specific

If you already know these Fusion 360 Preferences tips then well done. If not check out below.

The first one is to set the default orientation to be Z up so your CAM output is already well on the way to being correctly configured.

The second one is not so obvious – scaling the entire sketch based on the first dimension you specify. Suppose you have an object that you want to draw to scale based on a photograph image. If you import this using Insert/Canvas you get a faint image of the photograph over which you can superimpose your sketch. Once you have created the sketch you can then draw a construction line that runs from any two extreme longest points of the sketch. Measure the distance on the real object and then specify this dimension on your sketch. Everything on the sketch will now be scaled accordingly. So useful ….

Probably the best example I have seen of this was by Clough42 in this video about his construction of a depanelizing tool for PCB biscuits. He has done a further video recently using the same technique with dual axis images. This is impressive to watch.

Minor update on the Qidi i-fast to say all is going well and I am getting some very good print results. I am still debating which slicer to run with and do seem to be getting more repeatable prints using Simplify 3D.

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Noga External Deburrer and Cut Screws

Making life easier on cut threads

Minor tip – You have a thread that is too long. You hacksaw it down to length and then have the pain of cleaning the end up so it looks square and more importantly the thread will start. If you are organised you will probably spin a nut onto the thread and use this to clear the cut end thread.

Step up the Noga Classic Rotadrive external deburring tool. This is meant to take a burr off the end of a cut rod but is equally good for clearing the start of a cut thread. File the cut end flat and spin the Noga on the end for a couple of spins. Magic. Admittedly you can’t go down to diameters less than 4mm but below this size threads are usually not quite so difficult to start after cutting.

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Qidi i-fast dual extruder 3D printer update

Experiences so far with the Qidi

I’ve had the Qidi i-fast 3D printer for few days now and the printing results have been excellent with all manner of geometry. It is particularly good on thin wall models. I am getting more adept at filament management (loading and unloading) which is different to the Sindoh as there is not a cassette system on the Qidi.

The Qidi slicer is a skinned version of Cura and has a significantly larger number of settings to tweak than the Sindoh. That having been said the Qidi has a number of preset configs for different print types and qualities. So far I have not needed to change any of the small print settings on these.

There are some differences to my old Sindoh. When I post a file to the Qidi from Fusion, a memory stick needs to be in the Qidi for the file to post to. On the Sindoh the file would post to the machine memory and be stored internally. This change is not a problem and does mean that there is a listing of previous prints on the memory stick for repeat prints.

The printing plate on the bed is magnetically held in place and works well. Providing the bed plate is removed and allowed to cool down, the prints just ‘pop off’.

The Perspex top cover is held in place by magnets. It has no tactile means of gripping it when you try to lift it off. I have printed two handles and fitted these to the lid to overcome this. See below.

Filament reels can be mounted in a number of ways. There is a suspension bar at the rear of the printer that the reels can be hung on (see above image) or there are two brackets supplied to support two supplied filament boxes to be mounted on the rear of the printer. There is also a extra buy option of a Dryer Box that can also be hung from the suspension bar. The Dryer Box is quite useful for protecting pre-dried filament from absorbing moisture. Beware that the inner hole on the filament reel needs to be 52mm or more to fit inside the Dryer Box.

None of these mounting options worked for my restricted depth of bench space. Instead I use either the Dryer Box or one of the standard filament boxes sat on the bench alongside the printer. For this location I bought in some 4mm OD/2mm ID PTFE tubing as a longer guide tube for the filament. This works well.

The only minor frustration is the abundance of long thin PLA strings that result from the printer warm up preamble. They seem to get everywhere. The Sindoh used to manage this better with a small waste box and nozzle wiper.

Overall a lovely machine which should meet my needs for a long time to come.

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Addis Thermopot and Derek Palmer

A convenient way to make a cuppa

This one is a bit of a curved ball story and won’t appeal to all readers …. but is worth recording.

