Last night I shot a quick video regarding my Anycubic Chiron, the largest 3D print I own. The printer has sat mostly unused for months and months because of random lockups during prints. As a last ditch effort I spent $50 on an upgraded wiring harness for the printer, the stock harness has a long history of being low quality and unreliable. I have since done a number of prints successfully, including a very long 44 hour print over the weekend. The video reports on the results.
Last night I finished up season two of Titans on HBO Max. I am really enjoying the show except for one complaint. In both season one and season two they put tons of work developing the super villain story and depicting how insurmountable it would be to defeat him. Then in the last episodes, the bad guy is defeated somewhat routinely. I have one more season to go, I am curious if they do better at coming up with the final outcome this time. For those of you keeping score at home, finishing season 1 and 2 in the span of around 10 days means 26 episodes have been watched. I guess I do have some free time after all.
During the last couple months I have seen a sharp decline in the sales on the 3D EUC store. The slow down is something I haven’t seen in almost 3 years as there has been a relentless climb in activity which in most ways has been a good thing. I don’t have a definitive explanation but there have definitely been some changes in the hobby. There are now more alternatives out there for wheel stands. There are a few other people making/selling 3D printed stands but there are also people that make their own solutions out of wood, metal, PVC and even rail mounted planters. There are also 3D stand models available for free on the internet which people can print themselves if they have a 3D printer.
There are some distinct differences my stands have to the others, such as their ability to adjust in width to fit basically any wheel and the customization service I offer where I put whatever text a customer wants on the sides of the stands for a minimal upcharge. In some ways not being that busy does have it’s advantages as well. It means I am buying less consumables, parts and spending less on electricity to power the print farm. When I did my taxes this year I got a rough idea of my profit margin on the store, it wasn’t very good. The best I could figure about two thirds of my gross sales are consumed by expenses, without factoring in electricity usage. Still, the competitive side of me doesn’t like to “lose”, so I have been rolling ideas around in my head to see what I can come up with to get the foot back on the pedal.
One of the unique things about owning a Tesla is their remote service fleet. If you do not live close to a Tesla service center they will often offer to bring the service to you instead via their fleet of mobile service techs. I had a remote service call with my Model 3 and it was a pain free experience. Today I have one for the Model Y.
The guy is supposed to fix the wiring in the rear passenger door jamb as well as install the Homelink garage door opener kit into the car. The last time I had work done they came to my office to do it. This time I left the Model Y at home since Cindy is there. I set the appointment three weeks ago when we got the car but I already got a call this morning letting me know the tech should arrive within the hour. As long as the work is completed correctly, it will be another gold star in my Tesla ownership experience.
Saturday was one of those days where I wanted to get a lot of shit done and no excuses were going to stop me. It was hot and humid as hell as soon as the sun got above the horizon, making outside work, which I exclusively had scheduled, shitty. After doing the normal extended Saturday chicken clean up and weeding the property I headed out to Home Depot and a few other stops. After lunch the work began in earnest with me changing the oil on the Tacoma, Cindy’s Ioniq, and the tractor for good measure.
I had an annoying incident while changing the oil on the Tacoma. I misaligned the oil catch basin underneath the drain plug. The end result of this was hot oil bouncing off the edge of the pan and into my hair. I quickly shoved the pan over to catch the oil. When I did that I realized my second mistake, I forgot to unscrew the drain plug so the oil was just collecting on the top of the container. Luckily the flow slowed before it overflowed the capacity. I had to grab a needle nose pliers to fish into the hot oil and spin the plug off, it was comedic.
After the oil change fiasco was done I decided I needed to mow the property, despite ominous clouds quickly gathering overhead. I was able to get through a little more than 3/4 of the mowing before it started to rain, hard. Short of a direct lightning strike I had no intentions of stopping. I parked the tractor after completion soaking wet but happy to accomplish what I set out to do.
Deb came over Saturday night. We had a fun time as usual getting some PEV riding in as well as watching Cold Pursuit another Liam Neisen revenge film. I have lost count of how many he has made at this point. Despite being in his late 60’s he still does a good job in that role. The movie itself was sort of funny, it almost had a Quentin Tarrintino feel to it. Being drunk definitely helped my enjoyment of what was a B film at best.
