Generation 3 Electronics/Tech Zone Remix/Installation

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This page will attempt to provide information on how to connect all of the RepRap Generation 3 TechZone Remix electroncis together, and make sure they are performing as they should.

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General information

The following instructions are provided by TechZoneCommunications and apply to the connections of the electronics sold by them. For source code and other information about these electronics you can see this page: Generation_3_Electronics/Tech_Zone_Remix

Making the Cables (I know, they are a pain...)

The majority of the problems that users first run into, as they assemble and connect their RepRap electronics, are related to the assembly of the cables. It is important to make sure your cables are properly assembled, and test them to make sure that they have good continuity.

Ten Pin Cables With Black IDC Connectors

The assembled ten pin cable
Positioning the cable over the connectors.
pressing the cap onto the connector
A photo of a finished end

The ten pin cables are fairly straight forward. You simply lay the cable on top of the contacts (top right photo) and then place the "cap" over them. I use a board to press the cap on evenly (like in the second photo on the right), since uneven pressure may result in a broken cap and incomplete electrical connection in the cable. A vice will also work for this; just don't close it too far or the cable end will be crushed.

What you need to watch out for on these cables is to put the red edge the same direction for BOTH ends of the cable (look closely at the top left photo for details), if you get one end backwards from the other, then the cable will not work as it should.

Two, Three, and six pin cables

The assembled three pin cable
Spread the wires to fit the connector.
Positioning the wires behind the contacts.
pressing the wire into the contacts
Testing the cable
These cables may have white, blue or green connectors, they work the same way regardless of the color. all three sizes of connectors are assembled in the same manner. Some people prefer to scavenge connectors off of old computers or other electronics, rather than assembling these cables... this is also fine.

The cables need to be split and separated near the ends, so that they will fit the spacing of these connectors.

You then tuck the end of the cable into the space just past the IDC contacts in the connector. You can then press the cable down into the IDC contacts using a small screw driver or other thin, rigid tool.

I have had my best success using a small piece of sheet metal, with the edges curled over so that I don't cut myself while pressing the cables in. If you don't have a small enough flat blade screw driver (one that is too large will spread the contacts and they will never sever the insulation to make contact with the wire inside), you can cut a notch into your screw driver, so that it can press down on the cable on each side of the contacts.

When your cables are done being assembled, you can test them with a multimeter, just touch the probes to the metal that is revealed on the side of the connectors.

The pictures show a three pin cable being assembled, but all the cables are assembled in the same manner.

Hooking up the RepRap Main board

Shows all the wires connected stepper controller
A close up of the power wires.

These two pictures show the RepRap mainboard all wired up. the picture on the left does not have the two, two pin wires connected, so that they don't get in the way of viewing the others.

The USB to TTL adapter connects to the RepRap mainboard with a six pin cable. The six pin cable connects on the left of the board, and the "keyed" pin is to the top (opposite of what the extruder board 6 pin key is set to). The board gets its power from the USB port, so that the board is powered on when this cable is connected.

The X, Y, and Z axis connect to the top of the RepRap mainboard with ten pin connectors. Each cable runs to its respective stepper controller.

The two pin connectors both go to the extruder controller, the one on the top is the SDA/SCL pins and carries the step and direction information for the extruder's stepper motor. the lower cable is RS485 and can connect to any of the four sets of pins on the RepRap mainboard. The keying on this connector is down in the photo. You can connect up to 4 extruders to the RepRap mainboard.

Hooking a Stepper Controller to your RepRap

Shows all the wires connected stepper controller
A close up of the power wires.
A close up of the motor wires
Another close up of the motor wires, with a different set of wire colors.

On the top left, is a photo of the stepper controller, with all the wires hooke up to it.

The ten pin connector connects to the correct location on the RepRap mainboard (X, Y, or Z) as you make that cable, make sure that both ends have the color coded portion the same direction, if you put your cable together with the red stripe at the opposite end of the connector from what I have, then your cable will appear to be reversed from mine. This is OK as long as both ends are done the same.

