At last, a $200 3D Printer that might actually hold up to a field season. The Creality Ender-3 (review).

Somewhere between the Prusa printers with their paired z-axis motors and the cantilever systems with a gantry arm spanning the x- or y-axis with only a single point of support, lies printers like the Creality Ender-3. Where a more conventional 3D printer uses rails and linear bearings to drive the axes, these printers forgo the standard model.

You won’t find a single linear bearing on the Creality Ender-3 or it’s clones. Instead, rubber rollers pass through v-slot grooves in extruded aluminum, removing the need for complex gantry systems.

This is an incredibly robust method for cutting costs, but it is not a compromise. Roller and v-slot printers can be just as precise as their rail and bearing counterparts, and the mandated all aluminum construction makes them strong and durable.

Creality Ender-3. Photo by Author.

For a general-use field-ready 3D printer, you could not do much better than the Creality Ender-3.

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Deep-sea gator bait, a mining company’s continued decline, why are there so many Garfield phones on French beaches, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 1, 2019.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Each giant isopod is around the size of a football. LOUISIANA UNIVERSITIES MARINE CONSORTIUM
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With no Blue Book for program guidance, Congress will hold its first hearing on Defunding NOAA, today.

At 10:15 AM, the House Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2020, an aggressively uninspired document that fundamentally dismantles America’s premier ocean and climate research agency and will cause immeasurable destruction to out coastal communities and economies.

You can watch the hearing live, here: https://appropriations.house.gov/legislation/hearings/the-national-oceanic-and-atmospheric-administration-s-budget-request-for-fiscal

Curiously, Commerce has not released the Blue Book, a guiding document that outlines the specifics of how the new budget will impact each program within NOAA. To my knowledge, this is the first time these hearings have commenced without these guiding documents, making it impossible for the American people to understand what, exactly, is at stake if Secretary Ross pushes his anti-science and anti-ocean budget through.

We’ll be watching.

Commerce Unveils a Budget to Decimate NOAA

Late yesterday afternoon, the Department of Commerce unveiled its long awaited budget proposal. Designed in large part to free up funding for President Trump’s ill-conceived, wasteful, and wildly unpopular wall on the Southern Border, it includes cuts to NOAA programs so deep that America’s coastal communities and coastal economies will take generations to recover.

Read it here:

The Department of Commerce Budget in Brief: Fiscal Year 2020

When Secretary Wilbur Ross took office, he pledge to support science-based decision making built on the foundation of unbiased data collection, stating:

“If confirmed, I intend to see that the Department provides the public with as much factual and accurate data as we have available. It is public tax dollars that support the Department’s scientific research, and barring some national security concern, I see no valid reason to keep peer reviewed research from the public.”

“To be clear, by peer review I mean scientific review and not a political filter. In closing, if confirmed, I want to ensure the Department continues to attract Nobel-prize winning scientists and remains a global leader in all of the research it conducts. The Department’s responsibilities are many and the public deserves to see them executed at a world class level.”

Trump nominee pledges to shield NOAA climate scientists from intimidation, censorship.

He even earned accolades from ocean scientists for his early actions and appointments.

Whatever goodwill Secretary Ross may have earned has been destroyed by this new budget, which is nothing less than an attack on American Science, America’s Coastal Communities, and America’s Ocean Economy. It is a betrayal of whatever values Ross claimed to posses during his nomination. This budget is the product of mediocre men of limited vision. I can’t even be mad, I’m just disappointed.

Below are just a few of the most uninspired cuts to the NOAA budget.

Coastal Economies

Zero funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund finances state, tribal and local conservation initiatives to help recover threatened and endangered Pacific salmon populations. The FY 2020 Budget includes $0 funding for this program. The agency will continue its Federal commitment to advancing Pacific salmon and steelhead recovery and Tribal treaty fishing rights through other NOAA programs as resources allow.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 62)
  • Reduce funding for repair/replacement of Coastal Observing Assets.
  • Reduce funding for the Coastal Mapping Program.
  • Eliminate regional Geospatial Modeling Grants.
  • Reduce Integrated Ocean Observing System Regional Observation Grants.
  • Terminate National Centers for Coastal Ocean Service.
  • Eliminate Single-Year Grants to Joint Ocean and Coastal Mapping Center.

