On 3D Printer Upgrades (for more bus parts!)

I think this fits here, as I 3D print so many parts on the bus.

After doing the door seals, I checked the mail and noticed that the upgrade parts for my 3D printer have come in. It’s a Rostock Max V2 that I built from a kit (but have upgraded heavily since, with different stepper motors, different hotends, filament rollers, arm tensioners, sealed bearings, custom firmware tweaks, etc etc) in 2013.

SeeMeCNC has updated a lot of parts along the way, including professional versions of community fixes, as well as updates of their own. Since I sold the beetle recently, I had a little spare scratch, and ordered most of the upgrade parts.

The printer as it was this morning (moved to my desk, which has the living room TV on it, for access)
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PEI sheet:
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E3D V6 hotend, with custom connector for removal and repair
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Starting construction on the new hotend. This is the HE280, which has a built-in accelerometer probe that detects when the hotend touches the print bed. This is used with a script for auto-leveling and mesh bed adjustment.
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Working with the guide right there.
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Thermistor and heater wires soldered in. The reason the thermistor and heater are soldered to the PCB on the hotend itself, instead of run with wires all the way back to the RAMBo control board, is that the hotend communicates via i2c (“eye squared see”, according to James Bruton on YT – I’ve never used it before) with the control board, and just has a big power wire run to it. This reduces the number of wires that would have to run back to the board, and means you don’t have to add any additional ones if you’re upgrading. A huge boon, because removing the vertical aluminum arms is a pain in the dick.
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Fan sockets soldered, pcb mount screwed on.
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You can use the new hotend with the old U-joint arms, or the new ball-socket arms. I also ordered new ball socket arms, so I assembled the end effector platform with that option.
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Add three fans, and screw it all together.
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With the hotend assembled, it’s time to remove the old “cheapskate” roller carriages, and the old hotend.
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Then, assembly begins on the new cheapskate carraiges. These are injection molded instead of 2 sheets of heavy MDF board. This reduces movement weight of the arms, which does two things: it lets you print faster, and it reduces “ringing” in the prints, where a movement back-and forth (like when the hotend is “turning a corner” on a box-shaped print) resonates through the structure, causing print defects.

First step is to put the bearing covers on. These just press onto both sides of each bearing.
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Then, the carriages themselves
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These get mounted to the vertical towers with a few screws, and some nifty belt tensioners. No more allen key required to loosen the tensioner, it’s two black plastic pieces (one for the top, and one for the lower, belt ends) that you can pop open with a flathead screwdriver.
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Mounting the arms is easy. You just snap them on the ball joints, making sure to put the new white nylon “tensioner springs” in the slots on the arms. The arms themselves are glass fiber-reinforced nylon. I don’t know the percentage (no maker’s marks) but I can feel the glass fibers if I draw a knife tip across the plastic.
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Then comes wiring. I won’t get into it here, just mainly picture dump. You need to follow the guide for your particular setup. The only thing I need to say (for those of us with V2s, upgrading) is that the Y-axis stepper motor connector needs to be reversed. The new firmware is set up to invert the Y-axis stepper, I think to reduce crosstalk and interference between movements, and issues it can cause with the auto-calibration script. There are two ways to do this: if you have non-polarized plugs like I do, you simply flip the connector upside-down. If you have polarized connectors, you can either shave off the polarization clip to allow you to plug it in upside-down, or you need to go into configuration.h before you upload the upgraded firmware, and set INVERT_Y to “FALSE.”
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Picture showing the stepper motor connections. Note that the “Y” stepper, in the middle, isn’t inverted yet (the wires are in the same order as X and Z)
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Wiring in the lid:
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RAMBo board before removal:
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Board back in:
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Calibrating extrusion steps (how many “steps” in motor revolution per mm of extrustion)
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On my first calibration run, where the extruder comes down and taps the plate, I noticed it was skipping across a few of the taps, squashing into the bed. I installed a few clip-on ferrite beads, like in this video. However, to reduce hotend weight, I didn’t install them at the hotend itself. I put one in the lid, on the power wires running to the extruder. I also put one right next to the connector on the RAMBo board, on the same wire. Also, since I have a box of like fifty of them, I put one on the i2c communication line. You may notice in earlier pictures you can see one or two of them on some wires in the lid – those are ineffective, and I’m using them simply for weights to help in wire management. For a ferrite bead to work best, you should wrap the wires at least one turn around the bead, and run them through again. That’s why I buy clip-on beads instead of standard ones like in the video, because you can install them without unplugging anything or removing connector wires.

Even after only one print, using the same gcode file (in particular, the one for my Alternator Adjustment Bolt Cover), the quality is through the roof. The arms are much sturdier, the movement is quieter (new firmware adjustments), and everything is smoother. The photo above doesn’t do anything justice, as that was during extrustion calibration. It was over-extruding, and that photo was with some carbon fiber-reinforced filament, which is always blobby on the first layer for me. I’m extremely happy.

All-in-all, you could do all the upgrades in maybe 3 hours. I was watching Netflix and texting a bunch, so it took me maybe 4 or 5 total.

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