Category: internets

My New Project

More than once over the last couple of years I’ve thought “I need a server for this“, or “It would be really handy to have a test environment for this“, and being a little bored… I’m starting a new project. It’s probably more than I need, and you probably think I’m a little crazy. But I have the skills, know-how, and money to have a little fun with it. This project is meant to be a bit of a living, breathing project, that will change and adapt over time. I know how I want to start it, so that’s what I plan to do.

I’m going to keep a running total of the costs of this project. [Pricelist] A little later I’ll get a list of ‘wins’ or purposes that I used the rack for, so I can see the costs of these wins. This is mostly just a curiosity, I’m already confident that I’m doing this on the cheap.

I plan to use as much of the random equipment I have laying around as possible. Some of this will end up being a little dated. If it is too dated to be useful, I’ll replace it.

Project Pricelist

rack and rack partsqtyMy CostIn Use?estimated valueLink
Rack 21U185.00yes500.00 – 1000.00Link *
1U blank (metal)60.0032.39Link *
2U black (metal)20.0015.99Link *
4U black (metal) 20.0053.86Link *
1U shelf (metal) 1/2 rack depth10.0028.37Link *
2U shelf (metal) 1/2 rack depth 20.0079.98Link *
2U Drawer w/ Lock (metal) 1/2 rack depth 10.0064.99Link *
4U Drawer (metal) 1/2 rack depth 10.0058.99Link *
2U Power Plug w/ locking (custom)10.0025.00
1U PSU w/ 6 outlets, 1 switch, 15amp fuse switch10.0048.87Link *
20 Ft Heavy Duty Power Cable 10.0044.88Link *
Monitor Mount Arm (missing pieces)
(currently unusable)
10.00
85.00$953.35 – $1453.32
* Not the actual item, closest I could find.

The Rack

I picked this rack up about 6 years ago from local online classifieds. It was about 30mins away from me, so I sent a buddy of mine with a trailer to go get it for me. Cost me $85. It’s been sitting in a corner of my garage waiting for me to find a use for it. I knew I eventually would… but I’ll admit it took me longer than I expected. It’s dusty and full of cobwebs and dirt, so first I’ll need to clean it up.

It has handles on the sides, casters, and rails that have the holes cut directly into them instead of requiring cage nuts. It’s actually an audio equipment rack. I may have to swap out the rails, after I get it cleaned up I’ll dig into that a bit.

When I bought it, it had a monitor mount clamped to a 2″ hole in the top, near the backside. Now, I wish I would have saved the mounting hardware for that, but It doesn’t look like I did. You can see the arm at the top of the rack in the picture on the left.

The power cable, plug, and PSU are a partial custom job, that I might reuse. I plan to attempt to keep the portability of the rack intact, so I like the power cord being removable. The cord has a locking end on it, on the rack side, and a standard 120v outlet on the wall side. I’m not sure how I feel about the PSU, it feels empty. I have some battery backups being delivered and I’m not sure how I feel about their power running through this, debating if I’m going to use it.

Anet A8/AM8 Power Modifications

Power Supply

While I was out reading about the things people believe caused the fires, it sounded like the power supply was in question.  I read something along the lines of “its the cheapest version of this power supply” more than once. At the link below, is the power supply I ended up going with.  It was recommended by someone else and had decent reviews.  I’ve been running it off/on for a year now and had no issues with it.

Below is the wiring diagram from the Anet A8 assembly instructions.  Its very similar to the power supply I purchased.

 


Mosfets

One of the other major concerns when it came to starting fires, was the wiring between the board and the hotbed and hotend.  I saw pictures of burn marks where the connector plugs into the bed and on the board.  These connectors on the board are not attached very well, and at one point I even ended up gluing and soldering them into place during the AM8 conversion.

I have yet to solider the bed connection directly to the bed.  This connector is one of the possible failure points.  But because of the cable chains I printed, and the way it holds the wires, I’m not very concerned with this wiggling free and allowing a short.

I’m not going to pretend I fully understand how the mosfets work, but I can tell you what I know.  The mosfet allows the higher voltage power, to route around the board, while allowing the board to still control the flow.    The ones I bought were once again, recommended by another post. 

The concern with fires is around the wiring on the bed, most people do not also install a mosfet on their hotend.  However, they were so cheap, and it was easy to do, so I did.

These wiring diagrams are basically the same thing.  When wiring the hotend mosfet, you would put the hotend where the hotbed is.. right?  My hot end has 2 positive and 2 negative wires, just stack them together.
(if this doesn’t make sense to you, go get some adult supervision)

 


Plug / Switch Combo

This plug/switch/fuse combo is just a nice addition to the printer.  Without it your wiring a cut power cable directly to the power supply.  Not super portable, and less safe in my opinion. Plus these are cheep!

I did have to print something to mount this to, but there are several versions on thingiverse.  I printed mine before the VR Incident, so I modified it to work for the AM8 conversion. 

The wiring diagram is pretty simple.

Anet A8 to AM8 Conversion

A little backstory…

I’m pretty sure it was in 2018 that godoloju got me an Anet A8 3D printer for my birthday/Xmas.  Nice guy huh!  It took roughly 8 hours to get it put together and printing my first print.  V1.0.

At the time, these were kinda known to start fires.  The connection on the bed would sometimes short, and on an even more rare occasion, throw a spark.  But it was a thing.

Not wanting to burn down my house, I quickly did some research into different solutions and went about getting them installed.  I printed cable chains, belt adjusters, and frame reinforcements. I bought mosfets, a higher quality power supply, and a plug/switch combo..  Just to make it a bit more, well.. more. (the volt meter is just for shits and giggles)  I once estimated it at roughly 200 hours worth of work, and pushing 1000 hours if you include all of the print time.

Then, there was the VR incident of 2019.

I had set my VR up before getting the printer.  The printer ended up in the ‘play zone’ for the VR.  Then, I was letting a particularly long friend experience VR for the first time.  While violently throwing a robots head at another robot, my friend managed to hook and throw my 3D printer across the room. 

The acrylic frame exploded.  

I couldn’t look at it for a while.  

About 6 months ago, I set about adding the metal frame, or the AM8 conversion.  Same printer, but extruded aluminum frame.  I used as many parts from the V1.0 as possible, but I did replace the thread rods and the X guide rods. 

The original bearings from the Anet A8 kit had been wearing grooves into the guide rods.  After a bit of research, many we’re recommending these plastic ‘sliders’ (not sure what else to call them).  I’ll update this sometime in the future and give some type of review of them.  But after 50ish hours with them installed, they seem to be working great.

Manual leveling is just tedious enough that it was pissing me off.  It seemed to fluctuate some between every print.  I do remember at one point I went like 8 prints without needing to re-do the leveling.  So, one of the other goals at this point was to get auto bed leveling working.  I had purchased a capacitive and inductive sensors, and had planned on using the capacitive as it was supposed to work with glass.  However, I was finding information on several different ways that it needed to be connected. One of which required a daughter board.  I ended going with the inductive because it’s setup was basically plug and play.

Well… there isn’t a ton of configuration you have to do for the sensor itself. You do have to enable and configure auto bed leveling in the firmware and get the sensor mounted in just the right spot.  There are guide out there suggesting a ‘correct way’ of getting your hotend and sensor aligned properly.  I started this way, but ended up making a type of jig.  Allowing me to put the tip of the hotend in the correct place, and then set the jig under the sensor, and then tightening it up.  I’ve used this method twice now, with success.