Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Prusa i3 Y axis length for box version

The issue

I got to the point in my build when its time to attach the Y axis to the frame and noticed something very off between the guide and my build.

My Y axis was a fair bit shorter then the one shown in the guide, which meant if I had the motor at the back, as per the guide, I would lose a fair amount of print area.


Looking around the forums I noticed I wasn't the only one with the issue and it was caused by a difference between the official github and the wiki.
The wiki stating 370mm smooth rods with threaded rod to match and the github stating 405mm smooth rods and threaded rod to match.

The difference (35mm) is roughly the size of the mounted Y axis motor and the print area lost if mounted at the back.


Move the motor to the front, remove the washer and nut from the idler side and move the belt tensioner on the bed plate.
Moving the motor to the front gains a few cm's, removing the extra bolt and washer gains roughly 1 cm and moving the belt tensioner should regain the last few cm/mm.

Dragonfly DIY's blog outlines the changes.

Its still not ideal however as its its re-drilling the print bed wood, removes the supporting washer holding the Y axis to the frame, doesn't look as clean (you have wires going from the very front to the back along the Y axis) and leaves little room for error/tweaking.

As I've already got the correct length threaded and smooth rod on hand from my original Prusa I will order some more GT2 belt (2m so I have some spare) and will re-build the Y axis later.
For the time being however 150x200x200 (mm of course) should be enough to allow me print some basic things to improve my setup (RAMPS mount, RasPi mount, auto bed levelling parts and spool holder)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Prusa i1 to i3 upgrade - Build day 4

Real date 16/03/2014
As with Day 3 I was feeling terrible, so didn't spend as much time as I had planned (was aiming to be printing Saturday night).

As previously mentioned I'm following this guide and will only be documenting things I have trouble with or do which the guide doesn't state.

Z Axis

The motor and Z axis holders have 3 holes on one side and only 2 one the other.
Do not drill the blanked side out.

As you can see adding a screw in into the frame at that position wouldn't make sense.
I suspect the generation script doesn't fully remove the extra screw hole which is used on another variant.

Once you have the motor holder and top rod holder in place, remove the screws from the top piece.
This isn't show or said in the guide, but you'll need to be able to add the X axis to the frame.

X axis

The assembly is one of the easiest parts, however getting the Z axis rod to move smoothly throught the nut is a little tricky.
In the end I used a 6mm drill be to enlarge the hole, this means the 5mm threaded rod doesn't snag or attach to anything but the washer.
I wouldn't go any larger then 6mm as the M5 nut would run the risk of slipping out.

Note I reused one of the 608zz bearings for the X axis and the belt looks like its not going to slip. However the is a gap so I will be on my list of parts to order.


I got a new extruder a freebie from 3DPrinterPunk because they forgot to send me the Y corners.
Its a Herringbone Greg's accessable extuder.
The assembly is pretty much the same as Wades only with less parts which is always nice.

The thing to note is the extruder uses a 17mm piece to hold the idler bearing in place as opposed a 20mm piece used in my old Wade.
Its worth noting with the compact X carriage and this extuder you can't double the nut at this side as the clearance is small and the second nut will catch on the X carriage.

End of Day 4

Getting the belts right on the X carriage took a while as did getting the Z axis threaded rod moving smoothly (I started with a 3mm drill bit and worked upto 6mm).
I've not documented it, however about 1 hour of the build time was actually disassembling my old Prusa as I needed the bearings for the extruder (I used the extruder bearings for the X and Y axis).
Prusa i1 frame vs Prusa i3 frame

Days build time: ~2 hour
Total build time: ~6 hours

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Prusa i1 to i3 upgrade - Build day 3

I'm a bit backlogged on my posts as I got a horrible cold the day after build day 2 (Friday) which has only just started to fade. I did bits and pieces but never spent any real time.

As previously mentioned I'm following this guide and will only be documenting things I have trouble with or do which the guide doesn't state.

