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What I learned buying my first 3D printer

I dove into the world of 3D printing for the first time, picking out a machine and printing out a cool little camera dolly.

Chris Parker Senior Video Producer
A 28-year veteran of CNET, I am finally living my dream of working in my pajamas and getting paid to play with toys and games for a living.
Expertise Video editing | Problem solving | Infrastructure support Credentials
  • It's not about the awards for me. ;)
Chris Parker
2 min read

I had considered getting a 3D printer for a long time, but I held off because I couldn't think of anything I really needed to print. Then I came across the Ortak line of 3D printable camera support products from Edelkrone and knew I'd found the excuse I was looking for, as it tied into my day job as a video producer here at CNET. 

There are countless different 3D printers on the market, so I needed some expert advice to pick the right one for me. Enter Joel Telling, self-proclaimed 3D Printing Nerd and host of the popular YouTube channel of the same name. Joel gave me some great advice for choosing a printer, what to look for, different options available, the printing materials and how to stay within my budget.

We discussed different models from Prusa Research, Creality and other brands, and in the end I went with the Creality Ender-3 V2. While I was waiting for it to be delivered, I ordered the $29 Edelkrone Skater 3D kit. The Skater 3D is a small camera support on wheels for use with mobile phones or other small cameras. The kit includes plans to print out some parts at home and all the screws and other bits to put it all together. This little dolly was going to revolutionize my at-home video production techniques, I told myself. I also picked up the PocketShot 3D and PhoneGrip 3D kits. I was ready to become a full-on manufacturer of camera gear.

Chris Parker/CNET

Then my printer arrived. Getting the Ender-3 V2 up and running wasn't hard, but it was definitely more involved than I thought it would be. Leveling the print bed is an art form in its own right, but once I got that dialed in, I was very pleased with the results of my first print, a cute little cat figurine.

But I didn't get into this business to make more little tchotchkes to clutter up my house, so I moved on to some more functional test prints of calibration models. Through trial and error, I got to a point where I was ready for the main event.

Printing the Skater 3D

If everything went as planned, it should have taken me about 22 hours total to print out all 11 pieces needed to build the Skater 3D. I accidentally printed one of the largest pieces twice, however, losing six hours, and I had to try a few variations of the wheels to get the bearings to fit correctly.

Chris Parker/CNET

Once that was done, assembling the dolly was relatively painless. The Edelkrone kits include all the metal and rubber pieces needed to join the 3D-printed parts together. Some are more complicated than others, but the Skater was pretty simple. 

Chris Parker/CNET

And there it was! I now had a little camera dolly to use with one of my iPhones (salvaged from previous drop tests) or my Sony ZV-1 camera. You can see the results in my YouTube video above, or on CNET's How To Do It All channel.