1. I’m a couple of weeks into 3D printing with a Creality Ender 3 S1 Pro. My initial impressions are: tl;dr: mechanically good, firmware bad. Either install synman’s pro firmware (requires a screen downgrade) or klipper (drops the screen and requires a raspberry pi — I went with MainsailOS) and you’ll have a very good printer for the price.

    Here’s my best 3D Benchy so far, printed in 55 minutes in PETG using Klipper


    • Mechanically solid and well built, comes very well packed, does not feel like the stereotypical “cheap chinese” product at all
    • Quick and easy to assemble (I recommend using loctite on all screws to prevent them coming loose from vibrations)
    • Some replacement parts available
    • Well supported with (mostly quite good) profiles available for various pieces of software
    • Touchscreen interface is fast and convenient to use if you’re satisfied with the stock firmware
    • Main board is not locked-down so it’s easy to install different firmware, and just as easy to revert to stock in the unlikely event that you want to


    • The stock firmware is very limited and has various problems.
      • Most notably, the “print on resume” feature causes uncontrollable pauses between layers, during which the nozzle will leak filament, causing huge blobs and stringing. Not possible to turn off in the UI, requires a M413 S0 command added to the start g-code in your slicer (or changing to a different firmware, which you should do anyway). Here’s a comparison of the exact same part with and without “resume on power loss” enabled, both printed back when I was using the stock firmware:
      • The auto bed leveling feels extremely unreliable and hard to trust
      • You can only see the first few characters of gcode files, so it’s impossible to differentiate between two similar files with different suffixes
    • Fiddly to perform firmware updates — screen and main board require separate files, sometimes in different folders depending on the chipset you have (which you can only check by opening the printer and looking at the hard-to-read MCU part number), always with a new filename otherwise it’ll fail silently, both will accept firmwares for different models with weird failure modes like a rotated screen
    • v-wheels riding in aluminium extrusions have a limited accuracy. Definitely good enough for a lot of purposes, but can warp and wear over time, will never be as good as precision-ground linear rods or (even better,) rails
    • XZ gantry arrived with loose Z nuts, causing huge amounts of Z kickback and preventing any kind of accurate movement. No indication that you have to tighten these in the instructions, and sources on the web inconsistent about what you should do about it. I ended up tightening mine up so they don’t rattle and have had no further issues.
    • Flex cable XZ clip position sticker was placed slightly wrong and awkward to adjust once in, and the flex cable end at the extruder requires better stress relief IMO. I added ~6cm of heatshrink tubing around it which works great
    • The provided slicer is horrible, I only tried it out to see if it’d fix my z blobbing problems. Fortunately Prusa Slicer works great with these printers

    I tuned mine up with the usual tools until I was satisfied with the prints using the stock firmware. Then I installed klipper and set up pressure advance and input shaping, vastly improving performance and usability.

    20mm calibration cubes printed 1) on the stock firmware, 2) Klipper with a speed profile, and 3) Klipper with a detail profile (i.e. slower outer perimeters):

    Here’s my current Prusa Slicer config files for the printer itself (Klipper) and my 0.16mm layer height optimal speed print profile.

    Here’s what my Klipper START_PRINT and END_PRINT macros ended up looking like:

    [gcode_macro START_PRINT]
      {% set TOTAL_LAYER_COUNT = params.TOTAL_LAYER_COUNT|int %}
      {% set BED_TEMP = params.BED_TEMP|float %}
      {% set EXTRUDER_TEMP = params.EXTRUDER_TEMP|float %}
      G90 ; use absolute coordinates
      M83 ; extruder relative mode
      M140 S{BED_TEMP} ; set final bed temp
      M104 S{EXTRUDER_TEMP - 90} ; set temporary nozzle temp to prevent oozing during homing and auto bed leveling
      G4 S10 ; allow partial nozzle warmup
      G28 ; home all axis
      M190 S{BED_TEMP} ; wait for bed temp to stabilize so that the bed mesh is accurate
      M104 S{EXTRUDER_TEMP} ; set final nozzle temp
      G1 Z50 F240
      G1 X2 Y10 F3000
      M109 S{EXTRUDER_TEMP} ; wait for nozzle temp to stabilize
      G1 Z0.28 F240
      G92 E0
      G1 Y140 E10 F1500 ; prime the nozzle
      G1 X2.3 F5000
      G92 E0
      G1 Y10 E10 F1200 ; prime the nozzle
      G92 E0
    [gcode_macro END_PRINT]
      M140 S0 ; turn off heatbed
      M104 S0 ; turn off temperature
      M107 ; turn off fan
      # Move nozzle away from print while retracting
      G1 X-2 Y-2 E-3 F300
      # Raise nozzle by 10mm
      G1 Z10 F3000
      # Move out of the way
      G0 X20 Y150
      # Disable steppers
      M84 X Y E
  2. 2022 Day 4 Highlights — was pretty tired at this point so just went for a short walk through the Laaer Wald. Not much of note, but I did finally get to see a bristly millipede

