Getting Started with Fusion 360

Fusion 360 (F360) by Autodesk is a very powerful Computer-Aided Design (CAD) that is awesome for beginners to get in to CAD. One of the best things about it is that you can get a “Startup License” (A.K.A. ‘hobbyist license’) for free! Of course, there are limitations:

Startup: If your entitlement has been designated as “Startup, ” You may use the service if You are (a) a company, startup, or home-based business that generates less than $100,000 (or equivalent in other currency) per year from the total sale of goods or services, or (b) an individual using the service for personal non-commercial projects, hobbies, or personal learning.

The term for your Startup use is one (1) year from the date You are granted access. Autodesk reserves the right at any time during the Startup term to revoke access of the Startup entitlement by providing notice to You.

Autodesk Web Services Entitlements Page as of April 2019

So, pretty simple and will cover most of my audience. I can take a pretty good guess of what you are thinking: What happens after a year? As far as I understand, since I have not used F360 long enough to confirm this, you will get a 30 days notice in the upper right corner of F360, next to your name, saying ‘Trial ends in xx days’. When you click on that notice, you will have the option to be able to renew your license. I will update this post when I am able to confirm this.

MintyPi V3

MintyPi v3 parts

So back in August of 2018, I was perusing the interwebz and saw a video on how to build a Gameboy Zero. And in one of YouTubes wonderful suggestions was the build guide video of the MintyPi v2. I instantly thought, “I WANT ONE NOW!” So, I started perusing the Sudomod website and after about half an hour of searching that the v2 had been discontinued. I was sad. But I did discover that v3 was in the works! So I started following the design process and production of the v3. And in March of 2019, I finally have my own MintyPi!

What is a MintyPi you ask? Well, simply put, it is a RaspberryPi Zero W with a custom PCB designed by Helder at Sudomod put in to an Altoids Tin that runs EmulationStation and RetroPie to be able to play retro games from systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainement System (SNES), Gameboy (GB), Gameboy Color (GBC), Gameboy Advance (GBA), Sega MegaDrive (AKA Sega Genesis), and pretty much any console up to, but not including, the Nintendo 64 (N64). Wermy, the owner of Sudomod, has taken the system one step further by creating 3D printed parts to really make the MintyPi look beautiful! They have worked very hard and for a long time to make v3 the best that they can. And I must say, it was well worth the wait!

Installing the MKS Gen L with TMC2208 Silent Stepper Motor Driver

Introduction

After watching Teaching Techs video about the MKS Gen L replacement board for the Creality Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro, I was instantly hooked. This board provides many upgrades over the stock MELZI Mainboard.

Source: Michael from Teaching Tech. https://youtu.be/LNdMYgwez8Y?t=80

Without getting to far in to the specifics, the MKS Gen L has a better microcontroller that allows us to change the firmware without having to compromise on features, a bootloader already installed so that you don’t have to flash one, changable stepper motor boards, and multiple servo outputs so you can easily add multiple upgrades like the the BL Touch or filament runout. The one drawback is that you will be losing the built in SD Card support but there is a way to add it back.

Source: Michael from Teaching Tech. https://youtu.be/LNdMYgwez8Y?t=113

If you are planning on adding on upgrading your printer or would like it to be nearly silent while printing, I HIGHLY recommend making the upgrade to the MKS Gen L. This isn’t a step by step guide per say, as most of it is covered in Teaching Techs video, but a few of us over at the Sudomod Discord have found a few things that are different between the Creality Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro.

Recommended Tools and Prints for Getting in to Electronics

Getting in to a maker scene can be a relatively cheap hobby to get in to. You can do a lot with a few simple tools that are relatively easy to obtain.

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Some of the items are listed multiple times because they fit in multiple categories. Tools are not listed in any amount of importance.


Soldering Iron

A soldering iron is a very handy tool to have around. From fusing wires together, making a Gameboy Zero, to just reflowing a joint to making a xbox controller work again. You won’t get very far without a soldering iron. One feature that you definitely want is temperature control. Another strongly recommended feature is changeable tips. Having a power switch is a very good feature to have as well so that you don’t have to unplug it every time you are done using your iron. A stand really helps to keep from accidentally burning things we don’t want to burn.

