True Confessions: Technological Difficulties

True Confessions

I’ve been enthusiastic about this project from the beginning. I love trying and exploring new technology, breaking it down to basic concepts, and planning STEM programs for kids. I haven’t done much in the way of actual robotics, but I’ve got enough knowledge to build on, and that’s served me well so far. I’ll admit that I get frustrated when dealing with something completely unfamiliar. I plow through, always reminding myself how much fun this is and how lucky I am to be able to learn all this stuff.

However, in the past week I’ve also discovered firsthand that all this great technology also opens up a whole new frontier of things that can go wrong. Just when I considered myself proficient at troubleshooting computers, printers, copiers, projectors, video game equipment, and so on, the MakerBot 3D printer in our staff office just stopped printing. I tried all the things I could think of (clean the extruder, use the other extruder, try printing a different file, turn it off and back on again), and it still didn’t work. One of my colleagues started taking it apart to investigate; it looks like an extruder motor is broken, and one of the cross-bars is bent. We’re looking into getting replacement parts from the company.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo here I sit, next to a temporarily disabled MakerBot, with a couple of programs specifically geared toward it on the horizon. That’s where things start to weigh on me. Every new piece of equipment we bring in and every new challenge we take on also means more things to troubleshoot, more things to fix, more parts to replace. On the other hand, every time something breaks I have an opportunity to learn more about how they work (I never really thought about extruder motors before) and apply the troubleshooting skills I’ve been using all along with other equipment. It’s inevitable that things will break, wear down, or need parts, and I’ll just remind myself that fixing things is also part of the adventure.

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