Reduces the additional resources provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY 2019 to increase research and monitoring of North Atlantic right whales to better understand how the species interacts with fisheries and shipping traffic and is adapting to changing ocean conditions and shifting feeding grounds.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 73)
  • Eliminate NCCOS competitive funding support for research on ecological threats.
  • Eliminate funding support for Integrated Water Prediction.
  • Eliminate Coastal Zone Management Grants.
  • Eliminate Federal Funding Support for the Title IX Fund .
  • Reduce funding for Innovative Coral Reef Restoration Initiatives.
  • Eliminate Federal Funding Support for National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program provides grants or cooperative agreements to eligible marine mammal stranding network participants. Commerce’s budget eliminate this program.

  • Reduces funding previously provided by Congress for New England groundfish research.
  • Reduces Congressionally-directed funding for development and implementation of agency-independent and alternative approaches to research and stock assessments for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic
  • Reduces additional funding for the Seafood Import Monitoring Program.
  • Reduces support for implementation of new catch share programs.
  • Reduces funding for Mitchell Act hatcheries and implementation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
  • Reduces funding for the three Interstate Fishery Management Commissions.
  • Eliminates financial assistance program to promote state activities in the management of interjurisdictional fisheries resources.

Eliminates funding to support the Cooperative Enforcement Program (CEP). NOAA will not be able to implement Joint Enforcement Agreements (JEA) with 27 state and U.S. territory partners. These JEAs provide funds to state and U.S. territorial law enforcement agencies to perform enforcement services in support of Federal regulations.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 75)
  • Eliminates grants for on-the-ground habitat restoration projects.
  • Decrease the funding used to advance priority activities in its Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Labs.
  • Terminate Mississippi State Partnership.

Exploration

[Commerce] requests a decrease to eliminate Federal funding for Marine Sanctuaries Telepresence Grants. These Congressionally directed grants provide funding to explore and document the deep-sea oceanography, marine habitats, cultural sites, and living and non-living resources in and around national marine sanctuaries to better understand their biology, ecology, geology, and cultural resources.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 73)
  • Eliminate Research Grants for Monuments.
  • Eliminate the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) demonstration testbed.
  • Eliminate the environmental genomics program.
  • NOAA will terminate the Oceanographic Research Partnership Program.
  • End competitive acquisition of data from [uncrewed] surface vehicles (USVs).

[Commerce] will decrease its extramural ocean exploration and research efforts by reducing funding to the Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology, the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, and the interagency Biodiversity Observation Network.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 77)

Climate Change

  • Eliminate funding for NOAA’s Antarctic Ecosystem Research Program.
  • NOAA will decrease the funding within the OAR Climate Laboratories.

NOAA will eliminate Arctic research within the Climate Laboratories & Cooperative Institutes PPA. NOAA will terminate some Arctic research products and improvements to operational sea ice modeling and predictions.

NOAA will eliminate Arctic research within the Regional Climate Data & Information PPA. NOAA will terminate some Arctic research products and improvements to operational sea ice modeling and predictions.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 76)
  • Eliminate Climate Competitive Research Funding.
  • Eliminate Climate Competitive Research PPA.
  • Reduce funding for the Integrated Ocean Acidification Program.
  • Reduce external grant funding that is used to leverage partnerships to develop a sustained, comprehensive, and responsive global ocean observing system.
  • Terminate support for the NOAA Water Level Observation Network.
  • Reduce the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) Platform 55-buoy array by 15 moorings.
  • Reduce the geographic scope and purchase of observations performed by aircraft and will eliminate the aircraft observations over other parts of the oceans and in other continents.

