Big ol’ printer

A few years back I purchased a large form 3d printer, the Creality CR10-S5. This has a bed size of 500x500mm, and can print over 500mm high. Just about right for a single print R2 dome!

However, since getting it I’ve managed to get one half decent print off it. The problem is that this size bed is pretty much the limit of the standard Prusa design. That means that bed levelling is a real pain, and therefore first layer adhesion is a problem. Doesn’t help when the supplied glass can be bowed quite badly.

Oh, and did I mention loud? Even on a couple of inches of foam to cushion it off the floor it could be heard all over the house. Not good when you are wanting to do prints that may take over a week of constant printing.

Upgrades

So all that being said, it has been sat idle for well over a year. I just couldn’t be bothered with the faff of getting a print working on it, and then not being able to sleep because of the constant whine. Thing is, its a big piece of kit to sit idle, not to mention fairly expensive, so I decided to research a few upgrades.

So far, I have done the following:

  • Added stepper dampers
  • Added a PEI metal sheet for the bed
  • Added a BLTouch sensor
  • Replaced the motherboard

DamperS

The dampers are just some shock absorber addons to try and reduce any vibration from the actual motors. This was the first upgrade I did on the X and Y axis, tho it didn’t have that much effect.

PEI Sheet

The PEI sheet I got seeing as my official Prusa Mk3S has one, and it is very useful. Just needs a clean after every print with IPA and the next print will stick with no issues. Tho it does need to be heated to work properly I’ve found

BLTouch

The BLTouch probe allows for automatic bed levelling. It doesn’t actually level the bed, but it probes a number of spots and the firmware then compensates as you are printing. The bed still needs to be reasonably level, but it does mean you don’t have to level after every single print.

Motherboard

Now this last one. Replacing the motherboard is a bit of an understatement. I basically threw away all the electronics that came with the printer and put new ones in. From the power supply, to the motherboard, to the stepper drivers. The drivers you use can have a lot of effect on the noise of the steppers, so I wanted to go with Trinamic based ones as they can run the steppers really quietly. To get these to work, I got a BigTreeTech SKR 1.3 motherboard, and five drivers. For power I got a 12V 30A power supply, it needs the high current for the heated bed.

The added benefit to this is that it is now a 32bit based machine, with much fewer memory restrictions, and can run Marlin 2.0 firmware. I’ve actually forked the Marlin firmware repo to keep track of the changes I make to the config files:

Results

So far, I am very pleased with how the printer is now running. Bed levelling is a lot easier/non existant, first layer adhesion seems reliable, and we can hardly hear it running in the house, just a dull whine when its doing certain operations.

I’ve also been using PrusaSlicer, rather than the more usual Cura, so I’ve had to do my own profile for the printer. It still needs a few tweaks, but the results are good.

Future Work

Its still not perfect. There are a few things I still want to do to make printing more reliable and to speed it up.

  • Braces – The top part of the printer can move quite a bit, so I want to brace this. Might also stop some of the resonance.
  • Heated bed cable cover – The cable to the heated bed can get caught or frey, causing many issues and possibly a fire. I want to strengthen that up.
  • Tweaks to Marlin – The BLTouch is still a bit temperamental so some more tweaks are needed on that front
  • Tweaks to print profile – Still a fair bit of stringing, so the retraction needs increasing. Its also very slow on some operations so I need to find the balance between speed and quality.
  • Tidy up – Well, its taken a lot of messing to get it working, and the area around the printer is a state, as well as cables coming out everywhere and the MOSFET for the motherboard hanging loose. Everything (including the Raspberry Pi running Octoprint) needs to be tidied up somewhat.

I’m glad I finally got round to doing all this work, I was seriously at the stage where I thought I was going to get rid of it. But whilst its not up to official Prusa standards, its actually not too bad.

Obligatory Blog List

Most of the things I write are over on my droid blog but I thought it was about time I did a post on here, and what better than an obligatory list post!

A lot of my TV viewing is Youtube based, and I’m always talking to others about some of the channels I watch. Here is a cultivated list of some of my favourites in a few different categories.

Maker channels

This is a list of channels from the maker community, from woodwork to forge work.

