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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to add an oil pressure gauge to my dashboard beside the instrument cluster but I am really quite crap when it comes to fiberglassing, painting, finishing, etc. Fortunately for me a couple of us in my office banded together to buy a low end 3D printer for fiddling around with and it seemed like just the right tool for the job.

Here are some progress pics, I'll try to expand this writeup when I have a bit more time.


First - a test ring to see if I modeled the contour right. It is effectively some splines wrapped across the surface of a ~1.5m radius sphere.

A quick mock-up of where I wanted the gauge to sit and filling in the main plate of the gauge pod

Some cutting is required. The lower section was removed by cutting the plastic welds, then a minute or so with a dremel to cut out a hole for the gauge to rest in

A quick render of the finished gauge pod.

Up until now I've been printing the parts with whatever colour of plastic we had the most of (ugh, buttercream) with thick layers. Right now I'm running the part shown in the final rendered image with super thin layers to get a better surface finish. There are 10 hours remaining in the print job but if it turns out well tomorrow I'll have some finished pictures of the pod mounted up with the gauge installed.
 

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If it's not too OT for this thread... What printer did you guys get? Any major drawbacks to it making you wish you'd gone for a different one? I've toyed with the idea and looked into them a little bit and it seems like the low end kit would be in the $400-$500 range roughly. Of course I've never done any 3D modeling so I might be getting in over my head on the software/design side of things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not off topic at all - as far as I'm concerned the printer itself is one of the key bits to making this thing :)
We bought a late 2013 printrbot simple, so it has the direct drive extruder, but none of the 2014 modifications. I have since applied Jon Lawrence's X and Y extensions and fitted a 6x12" 1/4" thick aluminum sheet that I have milled the backside of to reduce weight as the build plate and am presently working on adapting an 8x8" heated bed to also fit on the printer.
Here is a slightly outdated picture (we've changed the X brackets and added an extension to the front of the printer to increase bearing spacing for greater stability, ~100mm rod spacing now)


Purchase price on the kit was right around the $300 mark if you build it yourself. Since then they have released an improved kit that addresses a lot of the issues I had with mine that has a bit of a higher price tag. I wouldn't know for sure what to recommend given the current lineup of printers. In addition to the kit we spent $3 on the build plate, ~$15 on GT2 belt and pulleys (thanks to EBay), $10 on 608 and LM8UU bearings and of course some filament to print the upgrades. I swapped the printrbot over to an XBox 360 power supply since the one provided in our kit was faulty.

In a perfect world I would make this part from ABS so I could just ABS cement it on to the dash which is also ABS, however I can only print PLA right now. I am a little worried that the plastic won't hold up in the hotter climates so I really don't think I should produce these for anybody else, but I'll be posting my files on thingiverse once I have this project finished. Perhaps somebody can print them from nylon or ABS or something more heat resistant than PLA :)

The print job failed right before I left the office last night (extruder jam) but I was able to restart it before going home. I came in today to a nearly perfect gauge pod. It seems I am still over-extruding a little bit so there are some surface imperfections.

I tried to fit this gauge pod to my trim piece when I remembered a very important detail... Recently I greased the smooth rods and re-tensioned the X and Y belts. When I did so it seems to have changed the calibration of the printer and my part has come out ~1.5-2% too big. I'm currently trimming it to see if it can be salvaged. Unfortunately for this project 3d printing is not my day job so I only get a few minutes here and there to fiddle with this. I am hoping to get it fitted to the dash before I go home today though :) I think I'll be able to reduce this part slightly rather than having to re-print it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have finished trimming the piece with a knife and have fitted it to the dash. Here are some (mostly) finished pics


I still need to do the final few steps of securing it to the dash, the bottom edge is sticking out just a little bit and needs to be secured tighter, but otherwise it's fully finished. Now to replace the little incandescent bulb that came in this gauge with an LED so it looks nice :)
 

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Was a nice start but I don't like the look of it just sticking out
I prefer smoothed out fiberglass
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
First I should explain - I have this focus just for autocross and other racing type events. The class I compete in requires me to keep a full interior and I do prefer things mostly intact and subtle looking so I couldn't do anything radical for gauge mounting and the coin holder seemed totally useless. This gauge pod was strictly a matter of function and much less about looking good. I didn't want it to look completely stupid but I didn't want to spend hours blending shapes together in modeling programs. I initially planned to smooth it out a lot but with my limited skills and not much for software at my disposal it was tough :)

That said, it would appear I put slightly too little thought into this gauge pod. The pod itself blocks the mounting screw for the trim piece. I didn't notice it until I was just about ready to install it... sigh.

I think the solution is to modify the model, shorten the tube for the gauge by a few mm. Initially I thought I might run out of space behind but now it is clear there is easily 20-30mm of extra space back there, no concerns at all.

Whether I'll just drill the top of the gauge pod to get access to the screw, leave the screw out or modify the model I haven't yet decided.
 

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Looks sweet. Im trying to make one myself but like you said i hate fiberglass and bondo. Might have to buy one from you ahaha.
Get a dual one from S2inprogress.

Mine was literally perfect from him, most others have the same experience.

- Naz
 

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S2 did the one in my '04, startfury550 did the ones in my '06.
Both do great work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
A quick update - I modified the model and shortened the gauge pod itself so I could access the screw. Upon mounting it I quickly discovered I mis-judged the angle of the pod and it isn't really pointed at the driver as I would like it to be. I ran out of time before I needed the car together so I'm running with it that way. It is perfectly visible just not quite as good looking as I'd like. If I get the heated bed running on the printer and can run the part in ABS I'll re-make it with a better angle. I can post some completed pics later, right now I'm pretty busy with work and kids and at the last event my front left wheel bearing decided to pack it in. It seems a 160,000km old bearing doesn't like 3-wheeling it on rivals for 12 runs :D
 
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