Disaster Prediction and Relief

Zero funding for Fisheries Disaster Assistance

Fisheries Disaster Assistance helps address the environmental and economic effects of a commercial fishery failure. If the Secretary determines that a fishery disaster has occurred, Congress may appropriate funds for disaster assistance, which are administered by the Secretary. The FY 2020 Budget includes $0 funding for this account.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 62)
  • [Commerce] will terminate Vortex-Southeast (VORTEX-SE), a project that seeks to improve tornado forecasts in the southeastern U.S.
  • Terminate research and development on improving the detection and understanding of severe weather with a new airborne phased array radar (APAR) and other airborne measurements
  • Eliminate the Tsunami Research and Operational Warning program.
  • Slow development of the Next Generation Global Prediction System and Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project by reducing research grants for the collaborative research activities and NOAA’s testbeds.

NOAA will decrease the funding used to advance priority activities in its Weather Labs and CIs funding line, including High Performance Computing recapitalization of the Boulder jet supercomputer, Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs), data assimilation initiatives, and other activities that support implementation of the Weather Act.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 76)
  • Terminate efforts associated with the Consumer Option for an Alternative System To Allocate Losses (COASTAL) Act of 2012 implementation within NWS, including efforts to develop the capability to produce detailed “poststorm assessments” in the aftermath of a damaging tropical cyclone that strikes the U.S. or its territories.

Terminate the Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) that provides climate services tailored to the specific needs of the region within which it is located. RCCs respond to emerging issues, such as droughts and floods and each RCC is located at six universities and research institutions that are responsible for managing the RCC resources from NOAA and non-NOAA sources alike.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 80)

Education

NOAA will terminate the National Sea Grant College Program Base and Marine Aquaculture Program. This will eliminate NOAA funding for the network of 33 Sea Grant programs located in coastal States and territories, and withdraw support for the larger cross-NOAA Aquaculture Program.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 77)
  • Terminate the Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Regional Program.

Eliminate funding for the Competitive Education Grants Program ($3,000), and the Educational Partnership Program for Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) ($16,000) within the Office of Education and reduce fund for the Office of Education ($1,006). Remaining funds for the Office of Education of $1,039 will support a centralized office focused on
coordinating and improving the performance of NOAA’s numerous activities in STEM education.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 80)

Gutting NOAA Facilities

Reduces funding for science facilities to support NOAA’s goal of a more efficient Federal footprint. Operating costs will be reduced by divesting three owned properties combined with savings from avoidance of deferred maintenance associated with one of the facilities in the Fisheries and Ecosystem Science Programs and Services budget line. These represent initial actions to reduce NOAA’s footprint.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 63)
  • [Commerce] will close the Air Resources Laboratory and eliminate ARL’s research on air chemistry, mercury deposition, and atmospheric dispersion of harmful materials in order to fund other priority programs.
  • [Commerce] will close its program office and intramural grants dedicated to the research, development, and transition to application of new UAS observing strategies.

Privatizing Satellite Monitoring

The budget request of $10 million for the Office of Space Commerce proposes to reallocate resources of $3.6 million and 11 positions from NOAA Operations, Research and Facilities and $6.4 million in new appropriations. The office focuses on various sectors of the space commerce industry, including satellite navigation (GPS), commercial remote sensing, space transportation, and entrepreneurial activities. The office participates in government-wide discussions of space policy issues as well as internal efforts to increase the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) use of commercial space solutions.

FY 2020 Budget in Brief (Page 9)

This pulls NOAA out of satellite monitoring and forcing the agency to rely on private enterprise. The march towards privatizing space is well under way.

Call your representatives (especially if you live in NC, LA, or MD) and tell them that you expect them to oppose every aspect of this disastrous budget.

