Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Nerd - Level 2.1

Define 'nerd'...

If it's a person who enjoys an overly complex technical solution for a problem that doesn't need to be solved... then... Yes! Guilty, your honor!

My own kids, fairly used to their father being a bit... euh... eccentric 😁 shake their heads in disbelief (and perhaps a little disappointment). Which means... Mission accomplished!


Definitions


Wikipedia

A nerd is a person seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, introverted or lacking social skills. Such a person may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, little known, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical, abstract, or relating to topics of science fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities.

Hmmm. Somewhat. If 'inordinate amount of time' means 'lots' then yeah...


Webster

An unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person. Especially one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.

Well. Nerdness is fashionable these days... somewhat. Or so I keep telling myself. And I got style, taste, and I'm in shape too! Round is a shape, isn't it? 😁


Me

Just having fun!


So... proof it!

So... how can I prove that I'm nut just a nerd, but even qualify for the next level? Let's do something useless, just for the fun of it...


The challenge

Downstairs I have a 3D printer (a simple Dremel 3D20) and it would be nice to monitor its workings upstairs. I could also simply walk downstairs (13 steps) but where's the fun in that?!? Let's put it on the big screen on the living room, as I rarely watch television these days... Can I do that? Yes!


Parts

Okay. Let's break it down in parts...


Downstairs

This is where the printer is currently standing. I plan to move it back into the next door storage room, but having some space is nice when doing a kind of iterative project...


Besides, my home cinema setup lives on the other side of the room, in case I get bored from staring at the printer 😉


Software

  • Simplify3D
  • Webcam Viewer (Bust A Tech)
  • TightVNC


Hardware

  • The 3D Printer (Duh!)
  • An external (Logitech) webcam
  • An old laptop
  • A network / router / switch with LAN and Wifi (who doesn't have one)

Pick Wifi or Ethernet, note that for WOL you need cabled ethernet, and for gadgets like the Chromecast you need Wifi.


Steps

  1. The laptop has one internal webcam, so add a second camera, a Logitech Webcam
  2. I assigned the laptop a fixed IP address to make WOL easier
  3. Enable WOL in the laptop BIOS (this won't work on all machines, and never (?) works on Wifi!)
  4. Install TightVNC, limit access to one specific remote IP address (my PC)
  5. Enable ICMP v4 in Windows so Wakiewakie can do a ping
  6. Download / install / run the free Webcam Viewer software... twice, once for each camera
  7. Run Simplify3D, feeding the printer with data.

So now I can check the image of both cameras on the laptop, which looks like this:


Beautiful! Let's go upstairs...


Upstairs

Let's start with my main PC. I want to be able to look at the setup downstairs, and take control of the old laptop... Not exactly required to get the image on the big screen, but isn't it nice to also be able to watch the 3D Printer on my computer screen?


Hardware


  • The PC (Double duh!)


Software


  • Wakiewakie
  • TightVNC


Steps

  1. Install Wakiewakie, find the IP and MAC address of the laptop
  2. Have Wakiewakie create a shortcut on the desktop
  3. Install and run TightVNC
  4. Connect to the laptop, save connection information in a VNC file
  5. Create a batch file that first launches Wakiewakie to wake up the laptop, then launches TightVNC viewer with the link information in the VNC file
  6. Create a shortcut on the desktop to that batch file

Now, just doubleclick on the shortcut and the laptop downstairs starts, and a few seconds later is visible in TightVNC. Good stuff!



The big screen

Okay. Getting an image on the big screen is probably the easiest bit.


Hardware

  • A television with a spare HDMI input
  • A Google Chromecast stick
  • A network (Wifi, as that's what the Chromecast needs)


Software


  • Google Chrome


Steps

  1. Switch on your TV (triple duh!)
  2. If you haven't done so already: install and configure the Chromecast, mine is called 'Yellowcouch' (no surprises there)
  3. On the laptop downstairs install and run Google Chrome
  4. Hamburger menu / Cast
  5. Cast the desktop to your Chromecast (in my case I cast to 'Yellowcouch')

So now I can comfortably sit on my couch sipping beer, watching the 3D printer downstairs fail at yet another print... Sigh.


But... it works!

So, that's level 2. Although I had things set up rather quickly, I think any time spent on this still counts as 'inordinate amounts of time'... 😎


Nerd 2.1

Since then I've moved my printer to a small storage area on the ground floor.

When you come to think of it, your storage space is one of the most important places in your house. The amount of time I spent on getting at set up 'right' is crazy, but you know that once you've finished that area you're never going to redo it... so better do it right the first time!

Anyway, the storage room hosts a sink, a fridge, recycling containers, tools, parts for projects under development, my home server... and now the 3D printer as well. I store the printer in an open rack when it's not in use. When it's in use I have modified Ikea folding wall table where it sits.

Now with that home server sitting next to it, what would stop me of adding some Simplify3D / webcam / Chromecast features to the homeserver? That's right! Nothing! It's running anyway right now, as it doubles as my Logitech SqueezeBox music server...

So, proudly presenting proof of my Nerd level 2.1 achievement:



And yes, I know. For best prints I actually set the printer on the (tiled) floor, as that reduces vibrations and produces better prints with less 'echo / resonance' patterns.

( Note to a friend: now see, Ruben, that's why I spend that much time on a stupid 'berging' and that 'ugly' folding table. I was all planning ahead! Just took me four years to get there... )


Level 3, here I come!



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