Print bed - Smooth rod distance

It all looked very straight forward until it came to check it moved smoothly, as attaching the bed involves drilling and screws it moved slightly.
After a few attempts at tweaking the width to get it moving smoothly I decided to put down the spanners and work out the optimal distance myself.
Some amazing photoshop skill

Add the blue lengths
Add the green lengths then half them (this gives you the center of the plastic part which should be the center of the bearing).
Add the result of the above values then take this away from the yellow/orange value.
yellow - ((blue + blue) + ((green + green)/2))
This gives you the distance between the center of the top and bottom bearings. To get the gap between the smooth rods just minus the width of a smooth rod.

Measure the width of a Y corner piece. From this value minus the width of the smooth rod.

Take this value from the distance calculated from the printbed.
This is the width between each corner piece.


Belt holder

Following the guide its pretty straight forward however if your belt holder is loose and doesn't hold the belt when its tight the guide recommends "shim it with an M3 washer or a piece of card".
Which in simple turns means jam small washer(s) or hard peice(s) of card under the belt until it doesn't slip.
Like so

End of Day 3

The rugby six nations grand final (unlucky England, well played Ireland) was on and I felt very rough so this is all as I did on day three.

Days build time: ~1 hour*
Total build time: ~4 hours

I did the work between matches and during half time so could have been 1h30m or 45m as I wasn't paying much attention.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Prusa i1 to i3 upgrade - Build day 2

Due to the issue with missing plastic parts I had a day break between build days.

True to my jump to section I like the look of style instead of attaching the last piece of wood to the frame I jumped to the Y axis.

As previously mentioned I'm following this guide and will only be documenting things I have trouble with or do which the guide doesn't state.

Y Axis corner blocks - aka the missing Arduino box

The assembly is pretty straight forward, however the guide states to use the Arduino box and gives no dimensions of it.
As my Arduino's are clones (much cheaper and the same functionality) they didn't come in the official box and the box they did come in has long been binned.

I checked around and according to the official RepRap forums its purely used as a spacer to ensure the smooth rods are level. So referrencing the image I looked around for something similar size and found a Raspberry Pi box and used it.
I measured the box and it was slightly (~0.1m) over 12cm in width.

I found a quick way to ensure booth sides are the same width is to attach a M8 bolt (or piece of M8 threaded rod) through one side and attach a nut.
The alignment both using the same box (or callipers).
The picture is poor quality, but you can see the bolt on the left corner piece.
As well the the Raspberry Pi box.

This shows the bolt a little better.

Smooth rods

The smooth rods referenced in the guide for the Y axis are actually the shortest of the smooth rods.
The guide is a little confusing as it references them as the long smooth rods.

If you threaded rods are line mine, only slightly (5cm to 10cm) longer then the shortest smooth rods its best to have the corner pieces at the very ends of the threaded rod, otherwise you'll be adjusting there location until they are.
Contracory to the guide I its easier to put the bearings on the smooth rods when you first insert them as they are clip fit pieces and are a pain to get out without messing up the alignment.

Y axis idler

The guide is using 624zz bearings while I had planed to reuse my 608zz bearings so I had to make slight adjustment.
Below is the setup I'll be trying first.
Flash seemed to make the image clearer, but darker at the same time

Its M8 bolt, washer, plastic, mudguard washer, 608zz bearing, mudguard washer, plastic, washer, two M8 bolts.
As there isn't room for standard washers I used the two nuts to keep it in place while allowing the bearing to turn.

End of Day 2

At this point my niece had gone to bed and I didn't want to run the risk of waking her up by drilling so I called it a day.

My desk/workbench is filling up, but the build is coming along nicely.

If everything goes well and I don't get any hickups I should be ready to start printing this weekend.

