Author Archive

Designing a 3D Printed Jig to Flash Firmware to ESP8266 based Light Bulbs

September 18th, 2017 6 comments

Karl here. I have to say that my favorite part of 3D printing is designing things from scratch. Recently a reader was asking about a way to flash a lot of Ai Lights on a project he was working on. I suggested 3D printing a jig that pressure fits pins. He didn’t have a printer, and we exchanged contact information and he sent me one of the lights and some pogo pins from Amazon.

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Design in Fusion 360

I started by taking a picture of the light to get my pin placement. I set a scale by measuring a known distance then printed and tested. It took about 3 iterations to get them to line up in real life. Keep in mind camera lenses distort reality and knew It would take a couple times. I would just let a few layers print then stop and line everything up. I had a mostly working prototype in a couple hours. I did have to go back and add an additional pin after I found out that 100 needed to be grounded when powering up so took a couple more tries to line that pin up. The first couple times pressing into place it is very snug. After 3 or 4 times it becomes easier to remove.

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First Iteration

Building the Jig

I built this thing too many times, but I finally settled a reproducible method. First print at least 2 copies of the jig. Insert pins in jig then place on 2ng jig with pins up. 2nd jig is only for alignment and to keep straight. Once aligned super glue the pins to the jig and let dry. Do not get glue inside the pins or they will get stuck. When I was first putting this together I was doing it the other way, and glue kept on seeping down to the pins and making them stick. This method of gluing worked the first time.

After gluing solder on your leads, use some shrink tube, and make sure to connect pin 100 to the ground. I thought it needed to be temporary, but I forgot to disconnect one flash. I test flashed the light about a dozen time with 100% success.

The method I used to connect is with the leads connected to PC, I press the jig in place slightly offset clockwise a couple degrees. Press in, then turn counter clockwise until you hear a click. When it clicks into the pads and PC dings it is ready to flash.

This was a fun little project and if you would like to print it you can find it here.

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Review of Vobot Alarm Clock with Alexa

September 17th, 2017 3 comments

Karl here with a review of Vobot sent By Cafago. I had to Google it when I was asked to review it. Turned out it was an Echo type device with a pixel display and a battery. It started as an Indiegogo campaign. I had been wanting to try to do some sort of voice control with my home automation so I agreed to review it.

Vobot Clock C1 Specifications

These are pulled from Vobot’s website. No power supply is included but a long USB cable is.

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Vobot Setup

I let my wife do the initial setup as I figured that she would use it the most. She followed the instructions, and it seemed straightforward from what she told me. She said she had to reboot it once during a step but it continued the setup with no problems. She tied to our Amazon Prime account, and she quickly was playing some music. During research, I did find out that it was not an always listening device.

Firmware Update

I logged into today to see if anything had changed, and there was an update. It suggested that I rebooted the device so I did before updating. Without logging in I wouldn’t have known there was an update. Maybe I missed something but I don’t remember seeing or hearing some sort of notification. I received a verbal notification that it could take up to 10 minutes, but only took a few minutes. The thing is I have no idea what has changed or improved. There is no changelog.

Vobot Display

Display settings allow you to set Brightness, and the time to display Time, Date, Day of Week, Battery Status, and Date + Time.

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That’s what the time display looks like.

After pressing the mic button

Get this at times and the eyes blink

Date and time

Hard to catch this one..Starting to play music

Unplugging power and of course get different one when plugging in

Loading music stream


I wanted to do a teardown when I first received the speaker, but I was afraid to break it. Now here at the end, I finally put some force behind it and finally got it apart. Only a few minor scratches and it seems to be fine. The teardown reveals that it is running on a Mediatek MT7688AN, and confirms battery’s capacity. 512MB NANYA storage NT5TU32M16FG-AC completes the list of the main chips. Maybe some enterprising soul will hack this and bring some imaginative new usage.

One big issue

Everything that I tried worked the way I expected for the most part . Home assistant can emulate a Hue bridge, but after reading in the forums, it only works with an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker. Bummer, that is not the real issue I wanted to bring up. I really wish that it had an always listening microphone. You have to press the button to put it in listening mode. I understand that it has a battery, and would drain the battery but why not have it always listening when plugged in and use the button when roaming about.