The top photo on the right shows the power connection to the stepper controller. The yellow wire in this photo is the 12v+ and the black wire is the 12v- the terminal blocks should be labeled.

The second photo down on both the left and right shows the connection of the stepper motor wires. The left photo shows the blue, red, green, and black and the right photo shows another colored set. If your motor is going the opposite direction from what you expect, then swap them by 180 degrees, for example switch blue and black with each other and switch red and green with each other.

More information about stepper motor wiring can be found at Stepper_wiring This may also help you connect different types of stepper motors.

Please note that the wiring terminals are labeled A, B, C, and D. Not all stepper motor data sheets follow the same convention. On these stepper motor controllers, terminals A and B correspond to one coil and terminals C and D correspond to the other coil.

Connecting the Opto Endstop

shows the direction of the cable connection to the opto endstop.

A few months back, the manufacturer of the Photo Interrupt detector used in the Endstops (both TechZoneCommunications and Makerbot variants) was discontinued. It is becoming very difficult to get the sensor used in the earlier designs of EndStops. TechZoneCommunications has begun to use a different endstop with the RepRap, which is a plug in replacement. It does not need different cabling, nor does it need to have any changes made to the software. However, it does not have an LED on it, so there is nothing to let you know it is plugged in correctly - The new Photo Interrupt was not rated to a high enough current to drive both the LED and to pull the processor pin high (I know, I tried, in spite of what the specs said).

The older variation is connected as shown in the photo on the right. The three pin connector of a cable you made following steps shown above, is connected to the opto endstop, as shown in this photo, Notice the red strip on the cable (it is a little hard to see, but you can click on the image to see the original size/resolution). The red stripe is carrying the 5v the middle wire carries the signal back to the processor, and the third wire is the ground wire.

NOTE: For those of you who are used to looking at the "Square pad" on the boards to match up the polarity of the cable, forget it on this part, many of them were manufactured with that pad backwards! So, here is how you get the Red side correct on both ends of the cable: On the Stepper controller, the red goes towards the power regulator (that is the black thing with the silver back which is standing up near the power connection terminals). On the endstop, it goes on the pin furthest from the LED, the led is the little white thing on the bottom left of the opto endstop. The third picture on the right is the Endstop with the cable connected you can click it to enlarge and see the red on the cable more clearly. In this configuration, the red wire is carrying the 5v

shows the direction of the cable connection to the opto endstop.

The New Opto endstop is smaller yet, and has the three pins coming out of the end of the sensor. The only drawback to this sensor is that it does not have an LED (see information a few paragraphs up). The picture on the left shows the cable connected to this opto endstop.

This picture shows the Opto Endstop as I mounted it on the X axis of one of my RepRaps, It is fastened to the X Axis with a small screw, and I put it on upside down (I usually put them on right side up, but I had cut the flag weird... so I improvised). With it upside down, the pin closest to us is the 5v pin (red in this case, read the above information on the old opto endstop for more details on getting the cable polarity to match.

Since there is no LED on the endstop, TechZoneCommunications has begun to include a fourth endstop in the electronics kit, so that if you burn one up you don't have to wait for us to send you a new one. Rest assured, if you are having problems with your endstop, TechZone will send you replacements as needed. Just contact them here

Several people have asked about mounting the Opto Endstops to their RepRap. Creativity will probably provide a better way of doing this, but here are some photos of how I mounted some opto-endstops and the thin sheet flags to a couple of my RepRaps:

Connecting the Extruder Controller

There are several wires that hook into the extruder controller. The photos and descriptions below have most of the wires not featured in the photo removed, for clarity. You will need to hook all the wires up, before it will work completely.

Connecting Power, Motors, and Other Loads to the Extruder Controller

The screw terminal blocks, should be labeled, and fairly self explanatory, but I know that Photos are far more effective than words (or in this case labels).

