3D Printer with Tablet for Control Center.

In the past I have written a couple of articles about my Printrbot Play with Control Center. And not a lot has changed on this.

Since the Last CURA has advanced to the point that it’s newest version is 64 bit only. this rules out it’s use on a a cheaper tablet, most tablets. So I have been looking at future options. The fact is true Tablets are on the wane. in their place has risen the 2 in 1. These are Laptops that have a keyboard that folds all the way back so that they can be used as a tablet. On the good side many of them have processors better than an Atom based CPU to choose from. On the bad is most of them use a laptop power supply at 19.5V.

The Atom based Tablets mostly used 5V power in from a cell phone charger. So getting 5V from 12V is relatively easy. You can get 19.5 volts from 12V but it is more expensive and larger in size. Some printers are 24V so this would not be a problem on those.

Since these 2 in 1′s come with a keyboard there is not the problem of trying to find a TRUE Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for ease of use. And they are lightweight so there is no reason they cannot be mounted to the side of a printer. They are found in sizes from 11″ to 17″.

The primary one I have been looking at is the Dell 11″ 3168 2 in 1. It has a Celeron N3060 Dual Core processor, 4 GB memory and 32GB SSD, 64 bit Windows 10. It has a lot of connection options which are nice compared to Tablets. It has 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, a MicroSD card slot. So much better connection options than the tablet. You have enough USB ports that you can use a cheaper mouse with dongle. and you can use a USB3.0 stick to backup your files or transfer files to the 2 in 1.

New this costs about $249, outlet $203.  Considering the 64 bit operating the 32GB SSD might be a bit on the small size. But it has an upgradeable drive bay as they can also be found with a 500GB HDD. A SSD is preferred for use as a control center because of vibration from the 3D printer. I think a 64GB SSD drive would be large enough. But the Micro SD card could be used for that extra storage to keep the price down.

There are two ways to power this from the printer. 1. Tie it into the 110V to the printer. when the printer gets plugged in so does the 2 in 1.

2. A Boost converter to raise the voltage from 12V to 19.5V.

I do not consider running off battery a viable option. Even with screen blanking and such active you could easily end up with a print that is longer than your battery life. You cannot let the system power down as it is streaming the code to the printer.

Overall I am contemplating the move to a newer control center computer. Newer software is all going to 64bit. The added memory will really help with programs like Sketchup. The CPU is not a whole lot more powerful than the Atom in the tablet.

I recently let my Nephew borrow the Play with tablet. He did not have any experience with a 3D printer. He found it very nice to have the right programs and drivers already waiting rather than have to install all of that on his computer, then try to figure it all out. He was printing on it in minutes and had a very good experience. He now has an upgraded play his dad gave him. Then he found out what it takes to get everything working right versus it is setup and ready to go. He also agrees that having a computer integrated into a 3D printer would help bring them into the mainstream. He liked that he could use the printers tablet to get into Thingiverse then download and be printing very quickly. Currently he sneaker nets a SD card to the printer which he runs in his wash room due to noise.

Good printing everyone!

Dell XPS 8920 tower.

I just purchased a new computer last week. My old system, a Dell XPS 8300, was getting long in the tooth being 6 years old!

Not very racy from the front!

The New one is a Dell XPS 8920 tower

It does not look very impressive from the front, but you know what they say, never judge a book by it’s cover! This is a very small tower case. 7.1″ X 14″ X 15.3. But performancewise it has a lot going for it.

I bought mine from the Dell Outlet, as usual! It was listed as “scratch and dent”, but I have yet to find a scratch on it. I was searching for a system that would have most of the newest features and technologies. And was cheaper than “new”. I did pretty well.

My machine;

Windows 10 home Edition


256GB SSD with the OS installed

1TB SATA 3 HDD (western Digital Blue drive)

16GB 2400MHz memory


AMD RX580 8GB Video card

WIFI/Bluetooth M.2 card

The SSD is a NVME M.2 256GB Toshiba drive (THNSN5256GPUK). This drive has Windows 10 installed on it. This makes for a very fast entry into windows from a cold boot. It is faster than most Tablets getting into windows. more later

Another available option is the Intel “Optane”. Optane acts a drive cache to the primary HDD drive. These can be installed into a m.2 card slot on the motherboard. This slot allows faster transfer rates than the SATA3 controller can reach. It is supposedly a PCIE x4 transfer rate.