Random final thoughts

OK now that I have a device that will take voice commands now what. I like the scrolling display. It is pretty cool and a little retro. I used this about 95% of the time just to play music. Don’t expect much from the speaker, but you can send audio to a home system through the 3.5mm jack on the back.

I know that there are 1000’s of skills but few attracted me. I did like the idea of calling another Alexa device but not supported. Arggh, OK maybe another issue. I did use the weather feature asking about the weather for the next day on occasion.

My 5 year old son was easily able to start music, and it could understand his voice which surprised me. The display is nice, and battery powered is a plus, but I don’t understand one thing. For just about the same price, I can get an Echo Dot which gets me always listening, and 100% works with all the features but no battery or display. I bet that the limitations with the exception of the always listening is inherent to all non Echo devices.

If you are looking for a portable Alexa powered device with a display then the Vobot might be for you. Seems sturdy. Descent battery life. I listened for about 2 hours and it still had a charge on the battery. To get an official Echo Tap it sets you back $120. It is the only official Echo that has a battery.

I would like to thank Cafago for sending the device for review. They provided a coupon code “V3127SA” for the Vobot which is good until 9/30/17, and brings the price down to $ 41.99/€36.1. You’ll also find it for $45 and up on other sites such as or Amazon.

Review of Sonoff RF Bridge, Sonoff 4ch Pro, and Sonoff POW with Sonoff-Tasmota Firmware

September 12th, 2017 No comments

Karl here. Today we are going to look at 2 new and one older Sonoff devices.

I spent very little time with the stock firmware on the device. I don’t like the fact that an Internet connection is needed, and I am not in control. As of the time of this writing I found the Ewelink was not configurable enough to meet my needs. There is one feature that is really nice that I could easily see keeping stock firmware. It is the Alexa Skill. It worked. I am also currently reviewing Vobot Smart Alarm Clock with Alexa integration and had no trouble controlling the Sonoff devices with Alexa. But unfortunately I am lazy and want everything automatic so I can’t keep it. With the RF bridge I was unable to trigger a light from a motion sensor. In comes Arendst ‘s Sonoff-Tasmota firmware  to the rescue. It gets better all the time. It is dead simple, and so configurable now. He continues to add features and devices.

RF Bridge

You may have seen my previous article building a 433toMQTTto433 bridge to use cheap 433mhz devices. I never did build a case for it, and it’s a little bit of an eyesore. When I found out about a nicely packaged one, I was excited to check it out. Like I stated previously, it didn’t work as I anticipated and was glad when I found out Arendst got one as well. He has a good wiki with on the github page and all the needed information to flash and configure so I won’t go into it. It flashed uneventfully. I was a little scared by the design that it was only going to be able to receive 16 individual codes and pass onto MQTT but that is not the case. It passes everything it receives. You can only send 16 different codes right now which need to be saved ahead of time. So after monitoring the MQTT server I ran into first hurdle. I was getting this example json value.

And actually I found after much frustration that “Data” is a nested json value. This took a while for me to figure out. After that it was relatively easy to parse in Home Assistant and move my automations over from the previous bridge.


From the previous article payload off is a made up value and is only used internally to turn the sensor off after a minute.

Just a couple gripes about the rf bridge which are superficial. There is a noticeable increased delay over the homemade bridge from the time it senses a trigger until the light comes on. It is only about half a second but a noticeable difference. And my wife pointed quickly that the led indicating it is on is very bright. I might remove it or install a varistor to tone it down. The receiver does not appear to be as good or might just be that it is in a case or my positioning. I am still able to cover my house but the trigger on my mailbox across the street doesn’t trigger. It was hit or miss on the old one but never triggers now.

FYI I am still running off the same batteries I initially installed in the 433mhz motion sensors over 6 months ago.

Sonoff 4ch Pro

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I also received the Sonoff 4ch Pro with 433mhz transmitter remote.

