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RevRico UltraDork
12/15/17 10:50 a.m.

Now that it's finally working, it's worth its own build thread. Pictures will be added later. 

So after much reading from the people here and a long time interest in the RepRap initiative, I bought a 3D printer for a winter project/toy.

I went with the ever popular Prusa i3 clone the Anet A8. After a shipping fiasco,and about 10 hours of assembly(sorry no pictures), I had a sort of working 3D printer.I it wouldn't actually print the whole way through. Another week of Google and a breakdown to ask the Facebook group, and the problem was found to be the sd card. 

For those keeping track at home, that's a week shipping delay, a DOA power supply, and bad sd card. I guess my good luck with Chinese products finally ran out. 

As I'm typing this, it is currently printing its first upgrade, a better Y belt tensioner. Got to love a tool that can upgrade itself. 

I guess this won't be so much a build thread as an ownership diary.


So initial impressions: it's great they included 2 extra of all the nuts, screws, and washers. Those are tiny and easy to lose. Assembly was fairly straight forward considering the pictograph instruction manual. The acrylic frame is a bit flimsy, but overall a nice package.I


Upcoming upgrades (how do I make bullet points with the new editor?)

  • Y belt tensioner
  • X belt tensioner
  • Z axis anti wobble nuts
  • MOSFET for heat bed is already installed
  • 460 watt ATX power supply installed.
  • Nema 17 z axis stepper motors are coming Xmas
  • Fiber reinforced rubber belt coming for Xmas
  • Front and rear frame braces
  • Eventual upgrade to Bowden extruder. 


I'm not sure what order the upgrades will be done in, but I should have all the frame stuff built before Xmas when I get the better motors and belt. 


The important setup videos

RevRico UltraDork
12/15/17 2:20 p.m.

Thar she be. Not pictured specifically are the power supply and mosfet. 

This morning I reprinted the cooling fan I screwed up last night and it came out great. Here's a side by side shot of the new and the old one. From directional to everywhere cooling. 

Next up was a better belt holder for the X belt. Better than zipties around a screw like the build instructions show by a long shot. 

I moved on to a calibration cube to check out everything. Within .2mm almost the whole way around so I'm calling that good. This not so good. Damn, that's blurry. But one of the corners is concaved. Not sure if it's a level problem or something else. 


I'm working on printing a Tardis now. nice 3.5 hour etimated print, will be my longest run so far, but since replacing the sd card I've not had any issues. 

DjGreggieP Reader
12/15/17 2:31 p.m.

In to see how this goes. I am kind of interested for future ideas

RevRico UltraDork
12/15/17 9:47 p.m.

All good things must come to an end. The tardis separated from the heat bed about halfway through. Looks very get promising though.

 inner shot

Outside view.


I think I have some leveling issues to work out with the bed yet, which is fine because I need to solder the connections from the mosfet anyway. 

Doc Brown
Doc Brown Dork
12/16/17 7:42 a.m.

Glad to see you figured out the original problem.  I reckon once you get past the learning curve you'll really enjoy the printer.  I'm still pretty much clueless, however I discovered the tape and glue seem to stick better if you preheat the bed before applying them.  

moor pictures! 

lnlogauge Reader
12/16/17 7:50 a.m.

I don't think that's a leveling issue that caused the seperation. Based on the calibration cube, something isn't good on the bottom layer. If the extruder isn't primed  before it starts, you're going to have some issues.  A wipe layer is an option on mine, to run a line around the part to prime everything. Ill use a brim layer as well, to add further adhesion. Did you calibrate squish as well? What material, and what temp is the bed?

RevRico UltraDork
12/16/17 8:11 a.m.

PLA plastic, from 3dSolutech. Hot end is 200C, bed is at 60C. I have another brand of plastic I'm getting for Xmas. Not sure what the differences are between brands, or if there are any, but I was afraid that would turn into a motor oil debate if I made a post. 

Turning the bed temp up from 50, and slowing the print speed from 120mm/s to 70 both helped immensely. Slowing down probably helped the most, but I've only had 2 separations since making both changes, one was the Tardis, the other I think I got greedy trying to print 4 things at once. I know painting the first layer slower should help, but I can't find that option in CURA and I'm still not very familiar with Gcode.

When I get back from bed shopping today I'm going to switch to a better camera with a tripod, my new phone's camera just sucks to use and really doesn't take good pics. 


