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Tronxy X3S 3D Printer Review – Part 3: Upgrades to Fix Bed Leveling Issues (Permanently)

November 14th, 2017 No comments

Karl here. I have had the Tronxy X3S 3D printer for a while now. It prints well but as I mentioned in previous articles I had to level for every print. Actually near the end I would just overpower the stepper motors while the skirt was printing and level. Leveling front to back was not affected. Only the z height. So this worked but it was frustrating. Before that I tried several different things to mitigate. I thought maybe the endstop for Z homing was inconsistent and replaced it. I tried heating the bed for extended period of time thinking that maybe some thermal expansion. Didn’t help. I finally did a major change to the X carriage with success. I even moved the printer to our local library and the bed stayed leveled for a demo. I call this a success, and will show how I did it. Inspiration for this modification came from the CR-10. This is the biggest mod I have done for any review so far.

3D Printed Parts for Upgrade

My objective was to reuse as much as possible of the original kit. I designed the bracket in Fusion 360 and remixed the Z motor brackets in Windows 3D Builder. To do this upgrade you will need to print 2 Z motor mounts an 1 X/extruder mount. They are published on Thingiverse.

Bed

The easiest place to begin with is the bed. This mod alters the extruder position so the Y stepper motor needs to be relocated outside the frame so no build area is lost. I had some extra belt I think came with this kit that I used. The belt lengthens from the original position.

X Carriage

First remove the Z motors and metal brackets. We will not be reusing the metal brackets. Remove the Z rods. Take off the top 2020 extruded aluminum from the top of the printer and slide the whole X carriage off, and disassemble the left and right wheels, stepper motors, belt etc. The triangle wheel assembly does not need to be broken down. Both extruder and X stepper will be located on the left now. I slid only the triangle wheel assemblies on with the new orientation. I made a little mark on the left and right acrylic wheel assembly to get my positioning right for 2020 aluminum. Center the 2020. I ended up with about 9mm on each side. You will need to drill a hole in the acrylic so a second nut can be used on both sides.

Drill hole through acrylic approx. where indicated by arrow on the bottom set of holes. Enlarge the bottom holes on the back piece so you can use a screwdriver and tighten. Take your time and drill slow. Do this on both sides.

Here is the left side. I mounted the steppers after installing.

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Mount the Z rod brackets upside down on the back in the top holes of the wheel assembly so that the Z rod lines up with the center of the 2020 below.

I tested the orientation of the Z rod nut upside down by changing one side. I really don’t think it matters.

Now mount the Z motors. I didn’t have the proper length nut so they look loose. No adverse effects. If it bothers you can install a washer or nut. The brackets are keeping it from bouncing.

Click to Enlarge

I have only done a couple test prints, but they turned out fantastic. I can’t say definitively, but I do think I see an improvement. I am running low on filament right now and will test more for final review. The goal was to fix the level issue but any improvement is good.

Click to Enlarge

Final thoughts

The leveling was driving me crazy on this printer, so I had to find a solution. I started with a goal of changing the orientation of the wheels and just started taking the printer apart. With more than one printer this makes it an easier task. By chance I was able to reuse the existing Z rod brackets and saved quite a bit of time. It did take 2 iterations of the X/extruder bracket, but ultimately didn’t take very long. I had one setback. On the first iteration I had the stepper motors touching, and the steppers got very warm so I put a 5mm gap between them and seemed to resolve the issue.

If you noticed my X axis limit switch is off set it is because I am running stock marlin, and did not build in the offsets so I just moved the limit switch to accommodate. I will follow up with a how to upgrade the firmware, and get rid of some of the annoyances with stock firmware.

After this upgrade I can say it is very much on par with the CR-10 now with some savings. After this upgrade you can get 350 x 330 x 390 mm. I didn’t realize until testing just now that 10mm is lost in the Z. You can get 400mm wide but there is a clearance issue with extruder hitting the triangle brackets. You could probably just clip on a larger mirror with no issues and stick with the existing bed and let it overhang.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending the printer for review. They sell it for $269.99 including shipping.

Categories: Hardware, Testing Tags: 3d printing, hack, review, tronxy

Tronxy X3S 3D Printer Review – Part 2: Upgraded Heatbed and RAMPS Board

October 25th, 2017 3 comments

Karl here. So the bed I mentioned in the first part of Tronxy X3S review is not very good. It took about 10-11 minutes to heat up to 60 deg Celsius. I also mentioned I was going to upgrade the board to a RAMPS board. Today we are going to look at both these upgrades.

