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Raiscube R2 3D Printer Review – Part 3: How to Install E3D Hotend Clone For Faster Prints

June 26th, 2017 3 comments

Karl here with the final article on Raiscube R2 3D printer for now. Going to talk about the challenges of this upgrade, and how to do it yourself. This has been one of the most frustrating projects that I have worked on. I set 3 goals for this upgrade:

  1. Simple as possible
  2. Least amount of modification to the printer
  3. ability to revert back

I don’t feel like I met my goals but I feel like I made it 90%. Trying to meet the simple as possible with least amount of modifications is what caused me so much grief.

What is needed

E3D Installation Steps

  1. Print 3 parts from Thingiverse above with 50% infill and .2 mm layer height
  2. Remove all the spiral wrap around all your wiring.
  3. Remove the tape for the fans, and disconnect all the wires going to them.
  4. Remove all the hardware off the x carriage and remove the metal x carriage bracket.
    1. First raise your x carriage most of the way up.
    2. Remove 3 screws holding on the cooling fans: 2 on the front 1 on the back.
    3. Remove the fan of stepper motor with 2 screws holding the fan on.
    4. Remove 2 on the bottom of the carriage to remove the stepper motor and hotend assembly.
      1. Remove the hotend from the stepper motor with the 2 setscrews on the front of the stepper motor the hotend will fall out.
      2. Follow heater cartridge and thermistor back to the board and disconnect.
    5. Remove the x belt from the carriage by cutting the 2 zip ties
    6. Remove the 9 screws on the back holding the bracket
  5. Now with your rotary tool remove a 32mmx20mm rectangle to make space for new hotend. Leave the 2 screws holes that mount the stepper motor in the event you want to revert back. Direct drives are sometimes easier with flexible filaments.
  6. Take the fan that was used to cool the stepper motor and install on the parts cooler.
  7. Assemble the E3D clone and bracket
    1. Disassemble the parts into bowden connector, heatsink, heat break, heater block, and nozzle. Leave the heater cartridge, and and thermistor in the heater block.
    2. Tighten the nozzle all the way into the heater block and back off between and ¼ and ½ a turn.
    3. Hand tight the heat break until it reaches the nozzle and take 2 pliers and tighten snugly. Be careful not to damage heater cartridge and thermistor. Don’t over tighten.
    4. Put some thermal paste on the top part of the heat break and screw on heatsink hand tight.
    5. Screw on bowden connector.
    6. Wrap the kapton tape around the heater block to insulate it from cooling fan. Wrap several times covering top bottom and sides.
    7. Mount on 3D printer bracket from thingiverse. Use some screws and bolts leftover from build. Sandwich between mount and clamp.
  8. Make the modified x carriage bracket and reinstall.
    1. Screw in all 9, and install the E3D assembly in bottom 2 left most screws.
    2. Install fan that came with the hotend with notched part up ensuring the fan is covering the bottom most fin.
    3. Install the new parts cooler in the left most screw hole that held old cooler.
  9. Run a new wire from the main power terminals feeding the board and connect to the fan that is cooling the hotend. It is imperative that this is running 100% at all times.
  10. Connect the parts cooler fan to the wire that goes to the fan terminal.
  11. Velcro the stepper motor to the top of the printer on the right side in the orientation that suits your needs. I feed mine from above.
    1. Lower the x axis by hand while screwing the Z couplers together and set the hot end the furthest away from the extruder stepper motor.
    2. Cut the bowden tube to suitable length to allow free movement and not bind. Keep in mind it will need to move all the way to the top.
    3. Install the bowden connector in stepper motor.
    4. On the end of of the bowden tube going to the hotend, bevel the outside edge with a knife and measure back 45mm and make a mark with a pen.
    5. Insert the marked end with the bevel into the hotend until the mark is as close as you can to the connector
    6. Press the other end into connector on stepper motor.
    7. Connect stepper motor wire.
  12. Either reinstall spiral wrap or use velcro to manage all your wires back the board and connect the hotend, and thermistor to the terminals.
  13. Adjust endstops and relevel the bed.
  14. Print

Printing

I have found I need to lower my print temperature from stock, and keep retractions down around 2.5mm. E3D recommends 2mm for direct drives and slightly longer on bowden setups. 2.5mm has worked well for me and turning down the temperature.

