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  1. #1
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    Just got a 3d Printer - Couple questions

    I just got a new 3d printer kit - a Prusa i3 clone by Creatbottech. At the moment I have two main questions (I'm sure there will be a lot of learning and more questions down the road).

    The first one is on the extruders/hot ends. I ordered it with the dual extruder upgrade, and the instructions, not terribly surprisingly, aren't super clear which is which. In the instructions, if looking at the front of the extruders and the side of the hot end/nozzle assembly with the fan on it (The left side in the 'stock' photo in the manufacturers site), it lists the right extruder, the one towards the middle of the unit, as extruder 0 and the left one as extruder 1. I'm assuming, but it's not terribly clear, that the extruders line up with the hot ends in that the right hot end/nozzle would be 0 and the left would be 1 just like the extruders - is my assumption correct (or does it even matter? I'd assume it does)?

    The second question for now is firmware. The board on it is this one to a tee based on a visual analysis. It appears to be running a REALLY OLD version of Marlin firmware (1.0.0 RC2-mm according to the bootup screen). Does this mean that I can update it to a later version of Marlin (it appears the most recent version is 1.1.8, and the most recent 1.0 version is 1.0.2) without much/any issue, or is it likely they have some customization in there that stock Marlin would have issues with?

    I know some out there might look down on the 'cheap' kits like this one - personally, I like to build things. I get more satisfaction from building something like this than just unboxing it and going with it. Plus it's an opportunity to learn. Sure they're not perfect - I've already had to make one tweak to the Z-axis drive. I noticed that when it got close to the bottom, it was starting to become hard to move and binding. Turned out the bracket that the threaded brass piece attaches to didn't protrude quite far enough, so it was binding when it got near the bottom (closer to the motor) and had less play. The solution was a piece of fake credit card that they send you in the mail with those offers cut to fit behind the bracket and tightened back down - smooth as glass now. I'm also considering taking the brackets attaching hte various bars together off one at a time and adding washers as the slots in the corner pieces don't give a whole lot of real estate for the screw heads (and maybe adding some blue locktite while I'm doing that).

    The nice thing, in my opinion, about this kind of printer, is it's open source. So if something dies, odds are I can replace the part fairly easily. I've been searching for various parts to see what's out there and I've literally found every part of this printer that could or is likely to fail. Of the 'ready to roll' printers, while some are open source as well, others, well, not so much, so for those that aren't open source, if something dies, you have to pay what THEY want you to pay to fix it.

    I'm sure there will be more later, as well as enhancements to it (If anyone has any suggested enhancements or tweaks, I'm open to tips/suggestions - I intend to print mostly PLA and/or PETG with it, most likely no ABS). I haven't even printed anything yet and I'm already thinking about the possibility of upgrading its print area (It's 200x280x230 now). In theory, it seems that it shouldn't be too hard to upgrade it to 280x280x230 by replacing two frame pieces, the X-axis travel bar and the print bed.

    Thanks in advance for any info or suggestions.

  2. #2
    Technologist
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    Keep in mind, just because they are based off the prusa i3, an open source printer, doesn't mean they are open source. I started out with an i3 kit that turned out to be closed source. And some of them use custom control boards. A good chunk of the big 3D printing companies are open source, prusa, aleph objects (lulzbot), bcn and to some degree ultimaker. On the other hand, most chinese manufacturers don't want to or don't bother publishing source files.

    To upgrade its print area, you'd have to replace just about the whole thing. To upgrade all axis (and I don't recommend this much, mendel style printers perform worse and worse as they get scaled up). To just upgrade the X axis, you'd need a new extrusion for the top and bottom of the frame, new extrusion for the x axis, new print bed, new y carriage plate (and with a bed that wide, i'd recommend two y rails to make it more stable, new belts, wires and bowden tube. I'd also recommend a dual sided z axis drive for an x axis that wide.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    as for which is extruder 0 (usually right as you look at the printer) and which extruder 1 - just check where they are plugged in on the board :-) The sockets are usually labelled.

