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Electrical Upgrades

Posted by 750magna 
Electrical Upgrades
February 01, 2016 12:48PM
While I'm quite comfortable making mechanical upgrades to my printer, one area that I feel in over my head on is when it comes to electrical. While I'm no expert, I feel like my printer (Trinity Labs Aluminatus) could use some electrical upgrades in order to make it truly fit in with more industrial class 3D printers. The problem is I'm not exactly sure where to start, or what the best resources would be for me to learn how to do an electrical overhaul.

What electrical related upgrades have you guys been making to your printers and what do you feel has been well worth the investment?
VDX
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 01, 2016 01:07PM
... 32Bit-controller, better stepper-drivers+steppers, better extruder, heated bed ...


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 12, 2016 11:52AM
I've got a heated bed and I've upgraded to an E3D hotend. I'm considering getting a bulldog extruder or something else all metal that will be extremely reliable as well. I came across a company that makes a closed loop hybrid stepper that would be a very nice upgrade, although they're pricey enough that I'm going to need to wait for a big enough project to come along that I can justify them.

Would the smoothieboard be a good 32 bit controller? I remember a couple guys on the trinity labs board talking about getting one back when it was active, but there isn't a whole lot of detail as to what is required to make the switch. I doubt it's just plug and play, and I'd want to make sure I don't screw something up connecting a wire to the wrong pin or not knowing much about how to update firmware. Also, aside from faster processing of G code, what other benefits would a 32 bit controller have for a printer. I can see more obvious advantages for delta printers over regular Cartesian machines.

Any thoughts on upgrading the physical wiring and connections? While my printer wiring isn't particularly messy it's also not as neat and tidy as it could be. I imagine a well done wiring job would ensure a more robust printer, and while I don't know for sure, I get the feeling that the wiring job is more hobby grade than industrial.
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 12, 2016 01:00PM
The Smoothieboard is a good board, so is the Duet 0.8.5. Both boards have these features in common:

- Stepper drivers that are better cooled and so more reliable and capable of higher currents than plug-in drivers
- Software configuration of stepper motor current
- Built in SD card
- Configuration of the firmware by editing a text file on the SD card (no need to recompile and re-upload the firmware to configure it)
- High-current 5V regulator on board (standard on the Duet, an optional extra on the Smoothieboard)
- Ethernet connector supporting a web interface
- Native USB port with built-in flow control
- Keyed and locking connectors to guard against cables falling off

The Duet currently supports a much better web interface than the Smoothie, including fast (typically 200kbytes/sec+) file upload to the SD card over the web interface. Smoothieboard firmware supports CNC machines as well as 3D printers, whereas Duet is intended for 3D printers only.

Duet supports the PanelDue colour touch screen (full disclosure: I designed, manufacture and sell this). Support for PanelDue is being added to Smoothieware, but I haven't been given a date when the support is expected to be complete.

For a delta printer, a 32-bit board is well worth it. For a Cartesian printer, IMO the advantages are the greater reliability compared to RAMPS, easier configuration changes (including stepper motor current)and the web interface. Most Duet users control their 3D printers using the web interface from a PC, tablet or smartphone (or even all three) and upload files to the SD card for printing using the web interface.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2016 01:45PM by dc42.



Large delta printer [miscsolutions.wordpress.com], Robotdigg SCARA printer, Crane Quad and Ormerod

Disclosure: I design Duet electronics and work on RepRapFirmware, [duet3d.com].
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 12, 2016 01:18PM
My machine has many of the things that have been suggested as upgrades:

Smoothieboard with LCD controller (replaced Arduino)
DSP stepper drivers on X and Y axes (replaced RAMPS)
32V power supplies for X and Y motors (instead of 12V)
BullDog XL extruder and E3D v6 hot end (replaced QUBD junk)

In addition,
1/4" cast aluminum bed plate with 1/2 W/cm^2 heater and 3 point leveling system
linear guides in X and Y axes
belt driven Z axis acme screws that never lose synchronization
rigid 1.5" square aluminum extrusion frame construction
warm, enclosed build chamber
electronics in a drawer for easy accessibility

Every single one of these has been worth the cost and effort and has contributed to print quality and/or reliability. Many parts were obtained from local scrap yards and ebay industrial scrappers.

See details of my machine's construction by following the link in my sig, below.