Wrap up

I don’t have anything that can weigh these small weights accurately but going by specs I removed about 184 grams or .4 lbs. Not too shabby. That is quite a bit of weight not being thrown around allowing faster speeds. It should be able to print at higher temps as well with an all metal heat break and allow more kinds of filament.

I wanted to explain why I had so much trouble with this upgrade. The step where removing a bit of the bracket is what caused it. I really didn’t want to do such an invasive modification to the printer and I tested several different mounts. I could never keep the heat break cool enough and it caused the heat to creep up the heat break and jam. It would work for about an hour then it would jam. Having an hour between iterations, and all that filament made this take a long time.

I would keep the piece that was cut out in case you need to go back to stock for some reason. The fan cooling the extruder stepper motor will blow down on your part and might cause issues. Some metal tape should be fine. Not a lot of heat should be transferred, and the glue should not burn.

I would really like to thank Gearbest for sponsoring this upgrade. If you do decide to perform this upgrade please think about purchasing from them (Coupon: CNXPrusa may help).

Raiscube R2 (Prusa I3 Clone) 3D Printer Review – Part 2: 3D Print Samples, E3D Clone Installation, Tips & Tricks

June 20th, 2017 No comments

Karl here with part 2 Exploring Raiscube R2. That is the official name by Raiscube. Gonna look at some more prints. Some mistakes I made in first part and some simple mods. Maybe not so much mistakes but an oversight.

Oversight / Mistake

So in the first part of Raiscube Prusa i3 review, I mentioned there were not very good instructions, and they sent a blank SD card with the kit. I was wrong. On first inspection, it looked like a factory sealed SD card but it is not. It is an 8 GB card with videos, instructions, pictures, parts list, STL, and gcode files as well as an old version of Cura. Not blank at all with about 1.5 GB of files. It didn’t include settings but if you install the latest Cura, it just takes a little tweaking to print well.

Official specs from SD card

Brand RAISCUBE
Model No. R2
Extruder Qty Single
Machine Size 450 x 420 x 480 mm
Printer Size 210 x 210 x 210 mm
Package Size 423 x 430 x 200 mm
Machine Weight 8.0 kg
Gross Weight 9.0 kg
Filament Colors White ,Red,Black,Blue,Green ,Yellow etc.
Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
Precision Z axis: 0.004 mm;  XY axis: 0.012 mm
Printing Precision 0.1-0.2 mm
Layer Thickness 0.1-0.4 mm
Nozzle diameter 0.4 mm
Power Supply 110/220V, 250W
Max Control Temp. Extruder 260 °C
Max Temp. of HotBed 100 °C
Recommend Temp. ABS:    Nozzle:235 °C  Hot Bed:100 °C
PLA:    Nozzle:200 °C  Hot Bed:50 °C
Printing Format STL/OBJ/G-code
System Compatibility Windows XP/Win7/Win 8/Linux/Mac
Language English
Connecting SD card/ USB

YouTube Videos

RAISCUBE R2 Leveling&Printing

RAISCUBE R2 Installation Video

RAISCUBE R2 Installation DEMO

With that being said I am not sure I would have struggled as much had I known the videos were available. I watched some of the videos but it is hard to know if I would have made the same mistakes.

Free mod

One of the complaints I had in the first part was that I had to level the bed after every print. I have been watching and reading a lot on 3D printing, and I ran across a video that was talking about placing a nut between the screw and the build plate and after trying myself it makes so much sense. Not only is it going to help make a moving plate more rigid it will compress the springs more. There were extra nuts in the kit so this one is a simple welcome freebie. I haven’t leveled the bed much at all after this. I also think it improves quality as well keeping the build plate more rigid.

Prints Before E3D Upgrade

New filament I just received. Some Blue WYZworks Blue PLA. I was tweaking at the bottom, so please ignore the under extrusion at the feet. I changed the flow back as soon as I noticed. All these prints are stock unless otherwise noted.

Another pre sliced file on sd card. Little trouble with overhangs. Overall prettygood. New tool holder

Last and final print on SD card. Kids liked this. Prints in one piece and moves as soon as removed from the print bed.

