Archive for the ‘3D Printing’ Category

MakersFarm Prusa i3 update (3d printer)

In 3D Printing, Arduino, RAMPS, troubleshooting on February 16, 2015 at 8:13 pm

A little while back I replaced the nozzle and ordered the wrong size.  So I had ordered a new spool of abs in the new size.  Yes, I know I could have just returned the incorrect part and keep using the spools I already had on hand.  I made the conscious decision to try the new wire size to see if there was any difference in the prints.  I don’t really expect one but with the narrower wire the printer will have to push it through at a higher speed and the wire will melt a little faster with smaller diameter.  Essentially it will work a little differently and I just wanted to see what the difference in the end result will be.  Anyway, it’s hooked up and appears to be working.

I’ve had problems with the circuit boards heating up and shutting themselves down for a long time now.  My cousin attempted to treat the symptom by adding a fan to cool the boards.  This worked sort of.  Most of the time it would allow the printer to achieve the temps it needed (getting to the print bed temp was the big problem).  Lately though it was failing more and more often and finally I just couldn’t get it to work at all.  I have done very little printing on it over the last year or so due to the problems so this isn’t something that allowed me to reach my earlier levels of productivity, it was just a stop gap fix that would let me print for a few hours every month or so.

I ran across a site selling RAMPS (RepRap Arduino MEGA Pololu Shield) boards the other day.  The shield is a board that attaches to an Arduino board and allows the Arduino to control a 3d printer.  It has all of your power inputs and outputs and uses Pololu stepper drivers to control micro-stepping of the motors.  My guess is that the RAMPS was what was having heat issues because that is where the connection block for the main power blew out on initially.  (see some earlier posts on that problem and my repairs to install a new a block.)  I decided to order a new RAMPS.  It arrived Friday just as I was walking out the door to go to LA for the weekend.

Last night I got it installed on the printer and hooked up all the wires exactly where they were on the old board.  It turns out that nothing on the new board is wired up in the same sequence as the old board.  The power outputs for the bed heater and the hotend heater are reversed.  I discovered that right away.  I fixed that this morning and made another attempt to fire the printer up.  It turns out that the stops for the the axis of movements  or possibly the motor outputs (or both) are also not in the same order.  I discovered this as my print head moved across in the Y axis and slammed into the stop and then kept trying to move.  I don’t think it will be difficult to fix, just a bit time consuming as I need to hook up the printer to the computer and test each axis of motion and then each stop sensor.  Then I will need to swap the incorrect wires around.  First though I need to summon up the energy to actually do the troubleshooting.  Maybe this evening I will get to it.  I tend to be more focused in the evening and deal better with issues like this later in the day.

I am taking a class for Solidworks and am working on a couple of personal modeling projects in addition to the school work.  Once I get the printer up and running and am able to do some initial prints of the new models I will post an update on them.  I hope it won’t be too much longer before I am able to ramp up (pun intended) my printing output again.

3d printer update

In 3D Printing on January 10, 2015 at 5:11 am

My 3D printer is up and running again.  It has a new hot end.  It has been moved back inside from the garage.  I did have everything adjusted but something got caught and screwed those adjustments up.  I have to get it all dialed back in again but it does work.  I am sure I will be doing more printing with it in the near future as I am taking a Solid Works class next semester.  I will do a longer post about the printer when I start working on another project with it.

3D printer update

In 3D Printing, Electronics on November 6, 2014 at 2:25 am

Sorry that it has been so long between updates.  My cousin and I got the printer working again by adding a fan (and printing a fan mount) to cool the arduino board.  We never did figure out why it is overheating, but the fan keeps everything up and running.  Of course we have managed to break the hot-end a few times.  This last time I ordered a new style hot-end but got the wrong size for the filament that I was using.  So i ordered some filament for it and have been unable to get it to print since then.  Part of the problem is getting everything leveled out properly.  It’s a real pain to do and with the smaller filament it needs to be much more accurate than with the other stuff.  I will probably just buy some new nozzles that are the larger size.

De-Solder Success (probably)

In 3D Printing, Crafts, Electronics on January 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Sorry for the long time between posts. I’ve got a lot going on in the background that will eventually warrant some posts. Everything is still up in the air at this point. I don’t have anything concrete to write about yet though. I’m just waiting and wringing my hands while everything hinges on other people. I know this is vague but I don’t want to influence anything the wrong way at this point. Whatever happens my life will be changing and I will be leaving Santa Barbara. Exactly how that will go down… I just don’t know. Stay tuned.

On the chess set and 3d printer topic… I’m still waiting on the replacement screw terminal piece. The new soldering iron did arrive yesterday. I was able to de-solder the old screw terminal and remove it. I hope to get the new piece today. I ordered it at the same time and from the same people as the soldering iron so I’m hoping it won’t be too far behind. Here’s a photo of the de-soldering job. When the new piece gets here I’ll post some new photos and updates. Hopefully I’ll be able to include a shot or two of the printer working again.

More Pawn and updates

In 3D Printing, Crafts, Electronics on December 29, 2013 at 11:01 pm

We’ll start with the updates this time.  It took some searching but I’ve finally found out what that part I need to replace is called and found some place that could ship it to me in under 1 month (almost everyplace selling them was shipping them from China.)  It is called a screw terminal block.  It should be here by the end of the week.  I’ve started desoldering the old part off of the board.  I’ve got most of the solder removed but my soldering iron is too big for me to get the rest of it out.  I’ve ordered a cheap 40w soldering iron that is more appropriately sized for electronics as well.    Hopefully next weekend I will be able to finish removing the old terminal block and get the new one installed.