898D+ Soldering + Hot Air Rework Station
I have one of these stations and highly recommend it. I did not think I was going to use the hot air station as much as I do. I use it to strip boards for parts, to fix stringing on my 3D prints. Having both the soldering iron and hot air station is an added bonus. Brand names really doesn’t matter in this; every one is essentially the same. This is also one that you may find cheaper in other places like on eBay. It won’t hurt my feelings if you get it from there.
Weller WLC100 Soldering Iron
This is considered a mid-range soldering iron. Has everything we want and should last you a lifetime if you take care of it. I would highly suggest that you pick up an assortment of tips and/or extra fine point tips if you decide to go with this iron.
Tabiger Soldering Kit
This is about as cheap you can go while retaining all of our recommended features. It also comes with a few extra things to get you started like a solder sucker, solder (though probably poor quality), tweezers, wire strippers, some extra tips, and a case. If you are not going to be soldering a lot, this option would be adequate.

Hot Air Station/Gun

A hot air station is really good for people who want to do things with circuitry or even if you have a 3D printer. For SMD, a hot air station helps to heat up every lead and remove parts. This is how I remove components off a Raspberry Pi to slim them down for a Gameboy Zero build. If you are more going for 3D printing, I would lean more towards a hot air gun. It will do the same job. An added bonus with a gun is if you have an enclosure for your printer, you can use the gun much more effectively to heat up the enclosure faster. Before you print, just let the gun get up to temperature, aim the air in to your enclosure, move it around a little, and then close your enclosure.

898D+ Soldering + Hot Air Rework Station
Yep, listing this again. Seriously, it is a good station to have.
858D
This is a hot air standalone version of the 898D. I would get this only if you have a soldering iron and would like a rework station but would also recommend getting the 898D+. You can use the soldering iron that you have as a backup. Plus, you can get the 898D+ for cheaper or maybe even the same price on eBay.
Genesis Dual Temperature Heat Gun
This includes a dual temperature heat gun. Great for 3D prints. Low temp to fix small stringing and high temp for heating up an enclosure.
REXBETI Variable Temperature Heat Gun
This heat gun can range from 140°F up to 932°F. Very good to fine tune the amount of heat that you want. Also comes with accessories and a case.

Helping Hands

Helping hands are awesome. They hold items for you so that you can free both hands to complete a task. They can range for cheap, to expensive, to make (3D print) one yourself! If you decide to get helping hands with alligator clips, I highly recommend that you cover them with something small and soft. I have used the outer sheath of an ethernet cable and it works quite well if you can double them up. Wermy from Sudomod has said that he uses thread protectors to protect the things he is working on. I know you won’t need 100 of them, but you really can’t get just a few for a low price.

Helping Hands with Magnifier Glass (Cheap)
This is the helping hands I started out with. Great for small objects. While they do work, I had a very hard time keeping them in one place while I was working. I finally ended up putting a rubber grip on the base to prevent them from sliding around. Somehow weighing it down would help also.
Hobby Creek Magnetic Helping Hands (Less cheap)
This set of helping hands has 2 articulating arms attached to a magnetic base. Though it provides a lot more flexibility than the previous set, you need a magnetic surface to put them on. Adding on a weight plate to your order will fix this.
QuadHands Workbench Mini Helping Hands (Middle child)
QuadHands is a very popular brand for helping hands. This particular set comes with 2 magnetic gooseneck arms and a 4″ x 6″ base plate. The arms are movable on the base plate so you can get the perfect positioning. You can also purchase extra arms and a magnifying glass. Links to those are at the bottom of this section.
QuadHands Third Hand (Better)
This is the original QuadHands. It comes with 4 gooseneck arms (2×8″ and 2×12″) that are in a fixed position. You can not go wrong with one of these.
QuadHands Deluxe (The best)
This is the deluxe version of the QuadHands lineup. Featuring a 8.5″ x 11″ plate and 5 (3×12″ and 2×8″) magnetic gooseneck arms. This is truly one that should get you through most hobbyist project.
QuadHands Magnetic Arms + Magnifying Glass
If you purchase any QuadHands system, you have the option of purchasing more arms or even a magnetic magnifying glass.

