Scooting Right Along with My 3D Printing

All Work and No Play Makes Michael a Dull Boy

Lots of little failings here and there, which became annoying so I took a breather and shut the factory down for a bit to regroup. The printer would get to about 30% and then just start ghost printing in thin air with nothing extruding. Or something would become unadhered from the print bed. Always something screwy. I had been changing filaments out a lot too, which may have been causing some issues.

And when I began printing a pretty big project, it would fail, so I’d abort the job, and then find I couldn’t even remove the item from the bed, it was stuck on so good.

So I learned how to remove the heated printer bed, which is a plate of patterned tempered glass. I put it into the freezer(once it had cooled off) and after a few minutes, I was able to pop it off.

The power went off during a storm at about 4:00 am which threw a nice monkey wrench in everything. The more we place our lives into the hand of technology, the more vulnerable we’re making ourselves should just a basic failure like a power shortage happens.

Something that I’m not even how sure to describe also happened the past few days since I’ve chronicled my little endeavors.

When you have a 3D printer, you can send print jobs to it 2 ways. Either by using a micro-SD card, placed into an adapter and into your computer, and place the sliced files–>Gcode onto it that way. Or you can use a USB cable and hook your computer up to your printer that way.  I’ve been doing it both ways, which is fine as long as I’m sitting here in front of my computer and the printer.

But there’s a more efficient way, for the technology-inclined, which I sort of am. More than I give myself credit for I think.

And that’s by using a Raspberry Pi computer to use a program called Octoprint that was developed over in Lapland and has a huge following and support group. If you begin doing 3D printing, you’ll begin to run into a LOT of videos, articles, and people talking about using Octoprint and how awesome it is. But of course, to run it, you need a Raspberry Pi and a few accessories, since a Raspberry Pi is just a motherboard with some outlets and doohickeys attached, depending on what version Pi you’re using. The most updated is version 4. It’s been in use and was developed around 6 years ago, in my best guess. That’s the I hear of them and became a little interested and dabbled in it. You have/had to know Linux and use a terminal and it’s not for the layperson. It’s for someone who wants to get their hands dirty and likes to learn about programming, computers, technology, etc… Like me to a degree.

Octoprint Screenshot

I remembered buying a Raspberry Pi, or 2 and some gear for them years ago. I moved on, not really having a ton of uses for it way back in the beginning. There wasn’t much of a support group like there is now and it had just popped onto the scene. Sometimes I get ahead of the curve technologically. 

But as I kept reading and watching what I could find to learn about 3D printing, the more I realized I was going to have to install Octoprint and take the plunge. So I began looking at packages and what was available these days for the Raspberry Pi, which you can of course all get on Amazon now. What I was looking at was about $135, which is steep for my budget these days, sadly, for what amounts to a hobby.

But in the meantime, I went closet diving for a cable or something in a dark closet where I have a ton of boxes of all sorts of things I rarely need anymore. 6 keyboard. A banjo. An old PC. Lots of photo books and a box of hats and office supplies and on and on. But in one of the boxes, I discovered I still had a Raspberry Pi1 and 2, with a “Raspberry Pi Sense LED hat” and power cord, wi-fi dongle, cases, and all sorts of gear. SD card for it as well. I had everything I needed, in fact. Ha!

So I was able to set myself up with a print server, install Octoprint, timelapse, and a bunch of awesome plugins, and really get the ball rolling. Amazing!

The amount of support for 3D printing and Octoprint and this whole hobby has swelled to be a world better than when I began tinkering with it 5 years or so ago. And I have to mention that the people that are into 3D printing and the Raspberry Pi and Octoprinting are among the nicest and most helpful you’ll find online. It may have something to do with so much being open source these days, or the origins coming from the UK and a lot of this from the wintry climes of Switzerland, Finland, and thereabout, which I find the people there to be much more patient and helpful than your everyday American. I say that as an American, mind you. I’ve traveled around the world and the US extensively and different cultures are certainly more hospitable than you’ll find in most US cities. The US-South notwithstanding, which are more hospitable, warm, and openly friendly than the rest of the country. Kiwis (New Zealanders) are among. the nicest on the planet as well. If you want to dispute that I’m open to debate. I’m not putting people down, I’m lifting up the ones that deserve it, mind you.

Anyway, I learned to, and did change out the nozzle on the printer, which looked like it needed it. And got some new ones. I bought, in haste, some steel, and brass .4mm nozzles when I got the printer which I believe was a mistake. They aren’t identical to the ANYCUBIC ones, and they aren’t a 7mm hex type, which makes things a little more tricky. I’d like to stay as close to the manufacturer’s recommendations as possible. The new nozzles are .2mm for finer printing but that means I’m going to have to be that more cautious about clogs since the tip is finer. I’m a little concerned about my filament drying out. I have it all in the bags they came in(unsealed), in boxes, sealed up with desiccant. I have a heated and bag sealer with a vacuum, which I bought for food, and it is a great investment for that. If you live alone or cook for 1 or 2, it saves a lot of money and food. And I’m tempted to use it for the filament, but once I seal a bag shut, I’ll have to cut it open again, and that will reduce the amount of material I can use for sealing, eventually to the point I can do that. So I’m hesitant. And I also don’t know if that’s being too OCD anyway.  Here’s a shot of the Tub o’ PLA:

tub of pla filament

Here’s a close-up of the gunkified old .4mm nozzle:

clogged 3d printer nozzle


%d bloggers like this: