Saturday, February 20, 2016

I For One Welcome Our New Breakfast-Making Overlords

At long last, the Pancakebot we got from the Kickstarter arrived, and it's pretty much what you'd expect. It's like a 2d version of a 3d printer, laying down a single layer of pancake batter onto an integral griddle. The makers also provide a simple drawing program which is a sort of minimalist CAD/CAM package specifically designed for the Pancakebot. It lets you work in four "shades" of pancake. Depending on the darkness you select for any given line or area, it'll stagger when those lines are extruded onto the griddle. Darkest lines are first, then it pauses to let them cook, then the next lighter batch, then another pause, and so on. The nifty thing here is that ultimately the Pancakebot speaks gcode, the language (or family of languages) used by CNC machines and 3d printers. In theory, I could come up with something which converted, say, .dfx files to gcode suitable to the Pancakebot, and bypass the manual drawing interface altogether.

Now, some of the cooking process is manual. Notably, the griddle temperature and the pressure at which the batter is extruded are set with separate controls with no connection to the pancake CAM. That's probably a very good thing. Variations between batches of batter mean that you'll need to make countless small manual adjustments as you go. In our case, the batter ended up quite thin, which means I had to crank the pressure well down from the medium level I started with, though the medium heat on the griddle worked quite well.

But enough technical details. What about the pancakes? We made a mix of designs downloaded from the manufacturer's web site and ones we worked up here. It took a bit of adjustment to get things right, but once I had the right settings dialed in, it went consistently pretty well.

With the pressure up too high, the lines of the Eiffel Tower were almost entirely obscured.

Designed this one for the lovely and talented spouse. Came out pretty well.

Spider pancake, spider pancake,
Does whatever a spider cancake.
In the US and in Europe
Catches thieves like maple syrup.
Look out! Here comes the spider pancake!

In Soviet Russia, dinosaur eaten by you!

It's ultimately slower than pouring cups of batter on the griddle, but the scope for shape and shade is immense. We'll be doing this again. And we'll probably be tinting the batter; we've got some additional bottles on order, so we can do four-color pancaking.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sweet Dreams

A friend of my lovely and talented spouse is getting into cosplay. One of the things she's been working on is Peggy Carter. And given the opportunity to wear a fabulous red hat and totally punch a dude out with a stapler, who can blame her?

It happens that the shade of lipstick Peggy uses is commercially available. It also happens that one of the gadgets Peggy uses from time to time is a knockout agent disguised as lipstick:

You see where this is going, right? My lovely and talented spouse saw that someone had 3d-printed a "102 Sweet Dreams" case and thought that would be a suitable accessory. I agreed and ordered a tube of the right lipstick so I could properly measure a case for it.

I ended up making the case out of a whole bunch of pieces. There are the upper and lower halves of the case, of course (printed open end up to save a lot of time and support material), but I decided to print the cap-like ends as separate pieces for a smoother appearance. Likewise, to get a maximally good appearance for the name plate, I printed that as a separate bit and attached it rather than having that imprinted into the side of the printed design.

So, works pretty well. The bottom is snug enough to hold the original lipstick without having to shove it in, and it comes out reasonably easy for replacement.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Coaster Addendum

Finally picked up some red ink, so I could complete two of the marble coasters.

Yes, I think that works.