QuadHands Flip Circuit Board Holder
This is handy if you are soldering on to small circuit boards. You can easily adjust the board to an easy angle to work with or even flip it over!
PCB Workstation by giufini (3D printed)
A highly versatile PCB workstation for smaller boards. You would need to source your own probes or alligator clips but still a lot cheaper than buying a setup. The added bonus is that you can build and customize it to suit your needs.
Octo+ PCB Workstation by giufini (3D printed)
A larger workstation by the same maker as above. Same attachments and everything. Still need to source your own parts like alligator clips or other probes.
Wire Soldering Aid by Karlosek (3D Printed)
A nice holder if you are soldering wires together. Simple and effective.
Flippable PCB Holder by braincodec (3D Printed)
A 3D printable of the QuadHands flippable PCB holder. You will need to find outside parts that are listed in the description.

Solder Removal

If you need to remove a part of a board, you are going to need some way to remove the solder holding the part to the board. There are multiple methods to do this. The two main methods are a solder sucker and desoldering braid. Solder suckers are better for things like through holes and larger amounts of solder while braids are better for small amounts of solder, SMD removal, and cleaning excess solder off of a pad.

Tabiger Solder Sucker and Desoldering Braid
This is a combo kit of a cheap solder sucker and desoldering braid. This will work for entry level.
Tenma Vacuum Desolder Iron
This is basically a soldering iron with a solder sucker built in. This will be the one for most people because the next option gets really expensive. I highly recommend something like this over the traditional solder sucker because you don’t have to try to be quick to get a good seal before the solder solidifies. Prime the pump, place the iron over the joint for a second or two, and hit the button to suck the solder. I recommend also getting a soldering iron holder to place this iron in while not using it.
Desoldering Gun
This desoldering gun is for the people who will be taking stuff apart all the time. This has a vacuum pump built in. Place over the joint, let the solder melt, and press the button to turn on the pump. This is the most effective method but also on the expensive side.
Desoldering Braid
Soldering braid is one of those things that you need to find a brand that works. Look for something with flux in it because that will help you immensely. Place the braid over the area that you want to desolder, heat the braid with your iron until the solder gets sucked in to the braid, and remove the braid and iron at the same time. A larger tip usually works better with braiding. You might also want to find some heat resistant gloves because copper is an excellent heat conductor and can travel up the braid quickly.

Other Soldering Tools

Just some other odds and ends.

Solder
Can’t do much with electronics without solder, right? The most common is 60/40 or 63/37 tin/lead with a rosin core. I personally like 63/37 better because it creates a better bond overall and has a less likely chance to have a bad joint. The other factor to solder is the thickness. You can get anywhere from 0.5mm up to 2mm in diameter. I prefer smaller wire because it gives you more control on the amount you use. This is also a thing where I believe brands don’t really matter as solder is solder.

Soldering Mat
Take your pick… I use this one and have no problems with it. It is a decent size and the holding area is rather useful if you are dealing with screws. These mats are generally made of silicone. Very heat resistant and useful for more than just soldering. You can drop hot materials like solder and hot glue on it, wait for it to harden, and peel it right off. If it gets dirty, just wipe it off with a little isopropal alcohol and it will look like brand new!
QuadHands Wire Type Solder Tip Cleaner
Comes with a magnetic base so that you can attach it directly to your helping hands base! I found this to help a lot that a free standing one because the free standing one has a tendency to move around unless I hold it in position.
Thermaltronics Tip Tinner
Tip tinner makes it very easy to tin a soldering tip that may have become untinned by any means. It is good practice to have something on the tip of your iron while in storage. You can use solder, or I like to just dip the tip in this, take it back out, and turn my iron off. This stuff will prolong the use of a tip and keep it tinned and clean.

