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Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress

Posted by vannystick 
Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress
November 26, 2017 10:50AM
The Unicubic U1 is a Prusa i3 style printer that appears to be a cut down clone of the Anet A8.

This printer can be found for sale primarily on Amazon and EBay in the UK for £210 to £240 and sold by DYFeng Store. When I purchased the printer there was an offer on for £160 making it very attractive, especially when I didn't have plans for buying a printer. I wish I had done more research!

I've had a number of smallish problems with the printer and found that there is no technical support or a way to contact Unicubic despite the 1 year guarantee. At the time of writing the Unicubic.xyz website has been down for a few weeks. No response from the seller on Amazon and the 'reviews' are word for word from Unicubics sales media, read into that what you will.



The kit was easy to build, the instructions where okay ish and the unit was mostly pre wired which certainly sped up the build. Some of the pictures in the build guide are of poor quality, skip steps and please don't follow them when making the power connections to the power supply of the magic smoke is likely to escape!

There are no obvious instructions on how to tension the belts, run the cables to the print head or what the plastic tube in the kit was for. Most of this was easy to sort out and pretty quickly I was up and running, printing the demo from the SD card, a simple tube. I spent far far too long levelling the bed. My first print created a not very round tube, so a bit more tweaking of the belts and the 'kneeling elephant' printed out pretty well.

The system board is a 3DYMY RAMPS 'Plus2'.

Obviously I wanted to print the test boat to give me an idea of how good a print I could get. And this was my first major issue.

It was pretty simple to get CURA installed, the model downloaded from Thingiverse, sliced to GCODE and copied to the SD Card. On trying to load the file from the SD card, the printer simply locked up. I tried changing my CURA settings and making other tweaks, but ultimately I found I had no idea what firmware was on the printer. It was clearly Marlin but an older version. So a reinstall was the only way to go.

What I should have done is fire up Arduino, read the settings in a serial window and make a note of them, but I didn't. What followed was 30 minutes of installing the latest version of Marlin, followed by a week of working out the right settings! In the process i've discovered the original problem I had with loading the Boat was actually with the 'Kingston' SD card which is most certainly not genuine.







One issue I am having is lateral lamination, my layers in Z are well bonded but my parallel X/Y lines do not seem to fuse.



I'd welcome any and all input, suggestions etc I'm fluent with the Arduino IDE and 12v electronics, but for 3D printing i'm very much at the start of the learning curve.
Re: Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress
November 26, 2017 02:23PM
The Anets are junks and this copy is obviously a piece of junk too.
The majority of these cheap printers are not worth it but for a very few that can be improved because they have a metallic frame. Not the case here.
Send it back or resell it to someone you don't like.


"A comical prototype doesn't mean a dumb idea is possible" (Thunderf00t)
Re: Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress
November 26, 2017 03:06PM
Quote
vannystick
There are no obvious instructions on how to tension the belts, run the cables to the print head or what the plastic tube in the kit was for. Most of this was easy to sort out and pretty quickly I was up and running, printing the demo from the SD card, a simple tube. I spent far far too long levelling the bed. My first print created a not very round tube, so a bit more tweaking of the belts and the 'kneeling elephant' printed out pretty well.

On trying to load the file from the SD card, the printer simply locked up. I tried changing my CURA settings and making other tweaks, but ultimately I found I had no idea what firmware was on the printer. It was clearly Marlin but an older version. So a reinstall was the only way to go.

What I should have done is fire up Arduino, read the settings in a serial window and make a note of them, but I didn't. What followed was 30 minutes of installing the latest version of Marlin, followed by a week of working out the right settings! In the process i've discovered the original problem I had with loading the Boat was actually with the 'Kingston' SD card which is most certainly not genuine.

One issue I am having is lateral lamination, my layers in Z are well bonded but my parallel X/Y lines do not seem to fuse.

The Y carriage belt should be adjusted to a tension on the belt not tighter than 6.5lbs, as the (sideways) loading of a Nema 17 stepper motor.

Watch video Here

Some SD cards will not work with 3D printers as they are 8 or 16 bit systems I would use a 2GB sd Card, As my 4GB card is to large and fails on occasions.

