Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Slic3r config for CTC updated with Sailfish 7.6

Upgrading the CTC printer to Sailfish 7.6 is relatively straightforward.  It's covered well in this video on youtube:

After doing the upgrade I found that Slic3r output was printing way off to one side. I wasn't too baffled, since it did the same thing when I first got it and was using it with RepRap settings.

I tweaked the startup GCode to reset the home, and since I was messing with it anyway, I put (0,0) back in the front left of the printbed as I'm used to from RepRap rather than in the center.

The main key to it is that after homing - the CTC homes to MAX positions instead of RepRap's MIN positions, I use a G92 command to reset the current position to (270,150) (it's off the edge of the bed)

I've saved my config bundle and made it available on Pastebin here:

Before importing that, be sure to save your existing config off as your own bundle to preserve your current settings, you may not like everything I've done.

So how's the upgrade?
Meh. Certainly a little better. I don't know that print quality is any different. There is some mid-print control now. You can change temps and one or two other things mid print. But it's still a far cry from the awesomeness of Marlin on the RepRap.

The temperature control is still horrible. RepRap went to PID control a couple of years ago, it's unbelievable to me that Sailfish apparently still isn't using PID - the nozzle temps fly all over the place. I set 200, it flies up to 212 before coming back down, swings down to 193, crawls back up again.  With Marlin/PID, I set 200, it goes to 200 and stays within half a degree for an entire print.  Accurate temp control is very important for print quality

The CTC is still an acceptable printer for noodling around with. For dual-head it's a pretty good deal. However if I didn't need dual head (and I don't - 99% of the time) I'd go for one of the RepRap clones.  There are a bunch of i3 Reprap clones on eBay for < $300.

I'm OK with the CTC right now but I am not sure I'd buy one again. It's not a BAD deal for the price, but this firmware, it's not good.  Even the updated one is just less bad. My only problem with the i3 that I built was that the frame wasn't as sturdy as I'd wish. I should probably build a new printer around a new frame.


David Ashley said...

Thanks for the update. There is someone selling a steel frame for the i3 on ebay. It doesn't seem cheap and is from an international seller but looks pretty good. There is also a guy selling a full melamine/mdf frame on there as well for less than $100. I have one and it's not bad.I wonder how the mdf frames will hold up to moisture long term. I would like to go with something metal.

John Ridley said...

I've thought about just welding up a frame from 1" square stock, and also going with 10mm drill rod instead of 8. I think the 8 is a bit wobbly. Maybe even 12 since I'll be changing the basic design anyway.

Anonymous said...

Why not just upgrade to Sailfish 7.7 and use Simplify3D? you can do all that you want of which you complain the CTC doesn't do normally (change temps during print, etc).

John Ridley said...

I have read that the CTC can't be upgraded to 7.7 because of some hardware deficiencies. I'm certainly not going to pay for Simplify. Besides, all of my complaints are about real-time adjustments and I doubt using different software will alter that when I always print from SD - my printer has never even been attached to the printer except once to upgrade the firmware.

John Ridley said...

Do you know that the CTC can run Sailfish 7.7?

It still won't be as good as Marlin because the keypad interface is miserable. If I could get Marlin running on it I'd add a rotary encoder to the interface and recompile for that.

Heiko Koch said...

Would you the contents of gpx.bat and gpx.ini even post?
That would be perfect.

John Ridley said...

gpx.bat and ini are in the previous post on the subject, found here:

HGaudini - NY said...