Shows all the wires connected to screw terminals
Shows the power wires and the wires connected to the heater on the extruder tip.
Shows the motor wires
Another set of motor wires.
The top picture on the left is a photo of all the wires going into the screw terminals (all other wires have been removed for clarity). On the right, the power wires are connected, as are the two wires leads for the heater on the extruder tip. The power wires are polarized and the 12v + should be connected to the second position (yellow in this photo) and the 12v- (or ground) should be connected to the first position (black in this photo).

The heater leads are red and orange in this photo, but it does not matter the color, or order of these wires. They are connected to the C position on the terminal blocks.

A and B positions on these terminal blocks can be programmed for other loads, such as a cooling fan, or a heated bed.

The second photo on the left is of the motor wires. I have used the most common color of wires, but your may be different. If the motor direction is reversed from what you expect, then simply flip all the wires 180 degrees, by swapping blue with black, and red with green.

The second photo on the right is just like the photo on the left, but with a different colored set of wires

More information about stepper motor wiring can be found at Stepper_wiring

Connecting the RepRap Mainboard to the Extruder Controller

Both of the wires that connect the Mainboard to the Extruder Board
Close-up of the wires on the Extruder end.
The RepRap mainboard is connected to the Extruder board with two separate wires. The first wire (shown as the bottom wire in the photo) is the RS485 communications wire, the main board communicates over this wire to the extruder, to give it commands, and to receive information back (like the temperature of the Hot End). The second wire is only needed if you are using a stepper motor with your extruder. It uses the I2C communications port off of the main board and the D9/D10 pins on the extruder Controller. This cable carries the step and direction information for the extruder's stepper motor.

A little background: These two boards are connected together with 2 wires, in most of the modern implementations of the RepRap, but the original design only used the RS485, and expected you to use a variable speed DC motor for the extruder motor on your RepRap. When the extruder evolved to use stepper motors, someone figured out how to make all of that work (with timings, PWM and other technical stuff I am not going into on this page), but it requires the second connection to pass the working information to the extruder, this is required, because the RS485 communications protocols are not "Fast" enough to deal with the information needed for the stepper motor

The photo on the right is just a close up of the same wires.

Guy Pommares didn't like the default RepRap electronics mounting board, so he made a different one. (I kinda like it!)
The photo to the Left is a picture of a RepRap assembled by Guy Pommares. He felt like the front electronics mounting board was in the way, so he made a different one and mounted the electronics on the side. (This picture is posted here with his permission, Thanks Guy!)

Also of interest in this photo, he made a belt tensioner for the X axis, you can see it near the bottom right of the photo.

A few different ways to connect Temperature sensors

There are several ways to detect the temperature of the hot end of the extruder, below we have shown a couple of them. Use the one which you like on your RepRap

The New TechZone Thermocouple A-D with OneWire

The newest Thermocouple adapter is provided by TechZoneCommunications and information about hooking it up can be found here. It is called the TechZoneCommunications Thermocouple A-D with OneWire It is very simple to install and cleans up some of the cable mess between the RepRap electronics and the extruder.

Connecting in the TechZone Thermocouple A/D converter

This converter is obsolete, and no longer manufactured by TechZone. We leave the information about it here for reference purposes for those who have this thermocouple. It has been replaced by the thermocouple adapter referenced in the section above, follow that link for information on how to install it, and to get the firmware which supports it.

This converter is a variation of the adapter found on the Thermocouple_Sensor_1_0 page, but we have changed the firmware so that you do not need to remove the capacitor as shown in the instructions under that link. (Read that page for background, history, inspiration, whatever, but follow these directions if you received this style A/D converter from TechZoneCommunications)

For information on the Firmware, and to download the firmware file, see TechZone_Thermocouple_Firmware page.

This photo shows the 4 pin connection used in the Thermocouple A/D
This photo shows the single wire connection.
The four pin connector is connected to the four pins on the mainboard as shown in the photo on the left and the single wire is connected into one of the ten pins in the old quadrature connector as shown on the right.

