Monday, April 6, 2015

General Repair

During the past week I have made some general repairs to the printer since the updated parts.  At the time of upgrade I did not take the time to properly finish the wiring.  I had jumper wires with alligator clips for the thermistor, hot end, and the cooling fan for the hot end.  One day while printing I hit the wires just right and caused a short. This caused some vinyl wire coating to melt and some of the wires to fuse together!!! Scary moment when it happened.  I will say that I never leave the printer unattended so at least I was right here.  I have now corrected this wiring, soldered, and tucked the wires up neatly.  No damage was caused, except to a few of the jumpers I had been using.

Additionally the kapton tape on my heat bed has been in rough shape.  This was fine since I just strategically printed in select areas. I had a large item to print and decided it was time to replace all the kapton tape again.  It looks much better now.


After this past Christmas my wife wanted to add a Nativity Scene.  So now and then after work I slowly worked on providing the starts of that for Christmas 2015.  After searching the thingiverse I found a couple of highly detailed models that someone had 3d scanned.  I thought these would be perfect to try!

 The first item I went for was "King 1" which is thing:591213 this print had no major overhangs for my printer to handle.  Although the arm has a large opening I had no problem in this area. The chin also printed well since I print with inner most loop first (to provide something for overhangs to try to grab.
 King 1 Back Side

Now naturally you would think I went to King 2 next.  Due to extreme overhangs I decided to go with King 3. King 3 which is thing:591219 also was a straight forward print.  The chin was kind of a big overhang and I have 1 strand of droop.
 King 3 Right

King 3 Left

 Still due to the extreme overhangs of King 2 I decided to do Mary and Jesus next. Thing:591195 has some great detail in my opinion. I was worried the baby would be too small but he came out just fine.
 Mary Front View

 Mary Back View

Mary Side View

Now after these three were complete it was time to finally try King 2.  Now with my printer not having support capability I knew there was no way for this file to print directly. I used a program called "netfabb Basic" to help slice up the model into pcs. I did not pay for the full version and only used the trial version. This allowed me to insert cut planes into the model and remove parts I didnt want. 

I ended up slicing him 3 ways. Once just above the elbows made him have a top and bottom. This allowed me to print the bottom section.  Although the elbows were still present in the slice it just printed a giant blob that I later easily removed. 

The second slice was a little creative.  I took the bottom of the model and sliced away the body and as much of the kings gift as I could leaving his elbows behind. I then flipped the model up side down so his elbows would come out of the print bed. This left just the tip of the gift floating in mid air. The part in mid air just created another blob that was just pulled off. 

The final section was just the top half from the first slice.  Once all three sections were printed I "glued" them together with acetone. I must say it came out way better than anticipated.
 If you look very carefully you can see the split plane just below his armpits.

King 2 front side

 Now time to put them  all together in one view :)

It is very important to note that the original file import makes King 1 a 577mm tall model!!!! Unless you have a huge 3d printer good luck.  In Kisslicer I scaled all the models down to 9% of their original size!!! This may have helped greatly with some of the overhang issues since the overhangs are dramatically reduced.

I hope the publisher of the set puts up more of the models now that he sees how they print!

I can also say that in the past few months I have been working ALOT on one other 3d print project with about 30 different iterations so far.  Unfortunately I will not be sharing that item on here or the thingiverse. It is an item related to one of my other hobbies that is a known problem that has no definitive solution, but with the device I am creating I may be able to capture a niche market.  That does relate to lack of posts since the printer fix :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014


So this is why I couldn't make an update post right away mid November.  My first items once I calibrated was I decided to print Africa!  My sister-in-law is in Africa for the Peace Corps and I wanted to send her something special in our Christmas care package.  I found this item Thing 11159 which was a puzzle of Africa! I thought what a perfect item!  It was crunch time and I had to get this printed to send out our package ASAP since the shipping time is pretty long.

 Well I cant really rotate the image but here ya go! I happen to have 4 colors of filament, and 4 is all you need to have no 2 colors touch each other!!!! On some of the big countries I aborted the printed when 1-2 layers were left. This was to conserve plastic and time. 

Southern Portion 

Eastern Portion

Western Portion

 Hint Key

I had to add Gambia which can be found here 

4hrs a night for 4 days in a row! Basically 1 color a night. I cannot believe the quality of these prints. The printer is working perfectly now!  The only thing that could have made this better was if I was able to palletize with my printer so that I can load a bunch of countries for one color at one time. That way I wouldn't have to babysit it. Some of the small countries were only 2-3 minutes.

Problems fixed!!!!

I cannot even begin to say how excited I am to bring these updates.  I finally got my printer back up and running! It has been down since spring when I had the melt down on the extruder.  The second extruder just did a crappy job.  I couldn't find any solutions to the multitude of problems I was experiencing.  It was really upsetting and made me not even want to try.  I spent multiple Saturdays for hours on end trying to make it work. Finally I admitted complete defeat.  I was on the verge of cannibalizing my machine to make a new one all together.

I decided I was going to purchase a new hot end as a last effort, if it didn't work I would then indeed cannibalize my machine. Instead of choosing some random supplier and risking getting some garbage extruder like I did with my first replacement, I decided to go to my original supplier makerfarm.

I purchased a new Hexagon hot end, a new hobbed bolt, and a new Greg's Accessible Extruder (printed parts only since I figured my previous bearings and everything were still good). I also purchased the extruder so that I knew that the gears would mesh right since mine were very worn.  I put my full trust MakerFarm

The day it came I spent the rest of the night getting everything together and in place.
Hot end and fan. It was stressed to me how important it was to cool the body of the hotend during the print.  Do not skip using a fan that blows on the body! Not on the tip where the plastic comes out, just the body. (Now makes me wonder if that was part of the problem with my second hotend?)  The other thing I love about this new hotend is that little rubber booty that holds in the thermister and insulates the tip of the extruder.  Very nice upgrade!

Extruder . Looking good :)

I then went into calibration mode (haha seems there is never ending tweaking with these machines) I followed the steps here for calibration.  Everything worked like a charm. Now time to test the machine out. All of this update actually happened in mid November but I had to hold off for specific reason :) More revealed in the next post.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Printer Issues Update

I know it has been forever, yet again. But I am at a complete loss. I do not know what is wrong with my printer, I can seem to find a fix, and my frustration pushes me away from it.  Ever since the printer melt down and replacing the extruder it just does not work properly.  I have spent 3-4 Saturdays with 6-8 hours of working on the printer and I still have not solved anything.  I do not know if it is related to the new thermistor, the new resistor, the new hot end, plastic, etc.    Below are some of issues:

A simple calibration stepped block as some serious issues. The overall quality looks terrible. At the top it looks like it just got too hot. 

Top down shows more of the carnage 

Clearly it is not bridging well either over the 5mmx5mm opening on this side

I dont even know what to say about this side.

I have done countless calibrations, I have tried temps, extrude rates, speed, suckback, and truly anything.  I even switched to green plastic wondering if my plastic was bad. That print looked similar to this but even worse yet.
Can I just say wowwwww.....

Might be hard to see, but corners are flattened as well.

If anyone sees this and has idea I am all ears! I want to get back into the hobby but cant handle the current frustration levels.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hot end replaced

So I got the printer back up and running. I replaced the hot end, thermister, and resistor. I ran into a compatibility issue though! I ordered a new J-hotend not realizing there could be some major difference. When I took my old extruder off I instantly noticed a difference. My old one is on top. The new one on the bottom....
Notice anything difference besides for color and the resistor stuck in it? How about that nice brass fitting on top of the new one.... It is being used to hold a liner in. In the old extruder there was an open set screw to hold the liner in. Of course this new extruder wont fit my print head...

In this picture you can see the bottom of my print head. The old extruder used to nest nicely in that depression. The new one the fitting is in the way like stated. 

My fix? Drill it out. I just used a big drill bit and kept drilling deeper and deeper until the clearance was correct. I was then able to mount the new extruder. 

When it came time to print I noticed I had to set it at 20° hotter to get good flow? Is this an issue with the new head? Or maybe the thermister is just out of whack compared to the old one? Only time will tell. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Melt Down!!!! What a cruel April Fools Joke

So I went to continue printing the next gear I needed for updating my extruder gears on April Fools Day... As the printer was heating up i thought to myself "this should be heated up by know, as I turned to look I instantly knew something was wrong. The printer was smoking!

I quickly slammed my office door shut to make sure the stink didnt spread through the house, i whipped open the window to let the air flow and unplugged everything as fast as I could.  Material was oozing out everywhere, the nozzle just sliding out as if there were no threads present to hold it in.

