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!

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