3D Printer

I purchased a Prusa i3 DIY kit from Hong Kong some time back. I assembled it and got it working, but have not used the printer much.

The first issue I had with it was that the board shorted and burned some lanes. I managed to fix that and even bought a spare control system (I actually have two spare systems). After that I discovered that I had an issue with the FTDI chip. The Scotish company making FTDI wanted to slam down on fake chips so they updated their drivers to actually damage fake chips.

I don’t like the fake chip industry, but neither do I believe that I as a customer should be responsible. I notice that CH340 chips have gained a lot of marked with makers after these incidents. The only way to know that I have a real chip is by ordering an expensive replacement from FTDI that will cost me the same as a new control system.

I use an Arduino Mega based control system with custom layout. It is quite nice and the firmware for it can be generated from on-line pages and downloaded. The PC front-end use a classic slicer and some custom G-code to operate the printer.

Running the printer I noticed that it sometimes switch on the nozzle fan and “forget” to switch it off. The effect is that the feeder stop feeding as temperature drop below 150 degrees and half my print ends up being a dry run. I have so far not found the configuration to control this better, so I am considering disconnecting the nozzle fan.

I have looked into the open source firmware code, but I am a bit reluctant to start making changes due to the state of the code. It reminds me a bit of a rat-nest to be honest. The challenge with those is that it requires a bit of time to get into and understand the code. I have actually considered re-writing the firmware, but again time. I have enough projects as it is – for now.

The main challenge is however to find a proper, free CAD program that is easy to learn and will allow me to create components that can be printed. One of my experiences is that you need to design the component for printing and you need to add the support mechanism manually. I have a few 3D parts around with support plastic so tightly integrated into the components that I can’t separate them, so I am not using the auto-generated crap anymore.

I need to find a solution to all this since I want to print legs for my spider on this 3D printer.

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