Tevo Tarantula Update!

24. May 2018 10:42 by Cameron in 3D Printing  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments

It's been nearly 2 months since my last update, but I have been busy printing and tweaking! I have printed a few gifts for my family (small jewelry boxes) and I've printed some upgrades to the printer. Since my last post, I installed the dual-y rail upgrade and began using PEI as my build surface. Since the dual-y rail upgrade, my bed has been much more stable. I am also running my printer from an MKS Gen L board with TMC2208 drivers. The TMC2208 drivers are drop in replacements for the stock A4988 drivers and much more efficiently than my previous DRV8825 drivers.

I think there is something strange with my frame though as my prints are just a slight bit slanted. I will likely need to do some frame stabilization upgrades in the near future to resolve this issue. I will likely go with more aluminum extrusions in order to ensure that my frame is rigid and straight up and down. I have 3d printed spacers for the dual-y rails, but I think these aren't perfect so I would like to fix this with a frame upgrade.

Printing on PEI has been a dream come true. I no longer have bed adhesion issues. I have only been printing PLA on PEI so far, but I will be getting into trying PETG soon. I had printed PETG directly on a sheet of borosilicate glass previously, however, the PETG bonded too strongly with the glass and when I removed the part, it took small chunk of glass. This chunk of glass was very small, but if I continued printing PETG that way, I could have ended up with a very uneven build surface. I have heard that PETG sticks very hard to PEI, but I will need to do some experimentation to see!

My next upgrades include a square frame (full base) with right angle mounts for my dual y-axis rails, stronger center brackets (replace the flimsy tiny metal brackets), z-axis supports, and potentially some feet out of TPU to absorb vibrations from the printer. My prints are currently at an acceptable quality level, but I do know, with the improvements I listed, my print quality can improve more.

At this point, I've spent enough money on the upgrades for this printer to where I could have just bought a Tevo Tornado or equivalent. However, these printers are more or less put together when you unpack them from the box. I have learned far more from putting together my Tevo Tarantula than by simply building a 90% complete printer.

My previous printer, the Monoprice Select Mini v2, although a good printer for most, is difficult to service (for beginners). I was, at the time, very much a beginner at 3d printing. It was a bit intimidating to take apart the Monoprice Select Mini v2 since I knew nothing about the internals of 3d printers. With my Tevo Tarantula, the entire build process with upgrades has been monumental in my understanding of 3d printing.

At some point, I would like to get a second 3d printer, but I will likely hold out for a full color 3d printer which mixes colors in realtime. At this time, full color printing is more of a luxury with a printer or extruder upgrade + printer costing upwards of $1000. We are on our way of this becoming more mainstream in the next year or so. For now, I am happy with my dual color/dual material Tevo Tarantula. In the meantime, I may explore painting my prints in post processing.

Update on Tevo Tarantula!

7. April 2018 16:27 by Cameron in 3D Printing  //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments

It's been a little over a month since my last update on my Tevo Tarantula. All of the previous planned upgrades are now installed and I am fine tuning to get high quality prints.

My dual extruder and large bed upgrade kits arrived the last week of March and I got both configured in Marlin and reflashed the firmware. The large bed upgrade was easy enough once I moved the Y-endstop to the back of the aluminum extrusion and adjusted the X-gantry position. Once I had everything heated up to test my second extruder, I noticed that my second extruder driver wasn't tuned correctly and the motor was clicking and didn't extrude. I adjusted the voltage on the E1 driver (stupidly without a multimeter) and eventually I turned the potentiometer too much and it ultimately broke. Since I had the stock MKS 1.4 base board, the stepper drivers were integrated, and I couldn't replace them. Because of this, I had to order a replacement board if I wanted to use the second extruder.

I wanted to avoid issues with stepper drivers in the future and I ordered an MKS Gen L board which has replaceable drivers. I also ordered two sets of DRV8825 drivers (5 pack) so I could be sure to have backup drivers in case I needed them. As it would turn out, I did need them! I didn't realize that the drivers were cranked up to 1.6v when I powered on the printer. I burned through 3 of the extra 5 drivers before realizing I needed to configure the jumpers for each driver and adjust the voltage down to 0.75v (this time with a multimeter).

These DRV8825 drivers run much quieter than the stock A4988 drivers and before I replaced the drivers, I had installed stepper motor dampers on the X and Y axis. Now printing is extremely quiet! As a future upgrade, I am going to replace all of the stepper drivers with TMC2208s which should make the printer virtually silent aside from the fans. Maybe I can replace the fans at a later point to reduce noise. The great thing is that I can now run prints at all hours of the night and day with minimal noise.

