Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two Makerbot Side Notes

1) Tricking out a Makerbot is insanely easy. Cold cathode lights intended for lighting PC cases are dirt cheap ($6 at Fry's), and the 10 inch tube lights fit neatly in the Makerbot case. They were too long to fit in the build area, so I drilled holes in the panel between the build chamber and power supply, and stuck the lamps up into the build chamber as far as they'd go. I used blue and white lights because that's what's available, and they both trick out the Makerbot nicely and provide some decent light to see the model being built.

2) I had a lot of problems getting my Mac laptop configured correctly for printing to the Makerbot. Part of that's my own fault; that laptop has been used with three devices expecting a USB->serial converter. I use the JMRI model railroad software to configure the decoders in my model railroad locomotives. I've installed USB->serial drivers to get a Cricut computer-controlled paper cutter working. Finally, I've got the Makerbot and its serial interface. Most of my problems were caused by JMRI expecting the various Java libraries for controlling serial ports to be installed with the default Java installation on Mac OS X, but both ReplicatorG and the Cricut software ties the drivers to the Mac application.

So this weekend, when I needed to get the JMRI software running, I found the Makerbot configuration was somehow messing things up. I finally got it working after deleting all the various serial port jars and jnilib files from different directories, but kept having problems until I finally got rid of a Java jar file in some directory that I'd renamed from "RXTXcomm.jar" to "RXTXcomm.jar.unused". It looks like Java ignores the file extension, and if there's a file that looks like a Jar file, Java will read it in. Next time, I move all the unneeded files well out of the way.

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