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.