Tag Archives: 3D Printing

Rebuilding the 3D printer

A long long time ago, I wrote a blog post about trying to assemble a new Folger Tech 3D printer. Long story short, I was given a bad Arduino board that started to smoke as soon as it was plugged. I spent weeks trying to get help from Folger to check my wiring, because to the best of my knowledge I had followed their instructions and I didn’t know what was wrong. Well after getting a response from them saying “Looks fine to me” and Reddit users not being able to help I looked for a cheap replacement for the board and found the electronics from an online store that shipped from china. I got a new board, shield, and 5 motor controls for under $20.

Reassembling the 3D printer

After a couple months of procrastination, I finally decided to rip apart the printer and install the new electronics. This wasn’t the first time I had to disassemble part of the printer, tear apart the electronics and reassemble them. The only good thing from that is practice makes perfect. This is the fourth time having to go through the process and that makes it easier. It’s also nice to have a second set of hands, I had a helper who was able to catch falling screws, hold wires, and check the instructions when my hands were full.

Before I started doing anything to the printer, I re-watched a video on Youtube of a guy that assembled the same printer and got it working. Even when I was following along with the video, I didn’t do anything different, so I’m pretty sure the only issue was the bad board.

Once I got everything reinstalled, plugging it in was the most nerve racking part of the entire process. I didn’t want to have it start smoking again because I really did wire in something wrong. Luckily I had nothing to fear, plugging it in didn’t cause anything to smoke and that was a huge relief to me. I was able to calibrate the motor controls and nothing started to burn even as it was on for around 15 minutes.

Firmware/Computer Software

The next stage was getting the firmware installed on the Arduino. Another rookie mistake I learned. Install the firmware before you connect everything together. The firmware (and configuration) was provided by Folger Tech and for some reason I couldn’t install it from my mac once everything  on the 3D printer was connected to the board. The computer knew there was a serial connection, but couldn’t do anything with it. After reinstalling drivers and googling fixes, I finally gave up and decided to try another computer. I installed the Arduino IDE and Repitier Host onto my new windows 10 “gaming” laptop that I just got for Christmas and hoped that would work. Luckily it did, I was able to upload the firmware without having to disassemble the printer for the fifth time.

I was able to connect to the printer using Repititer. I set up the software’s configuration and tested the end stops on the printer. It seemed like the printer and computer was working well, so I tried to send the “go home” command to the printer, so the nozzle would move to the default position… Well, guess what happened.

What’s next?

This isn’t the end, I’m currently messing with more configurations for the 3D printer and the Repitier software, I’m not sure what I need to do next but I’ll figure it out eventually. Hopefully sometime soon you’ll see a post with my first actual print.

Assembling a Delta 3D Printer

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve written something about hardware. I’ll share a current project of mine that has taken some interesting turns. Something that is all the age right now is 3D printing. Most assembled printers range from $400 to $800 and that can range on a lot of things from filament type to the hardware in use. Kits generally run cheaper, because you have to assemble them yourself. A coworker found a really nice kit at a cheap price, so my dad and I jumped on the offer. There’s two kinds of 3D printers that use only 3 axises, one that moves how you’d expect in a square grid fashion with (x, y, z) coordinates. The second kind is called a delta 3d printer and uses three arms to print an object within a cylinder shaped area.

First Attempt

When I first got everything shipped to my house, I had already filled through the directions online. Everything seemed simple enough, it was just some nuts and  bolts, plugging in electronics, and a touch of soldering. However when I went to put it together after pulling everything out of the boxes. I found that I didn’t even have the right tools! so I repacked everything and had to wait for the weekend so I could take it home to work on it with my dad.

Second Attempt

My second attempt went a lot smoother, mainly because my dad was there and has every tool I needed. He was also able to help me decipher the instructions because as easy as I thought it was. The whole build took two days of straight work to get it fully assembled. The printer looks great fully assembled.

The first thing the instructions say to do after assembly is to calibrate the motor controls using an acrylic wrench. On the third motor controller, While we were adjusting it, we saw smoke coming out of the back. My dad and I quickly turned it off and didn’t touch it after that. I tried to connect my computer to the Arduino that runs the controllers and I wasn’t able to get it to register on my Mac.

I made a reddit post to r/3Dprinting and was told I had a common case of magic smoke. Basically I fried the electronics and I can’t fix it so I need to go buy a new set of boards and try again, hopefully not frying everything this time. However, I can’t find any damage on the boards from the smoke.. I’m not even sure what started to smoke!

What’s Next for the Delta 3D Printer?

You can see photos of my current progress here.

Right now, I want to avoid buying a set of replacement electronics if possible. As soon as I can, I want to remove the shield and motor controls so I can test the Arduino by itself. If that’s still unresponsive, then i guess it’s safe to assume that’s fried and I’ll need to buy a new board. However I’m not sure how to test the shield or controllers by themselves. I might just have to buy a whole new set of electronics and get them working soon. I really want to see how this printer works.

The first thing I want to build is replacement parts for my printer. About a third of the delta 3D printer is made out of printed parts. It is smart to have spares on hand in case something wears out or breaks. I’d also like to build extensions like a mount for a larger fan, or possibly wire clips that fit into the 2020 frames. One day I want to use this printer to build a lot of cool knick-nacks for around the house and for everyday use, like a money clip or a headphones holder so they don’t get tangled. My coworker uses his to build prosthetic hands for a non-profit group, that would definitely be something I’d be interested in building at some point.