I tested it with stock Ewelink software and all tests done before worked. I quickly installed the alternative firmware from above, and again no loss in functionality. I was still able to pair and clear the 433 MHz remotes. It is weird that it does not indicate with a light that it is in pairing mode as of right now but when you press the button the light blinks when it is learned. The inching, self locking and interlock continued to work as well via switches. I can definitely see this being used for lighting, or if you needed to control multiple items in close proximity. Maybe simple access control. Possibilities are endless. On the product page, it shows wiring with motors as well which looks cool. If I find a unique or interesting project I will share.

The 4 button transmitter is very powerful. It transmits further than any of my other 433mhz devices.

Sonoff POW

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A buddy of mine gave me a Sonoff POW to play with. The Sonoff POW is very similar to the Sonoff Basic, but has the ability to measure power usage. I didn’t bother testing the stock software. I went straight to Arendst software. I didn’t have anything to measure power before and this is a welcome addition to my tools arsenal. I don’t need super accurate readings just a good idea what the draw is. I installed a light rated at 75w to test and got the results below. If a more accurate load is available you can calibrate the POW and instructions are in the Wiki.

OTA Firmware

Who wants to drag all their devices back to the PC and flash new firmware? I finally checked it out. It is really simple to do.

First uncomment BE_MINIMAL then export compiled Binary. After a while you will have a bin file in your sketch folder.

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After uploading comment BE_MINIMAL, upload again. The 2 steps procedure is because he is running out of space with all the features. He is trying to reduce the code down, and hopefully make this a single step in the future. If you have a web server there are instructions to automate this.


I would like to thank Itead Studio for sending the Sonoff RF Bridge, 4ch Pro and 4 button 433 MHz transmitter. They keep expanding their Sonoff line and make them hacker friendly. I would also like to thank Arendst for his tireless work on Sonoff-Tasmota firmware. If you are just looking to control your lights via Alexa, and don’t mind requiring the Internet to be available the stock firmware might work for you.

2017 Tevo Tarantula Dual Extruder 3D Printer Review – Part 2: Auto-Leveling, Dual Color Prints, Flex Filament

September 2nd, 2017 4 comments

Karl here with final part of Tevo Tarantula dual extruder 3D printer review. The kit that was sent by Gearbest has a large bed, auto leveling, dual extrusion, and flex extruder of which I only found the flex extruder appealing to me. I have had this printer for a while now. It was relatively easy to setup, but near the end of the build it did not cover every aspect. There are lots of videos and a big Facebook group if you run into any troubles. Overall it is a good printer, but some of the features I initially thought I would like turned out to not be very useful.

Auto leveling

I tried my hardest to get this to work even going as far as to upgrade the firmware, but because they had a printed bracket on it, it drooped on my first high temp ABS print. I removed it immediately because it made me angry. It was not worth the hassle to me. Leveling by hand is done infrequently and can be done very quickly. I installed a piece of glass on my bed and it makes it even easier because you can see the space between the nozzle and the glass. I saw a post a while back where someone sanded their mirror with sandpaper, and they no longer needed glue, and it works well. I only had to use glue on the dinosaur head below with all the thin supports. I tried my best to get auto leveling working but IMHO, it is not worth the extra money.

Dual Extrusion

In theory, it looks good but is a terrible pain with 2 separate nozzles. 3D printing is not the easiest as it is but now with 2 nozzles side by side, printing with dual extruder is difficult. I was able to print the 2 color tree frog after multiple attempts. And tried a couple other things from Thingiverse. In my mind now, if I want to have 2 colors I will just paint the piece. I purchased soluble HIPS but never got around to printing with it. I ordered in a rus,h and thought it was water soluble but it is soluble in Limonene and I am in no hurry to buy. Limonene is pretty expensive and nasty sounding stuff. Not impressed with dual extrusion right now, and another unneeded upgrade.

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Flex Extruder

Now for the flex extruder. It was the only upgrade that I found useful. I purchased some flexible PLA and tested with the stock extruder. It jammed every time. After upgrading, I went on to print flexible filament with no issues. Flexible filament is more expensive so I only printed 2 things with it. (one of my kids stole the benchy so I don’t have a picture of it. It printed fine with the exception of the stack on top broke off. This upgrade is worth it, and works if you are wanting to print flexible filament.

