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Giving up on Makerbot... >:/

Posted by noobcake 
Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 01:43AM
I bought a Makerbot "Cupcake" kit a couple months ago for the purpose of being a (what I thought at the time) an easy RepStrap....

This was in the middle of playing/learning with my other CNC machine a 3-Axis Gantry Router style subtractive CNC.... and I went a little CNC happy xD (also bought a Cricut...)

Anyways, I assembled the Makerbot and also bought and installed the heated build platform v2...and could print a whistle...yay! During this whole time I also have been learning a lot on my "real" CNC machine playing with wood and stuff...but I still haven't gotten past being able to JUST extrude a whistle with my Makerbot...

In fact, playing with the Skeinforge settings so much, I now can't even reliably print a whistle... So, about $1,000 later I have a machine that can print a crappy whistle that doesn't even work (it's actually gotten worse...my very first whistle I printed DOES work). I really just wanted a repstrap to make a Mendel!

I regret buying the Makerbot Cupcake now... I find Skeinforge to be highly non-user friendly...and I just had to stop from just cussing at it. uhm... I really don't like the Z-Axis design on the cupcake either...

Well, I'm giving up on trying to make the cupcake work...so now I am thinking of trying to take it apart and use the parts for building a Mendel or repstrap. and this is what I am asking now and I don't even know if this is the right place to ask it but...

Is it possible to use the Makerbot extruder and extruder controller electronics and the stepper motor driver electronics and build a repstrap or mendel that actually works? Do I already have all the parts I need except for the printed parts (which I'm considering just making on my subtractive CNC in wood or plastic) and the linear rail metal parts?

Has anybody else been in this situation here that wants to strip a Makerbot for parts and just build a Mendel? Do I need a different extruder? What would I need to change the makerbot electronics over to reprap firmware?

Even if I do build a Mendel or Repstrap will I STILL just have to randomly play with settings in Skeinforge??!?! Are there other alternatives?

So right now I'm considering trying to just strip the makerbot for mendel parts but I don't want (can't afford really) to spend even more money on it....

Or I also have been toying with the idea on just making a regular CNC assembly and at least that would fix all the "play" from the cupcake Z-Axis...

Third option if the other two are too expensive or impossible is... anybody want to buy a slightly used Makerbot upgraded with the Heated Build Platform v2 and 5lbs of extra ABS plastic xD?

Can somebody please answer me honestly: is a Mendel more accurate than a Cupcake...or at least more reliable (consistently inaccurate but at least kind of makes the desired shape ^__^ )

Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 02:36AM
You can get fairly good parts out of a Cupcake. There are a number of calibration tutorials for getting skeinforge settings right, and once you're printing you can print a few Z wobble arresters and X and Y tension adjustment brackets (look for the upgrade tag on thingiverse) and get the precision pretty damn good. The latest RepG comes with an integrated skeinforge so you can start over with default settings and see how things go. Even without the upgrade parts, I managed to use a Cupcake to print an entire Mendel (which does work, except the Makerbot steppers are too weak to drive the extruder, so I'm replacing one of those with a more powerful part). Accuracy is similar, but it's much quieter than the Cupcake. Since you already have a subtractive CNC, I suggest you try and mount an extruder on it. The Cupcake parts can be salvaged to make a Mendel or repstrap, your main problem would be getting correct-sized belts and bearings. But if you have a working CNC then this is not an issue. Your subtractive CNC only needs an extruder to become an additive CNC. Skeinforge is currently the most advanced gcode generator I'm aware of, and has given me the best results. If it's too complex for you, you can try and play around with repstrapper. Please be aware that skeinforge and the Cupcake are separate projects (though there is much contact between the people developing each) and there is nothing stopping you from using another gcode generator. Another note, it's a very bad idea to randomly play around with skeinforge settings. Have a known good configuration you start with (download the Cupcake base configuration from the wiki) and use one of the many calibration tutorials to systematically adjust settings until you get good print quality.

Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 02:40AM
Since you already have a subtractive CNC, I suggest you try and mount an extruder on it.

Agreed. smiling bouncing smiley

-Sebastien, RepRap.org library gnome.

Remember, you're all RepRap developers (once you've joined the super-secret developer mailing list), and the wiki, RepRap.org, [reprap.org] is for everyone and everything! grinning smiley
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 03:00AM
I didn't really just randomly change the settings xD

I followed every wiki and tutorial on skeinforge i found...can you please tell me of some that has helped you that I didn't find? smiling smiley

Thanks fr the reply!
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 03:22AM
... its mainly tweaking with temperature settings and extruding speed vs. moving speed.

If the trays didn't stick, rise the temp or lower the moving speed ... if the tray curls, reduce the extruding speed ... if the part warps, rise the bed/ambient temp ... and so forth ...

Its higly dependant of your material too - here even differences in the same material from different vendors can require a complete readjusting of the params eye rolling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2010 03:23AM by VDX.