The very first time I turned the printer on, I didn't know about the proper way to set the Z limit, and promptly smashed the nozzle into the bed ripping up the tape and scratching the aluminum. Since then I've tried some different coverings, regular masking tape, blue tape with and without glue stick. I'm hesitant to spray hair spray on running electronics, but I'm going to try it soon as well. Until I can get a PEI sheet in or find a mirror or window pane, I'm just going to keep experimenting with stuff, but glue stick does work the best so far on a preheated bed. 

This reminds me, I want to come back and edit my first post with the missing assembly instruction videos in case anyone else thinks a kit printer is a good idea. 

One last thought for right now:

Kit $205

AtX power supply $45

NEMA 17 stepper motors for z axis $25.99/pair

Fiber reinforced rubber belt with extra cog wheels $14.99

Mosfet $5.99

Total cost so far $291

paranoid_android UltraDork
12/16/17 10:06 a.m.

A piece of glass on the bed should help with adhesion some.  We keep a glass overlay on ours all the time, and when printing PLA, we still use tape and a glue stick to make sure adheres well.

Some designs benefit from having a raft print first.  It's simply a "sacrificial" layer that's a little bit bigger than your finished part, and then gets snapped off when you are done.  But I don't think your tardis would need one- rafts are beneficial to oddly or less regularly shaped parts.

Also, I think we run our bed temperature hotter than 70C.  I'd have to get downtown to verify this, but I think ours is closer to 80 or 90C.

Another tidbit that popped in my head- our MakerBot is kind of sensitive to filament diameters.  If the machine is set to 1.8mm and you try to run 1.75mm through it strange things occur.  If your machine has this setting it might be worth double checking.

RevRico UltraDork
12/17/17 8:57 p.m.

OK, so I took some better pictures. 

I know, Mosfet in  a bad spot, I'm working on a mount for it. 

Had another fail on a TARDIS today. This one only made it two windows high, but had the same big blob in one spot and stringy everywhere when I caught it. 


I did not have a successful print at all today. 2 Tardis fails total, each one at an earlier point in the cycle, and 3 of another project that barely made it past the brim. 

I really don't even know where to start troubleshooting, I suspect level and possible nozzle problems though. I should just focus on getting a Y tensioner printed so when I upgrade the belt at Xmas I can eliminate slack as a possibility. 

I also tried hairspray, it sucsks, I'll stick to blue tape and elmers glue stick until I get something better. I need to take a trip to the dollar store tomorrow, I hear they have real glass picture frames, so if I can find one in the right size, I'll grab it. 

Oh, any tips for getting the base layer of the brim/raft off the model? I get the stuff on the perimeter, but it really feels like there's more to come off. 

zordak Reader
12/18/17 9:56 a.m.

Not being a 3D printer guy take this with a grain of salt. I am a Toolmaker with lots of CNC experience. I even rebuilt a desktop unit. To my point it is extremely important to have the bed running parallel to the X and Y axis to get an accurate part. I would check this first before diving into anything else.

RevRico UltraDork
12/18/17 11:28 a.m.

In reply to zordak :

That actually is something I'm a bit concerned with. When I measured everything after I put it together and was making initial adjustments, there was almost 4mm difference side to side on the extruder carriage. I've got it down to within a mm, but it very well could have shifted since my last check. 

I beginning to think I should go to the library and print the Z axis anti wobble kit. The threaded rods pictured above that the extruder rides up and down on doesn't really have a home on the top of the frame, there's a hole for them but it isn't tight or anything. My last 2 attempts at printing plugs failed to print as well, so the wobble could be affecting the height or helping cause one of my curled up corners.

I'm working on piecing together the parts I need to make everything auto level. While it won't maGically flatten and level the bed, it uses an inductive sensor to compensate for not flat or level surfaces, could make things a bit easier, unless I switch to a glass bed.

I have also found a bit of Gcode that runs as a leveling template, it goes where it is supposed to at each of the 4 corners, then runs between the corners, letting me use the 2 hands I have to level things up without the third hand I need now. 

I really do think my changing the tape surface affects level enough to make a difference, just the pressure pulling off old tape despite the wing nuts holding it down..

zordak Reader
12/18/17 12:36 p.m.

Rigidity is also important for repeatability.

 As gor G code here is a short primer

X, Y, Z, these are the locations of where the head goes.