Multimeter

Multimeters are one of those things where you can go for the cheap end and get very far with. More expensive models have more QoL or specific use cases. Things to look for:

Etekcity MSR-R500
This is the multimeter that I own. Has everything you would need. Continuity test with sound, hold button, and backlight.
AstroAI
$10 multimeter at time of writing. Still has everything we need.
Banana Plug to Alligator Clip Wires
These are useful to have on hand. I use mine a lot when I need to hold one lead somewhere. Also useful if you are dialing in a buck converter.
Neoteck 8233D Pro Autoranging Multimeter
This is the multimeter that Wermy over at Sudomod recommends. It has everything we want plus auto ranging functionality, and also comes with alligator clips which are very useful.

Other Tools

Just some other odds and ends that I’m sure you will find use for at some point.

Gorilla Full Size Hot Glue Gun
Gorilla makes high quality adhesives. Their hot glue gun is not different. It comes with a dual temperature switch. The lower temperature (311°F) is useful for more delicate operations while the higher temperature (374°F) is used for better bonds. Gorilla brand refill sticks come in 20 count and 45 count packs.
Gorilla Mini Hot Glue Gun
Same as the full size, but smaller. The other difference is that this takes smaller glue sticks also. The come in 10 count, 30 count, and 75 count packs.
Neiko 6″ Digital Calipers
I use mine a lot more than I thought I would. While the are not entirely super accurate, they are accurate enough for my uses. The wheel is nice for getting precise measurements and the screw on top of the display box locks that measurement in to place. Comes with a decent case and an extra battery.
ESD Safe Tweezers
Really? Tweezers? Yep! Tweezers make thing a lot easier for working with small components. When I do SMD work, I like to tin a pad with a small amount of solder, place the component where it needs to go, and use tweezers to hold the part where it needs to stay while I heat the pad to attach the component.
Utility Knife
Useful for many projects. I found that I use mine way more than I thought. I know you can get cheaper ones out there but if you are going to use it a lot, the comfort of a more expensive one makes it worth it.
Hakko Flush Micro Cutters
Flush cutters are a great thing to have. These are meant to cut through soft metal such as small copper wires or cutting the tips off of solder joints.
IRWIN Wire Strippers
A good wire multitool should be in every toolbox. This single tool includes wire strippers for 10-22 AWG wires, bolt cutters, wire crimpers, and a looping hole. If you are using a smaller diameter wire than 22 AWG, I have found that just using your finger nails works just fine to strip wires.
Kapton Tape
If you are doing any kind of electrical work, you should have kapton tape. Kapton tape is made from polyimide film and usually comes with a silicone based adhesive making it very heat resistant, non conductive, and leaves no residue. This pack has an assortment of widths for the same price as the single rolls that I have found.
Center Hole Punch
A center hole punch is recommended if you are going to be drilling a lot of holes. This tool will create a divot to help keep your starting bit from wandering. This one is recommended because it has an adjustable impact so you can make the impact low for soft things like plastic or high impact for hard things like metals.
Neiko 5pc Stepper Bits
Stepper bits are amazing for drilling round holes in thinner materials. These bits will start out small and then ‘step up’ to a larger size. You can even use the very bottom of the next size to kind of round out the edge so it is not as sharp.

If you have any recommended tools, be sure to leave a comment below!

Flashing an Image to a MicroSD Card

In this guide, I’ll be showing you how to flash an image to an SD card using Etcher. The reason we need to do this for a Raspberry Pi is because the Raspberry Pi itself does not contain an operating system. You need to flash a system image to the microSD card for the Pi to be useful. You can use network booting in certain situations, but that is beyond the scope of this guide.

Depending on what you are wanting to do, you will need a different image file to flash. Say that you are wanting to start a webserver, the image that I start out with is Raspbian Lite. If you want to make a Pi in to a retro gaming console, then you are going to want to download RetroPi. It’s up to you to find the correct image to flash.

I will be assuming that you are using Windows to complete this process.

Flashing the image to the MicroSD card:

So the first thing to do is to download the image of the system you want to use and Etcher. Etcher is an easy to use image flashing program that makes it rather foolproof to mess up your operating system accidentally.