 I dont know if the thermistor fell out or if it just failed. The printer just kept heating without shutting off.

 The arrow points to the thermistor. If you look you will see all the threads exposed on the nozzle. Normally not a single thread shows. It got hot enough that it was melting the main body of the extruder. I ordered a new thermistor  for $2.83 and a new extruder for $32.99 and both arrived today. Lets see if I can get it up and running! 

Saturday, March 29, 2014


I have been so extremely busy at work lately that I decided I needed to print something fun to take a moment and relax. I decided that I would print the featured thing on the thingiverse which was an elephant that is printed all at once but has 2 movable pairs of legs. Elephant . This was a great print. After it got started I decided to walk away for a while since it was going to be a few hours. When I came back this is what I saw. The print had "completed" and I was left with an open shell!

I was a little frustrated after having all that time pass and this was the end result. I then took a look at the Gcode file and sure enough it stopped at a height a few mm shorter than what it was supposed to be. I tried slicing the file a few more times and still ended up with the same/similar gcode file. What was going on?

I wasnt going to give up so I left the elephant attached to the print bed while I figured out a plan. My soft stops for the printer are set at twice the height of the print so that couldnt be the issue. There was just something wrong with the gcode. I never did find out the exact cause but I eventually got it to slice with the full length in the file. I then opened the gcode file for some editing. 

I measured the height of my print by stepping the nozzle up and down in pronterface until it just touched off the top of the print. I then took the gcode file and deleted all the lines of code (except the opening settings at the start of the file) up to the height that I touched off at. I then added a line of code to the starting line that made it move up to height higher than the elephant before it would move to the first print point on the file. 

After a few times of trial and error and adding and deleting sections of code to hone in on the correct height I was able to finish the print!

So you will notice the elephant is printed laying down. The legs are then able to be stood up due to the way they nest in the print. You can tell where it had messed up because the seem was shifted a little forward but it still finished the print. 

You'll notice how crappy my trunk looks. This is because of a known issue with my printer that I need to fix. There is a terrible amount of backlash in my extrusion gear. When it does a "suck" maneuver in the code the gear turns backwards. It then takes a few mm of material before the gear catches and starts extruding again. 

Time to print some new extrusion gears!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fan Cooling

So after my recent issues I decided it was finally time to get my fan hooked up to the electronics board.  I had designed my enclosure with a slot on top to fit a fan for forced cooling across the heat sinks. Up until now I have had a little dinky fan blowing through the holes in the end. Not really effective for anything probably.

I have a pile of old power supply fans. This one came out of a server power supply and is very powerful. I hook it to a 9V battery now and then for some rapid cooling on the spot.  I figured it would be a good match for this.

I designed this little adapter for it. Basically it takes the fan opening and channels it down to be a slot that matches up with the board enclosure. I printed the holes at the exact diameter of the screws knowing it would be slightly smaller as most inside diameters are when 3d printing. This smaller diameter allows me to treat the machine screws as self tapping (threading the holes as turned into them).

 Next I drew up this little fan shroud to make sure I dont stick my fingers in ;)

Stack them all up and it is complete. I "glued" the adapter directly to the enclosure using pure acetone and a q-tip. I went around the edge a few times to seal up any little gaps I saw. 

Well once I hooked this to my power supply I got quite the surprise. Sure I knew it was a few more volts but dddddaaa####*** this thing is so turbo you can feel the air blowing out any orifice from a few feet away.  Needless to say, I am going to install an inline switch and turn it on only now and then during longer prints. I might need to downgrade the fan a little since it is just so powerful.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Its alive again!

So originally I thought it was just the resistor. With a little help from the forums I discovered it might also be the Mosfet which helps regulate the power to the hot end. There was no guarantee that either of these were the issue. I was definitely going to replace the resistor at a minimum. The resistor was in very rough shape. It is bubbled out and has half a dozen cracks where it split open. This was definitely a major problem!

After replacing the resister I still had no heat.  Some recommendations were just to replace the entire circuit board. I decided I would save a little money and buy 2 of the mosfet that might be the issue. $0.88/ea plus a small fee for shipping.  I replaced it and boom I had heat again!!!! I was so excited. This was a very cheap fix, and now I have a spare mosfet and resister if it ever happens again.