Son of MegaMax 3D printer: [www.instructables.com]
Ultra MegaMax Dominator 3D printer: [drmrehorst.blogspot.com]
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 17, 2016 01:39PM
DC42, thanks for the run down on the smoothie and duet. I definitely am putting this on my list of upgrades now. A couple questions though, when it comes to connecting all the wires to the duet, am I just unplugging from the RAMPS board and plugging into the Duet, or do I need to figure out a new system and recompile the firmware so everything works again? Also, is it possible to hook up a camera that could be viewed through the web interface, similar to octoprint?

Digital Dentist, glad to hear you find those upgrades worthwhile. Great write up on your machine too. There's a lot of similarities between your machine and mine, although you've done a better job of over building then the guys at Trinity Labs. Are you still using 12v stepper motors with those drivers or did you upgrade those too? I'm waiting to be able to justify a closed loop stepper system that would completely eliminate skipped steps and allow me to push the motors to the limit. I'm not sure if this would make the need for an extra heavy duty driver redundant though. The bulldog extruder looks really good, and I think that will be one of my next upgrades. Right now my bed is a 1/4" aluminum frame with glass on top and a heater just below that. I've got a sheet of PEI on the way too that I'm looking forward to using. Do you find the aluminum plate much better than printing on glass?
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 17, 2016 01:54PM
Quote
750magna
DC42, thanks for the run down on the smoothie and duet. I definitely am putting this on my list of upgrades now. A couple questions though, when it comes to connecting all the wires to the duet, am I just unplugging from the RAMPS board and plugging into the Duet, or do I need to figure out a new system and recompile the firmware so everything works again? Also, is it possible to hook up a camera that could be viewed through the web interface, similar to octoprint?

I blogged about upgrading a Mini Kossel from RAMPS to Duet at [miscsolutions.wordpress.com]. With the Duet (and the Smoothie as well), you never need to recompile the firmware unless you are a programmer wanting to add features - you just download a precompiled binary and flash the controller with that. Then start from a config.g file appropriate to your machine architecture, and edit it to match your machine parameters.

The latest version of the Duet web interface has the facility to display images from a WiFi-enabled camera in it.

Digital dentist and I disagree about what you should print on. He will tell you to print on aluminium. I print on a sheet of thin PEI stuck to a glass plate with heat-resistant adhesive sheet, which I clip on to the heated aluminium bed plate. This allows me to remove the bed+print from the aluminium plate to cool faster, and put it in the fridge or freezer if need be to help separate the print from the PEI. Meanwhile I can start another print on a different glass plate. There is a temperature drop of 5 to 10C across the glass, so this needs to be accounted for when setting the bed temperature.



Large delta printer [miscsolutions.wordpress.com], Robotdigg SCARA printer, Crane Quad and Ormerod

Disclosure: I design Duet electronics and work on RepRapFirmware, [duet3d.com].
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 17, 2016 05:05PM
Quote
750magna
Digital Dentist, glad to hear you find those upgrades worthwhile. Great write up on your machine too. There's a lot of similarities between your machine and mine, although you've done a better job of over building then the guys at Trinity Labs. Are you still using 12v stepper motors with those drivers or did you upgrade those too? I'm waiting to be able to justify a closed loop stepper system that would completely eliminate skipped steps and allow me to push the motors to the limit. I'm not sure if this would make the need for an extra heavy duty driver redundant though. The bulldog extruder looks really good, and I think that will be one of my next upgrades. Right now my bed is a 1/4" aluminum frame with glass on top and a heater just below that. I've got a sheet of PEI on the way too that I'm looking forward to using. Do you find the aluminum plate much better than printing on glass?

Thanks! I put a lot of time and work into that machine.

They are actually 3V or 3.2V motors. The voltage specs on a stepper are merely the current x resistance. Low values are better because it indicates low inductance (if resistance is high, the coils have a lot of wire and that means a lot of inductance). The drivers operate by controlling the average current through the coils. Coil inductance slows down the current in the motor which means the motor takes longer to develop torque. Using a high voltage supply forces the current to rise rapidly when the driver switches a coil on. It is normal to operate steppers at 8-20X their rated voltage.

Closed loop systems sound really neat, but you're trying to solve a nonexistent problem by adding a lot of cost and complication. If the steppers are adequately sized (i.e deliver sufficient torque), and the machine is properly tuned (speed, acceleration, and jerk settings) they don't skip steps. Pushing things to the limit sounds great, but in general, things don't operate best at the limits of their performance. By pushing the motors hard what do you hope to achieve? Faster print speeds? Print quality and speed are inversely related. Yes, some machines can produce decent quality prints faster than others, but doing that requires more than just bigger motors. For example, if the frame wobbles while those big motors are throwing the extruder carriage around the quality is going to be bad. There's also a practical limit to speed because we're melting plastic. Even if you get the mechanical system under control, once that molten plastic leaves the extruder nozzle it's out of control. I can think of maybe two or three things I've ever printed where the quality of the print didn't matter. I don't operate a commercial printing service so I don't have need to print really fast. I do like high quality prints and I'm willing to wait a little longer for them to finish.