    Or better yet, heat one up and see which gets hot :-)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    as for which is extruder 0 (usually right as you look at the printer) and which extruder 1 - just check where they are plugged in on the board :-) The sockets are usually labelled.

    Or better yet, heat one up and see which gets hot :-)
    Well, yes lol. I have them wired up with the right one as 0 and the left as 1 - My reason for asking was more because I'd assume that with regards to printing, which one is on which side does matter (primarily when printing with both, I'd think).

  5. #5
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    Which one is which matters for the offset, youll have to adjust and input this manually usually so it's really up to you. If they are alreadg configured, try a print, you'll know if you got them backwards.

  6. #6
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    Well, it seems I have firmware issues that I need to resolve. The controller it seems didn't come with the right build. They sent me their firmware, which best I can tell is basically, just a really old version of 'run of the mill' Marlin, and after going through the usual Arduino compile issues (turns out the newer versions don't like how part of the code is written and balked - had to go back to 1.0.6 and it compiled fine first run) then loading it to the controller, same issues. The auto leveling feature isn't in the menus, while the firmware does seem to specify dual extruders, the menu in the display only seems to recognize one extruder, as I can only control one. And it inverted the axis so on the Z-axis, for example, + was down.

    The biggest problem, I think, is the bed leveling. I tweaked it to where the sensor lights just as the nozzle about touches the tape on the bed like the instructions say, and when I tell it to 'auto home', it goes to its X & Y limits, then brings the Z axis down and stops spot on a hair above the bed, but when I try to print, it's like it's trying to drill for oil or something and mashes the nozzle into the bed. Have some grooves in the bed from it :/.

    I imagine this kind of thing is fairly common for kits such as this, and while frustrating, in the end, once the issues are resolved, I should have a better understanding of it all.
    Last edited by Cougar281; 12-29-2017 at 01:06 PM.

  7. #7
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    I did more tinkering and resolved the axis flip, as well as tweaked the travel distances and such so I moved the Y end switch out so when it hits the switch and stops, considering that '0', the nozzle sits near the edge of the build plate, not way off the end, and it won't try to travel too far the other way. Did the same with the X and Z axis as well.

    And I finally got a 'decent' print that didn't try to mill through the build plate. Not perfect because I think the nozzle was still too close to the plate and as such it was having feed problems, but I let it keep going since it wasn't shredding the tape and it ended up moving along pretty good after it moved up a little. So I need to figure out why it doesn't seem to want to get the proper height off the plate no matter what I do.

    I think my first upgrade is going to have to be a 24V power supply though. The 14Ga wire that I used for the main feed between the power supply and the board got a little warm, and the feed to the bed heater got a bit warmer - I can't imagine how well the 16 or 18Ga wire they supplied for the main feed would have fared, running the hot end AND the bed. But you can definitely tell when the bed heater turns on.
    Last edited by Cougar281; 12-29-2017 at 04:15 PM.

  8. #8
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    So I think part of my issues have been with the slicer. I was using Cura version 15.04.6 as that's what was specified for Octopint, should I want Octoprint to slice the file. But I ran into issues with Cura 15.04.6. My first prints with it were messed up once they hit the 'top layer'. I re-printed the same item but using Cura 3.0 vs 15.04.6, and when printed using 3.0, it printed properly, wheras the slicing via 15.04.6 failed. Now, I printed using 3.0 and PETG, but I have a STRONG suspicion that if I re-slicded it for PLA on Cura 15.04.6, the end result would be essentially the same as that with PETG.

    Any thoughts on the differences between Cura 15.04.6 and 3.0 in this regard?

    Edit for a little more info - It was definitely something to do with how Cura 15.04.6 was slicing the file. When I went back and re-sliced the STL file and looked at it in layer mode, the bottom layer was goofy - it was trying to fil in a cavity in the middle that was supposed to be empty, and the top layers were 'frazzled'. Didn't look right at all in the slicer. The same view in Cura 3.0/3.1 looked fine and normal, and the results upon printing were good.
    Last edited by Cougar281; 01-01-2018 at 07:28 PM.

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