    Also found a buzzing spider and a weevil with an amusingly long nose

    That’s a total of 260 observations over the four days, of which 106 have already been IDed to species. I’ll wait a few days before posting my usual unique and notable species analysis, and will update it a few times as more observations get IDs.

  3. The old Fitbit and Fuelband which Aaron Parecki gave me a few years ago (thanks Aaron!) don’t hold a charge anymore. The Fitbit battery is near impossible to replace, and with the Fuelband I decided that as there’s no way of loading custom firmware (which would let me get at data without an internet connection and proprietary apps), it wasn’t worth trying to get replacement batteries. So before throwing the devices away, I took them apart.

    I didn’t find out much which I hadn’t already seen in teardowns, but these devices have such strange form factors that it was fascinating to see the engineering up close.

    The rubber coating comes off very cleanly. Here you can see some of the funny curved traces used on flexible circuit boards:

    The LED array, with “Just Do It” written on the top of the PCB (invisible to the end user). On the sections of flex between the more solid boards you can see the unbelievably fine traces:

    On the back of the LED matrix section, with a part number. To the right you can see the jaggedy bluetooth antenna trace:

    The fitbit isn’t so interesting. Removing the cap with a heatgun reveals a tiny circuit board with a tiny battery and vibrating element.

    I also opened up the dock, as I noticed that the USB cable was power only, with no possibility of wired data transfer. The third pogo pin must be for the reset switch, which is mounted in the dock. There’s a little IC in there too, but I was more interested in seeing how the pogo pins were attached to the board. Turns out they’re just soldered straight on:

    I’d love to have been able to flash custom firmware to the Fuelband, it’s a lovely bit of hardware, and manufacturing something like that is completely out of the question for a hobbyist. There are so many fun things which could be done with a device equipped with an LED matrix, accelerometers and bluetooth — a wearable MIDI controller, for example.

    That possibility would also have made replacing the batteries worth doing, and in doing so saved the device from the landfill. Free software and open hardware isn’t just political, it’s better for the environment.

  4. PIGS!



    unfollow/unfriend me now, the next two weeks are just going to be cute pig photos

    And a mouse which tried to move into this soon-to-be-filled-with-tree hole:

  5. Fifth and final day around : started at Stykkishólmur (again, nothing much was open due to it being Easter Sunday), so had a look round a little islet by the harbour.

    A couple had left this decidedly antipermanent inscription on the lighthouse:

    Whoever T and L were, either they had decided that commemorating their visit and togetherness in a transient, antipermanent medium was profound and romantic, or they had completely misunderstood the whole “carve your names into a tree” thing.

    We headed a little way out to the miraculously open Shark Museum, an old barn filled with odds and ends related to Icelandic life, specifically fishing. The jovial old curator (who also plays organ at the local church) enthused to us and another tourist in Icelandic about how him, his father and his grandfather all hunted greenland shark, which grow up to 8 tonnes in weight and breathe through their skin (at this point he grabbed a piece of skin for us to feel). We were then adorned with old fishing gear and invited to eat some specially prepared hákarl — shark meat fermented for 6 weeks, then air-dried for 2-3 months. Most hákarl is disgusting (I have yet to meet an Icelander who actually enjoys eating it) but this variety was actually rather nice, if a little chewy.

    The weather turned murky so we shot off along the north of Snæfellsness to the westernmost tip, a mossy volcanic landscape reminiscient of parts of the south but significantly more unstable:

    Whilst the waves all the way along the the west coast of the peninsula were impressive, there was one tiny cove which seemed to focus them into huge, bizzare shapes. No photo did them justice, but here’s a taster of what it’s like:

    Barely one minute after tearing ourselves away from this particular natural phenomena, another one literally crossed our path — an Artic fox, repleat in dark reddish-brown summer coat. It didn’t hang around long enough to get a photo (presumably there is lots of important fox business to do in Snæfellsness), but it was an unexpected sighting which more than made up for the north’s disappointing lack of polar bears.

