Monthly Archives: July 2012

Poll – Stand Alone Printing

I was wondering how many people have their printer connected to a computer to print or with it stand alone. Have a go with this poll – just for a bit of fun.


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Self Actuated Printing

One of the things that made me want to buy my Huxley was its ability to print without a computer attached. Of course it still needs a computer to start the print – but once it is printing it can be left alone to finish. I have just brought a kit from think3dprint3d that should change that completely. They produce a kit that will fit on the Sanguinololu and enable it for total autonomous printing.

See No Evil – Print No Evil

The first thing that is needed for self actuated printing is a display – obviously without that there is no way to see what you are choosing to print. The next thing is some way to interact with the system. In this case it is a rotary encoder and push switch combination. Lastly there is the SD card reader that I already have.

In the kit is the display, rotary encoder, two pots (one for LCD contrast the other for LCD backlight), one push switch for reset and connectors and wires. Not included in what I brought is the SD card reader as I already have that – although there is another kit which does include it. The only thing that you need to provide yourself is the case which is available on Thingiverse to print out.

As I final thing to check off on the list is that the firmware in the printer needs to be Marlin rather then the default Sprinter. Marlin cannot fit on the 644p that is supplied with the Sanguinololu so you will have to get a 1284p instead. Again, having tried to play with Marlin in the past I already have that chip.

Keeping It Up
Marlin is a great upgrade – I won’t go into all that it offers here but suffice to say that is much more advanced than the version of Sprinter supplied with Huxley.

You may have noticed that I said I had played with Marlin in the past. When I had originally tried Marlin it wouldn’t maintain the temperature of the hot end. Since I have put on V 1.0 RC2 it maintains the temperature perfectly – mostly within about 0.5C.


So on with the kit. Think3DPrint3D have  a great guide to deal with the construction of the machine so there is no real need to repeat it here – there is a link at the end of this post. One thing I did find confusing was the wiring diagram – its a little bit of a rats nest so I made a list of where all the pins come from and go to:

Sang Pin Function Panelolu
2 +12V N/C
3 GND LCD 1, LCD 5, LCD 16, CON6 6
4 5V LCD 2, CON2 1
5 A4 LCD 14
7 A3 LCD 13
8 TX1 CON6 1
9 A2 LCD 12
10 RX1 CON6 2
11 A1 LCD 11
12 SDA LCD 6
14 SCL CON6 3
15 N/C N/C
16 N/C N/C
18 !RST CON2 2
CON6 6 → LCD 3
CON6 5 → LCD 15

The kit contains all the you will need to make the panel with the exception of the case. However all is not lost there is a link to a case designed by them on Thingiverse – so if you have a RepRap that is of the triangular frame it should fit just fine. There is even a choice of left or right hanging.

The fiddly part of the kit is getting all of the sockets wired up. If you don’t have a   tool that can make a professional job of crimping the connectors then you will need to bodge it. I followed Nophead’s YouTube video.

Another thing in the instructions that isn’t clear is how long the wires need to be inside the case. They suggest that it is ‘at least’ 10cm. If – like me – you overestimate (by approx 5 cm in my case) you will have to try and squeeze in all the cables. This could lead to pinching one or more wires and potentially causing a headache sorting it out. I would say that you only really need to have the cables 10cm from the other side of the SD holder.

One of the great things of Marlin is that it supports directories on the SD card. If you plan to do a lot of printing away from a computer of the same items then it could be useful to sort the files in directories.

Finished display on the printer

The display in ‘Watch’ mode. Shows the current state of the printer.

But in the end

The kit went together well – if sometimes a little fiddly and the occasional cloudy instruction. It does what it says it will do and works really really well. I love that I can now just pick up my printer – take it where I want and print. All without the computer. Of course you still need a PC to slice the models, but the printing can now be totally autonomous.