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Fusion 360

This is not really part of the review, but I wanted to share how satisfying it is to make things in AutoDesk Fusion 360. I am currently designing some useful parts for another printer from scratch, instead of mixing models together and some car parts. It is extremely powerful and definitely worth learning. Tinkercad is good for basic stuff, and I will continue to use it, but for more elaborate parts Fusion 360 is the way to go. The parametric modeling and timeline feature blows my mind. If you need to make a change roll back the timeline make the change then all the subsequent tools update magically. There are a ton of videos on YouTube if you are interested. I settled on Lars Christensen to learn basics. It is fun printing, but designing an object from ground up is just fantastic, and goes hand in hand with 3D printing.

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More 3D Print Samples

All the prints below were printed with ZYLtech filament with the exception of the flexible filament. If you are in the US definitely check them out. I picked up 3 rolls for $30 + shipping with a coupon code I got in one of the Facebook groups. I also signed up for the newsletter, and they send out coupon codes periodically. At the time of this writing you can get free shipping if you spend $75 or more.

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For regular printing, it prints very well and easy to print with. Heats up fast. There is a big community behind this printer so there are many mods/upgrades, but it prints pretty well out of the box. There are a lot of solid parts with the kit. The board is really good and well documented making it easy to upgrade firmware. All the acrylic parts can be printed to sturdy the frame up if you desire. I did break my Z bracket, but was able to glue it back long enough to print replacement. If I was in the market I would get the base model (~$240 – Coupon TE3DIT may lower the price), or the next step up with the larger bed (~$255). The model I reviewed with the complete options (large bed, dual extruder for bi-color prints, and auto-leveling) costs $418.59 includding worldwide shipping, but the if you use TEVODUAL coupon, the price will go down to $349.99.

Tevo Tarantula 3D Printer’s Large Dual Extruder Auto Bed Level Sensor Firmware Upgrade

July 17th, 2017 No comments

What a title. Just a quick update on the Tevo I am reviewing. I didn’t want to upgrade the firmware, but I read so many posts on Facebook about it I took the plunge. I didn’t like was the firmware that came with it. It only did a 3 point level, and seemed to go outside the build plate dimensions. The first 2 printers I have reviewed were Marlin, so it was what I am most familiar with.

I used Jim Brown’s Marlin fork as a base. It was missing dual extruder and auto level sensor in the pre-configured profiles. It took a while, but I was able to add the extra features. The auto bed level sensor connects to where the normal Z end stop sensor is connected. I would like to warn you to warm your bed for 5 minutes for the best reproducible results. I tested several times from cold to hot, and can see variances. After it is warm, it does well and only varies in the thousands of a mm. I also found out I made and dumb mistake, and I never set the power supply to my country’s proper voltage. It was messing everything up including the auto level.

Testing the auto level as it warms up. You can see variances and the metal expands.

Recv: Bilinear Leveling Grid:
Recv: 0 1 2 3
Recv: 0 +0.340 +0.292 +0.317 +0.380
Recv: 1 +0.418 +0.342 +0.338 +0.392
Recv: 2 +0.494 +0.408 +0.381 +0.396
Recv: 3 +0.545 +0.457 +0.442 +0.499

Recv: Bilinear Leveling Grid:
Recv: 0 1 2 3
Recv: 0 +0.307 +0.277 +0.308 +0.379
Recv: 1 +0.392 +0.327 +0.336 +0.372
Recv: 2 +0.492 +0.390 +0.367 +0.391
Recv: 3 +0.519 +0.447 +0.446 +0.488

Recv: Bilinear Leveling Grid:
Recv: 0 1 2 3
Recv: 0 +0.302 +0.254 +0.298 +0.367
Recv: 1 +0.369 +0.313 +0.321 +0.369
Recv: 2 +0.459 +0.376 +0.348 +0.380
Recv: 3 +0.492 +0.431 +0.424 +0.473

Here you can see after letting it warm up they are relatively consistent.