Days build time: ~1 hour
Total build time: ~3 hours

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Prusa i1 to i3 upgrade - Build day 1

I'm not going to document ever step as most of them are pretty straight forward or a case of doing the same thing on the opposite side or again a different section.
I followed this visual guide which is for the same version (box) and using a similar electronic setup.

As I'm never one to completely follow instructions I skipped to the frame assembly first as it relies on the heavier tools and can be done independently of the other parts.
I couldn't find my countersink so just used a ~10mm drill bit in its place.

The L sections

These are pretty simple as long as you use clamps to hold the pieces together.
Before you clamp them and get them in position mark the half way point on the board as this will help get the middle screw in the center.

Offset the top and bottom screws by 2cm to 3cm.

The base

This is a little tricky as it requires a 3mm spacer and the new piece of wood has a habit of moving when you drill it.
In hindsight I would highly recommend you use clamps.
On the plus side 3mm filament is, well, 3mm so its ideal as a spacer for this job.
Note the drill battery sitting on the spacer to keep it level.

End of day 1

I forgot to charge the drill batteries prior to commencing the build so I ran out of battery for the last piece of wood (for the frame).
As I'm missing plastic parts there is nothing I can do for the time being.

Days build time: ~2 hours*
Total build time: ~2 hours
*Includes switching between 3 drill bits, sorting and arranging the parts.

Just a side note the frame appears much larger then I was expecting. I'll take a photo of it and the Prusa i3 frame side by side once I add the last piece.

Prusa i1 to i3 upgrade - The old boy

Before I started to strip down my old Prusa I thought I'd take a few quick photos for reference and so show the wear/age of it.

Yes its a mess
 The blue parts are replacement parts. The black stuff under the printer was an experiment I planning on trialling, but never got round to. Its high density foam designed for noise isolation, the idea was it would absorb some of the vibrations and reduce wobbly because of this.

You can see the cracking near the washer which if adjusted or removed would likely cause it to break in two (like the endstop did).

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Prusa i1 to i3 upgrade - Parts arrived

As I mentioned in my previous post (well previous real post) the plastic parts arrived on the 1st (01/03/2014) and the hardware was delayed. So between the two deliveries I've not been able to do too much in the way of the i3 upgrade.
I'd cleaned a section of my room which I can dedicate to the printer and been frequenting the official forums and Reddit sub forums (3D printing and RepRap) in order to get myself upto date with the latest advances (in RepRap terms) as well as any common issues.
I also bit the bullet and ordered a SG90 micro servo for the Z probe upgrade I spoke about. I literally just picked the cheapest UK based seller who had good reviews and was selling the complete unit (arms and screws included) on eBay.

The Plastic Parts

I bought my plastic parts from 3DPrinterPunk for the reasons I outlined in my previous post (cheapest and the time and prints looked good).
The parts came well packaged with lots of packing peanuts as well as free cable ties and filament (which as you can see in the photo has the temperature as well).

Here's a photo of it all unpacked, please note the lm8uu's I added and didn't come with the plastic parts.
Sorry about the picture quality I was stood in front of the lights
Anyone with a keen eye will notice two things which don't match most printed part kits.

Firstly the little square parts (there should be 10 showing in the photo but I was inspecting them), they are cable tie holders and the central hole allows you to attach it to the wood via a screw.

Secondly there are 4 pieces missing. As its my first i3 build I didn't even look twice at the parts until I was using them in the build, at which point I noticed the missing parts (Y axis corners).

3DPrinterPunk was great a great help, he emailed me a list of parts and helped identify the missing ones (from the above photo) and is sending me the parts along side a free ABS extruder as an apology. The email exchange all happened after 10pm at night and was all resolved in about half a dozen emails.
That's some serious customer service and while the free extruder is a little much I'm not going to object.


I ordered my hardware (wood, rods, fastenings, bearings and belt kit) from Greg Colbourn via eMakerShop.
Freshly unpacked
 The parts came well packaged and all the fastenings were nicely labelled.