The BullDog XL and E3D V6 have been fantastic. The extruder has never chewed a divot into the filament, and I only recently had my first ever extruder jam due to some foreign object getting into the hot-end.

I used to print on glass, but the glass I used was not very flat and I had problems getting prints to stick reliably. I decided to go with cast aluminum tooling plate instead and it has worked very well for me. It is flat and stays flat enough to print edge to edge when heated, it is thermally conductive so there are no cool spots to let go of the print, you can drill holes in it to mount it, and since I don't clamp glass on top of it, there is nothing standing up over the bed surface to bang into the extruder. I've never had to sweep up a broken glass plate, either.


Son of MegaMax 3D printer: [www.instructables.com]
Ultra MegaMax Dominator 3D printer: [drmrehorst.blogspot.com]
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 18, 2016 10:53AM
Good point digital dentist. The closed loop system would definitely be overkill, and I'll definitely do some more research into upgrading the stepper drivers as an alternative. I have SIMO linear guides on my X and Y axis with a multi start lead screw and Nema 17 steppers. They can handle far greater speed than is practical for 3D printing, and are extremely accurate, although I wonder if its the motors or the settings that are causing the odd skipped steps. When I was first playing around with my printer I tried to see how fast it could go before skipping steps, and problems really only start over 200mm/s. I typically print at less than half those speeds, however I still get the odd skipped step. When I reprint I'll just dial down the feedrate a few % and everything works out fine, but it's annoying to waste several hours or more of printing. Ultimately what I want is reliability, and decent print speeds wouldn't hurt either. I'd like to be able to have enough confidence in the printer that I can load a job and then walk away, or even remotely start a job, and not worry about a potential failure.

My glass bed is pretty flat, so no issues there, although I have noticed some cold spots that can be a pain when printing large ABS parts. I do like your 3 point mounting system with countersunk bolts, my biggest issue I would worry about is adding more weight on the bed. There's already a 1/4" aluminum plate that the glass bed is resting on. Adding the extra plate might be too much for a NEMA 17 stepper.
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 18, 2016 07:58PM
The Smoothieboard is excellent, and the smoothieware firmware is nicely organized software. AFAIK the Duet does not support CoreXY, although that may have changed since I inquired over a year ago.
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 19, 2016 02:38AM
Quote
paucus
AFAIK the Duet does not support CoreXY, although that may have changed since I inquired over a year ago.

RepRapFirmware on the Duet has supported CoreXY and CoreXZ for about six months.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/19/2016 02:41AM by dc42.



Large delta printer [miscsolutions.wordpress.com], Robotdigg SCARA printer, Crane Quad and Ormerod

Disclosure: I design Duet electronics and work on RepRapFirmware, [duet3d.com].
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 19, 2016 06:22AM
Quote
louiebeck
We are in the process of replacing all the two-pronged Receptacles in our home to GFCI receptacles. How do I install a ground wire if there isn't one already? I understand the ground wire is brass and goes to the green screw. Do we merely attach it to the metal box? I know this is a do it yourself project. The estimate from an electrician was $500 for 10 boxes. Pretty steep.
______________________________________________________
[www.thecheesyanimation.com]

What you describe is not safe or likely not to code in your area. If you don't have a solid ground at the box connecting to it will do nothing, and your GFCI will protect nothing. Pay the electrician. $500 is cheap when compared with the ER bill after shocking yourself or whatever you need to pay if you catch something on fire and your homeowners policy doesn't cover it because you didn't wire it to code.
Re: Electrical Upgrades
February 22, 2016 09:21AM
Quote
louiebeck
We are in the process of replacing all the two-pronged Receptacles in our home to GFCI receptacles. How do I install a ground wire if there isn't one already? I understand the ground wire is brass and goes to the green screw. Do we merely attach it to the metal box? I know this is a do it yourself project. The estimate from an electrician was $500 for 10 boxes. Pretty steep.
______________________________________________________
[www.thecheesyanimation.com]

You only need one GFCI as the first outlet in a circuit. If you use all GFCI they actually work against each other. The wire is copper not brass . I agree you'll be money ahead to hire a professional
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