Recv: Bilinear Leveling Grid:
Recv: 0 1 2 3
Recv: 0 +0.019 -0.302 -0.492 -0.598
Recv: 1 +0.108 -0.259 -0.490 -0.618
Recv: 2 +0.186 -0.202 -0.468 -0.625
Recv: 3 +0.221 -0.171 -0.444 -0.606

Recv: Bilinear Leveling Grid:
Recv: 0 1 2 3
Recv: 0 +0.013 -0.302 -0.488 -0.591
Recv: 1 +0.097 -0.261 -0.488 -0.615
Recv: 2 +0.173 -0.206 -0.466 -0.614
Recv: 3 +0.205 -0.177 -0.442 -0.601

Recv: Bilinear Leveling Grid:
Recv: 0 1 2 3
Recv: 0 +0.004 -0.299 -0.483 -0.576
Recv: 1 +0.094 -0.255 -0.490 -0.615
Recv: 2 +0.163 -0.210 -0.466 -0.612
Recv: 3 +0.190 -0.186 -0.445 -0.600

This is a 16 point level so it takes a little bit of time but I think it is worth it.

To help with setting your sensor height you may want to look here. But in retrospect it might not be necessary. Set your sensor height just barely above the nozzle height and adjust with the Z offset in the menu’s. First initialize your EEPROM under Control at the bottom. Then go to Control -> Motion Z-offset. A negative number brings the head down and positive up. Print a small cube see how much closer to the bed you need to be. Adjust the offset until you get a good distance. Then store with Control -> Store Settings to lock it in.

I tested movement in X, Y, and Z directions, and they were spot on as well as the extruders. I homed then did a 100mm move and checked with my caliper. This was done in all directions. For the extruder I disconnected the bowden tube, then heated up the hotend due to protection then extruded 100mm of filament.

Here are the 2 separate files. Full is full Arduino 1.6.8 portable setup and ready. Pretty much run it, connect printer and upload. The second is just the configuration files. If you need the configuration I assume a write up is not necessary.

  1. Full
  2. Only Configuration

First connect your printer to your PC, and let Windows find the drivers. In device manager you should see it show up under comm ports. The first time I plugged it in I had to right click and tell windows to update the drivers. It went to the web, and found and updated them. Next, start Arduino then navigate to the Marlin directory, then open Marlin.ino. Ensure you have the correct board, processor, and port selected, then press the arrow pointing to the right to upload.

Once uploaded add G28 to home then G29 in your slicer.

You’ll find the first part of review in “2017 Tevo Tarantula Dual Extruder 3D Printer Review – Part 1: Assembly and First Prints” post..

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending this printer. If you are interested, you can purchase it on their store for $418.59 includding worldwide shipping. If you use TEVODUAL coupon, price will go down to $349.99. Note that there are various models of Tevo Tarantula with 200×200 or 200×280 (large) beds, single or dual extruder, with or without auto-leveling, and the one reviewed here is the higher end model with all a large bed, dual extruder for bi-color prints, auto-leveling, and flexible filament.

How to Use Octoprint on Orange Pi Lite Board, Amlogic S905X and S912 TV Boxes

July 11th, 2017 12 comments

Karl here. This was article originally going to be how to setup Octoprint 3D printer server on an Orange Pi Lite. But after looking and running through the instructions it seemed like it would be too much so I created an img to simplify things. I also explored running Octoprint on an Amlogic S905x or S912 device and it turned out to be an even better solution. You get a case, power supply, and eMMC flash storage.

What is Octoprint?

I use Octoprint mainly for its ability to start and stop prints without having to use an sd card. Time lapse is also a nice feature. And one last thing is that I setup a pushbullet notification when it is complete. For a full list of features check out

What is needed?

Orange Pi Lite Kit – Click to Enlarge

Octoprint Setup

Common Instructions

  • Download Orange Pi Lite img from here and Amlogic img from here.
  • Burn to your micro SD card with Win32DiskImager, dd, or Etcher..