I decided I would go for the dual-Y rail upgrade to provide more stability for the build plate and reduce ghosting in my prints. I still need to print all the necessary components for this upgrade, but it will be a huge improvement once implemented. After I install the dual-Y rail upgrade, I'm hoping this will be the last upgrade I need to make on this printer for a while. Of course, I will always be tuning little bits along the way to improve quality. Originally, I got into 3d printing to enable me to print enclosures for electronics projects for Raspberry Pi and Arduino. However, this has evolved way past that and I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of building/tuning the printer and creating neat prints. Many friends and family members have asked me to 3d print various objects for them as gifts or toys. I think that is really cool and I'm happy to do that for them. I've also helped troubleshoot issues on friends' DIY 3d printers with the knowledge that I've gained from working on my printer.

One of my latest prints before my last rebuild was of the Millennium Falcon (named Fillennium Malcon on Thingiverse). I am pretty happy with how it turned out and it now sits on my desk at work. I printed the model at 60% scale with Cura. It took roughly 4.5 hours to finish printing. I had one failed attempt trying to print at 40% scale and about 70% into the print, the part fell over onto the build plate. This was due to my not printing a proper raft. On my second run, I made sure to print a large raft to avoid the same thing from happening.

I will soon be looking into PVA as support material for more complex models with dissolvable supports. I just need to see about how to properly store PVA since it is very sensitive to humidity. Perhaps I can invest in a single spool enclosure for the PVA. Cura's support options for PVA are somewhat limited meaning that it can only designate supports to one extruder. This will result in using a lot of PVA to support larger objects. Simplify3D and Slic3r Prusa Edition have an option to print PVA on only the areas that touch the model and your primary material for the rest of the supports. I am still deciding whether I want to buy Simplify3D when Cura suits 95% of my needs for everyday printing. At the price tag of $150, it better have pretty compelling features for me to make the switch from Cura. If I see myself burning through my supply of PVA quickly, Simplify3D would pay for itself in the long run. Rolls of PVA run for $35-50 which would be less expensive over a long period of time with Simplify3D.

Progress with my Tevo Tarantula

11. February 2018 15:30 by Cameron in 3D Printing  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update on the printer. Since my last update, I have received my aluminum brackets and replaced all of the original acrylic parts with their aluminum counter parts. The build is much sturdier than before. However, I have found that it is harder to get the bed manually leveled due to the rigidness of the frame. I'm in the process of getting a BL Touch sensor installed to allow for a less strict leveled bed. This should improve print quality and not require me to level the bed anymore. Previously with the acrylic parts, I could get away with less of a leveled bed and get high quality prints.

I've been trying to print pieces for my electronics enclosure, but the prints keep failing due to the large surface area and the bed not being perfectly level. Most of the time, the print would be fine until close to the end and then there would be some layer shifting that ruins the print. This is unfortunate because the part I'm trying to print takes 6-7 hours to print and most of the time I've set it to print over night. When I come back to the print in the morning, I find that the print has failed. I'm fairly confident that installing the BL Touch sensor should fix most of these issues.

I'm currently working through which version of the community firmware to install on my printer. I have Jim Brown's Easy Config based on Marlin 1.1, but for some reason, the BL Touch doesn't appear to work correctly for the Z-endstop and when I do the auto home mechanism, the print nozzle crashes into the bed. I'm going to try a few other firmware configurations available from the Facebook group. There are a few guides referring to the BL Touch and specific firmware releases. I'm fairly certain the BL Touch is not at fault because when I power on the printer, it deploys/retracts the sensor a few times. I expect that it's a firmware configuration issue and I should be able to get it working in the next few days.

I have a seconds Z-axis rod/motor kit coming from Tevo in the next couple of weeks. That should help with Z-axis stability and print quality. Most people say this is not necessary, but I don't think it will hurt. Once I have the BL Touch installed, I will do some before/after comparison prints with/without the dual Z-axis kit. I've also ordered a large bed sticker from Tevo to apply to a large bed that I will purchase from Amazon. I'm attempting to stay as stock as possible, but the kits from Tevo tend to be a bit more expensive and they take longer to ship from overseas than from a seller in the US. Eventually, I want to get a dual extruder upgrade, but I'm not sure if I will go with Tevo or source the parts separately from Amazon. I found a dual extruder kit on Amazon that is roughly half the price of Tevo's, but I would need to get a second extruder motor and part assembly. Because of the price of the individual components, it might just make more sense to get Tevo's kit. I'm mainly interested in printing complex models using PVA (water soluble) for supports and PLA/ABS/PETG for the model.