Moved into new office/work space, went onto thingiverse and printed off some hangers.

Orange Pi Lite development board case.

Joined the fidget spinner crowd, and printed off a bunch of these for son’s birthday party as gifts in different colors. About $1.30 each spinner.

E3D Clone

I have been working for a while on converting to a bowden style E3D clone. I have it mostly working but want to make sure I have a good working solution. My goal is to make it a simple upgrade with the least amount of work and modifications. It worked with the first iteration, until I started longer prints. I am pretty sure it is due to heat creeping up the heartbreak. I think with some Kapton tape insulating the hotend and new mount with bigger fan I can fix the issue.

1st mount with stock E3D fan.

This printer prints really well stock without any modifications, but you have to print slower to avoid ringing. Ringing happens when the print head is accelerating and decelerating and reducing the weight of the x carriage helps reduce this. The R2 is a direct drive type printer. Which means the stepper motor that pushes the filament is on the x carriage. This can be changed to a bowden style and weight can be reduced substantially.

In addition, this converts to an all metal heatbreak. The stock R2 has a short PTFE tube in the heatbreak which limits your temperature to max of 245 deg. Above 245 the PTFE starts to burn and melt and release bad fumes.

Example of Ringing. Stock left E3D Clone Right. Printed same gcode. This was short enough print that finished with E3D clone. Printing slower also reduces ringing.

I think this is a winner. Using 40mm fan instead of 30mm, and not obstructing airflow.

Filament Reel

One additional benefit changing to a bowden style is that you filament reel doesn’t have to turn as freely to get better prints. If you are printing stock you can improve your prints just by making the filament flow better to the hotend. Initially I raised the spool holder to above and behind the printer to improve the flow. With the stock setup when the direct drive is moving around if there is friction on the spool it will slightly twist the hotend as it is moving. I am talking about .1mm variance but you can see this on your prints. There are several spool holders on thingiverse, I am using this one with some bearings that I modified for my needs.

3D Builder

I had been using TinkerCAD to make modifications to parts, but I just noticed windows 10 has a program called 3D Builder built in. It is working OK for what I do most of the time. It is rudimentary for 3D modeling but I find it useful for what I need. TinkerCAD still seems better for slightly more complex stuff but for some simple changes 3D Builder opens quickly and I don’t have to log in. It might be that I have used TinkerCAD more.

Closing Thoughts

Wow! This has been challenging for me to work through the troubleshooting on the E3D upgrade. Stock printing with this printer yields good results. Only if you want to print faster is the E3D really necessary. As long as jamming doesn’t happen with this new design I should be able to share on Thingiverse, and final short write up and comparison. If you would like to purchase this printer you can use this code CNXPrusa on Gearbest and grab it for $179.99.

After the next E3D upgrade article, I’ll be working on TEVO Tarantula 3D printer next sold on GearBest for $418.59. Pretty excited about this one.

No Case for Orange Pi Zero or Other Tiny Development Boards? No problem: Use an Old Mouse

April 11th, 2017 1 comment

There now plenty of tiny ARM Linux boards, which are normally sold without case, but usually it’s not to hard to find a 3D printed case. But if you have small board, and don’t feel to purchase a case for it, there’s an other solution: use an old mouse. That’s exactly what Slider2732 has done with his Orange Pi Zero board to convert it to a mini PC running Armbian, or a game console running RetroOrangePi. So after the keyboard PC, here comes the mouse PC!

So what did he exactly use for the mouse PC?

  1. Orange Pi Zero board
  2. An old Logitech mouse for the case and cable
  3. An 8GB micro SD card to flash the operating system
  4. A 4.3″ car reversing monitor (optional) acting as the display with composite input
  5. An Rii wireless keyboard/mouse, as the mouse function is not included with the mouse PC…
  6. A PAM8403 based 3W audio amplifier
  7. A 0.25W speaker
  8. Salvaged fan from an ATI graphics card + 32 Ohm resistor

You’ll have to find an old mouse with sufficient height, and cut plastic parts that get in the way. The mouse cable is used to carry power, audio and composite video in his setup, but you could customize it as you see fit. Note that you should get 6 wires in a PS/2 mouse, and only 4 wires in a USB mouse, so the older the better 🙂

You can find more details about the build in the video.