Sunday was Father’s Day. I called and left a message for my dad early, he called me back later in the day after he discovered his phone was not ringing. Although I am not a father to a person I do have a lot of animals that look at me that way. Cindy got me a card from Elsa and the chickens which was sweet. Later in the morning I took my OneWheel Pint out for a quick ride. My lower body is still really in bad shape with left knee and lower back pain that is not getting better very quickly.
When I got back to the house DJ was there, we were babysitting him for a few hours while the kids went to the beach. As soon as he sees me he reaches out with both arms, for whatever reason he really likes being held by me. The funny thing is he refers to me as “mama” which seems to be his catch all phrase for people he likes. I had a number of things I needed to get done yesterday afternoon so I felt bad trying to do them when DJ wanted my attention.
Cindy made a big effort to handle any and all chores around the house on Sunday herself which was nice but at the same time made me feel somewhat lazy, which sounds odd but true. I had another flood of 3D EUC orders yesterday. We have been getting Cindy involved in processing the orders lately so yesterday was a very good practice session. I have already smashed my prior months best in sales with 8 or 9 days to go. Right now supply is not keeping up with demand, despite me having 3-4 printers more or less running around the clock. It’s a nice problem to have.
Cindy got most of the remaining items that were displaced for the carpet work back where they belong yesterday. It felt good to come back to a house that was more or less back in order, I never feel good when piles or clutter are around. One of the things I did last night was edit the video I shot documenting the fun process. (spoiler, it wasn’t fun)
I forgot to mention yesterday that someone finally took me up on an EUC trade offer that I have been putting out there on social media and YouTube videos for awhile. I offered to trade my like new Nikola Plus for a King Song 16X, the wheel I demo’d a couple months ago. When I demo’d the wheel I found myself liking it more than the Nikola, a wheel I liked very much already. I have been trying to be a bit more reasonable in my PEV buying habits recently so instead of spending another 2K for a new 16X, I threw the trade offer out there.
From a dollar perspective it was a good deal for someone as a Nikola Plus cost roughly $500 more than a 16X. Despite this, I couldn’t get anyone to make a deal. Finally this weekend someone agreed to the trade. His 16X has roughly 150 miles on it, my Nikola only had 120 miles so it was pretty close. We both shipped our boxes out on Monday and by the end of the week we both should have received our wheels. To me the Nikola was better than the 16X in only two ways, it’s top speed which pushes 40 mph, (which I would never ride at), and it’s LED lighting is more visually interesting. In every other way I prefer the 16X. It should make for interesting video content. A few people think I’m crazy but most seem to agree that overall the 16X is a better wheel.
Last night after work I had the cousin of the guy that detailed my truck stop by. He brought one of the skateboards he sells so I could use it to prototype a stand that he could use to display his boards in a store. Matt was extremely nice and seemed like a very genuine person. I put the board in the stand I made for my Meepo and it stood upright albeit in a little tipsy manner. I need to do a few modifications to make the stand a little more stable and also include their logo into the design. If this works out it could lead to yet another avenue for additional 3D printing work which is good and bad at the same time. The amount of my time consumed by this hobby turned into a side business is growing at an accelerating rate.
My two “side jobs” have both set new records this month as far as dollars generated. The 3D EUC stand store is going to have it’s best month ever, with a week to go I am just shy of $1000 in sales. As I have said before, my net proceeds in the store are much less but still, it’s a big number. My YouTube ad revenue crossed $500 for the first time ever which I did not expect. I have not done a lot of Tesla content lately which seems to get big views but the PEV stuff I have been putting out there seems to be performing better than it used to as well. Now if I can only find away to multiply those numbers by a factor of 8-10 and we can talk about early retirement. 🙂 The EUC and PEV market is growing rapidly, I may have just hit the wave at the right time.
Proceeds from the store are being used to pay for a second Prusa MK3S printer, assembled this time instead of the kit which took me easily 8 hours of time to assemble. Putting it together was fun, once, I didn’t need to do it again. Anyway, I ordered the assembled printer on Sunday night with a posted back order of three weeks until shipment. It sucks to have to wait but I knew about the delay before I ordered.
