Tag Archives: RAMPS 1.4

Hacking a 3D printer to play air hockey

This DIY project is puckin’ awesome!

As a kid, there was always that one game — besides Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam and Street Fighter, of course — that seemed to captivate everyone’s attention while inside an arcade. Air hockey! Originally invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards engineers back in 1969, the two-player game features a puck, two goals and a frictionless surface.


However, there was always those times when you couldn’t find anyone else around to compete against. Fortunately, Maker Jose Julio recently decided to take it upon himself to alleviate that problem by creating an air hockey-playing robot using some readily available RepRap 3D printer parts, including an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board.

Additional key specs included a PS3 camera, NEMA17 stepper motors, motor drivers, belts, bearings and rods, along with some 3D-printed brackets, paddles and pucks, obviously. Meanwhile, the table itself was built from scratch with off-the-shelf wood and two standard 90mm PC fans to produce the necessary air pressure to lift the puck.

Julio used a three-motor design (two for the Y-axis, one for the X), and replaced the X-axis rods on the RepRap with carbon tubes, which seemed to work quite well on PLA-printed bushings and made the system lighter.


“I started studying the code of Marlin (typical RepRap firmware) software but I decided to start from scratch, first because I don’t need a G-code interpreter, and second, because the software of a 3D printer have a motion planning algorithm and this is not the way the Air Hockey robot must work,” the Maker explains. “3D printers plan movements for smooth paths through all the points. The Air Hockey Robot should move inmediately with every new command canceling the previous one, because what we need is that the robot moves as quickly as possible to the new position.”

How the robot works is fairly straightforward. fThe system employs a PS3 camera mounted above the table to monitor the puck, determine its trajectory and stop shots from an opponent. The PS3 Eye is also adjustable, which allows a user to determine the robot’s speed, acceleration and strategy algorithms. (That’s good news for sore losers, you can rig the game to guarantee the win…) This was made possible by connecting the camera to a PC running a vision system that he wrote using OpenCV libraries. This way, once the puck is detected, the location is sent to the Arduino by serial port.


Beyond that, Julio devised a trajectory prediction system and the robot’s air hockey strategy with the Arduino.

“Once we have detected the puck in two consecutive frames we can calculate the trajectory. The trajectory prediction takes into account that the puck can rebound against a side wall. All these calculations are accesible to the strategy subsystem that decides what the robot will do: defense, defense+attack, and preparing for a new attack,” he writes.

Ready to get your game on against your own Air Hockey Robot? You can head over to the Maker’s official page here, while its code, 3D designs and additional documentation can all be found on Github here.

The Eleven is an open source desktop 3D printer

The Eleven is an affordable 3D printer with a large build area and high precision. 

Developed by Canadian startup ISG3D, the Eleven is a hackable desktop 3D printer with an open-air design. Boasting an impressive build envelope of 22cm x 40cm x 40cm, the machine is capable of creating decently-sized objects in a variety of filaments like PLA, ABS, Nylon and NinjaFlex.


Inspired by the Prusa i3 and based on RepRap mechanics, the newly-revealed gadget was built specifically with Makers in mind, not to mention hackers thanks to its open source nature. Its stripped down composition provides users with the ability to make improvements of their own, and customize it to their liking.

What’s more, the Eleven features a sleek open-air body, resembling that of the Prusa, and can easily fit on any desktop or workbench without taking up too much space. The printer is equipped with a heated bed, a user-friendly LCD screen for menu navigation, a resolution of up to 100 microns, and can precisely extrude layers as thin as 0.1mm. With a print speed of up to 100mm/second, objects can be spit out relatively quickly with a great degree of accuracy. In terms of hardware, the desktop device is driven by the mighty combination of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 along with a set of NEMA 17 stepper motors, and runs Repetier Host software.


The Eleven’s simple design makes it convenient to swap out filament spools, accessible for quick repairs or tune-ups, and pretty portable with a weight of roughly 30 pounds. Meanwhile, its frame is comprised mostly of aluminum, which offers enhanced stability and reliability during a print job. Plus, to give the gadget a little personality, the team has even added a series of LEDs that lets users choose from up to 15 colors and for different effects.

  • Printer size: 33cm x 60cm x 60cm
  • Build volume: 22cm x 40cm x 40cm
  • Layer resolution: <100microns
  • Nozzle: 0.4mm
  • Filament: PLA, ABS, Nylon (1.75mm)
  • Print speed: 100mm/s
  • Power supply: 240W
  • Connectivity: USB
  • OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Software: Repetier

Sound like a 3D printer you’d like to have in your Makerspace? Head over to its Kickstarter page, where ISG3D is currently seeking $8,402. The first batch of units is expected to ship in February 2016.

NFire 1 is a completely modular 3D printer for Makers

This modular 3D printer adapts to your needs, whether that’s doubling its height or upgrading to a dual extruder.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: modularity continues to rise in popularity amongst the Maker crowd. Cognizant of this, UK-based NFire Labs set out to develop a 3D printer that would be truly scalable and adaptable to its user depending on the job at hand.