Think3DPrint3D Website

Enclosure Thingiverse Page

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Store Your Filament – Well

Okay – so I may have forgotten that I had some filament (Bling Bling Gold from Faberdashery) that had fallen down and I had forgotten about it. On doing a clear-out I discovered said filament and thought I would use it in my latest adventure – stands to display my Game Boy cartridges. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be.


Anyone will tell you to store your filament correctly – that is in a bag and maybe with some desiccant. Don’t store it randomly behind the unit your printer is on! Not entierly sure what has happened but when I went to insert the filament into the printer a section snapped off. Strange I thought – carry on and try again. It done it again. Hmm. I then looked at the filament and saw this.

If you look at the top of the filament you can see that there are really small ‘cracks’ in it. This is the point where is breaks. I am assuming that the filament has reacted with the air or moisture to have resulted in this defect. Although it looks more like the filament has dried out.

My Fault not Yours

I must say that this is the only time I have ever seen this from filament from Faberdshery. This is also some of the oldest filament I have as well. Had I stored it in a bag would it have faired better – I can’t say. However storing it outside of a bag will not help keep it in top condition either.

Let this be a lesson for everyone at my expense . Care for your filament and you will get some long life out of it. This is also a positive for Faberdashery’s ethos of only buying what you need when you need it, don’t try and store/horde it. I cannot blame anyone but myself for this – I should have put it away when I had last used it – now I have to bin it. Well – put it into recycling ready for my Filabot! (When I get one that is!)




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Creations Page

Just a short post to bring attention to my ‘Creations’ page on the blog. Here I will be listing my favourite things that I have designed and made. Check out the ‘Creations’ link at the top of the page!

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Printing on the Cheap

While I was browsing eMakers forum I can upon a post of somewhere to buy cheaper filament. I ordered some from at £49.90 for 2.3Kg. That price has now gone up – £62.37 – as they are out of pre-order – that said the listing is confusing stating they have stock but still on pre-order! Anyway back to the filament.

From the East

The filament seems to be made in China, I hadn’t realised this when I brought it and got a little worried having read in the past of people having issue with filament from there. So far I have printed two sets of my Mini Rack and not had any issues. Not to say that it is totally perfect either. Before we get the the bad stuff…

The Good Stuff

The filament is very good – it feeds well and the finish is shiny. There have been no problems with it stringing etc.

However – as I have said – there are a negatives. The main one being that there seems to be a lot of moisture in the filament. This leads to some popping and spitting at lower print speeds – mainly on the first layer as it is printed slower. This leads onto any print that has a low feed speed – mainly those of a lower layer height – however I suppose you could simply increase the print speed.

But in the end

Considering this costs 6.5p per meter its faults so far are easy to put to one side. It sticks well, looks good and is cheap. It may have a little to much moisture for slower prints – which reduces its ability to work with thin layers – but its cheap making it great for test prints or prints requiring large amounts of plastic.


RepRap Kit


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Thing of the Moment – Mini Rack

Thing of the Moment is where I find something of interest to print, either useful or fun!

So today I write about an item I have created to help me store my electronic components. I had been searching for a way to safely hold all my small components without having to use the more standard larger storage system. I had a look on Thingiverse any while there are a few options none suited my needs. The storage draw system I came up with is based around the larger type – except that the draws are designed to be only a bit larger then a resistor is long with its legs attached. Actually a ATMEGA644 can fit in with room to spare.


The design is partly parametric – the rack is parametric in as much as the number of rows and columns can be decided – along with the any rows that will have half height draws. To stop the draws falling out the back of the racks there is a bar to prevent that. The draws are static, designed in SketchUp. On my Huxley I can print a 4×4 large grid as a maximum. In order to reduce the amount of filament used the walls of the rack and draws are only 1mm thick – so there is no infill – but they more then strong enough.

Overall I am happy with the way that this has turned out. The design allows for all of the items that I own to be stored easily and only taking up the minimum of shelf space.

Thingiverse Page

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