Sunday, March 25, 2012


Around the Community 03/25/12

Printrboard is now available ($130, $145 shipped to the US)

Printrbot has created their own all on board branch of the Teensylu.  I have not tested it, nor have I seen it in the wild yet, but the reason I bring it up is it's price/features.  $145 puts it at a very close second to the Gen6 by MakeMendel for $140, shipped to the US.  I think this set of electronics does have advantages over the slightly cheaper MakeMendel Gen6:

Fan driver
Heated Build plate control control
Built in SD card reader
Molex style connectors (.1" connectors can drive you crazy)

Pocket Printer has arrived

D Kennell posted this beauty on Thingiverse, I am a sucker for extruded aluminum and Brustruders (I did design the 1st one so what do you expect?).  This looks like the dark Cthulhu spawn of a ORD, Thingomatic, and Mendelmax  I can't find  video of this printing yet but man its awesome looking little bot?  I can't wait to see more out of the development.

Pronterface update for Windows & Mac!

If you like me and have a non Linux computer, or don't like to compile from the Github, today is the day you have been waiting 3 months for.  Kliment has compiled a new version of Pronterface for Windows and Mac.  In this update Pronterface gains

-Experimental projector stuff: The folks over in the Lemoncurry SLA RepRap channel are using Pronterface to control the projector between layers.  Kliment has made this functionality part of the main branch of Pronterface.

-Temp graph:  With the troubleshooting I do in the RepRap IRC, I find a lot of people have very poorly tuned PID settings (swings of 10C are way more common than they should be).  One easy way to get people to fix it is to put a temp graph on in the host software.  Unfortunately PID tuning can be a bit of a pain, fortunately EvdZ has added AutoPID tuning to Marlin..
-Slic3r as default (and bundled):  Slic3r is my preferred Gcode generation software for RepRap, and Kliment has integrated it into Pronterface from the start.  With Slic3r if you have all 4 of your axis calibrated, and give it the proper Filament/Nozzle diameter, you should get almost perfect prints out of the box.  Of course getting people to properly calibrate before using their magic machine is like pulling teeth!

Marlin Firmware adds Auto PID tuning

PID is what controls the way your firmware flutters the power to the Hot End of your 3d printer to keep the temperature even.  Unfortunately it's not as easy as just turning the power on when too low and off when too high (Which is for the most part how Hot Bed are controlled), because if you do that you end up with a HUGE 20-40C swing in your nozzle temp.  Most people with untuned PID settings are only getting 5-10C swings but for good quality prints the temp needs to stay dead on one temp or the qualities of the plastic will randomly change during a print.  There are some good guides out there for PID tuning, but no matter what it requires a bit of algebra and experimentation to get it right. 

EvdZ has added a Gcode command called M303 to Marlin.  What this does is when you enter M303 in the Pronterface terminal Marlin will automatically start raising the temp of your nozzle to 150C.  It will then
try to calculate the PID settings that best match what your hardware is achieving.  Be sure to let it run its cycle 4-5 times before you write down the values, because each time it calculates the PID it live updates to the new PID, bringing you closer to perfect PID tuning.

After each rotation of calibration if will give you a value for the Kp, Ki and Kd using a standard, some overshoot, or no overshoot profile.  You then load the copy of Marlin you have on your computer, open Configuration_h, search the word "PID", and change the values for Kp, Ki, and Kd to the new values of your choice (EvdZ suggests some overshoot for faster warming of the nozzle), compile and reupload.

When I did this I went from having a 3C variation (I know, here I am wearing an admin feather ha5 and have a 3C temp variation on my hot end... bad me), to having a .1C variation +&- of the value requested.

MiniMax by Lulzbot

Lulzbot (which posts things to Thingiverse as AlephObjects ) has developed a Mendel sized alteration of the Mendelmax format.  Honestly my Mendelmax uses All the RP parts from MiniMax with the extrusion lengths of a Mendelmax.  Lulzbot is not going to be selling a kit for this machine, but selling it fully assembled.  But like any company I love they are following the release early and often philosphy.  If your like me and love self sourcing printers all the parts to assemble this bot in it's current state have been posted to Thingiverse.  Jebba assures me that the design is no where near done, they have some more work they want to do on the Z axis, but they will continue to post the STL for the upgrade to Thingiverse.  They have been getting Ultimaker + X/Y speeds & zero Z wobble on this machine.  I can't wait till they post a video of that!

Resin print by Arthur Wolf

It's truly amazing to see how fast the DIY SLA group is progressing in the Lemon Curry IRC.  It seems that you can get faster development when Resin is $40 a quart.  After asking Joe Moe/practicing01 who had the best print quality I was shocked to see this print by Arthur.  That's a lot of progress for 1 week!

Thank you so much for these updates. With so much going on a lot of interesting things can get missed. These updates are really valuable to keep on top of things.
Thanks Jim! Some times I worry that I am just announcing this stuff into the ether. :)
I've been testing the Printboard for a couple weeks now. It's a solid platform, and I'm willing to bet it will become *the* RepRap board to have as soon as it's on the market...

Printrbot probably won't be shipping anything from the store for several more weeks due to the huge backlog of Kickstarter orders.

Anyway, I've posted all of my Printrboard findings to its Wiki article. It was a solid week of messing with avrdude/Arduino to learn how to program it.
I agree with Jim, I really appreciate the updates too! There is so much going on in so many different places it's hard to catch it all, so it's nice to get the highlights from your "Around the Community" posts!
I check in here at least once a week and really enjoy the posts. I have tried to find other rep rap blog aggregators to get my fix but a lot of blogs are hard to find so thanks for making it easier!
What exactly do you guys mean by:

"EvdZ suggests some overshoot"

We have to slightly change the values? How?
Time for another around the community! It appears lots of stuff has been happening!
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