New Project: Small Solar off-grid system


About this article.

In this blog post I’m attempting to distill weeks of online research and my own experience of building small off-grid solar system into short and sweet blocks of information. I’m not going to go into excruciating details about how technology works (i.e. AGM batteries vs. flooded).  Instead I will provide links to very useful articles. If you don’t care about how and why parts, feel free to skip summary paragraph where I provide all the components I got to do build the system.

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Prusa i3 Rework Update 8/27/2014



Since last update I didn’t touch my 3D printer much, until last week.

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Prusa i3 Rework 3D printer build is DONE!

This is continuation of my previous blog post.

First and foremost, when I say it’s Done I mean, it’s pretty usable at this point.  If anything, this experience taught me that RepRap DIY style 3D printer build can never be fully complete. There’s always something that needs to be fixed, upgraded and tweaked in the software. Especially the software part. There’re so many different parameters that need tweaking, and because no two printers are alike you can’t just copy and paste someone else’s settings. Making changes in software/firmware takes really long time because 3D printing is a slow process. It rarely takes less than hour to print a small part, so imagine making adjustment and then waiting for a while to see result. And there are prep steps for each print such as cleaning and applying hairspray, checking bed level, etc.

So yes you do need a lot of patience and time, however despite all the trouble rewards are worth it!  Sure you can just buy a fully functional 3D printer that will work great out of the box, but prepare to spend around $2K or more for anything with usable print area.  Prusa i3 cost was under $500, and learning process of building it is priceless!

Speaking of learning, I now see a lot of areas where I can make an improvement or even scale print area up.  I’m already thinking about building another one 🙂

But enough of that, I wanted to share my final build stages, issues I had and how resolved it (hopefully I can remember all of it).

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Genius solution to enclosure problem



I don’t know about you but biggest issue for me when designing enclosure is how to hold all the parts together.  Jigsaw pattern and T-joins seemed to be the only way to do it using laser cut parts. Until I saw this post.

It looks like I got my 3D printer just in time. My next Xronos clock design is going to be based on these Lada joints!


Prusa i3 Rework 3D printer build update #2


It’s been a week since my last update, and almost 2 weeks since I got the printer. I’ve read other people building whole thing in a day, and I honestly don’t know how they do it 🙂

I must not be as handy as some, but in my excuse I recently moved into a new house (w/ 1.4 acres of property), so it’s taking almost all of my time. I think I could’ve built 3D printer a week if there were clear instructions of every step and I didn’t gave so many defects in Replikeo’s kit.  Anyway enough complaining, onto the progress update 🙂

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3d Printer build update (6-13-2014)


My Prusa i3 Rework 3d printer build has been progressing slowly, but surely.

By now I have everything assembled and connected, but it’s not working just yet. I’d like to share what I learned during this tough build, in case you trying to do the same.

As I mentioned in earlier post RepRap’s official assembly instructions are lacking to put it lightly, but still they will help you assemble your printer.  Be aware that some parts of the instructions are just wrong. Here’s list of issues you might expect and how to get around them.

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Prusa i3 3D Printer kit. First impressions


Two weeks ago I ordered Prusa i3 Rework 3d printer kit from Replikeo and it finally arrived yesterday.

I honestly did not expect to receive it so quickly, so it was a nice surprise. I’ve read some posts about box arriving damaged so I quickly checked everything and it seems Replikeo learned from it’s mistakes.  Everything was packaged very neatly into styrofoam compartments. It did not look like anything was damaged in any way.

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DIY motorized camera slider update

Assembled drive mechanism

Assembled drive mechanism

I have some sad news. Recently I revisited my instructions on how to build camera slider, and found out that my supplier for HTC belt and pulley went out of business.  HTC parts were essential to the build and so far I was not able to find another supplier that right combination of belt and pulley that has shaft to match motor I’m using.  If you do figure it out, drop me a note!