*** Before we start, this is my first 3D printer and my first round in even messing with one ***. I’m printing with Maker Geek ABS that I got from them for $60 for 4 spools. I’m a computer/networking guy for over 20 years and a DIYer as well, for just about as long or longer. I bought one of these on ebay in November for $364 + $42 Shipping. I ended up moving when it came in and then the holidays, etc, etc and ONLY got to it today 01/29/17. I had assembled the extruder and tightened all of the screws over the holidays, but didn’t find time to use it until now. It also had a chip in the frame, where I think the extruder didn't pass the FedEx Home delivery (sub contractor douches) drop/kick test. Not the end of the world, but just added to the loose screw issue. Anyway, contacted them and they offered me a $10 refund.....Weeeeeee!!!! So I plugged in this thing today and only get 2 rows of squares on the display. So I figured great, now I have a $400 paperweight. I sent out an email to CTC (well ebay reseller), but I know they are on Chinese new year until Feb 4th. I did try and hook it up to USB and found it worked. I had also previously read some posts about what to download and install. I ended up using the Makerbot Desktop software, which also updates the firmware if needed. I'm using 3.10.0. I found I am able to change the temp, speed (in multiple directions), quality, etc (not on the fly, but before the job starts). When I started my first print the printer goes through and does a touch off on the rear, side and table sensors. When it came to the side the thing made a bang and grinding noise and scared the crap out of me. I found the extruder crashed into the servo on the right top side, because the rear sensor was not properly set and this allowed the extruder to go too far to the rear, which put it right in line with the top side servo. I bent the arm forward a bit on the rear sensor and problem solved. I also figured out I had the filament in the wrong (left) extruder (before trying to use Makerbot Desktop, and then realized it should be in the right side). I found some old PLA stuck in the right extruder, so had to pull the nozzle off and clean out the tip and clear some melted plastic in the tubing liner. I then needed to push the jammed plastic through the top of the feeder portion of the extruder. I found the very small allen key (hex key) that came with this printer (3 sizes in all) was a great fit and was able to push the crap plastic straight through and clear the way for my grey ABS. I reassembled the nozzle and print head assembly. I first started by printing a few balls of spaghetti string after the first few layers went down and the print lifted off of my lowes blue (blue hawk) tape (2 rows of 2.83” wide tape). I had pulled the 3 narrow strips (with wide gaps) of tape off BEFORE I read the instructions to leave it there, oh well. I would have bought 3M, but they didn’t have any wide stuff. But the Blue Hawk is probably like Generic Tylenol, right??? Ah who gives a chit, it seems to work. Maybe 3M would grip better??? Might have to try it at some point and test my “generic” theory. cont...

HGaudini - NY said...

We keep my house around 60 degrees, so wayyy too cold I guess for printing. I turned the heat up to 65 and then decided to tape some foam board to the sides and front of the unit to hold in the heat and keep out any drafts. I did some additional test prints with varying success. As a temp ghetto/free solution, I took the plastic wrap casing of some Poland spring water bottles and cut off the bottom of the wrap and used that as a tent on top of the printer to retain some more of the heat from the heating bed and extruder. Seemed to work a bit better all covered up, warm and cozy!!!! I was able to fully print the 20mm box demo and it came out pretty good. The quality was nice too on standard quality. I did find I needed to turn up the extruder temp to 240 and the bed to 115. As luck would have it, wifey had other plans for us today, so that about rapped it up for me printing today, but my 17 year old son wanted to play with it, so I gave him the 2 cent tour and let him have at it. He went through a few different settings trying to print a 50 cal bullet I had downloaded (of course, what the hell else would he print!!!). He had issues once it got up to the small tip of the bullet at the top. He ended up googling the specs for a 9mm bullet and drew that in Autodesk inventor and then slowed the printer speed down and changed the quality settings from standard to high. The thing came out almost flawless!!!! Just a few dingle berries on one side. I know we will have to do some more tinkering and tweaking to get this right, but for $400, I’m happy I bought this. If you’re not afraid to tighten some screws and do some adjustments and tinkering to get it to work, then you might want to give this a try. The price is right! If this is not something you’re comfortable with, then I suggest you stay away from this model. I just hope we can get the display to work. Ebay seller did answer with some cable disconnect and reseat things to try, so will check that out when time permits. I asked them to send me another display, but not 100% sure it’s the display yet. Thanks for your blog and postings and to all others comments. It’s good to hear what other people are dealing with in trying to get these things to work. Happy printing!!!!!! Harold

John Ridley said...

60 is 16C, that's actually about where my workshop is at most of the time. I don't take any special precautions most of the time, I just print.

FWIW, for $400 these days I would NOT recommend the CTC printer. I'd go with the Monoprice Maker Select (single nozzle) or if you like to build stuff, a Geeetech i3 kit, dual nozzle at $300.

The CTC uses Makerbot firmware/gcode, which is atrocious and makes working with most software a pain in the rump.

I currently have the CTC, a Geeetech Delta and a Monoprice MP Select. I use the Monoprice most of the time if the print is small, the delta for larger stuff. (I do not recommend the delta - they're a pain in the butt). I really can't imagine why I'd bother getting the CTC off the shelf at this point, unless I really really needed to print something that would fit on its bed and not on the delta. Though I'd be tempted to buy a Geeetech i3, wait for it to come in, build it, calibrate it, then print, before using the CTC. If you haven't gathered, I really don't like it.