Life After Astronomy


In the last few years, I have drifted away from astronomy which was the main reason for me building a website some 20 years ago.

In the meantime, I have dabbled in electronics, Arduino microcomputers and coding. This led to building robots, well behaved and well mannered non-aggressive robots and even a couple who could line dance.

For the last couple of years I have been spending most of my time 3D printing. My first printer, a Creality Ender 3 began to feel the strain in the first half of 2020 as it was printing visors for health workers pretty well 24/7. I lost a great deal of print time as I seemed to have my printer in pieces as I tried to fix one problem after another more often than I was printing. Along with my fellow 3D printer owners in Moray's Makerspace, the T-Ex, we printed in excess of 2000 visors of various designs with my contribution being over 500.

My Ender 3 problems became bad enough to invest in a new 3D printer, a BIQU B1. Superficially, the B1 looks very like the Ender 3 but it comes with much more powerful electronics and a touch screen which can be used to control the various functions of the printer. Both printers have been heavily modified.

For the last few months, I have been using a Raspberry Pi microcomputer to control the printer. The Pi runs a remarkable piece of software called Octopi. Like the Pi, Octopi is open source with an army of software developers constantly working to improve, update and debug Octopi as well as producing a myriad of "plug-ins" which are used to increase the functionality of Octopi. As with the astronomy community, the selflessness and dedication of these developers is above laudable. 

My first printer, a Creality Ender 3.

This printer comes with an 8-bit mainboard.

I have replaced mine with a 32-bit board

which makes the printer safer, quieter and

faster. It is easy to modify and "pimp up".

You can find out more on the make's website,

Some of the visor designs

printed by members of T-Ex.

My BIQU B1, bought to replace the Ender 3.

This printer comes with a 32-bit mainboard

off the shelf so it already includes many of the

functions and safety features lacking in the Ender 3.

It has TFT touch screen and a magnetic print bed

which holds prints firmly and releases them easily.

You can find out more in this review,

 Go to 3d printer index.