Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Using standard software with the CTC printer

I prefer to use Slic3r to generate the files to feed into my printers. My current printer is a CTC which unfortunately uses a clone of the Makerbot electronics, and as such doesn't use standard GCode files (and has other significant shortcomings which make it feel extremely primitive to someone used to Marlin).

Anyway, I've been using it for months now, and figured I should post my current setup - it's a bit changed from what I had before.  This is mostly a recap of what I've posted before.

In order to make Slic3r generate the right files, you need to do this:

  • Download the GCode to GPX conversion program at this page on Thingiverse.
  • Unzip that somewhere on your machine. In my example, I put it at d:\apps\gpx
  • Create a batch file somewhere (I put it in d:\apps\gpx along with the gpx.exe app) with the following line (changing the paths if that's not where you put your files).

d:\apps\gpx\gpx.exe -g -p -c d:\apps\gpx\CTC.ini %1 %1.x3g

  • Then create the "CTC.ini" file referred to in that line. I have posted mine on pastebin at the link below. You can just download it from there.  I've made changes since my original post, and it could probably still be tweaked. I think the speeds could be faster for instance, but I'm OK with them where they are.

  • Then in Slic3r, go to Print settings / Output options and enter the full path to the BAT file (again, I've used MY path below, change yours if necessary)

  • You'll also want to go to the "Printer Settings" tab, then under Custom G-code, put in the code from this page:

  • There's other good stuff on there.  You'll want to create a single left, single right and dual extrusion profile.
  • In Slic3r, in Printer Settings, set the print bed to 225x145mm, with the origin at 112x72.  The firmware puts the origin in the MIDDLE of the printbed, which is unlike all other printers I've seen and this really threw me for a while - it kept starting to print on the rear right corner of the print surface.

That should do it. Now when you hit "generate GCode" it will do so, then when it's done it will call GPX which will generate the "(filename.gcode).x3g" file alongside the gcode file. That's what you need to put in the SD card to print with the CTC printer.


David Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing. This will definitely help. I found a similar printer being offered as a kit using a ramps 1.4 board from folgertech (Cloner). It doesn't have a heated bed but comes with dual extruder option at about the same price. I suppose one could add a heated bed to it. It has no printed parts though. I am still thinking the CTC printer is a better deal as it is assembled and runs 24v. Any opinion?

David Ashley said...

Also, what version firmware are you running on your printer now? I stumbled across a youtube video with instructions how how to update it to the latest sailfish version which I think is 7.7. It was supposed to support changing temp and speed mid-print.

John Ridley said...

I'm on firmware 1.0 so anything would be an improvement. I'd love a link to that site.

Personally I think the way that Sailfish does things is backwards. I don't like it at all. If it was the folgertech with RAMPS or my current Sailfish 1.0 I'd absolutely go with the RAMPS one. I could easily live without a heated bed, I only use it for ABS and I have never absolutely needed ABS, and I prefer PLA.

I'll try the new sailfish and maybe revise my opinion.

I was kind of hoping that someone would have already ported Marlin to the Mightyboard. There was some effort that I found on the forums but I didn't see any indication that it was ever finished, and the current Marlin source code doesn't list Mightyboard as a valid configuration.

David Ashley said...

Here's the video I found.

Lots of details. Read through the comments.

John Ridley said...

Just did it. It's working pretty well (better). XY origin is different with Sailfish. I had to tweak my startup GCode. I'll do a writeup probably Sunday (tomorrow is FIRST robotics kickoff, I'll be busy all day). Printing a beer bottle lock right now on the new firmware.

David Ashley said...

How's the printer after the new firmware?

John Ridley said...

I was putting together an update last weekend when we had a power failure. I'd forgotten about it. I just went and found that blogger had saved a draft, I finished it and just posted it. Thanks for reminding me.

Me said...

Hi John Ridley,

Would you be so kind to share your latest updated firmware, please.

I have converted to MKS 1.4 24v so only had the thermocouples to replace for thermistors but struggling to get Marlin and Cura to work properly so a copy of yours would help me greatly.

Thank you,

Marc Vicente

John Ridley said...

I have not messed with this printer for a while, it's been on the shelf. Last thing I did was to update to Sailfish, but I read somewhere that the latest version won't work on the CTC so I updated to whatever version was recommended. I just found this information from Googling for it, I don't recall exact versions.

New printer: JGAurora A3

This week I decided I'd had it with all the other printers in my stable.  The CTC is stable and decent but it just bugs me (can't st...