In the 1970s my business was in its infancy. I was working from home trying to get things moving. One lunchtime we had a knock on the door and on answering it I was met with an individual saying “Hi I’m Derek and I am your Farnell Electronic Components rep and I’m taking you out to lunch”. So began a working and personal relationship with Derek Palmer and FEC that lasted many years.

Derek eventually resigned from FEC and began trading as Turnkey Manufacturing Ltd, a one man company specialising in sourcing electronic components, assemblies and services from the Far East. As a Company we continued to use Derek to source items for us.

In the course of his travels in the Far East Derek came across the Thermopot concept. This was a stored hot water boiler that gave ‘close to boiling water’ on tap for making hot drinks. Derek grasped the potential for such an item in the UK market. He began working with the overseas manufacturer to adopt the idea to meet the EU market standards. Very soon he and his wife Jan had a growing business selling the Turnkey version of the Thermopot.

The Thermopot was not perfect. It came in two versions, either a 3.5L or a 5L capacity. In theory it kept the water at a constant temperature of 98C but this was not always stable. The water tank had a sealed lid which stopped the water from de-oxygenating. It had dual heating elements, one for initial boiling and one for maintaining the temperature. An electronic controller managed all the functions.

Needless to say Derek persuaded us to buy one. Our initial cynicism abated and our kettle was soon relegated to the back of a cupboard.

The story now takes a sad turn. One morning in 2014 Derek woke up and went downstairs to make a drink where he collapsed and died. We regarded Derek as an honorary member of our Company such was the relationship he had with us. Everyone was shocked by the loss. I am sure the same feelings were expressed up and down the country in many other small companies that had come to know him.

Jan, Derek’s wife, sold the rights to the Thermopot to Addis who market a wide range of household wares. Over the course of time we have had one or two replacement Thermopots from Addis. It would be inappropriate to comment on their level of customer support other than to say that it is not on a par with how Derek believed customers should be looked after.

Last week our current Thermopot went AWOL. Out came the kettle to keep the cups of tea flowing. Rather than waiting for Addis to respond we decided to just buy a new one. We discovered two things. First of all it is cheaper to buy one on EBay direct from Addis rather than Amazon. Secondly the pictures on EBay of the front panel suggested that there was an updated version now being offered. This was confirmed when the delivery arrived. I have to report that so far the new version keeps the water temperature at a very stable 98C and our cups of tea are much the better for this. The pump that streams the water also has a higher water flow rate.

Being of an engineering mind I stripped down the broken one. It was quite basic on the electrical side. What surprised me was that there was no insulation material around the hot water vessel. This would have greatly improved its energy efficiency. Judging by the temperature of the case on the new delivery, there is unlikely to be insulation in the new model either. Perhaps something for Addis to consider in the next iteration ?

Sorry that wasn’t of much interest but at least Derek Palmer is now enshrined in internet lore. He was a lovely guy, keen sportsman and full of fun. He is very sadly missed by all who encountered him. Whenever we make a cup of tea we think of him.

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Qidi I-Fast arrives and I am impressed

Decision made on the new 3D printer but it’s big

As per the previous post I have been debating long and hard about which new 3D printer to buy. Strangely enough my wife gave me a hard time about my indecision and told me to just to get on with it.

Qidi sell into the UK market via Amazon and having placed an order, a very large box arrived very quickly onto the doorstep. Very large. But also very well packaged with very good unpacking instructions. It did take the two of us to lift it into position on the bench. Which was the second problem – where to put it. The temporary position is on the side of my desk but this might change.

qidi i-fast printer squeezed onto my desk

The I-Fast has a dual extruder and you get both a high and a low temperature extruder head which are easily swapped out depending on the filament being used. Print size is huge being close to a 300mm (1 foot) cubic space. Two filament dry boxes are provided to keep moisture out of the filament (although I haven’t used these yet). Qidi provide a print slicer which looks a lot like Cura and so far seems fine to use. There was no problem in linking the export from Fusion 360 directly to the I-Fast.

I’ve run some test prints and find it fast and very quiet compared with my old Sindoh DP200 (which is currently sat sulking in the corner). More to follow as I get used to it.

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