  • Tested.com – Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame, along with other tech and geek reviews.
  • Alec Steele – Brit now moved to Montana, lots of metal work and some fine detail jewelery.
  • April Wilkerson – Wood working mainly, including a recent build of a massive shop.
  • AvE – Mad canadian, lots of hints and tips, along with tool tests and teardowns. Plenty of swearing and no holds barred.
  • Clickspring – Insane amount of detail and precision on this channel, so hypnotic to watch.
  • Colin Furze – Modern British mad scientist/inventor. Builds many dangerous contraptions in his workshop.
  • I Like To Make Stuff – Just what it says on the tin. Various DIY home projects and other fun builds.
  • Jimmy DiResta – The original Youtube maker, insane skills and brilliant builds.
  • Kris Harbour – Lots of sustainable building as he constructs an off grid homestead.
  • Primitive Technology – Goes out into the bush with nothing but a camera and a pair of shorts. There he builds huts, kilns, fires bricks, generally goes back to nature.

Space

Various channels that give information about space travel.

  • Everyday Astronaut – Bought a russian space suit, took some photographs, now a space science informer. Covers all aspects of rocket science and launches.
  • Scott Manley – Originally got popular from playing Kerbal Space Program, now does deep dives into rocket theory and reports on space activities.
  • TMRO – Weekly space news, interviews, generally keeps you up to date with what is going on in space.
  • The Vintage Space – All about the history of space travel and the people who made it a reality.

Science

All sorts of science and technology videos.

  • Applied Science – Crosses the line between theory and application, builds various demos of scientific principals.
  • Because Science – Where geek culture and science meet. How do super powers work?
  • Cody’s Lab – Science in the real world. Recovering gold, real life minecraft, taking a bath in mercury.
  • Curious Droid – Takes a look at aerospace technology, from past to present into the future.
  • Practical Engineering – Applies scientific principles in the real world, with many civil engineering examples.
  • Real Engineering – A wide ranging dive into various technologies and the science behind them.
  • Smarter Every Day – One of the biggest science channels on YouTube, covers topics on anything that takes his fancy, just dives in and figures out how things work.
  • Standup Maths – Maths problems, number theories, real world applications, all with a comedic style.
  • The Science Asylum – A great explainer of complex ideas such as quantum theory, relativity, and other deep physics ideas.
  • Veritasium – Covers science, education, and just about anything else he finds interesting.

Electronics

These channels cover restoration, dismantling, and building of electronic projects.

  • Big Clive dot com – Strips down various electronics goods, usually cheap chinese imports, to figure out how they work and review them at the same time.
  • Curious Marc – R2 Builder and old computer restorer.
  • EEVBlog – Mad Aussie with lots of knowledge of electronics, does tutorials and reviews of electronic devices.
  • James Bruton – Robot (including R2 and BB8) builder, gives some good overviews of how things work.

Misc

Have to have a misc section, various geeky or fun channels here.

  • Corridor Crew – Vlog of the team behind Corridor Digital. Some great tutorials on film making and special effects, along with fun games.
  • Corridor – This is where the Corridor Crew release their finished videos.
  • Fact Fiend – No nonsense guy talking about various topics, with many tangents throughout.
  • Fully Charged – All about electrics cars and other renewable energy solutions and projects. Hosted by Robert Llewellyn.
  • Sneaky Zebra – Cosplay videos and a few small features.
  • Slow Mo Guys – They film everything they can in super slow motion, usually at some form of bodily peril.
  • Tom Scott – Linguistics, quiz shows, amazing places, things you may not know. All whilst wearing a red t-shirt (definitely recommend watching Citation Needed on this channel)
  • Today I Found Out – A daily video about random facts.

That should do for now. I tend to find I watch videos from all these channels as soon as a new one is released. Theres plenty of back catalog to be going on with too.

Lack of updates

Wow, its been nearly a year since I last posted. Oops

Most of the things I do at the moment are R2 related, and I’ve moved that out into a separate blog, so thats where a lot of activity is:

https://r2djp.co.uk/

So I really need to do a post or two on here about what I’ve been doing recently that isn’t R2 related. Hopefully I will have some astrophotography stuff soon, and also have a couple of decent 3d printers.

I do want to do a post with an overview of my OpenHAB home automation too, as that is getting quite useful.

Oh, and I’ve also been getting into a few ham radio projects again!

Lets see if I actually do get round to writing about them all.