F is feed rate either in in/min or mm/min depending on inch or metric

G00 or G0 is rapid To the X, Y, or Z coordinates

G01 or G1 is feed to coordinates at feed rate defined by the last F

G02 or G2 is arc clockwise

G03 or G3 is arc counterclockwise.

no in the above you will see an I and/or J these locate the center of the arc. They can be either absolute or incremental from the start of the arc, which is the location defined by the previous line.


Hope this gets you somewhere.

RevRico UltraDork
12/28/17 12:05 a.m.

A minor update before a major update. 

Christmas has come and gone, with it, I got my new fiber reinforced belts, heavier duty stepper motors, and some money. That money turned into an autolevel sensor, a PEI print sheet, and some upgraded wiring. 

I've spent some time watching and reading about Cura, and I think I have my settings there dialed in properly. I'll find out for sure after the first of the two upcoming rebuilds. I have discovered the advanced settings, and holy E36 M3, if I actually did some research and really stiffened the frame up, I could do some crazy stuff with it, like CNC router or laser engraver. 

I haven't had any time to work with anything since last weekend when I couldn't get a proper print to save my life. 

My order of attack:

  1. Remove heatbed
  2. solder on proper sized wires Instructions HERE
  3. install PEI sheet
  4. Install Z motors
  5. PROPERLY align the threaded rod on the bushings at their 5mm points instead of random instructions different video
  6. reinstall heatbed
  7. PREHEAT for 10 minutes. 
  8. Measure and align both Z mounts from motor box
  9. Double check Z offset video here
  10. relevel bed with new leveling code (if I can find the damn file again)
  11. if not ^^ disable stepper motors, fold A4 in half, move Z around and adjust as needed. 
  12. print autolevel mount
  13. flash Marlin to 3d printer (zip on desktop) installation instructions with follow links
  14. mount autolevel sensor
  15. run test pattern Everything listed HERE and hope things work
  16. IF good, print Y tensioner
  17. Repeat 1-16
  18. Print front and rear frame braces
  19. Repeat 17
  20. Print the rest of the stability upgrades.

Maybe because I wrote it out in advance I'll actually do things in the proper order and doublecheck my work. Yes, that is a lot of work, and some steps will be adjusted based on results. I also included links not only for my reference, but for anyone interested in getting one of these to be able to sort through the garbage info out there. I'll post links to all the upgrades when I get them installed. I'm still sorting through and expect to test several versions of each


This little guy is the autolevel switch I ordered. It is preferred by the Anet community for their own reasons, but it is an 8mm inductive proximity switch. It should plug into the Z limit switch port on the main board, which eliminates what I find to be the hardest part of setting this thing up, actually setting the z limit. 

 This Piece is the PEI sheet I ordered. It should be here Friday. I'm not sure what is so special about it honestly, but it seems to be the ultimate print surface for this machine. No more tape, no more glue, people even put them on glass sheets. I'm hoping it works, but if not, I still have tape and glue. 

Speaking of glass sheets, I don't know if I'm going to be getting one or not. I'll have to see how the new surface works, as well as the autolevel, before I make any of those decisions. Being an aluminum heatbed and inductive sensor, the thickest glass i could use is about 3mm, that seems to be a tall order to find for close to free. 

RevRico UltraDork
12/29/17 3:38 p.m.

The wires I bought are too thick, they're going back.

Translating the Chinese stickers, the Z motors it came with are NEMA 17, so they're going back.

The PEI sheet got weird when I took of the adhesive, may need another one.

On the positive side, my X belt holder/tensioner works freaking awesomely. I also finally have the flex couplers setup right, so almost all wiggle is gone from Z axis.


Still need to level again before printing

CLynn85 HalfDork
12/30/17 7:17 p.m.

Thanks for posting this. I debated hard between something like the A8/Tarantula printers and the Monoprice Select Mini. The select mini won out for me due to the setup time/tinker time. I figured I could use a small printer to get up and running and always get a larger one like the A8 to tinker with later. Here's my review of the MP:



There have been times though that I've really wished I had a larger build volume, so I'm sure I'll be following your progress closely.

RevRico UltraDork
12/30/17 8:32 p.m.

In reply to CLynn85 :

I looked at those, and almost purchased a DaVinci. Watching doc browns thread with his quidi has made me rather jealous from an ease of use stand point.

I like the expandability the A8 offers as much as the 9"cube print space. 