I love my Prusa printer and the company itself. It seems to be a great group of people, headed up by Joe Prusa who Cindy and I met back at the 2018 Miami Maker Faire. He seemed like a very down to earth and cool guy. I had already said how the assembly manual for the Prusa printer was amazing, the best I had ever seen. Well it seems like when it comes to shipping delays, Prusa once again likes to under promise and over deliver one of the best traits a person or company can have in my book.. I got a ship notice on the printer this morning so instead of waiting three weeks I didn’t even wait three days.
There are a few companies that I really love like Amazon, Tesla, Blizzard Entertainment, and Dunkin Donuts. Prusa is now on the list. I always wondered why people were willing to pay so much for a printer that costs 4-5 times more than a knock off brand with similar build volume. The answer is, it’s worth it.
Yesterday I participated in a meeting regarding a new government center that is going to be built within the next couple years. The meeting had to do with selecting companies involved in the build. This was a “public” meeting which meant that it had to be recorded for public record. They had microphones hanging from the ceiling above the table for that very purpose. It was my first time participating in that sort of environment so it was a good experience and something I think I will be doing more of in the future as this project, the largest one we have ever done, continues to move forward.
Last night I again spent a good chunk of time in the hobby room both assembling completed 3D prints and starting new ones. When I went to bed I had five of the six printers churning away. I also completed a hot end swap on my CR10S pro. Doing so made me decide to finally install the inductive leveling probe I have had sitting in the room for months. Hopefully I do so in the next few days. The capacitive probe the printer comes with is rather inconsistent which causes issues with good first layer performance.
In one of the videos I posted over the weekend I briefly talked about the Prius battery replacement project and how I was happy that the car is still running well a month or two later. Well right on cue I get a picture sent to from Cindy of the red triangle of death popping back on the dashboard of the car, likely indicating another cell in the battery pack is going bad.
I knew this was a possibility and have read others warn that individual cell replacement is a whack-a-mole game, you replace one bad one and another fails. Sure I could repeat the same process as last time, identify which cell is bad, pull the entire pack out of the car, rip into it, replace the bad cell and reverse the process. The problem is this process is long, tedious and something that I don’t want to include in my regular list of chores. I told Cindy that my recommendation was for Katie to buy the kit I investigated before that uses brand new and better than stock cells. It has a two year warranty and would likely be the last battery pack the car ever needs before other things start falling apart. I told her I would be willing to put in the labor to get it installed.
The kids other options are going from driving the 50MPG Prius to the 15 or less MPG Dodge Ram truck which is probably the least baby friendly vehicle you can imagine, or buying another vehicle. A four to six year car payment will very quickly be a budget buster, much more so than replacing the pack. We will see how it all shakes out.
Cliff is a guy I know originally from my PEV videos, he was a frequent commenter on them. From watching my 3D printing videos it got him interested in that hobby too, he has at least a couple printers now. Cliff is also a long time WoW player so we share a lot of interests. Well he had a weird problem with his one printer that I gave him a suggestion on how to fix. The suggestion worked. As thanks for the help Cliff send me 250,000 gold in WoW, a HUGE chunk of virtual currency. He sent me a big chunk of cash before as well. When combined with my already existing funds I am now a virtual millionaire in game. I thanked Cliff for his extreme generosity. Unfortunately at the moment I don’t have anything pressing to buy in game. If anything it would be great if somehow that gold could funnel to my character in the newly released WoW classic where money is MUCH more difficult to come by and accumulate.
Last night I spent a good chunk of time working on Cindy’s computer. She said she wasn’t able to get on the internet. When I hopped on there I saw that her browser had been hijacked. When you would try to start the browser it would try to launch some PDF file on a hacked wordpress site. It took awhile for me to clean it up. The bad thing about malware like this is there is always the possibility it planted a seed somewhere else on the computer that will grow again. There are so many potential landmines now on the internet, even a trained pro like myself sometimes has to really examine pages carefully to make sure they aren’t waiting to blow up in my face.
