I had my eye on a Printrbot Simple, but luckily waited just long enough for the new metal version to come out.
They say that the build was of moderate difficulty. I’m an experienced maker in a lot of ways, and it was mostly easy but I wasted a fair bit of time figuring a few things out.
Thoughts on the build:
- The instruction manual is done solely in pictures. This works okay in most if you are used to looking at pictures and figuring them out, but if you don’t, it can be hard.
- It would have been nice to have a page that detailed all the screws and small hardware from a size perspective. I spent a lot of time differentiating between the different lengths and sizes of screws.
- In step 5, the wires had too much solder in places, so I had to bend them tight towards each other to get the nut off.
- In step 7, it’s fairly clear how to put the belt on, but there’s no data around how tight it should be.
- In step 13, the hole for the proximity detector was slightly too small; I had to screw it in. This would make tuning it later harder.
- In step 14, it’s not clear how tight the tension should be.
- In step 16, the z-axis block was slightly too wide, so the screws didn’t line up with the holes in the stepper frame. I machined a little of the plastic away with a dremel and it worked fine.
- In step 19, it would be good to understand the tension level.
- In step 22, it would be great to have a list of all the wires that need to be bundled here.
- Step 24, there’s no way all of those wires will fit through the grommet. I got two of the 5 connectors through, and could get no more. I ended up cutting the grommet.
- Step 26, it would be great to know how long each wire bundle should be to permit full travel.
- Step 27, it’s really hard to see how the stepper cables should be connected, and it would be nice to have a description of which motors are X/Y/Z/E.
Then it’s onto the setup. This was quite a bit more frustrating than the build was.
I got the teensy driver (windows) and repertier-host installed easily. Then, it got difficult.
Thoughts on the setup:
- My power supply died the second time I plugged it in. Luckily, I had an exact replacement on hand.
- It would be really nice to have a quicker way to set up the values for Repertier and Slic3r. This takes a while and it’s easy to mess up.
- The print size is specified as 200mm and the center as 100mm, when the correct values are 150mm and 75mm.
- Repertier won’t talk to the system until you hit OK in the manual controls part.
- The setup guide says just to use the manual controls to check if the steppers work. This is a decent step, but it will not detect whether the steppers and switches are wired correctly. I had one stepper backwards and the Y limit switch not connected, but it took me hours to figure this out. I suggest the following sequence instead:
- Use the manual X/Y/Z controls to verify that the steppers move, and that they move in the right direction. For example, if you press the “Z+” button, the extruder assembly should move up, and “Z-“ should move it down. This allows you to verify that the Z stepper is hooked up correctly. This should be done for each axis.
- Use the home command in each axis to verify that the switches are set up correctly. In the manual control section, do the following:
- Type “G28 X” and hit “run” (or execute, or whatever it says). The print bed should smoothly move all the way to the right, and then move back until it is centered. If there is any clunking sound, the X limit switch is not connected or not working. If the bed moves to the left, the X stepper connector is backwards.
- Type “G28 Y”, and hit “run”. The extruder assembly should smoothly move all of the way back, and then move forward until it is centered on the print bed. If there is any clunking sound, the Y limit switch is not connected or not working. If the bed moves all the way to the front instead of to the back, the Y stepper connector is backwards.
- Type “G28 Z”, and hit “run”. The extruder should smoothly move down until it is close to the bed.
- Better directions to set up the Z offset would really help.
- I watched the video on setting up the auto-leveling bed. I understood the concept, but there really needs to be a guide for it.
I’ve done a few prints with the printer, and it has performed quite well. Overall, I’m quite pleased.