I'm working on organizing some pictures because I have a big update coming, but I want to say this now to every printer owner here:  go buy a PEI print sheet.

seriously, the adhesion this thing offers is ridiculous. I've only had problems with tiny pieces I should have printed with a raft. I had far more troubles with glue and tape than this sheet, and mine isn't even perfectly flat. 

I'll even say if you buy one and don't like it, I'LL refund your money, is that awesome. 

RevRico UltraDork
12/31/17 11:26 a.m.

I've been promising a big update, and here it is. 

As predicted, I didn't stick entirely to that list I made, but it did turn out to be extremely useful. 

What I did find out, is that my original motors are NEMA 17, so the ones I bought to replace them are going into storage for when I need spares. 

Anyway, onto the pictures. 

The new X belt holder installed. Really worlds better than the SCREWS they suggested you use in the original intructions. Kind of a pain to get the belt onto it, but it holds tension fantastically, and should never need to be messed with. 

That ^^ is my new filament arm guide. It was the first thing I printed after getting the PEI sheet installed and releveling everything. What you can't really see is there is a bubble or something under the sheet by where the brim is curved up. That only affected the brim of the piece, sacrificial plastic, but I think I got lucky in the layout aspect.  I guess I forgot to get a picture of this installed. It connects to the left of the LCD screen and keeps the plastic feeding from the same general area instead of dragging across the top of the printer. 

The screw on the left is what a proper printed screw should look like. The screw on the right is what happens when you forget to connect your cooling fan. 

It even threads into it's female counterpart!! I need to figure out how to make threads with homemade designs. 

These are the last 2 parts of the Y tensioner, the side frames. one with and one without the support being trimmed. 

Total time for the Y tensioner upgrade is about 4 hours for all the pieces, printing them one at a time. 

I finally succeeded in printing a TARDIS as well, lighter there for scale. 

I haven't gotten all anal about measuring it yet, but it sits flat and actually finished printing, and looks to be dead on. 

I still have some frame supports to make, as well as the autolevel sensor parts, but it's coming along. It feels good to finally be able to print things and have them come out. While I will credit a lot of my success to anal retentive leveling practices, this PEI sheet is berkeleying phenomenal. Seriously, go buy one NOW. 

Oddly, once I get done with the upgrades and some toys I want to practice printing, I don't really know what to do with it. I'll probably regret this in the future, but if you can get me CAD drawings of stuff, I'd be willing to print it out for a few bucks more than shipping costs. I have blue and green plastic.  


RevRico UltraDork
1/1/18 7:02 p.m.

Hey those are some funny looking wheels

Is that some sort of swing arm suspension?


So this was an interesting print. I'm honestly surprised how well behaved my printer is now. The rims are caps that go over the wheels and snap onto the axle stub. I've got 3 wheels spinning fairly freely, the 4th spins just not as fast. 

It's already survived a few hours with the toddler as well. 

paranoid_android UltraDork
1/1/18 9:44 p.m.

Wow, what a difference!

It looks like you got it dialed right in now.

RevRico UltraDork
1/1/18 10:43 p.m.

In reply to paranoid_android :

Yes, it just takes time apparently. I couldn't sleep Saturday night, so I sat down and manually checked about a dozen points with a feeler guage(A4 paper folded in half) after letting everything heat up for a good 20 minutes. It took about an hour until I had a uniform feel all across the board. The heatbed screw placement adds some time to the equation, and I'm a bit ham fisted for the detail screw driver work required. 

I rushed it a bit putting on the PEI sheet, and there's an air bubble that formed when I printed the guide arm that I now have to work around, on top of the kink or dust or whatever that is under another piece. I'm buying another sheet with my next amazon order, because even improperly installed, it's adhesion is just magical. The problem is I put the sheet on the bed while the bed wasn't even on the printer, it needs to be preheated for the adhesive to attach properly, or big/hot pieces could cause air bubbles. 

I'm actually debating using my calipers to measure the gap I have on the heat bed and printing a solid corner mount to make it a bit more permanently level, but if I have any problems I could damage the nozzle or covering without the springs. Most people just get rid of the springs and use thumbwheels on screws for leveling. I feel like the autolevel would adapt and work around it, but I'm still not ready to flash the firmware for that to work. Plus the better the surface to begin with the better everything will be. I will though measure the gap at 2 points on all the corners, so when I have to make adjustments or change the Y belt, I have a good idea where to set everything up. 


