Archive for May, 2017

Monoprice Maker Select Plus Upgrades

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Because I don’t know when to stop, I’m going to start working on upgrades for my printer.

 

1. Filament Guide

Apparently one of the common problems is that slack in the filament can cause tangles- the best way to work around this is a filament guide. The first filament guide I printed was loose- too loose to use by itself. The second style just didn’t print properly, even trying to print it 2 different ways. I ended up using a command strip to stick the first one in place, and that seems to be working for the time being. Perhaps later I can modify the model and make it a little better fit.

2.  Thumbwheels

Another common problem is that the all-metal thumbwheels will jiggle free over time, causing the bed to unlevel. The Solution is to use nylon locking nuts (nylock nuts) , but they’re so tiny you wouldn’t be able to adjust them- that’s where the 3d printed thumbwheels come in. The nylocks go on the underside of the printed thumbwheel, allowing better control and a more coarse texture than the metal thumbwheels. So far they’re working well.

3. Octoprint

While it’s not a direct mod, I printed a 3d case for a raspberry pi and loaded the pi with a custom OS called Octoprint. It controls the printer over USB so you’re not constantly inserting and removing sdcards. In addition, it gives you a nice web interface where you can upload your gcode files, track the print progress, and tweak configurations. It even lets you time-lapse control a pi camera to see the status and verify things haven’t went off the rails.

4. Allen Wrench and Scraper Hook Support

This is more of a utility modification than anything- with the 3d prints, you usually need to scrape the print off the bed when it’s complete, which means you have a standard scraper always laying around. This gives you a hook to store the scraper on, as well as slots to place the allen wrenches.

5. Fun Fan cooler

My original intention was to go with the Dii cooler, but after some investigation I came across the fun fan cooler, which looks like an earwig’s behind.  it has a few print flaws which I’m going to attempt to fix and re-release it on thingiverse. So far it’s greatly improved the quality of my prints. Update: My attempt to fix the model failed miserably. I still have a lot to learn about organic modelling.

6. Pi Cam Arm

I’ve found a decent arm/camera holster for my raspberry pi camera, which should allow me to create timelapse videos. I still don’t have a great base due to the short cable I’m working with, but that should be remedied tomorrow. In the mean time, here’s a video:  https://goo.gl/photos/AiX6PCX5Z45nR1Bu8  This was my second print of the Earwig vent/ Fun Fan Cooler.

7. Glass Bed

My glass bed has arrived, but the thermal pad won’t be here until Saturday. Between now and then I’ll have to print clips.

 

Future Plans

Right now I’m planning on the following upgrades:

  1. Z braces. I saw the tower shake a surprising amount during quick y axis movements- Z braces basically add a hypotenuse to the intersecting structure of the printer. The ones I’m looking at will have levelling feet. Update: Unfortunately, these are for the maker select, not the select plus, so they won’t fit. I’ll need to design my own.
  2. Metal Hotend with slotted block. Microswiss makes a nice hotend that supposedly works much better.
  3. Hardened steel nozzle. Another Microswiss upgrade that’ll let me work with a wider array of materials and temperatures.
  4. Machined lever and extruder plate. The existing level that holds the filament in place will warp over time- this one won’t.

Overall this has been an interesting diversion so far.

 

Time to Print

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After finally getting my 3d printer, I thought I should start keeping track of what I’m doing.

Printer: Monoprice Maker Select Plus

Standard Filament: MP Select PLA Plus+ Premium 3D Filament (white)

After Unboxing it and getting everything aligned, I printed 1.gcode and 2.gcode from the SD card that came with it using the yellow PLA filament that came with it. The first was a small elephant, the second was a swan.

Quick Backstory

I had played a bit with FreeCAD while waiting for the print and had followed a tutorial for creating a “lego.”

As you may or may not know, There are 2 steps in designing a 3d part

  • designing the regular 3d object in 3d modeling software like 3DSM, Maya, Blender, FreeCAD, etc to create an STL file.
  • converting the STL with a slicer program like Cura into a gcode file.

The Gcode is basically a set of assembly-like instructions for controlling the printer- move 2mm, extrude, move 3mm, retract, travel 10mm, etc. What’s important to note is that Cura needs to be configured for your specific printer model.

  • The good news is that Monoprice ships with a free copy of Cura
  • The bad news is that they only include the exe version
  • The good news is you can run it with wine
  • The bad news is that it’s not only in chinese(?), but fails to install with an error (that is also not in english).

This makes it really hard to configure Cura properly. My first attempts did not go great, but after doing a bit of research, I found that the  “Prusa i3 Mk2” model was “close enough” with some minor modifications:

Monoprice Maker Select Plus Cura Settings, Mostly correct

 

Back to the Real Story

The Lego

After some tinkering and trial and error, I was able to print my self-designed lego sliced with my own copy and configured version of Cura, however somewhere along the way it became supersized. It fits roughly 3 regular lego pegs to every 2 on my block. I’m not sure where things fell apart, but I need to re-examine the FreeCad file and get the calipers out to figure out if the instructions were wrong or if I did something incorrect.

Anyways, the Lego used up almost the last of my sample yellow, so I opened my new standard filament, the white PLA from monoprice.

The Drow Wizard

The first thing I printed was a Drow Wizard from Shapeways. it was fairly complex, and so-far the printer is completely untuned, so it’d give me a good idea of what I’m working with.

It was pretty rough. There were a lot of strings between the staff and the figure, and the face had no detail. After a bit of cleanup, it’d be passable for kids, but it was still lower quality than I was hoping for

The Filament Guide

The next thing I printed was the filament guide upgrade for the printer itself. This was my first time using a support, and man did it waste a lot of filament. After some cleanup, it came out decent, but still had some print flaws- namely a hole in the top of the guide arm where the top layer wasn’t think enough and inside the “C” at the top, the edges pulled away from the rest of the print. It’s probably still usable, but I’ll eventually print a better one.

The first “real use” part was a Raspberry Pi 3 case I found on Thingiverse. The Top came out rather nice (but still has some flaws), and I’m waiting for the bottom to finish as I type this.

While waiting, I’ve done a bit of research on some of the flaws I’ve noticed and am coming up with a list of things to try. Before I make any further adjustments, I’m going to print a 3dSketchy boat that is commonly used for calibration tests. Once I do that, I’ll probably print 3 or 4 more, trying different configurations and tweaks.

 

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