The 1TB is a standard Western Digital “Blue” drive connected by SATA 3. This tower can have 3 3.5 drives installed.

Considering I was comparing 6 year old technology, to this new machine, I of course was impressed. It sailed through the setup crap. The first startup did take a bit but not the hour it took the old machine to get through setup of the OS. The first start into windows after setup flew. I measured it’s second startup at a counted 27 seconds. Very fast compared to the minutes I was used to on the old system. Getting into a game is a bit quicker as this is SATA 3 versus SATA2. I could move the game to play from the SSD, Drive C:\, then it would move right along. With only 256GB I am keeping most of my 500GB of games on the HDD. I used windows Storage management to move Photos, Music, Documents, Maps and Movies to the HDD. Apps still install to drive C:\.

The system has plenty of USB ports! On the back; 2 X 2.0 (for keyboard and mouse), 1 X 3.1, 3 X 3.0. On the front; there are 4 X 3.0 ports.

Ports on back.

Power supply swings out for motherboard, Video card and CPU access.

I am not going to go into deep detail of the technologies used in this box. I will hit them lightly. The NVME M.2 connector is right on the motherboard. The SSD is (edit) 22mm X 80mm. It installs like laptop RAM. You put it into the connector at an angle to the Motherboard, then push it down flat. There is one screw to keep it in place. There are several screw holes for different lengths of m.2 devices. This motherboard uses the “M” connector standard. There are sizes available from 128GB to 1TB. The standard is WW-LL-HH-K or K/K. So the THNSN5256GPUK Toshiba unit is Single Sided 22mm-80mm-S3(single sided)-M (connector). So it is 2280S3M. Unfortunately they never seem to show this at retailers, which would make it a lot easier to find a replacement or upgrade!

The other device for this connector from Dell is the Intel Optane accelerator. Usually Dell uses the 16GB model. It is a high performance SSD type drive that is used as a “Cache” to the primary Hard Disk Drive. It only caches the primary disk. If there are other drives installed they do not benefit from Optane. To use Optane you have to have Windows 10, A motherboard that can accept it (M.2 slot), Bios that recognizes it! You also need an Intel Storage Driver that supports Optane. So you cannot retrofit it to an older system. My brother has the 16GB Optane module and is very happy with it so far. It takes a bit of use to get the cache populated and operating at it’s best. I beat him into windows he beats me, usually, moving from map to map in the games! Dell does not offer the 32GB Optane module in it’s systems! I costs about $75 for the 32GB module online. The 16GB module is about $48.

NOTE: You can only have 1 of these options in any system. Either a m.2 SSD or an Optane cache! They cannot work together!

Either of these helps performance. You have to decide which is best for you. Setup for either is very technical. But if you can install more memory (bios changes, new drivers, driver settings, windows settings) you can probably follow the directions to install either one. Installation of both is well documented.

If having last years technology is not good enough, the XPS 8930 has even newer specs. Like 8th gen Intel processors, a newer Z370 chipset, Faster memory and more USB 3.1 ports. The case is essentially the same, as is the power supply. But remember I was almost two years off the mark on the last system and it was still playing the newest games.

That is the one component that was getting tired after 6 years, The HDD! It started corrupting files when I was copying files to the new computer. This process has the HDD’s running continuously for hours on end. I transferred about 500GB of files and that pushed it over the edge. But for that, it would still be running probably for another couple of years. (pssst, oh yeah! it is still running!) The only other component that failed was the power switch about a year ago. I had to search to find a replacement. Ended up having to repair the one I got off Ebay to make it work! (psssst, revived) It has been updated with a newer 2GB 7770 video card and the HDD was upgraded to a SATA 3 from a SATA 2 drive, replacing the tired drive with a totally clean load of Win 10!