In the mean time,  I’ve made another stab at designing the pawns.  This is probably the last thing I’ll be able to do before getting the printer back up.  I might hook everything up and try printing some stuff without heating the print bed.  The pawn is something that might be printable without the heating.  It was suggested by a friend that I try slicing the Queen in half the other way and try printing them that way.  Essentially I would need to stack the pieces instead of putting two vertical halves together.  This should minimize the problems with shrinking or curling.  If I fire the printer up as is I might try that.  Anyway, here are the pics of the new pawn design.  Enjoy,



Well that’s your problem…

In 3D Printing, Crafts, Electronics on December 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm



The problem is pretty obvious when you get everything taken apart so that you can look at it. The two discolored ports are where the power wires for the print bed heater plug in. I think I should be able to remove the entire block of plugs (I am not actually sure what that thing is called.) Then I will try and find a replacement and solder the new one in the same place.

I have not done any soldering on electronics since 1997 or 98. That was to chip my PlayStation so that it would play European region locked games. I was living in Germany with an American region PlayStation so that was the only way for me to play games purchased locally on my system. That was pretty simple. I had expert help looking over my shoulder the entire time as well. I’m pretty sure everyone that helped me with that project is on my Facebook so they may see this and remember the project. In the last few years the only soldering I have done has been for automotive electrical work. That is much easier than soldering on electronics. Wish me luck.

I am going to watch a few youtube videos on the subject and then attempt to remove this block. As always, I’ll keep you in the loop and post some photos of how it goes.


Possible Pawn Design and Troubleshooting Update

In 3D Printing, Crafts on December 28, 2013 at 4:48 am

The bottom would be more like a planetary gear.

Also I have verified that the problem is where the platform heater plugs into the board. The screws that tighten down on the wires were discolored and the insulation on the wires themselves have bubbled. At some point it looks like something shorted between them. I cut off the bad parts of the wires and stripped off the damaged insulation. I have to leave the + wire plugged into the original + terminal so that the board can control the platform temp. I moved the – wire over to the ground of an unused set of power plugs (the ones for a second extruder) in the hope that the I could avoid whatever the problem was with the first set of connections. Unfortunately I have had no such luck. The temp can get to about 50 on it’s own and then it gives up and the temp drops again. If I try to print and heat the platform at the same time everything shuts down. I started to take everything apart so that I can get a better look at the board and see if this is something I will be able to fix on my own. More on this tomorrow probably.


Unheated Platform

In 3D Printing, Crafts on December 27, 2013 at 7:57 am

Ok. So the printer actually stayed on and printed with the unheated platform. I’ve made a couple of attempts at printing the pawns. This is the result:
Pawns v2
This is actually my second attempt at the pawns. The first one had a much thiner gear at the top. It was obviously horrible so I went back to the model and made it about 3 times thicker. Now they look more like mushrooms than anything else though. I”m not sure what I am going to do but this version isn’t the answer. Maybe I will try a planetary gear as base of the pawn and then do the top with a more traditional top. I’ll have to think about it some more. Maybe I will try modeling this idea tomorrow.

I also tried printing the queen with an unheated platform and the lower temperature nozzle. The lower nozzle temp seemed to work, but the unheated platform caused some pretty severe warping and curling. This is what it ended up looking like:
You can see how bad the two pieces curled up. I will have to see if I can get it to run with the heated platform turned on. Maybe I can run it at a lower temperature than I was using before (70 degrees) and still get a good result. I’ll try that tomorrow as well. In the meantime at least the printer is working so there is some hope I’ll get this project finished.


In 3D Printing, Crafts on December 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I had a hunch. I played it. My best guess about why my 3D printer was shutting off was that it was drawing too much power and so the board was shutting down as a safety precaution. The house was pretty cold. I did crank the heat up when I noticed that the printer was having trouble bringing everything up to temp. It still seemed as though the printer was struggling with maintaining the correct temps. I decided to see if it would work today without heating the print platform. This way the board would need to draw less power. I think heating the platform is probably the biggest power draw and it is also the least necessary for printing with PLA. So far it seems to be working. The print job is 1 1/2 hours into the 11 hour print job and everything seems to be going well. It was a little messy for the first layer or two getting the media to stick to the unheated platform. Other than that it seems to be working perfectly. I’m hoping that this was the problem. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and try to get the most important stuff printed as quickly as possible in case it decides to stop working again. I was going to start printing the board next so that my niece could help design the pawns. I have modified that plan in light of recent developments. I designed the pawns this morning and I will print them next. The board is the lead essential bit so it will have to wait till last. This isn’t ideal but it will have to work.


edit: it seems as though i use a lot of run-on sentences. i’ve noticed that is the biggest thing i have to fix in editing.

edit 2: 3 hours in and the print failed. it failed for a different reason though. I ended up with a big glob of burned PLA that got stuck to the print. It was higher than the rest of the print job at that point so when the nozzle had to move past it, it knocked everything off by about half a mm. This caused the printer to lose it’s calibration and printed everything from that point on about 1/2 mm off to the side. The print is ruined, but the printer does appear to be working. Now I need to find out what is causing these blobs. This is the 2nd time the print job was ruined due to this same issue. Maybe I have the nozzle temp too high. I’ll try printing something colder and see what happens.

Game Over

In 3D Printing, Crafts on December 22, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Well that was fast.  The printer failed again before I could put my coat on and walk out the door.   Everything lost power again.  The power supply is still providing the correct the power so the problem is the board.  That might mean it’s all over for me.  The board is the one part I know nothing about.  I purchased it preassembled with all the firmware set up.  Electrical I can deal with, electronics is not something I’ve had to deal with since my basic electronics course at Ft Gordon in 1997.  I don’t know what I’m going to do now.  For the moment the project is dead.


ps: this is how close we came..

This is how far i got before the printer died.

This is how far i got before the printer died.