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Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 04:54PM
I don't have a Mendel (yet) -- but I've got 2 MakerBots and I've printed 2 Mini Mendels, and I'm 90% of the way done with 2 full-sized Mendel prints. My parts come out great, the printer runs for about 15-20 hours a week largely unattended.

If you can't make a MakerBot work, I would think you're going to have more trouble with a RepRap -- but that's just my $0.02.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 11:20PM
Thanks for your suggestions all.

Well, I'm going to modify my makerbot and see if that works (my second option) ...I bought a linear rod tonight at Lowes that I will cut in half and change the Z-axis out.

If that doesn't work....I already have a design in my head that I will model if just changing the Z-axis isn't enough. A static gantry with the Y and Z on top and a moving bed as the X on the bottom. I also think I'll try to add a gear extruder that doesn't rely on any metric threading...

The Makerbot is very disappointing and yes maybe a few lucky people have working makerbots but their own google forum has tons of posts of people with problems... I have already given up on making my Makerbot work. I was asking if anybody here had taken their makerbot and used the parts to make a mendel.

I'll either have a repstrap in a few weeks or I'll just ebay the parts if I fail in my makerbot->repstrap-like conversion (highly likely)...we'll see smiling smiley

There is a big possibility I am just spoiled knowing what a real CNC can do...I can model anything and have my subtractive cut it out and be within .01" to .001" tolerant. Trying to do the same thing with my Makerbot and then seeing a blob of melted plastic ...kind of disappointing. Real CNC machines are highly accurate...the Makerbot is more like a toy...

Had I known this before hand I would've spent my $1,000 on a 4th axis instead...with a 4th axis I could create the same type of parts in polymers but be even more accurate than an extruder and also of course use even more materials (wood/metal/any plastics) ...but well now I'm trying to either make a RepStrap out of my Makerbot parts or call it a lose and try and get half of my money back on ebay...

Thanks all!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2010 11:22PM by noobcake.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 11:25PM
Definitely dump that toy. I'll take it for half off! smileys with beer
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 02, 2010 11:29PM
If you're serious I'll be putting it up on ebay probably within 3 weeks...if I can't make it better myself. I have a working machine I like using I've had enough headaches with the Makerbot. smiling smiley Offer me say $700.00 right now and if you are serious I won't even try to work on it.

I also installed the heated platform v2 and some LEDs and a fan that sucks air off the extruder pcb...and I added velcro fastened windows with transparent sheets..that's all I've done with it as far as modding.... msg me if you really want it XD

Oh and I also have an unused 5lbs of ABS and some of my free 1lbs spool left...maybe half of that though...

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2010 11:36PM by noobcake.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 03, 2010 01:01AM
nooncake I am PMing you. There is no reason for you to have this many issues with your Makerbot RepRap derivative. I will help you get it printing, or I will swap the outer shell of your Makerbot for a set of Mendel parts smiling smiley.

Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 03, 2010 07:29PM
Thank you SOOOOOO much Spacexula! With your unbelievably generous help I can see maybe where my Makerbot works now grinning smiley

I am not selling it now and no longer giving up on it....thanks to Spacexula the nicest person in any forum ever! ^__^

I don't know if I can post pictures in here but I'll try


Thanks all!
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 04, 2010 02:40PM
Nice one smileys with beer
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
July 05, 2010 02:15AM
It's nice to see the community coming through on this one. Good one spacexula!!

I just saw this thread and have read it all, my thoughts were that it is quite ambitious trying to get ones head around 3 projects at the same time. (CNC, Cupcake & Cricut), even though they are similar.

I have found that while building my ScrapStrap, all other projects have come to grinding halt, and I still don't feel that I am spending enough time getting to know the issues.

One of the most successfull RepRappers out there (IMHO) is NopHead with HydraRaptor and if you read his blog you will see it took him years (literally) to get where he is by following a consistent and methodically experimental approach.

Anyway, back on topic, good luck with the Makerbot....


Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 12:21PM
I have problems with my Cupcake CNC. In fact, I'm the third owner. First guy got it through his school, never got it working and gave it to a friend of mine-- a fellow student-- who also couldn't get it working. Now I own it and I've had it for a few days-- no joy. I've gone through setting up the extruder very methodically, keeping a log, and it definitely seems to be a problem with the feedrate settings in ReplicatorG.

For some mysterious reason, manual control of the feeder motor only works when it wants to (in replicatorg's control panel). When it does work, I can feed the extrusion perfectly, but when I attempt to print the feeder ends up chewing a smooth indention in the ABS core and the gear teeth can't grip. If someone can tell me what settings I need, I'd love to get this thing working.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/2012 12:35PM by hey.morris.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 02:03PM
The current on your stepper motor is likely too high. Basically, everybody thinks that if you can get enough torque on the extruder motor, you can push anything through, come hell of high water. This is way not true.

The extruder torque should be the weakest component in the equation, like this:

Hobbed bolt (I don't know what your Cupcake uses...) and the pinch wheel (or roller bearing) are the strongest components. Nothing should deform these.