The old system had an i7-2600, 8GB of DDR3 memory a 1.5 TB Seagate SATA2 HDD, a DVD player, a DVD-RW writer, WIFI/Bluetooth adapter (M.2) and 1GB Radeon 6770 Video card. I upgraded it with PCI card for 2 X USB 3.0 ports. I then put a 32GB USB 3.0 PNY stick in one for Readyboost. It came with Windows 7, upgraded to Windows 10 with no problems at all! It was a relatively high end system for it’s day. And the new one is of the same caliber!

The things I DON’T like about it!

Power supply would not be easy to upgrade.

The Laptop style 8X DVD-RW unit.

Extra 2 HDD bays face the side cover. You need a 90 degree cable ends, at both ends, as the other end is encroached by the Video card. The bays need to be deeper and the motherboard SATA’s need relocation away from the video card slot!

Most of these are the price you pay for such a small full featured computer case!

Time to Reform Calguns Members Group Page in Facebook

(these are my opinions of Calguns Members group in Facebook)

This page is about reforming the Calguns Members Facebook page. Having Calguns enforce their own posted rules is not a whole lot to ask!

Calguns Members page has gotten out of control. It has disruptive members that regulary post picture of “Dildos” and other sex toys. Depictions of a woman wearing a strapon mounting a man on his back with his legs spread. Many other things are occurring that are against the page posted rules. But the activity continues. Even when you consider that the page is for their banned members to have a voice this is no where near acceptable activity. There rules clearly state they do not allow sexist posts, but that does not seem to be the real case. Cartoon depictions of implied forced anal sex appear to be allowable.

Do not bother to ask about complying either with Assault Weapon registration or trying to bring a rifle into compliance with California Law. Either way you will be ridiculed, harassed, bullied and have doubt about your sex, gender or sexual practices be flung at you by 80% of those that comment. You will usually get at least a few members that will try to help you, but those helpful comments will be buried by the rest of the commenters. Not exactly a non-hostile place to ask questions about the new California laws. I thought Calguns was meant to be a place to discuss firearms, not sexual habits!

There is also a small number of members that have decided that it is alright to post fake news on the page. Then to ridicule and belittle those members that post comments. It is their view that everyone should research every single post before commenting. In other words they are baiting and bullying members on the page! Again these activities are not being moderated and the offenders are not being called out for these activities. Posts should not be allowed to be of “fake news” unless it is clear they are sarcasm. Fake news posts that are designed to bait reaction for later bullying should result in the poster being banned.

Calguns members page stated objective is to discuss California laws related to restricting firearms ownership in this State. Somehow I doubt that the Friday, Saturday and Sunday night “Meme wars” are promoting this objective. In fact these Meme wars have little or nothing to do with firearms, another violation of the posted rules.

Another grievance of their rules is the “Proxy ads”. Where members post advertising pages of Ammo, firearms and accessories from a business and then ask “hey what do you think” These are thinly veiled posting of ads that benefit businesses under the guise of “advice”. Again these are rarely removed or the poster punished as posted in the rules. It probably violates Facebooks rules also!

YET, They will ban you for calling someone stupid. I was banned for posting a comment “Cain’t cure Stupid”. This was in reference to a member that stated he would shoot down any “drone” (model aircraft) that came within shotgun range. The original post was about someone that did that and was facing numerous charges. He had shot down a “drone” with a pellet rifle over public land. After trying to explain to this member that he was advocating destroying another persons property being flown legally, he still asserted that he intended to shoot them down. Then I posted “cain’t cure stupid” and was banned. Obviously Calguns condones members using firearms to destroy a persons property without any justification!

I have sent two messages to the Calguns Administrator. They have not bothered to reply to either one. Each asked for the reason I was banned. The truth seems to be that Calguns wants your support, but they do not care to support you. I believe they will continue to allow harassment of some members and that they will continue to allow the homophobic posts, Sexist posts, demeaning posts until they feel the heat. So I will start here and slowly keep adding  to this.

As you can see They have no real control over what is being posted in their page. Proxy ads like the one below show up all the time.

And there are a lot of inappropriate postings. Sexist. Homophobic or just in poor taste! BUT don’t call an Admins friend stupid, that will get you removed!

Which of these do you think violate their stated rules?