Nearly there! The hotends have arrived!

I got a nice parcel delivered today. Two nicely build hotends for my new Prusa Reprap. After all the issues with the Huxley, the Prusa has been a total doddle. The last piece I needed for it was a hotend, and after having some issues sourcing some of the components, I had a look on eBay for any pre-built ones. I found one guy shipping some from Poland that looked perfect for what I needed, not only did they have all the molex connectors already done in a way that is compatible with my Sanguinololu board, but he was offering a twin pack with one .5mm and one .25mm nozel. Oh, and a pre hobbed bolt too!

Prusa build

So, with the body built and the electronics tested, all I have to do is figure out how to attach the hotend and I can start building. I’ve already posted a video a few days ago of the body moving nicely, which is further than I ever got with the Huxley. Never know, maybe by this weekend I’ll be able to print something! Just have to finish work first.

Here’s the video of the first test of the electronics.

Prusa build

Huxley on Hold

I didn’t want to do it, but I’ve had to give up on my Techzonecom model Huxley printer. I’ve spent another couple of hours on it today and decided it just isn’t worth the hassle. It certainly helped that I found someone on eBay selling printed parts for a Prusa for a decent price.

The Huxley isn’t totally lost, there are many options open to me to get it working, once I have a working printer. Its a chicken and egg problem.

One thing I do have to say, and it seems I’m getting backed up on the forums about this, is never buy anything from TechZone Communications. They seem to have lost the plot and have a long stream of unhappy customers, as well as a below par product. Besides missing parts in the kit I received, and electronics that burst into flame, it also in my opinion is a poorly designed reprap printer. Captive nuts are needed to be melted into the plastic parts, the extruder is external to the main printer with no easy way to mount it and the electronics are just shoddy.

I bought my kit via a UK company called RepRap Central who it turns out are resellers of TechZoneCom kits. I didn’t know this before I bought it, and they don’t make any mention to TechZoneCom. They do however sell other brands of printers, including MakerBot. Communications with RepRap Central are pretty good, and they do have good prices on filament.

So, I’ve got the plastic parts for a Prusa on order, I’ve got plenty of hardware, I’ve got a completed Gen 7 electronics kit built. Hopefully the parts will be arriving next week, and I can have a start at building it. Unfortunately, I’m off to the states for a while for work, so its going to get put on hold for a little while.

Hopefully the Prusa will be a little easier.

Replacement electronics are here!

The replacement electronics for my Reprap Huxley arrived today at long last. I’ve had them plugged in for nearly an hour over dinner, and no flames. Good start!

I think this evening and weekend are going to be devoted to trying to get my printer working. I hope nothing else turns out to be faulty with the kit I bought. I’m already very disappointed with the quality of it overall. If I had a better understanding of the whole Reprap process, I would have gone with just ordering the plastic parts from somewhere and building my own. I’m sure I’ll do a full write up on it at some point.

To recap, I’ve got the frame built with all the stepper motors mounted and the belts in place. So all(?) I have left to do is:

  • Calibrate the electronics
  • Finish the extruder – Just needs the motor mounting I think, and the tube inserting.
  • Finish the hot end – All gunged up, just needs the electronics attaching to the nichrome wire and thermocouple.
  • Mount the hot end
  • Mount the end stops

Once all that is done, I may actually be able to start testing. The testing is going to be a long process I think, I very much doubt I’ll be printing quality objects from the start. Lots and lots of wasted plastic doing test prints, levelling the base, etc. Still, if I can finish this weekend with an actual printed object I’ll be happy. Roll on 5pm when I finish work!

3d Roadblocks

Okay, its been a little longer than I hoped for for an update, but it has been Christmas so I’m using that as an excuse.

The build of the huxley was going very nicely until I hit a few snags with the kit I’d ordered. Firstly, there are nowhere near enough nuts, bolts and washers provided to complete the kit. I ran out before I’d even finished the frame, let alone mounted the motors, built the extruder, or made the idlers. Huxley

Secondly, the belt for the X axis was too short, so I couldn’t fit that.

