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My Making Projects – 2020 Year in Review

my making projects

My Prusa i3 3D printer continues to be my “go to” tool for fabrication. Here are some of my making projects from the past year.

Well, I sold my CNC machine during the year. I had used it to isolation mill some printed circuit boards, and it did the job. But really, the cost of fabricating double sided PCB is now so low online, that I will take that approach from now on.

But I expect that I might use my 3D printer forever! Once you get the hang of using CAD, you can design and print almost anything that fits in an eight inch cube. It’s truly amazing what you can do with some DIY hardware and a 3D printer.

My big project this year was designing and making a small loop antenna rotator, shown above right. All the gears and mounting collars are plastic, as well as the structures for holding motors, potentiometer and electronics modules. My build uses low-speed DC motors and extensive gear reduction with timing belts. Everything is remote controlled over Wi-Fi.

My making projects this year included a number of plastic project boxes. These included a pair of Distill BCB notch filters (top left) and a box for my X-Phase QRM Eliminator (lower left). Metallic spray adds shielding quite easily.

All of these parts can be designed in free CAD software like Fusion 360 for Personal Use and, at the low end, Tinkercad.

My Making Projects – Lessons Learned

If you are going to fabricate things, you want to have all the parts on hand before CAD. You will find it very important to measure parts precisely, so everything fits after the 3D print. I generally add a 0.2 mm buffer. Also, document all you measurements and plans so you remember what you did.

The nice thing about 3D printing is its low cost. It costs next to nothing to make trial parts and then change them if you got something wrong or have a better idea.

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