Once you have your image downloaded, insert your MicroSD card in to your computer and open Etcher. You should be greeted with a window like the image belowto the right.

Click on the “Select Image” button and then select either the zip file of your image or if you have already extracted the image, you can select the .iso file.

When you have the image and correct device to flash the image to (Etcher is good about selecting the device you want. It selects removable storage first before listing any extra internal drives you have. It will not let you flash and overwrite your computers file system.) selected, simply hit the “Flash!” button and let Etcher do its magic.

While flashing, Windows will shoot out a warning saying that there is a drive connected with an unrecognized format, simply just close this window or click on “Cancel”. DO NOT FORMAT THE DRIVE!

Now, safely eject your microSD card and plug it back in to the computer so that you are able to see the boot drive. You will see the error again about there being an unformatted drive. Simply close the window or click on “Cancel”.


Create a wpa_supplicant.conf and ssh files:

Now that you have the file system flashed, you need to be able for it to connect to the internet so that you can SSH in to it and install the rest of the components you need to run our own website. To do this, you need to create a wpa_supplicant and ssh file on the root folder of the boot drive. Lets start with the wpa_supplicant.

Note: If you are using a hard wire connection on say a Raspberry Pi 3B+, you can skip the supplicant part. You will still need to create the SSH file.
I have made a tool on Codepen that will allow you to enter in your WiFi info and download a properly configured wpa_supplicant.conf file. Simply put in the info, click on “Download wpa_supplicant.conf” button, and move that file to the root folder of the boot drive.

If you are looking to do this yourself and are using WPA/WPA2 security on your WiFi (If you enter in a password, you most likely are), you can download a blank supplicant and edit the file in your favorite text editor as long as its NOT Notepad or Wordpad built in to windows or any of the Office suite (Word) as they do not support unix line breaks. Notepad++ is the most popular free solution.

To make the SSH file, you need to create a blank file called ssh. To do this, you are going to need to be able to edit file extensions. To turn this feature on, please follow this guide. Now, create a new file on the root folder, and name it just plain ssh. No file extension or anything. The way I do this is when I rename the file, I hit Ctrl + A and type s-s-h (without the dashes) and hit Enter. Windows will warn you about changing the file extension, press the yes button. Alternatively, you can download and unzip the file to the root directory of the boot drive.

Now that you have the SSH or both the files that you need to connect the Pi to the network, can can now safely eject the microSD card, plug it in to our Pi, and plug in the Pi to let it boot. This might take a couple of minutes for the first boot.


Find the IP address of the Pi

So this is going to be the hard part because the process is going to be different for everybody. Basically you need to log in to your router, find a list of attached devices, and find the IP address associated with your Raspberry Pi. Really, my only suggestion is to find the model name of your router and google how to list the devices connected your router. When you get to the list of devices, you are looking for the IP address of the device named “RASPBERRYPI”. It should look something along the line of this:

In my case, the IP I am looking for is “192.168.1.14”. Remember this, write it down, because you will be needing this.


Use SSH to remote in to the Pi

Now that you have the hard part done, let’s get to installing everything.

Open up PuTTY. Remember that number that I said to remember/write down earlier? Well this is where you get to use it. Type that number in to the “Host Name” box. In the port box to the right, type in 22. For the connection type, make sure “SSH” is selected.

If you want to save this info, you can input a name in the “Saved Sessions” box under all that and click on the “Save” button. This way, whenever you need to connect to your server, you can just double click on the name to connect instead of having to remember the IP address.

On the bottom of the screen, click on the “Open” button. This will bring up a console looking window. It should ask you for a username and password.

The default information is:
Username: pi
Password: raspberry
While typing in the password, it will remain blank even while typing. This is normal. Is is just a security feature to prevent wandering eyes from getting your password.

After logging in, you will get a message that says:
“SSH is enabled and the default password for the ‘pi’ user has not been changed. This is a security risk – please login as the ‘pi’ user and type ‘passwd’ to set a new password.”

