Triple-D-Reviews, a new website for investigating and reviewing 3D printers

Triple-D-Reviews

After trying to build two 3D printers, I got frustrated. You have to realize, with as much potential 3D printers may have, they’re still being built and designed by amateurs. Others at Jaxhax have tried building 3D printers as well but have come up short with similar problems. I built a Reprap huxley that had a couple critical design flaws with the extruder, I ultimately gave up on it, and bought what appeared to be one of the higher end 3D printers out there, a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic, which after building it I realized had some feeding issues with it’s extruder as well, I ultimately gave up on it, and sold it for 40% of the $2,000 I paid for it in parts…

Makerbot’s support was also terrible, I will likely never buy anything from them again. Which isn’t a problem since there’s about a thousand new 3D printer companies that have sprung up in the last year.

So now I’ve started a website for 3D printer reviews so that there can be some better accountability for 3D printer manufacturers, and their parts.

I’m calling this site Triple-D-Reviews as in 3D Reviews. You can check it out here: www.tripledreviews.com

A Fresh Look at Electric Cars and Hybrids

 

Electric Cars

The concept of the electric car has been around for quite a while, though the only real practical electric car as of late has been the downtown cable cars, though I guess those could technically qualify as trains instead. The largest issue for the longest time has been trying to pack the energy density necessary into battery packs for be able to go anywhere practical. Lead batteries have existed for some time, though they don’t pack nearly the same energy density as lithium batteries do. Which is partially why electric cars have only recently reimerged onto the cutting edge of the car market. As we’ve invested more research into lithium battery packs for laptops, car makers have realized the potential in new electric cars.

I have an interest now in getting either an electric car, or a hybrid. I have an aging Ford Mustang ’98 which has seen some better days. With the transmission now slipping, and the check engine light flashing every week or two it’s time to find a new car. With as few miles as I’m putting on it I still pay close to $200 a month on it in gas. I figured in looking for a new car, if I could buy or lease a new car for roughly the same cost in gas then I wouldn’t mind leasing. The trade off ultimately would be whether I could save as much in efficiency with better mileage to makeup the cost for a lease. With an electric car, you don’t even have to pay for gas, though unfortunately with the money down, and the cost to install charger in your home, the cost is comparable to a prius. Aside from other drawbacks with electric cars like maintenance, and traveling range, and recharge time. Electric cars are really appealing, they can have good performance as noted with the Tesla Roadster, or they can be ultra efficient as with the Aptera 2e which was claiming a whopping 300MPGe (it’s now unfortunately discontinued until further notice)
 

Insite Renewables, bringing new Insight to Clean Energy.

Insite Renewable Energy, LLC.

(DBA: Insite Renewables) is a new company that I’ve started in response to the difficulty I became aware of in participating in clean energy alternatives. The companies main goal is to create new products that will make it more convenient for consumers to install their own clean energy power sources in buildings without having to go through the hassle of hiring a contractor and being held up by the permitting process.
To start, we plan on manufacturing a spectrum of solar energy devices to take advantage of the solar energy available in windows with some new devices called Solar Shutters, that take on a familiar design of plantation shutters with a renewable twist. Embedded solar cells allow them to collect sunlight for use in other applications within a home to help reduce an electric bill while going green.

More information about this exciting clean energy venture can be found at the Insite Renewables website here: www.insiterenewables.com