Via Hackaday.

NVIDIA Shield Android TV Gets Unofficial USB Tuner (ATSC/DVB) Support

March 9th, 2017 3 comments

NVIDIA Shield Android TV may only be available in a limited number of countries, but if you happen to live in a country where it’s officially sold, it can be one of the best options due its hard-to-beat price to performance ratio, and official Android TV software support from Google & Nvidia. One features it does not support out of the box  is support for digital TV tuner, but linux4all has released an unofficial firmware image adding USB TV tuner support to Android TV (7.0) on Nvidia Shield Android TV 2015 and 2017 models.

You’ll first need a supported tuner either Hauppauge WinTV-dualHD (DVB-C, DVB-T and DVB-T2), Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-850 (ATSC), Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-955Q (ATSC, QAM, Analog), or Sony PlayTV dual tuner (DVB-T). More tuners may be supported in the future. One you’ve got your tuner connected to Nvidia Shield Android TV, make sure you have the latest Android TV 7.0 OTA update, unlock the bootloader, and flash the specific bootloader as explained in the aforelinked forum post. Upon reboot you should see “USB TV Tuner Setup” in the interface. Go through it and scan channels.

Finally, connected a USB 3.0 hard drive or micro SD card with at least 50GB and select format as device storage, and you should be able to watch free-to-air TV and record it as needed using Live channels.

If you are interested in adding more tuners, fix bugs, or possibly implemented this for another Android TV TV box, you’ll find the Linux source code with change history on github.

Note that it’s not the first hack to use USB tuners on Shield, as last year somebody used Kodi + TVheadend, so the real news is here probably integration into Android TV’s Live Channels.

Via AndroidTv.News, and thanks to Harley for the tip.

$12 AI Light ESP8266 based WiFi RGB Light Bulb Supports MQTT via ESPurna Open Source Firmware

March 3rd, 2017 20 comments

AI-Thinker is famous in the maker world for their ESP8266 modules, but they’ve also recently launched a WiFi RGB light bulb that sells for about $12.5 and up on Ebay and Aliexpress (here and there). Some people noticed, and bought samples online, including Xose Pérez (aka Tinkerman), ESPurna open source firmware developer, who could confirm ESP8266 was used in the light bulb, did some investigations, and eventually added the light bulb into ESPurna, which means it can be managed using MQTT or a web interface.

AI Light looks very similar to Philips Hue, but comes with WiFi instead of Zigbee. AI Light “M1636” key features:

  • RGBW LED E27 bulb with 16.7M colors
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Encryption – AES
  • Voltage Range – 110-240V
  • LED Power – 5 watts
  • WiFi Power Consumption – ≤0.3W
  • Temperature Range – -5~45degree
  • Humidity – ≤80%
  • Certifications – FCC, CE, ROHS

If you’re going to use the stock firmware, you can control the LED with Tuyasmart Android app. You’ll find the user’s manual and more photos on the FCC page for the light bulb. But there are already plenty of Wifi light bulbs on the market,  and what makes this light bulb interesting is that it’s based on ESP8266, and you can have full control over it using open source firmware.

The bulb cap is allegedly very easy to pop out, as it’s not glued to the board.A close up on the board itself reveals it’s indeed powered by Espressif ESP8266EX WiSoC connected to a 1MB Winbond 25Q80BVSIG flash, and MY-Semi MY9291QD LED driver.

Click to Enlarge

If you look from the bottom left to middle left of the inner circle, you’ll see 3V3, GND, RX, TX and IOO pads, which we can use after soldering some wires, and connect a USB to TTL board in order to flash the firmware. Note that IOO must be connected the GND to enter flash mode, you can remove the wire after flashing, in order to check the serial output during a normal boot.

After further investigation, Xose found out that there’s already some software implementation for MY9291 driver in Noduino OpenLight project, made by the developers who designed Noduino ESP8266/ ESP32 boards, and are likely the developers of AI Light. All needed source code can be found in Noduino-SDK released under a GPLv3 license, and includes a driver written in C language for MY9291 LED driver chip. Xose wrote a wrapper to make the driver work with Arduino ESP8266, and released the code on Github.