Now about that truck, it's available here. The rim caps, wheels, and body were all separate prints. The body/suspension itself is all one piece, and prints with NO supports. It was interesting to watch it build from the middle out, and I'm very surprised at the lack of defects. I've counted about a dozen loose threads. That's nothing, not with all the lines printed in 3.5 hours. It did take 2 printings though. When I started the first time, it was printing the brim, and that's when I found out about the air bubble a few inches right and back of center. So I resliced the print to the upper left quadrant, a perfectly flat area as far as I can tell, and it printed out just fine. I'm actually going to be printing another one for a friends kid, so I'll try to get some action shots. 


Also, a general 3d printing tip: if you are printing any tubes, like a collar or barrel, orient them vertical before printing. The smaller, tighter lines are much stronger, and it won't break when you cut the brim off the side of the tube, because there won't be anything attached. 


Late edut:

One last thought for right now:

Kit $205

AtX power supply $45

NEMA 17 stepper motors for z axis $25.99/pair (storage, -$26)

Fiber reinforced rubber belt with extra cog wheels $14.99

Mosfet $5.99

PEI sheet $15.99

Total cost so far $281

RevRico UltraDork
1/2/18 11:01 p.m.

Random musings, my average cost per ounce of plastic is 55 cents. 

The monster trucks costs me less than $2 to make, and if I hollow it out, I can probably drop that cost. Currently, I can make 12 with an $18 spool of plastic. I need to get on etsy and fiverr and see about using this thing to make money. 


I just ordered a new PEI sheet, and 5 colors of plastic from 3 different brands. I'm really happy with the 3d Solutech stuff I've been using, it's cheap, I haven't had any issues, but a lot of the colors on amazon are estimating 2 to 3 month waits for restocking. 


I just finished scaling and slicing the files for a project I came up with. It's going to be somewhere around 35 hours for everything, and a majority of the parts are larger than any one object I've made so far. Having repeated the truck, and it actually came out slightly better this time, I trust the printer, but I need the new sheet to keep everything flat. 

Jerry UberDork
1/3/18 8:20 a.m.

I'm slightly interested in trying a 3D printer, if only for assorted Star Wars bits and misc car parts.  I'm pretty sure the WRX logo/letters in blue plastic I bought on Amazon was 3D printed.

trigun7469 SuperDork
1/3/18 10:40 a.m.

I just got a 3d Printer from Monoprice, so far I have printed a sample, going to start working on some 3d images.

RevRico UltraDork
1/5/18 12:39 p.m.

So, PEI sheets have a down side. The residual adhesive when you take them off. 

I've been rubbing my heatbed for an hour now, I'm about 2/3 of the way through. The only good way I've found is with a finger or thumb. 

Big update coming later today

RevRico UltraDork
1/5/18 3:02 p.m.

My right index finger is now mostly blister. Turns out the best way to get adhesive off of an aluminum heatbed is to preheat the bed and rub it. 81 square inches. Ow.


After I got all the adhesive off, I rubbed the whole bed as evenly as I could with 1000 grit sand paper just to catch the little bits I couldn't roll off, and smooth things over, followed by a wipe down with an alcohol pad to ensure cleanliness. Then it went back onto the printer to preheat. 

^^What I worked on this week. Those 2 looking things are screwdowns. They go over the threaded rod on the Y axis and screw to the table. Another monster truck, rims, some tubes for the Z lead screws I keep forgetting to isntall, and a mosfet holder that doesn't fit my mosfet. 

The tube on the left was printed vertically. The one on the right was printed horizontally. With the thin walls, it's much better to print vertically. 

After preheating for 20 minutes or so, it was time to put the new sheet on. I trimmed the corners so I could access the bed adjustment screws instead of poking holes like I did last time, in an attempt to prevent bubbling. 

And I still got a berkeleying air bubble!

I've tried to press and roll it out and I can't. It's too stiff even at higher heats to peel up far enough without snapping it, as the bubble is right of center. I'm thinking about heating it to max and trying to pull the air out with a syringe because I don't know what else to do. 

But I still wanted to do a test print after a quick leveling. 

It's flat, it's tight, it stuck like crazy. The ugly bit in the hole is my fault, no supports and the ring is centered instead of printing flat on the bed. 

I'm mostly satisfied. I can start working on a new project now that I don't have a giant in the way bubble just a small in the way bubble to work around. 

I got some new colors in the mail today too, Black, Teal, and White. So now I can start printing proper black tires for the monster trucks too. I'm waiting on Yellow and Red, as well as stainless steel nozzles. 

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