Update (8/18/2014): I think I found another source for the pulley. It’s part number A 6A25-036NF0910 at SDP/SI store. At least it matches most of the specs: 

  • Pitch: 5mm  (HTD)
  • Belt width: 9mm
  • Bore size (Most important one): 0.3125″ (which is 5/16″)

It has different number of teeth (36 vs. 24) but I don’t think it matters. Unfortunately it’s double the price of econobelt’s model ($9 vs $19)

But there’s an alternative plastic version, which is just $9.

They also carry correct timing belt which again is double the price 🙁



I’m getting a 3D printer!


I can’t tell you for how long I wanted to own a 3d printer!  Probably since first time I heard about them 🙂 But they were really expensive and I didn’t really have room for one.

No more excuses!   I started to do a research on what 3d printer to get. I wanted to build one to save as much as possible on cost but also didn’t want to get printer with tiny printing space.  After some research it was a decision between Prusa i3 and Mendel Max 2.0.  Mendel Max seems better, but it didn’t have any easy to find BOMs.  So I decided to get Prusa i3 and started collecting information.  There’s a lot of instructions, BOMs, etc. out there, but to me they all very incomplete. Why couldn’t anyone just create a clear list of all components AND provide all the sources where they got them (like what I did with my DSLR Camera slider)?  At best these lists were 50% complete.

But still they were pretty useless and with some research I was able to find all components and estimate build cost. It seems to go between $500-$650, which was still a tad too much.  And then I stumbled upon site.

I don’t know how they do it, but they actually offer a FULL Prusa i3 Rework edition KIT for just $350!!!  They are based in China so shipping was extra $94 to US. I did some research to see if they are legit, and there are few people who got kits from them recently this year. So I pulled the trigger and ordered one. For total of $444.  Hopefully it will arrive soon (2-3 weeks) and I can start assembly!  Super excited! 🙂

I will keep you updated on when I get it, so keep checking here 🙂


Keeaplive post


In case anyone is keeping track, I didn’t post anything in a while… Mostly due to a very stressful move that I had to go thru. I was kind of “homeless” for about 6 months trying to buy a house and encountering some frustrating issues.

But all of this is now behind me, and I moved to my beautiful house upstate New York 🙂   I finally have room to work on my project and a beautiful backyard with no neighbors too close.

While I lived with my parents, I worked on couple of interesting small DIY projects, on which I might do a write-up or two.

I created an “AudioFX Stick” –  small arduino like device that has audio on board to use with FX props or toys. It still needs some work, but based on it, I created 2 devices, both out of necessity.

First device was a smart LED strip. Staircase in parent’s house had very bad lightning so I decided to create motion activate LED strip.  So I got a 1m RGB LED strip w/ aluminum enclosure (it had diffuser too) and in Radioshack’s enclosure create a controller that has PIR motion sensor, light sensor, IR receiver and a push button.  It’s controlled by my AudioFX Stick. When it’s dark enough and motion detected light will turn on. If no motion detected over period of time LED strip will flash as a warning and then turn itself off.  It can also be control with a remote (any remote can be programmed) and a button. LED Strip can be even set to various colors.
It worked pretty well, and saved me and everyone who lived in the house from stumbling in the dark 🙂

Second device was an IR controlled in-line volume changer. It might be silly but it had a purpose. I had no regular TV in my room, just 30″ LCD monitor, TiVo and computer speakers.  Tivo would connect to monitor via HDMI cable, and monitor had line out to connect to speakers. There was no way to control sound volume remotely. So I took one of my AudioFX stick prototypes and made it control digital potentiometer. It also had an IR receiver,    LED bar (w/ 10 LEDs) and a rotary encoder to control sound manually if needed. This was a challenging project as I discovered digital pot has issues with audio signal. It would cut off sine wave below 0, mangling sound. Thanks to some folks at DIYAudio forums, I was able to modify circuit to introduce a bias (basically move sine wave above 0 before it reached POT and then lower it back).  It worked but had it’s issues. Every time I was changing volume device would create a loud pop. Large volume, louder pop. But it seemed to be just a limitation of non-audio digital Pot.

Then just before I moved out, I started working on a musical controller based on Isomorphic keyboard. I already build my prototype with bunch of arcade buttons, but never completed it. Still on my to do list 🙂