This is where the component on the board is that I had to replace. Keep in mind I had to de-solder 8 legs on the old one and re-solder the 8 legs on the new one. It was definitely tricky!

Here you can see the old mosfet sitting on a dime, see those 8 tiny legs? The also you can see the bulging resister I had to replace in the hot end. Its hard to see the cracks in it but they are there. 

Once I got it up and running I reprinted the little snowflake vase I was trying to print from before.

Coming up next: I am finally going to finish the enclosure for my circuit board. seen here
it has a slot on top that I have been meaning to attach a fan too. Working on that for this weekend's project. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Catch Up Time! Dead hot end :(

Ok so I know I have had posts like this in the past. Apologizing for not posting anything in a long time. Well now that fall/winter has set in I will definitely have more time. This summer with the new house and a new kitten was so crazy! Awesome though.

I did make one update to the printer, to allow more power to the heat bed, I added an old laptop power supply to run my gen 6 electronics and stepper motors.

Ok so about the only notable thing that I have made since moving was a toy for the cat.  He has been so playful and constantly attacks our ankles so I decided to make him a toy to add to his never ending pile of things to play with.

Thing 17239 Is what I decided to go with. I decided to scale it down a little from the original size. I don't remember what I scaled it as. All I know is Wronny loved it! The first picture is the print before I cleaned it up a little.

Action Shot. He chased it around for a very long time that day!

Another action shot. 

If I print this again I will not scale it down. He knocked it down the basement stairs a few too many times and it busted open. If it had been at full scale it probably would have been stronger. 

So this brings me to today, we were checking out the new 3d print shop in town and my wife saw a few things she liked. So I decided I would make something similar since it was a fairly simple Thing 35246 Just a simple snowflake vase (print the item with 0% infill) I started printing and things were going great. About 1/4 of the way through the print I glanced over and saw it was messing up big time! I quickly looked at pronterface and it was saying something like "Cold Extrusion Prevented". My hot end has bit the dust. It stopped keeping heat and was dropping fast. It now no longer works. ARG. Going to have to do some fixing I guess. 

Here is the print as far as it made it. I will just turn it into a Christmas Ornament to hang on the tree since it didn't finish. 

If you have any ideas how to get my hot end going again please let me know!!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Safer Wiring!

Way back in the beginning  when I wired up the heat bed I used some old computer cables that I had. Seen Here It worked for a while and was great except for one thing.. The wire is 16ga and couldn't handle the amps that were required for the heat bed. I noticed this within a few weeks of printing when the plug started to turn brown.  The picture below shows the plug as it was when I just re-set the printer back up.

The yellow wire that was in the power supply is severely damaged. It also melted the protector plate on the power supply. I knew it was too hot and never printed without me sitting right there. I also always kept a fire extinguisher next to the printer in case the worst happened. I had tried to extend the life of the plugs by attaching some ceramic to pull the heat out and then have a mini computer fan blowing on that. 

Upon moving into the new house I felt very obligated to correct this problem. Especially because I eventually plan on this being set up in my workshop in the basement. 

I recently did some rewiring of the bathroom lights  (no worries it is all up to code and has the proper gage wire) and I had a small scrap of 14ga wire that I had cut out. I also had an extra single pole switch(since I now have 3 way lighting in the bathroom). I cut off the plugs and wired it properly.

There is a celebrity appearance in this photo of our really tiny kitten Wronskian (Wronny). 

I will print a box that is a little smaller and a cover plate as one of the near future projects. 

I did still leave the computer cable with molex connections hooked up for the cooling fans. It made it really easy to just plug the fans in and I can unplug them when I want. Further down the road I will have them on toggle switches. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


We finally moved into the new house. After being here a month and taking care of some serious priorities, I finally got around to setting up my printer. We had both got our offices painted, and been doing some serious yard work. It's a lot to keep all this lawn mowed, pool clean, and gardens growing! Just last weekend got my new desk, made sure it was an "L" so that I could have room for the printer. I hooked up the computer last week, which was nice since I didn't have it up and running for 6 weeks. Now the printer.

I am going to try to get it fully set up this weekend and get it printing again! I have a relay for life in 2 weeks and my company has been doing tons of fundraising (we are number 1 for the county so far). I am going to try to come up with some little item that can be sold at the event. Lets see if I can come up with something!