So those reading previous articles will know about my fuse issue with the GT2560 board and that I needed to completely swap out the electronics for my printer. Well the new kit arrived on Friday and I spent the afternoon retrofitting.

First was to assemble to Arduino Mega to the RAMPS board then add the step sticks. I decided to simply transfer over my existing stepper boards as they have already been tuned for my printer. I found this connection diagram most useful.....


.....only I have not used a relay for the bed but just hooked it up directly, since I'm using PID to control the temperature a relay is in appropriate.

Read more: Changing to Mega2560+RAMPS

My printer kit came with an all-in-one controller board from geetech called the GT2560 which combines the traditional Arduino Mega and RAMPS boards together and offers a smaller dedicated package. This seems like a great idea and for the first few prints is worked great. However moving to ABS and the higher temperatures required at the bed and hotend caused me a few issues.

700px GT2560 wiring

Read more: GT2560 fuse issues

One of the issues a ran into was the filament getting tangled off the roll before getting to the extruder. I printed a filament guide to help with this and this solved the problem. 

The guide I used is Prusa i3 Filament Guide from thingiverse. I customised this to suit my 5.5mm frame since my kit was not a standard 6mm frame. Printing was easy and installation even better.

Filament guide

My customised guide can be downloaded Prusa i3 Filament Guide 5.5mm

I decided when I started with 3D printing that my primary plastic would be ABS however my kit was supplied with a 1kg roll of PLA and as this would not be my plastic going forward I decided to use this to setup my printer. As a result I had to change out the plastic later.

So why did I choose to use ABS as my primary plastic? 

  1. ABS is a stronger plastic than PLA
  2. ABS can be solvent welded so joining ABS parts together in a strong way is easy to do
  3. ABS is heat resistant and as some of my robotic parts would get hot in normal use PLA is not suitable

What has to be considered when printing in ABS?

  1. You need a heated bed. This came with my kit so I was setup already. ABS requires a heated bed to ensure that the lower layers do not cool too quickly and therefore lift from the bed (curling)
  2. ABS requires a higher print temperature (typically 230C).
  3. ABS doesn't smell as sweet as PLA
  4. Finally and critically, ABS requires you to prepare a print bed to ensure it sticks during printing.

Well my printer has all the pre-requisites all I needed to do was find a way to ensure the print stuck to the bed. After reading much advice I settled on the hairspray option since this is easy to get hold of, smells better and is not too difficult to clean off the class if I need to.

Read more: Changing from PLA to ABS

When I decided to get back into robotics I took a look at what caused me to stop doing it ~10 years ago. I came to the conclusion that I was most frustrated by the need to use pre-designed kits or re-purposed scrap parts to build things. In recent years this has changed with the introduction of 3D printers at affordable rates. Now I can get back into robotics with the ability to design my own parts.

So where did I start. I looked around ebay and associated on-line stores for the parts required to build a 3D printer. Yes I prefer to build than buy, it's my preference for most things where possible. I quickly discovered that it is more expensive to buy in parts than to by a printer kit so decided on a kit printer, a decision I would later regret.

Prusa i3


Read more: Building the printer