I am still using Cura 15.04.6 so don't let anyone say it won't work because it does. However I do use Cura 2.X, 3.X, Slicr3 and idealMaker so I am not just using Cura.

The lamination problem could be the belt needs to be tightened, more likely to be that your infill was to low. Start with 30% infill.

I have included my Cura settings you can look see what you like.

Cura15.04.6Settings.zip
Cura2.6.2.zip

If you need any help Post or PM will help you with what I know.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/26/2017 03:08PM by Roberts_Clif.
Re: Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress
November 27, 2017 10:40AM
Check that when you ask "pronterface" or "repetier" to extrude 100mm of filament that it does - within a mm or two.

The China kits are a race to the bottom - this forum and youtube are full of "how-to's" on upgrading these kits to get decent prints.
Re: Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress
November 27, 2017 11:08AM
Quote
SteveRoy
Check that when you ask "pronterface" or "repetier" to extrude 100mm of filament that it does - within a mm or two.

The China kits are a race to the bottom - this forum and youtube are full of "how-to's" on upgrading these kits to get decent prints.

And I have used all upgrades that make my prints stack up to the best 3D Printers.
Hoping soon to make a Laser cutter, so as to etch enamel paint from copper coated enamel painted boards, as a pre-step for preparing for copper etching>
This will allow a cheaper and faster method for working with other projects that require electronics.
Re: Unicubic U1 - Review and work in progress
April 08, 2020 01:46PM
So I've had the printer in a box for over a year, COVID19 has presented an opportunity to rebuild and print with it again.

This topic is also about the only thing with content that comes up on a Google search.

The 3DYMY board works reasonably well, there is a notable change in fan speed when the hot bed is turned on, it would definitely benefit from some FETs.

I've put the latest MARLIN on (2.0.5) and generated the attached Configuration.h and I'm happy to report that with some conservative (slow) CURA settings, I've got some pretty decent PLA prints out of it. The 20mm test cube is actually 20mm (ish) on all sides, with a bit of curving at the bottom. Various brackets for bed level sensor, belt tensioner etc have printed pretty well. Good layer adhesion, good dimensional accuracy, smooth, generally had to see the layers from a short distance.

Then I tried printing PETG, and quite frankly, its never going to happen. There simply isn't enough precision in the control. The H-Plate is very flimsy, the Y track arms are marginally different dimensions so the sliders will bind, the flexible couplings are horrendous (I used to work with couplings of the same size that cost more than this printer) which results in one of the Z-screws flopping around all over the place.

But here is the real annoyance, and the thing that had me researching the printer again. The printer is, at its core, a horrid copy of an Anet A8. Except, and here is the kicker, a significant number of the dimensions are just different enough that you can't use off the shelf upgrade parts. I ordered a thicker/stiffer alloy H-plate, for an Anet A8, which looks great and would be perfect, only the hole spacing for the sliders is wrong.

It turns out the Anet A8 has its sliders centred at 165mm, while this Unicubic poor mans copy has sliders centred at 148mm. Digging further, I thought simple, i'll just drill holes where they should be, but you can't. There isn't enough material. Okay, I'll make new front and rear panels, Anet A8 CAD is readily available. But the threaded bar supports are in a different position. In fact the acrylic plates at either end of the Y axis are subtly different in almost every measurement. Fine, i'll re-frame it with and extruded aluminium frame. Only you can't buy a kit as the dimensions are all slightly wrong, and then you need all the plastic adaptor parts so you're already spending more in 'upgrades' than the original purchase price to get it a little closer to the Prusa i3 Mk1 that has been repeatedly copied. I'll be better off buying a better printer.

So as MKSA suggested two years ago "The Anets are junks and this copy is obviously a piece of junk too" and I really can't argue with that.

The journey however has been fantastic. Wiping out the stock software has meant a huge amount of learning I might not have 'enjoyed' otherwise. And now I can see more of the Unicubic weaknesses that I might otherwise have not seen.

And the kids have had loads of Barbie accessories and furniture off it, so they are happy.

In conclusion, two years later. You buy cheap, you get junk (just like any other tool) but that doesn't make it totally useless!
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