So lets set a new password. This is one that you need to be able to remember. Type passwd and hit Enter. You should get a screen asking you for the current password. Type in raspberry and hit enter. The next line will ask you for the new password. Enter in the password you would like it to use (case sensitive) and hit Enter. It will then ask you to confirm the password. Enter in your new password again and hit Enter. You should then get a prompt that says “passwd: password updated successfully”.

After a new password has been set, you want to update the system. To do this, enter in the following lines hitting the Enter key after every line:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y

Correcting Crossed Connections


If you are using a connector system on your projects, a good thing to always check is to make sure that your connections are correctly polarized. The good news is, if your connections are not correct, it is usually very easy to switch them around and fix them. In this guide, I will be using 20 gauge silicone JST connectors.

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If your connections are crossed, it is usually as easy as pushing in a couple of pins and sliding the wires out and back in to the correct places.

Find and push the pins

Typically on the male end of the connector, you should see an opening for each pin of the connector.

Push the tabs down

Find something to push down the tabs. I used a pair of tweezers. While doing this, pull on the corosponding wire and use the tweezers to push the tab.

Pull the wire out of the connector

Simply pull the wire out of the connector. Repeat the previous step as many times as necessary.

Make sure pins are reset

You may have to carefully bend the tab back up so that the connection will hold when inserting the pin back in to the connector. You don’t need much, just enough to securely hold the pin.

Push pins back in

Push the pins back in to the connector in the correct order.

Creality Ender 3

The Creality Ender 3 is arguably the best printer in the sub $250 price range. You can find it anywhere between ~$180-$250 depending on how long you would like to wait to receive the printer.

If you are wanting it sooner and are willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can head over to Amazon and pick one up for $235 at the time of writing. The benefits of choosing this route is that you can have it delivered in 2 days if you have signed up for Amazon Prime. If you do not have Amazon Prime, you can select to start a 30 day free trial and obtain all the benefits of prime for the duration of the trial.

If you are willing to save a few dollars and wait, BangGoods would be your best option. Sold and shipped from the US.

GearBest is another option. The downside is that the printer would be coming from overseas and there is a possibility that you would have to pay customs or duty fees on top. There is more of a possibility that your parcel gets lost also. I received a tracking link that went from GearBest’s warehouse to my front door so it wasn’t that bad. I personally did not have any problems with anything but you never know.

Recently, Creality has also released the Ender 3 Pro. The pro features a removable magnetic plate, a high quality Meanwell 500w power supply (though people have been reporting that they are getting 350w), the Y-axis frame has become beefier reducing the rare issue of wobbling, and the control box has been flipped upside down reducing the risk of foreign objects being sucked in to the fan. These upgrade come with a $100 price tag. you can find the Ender 3 Pro over at Amazon, BangGood, and GearBest.

Soldering an Inline DC Buck Converter/Voltage Regulator

The LM2596 DC voltage regulator/buck converter is able to take up to 40v and convert it down to as low as 1.5v. This is useful for many projects such as powering a Raspberry Pi or LED lights off a 3D printers power supply. This guide will cover how to wire one together. I will be using the eBoot buck converters in this guide but the premise should be the same no matter what buck converter you use.

How to set up a web server on a Raspberry Pi

Getting your own web server can be very easy to set up. Unlike the old days where you had to work to get all the parts of the server to talk to each other, you can now have a fully functioning server in about 15 minutes and a few commands. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages of running your own web server. Advantages are that you have complete control of how things are set up, you don’t have to pay for your own hosting which cuts way down on costs, and you can choose other services to run like NPM or NodeJS. But, you also need to keep up on security, backups, and know and follow all applicable laws about internet privacy and such.

I started out running my web server on a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a 16GB MicroSD card. This setup will work great for a small server but as popularity of your site (if you choose to have a public one) grows, it will start to struggle. I eventually upgraded to a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and 32GB MicroSD card for more storage. I did this because the 3B+ is able to handle more traffic, has faster loading times, and an ethernet port so I can hardwire it to make pages load even faster. But ultimately, you do you for your situation.