The code sample below shows how to set the LEDs to RED color at 100% duty cycle:

Ai-Thinker Ai Light / Noduino OpenLight have now been added to ESPurna 1.6.8 firmware, and you can turn the light on and off, select the color from the web interface, and/or control it via MQTT.

ESPurna installed on AI Thinker Light Bulb – Click to Enlarge

RetroArch Game Emulator Can Now Run on Nintendo NES Classic Mini and Famicom Mini

February 22nd, 2017 12 comments

Nintendo NES Classic Mini is a smaller replica of Nintendo NES with an HDMI output, and powered by an Allwinner R16 SoC. Nintendo has released a model with the same or similar hardware, but a different case for the Japanese market called Famicom Mini. Those two consoles are pre-loaded with about 30 games, and in theory you can’t add any more games. But as everything with an Allwinner processor, it can be hacked to match your needs, and people have already managed to add games using the micro USB connection and Hakchi2 script. What’s new is that you can now run RetroArch on the consoles, and probably on other Allwinner R16 platform such as the upcoming Banana Pi BPI-M2 Magic board, provided it’s connected to an LCD display.

Nintendo NES Classic Edition (Left) and Famicom Mini (Right)

To achieve that, first you’ll need to install the latest Hakchi 2.12 tool with the procedure, clearly explained (with an older version) on this YouTube video, involving getting a micro USB to USB cable connected between your game console and your computer.

Once this is done, you can go to the next step with the installation of RetroArch mod for hakchi, based on LibreRetro work, and that comes with the following cores:

  • fceumm (NES, many mappers, UNIF support)
  • nestopia (NES, FDS)
  • snes9x2010 (SNES)
  • gambatte_libretro (GB, GBC)
  • mednafen_gba (GBA)
  • genesis_plus_gx (SMS/Genesis/MD)
  • mupen64plus (N64)

Watch the video below, if you want to check out how it performs on NES Mini Classic Edition console before trying it on your own device.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

Add a 2.5″ Hard Drive to Voyo VMac Mini mini PC with a $20 Custom SATA Cable

January 27th, 2017 7 comments

When I tore down Voyo VMac Mini mini PC, I noticed a 2.5″ mounting mechanism, and some weird 9-pin SATA connector, but since the hard drive would be so close to the components I assumed this specific case was not designed for a drive, but the board would be compatible. However, it’s now possible to purchase a $20 custom SATA cable from “Voyo Official Store” on Aliexpress to do just that.All you have to do is to open the case, connect the cable to the motherboard, and the hard drive, and mounting the hard drive to the mechanism with four screws. I’m not sure whether you should also use some kind of insulation between the drive and motherboard, as it will be really close, but the company does not mention anything about that. Cooling might also be an issue even though there’s a fan in the mini PC.

It’s not difficult to do, but should probably be attempted by the most adventurous. I’d also expect the cable to become cheaper overtime if this little hack become common among VMac mini owners, or maybe even offered for free with the mini PCs during promotions.

Thanks to Jake for the tip.

Xiaomi WiFi IP Cameras Hacked to Run RTSP Server, Disable Cloud Service

January 13th, 2017 16 comments

Xiaomi 720p and 1080p IP cameras include night vision, motion detection, WiFi connectivity, and can save videos locally, and send them to a cloud server in China for you to check your camera from anywhere. The 720p camera sells for about $50, while the 1080p camera goes for around $30 on GearBest and other websites, but comes with less IR LEDs and no optical zoom. [Update: The black version of the 720p camera goes for $29.99 on Amazon US]

Xiaomi-IP-CamerasThey works fine, but you need a specific mobile app to configure and control the camera, and if you’d rather not have the videos streamed to some server outside of your local network, github user “Fritz” has developed a set of scripts for the camera to disable cloud service, run a standard RTSP server, as well as HTTP and FTP servers on the camera.

He did his work on Yi Ants Camera (720p), but other members of the community have been helping, and some are currently working on supporting the cheaper 1080p model. The RSTP server is now working on the 1080p. However, everything is still working in progress, and you may want to join the fun on github, but if you want an easy to use SD card image this will take a little longer. The camera and corresponding hack are also being discussed on HotUKDeals.com.

Thanks to Rob for the tip.