New Heated Bed

I can take no credit for this one but I wanted to pass this along. Folger tech sells a 12v 280w heated bed stick on pad. I picked this up for $20, but is now $22.

In order to do this upgrade you will need a MOSFET, 12V/30A power supply, and of course the pad above. Super easy installation. Remove the bed and stick on the self adhesive pad centered. Replace the power supply with new one. Should be self explanatory. In order to power this bed a MOSFET is needed. A MOSFET allows you to power a high current bed and not run all the current through the board. I won’t go into much detail about the MOSFET because it has been written about a lot.

I did try the new bed with the existing power supply and without a MOSFET. The stock power supply heated up very quickly. I don’t think it would make it through a 10mm cube before failing. I also connected the new bed directly to the board without the MOSFET and the connector started to fail almost immediately.

Bed heat up times drastically improved.

  • 60 deg Celsius in 2:15… took about 10 minutes previously
  • 100 deg celsius in about 10 minutes… I could not get it past 70°C before

You’re looking at about an extra $60 for this upgrade. Right now, a Tronxy X3S is $289 + $60 for this upgrade. Getting close to CR-10 pricing.

Here are some power measurements with a Sonoff POW.

Power usage idle and both hotend and heated bed on

RAMPS 1.4 Upgrade

I did upgrade to a ramps board. It was my first time using a RAMPs 1.4 and Arduino MEGA board. It was very easy to do. Wiring is well documented. I don’t feel I gained anything other than fixing a few annoyances with stock firmware, and a little bit of build volume on the x and y. Now if your board goes bad here is an inexpensive solution. I picked up this kit and this adapter from Zyltech.

Arduino MEGA

RAMPS 1.4 Board

RAMPS 1.4 Connection Diagram

There are few considerations:

  1. If you decide to use the stock LCD then you will not have an SD card to print from. The stock screen with the X3S does not have an SD card and octoprint is a good solution. If you need to print via SD card you can substitute this screen for the adapter.
  2. The Z motor connectors are very close. I used some male to female Dupont connectors for testing, so I could go back to the stock board easily.

Here are the changes from the stock Marlin firmware that I made.

So once I flashed the board, and made my connections I tested the directions and end stops. If a motor is moving the wrong direction you can adjust 2 ways. Flip the connector on the board or adjust in software. I chose to just flip the connector.

The only physical modification I did was move the X endstop to place the nozzle at the corner of the bed instead of using an offset.

Final Modification

This one was simple. Download and print. I printed a new shroud out of PLA. It was designed by my buddy on thingiverse.

The head design on the X3S is the same as the Tronxy X3.

Closing

I will be putting the main board back now, and printing a bunch of stuff for Halloween. I will share the final thoughts on this printer at that time. I would like to thank GearBest for sending me the Tronxy X3S for review. You can buy the 3D printer from them for $289.99 including shipping (Coupon GBX3S may shove a few dollars off the price).

Continue reading Tronxy X3S 3D Printer Review – Part 3: Upgrades to Fix Bed Leveling Issues (Permanently)

Tronxy X3S 3D Printer Review – Part 1: Build and First Prints

September 29th, 2017 4 comments

Karl here with part 1 of Tronxy X3S build. It is another large volume printer to fully assemble on your own. Taking between 8-10 hours to put together. I have high hopes for this printer. Key things I like: metal frame, dual X, large build volume. Just from looking at it I don’t like the fact that it has no parts cooler but is easy to remedy.

Tronxy X3S Specifications

Let’s look at some specs.

  • 300 x 300 x 400 mm hot bed (Actually get 330x330x400 build volume)
  • Hot bed temperature: 40 – 110 Deg.C
  • Nozzle temperature: 170-275 Degree
  • Marlin 1.1.5
  • Frame material: Aluminum Extrusion

I have not taken the hotend apart yet so not sure about the nozzle temperature going over 245°C. I will take it apart for the next part. If you are not familiar you don’t want to get lined nozzles above 245°C, or the lining starts to melt. An all metal hotend is required to go above 245°C.

Note: I have had this printer for a while and due to some issues and changing phones I am missing some pictures of the build.