“If you purchase a small 3D printer and then want to print larger objects, currently you would have to buy a new 3D printer. Not anymore,” its 19-year-old creator Alex Youden explains.

Have you ever wished that you could quickly upgrade your printer’s Z-axis and double its build volume on demand? Or, have you found yourself in need of printing two colors at once? All that is now possible, thanks to the NFire 1 “the world’s first truly modular 3D printer.” The latest delta-style printer to hit the rather competitive market is equipped with a sturdy aluminum frame, a Z-axis that can be extended from a height of 150mm to 300mm, as well as a dual extruder.


“Consumers are becoming frustrated with printers which are breaking due to poor quality parts. They end up spending more time fixing them than printing with them. This is why we are using the highest quality components to build the NFire 1 3D printer,” Youden shares. “Our mission is simple: Create something that can have every aspect upgraded and uses the highest quality materials and parts.”

Among the other notable features of the machine is its E3D-v6 Lite metal hotend that can reach 245°C and can be swapped out for the E3D Cyclops, allowing you to print in two. Beyond that, the NFire 1’s acrylic paneling comes in 21 different colors, divided into four different categories: the default black and white frosted, standard frosted (sapphire blue, jade green, chili red, saffron yellow and crystal clear, premium frosted (slate grey, Earth brown, aurora violet, azure blue, mandarin orange, citrus yellow, polar white and blush pink), and fluorescent (neptune blue, celestial blue, acid green, helios yellow, lava orange and Mars red).


In terms of hardware, NFire 1 is unsurprisingly built around the mighty Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board. While it may not come with an LCD screen, Makers are welcomed to add a display at their own leisure. Looking ahead, Youden and the NFire Labs team hopes to include even more options, such as a heated build plate, improved firmware/software, a built-in 3D scanner and an add-on display.

As if the modularity of the machine doesn’t catch the attention of Makers, perhaps its affordable price will. Interested? Head over to the printer’s Kickstarter campaign, where NFire Labs is currently seeking $46,788.

This 3D printer is made of LEGO bricks

Don’t let its appearance fool you, this LEGO machine will work just as good as any Prusa i3 printer.

Reminiscing about your earliest years as a Maker will surely conjure up some memories of interlocking multi-colored plastic bricks. Since its debut in 1949, LEGO has remained synonymous with DIY, especially for the younger crowd. As of late, we have been seeing quite the convergence of the 3D printing and toy worlds, ranging from Disney to Mattel, with hopes of delivering customizable items on demand. And who’s to say that it only has to be for child’s play? One Maker has proven just that by devising a fully-functional 3D printer comprised of, well, LEGO pieces.


The brainchild of Gosse Adema, the so-called LEGO 3D Printer is based on the framework of a Prusa i3 printer. Originally conceived as an A4-plotter with stepper motors from an old HP printer, the Maker had decided to upgrade to Nema 17 stepper motors and transform it into a slick X, Y and Z axis machine.

Though a quick online search may reveal a number of LEGO-based 3D gizmos, none of them may be as impressive as this one. Made up of default-sized bricks (four by two studs at 32mm x 16mm x 9.6mm), this innovative contraption is capable of extruding plastic like any other desktop device. The printer boasts a base of 34 x 64 studs (19.2cm x 51.2cm), which determines the exact location of the Y axis, along with a height of 44 blocks (42cm) and a sturdy L-frame that’s 36 blocks tall. This, of course, dictates how high a printed object can be.


Keep in mind, as with any LEGO project, the taller the structure, the more unstable the frame becomes. For support, the Maker ensured that every fifth piece was a technic brick. And unlike the X axis of a Prusa i3 consisting of a separate left and right side connected by two rods, Adema instead implemented one large X axis using long technic bricks for enhanced stability. Beyond that, Nema 17 steppers are attached to the technics using a felt damper/isolator and M3x15 bolts, giving it a robust base.

Adema makes it known that he did not use any Mindstorms product for this build. Whereas most LEGO printers employ servos, this design worked quite nicely with stepper motors. As with any Prusa i3, this device was powered by the incredibly popular combination of an ATmega2560 MCU with a RAMPS 1.4 shield. The motor responsible for driving the entire operation is held in place with technic bricks at the back. In terms of software, the gadget uses Marlin for the ATmega2560, while running Pronterface on his laptop to control the printer.


In his Instructables post, Adema explains in great detail as to how he assembled the frame, completed the X, Y and Z axes, added each of the three endstops, attached the threaded rod and installed the Geeetech MK8 extruder. What’s more, the heat bed is capable of reaching 110° C, while the printhead starts at 170° C. The Maker notes that prior to installing the Marlin software, a few changes to the printer and its configuration were necessary.

“My first print had some problems with the amount of filament but everything worked. The main problem was the difference in filament settings and extruder nozzle. This was caused by the Pronterface settings,” the Maker writes. “This resulted in feeding too few filament. Next error was the default nozzle size is 0.5 mm with a layer height of 0.4 mm. The actual nozzle is 0.3 mm.”

