It took me three days of owning my Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer to have an AH HAH moment with it. I was slightly versed with the concept of 3D printing and had a little experience operating 3D printers at TechShop prior to buying my own, but all the parts I had printed up until today were in the "nice to have" category, not in the "need to have" category. One's first "need to have" part really feels more satisfying than the rest...at least that's how I feel so far.
I spent the month of May in Silicone Valley going to Techshop and learning how to make stuff.
While at Techshop I had purchased some blue SainSmart PLA filament from Amazon so that I didn't have to pay the fairly high Techshop prices, which charges per ounce printed. I never ended up using that PLA filament at Techshop, so I saved it and broke it out today when I wanted to make my life a little more exciting than the clear default filament that came with the printer. I went through the whole process of unloading the clear filament only to discover that the Sainsmart filament spool didn't fit the spool holder that came with the printer. No problem. I immediately looked up a SainSmart filament spool holder on Thingiverse and five minutes later I was printing it. I printed it on Standard, 15% infill, 2 shells -it came out great. This spool holder didn't change my life by any means, but it allowed me what I needed to do and it was great. I couldn't be any happier with my 3D printer purchase so far.
I can totally recommend the SainSmart PLA filament by the way.
I printed the preloaded "nut and bolt" file on the SD card that comes with the Replicator using the blue SainSmart filament and it came out great. The clear filament that comes with the Makerbot, although perfectly adequate, gets boring really quickly and doesn't look (or photograph) nearly as well as colored filament.
Recently I've become aware of a great organization through Soldier Systems that I'd like to pass the word on. They're called the Silent Heroes Foundation and in a nutshell, they are dedicated to protecting animals in Africa from poachers. If there's anything that pisses me off its poachers and the inability of the people that want to help to be able to help in a meaningful way. We've all seen these shows where "helping" consists of ripping out snares and knocking over the poachers' unattended camps...meanwhile the poachers get away scott free. What appears to be different about the Silent Heroes Foundation is that within them they have a Specialized Interdiction Unit comprised of former SOF members. I might not know all the ins and outs of this group, but from what I can tell it sounds like the SIU's purpose is to take the fight to these poachers who are decimating Africa's endangered species. Weapons, gillie suits, aerial surveillance, deployments...and the training to back it up...say no more. It looks like they're setting it up to be pretty visible with this mission of theirs...look for some sort of documentary or show. Can't wait to follow these guys. Click here to help. They're also accepting donations of all types of used kit, gear, and equipment, having already enlisted the help of a number of great companies.
"Johnny, you're about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, how do you feel about that?" -Surfer Bank Robber Number 3
As a former skydiver, I often heard people tell me some sort of rendition of this clever quote before a jump or when I'd suggest to a friend that they accompany me to the drop zone. I always found this quote funny because its generally soooo untrue. Have you seen the state of the airplanes that they use to shuttle skydivers to 13,500 feet? I assure you, they are not perfectly good airplanes. Talk about a 1955 Russian Bumble Bee with wood crate seats and bungee cords holding the back ramp up...uh, yeah, must be a peach of a hand. Before you even take off you're running through the mental checklist in your head about what you'd do to get the hell out of there should something happen. When the pilot's got his parachute on you know you're in a real gem. Back when I was in that rap game the regulations used to state that we'd have to loop a seatbelt of some sort into our rig until about 500ft...or 1000ft...who can remember? As soon as we were air born for 5-10 seconds all seat belts were off. Perfectly good airplane...yeah, so long as you've got you're rig on.