You can find your representatives’ contact information here: https://www.callmycongress.com/

Blending smartphones for science, understanding the environmental hazards of 3D printing, flooding the midwest, and ocean news, too! Monday Morning Salvage: March 25, 2019

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The oldest mariner’s astrolabe ever found, decorated with the Portuguese coat of arms. COURTESY DAVID MEARNS
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Trump’s 2020 Budget will be a Disaster for America’s Coastal Economies

Yesterday the Trump Administration unveiled its proposed budget for fiscal year 2020. This budget contains steep cuts research, education, and social services in order to fund the construction of the border wall. Chief among the cuts is an unprecedented reduction in funding for NOAA, which functionally disbands several core research programs within Ocean Services. From A Budget for a Better America:

“The Budget also proposes to eliminate funding for several lower priority NOAA grant and education programs, including Sea Grant, Coastal Zone Management Grants, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.”

A Budget for a Better America, page 21

Rumblings on the hill suggest that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross plans to unveil his own plan to drastically reduce the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and permanently hamstring NOAA in furtherance of the Administration’s goal to find funding to construct a wall on the US southern border.

These cuts include zeroing out the budget for the following agencies and programs:

  • NOAA SeaGrant
  • NOAA Coastal Zone Management Program
  • National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)
  • Pacific Salmon Restoration Program
  • Potentially at least one fisheries laboratory

These cuts would be catastrophic America’s Coastal Communities and Economies, especially in places like North Carolina, Maryland, and Louisiana.

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I built the cheapest 3D printer available online so that you don’t have to: iNSTONE Desktop DIY (review)

How cheap can a 3D printer be and still function? Although they seemed plucked out of science fiction, there’s not really that much to these machines. A few stepper motors, some switches, a control board, a heating element, and a nozzle are really all you need. It’s the software, and the expiration of a bunch of patents, that kicked the 3D printing revolution into high gear.

Is it possible to assemble the right collection of components to make a functional 3D printer for less than $100? iNSTONE thinks you can, and they are not wrong.

Behold, the iNSTONE Desktop DIY.

iNSTONE Desktop DIY. Photo by Author.

This is the best printer you could build for $99. It’s terrible. I love it. You absolutely should not buy it.

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A literal foghorn foghorn, Apple’s recycling farce, art from the deep sea, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: March 11, 2019.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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The ongoing search for an inexpensive, field-ready 3D printer: Monoprice Select Mini (review)

Monoprice, the king of rebadged 3D printers, has two entries in the sub-$200 printer category. We already dug into the guts of the Mini Delta, a great little delta-style printer, and now it’s time for the Monoprice Select Mini! This is a pretty standard cantilever printer, with the x-axis tied to the print bed and an y-axis connected by a single support to a moving gantry. It’s basic, but solid, with a bare-bones set of features that gets the job done.

The Monoprice Select Mini is currently for sale on Amazon for $189. I got mine in white because every other printer manufacturer has decided that you can have whatever color you want as long at it’s matte black.

Monoprice Select Mini. Photo by author.

There is also a Select Mini Pro which, since this review series started, has been discounted to $199. It does look like it has some nice features that make it wort the extra $11, including an automatic bed leveler, magnetic build plate, and touch screen. The budget for this series is blown, but if Monoprice wants to send us one *hint hint* I’ll be happy to put it through the wringer.

Monoprice is a rebadger, as we explained in the Delta review, and this printer is identical to the Malyan M200, which itself seems to be an improvement on the Infitary R100.

This is the only printer in our series with steel construction, so I have high hopes that it will stand up to the abuse I’m about to heap upon it.

For an explanation of our testing protocols, please see: We’re gonna beat the heck out of these machines: The search for the best dirt-cheap 3D printer for fieldwork.

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The fate of the deep sea is being decided behind closed doors, plastic in the deepest trench, memories of whales, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: March 4, 2019

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The voyage meant scientists could construct a 3D map of the hole. Picture: Thomas Bodhi Wade/Aquatica Submarines
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