So the build begins.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Historic - Supplier Review: Think3dPrint3d - Endstops

Please note this review is from my original build in 2011.
Some of the sellers no longer trade and where the seller is still trading the items will likely have changed.

3X Endstop RepRap Prusa Huxley, Sanguinolou RAMPS Gen 6 7, microswitch end stop

Unit TypePack of 3
Delivery cost£0.75TypeStd
Date Order01/01/01Date Received01/01/01

3 microswitches for use as end stops, nothing fancy just 3 microswitches well packaged and delivered promptly.

  • Quick delivery
  • Does the job well
  • Good communication.
  • More expensive then generic sellers

Would I buy endstops from Think3dPrint3d again?


Think3dPrint3d are a great supplier however looking around the microswitches used on the RepRap are just standard microswitches (I thought they were something special) and for that reason I can pick them up much cheaper from generic sellers.

Historic - Supplier Review: snipermand - Stepper drivers

Please note this review is from my original build in 2011.
Some of the sellers no longer trade and where the seller is still trading the items will likely have changed.

Pololu/StepStick Stepper Motor Driver (RepRap RAMPS/Sanguinololu)

Unit TypeEach
Delivery cost£1.29TypeEconomy Int'l Shipping
Date Order16/11/11Date Received23/11/11

Product Review

  • Good heatsink
  • Good communication/support
  • Trimpot doesn't have stops

Would I buy stepper drivers from Snipermand again?


The lack of stops on the trimpot makes them a pain to use. Its a shame as the heatsink is good quality and the price is decent.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Historic - Supplier Review: Thingfarm - Kapton Tape

Please note this review is from my original build in 2011.
Some of the sellers no longer trade and where the seller is still trading the items will likely have changed.

Kapton Tape

Unit TypeEach
Delivery cost£x.xxTypeStd
Date Order16/11/11Date Received25/11/11

Kapton tape is used to help secure the thermistor and heating element to the hot end, its also used for heated print beds. At the time it worked out cheapest for a roll as the delivery was free when added to my existing ThingFarm order.
The tape is a ~30m roll, however its only about 15mm wide. This makes it ideal for use on the hotend however its terrible for use as a print bed material.

  • Cheap
  • Good for the hotend and wires
  • Too thin for print bed use

Would I buy Kapton tape from Thingfarm again?


This roll will be more then enough for any hotend or wiring usage I might need, however that's the limits of its use. A wider roll (50mm+) would have been more practical as it would fit all possible uses.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Historic - Supplier Review: AndyE987 - 10K Resistors

Please note this review is from my original build in 2011.
Some of the sellers no longer trade and where the seller is still trading the items will likely have changed.

SMD SMT 0805 10K Resistors Qty 10

Unit TypePack of 10
Delivery cost£0.30Type1st class
Date Order01/01/01Date Received01/01/01

Just a 10 pack of SMD size 0805 10k resistors. I needed these as I managed to drop one of my work bench and as they are tiny couldn't find it.

  • Cheap and work
  • None

Would I buy resistors from AndyE985 again?


For the money they were the cheapest UK supplier at the time and delivered them quickly. Can't really say anything more as they are just resistors.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Prusa i3 Upgrade/Update Parts - Quick update

This is just a quick update on the Prusa i3 upgrade/update parts I ordered.

Printed Parts

I ordered them direct from 3D Printer Punk for only £19.
Thought out the whole process Nel (signed Neil, but he kept referring to himself as Nel) kept me very informed.
As he had no stock of the boxed version it was a custom print run so payment wasn't until most of the print was complete.
At the 3/4 complete point I received an email informing me, a photo of the parts and if I was happy a invoice.
The X Carriage is grey as its ABS (due to hotend heat) and not PLA like the other parts

The parts looks better quality then I was expecting for so little money, so I promptly paid.