    Volcanic beaches with black sand, pebbles and cliffs can be found all around Iceland, but Drítsvík is a wonderful example of all three. It’s also the clearest example of being able to see how the jagged cliffs are eroded into pebbles and sand — not as wonderfully smooth a gradient as in the south, but a greater variety.

    Djúpalónssandur, next to Drítsvík, holds the remains of the British trawler Epine, which disintegrated off the Icelandic coast in 1948. Leaving the rusting remains on the beach is a surprisingly beautiful memorial:

    With that, the tour was almost ended and we headed back to Reykjavík. It’s been an amazing five days, with a bizzare menagerie of weathers, roads, towns and landscapes.

    This is the last of my daily photo posts, but expect a summary article (filled to the brim with Helpful Travel Tips like “dried cranberries are not sufficient hiking fuel”) when all the panoramas are stitched!

  6. Day 4 around photo summary: Dalvík, Siglufjörður, Hvítserkur.

    Today was the day everything we tried to look at was closed — Akureyri library, culture house, Siglufjörður Herring museum and Folk Music Centre, and the Glaumbær museum.

    At Dalvík I came across some rather nice abandoned industrial machinery including these pipes which were playing music in the wind:

    followed by some more snow-covered mountains before driving through the ≈20km of tunnels required to get to Siglufjörður

    Siglufjörður itself was beautiful, a tiny fishing town only accessible by sea, air or tunnel. Suitably, here it is shown through a smaller tunnel created by some old machinery outside the (closed) Herring Museum:

    Moving on across the fjords towards Stykkishólmur, we made a bumpy detour to Hvítserkur, a small but impressive arch just off the coast:

    Just opposite it in the cliffs was a small waterfall which had bought some rather nicely coloured stones down to the beach:

    Having finished off the north coast (for this trip at least), we headed south along road 1 before cutting up through a mountain pass towards Stykkishólmur. The despite the road showing up as green on road.is, it was some of the scariest driving in the trip so far — lots of snow on thin mountain roads. Thinking that André’s careful driving had got us through the worst, we pressed on, only to run into even worse weather! Eventually made it to Stykkishólmur and a trendy little hostel on the harbour.

    Tomorrow: Snæfellsness and back home to Reykjavík!

  7. Day 3 around : churches, horses, REINDEER, snow, mountains, caves, more snow, more snow, mountains, Akureyri.

    Started out in Egilsstaðir, were going to head straight up north but the roads were closed so took a detour around a river+up a valley. Some more nice waterfalls, nothing so large as the previous days but just as much character:

    First interesting animal sighting of the day: Reindeer from afar!

    upon a mountain slope, several small, lightly coloured quadrupeds are shown

    Followed quickly by a closer animal sighting, some beautiful Icelandic horses:

    several stout horses stand in a group before a mountainside

    er, halló hrós! Make that much closer:

    a horse gets a little bolder, approaching the car — then MUCH bolder, nuzzling against the window

    Then off to Mývatn and the Grjótagjá geothermal caves, with one of the most unstable looking entrances I’ve ever seen at a tourist destination:

    The caves are impressive from the inside but can only really be appreciated once viewed from above:

  8. Second day around not as good weather as the first but excellent nontheless — unlocked various achievements:

    • ran around on moss as far as the eye can see
    • picked up hitchhiker
    • learnt French word for “superstitious”
    • touched glacier
    • walked on iceberg which then cracked
    • saw seals frolicking amongst icebergs
    • saw hexagonal basalt columns

    The moss plains were unreal, hundreds of square kilometres of landscape straight out of Nausicäa of the Valley Of Wind — compare:

    Ice pool:

    Mini iceberg:

    No glacier-breaking sound recordings unfortunately as I didn’t get a chance to make a hydrophone — next time! Also, many panoramas to follow when I’m back home and in photo-stitching mode.

  9. First day on trip round resounding success, many amazing things seen, photos taken, gravel walked in. Got back to Vík and all the food places were closed so ate a tortilla with peanut butter and crumbled choc chip cookie. Sufficient, minimum viable nourishment.