I received my replacement AnyCubic I3 Mega yesterday. I had it up and printing in no more than 30 minutes. Sure the quality is not close to what the Prusa offers but for a fifth of the price, these printers have done thousands of hours of work for me. They definitely have offered the most bang for the buck. I still plan on adding a second Prusa once 3D store revenue can pay for it. With the way sales have been going, that won’t take very long.
Last night I boxed up my biggest EUC stand order to date. An EUC dealer in Australia was interested in buying six stands for his customers. Sending to the other side of the planet is not cheap, the shipping alone was over $66, sending it the cheapest way I could. I then woke up this morning to two more orders which I hurriedly packed up before leaving for work. The end result of this is I have over $700 in sales in September, my best month ever, and it is barely more than halfway done. It’s getting kind of crazy.
I have not been putting aside 30% of the proceeds for taxes at the end of the year, figuring my over withholding that I do every year from my normal paycheck will cover it. If numbers keep escalating like this that will no longer be the case. The sales figures are a little misleading as there are so many costs that come right back out of that gross sales number. I would guesstimate at least half of it. Filament, shipping costs, stainless steel nuts/bolts, candy, stickers, and of course electricity consumed adds up to a pretty hefty number. Add in the costs of all of the 3D printer I use in the process and we are probably closer to break even. The good news is when tax time does come around all of those supplies and equipment can be deducted back out.
This morning when Cindy was cleaning the coop she saw some disgusting worms in the poop in one area of the mat, meaning at least one of the birds has an active worm infestation which is bad news. My bet is it is Kathy, who has been acting pretty low energy recently. We have been trying to do natural deworming using cayenne pepper and tumeric mixed into their food but we are going to need to do more. I am stopping after work to get some dewormer and special feed that is designed to naturally deworm as maintenance. Wet season is the worst for the hens because they insist on drinking the disgusting standing water. Once I know for sure the standing water is behind us I am definitely getting that entire area elevated and sodded to fix the problem permanently.
Today I am supposed to have a replacement I3 Mega printer arrive to take it’s spot for the Mega I spent hours not fixing. I installed an all metal hot end in my CR10S Pro last night as well which will hopefully result in more consistent prints.
The 3D printed EUC stand business has really been picking up speed. It seems that it’s all mostly from word of mouth as I don’t actively advertise at all. I was just contacted by an EUC dealer from AUSTRALIA that wants me to make some stands for him as well, it’s sort of nuts.
In order to help me in the short term I ordered another cheap AnyCubic I3 Mega to help me crank out some parts. I still have plans to get another Prusa as well but that will come as more money is saved. I am also considering modifying my work benches in the hobby room to allow double decker printer configs. If I lower the shelf under the bench a few inches I would be able to run the I3 Mega’s down there without a problem. I then just need to find some alternative way to store completed stands which shouldn’t be too hard to do.
When I started this endeavor last year on a whim I never expected it to grow like it has. I still enjoy doing it and it seems to be appreciated by the community so it’s a win/win. From a purely financial standpoint I have never exactly figured out how much money I actually make on the sale of a stand because there are a lot of material, equipment, shipping, and electricity costs that take big bites out of the bottom line. Regardless, I make enough for it to be worth my while.
It’s funny, when I quit race timing a few years ago I was walking away from the money I made doing it which wasn’t fantastic but helped pay some bills. Now, between the growth of my YouTube channel (almost 7k subscribers) and the sales from the 3D store, I have surpassed what I used to make race timing, by a considerable margin.
Some weekends you just get shit done, this was one of those weekends. A good majority of the day Saturday was consumed trying to make the water logged and ratty looking yard look half decent. Cindy got on the tractor and mowed the non-mucky areas for me. I was on the weed whacker forever. Not only did I do the normal tasks but also used the whacker as a hand held brush hog more or less, walking through the back of the chicken yard and knocking down the 1-2 foot grass in a large open area. It sucked. The end result was the yard looking decent outside of the black mud trails from the tractor in the low lying spots.
After jumping in the pool to cool down and remove a layer of grime I turned my attention to the AC air handler. I had a second UV light kit to install. I was putting it where the original light was, in the supply side of the duct, right above the air handler. As I mentioned previously, this is where my old AC contractor put the bulb which is not ideal if you only have one light. The best spot is inside the air handler, shining directly on the coils and drip pan where shit is most likely to form. However adding a second light up top gets the other side of the air handler giving the entire unit a UV bath.