Jaxhax Makerspace

While I was enrolled at UNF, I think I got bored of the monotonous work of creating uncreative things. When I got my first apartment on Southside (a one bedroom apartment, I rented out the sunroom of) I tried building a 3D printer, and realized that it wasn’t working out nearly the way it was supposed to. 3D printers almost go hand in hand Makerspaces, and I think somewhere down the line 3D printers were first conceived in a makerspace. But regardless we didn’t have a makerspace in Jacksonville, so there was really no help for my non-working 3D printer aside from what I could read on the internet. So ultimately I’d tried getting people together who were also interested in makerspaces in Jacksonville. I formed a group on facebook, with really only my roommate at the time and myself. He wasn’t much help with anything, but he was a redditor, and he invited me to an annual reddit meetup in Jax, where I met a very cool guy named Ronnie. There were now three of us in the facebook group. I started a weekly newsletter, and we started drumming interest for a makerspace in Jacksonville with some weekly meetings at my apartment. We finally got up to about 20 people who were interested in actually getting a space, Ronnie started scouting out some warehouse space until we found a place we could finally agree on. All we needed at this point to open the doors was some money for rent, but even with what we could all afford at the moment we didn’t have enough to open the space. One member, Ziggy, was nice enough to be an angel investor and throw down half of what we needed to get going. We opened the 7,000 sq. ft. warehouse space in downtown Jax the next month and started moving in.

It was completely empty, except for some big white pillars. No walls, no air-conditioning.

Fast forward a year or so, we’ve built out the space with specialized rooms for electronics, art, metal and wood working. We’ve also got a huge collection of donations, and more stuff really than we know what to do with. We have a computer lab, lots of computer, a couple 3D printers some members have been working on. We’ve got a classroom, about 8 board members, and we’ve incorporated the space as Jaxhax, Inc. with the possibility in the future of forming a non-profit organization for donation of some bigger equipment. Also in an odd twist, we’ve come out as one of the larger makerspaces in existence. A bit surprised we haven’t been contacted yet by DARPA or anyone else. Anyways! Here’s to the future of hacking things!

www.jaxhax.org

HGTV’s Not-So-Smart Home

I guess the term smart home does not necessarily mean green home. After arranging a visit of HGTV’s overpriced $20 tour we left feeling disappointed. The home valued at nearly $1 million was neither green nor smart. Painted with a couple good pastels, the home had a great beach feel to it, but it seemed to lack much of any feature I’d attribute to a smart home. ADT had cleverly placed cameras around the house to showcase their monitoring solutions, so technically it was a secure home. Overpriced toilets in each of the bathrooms offer new buttons to press rather than the traditional flushing lever.  Pseudo-high-tech fans circulate in the bed and living rooms. Keypad doorlocks control all the doors.  Garage door openers have built in batteries for when the power goes out. Shades on the back windows open and close by an ipad app, though you’re going to have to switch out the battery every couple months. A $5,000 induction based stove insures you can only use specially made cookware. Unlike regular infrared or convection based stoves, an induction based stove essentially works with magnet wire to transfer energy to pots and pans which is then converted locally to heat, which I guess is cool because your stove never actually heats up, and that’s nice if you want a stove that can double as a seat or as a desk, but this is a stove, it’s meant to get hot.

By far the most intelligent features of the ‘smart’ home were the rain barrel they had in front, and the metal roof on top. I say that because the metal roof, unlike normal asphalt and tile roofs reflects a lot of sunlight keeping the house cooler, it can also be more durable in the event of a storm or hurricane.

Beyond these honorable mentions we saw in the house, there were the things we didn’t see that bothered us the most. There were no solar panels, there was no programmable thermostat (they just had a vanilla set-it-and-forget-it thermostat) there were no LED lights, or CFL’s they for whatever reason seemed to prefer using incandescent lights and more energy. Which isn’t very smart. I wasn’t really expecting to see incandescent lights in a ‘smart’ home I thought surely at a bare minimum they would have CFL’s, I didn’t even know they still sold incandescent lights in stores with which to replace your old burnt out ones. But somehow they still managed to special order some incandescent light bulbs to keep their meter spinning. It’s 2013, is this really the smart home of the future? Aren’t we supposed to be in space already with hover cars, parking in carports in our jetson’s-esque dome homes? Instead the house that’s being touted nationally on the home and garden channel as a ‘smart’ home is still using much of what was made for homes more than 100 years ago, while also being as energy efficient as an SUV. In a dire time when greenhouse gas emissions have surpassed the threshold warned about by global scientists, we need to ask ourselves, is this really the best we can do?
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When I think of a smart home

Again in retrospect we were referred to check out the smart home by JEA, who informed us it was a good example of solar energy in homes. There were no solar panels, and there were no solar water heaters.