So a little over a week ago, I was fortunate enough to receive probably the greatest testimonial for a project that could ever be received! My latest project “The Mithzan 64” was received by my customer Max, and the video that he did and posted to his channel left me speechless! It’s also received more views in a little over a week than most of my videos get in…well…ever.

So I want to thank Max for being an amazing customer not only during the process of building this (which was somewhat of a nightmare in many respects) but also for showing the love after the fact and pushing both my channel and blog to new heights with his comments and video!

Thank You Max!

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It’s been nearly 5 months since this project began, but finally my next generation portable Nintendo 64 has been completed and is ready to ship to my customer! That said, this project is a very special one for many reasons, but mainly for who this was built for. Max Mithzan is a Social Media personality and his presence is well felt in the gaming arenas like Minecraft and several others. He’s been a very cool guy to work with and very understanding as events in my personal life have drastically affected the time I’ve had to work on projects like this.

It’s also been the first project I’ve used my new Form Labs Form 2 SLA 3D Printer which has given me capabilities I never imagined I’d have.

Yes, it was a huge learning curve and my first attempt yielded many failures I will not repeat with future builds, but even then this has become the best system I’ve built to date.

I know the video above isn’t as descriptive as my video’s normally are as far as the technical side of the build, but in this case I really just wanted to show off the unit itself. I’m feeling pretty good about this one and am excited to see what Max has to say about it when it get’s to him next week!

But here are a few pics of the process as it went. I didn’t have the time I normally do to make a build log with full details, but I did take some pics of the case work.

The precision SLA provided made me think of case design in a whole new light. But its limitations soon made themselves apparent.

 

But the detail I was able to achieve is far beyond what I could have hoped for.

 

Combined with FDM 3D printing for the large front and back plates as well as the cart cover, I was able to make a very highly detailed and structural enclosure for this system.

 

It still required a lot of filling, sanding and priming to make it look like a single piece, so the time saving was marginal at best, but again, the detail was far above the standard.

Primed with the C-Button Decal

Painted and ready for the next step

But once the SLA decals were in place, it became clear how much of an asset this printer was going to be.

 

Things really got driven home though when the custom 3D printed buttons and D-Pad were put into the mix and functionality met with aesthetics on a new level for me.

and the Mithzan 64 was born!

So I hope you enjoy this video as it’s defiantly been a landmark project for me and it’ll be interesting in the next few weeks to see where this will go after he gets it! I love it so much I hate to see it ship out, but I’ll be just as happy to see it in its new owner’s hands!

 

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Rhea Grace Downing, 3-3-2017, 6Lbs 14oz, 19″ Long

So Friday was a hellofaday as my wife and I welcomed our second child into this world, little baby Rhea! (Ray-Ah) Yes, I’d known she was on the way for quite some time now, but you’re never prepared for the phone call that today is that day. I went into work early on Friday, March 3rd around 6:45 AM to help with a big job and at 8:10 the call came that it was time to go to the hospital and as it turned out, it wasn’t a moment too soon. We arrived at the hospital (which is an hour away from where we live) and were officially admitted at 10:07 AM. At 10:41 AM she was in my wife’s arms on the bed….a window of 31 minutes. I mean god damn…this baby girl wasn’t fuckin’ around.

All things considered, this was as good as anyone could have hoped for and we are again blessed with another beautiful and healthy baby which makes all these hobby creations seem the pale in comparison.

That said…yes, what’s going on with the projects? Well for the last several months now I’ve been working on an N64p commission which is finally finishing up. This took way longer and had more problems than any other I’ve done to date because I tried utilizing my new Form 2 to test it’s limits. I’ll never again do a 3D printed portable the way I did this one, but the learning curve was worth it and once this project is closed up and completed, it’ll still be one of my finer works and for good reason.

But more on that when it comes time and on the subject of time…suddenly now I’m realizing I’m going to have next to none with two kids and a full time job. Simply put, once these couple of projects finish up, I’m not going to have the time to do any full-blown, from-the-ground-up portables anymore…not that I’ve done anything new in quite some time anyway. But I’ll be changing the commissions page a bit to gear toward the N64 almost exclusively as I’ve got pretty much everything already down to turn them around fairly quickly now which for awhile will be the only thing I have time to really work with.

So yes, I’ve got a couple fun projects that will be released soon and hopefully another started before the end of the month. Lotsa work to do between then but at least I can say I’m not bored!

2000 You Tube Subs!

Posted: 01/17/2017 in Uncategorized

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Pretty freaking cool to see that rounded number today. I dunno, it’ll be 7 years ago next week since I started my You Tube channel and yes, I’ve compared this to some of my other modding buddies before which these numbers don’t hold a candle to a single video of theirs, but it’s very cool to see the “slow but steady” pace start to flare up a bit. That being said though, with my current project utilizing the new equipment the basement has acquired and the customer this project is going to, I’ve got high hopes I might finally push through these doldrums that seem to have been trying to deter me from achieving the success I’ve been reaching for in my work.

It’s a good hope anyway but these next few weeks will see if all these improvements that have been made will pay off!

But…on a more sober note and one that makes all this post pretty much meaningless…this is my first post since a high school friend, loyal reader and genuinely amazing person on so many different levels….left us….#Matthew Boyce, you were the personality that every being should encompass. Truth and Rebellion against none-truth…you knew very young there was the gritty, there was the hate and there was something you could do about it…and you did. I’m going to miss you man…really I am. It makes no sense to me why the best are taken from us the soonest…perhaps they are needed elsewhere…good thought to make someone feel better, but it still doesn’t numb the cut for me. RIP man…

2017….I wish these years would slow TF down, they seem to be adding up faster than I’d like them too lately. A lot has happened, more than what a lot of celebrities wanted to be a part of it seems, and a lot more is on the way. Christmas was great, (started watching the old Home Improvement episodes again as I got my old man the complete collection) and the New Year was peaceful and absent Maria Carey since boycotting the ball after Dick Clark croaked.

