Making COVID stay away

Do a web search on 3D printing and COVID, and you’ll find endless examples of the 3D printing industry (both commercial and hobbyist) mobilizing to create personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the severe shortages that many countries face. If you have any experience with 3D printing, helping out is as simple as downloading the design files (such as this one for face masks or this one for face shields), sending them to the printer, and waiting 3+ hours for the printer to do its job.(*)

Finished print of the US version of Prusa’s face shield.

So when Tim of Adirondack oral and maxillofacial surgery contacted Zak Robinson, my colleague over in the Physics department, and lamented his inability to secure PPE for his staff, Zak and I got to work. Both of us use 3D printing in our teaching and research activities at SUNY Brockport, and when the pandemic shut down the campus for the remainder of the semester, we each brought home our printers so we could carry on with our making.

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#Making ready for COVID-19

It sounds like the CDC is going to recommend that everyone wear face masks to help fight spread of the coronavirus. Now, since the government is incapable of handling the most rudimentary of supply chain issues (probably because a few senior officials refused to recognize the thread), we are supposed to make our own. Fortunately, we can. Rozenn and I made some for the droids too. No one knows how the virus affects droids, so best to be on the safe side.

We are a prepared #MakerFamily
Just because they are droids doesn’t mean they cannot have bespoke PPE

#Make ready for COVID

There’s a lot of buzz on the interweb about 3D-printing personal protective equipment (PPE) in light of the severe shortages across the country and especially close by to me. (I’m sure it has nothing to do with sending much of our supply to china last month.) I wanted to see how easy it was to actually do.

I’ve got my 3D printer, a Prusa MK2, up-and-running in my home office. I followed these instructions for making a mask and this design for the face shield. Both designs are reported to be printable without the use of supports or other fancy settings, so I loaded them on the build plate and off I went. After 5 hours of printing (3 for the mask, 2 for the shield) I ended up with this.

Green screen added for future special effects 🙂

I’m surprised at how well these designs printed with no modifications needed. I’ve got some temperature calibration to tweak because both designs have overhangs that printed poorly but only affected the aesthetics of the final object. Double sided tape worked just fine to keep the document transparency in place. I’m now ready to fight the coronavirus … or clean the litter box.

New Year’s project

I received some servo motors for Christmas, so naturally I need to start working on a robot. Details to come on the project, but for now I’ve been trying to figure out how to (a) control two servos with an ATTiny85 microcontroller and (b) talk to that microcontroller with an Arduino that is telling the ATTiny85 how to position the servos.

It took the better part of several days (including some learning and additional trips down rabbit holes, but here we go.

Arduino communicating (via I2C) with an ATTiny85 that is controlling two servo motors (empty shot glass for scale)
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More Particle madness

The graphics in this post will no longer work now that I have started a new project with this particle.

Now that I’ve mastered (!) publishing sensor readings from a Particle device and visualizing them with ThingSpeak, it’s time to step up my game a little bit. I have an old BMP180 temperature and pressure sensor that I thought was toast. I’m glad I didn’t throw it out because it seems to be working well.

A static view of temperature and pressure data from a BMP180 sensor connected to a Particle Xenon.

I was interested in this sensor because it reports two values. If I want to send both values to ThingSpeak using the Particle tutorial, I would have to set up two webhooks (and possibly two channels). That seems like a lot of work. I sought an alternative. The particle community has several discussions (such as this one) that show how to do it.

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