This is the thermocouple itself connecting to the A/D converter
This photo shows connecting the heater wires to the Extruder Controller, these leads are connected to the resistance wire in the tip of the extruder.
The picture on the left shows the thermocouple as it is connected to the screw terminals on the A-D Converter. The A/D converter itself is mounted somewhere on the extruder, to keep the temperature reading as accurate as possible, I try to mount it somewhere on the extruder, but not directly next to the motor (the motor gets hot). It can be mounted with a small screw, a dab of epoxy, or with some hot glue.

Before turning your RepRap hot tip on, you need to make sure the thermocouple is connected with the correct polarity. To do this, load the RepRap host software and go to the extruder tab. It should be providing you with a temperature reading. If you put your finger on the tip of the extruder for a minute, you should see that temperature go up. If it goes down, then you have the polarity of the thermocouple reversed and you need to swap the wires.

The Photo on the right of this text, shows the connection of the heater lead wires to the Extruder Controller. it is the second set of wires from the right side of the 8 terminal block. This picture shows them as red and orange wires. They are not polarized (you can switch them places and it won't matter). I recommend not hooking these two wires up until you are ready to heat up your extruder tip. That should happen after you test all other aspects of your extruder and know that it works. To test your heater without hooking it up, look at the LED next to the Mosfet, if it is lighting up when you "turn on" your heat, then it is 99% likely to be working as it should.

Here are some more photos to help with the details (a picture is better than any words I can create)

Using a standard thermistor

The two pins connected to the thermistor inputs on the extruder controller
The leads from your thermistor can be connected to the two pins, as shown in the photo. Polarity does not matter on this connection.

When using a thermistor, you will probably need to make changes to your firmware to configure your RepRap to translate the resistance it reads to the correct temperature.

Connecting a Stepper Controller to Drive the Extruder Stepper Motor

Having hooked a stepper controller up to the extruder motor, and run it that way on my RepRap, I will never go back! It runs much more quietly, and seems to behave much better. I think that the reason for this is that the Extruder Controller is not designed to run a stepper motor, but has been "hacked" to run the stepper motor. Whereas, the Stepper controller is designed to run the stepper motor from the get-go. I found a description about how to do this somewhere (and I thought it was on the Wiki), but could not find it again to share with several of the TechZone customers who were interested in trying this... so I have created this section.

You can do this with makerbot electronics as well.

This photo shows the cable going from the SDA/SCL of the RepRap mainboard to the ten pin connector on the stepper controller, it also shows the wire used to enable the stepper controller
This photo which pins in the ten pin connector are used.
The process of connecting the Stepper controller to the Extruder stepper motor is fairly easy. Instead of hooking the SCA/SCL pins from the RepRap mainboard to the D9/D10 pins on the extruder board, you hook them to the step and direction pins on the Stepper Controller, as shown on the photos on the left and right (on the left, it is the cable that comes up too close and goes out of focus). You also need to connect the enable pin to ground on the stepper controller. I do this with a jumper wire from a ground pin in the ten pin connector to the enable pin on the controller. It is the single yellow wire in the photos, The enable pin can be hooked to any ground pin, (for example the ground pin on the max opto endstop connector)

Polarity on the 2 pin wire is important, but if you hook it up backwards, it just won't turn the motor as it should and you can reverse the wire (no smoke and fireworks shows for getting this one backwards).

Connecting the power and the motor wires to the stepper controller is the same as it is on all of the Axis stepper controllers.

You can take a stepper motor from one of your axis (like the Z axis), temporarily, and connect it in this way, to see how different your extruder performs. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. You can only print a single layer this way (since you don't have the Z connected), but you will be able to see how much better your extruder controller works!

Here are some more photos to help with the details.

Help Improve this page!

Feel free to add photos or information that you would like to share with others, or if you are looking for something and can't find it here, please contact TechZoneCommunications here and request the information you would like.