Login: root password: octoprint
Login: cnx password: cnx


Orange Pi Lite: orangeocto.local
Amlogic: amlogicocto.local

Amlogic Instructions

  1. Boot and find the update app
  2. Click Select
  3. Choose the
  4. Click Update
  5. Then Update again
  6. Once it boots log in with root and run “sudo /root/”
  7. Now we need to see if WiFi is working. Run “nmtui”. This should be self explanatory, and if you see your access point stop. Don’t bother to connect. Exit run “shutdown” wait for it shutdown, remove the SD card, and pull the power and power back on. You can skip the next few steps in this section.
  8. If you did not see your access point exit out of “nmtui” and run the command “sudo modprobe wifi_dummy” repeat looking for access point in step 7.
  9. If you still don’t see your access point run the command “sudo modprobe dhd” repeat looking for the access point in step 7.
  10. If you have to modprobe either to get wifi working once you boot from the internal storage log in with root and run the command “sudo nano /etc/rc.local” and add your “sudo modprobe xxxxxx“ command before exit 0. Cntrl X then y then enter to exit nano and save. Reboot and continue.

Orange Pi Lite Instructions

  1. Connect a keyboard and connect to a monitor or tv
  2. Login with root
  3. Run the command “sudo cfdisk /dev/mmcblk0”
  4. Delete /dev/mmcblk0p1 with the arrow keys
  5. Make a new one and it should fill in the full size of your sd card.
  6. Then finally write. It will prompt you are you sure and type out yes.
  7. Arrow over to quit and enter.
  8. Reboot with the command “sudo reboot” and wait for the Orange Pi to reboot.
  9. Log back in with root and run the command “sudo resize2fs /dev/mmcblk0p1
  10. Reboot again with the command “sudo reboot” and wait for the Orange Pi to reboot.

Remaining Octoprint detup instructions common to all devices

  1. Log back in and run the command “nmtui” to connect to your network. This should be self explanatory. After connecting to wifi if you choose to set a static IP address quit and go back in to nmtui and edit the connection to set the IP address. When setting the IP address suffix the IP address with a /24 to denote a subnet mask
  2. Finally quit and run the command “shutdown” and wait for it to turn off.
  3. Move the Octoprint server and connect to your printer.
  4. To log in open your browser and navigate to http://x.x.x.x:5000 or orangeocto.local:5000 or amlogicocto.local:5000.
  5. Run through the setup it is self explanatory and in settings add /home/pi/OctoPrint/ as your git update path.


I really recommend setting static IP addresses through your router if it has the ability. Or you can use the .local address above if you have zeroconf/avahi on your machines .

I also recommend the Amlogic server. You get a board, enclosure, power supply, and eMMC flash to run off of. You still need an SD card to get started, but it is not permanent. I ran into trouble on Orange Pi Lite, but it does work. I think the Orange Pi Lite board I received is flakey.

You have a lot of headroom on these to provide other services, e.g.. home automation, media server with no transcoding, NAS, Minecraft server, or anything else that runs on Linux.

Big thanks to balbes for making Linux work,  Jean-Luc, and Armbian forum members who tested Orange Pi Lite version.

Tested on

  • X96 1/8 S905X with wifi dummy
  • X96 2/16 S905X with wifi dummy
  • Tanix TX 5 Pro S905X with dhd
  • Yoka KB2 S912 with wifi dummy

It looks like Realtek (RTLxxxx) WiFi chips need the wifi dummy, and Ampak (apxxxx) chips need the dhd.


Cura 2.6 came out just just recently with the ability to connect directly to Octoprint. It is really cool feature.

To setup login to octoprint and grab API key.

Then open Cura 2.6 and go to manage printers. Highlight printer and press Connect Octoprint.

Add an Octoprint instance, set preferences, and input API key.

Now you can start prints directly from Cura and monitor prints.

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I would really like to thank Gearbest for sending the Orange Pi Lite board, power supply, and SD card, as well as Amlogic boxes and 3D printers from previous reviews. If you decide to do this project yourself, please think about ordering from Gearbest through our links. It helps us out to continue to experiment with different hardware and provide these articles.

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


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

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.