Tronxy X3S Build

My plan on this one was to let my daughter and father build this one as an experiment. I took out the parts below fired up the laptop and inserted the SD card. I was missing instructions on the SD card. So this experiment was shot down right away. With some help from my daughter tightening things, and finding pieces we put the X3S together about 95% just looking at the pictures on GearBest. I got to X carriage arm and got stuck. I couldn’t see the details enough. I remembered that the X3 was a very similar design except larger. I went online, and found the instructions and was able to finish. We put it together over 3 sessions, and had about 8 hours total putting it together. Later on I found a fellow 3D printer enthusiast on Facebook with an X3S and he sent me over the files I was missing on the SD card.

Likes

  • The belts are steel reinforced.
  • Only 2 pieces are printed, and 4 pieces of acrylic (nor including acrylic for power supply and board)
  • Feet are included (wish they were taller to put controller case under the printer)
  • The frame feels very rigid

Dislikes

  • Bearings for belts and mounting to build plate.
  • Potentially weak power supply. Still testing
  • No parts cooler

Click to Enlarge

Heated bed

The bed on the Tronxy is not very good. It takes forever to heat up, and there is no way to make it to 100 deg Celsius. I installed a beefier power supply, and insulated the bed with cork. After this the highest, I got to was about 70°C. It’s only about 10 minutes to get to 50°C so relegated to PLA on this one unless you upgrade the heated bed. I have one on the way with a MOSFET. About a $30 upgrade. Will test with stock, and new power supply to see the difference.

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Little messy right now as I am working on it.

First Prints

So we put the printer together, and tested everything out. Checked movement in X, Y, and Z. Homed to make sure endstops worked, and all seemed good in the world. I had some binding on my right Z stepper. I bumped up the current on the potentiometer on the board. Still binding. I then took the Z stepper motor and rod for the Z, and positioned them in the coupler just enough to let the grub screws grip. Loaded the Z with lithium grease and finally loosened the Z screw brass nut just a little to let it move like an oldham coupler. This resolved the binding on the Z.

I started first print, a Benchy, and I noticed it was off center and just not looking right with over extrusion. After a while I figured out that the gears that came with the printer were 16 teeth and not 20 teeth for the X and Y axis. If this board had EEPROM enabled, it would be a matter of just modifying the steps per mm on the x and y appropriately and fix. I think I could have inserted some G-code at the beginning of each print but wanted to use with proper gears. Reducing the teeth will change the accuracy slightly. With this firmware you cannot modify the steps per mm. At this point, I was ready to start upgrading it. I connected the board to my PC and nothing. USB was bad on the board. There was a night between finding out the gears were bad, and board was bad. I had already ordered some gears, and notified GearBest of the bad board.

Fast forward a month. Gears are installed and new board installed. It was a reworked board. I can see some hand soldered spots on the board but everything is working. Finally started printing. I have not printed too much at this point but what I have printed look pretty good.

Facebook, Issues, and Reality

I have not found a good forum anywhere for 3D printing. By that I mean in a traditional forum format. Facebook is the only place that I have found that people work together and ask questions share experiences. I am a member for quite a few of them. All printers have issues that are reoccurring. CR-10 has a lot of broken couplers. Tarantula has broken acrylic (typically after installed, and not during shipping). Tronxy has all kinds of random things wrong. I have 2 outlined above.

Being that these are shipping from China directly with what looks to be slim margins there is a gamble when purchasing. If you have a missing / faulty piece that can be sourced locally just get it in my opinion. The board issue is another story in my case. I have to review with stock hardware so I waited. You can get parts replaced but you might have to wait.

In this case you are getting a 330 x 330 x 400 printer for less than $300 + potentially minor broken faulty parts. Shipping from around the world is tough. I would not even think about shipping it back.

For miscellaneous piece parts, I recommend https://www.zyltech.com/ if in the states. Really good pricing and service. For example on parts above. I ordered early on Friday and they were delivered on Monday. I have done several transactions now.

Wrap up

I did get a ramps board and adapter for the screen. I’m going to get it to work for second part with this review along with bed upgrade. I would like to thank GearBest for shipping the Tronxy X3s for reviewing. If you would like to pick one up you can get one for $289.99 including worldwide shipping, and they have a wider choice of 3D Printers on a dedicated page.

Continue reading “Tronxy X3S 3D Printer Review – Part 2: Upgraded Heatbed and RAMPS Board“.

Categories: Hardware, Testing Tags: 3d printing, review, tronxy