I will continue to post updates on the print quality and upgrades soon!

Beginning 3D Printing with the Tevo Tarantula

27. January 2018 17:24 by Cameron in 3D Printing  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments

After selling the Monoprice printer, I still wanted to venture into 3D printing, but I wanted something with more accessible parts if servicing is needed. I researched some DIY kits for a little while and ultimately chose the Tevo Tarantula. The Tevo Tarantula is a Chinese Prusa i3 clone I ordered from Gearbest and the printer kit arrived in about 10 days from Malaysia. Note, I had to get a shipping upgrade for the 10 day speed. Your mileage may vary depending on different shipping conditions. Once I had the printer in my possession, base assembly and calibration took about 15 hours. I struggled a little with the initial steps of getting the frame put together. Some other challenging parts of assembly included the T-nuts that were difficult to lock in place on the frame. They would tend to slide around and come lose after I had tightened up the bolts.

After I assembled everything and hooked up the electrical, I flashed Jim Brown's fork of Marlin 1.1 and went through the initial setup of the firmware and began the bed leveling. Be sure to copy/paste the example configuration from the repository over the existing configuration in Marlin. The bed leveling was a little difficult with the small thumb screws on the corners of the build plate. You can improve this design by printing plastic pieces to make the screws a bit larger for easier adjusting. I ran through the homing of the axes one at a time. When I got to the Z-axis homing, the acrylic bracket snapped in half and I was unable to continue without a new part or fixing the existing part. The good thing is that acrylic parts can be glued back together, but I recommend printing a new set of brackets or getting aluminum or carbon fiber replacements. I have ordered an aluminum set of brackets that I will use to replace the acrylic pieces. After I glued the acrylic Z-motor bracket back together, I was able to successfully get it re-installed onto the frame of the printer.

I leveled the bed one last time and printed a calibration cube. I had attempted to print from the supplied SD card directly from Marlin, however, I couldn't get a good print so I opted for Cura instead. Cura 3 has a profile for the Tevo Tarantula which is nice as I didn't have to configure too much to begin printing. In the near future, I will be using Octoprint to do printing remotely.

My upgrade journey is far from over! I have many improvements that I would like to print that will improve print quality and electrical safety. I plan to print a nice case for the screen (large full graphic screen), main board, power supply, mosfets (currently only have one for the heated bed), and Raspberry Pi 3 (Octoprint). The case will be good for cable management and keeping the dangerous high voltage power away from my hands. Currently, my printer is a bit of a hot mess with wires hanging all over (none are touching the print bed as that would be a fire hazard!) and the power supply has a small piece of plastic covering the exposed terminals for the electrical connections. I don't like the power supply design as it stands. I wish they had at least hardwired a power socket to cover up the exposed terminals.

I expect that printing these upgrades will take most of the week and I should have most upgrades in place soon! I will continue to post more updates for the printer!

The Short Life of my Monoprice Select Mini v2

27. January 2018 16:46 by Cameron in   //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments

This past Christmas, I asked for a Monoprice Select Mini v2 printer. This printer is highly rated on Amazon and has little to no setup time required to begin printing. It comes pre-assembled and is ready to print using the provided models on the SD card or by using a USB cable with a PC. Being that this is a mini, the build volume is 120mmx120mmx120mm. It's a good starter printer if you want a low hassle entry into 3D printing.

I happily used the printer for about a week before I ended up damaging the printer by leaving a print unattended for a few hours. I came back home, after working out, and found a big pile of stringy filament on the corner of my desk. Additionally, the printer had gotten stuck and the motors were attempting to move beyond their physical capacity. I wanted to fix the printer by taking it apart to replace specific components, however, due to its pre-built nature, this was more difficult than I had hoped. I couldn't get to the stepper motors without taking the full base assembly apart. This was more involved than I wanted so I ended up selling the printer on eBay for parts.

I still do recommend this printer as a good starter printer. However, take my strong words of advice to not leave a print unattended as you never know what you might come back home to! If you were to setup Octoprint, you could monitor your prints remotely. Some higher end printers have crash detection, but these printers are easily 3-4 times more expensive than the MP Select Mini v2.

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