The £19 included first class delivery (Royal Mail), as the ship date was a Friday I wasn't expecting them to arrive until the Monday

To my surprise they arrived the next day carefully packed and included a dozen or so cable ties (the same bright colour of the ones in the photo). All the parts look good and after a quick check non of the holes look like they need drilling which is great.

As I'm awaiting the rest of the parts so I'll wait until I actually use them before giving a verdict, but so far its very promising.
Honestly for £19 shipped I can't see how he can continue selling them as time, filament, electricity and shipping can't leave much if any profit margin.

The Rest

I bought the rest (list can be found here) from Greg Colbourn via eMakerShop PM's and I was already aware he he had a large backorder for kits and printed parts. The current ETA of the parts are mid to late this week.

While I wait

While I'm waiting I'm compiling a list of articles and posts to help me configure the printer as best as possible.
Once I get a fairly definitive list I'll make a quick post with them on.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Upgrading Prusa i1 to i3 - Parts

As I mentioned in my previous post my current Prusa (i1) is in a pretty bad way as far as the plastics are concerned. Due to the original Prusa being phased out it was either a case of get the parts custom printed or look into alternatives.
Given that my plan was to upgrade my Prusa a while back it seemed a little pointless getting custom printed parts then printing parts for a new printer myself. Both cost and timewise it wouldn't be too productive.
As I mentioned before I'd my eye on the Mendel90 however the parts aren't readily available compared to the Prusa i3.

Re-usable Parts

Each 3d printer is made up of segments, some of which are interchangeable some of which aren't so much.
Here's a quick run down:
FasteningsNuts, screws, boltsSome*
Bearings608zz and lm8uuYes**
RodsThreaded and smooth rodsSome***
Belts and pulleysT5, T2.5, GT2Yes
MainRamps, Gen6Yes
Stepper motorsNema17, Nema14Yes
Heated Print bedYes
Hot EndJ-Head, E3DYes
Main partsNo
ExtruderWades, GregsYes****

* Some of the fastenings will be re-usable however the newer Prusa (i3) has a few variants so double (and triple) check you have enough of each.
** If like mine they have been stood for a while its worth checking them and adding some lubricant
*** Like the fastenings there are a few different builds of the Prusa (i3) and they use slightly different rod lengths. If the rods are in good condition they should be fine to replace the M8 and 8mm rods for the new Prusa with a little cutting.
**** The extruder sits on the X carriage so should as long as there is room for it and the X carriage has mounting holes which match.

Which type/variant?

 As I previously mentioned there are a few different types/variants of the Prusa i3. The main three are as follows.
  • Laser cut - Wood
  • Laser cut - Aluminium
  • Boxed - Wood
Both of the laser cut versions use the single sheet style, this is to say the main Z axis only has one sheet/plate. The boxed version on the other hand uses multiple sheets on the Z axis.
While the laser cut versions are lighter and look a little more fancy they lack the extra rigidity of the boxed version, however the boxed version is a little more DIY with holes to be drilled.

For me a main factor is price which the boxed version wins at every time, while the laser cut versions require expensive machines the boxed version only requires basic tools and a little time. The difference is clear once you look up prices. Laser cut wood ~£40, laser cut aluminium £65, wood for the boxed version sub £10.

My plan


While I want to re-use as much as possible I don't want to risk damaging new parts because of old parts.
I also don't want to be going out and buying new/better parts within a week or so of getting printing.
For this reason I'm only reusing the electronics, bearings and (temporary) extruder.
I could reuse a lot of the threaded rods however the printer has been sat for a while and I suspect the rods will have a little curvature to them.


Instead of opting for a straight forward rebuild (admittedly I doubt its going to be completely straight forward anyway) I want to make a few long standing upgrades.

First the bearings all to lm8uu the original Prusa was focused on as much printable as possible so the base version relied on PLA bushings.
While good they didn't last too long and, in my experience, had a habit of coming loose.
With the Prusa i3 its all about print quality and stability so the PLA bushings got replaced with real bearings in the form of the lm8uu's (widely accepted as an upgrade option on the i1). So the lm8uu upgrade was part of the rebuild (but I'm still classing it as an upgrade).

Second upgrade I've been meaning to do is the belts and pulleys.
At the time of the original Prusa T5 were the norm, then T2.5 followed shortly after by the GT2. The T in T2.5 and T5 stands for timing, they were never designed to be used in the way RepRap'ers did. This was the reason they had issues with backlash and a few issues. The GT2 belts were designed for the actions of RepRaps and helped reduced the issues of the T belts, which of course helped improve the quality of the prints.

Lastly I'm looking into auto bed leveling.
With the original Prusa the bed needed leveling every print due to the vibrations adjusting not only the Z axis, but also the bolts and nuts on the print bed. Prusa i2 (or a heated bed upgrade) moved away from the spring setup which inproved things, but still wasn't ideal.
Around mid to end of last year it appears functionality was added to Marlin (firmware) for auto bed levelling as well as add-ons/upgrades which use a servo and microswitch. The microswitch allows the firmware get the levels while the servo lifts and lowers a arm with the microswitch on it (lifters to avoid damaging the prints). I've got a dozen spare microswitches and some old motors lying around so this will be my first non-bought upgrade.


A lot has changed since I started my original Prusa some of the suppliers have disappeared, some no longer stock the same items and others have grown.
Thingfarm, whom was my largest suppler last time, vanished not long after I got into the swing of things.
Luckily eBay still has a decent amount of suppliers, but now seems to be more focused around electronic and hardware as opposed to plastics and fillament.
A semi-new site for me is eMakerShop I used it for the heated bed supplier (Think3D) and its grown nicely in all areas.

For hardware I wanted I found the same seller was listed on both eBay and eMakerShop and was offering slightly different prices on each. Strangely enough a like for like was a few pence cheaper via eBay, its strange eMakerShop don't charge for listings, but eBay does.
With this in mind and the items I wanted not in a set kit, I requested a quote and it was nearly £10 lower then the items bought separately from either.

That was the hardware sorted now I needed the plastics, which is a lot more tricky then anyone new to RepRap would think. Good printed parts can be hard to come by and prices can change drastically depending on filament suppliers and demand.
With cost in mind I took a punt and did something I refused to last time. Picked the cheapest UK based supplier off eBay (link to seller). Unfortunately they only hand stock of the single sheet printed parts, luckily they supplied an email address, so I requested a quote. I got a nice reply quickly saying they had no stock, but could print me some within 24 to 32 hours for £19 delivered (note this is slightly cheaper then the eBay listings). Compared to the cost of my original printed parts at £75 +£7 P&P it was a world of difference, but worth a punt as I doubt I could get cheaper elsewhere.

After some quick math I noticed I was under budget (I had budgeted £100) so added the pre-cut wood from the eMakerShop seller for £10+£3 addition P&P.

The parts

Here's a quick run down of the parts I've ordered:
  • Prusa i3 (box) small hardware kit (no 608ZZ, cable ties or bulldog clips)
  • 10 LM8UUs
  • GT2 belts & pulleys
  • Prusa i3 (box) smooth rods
  • Prusa i3 (box) threaded rods
  • Prusa i3 (box) wood
  • Plastic parts for Prusa i3 (box) excluding extruder
Hopefully all the parts will be delivered shortly and I can get to work building.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Historic - Supplier Review: idg-trading

Please note this review is from my original build in 2011.
Some of the sellers no longer trade and where the seller is still trading the items will likely have changed.


Unit TypeEach
Delivery cost£0.00TypeEconomy Delivery
Date Order13/10/11Date Received01/01/01

Product Review

  • Cheap
  • Just the right size for this project
  • None

Would I buy soldering braid from idg-trading again?


Its cheap and does its job. Nothing more to say really.