Thirdly, the electronics actually burst into flames on me whilst testing and configuring the motors. This was before I’d actually done anything bar plug the power supply in. To say I wasn’t impressed doesn’t quite cut it! Oh, and the analogue to digital converter for the hotend was missing.

So, considering I got a kit for hassle free construction of my first printer, I’m not overly enamoured with it. The UK company have put me in touch with the manufacturer to get things sorted, and they have said they will send out the replacement/missing parts from the states, so hopefully things will get sorted, but I could’ve had a nice working 3d printer by Christmas had everything been right in the first place. The instructions on the wiki also leave a lot to be desired, especially the hotend page, which were for a totally different design. Only one photo showed the model I’d got.

In the meantime, whilst waiting for the replacement parts, I’ve done some research into the electronics available for the various reprap machines, and have decided to build my own electronics based on the generation 7 schematics on the wiki. These electronics all fit onto a single sided PCB, so nothing complicated, and seem to be relatively simple. In fact, I bought a pre-made board off eBay, and had most of the other electronics already ‘in stock’ in my cellar. The gen 7 boards also use pluggable stepper motor drivers, which mean that if one does burn out, then you can simply plug another one in, unlike the kit electronics where everything is surface mounted and impossible to replace.

With all this, I’m hoping I can get a chance this weekend to finish off the electronics and get the main body of the printer working. I’ve built the extruder, mounted the motors, and got all the belts on, so all that is left is the calibrate and level it all, and build the hotend. I’m hoping the hotend will be fairly straight forward, but as I’ve no real instructions, just one picture to go off, I’m going to be very careful!

Anyway, here’s some pictures!

Main frame
X Axis
Y Axis
Y Axis in place
X and Z Axis in place








In other news, I’ve been rather impressed with how easy Google SketchUp is to use. I’ve been messing around with it to design the parts for me printed quadcopter. For a beginner who just wants to make simple parts to be printed on a reprap, it is perfect. Install the plugin for exporting to STL files, and you can both upload these to thingiverse, and import into most of the 3d printer software that is available for the repraps.

Also, slightly related, I’ve actually had a quadcopter flying with the Arducopter controller. It was only a brief test as I managed to crash it and shatter 3 of the blades. Spare blades only arrived on Christmas eve, so not had a chance to do much more with it. Just waiting for some better weather so I can fly it outdoors. I’ve managed to snag myself and OpenPilot Copter Control board too last week which should be arriving any day. This is a halfway house between a simple KK Multicopter controller, and the full blown ArduPilot Mega. I’ve got the APM telemetry kit coming soon too, so I can take my laptop and get live telemetry from my quadcopter. Unfortunately, my laptop battery has developed a fault, so the only way I’ll be able to do that at the moment is if I can fly it somewhere with a power socket nearby!

So, hopefully next week I’ll be reporting that my printer is done, and will at least have done a couple of nice test prints. I think my first actual things to be printed will be brackets and improvements to the printer tho’.

The construction begins…

Two parcels arrived this morning, one a 2.3kg reel of 3mm ABS filament, the other was a surprisingly small box full of plastic and metal. Otherwise known as a RepRap Huxley 3d printer! A little over 3 weeks past the expected delivery date, but at least its here now.

Unfortunately, work got in the way of me doing much, but an hour of my ADSL being broken over dinner meant I could at least open up and check the contents. I must say, it is smaller than I was expecting, but thats a good thing. This should fit nicely on my desk and not take up too much room. The box contains everything you need to build the printer, bar tools of course. This kit is actually an import from the states, sold through a UK company who I assume buy a load of these and then ship them out locally. It did come with a US power cord on the PSU, but for me that isn’t exactly a show stopper! No instructions are included, instead everything you need is online on a wiki, and in numerous videos supplied by other people who have built them and in true open source fashion, contributed back to the project. In this vein, I’m hopefully going to improve the instructions on the wiki a little. I’ve already spotted a few areas that could be improved.

Wonder how long this is going to take me!?

Plastic parts, and metal rods.