The filament. You should be able to deform the filament slightly between the hobbing, and pinch wheel. Enough to get a good grip. If there are springs involved, they should only be used to compensate fo MINOR diameter variations.

The motor. You should be able to run this motor with the extruder block cold, and not damage the filament. In other words, the motor force should not exceed what is required to carve out a chunk of filament.

Find this sweet spot on your electronics, and you will be golden.

Best of luck,

Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 03:57PM
Well, firstly, this feeder is a DC motor. I have mine adjusted for 1mm, but that makes no difference really. Same problem occurs at standard 2mm adjust. The problem seems to be with skeinforge. As I was saying (when I can get the control panel to work) the Control Panel manual feeder controls work perfectly with the extrusion head pre-heated. It's only when I try to print something out that things get mangled in the feeder. It's like it's trying to move too fast. Looks like spacexula solved the problem for the other guy. Just not sure why the solution was PM'd instead of posted.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 04:28PM
If you have more questions I suggest you start your own thread as this one is 1.5 years old and the only relation is the other person had a problem with their Cupcake too. Reading about that is fairly pointless for people who are trying to help you and many may assume the problem is either long resolved or beyond help.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 04:36PM
Ok, I can do that. I mean, it's the exact same problem but nobody bothered to explain how it was solved.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 04:43PM
Actually, just forget it. I'll post something when I've solved it. I feel like it will take a solid week to get through this on the forum.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 17, 2012 05:00PM
I started with a makerbot cupcake and spent a few months trying to get it to work. Its almost impossible without a heated bed and I had to rebuild the extruder many times. In the finish I had to remake a new extruder until I got it to work. I think the later cupcakes are better though.

I have a Prusa now and it is much better than a cupcake....its in a different league really. I should have built one of those first.

The trick I found was to slow everything down, really slow. Begin very slow then build up altering one parameter at a time.

To be honest I think your main problems are with Skeinforge, which although is a very comprehensive piece of software, is often difficult to negotiate. Perhaps SFACT may be a better option.

Don't give up, you are nearly there, if you can get a print off it shows you are not too far off as you have extrusion and bed adhesion which are the two big hurdles to overcome.

Take up the offer of someone coming to visit you to help out if you can, you will probably find its just a few parameters that need changing to solve all you problems.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 18, 2012 06:03AM
From my point of view, the cupcake it is not that bad of a machine, once it is fitted with real (salvaged printer) rods and brass bushings, a decent homemade wades extruder, a homegrown heated bed, a RAMPS brain and Marlin firmware winking smiley . Once built and properly configured, it has proven less fiddly than the Mendel Prusa it printed.

The real shortcomings are, from my point of view, the wimpy Y motor hidden in a difficult to ventilate, hard to reach place ("what temperature is it runnning now? no idea"), and of course the limited printing area. But one can live with that. Don't give up.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 18, 2012 12:12PM
Honestly, the Cupcake seems like the beta for the Thingomatic. I have a Mendel, and after months of fiddling it prints great. One of the guys at my hackerspace had a Cupcake and wrestled with it constantly, never getting the quality above a mediocre level. Another guy got a thingomatic a month ago. After a weekend he had it printing similarly to my Mendel, albeit with the smaller build area. The quality difference between the two machines can not be understated.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 18, 2012 06:56PM
This is clearly a skeinforge settings issue. Motor speeds should be slower, feed rate should be slower and the amount of torque should be limited via the DC feeder motor's duty cycle when it's reversing. What's shocking is that nobody's published a working skeinforge profile for the cupcake and the one provided with replicatorg just plain doesn't work. Not even Makerbot have addressed this issue.

The worst of it is that each time you test a print, you end up having to nearly tear the extruder section apart to remove the abs filament.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 18, 2012 08:13PM
I can volunteer my skeinforge & slic3r config files... as well as Marlin settings, but it is for a stepper extruder... and RAMPS electronics

This evening it printed very nice sim city pieces at 0.3 mm layer height and 70 mm/s speed (first layer and perimeters at half that value). I could not go over 40 mm/s with Sprinter. Marlin works real miracles.

So with proper firmware & electronics ye ole cupcake mechanics can do much better than expected.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 18, 2012 09:52PM
I just need to find out which version of ReplicatorG and skeinforge are stable for the cupcake. That said, I'm not sure I have the patience to tear the extruder apart 8 more times while slowly working my way through replicatorg and skeinforge combinations.
Re: Giving up on Makerbot... >:/
January 19, 2012 01:25PM
The solution, as I figured out this morning, is to change a setting in the speed.csv file that comes with the Cupcake's skeinforge settings folder. The ratio "Parameter Feedrate over Operating Feedrate" was set stock at 1. This produces XY movements at a rate of speed (while extruding) that exceed the Cupcake's MK4 printing capabilities. Setting this ratio to .3 gave me the first print this machine has ever made.

For future cupcake inheritors that have issues, skeinforge is where the problem lies.
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