But, that said, it’s been a roller coaster ride over here. New job, new baby on the way, no consistency to the daily grind…yeah there’s been a lot to take in recently, but among all that, I’ve been moving forward as best I can with DB.

So, as eluded to before in the past post, DB has acquired some very cool new improvements. About 3 weeks ago, after sealing a new commission for Mithzan Productions, I finally pulled the trigger on a new SLA 3D printer I’ve been wanting for years. Downing’s Basement is now the proud owner of a Formlabs, Form 2 SLA 3D printer!

Unlike my other 3D Printer which is a fairly standard FDM printer, this machine is a Stereolithography (SLA) printer, which means there are no materials extruded, rather a beam of UV laser light shoots up from the bottom of a liquid resin containment tank and hardens everything in it’s path onto the build plate. This goes on one layer at a time and once one layer finishes, the build plate steps up a notch and the process begins again. And because there are no motors or anything pulling an extruder, there is no friction on the build surface so micro geometry is possible. It’s a truly amazing machine.

The unboxing video above shows off what one can expect when opening up the base package and there really wasn’t a whole lot of set-up involved that required any in-depth discussion on how to do it. A few thoughts on the purchase and we’ll start with the good.

Print Quality – Absolutely amazing! As the pictures below show, the tolerances and clean finish of the parts are stunning and save a great deal of time with post production. There still needs to be a fine sanding done to the parts, but no major filling/sanding work like is present with FDM prints if you want to have a smooth/clean finish. Also the resin sands extremely well, better I’d say than ABS.

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My first print, an NES D-pad that I designed a few years ago. This was also the first print I did on my FDM printer. This is before the alcohol rinse and still on the build plate, but you get an idea of the quality this thing produces.

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SLA vs FDM. The red buttons were done on my standard 3D printer, the black on the Form 2. Though the pic isn’t as clear, you can certainly see there is a big resolution difference between the two. The Z/R/L characters are actually printed into the part with the SLA.

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Same as I did for the Breakout Box on the Hesline, this replaces the front face plate on the JB-58 from poly case with what I need for the extra controllers and the HDMI port. Though I was able to use this, this part was technically my first fail because of the lines right above the HDMI opening. Those were supposed to be flush, no idea why it did that, but they sanded down easy enough.

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But as far as detail goes, this thing can’t be beat. That’s a .03″ x .05″ spacer line on the top edge there so that when the two case halves come together, there is a small gap that makes it look just like an injection molded part. Truly amazing precision.

Ease of use and multiple materials – The other big selling point for me is that there are several different kinds of resins that can be bought that support several different features. For example, there is a flexible resin that would act very much like a contact pad for a gaming controller’s buttons, which would allow me to print my own contact pads making the need for tact switches obsolete. There are also Cast-able and Tough resins that one could even make small Injection molds out of. And the interface and the software are very easy to learn and navigate. It’s a very versatile machine on so many levels.

However, with the good come the bad but I use that word lightly because this machine was not designed with a hobbyist in mind, it was designed for the working professional who needed to turn around true-to-form prototypes. So, ergo, most of the bad I’d give against this machine has to do with the expense.

COST – This is by far the biggest investment I’ve put into the shop and it’s only because of the number of jobs I’ve got lined up for portable commissions that I was able to pull this off. And it’s not just for the printer itself, but the resin per liter is 10X more expensive than a Kilo of filament and that’s just for the basic stuff. Granted right now I’ve used up almost 1/2 a liter of resin in over 3 weeks, printing almost everyday, so you do get some mileage out of a liter. But the fact that the resin tanks are considered consumable and will last for about 2 liters of resin needs to be accounted for. On top of this, if you wanted to change resin colors or material type, you’d need a new tank and probably a new print head so you wouldn’t have to clean off the material from the one your using.

Speed and Build Size – The speed is the other peeve. With a laser no wider than a human hair, printing at 100% infill, you can imagine that you’re only going to get one print set for the night and have to take care of finished part in the morning. Finishing is also a bit of a chore because it requires a 10min alcohol bath to clean any uncured resin from the part, and then a recommended hour long UV tanning session under a salon nail light to fully harden the part. The build volume is also a bit smaller than optimal which in this most recent project made me take on a more modular approach to the casing.

But again…this was not built for hobbyist, this was built for professionals and the price of precision is a high one. It was a risk to take this on but I feel the benefits it’s going to bring to the shop will pay itself back in good time. I’m very excited to see what else comes of this and how it improves my projects in the future!

So what happens when your full time employment disappears and for a little over a month you are a stay-at-home Dad like I’ve been? You stay busier than ever and build really cool shit!

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I gotta say that as far as my modding goes, this has been the most productive and fun month since the days of the Cross Plane and it feels good to have the time again to be doing this. That said though, my new full time job will be starting up Wednesday, but it’s much much closer to home than my last one and I’m finally out of Corporate America which had been digging at me for years. So now I won’t come home hating my life nor will I be spending two hours of my day in the car just to get there and back. Time to mod will be less than it has been, but there will be more of it than there was for certain!

Also, once this project pictured above is completed (look for a dedicated post about that in the coming week), I’ll be starting on a new N64p Commission for You Tube & Twitter personality, Mithzan. This will most likely be the highest profile system I’ve ever done and I’ve taken steps to insure it will be the best work of mine to date. What those steps are I cannot say just yet, but shortly you will see a big upgrade to the capabilities of DB. Some exciting stuff coming down the road here very soon!