Installing the kit was pretty straight forward since I just helped Daniel relocate the other light the week prior. All I had to do was connect the ballast to the transformer and stick the light into the existing hole. I did drill a second hole in the duct and inserted a view plug, making it easy to tell if the light is still working or not. All in all I spent maybe a half hour putting the other light in.
On Saturday I also received the 16X demo wheel for testing. When I pulled the EUC out of the box I immediately noticed the tire was flat, weird. Even weirder was when I looked for the valve to add air there was none, just a hole in the rim where it is supposed to be.
Evidently while the unit was in NYC for two months KingSong sent a different tire to be put on. When one of the guys up there tried to swap it he wound up puncturing the inner tube. Instead of putting a new tube in he was told to just ship the wheel to me and that I would take care of it. This was very interesting since none of this was communicated to me by anyone. I immediately sent an email to the owner of Ewheels asking what the deal was and if he planned to ship an inner tube to me. Sure I have the ability to change a tube on the 16X but I just thought it was bizarre that I would be tasked with the job without asking first.
I still have not heard anything back from Ewheels so I just laid out my own money for a new tube which should be here mid-week. I then get to pull the wheel apart, change the tube, and THEN hopefully get around to the business of testing it out. I’m still scratching my head over the situation and lack of communication.
Saturday night we watched Vice, the movie depicting the rise to power of the puppet master and scum of the Earth, Dick Cheyney. It was fascinating that Christian Bale played this role, the combo of his real life weight gain and incredible make up work transformed him into a very believable version of the most diabolical VP in history. I learned a lot of back story on Cheyney that I did not know before and despite me despising the man, the movie was B+. The way the story was told and who was telling it was very unique, which you will understand if you see the film.
Sunday morning I wound up doing a solo ride as Cindy was in the queue to do her first census road work. I opted to take the Pint out to Ave Maria to ride, a perfect place for low speed and scenic cruising. I had a great time putting over 7 miles on the board. I love the One Wheel Pint, a lot.
Cindy did get census assignments in our local area. She thought it would be efficient and easy to use our PEVs to do the work. She first did a few on the Minipro which was convenient to hop on and off of but too slow with only an 11mph top speed. She came back and instead got on the Dualtron which can go 30mph plus.
The extra speed was nice but the big scooter was not as easy to jump on and off of. However the bigger problem was the heat with temps in the low 90s. Cindy was burning up. She eventually came back and got her car which I think will be the way to go from now on. Not only will it give her cool AC to retreat to, it also will allow her to charge her Census laptop on the go which appears to not have fantastic battery life.
So a good chunk of my weekend and a couple hours Thursday and Friday night had been spent working on assembling the Prusa MK3S 3D printer kit. This is a TRUE printer kit where you get a box full of a couple hundred parts and you put EVERYTHING together yourself. I once did another printer kit but it was not nearly as involved or as granular as this kit is.
The good news is that Prusa includes what may be the most detailed and well written assembly manual of anything I have ever seen. It is simply amazing. Equally amazing is the part organization and labeling, each step of the process has it’s own parts bag. On the bag is a picture illustrating each part with accurate size depictions so you make sure you are using the correct size bolt or nut. When I glanced at the instructions at first the task seemed daunting, if not almost impossible based on my past history with very complex, tedious, tasks. But I had no choice, it had to get done.
On Friday night Cindy jumped in and helped me get the X and Y axis built. The stuff after that was really only a one person job so I trudged through the remainder solo. Despite the complexity, I tried to just focus on whatever the task was at hand. Thanks to the great instructions with pictures I kept making steady progress. I finally fired up the printer a little after 9 PM last night. After going through the set up routine I embarked on my first print which actually failed about halfway in but I think that could have been avoided with different settings.
I awoke at 4:30 AM this morning. As soon as I did I thought about how I could get more shit done like relocating the printer which was sitting on a foldable table in front of my desk, starting another print, and editing the video of the process. I actually got it all done, including a sweet two color bottle opener print before heading to work.