This simply meant that he had to adjust the settings a tad, aside from calibrating some of its parts.


“Although the printer needs to be further calibrated everything is working properly,” Adema concludes. “By ensuring that all axes move smoothly, no steps are skipped by the stepper motors. This was one of the problems during the first print.”

As with any LEGO project, having the ability to modify the gadget after it’s constructed is certainly an advantage. While it may look like a toy at first glance, this 3D printer can actually create some credible 3D models. Sound like a unit you’d love to try? Head over to the Maker’s elaborate tutorial on Instructables here, or watch it in action below!

ShapingBits launches a pair of multi-material, high-resolution 3D printers

Recently launched on Kickstarter, the 3FXtrud Uno and 3FXtrud Duo are next-gen, multi-capable machines.

While it seems like just about every week a new 3D printer debuts on Kickstarter, some more than others are geared toward the DIY crowd. With that in mind, Bogdan Diaconescu and Difei Zhang — who are the co-founders of Albuquerque-based ShapingBits — have unveiled a pair of multi-material 3D printers that enable Makers and budget-conscious startups to create functional objects in an easy-to-use, cost-effective manner.


The 3FXtrud 20 Uno is a single extruder printer built with features that make it Maker-friendly with expedited setup and reliable printing in a multitude of filaments. This device primarily caters to those seeking to devise objects in hard, flexible and soft thermoplastics, which can all be 3D-printed using its universal extruder system. Meanwhile, the 3FXtrud 25 Duo throws on an additional extruder to give users a true free-form fabrication printer with advanced capabilities that allow for a greater variety of engineering (and FDA approved) materials — from compressible to maximum strength, and from low to high melting temperatures.


“True free-form fabrication (3F) can be achieved when any shape can be printed,” Diaconescu explains. “3FXtrud Duo uses a multi-material dual extruder, thus can print a large number of thermoplastics along with any two combinations of such materials. With 3FXtrud Duo you can print any 3D geometry with overhangs, bridges, internal spaces with internal objects, all possible by using dissolvable support materials.”


Based on an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board, the machines also pack an advanced multi-material, all-metal head that excels at printing a broad range of thermoplastics. At the moment, supported filaments include ABS, nylon, TPU, TPE, PC, PC-ABS blends, HIPS, PVA, PLA, PETT poly, metal/ceramics blends, wood, carbon fiber, and conductive materials. This unique extruder was designed to provide Makers with minimum maintenance and prolonged utilization, by reducing stripping, skipping and jamming, and employing a tool-free, constant-force feeding system.

What’s more, a notable feature of both 3FXtrud devices is its superior temperature control. Both printers are equipped with a high-temp heated bed that can sustain up to 130°C continuously along with an extremely flat and removable glass surface for improved adhesion and to prevent warping. And to offer even more control over a broader range of filaments, the Duo boasts a fully-enclosed build volume that eliminates air drafts and gives a stable air temperature profile by trapping the heat. This minimizes interlayer stress in the printed objects, and ultimately improves its overall quality and robustness.


“A particle and activated carbon air filter with air temperature homogenizer for odor free operation can be installed, which provides a uniform temperature profile for the enclosure,” Diaconescu adds. “For the mavericks wanting even more control and desire to work with experimental materials, a closed loop air temperature conditioner can be installed for an extended enclosure air temperature range.”

  • Build volume: 20cm x 20cm x 20cm (Uno) / 25cm x 25cm x 25cm (Duo)
  • Layer solution: 40 to 300µm (Uno) / 20 to 300µm (Duo)
  • Printing speed: 20mm/sec to 150 mm/sec (Uno) / 20mm/sec to 200 mm/sec (Duo)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35mm (replaceable nozzles include: 0.2mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm)
  • Filament size: 1.75mm
  • Software: Software: Repetier, Printrun, Slic3r
  • Connectivity: SD card, USB (Wi-Fi in development)

Interested? Head over to its official Kickstarter campaign, where the ShapingBits team is currently seeking $15,370. Shipment is expected to begin in June 2015.

You-SLS is an inexpensive, open-source SLS 3D printer

One Maker has set out to build the cheapest SLS printer on the market. 

In recent years, there have been plenty of FDM and SLA printers to emerge on crowdfunding sites, and rightfully so. Given their ease-of-use and affordability, these desktop machines have become the go-to choice for Makers looking to 3D print a project. Though, as great as they may be, users often encounter a number of limitations when it comes to creating overhangs greater than 45 degrees, altering a design on a whim and adding support material.


Meanwhile, selective laser sintering (or SLS) is in a league of its own when it comes to yielding high-quality, high-definition results. These machines avoid the extrusion process entirely, and instead, construct objects by selectively solidifying very fine powder materials of nylon, layer by layer, using a laser. Unfortunately, as incredible as these devices may be, the cheapest SLS printer on the market today is in the ballpark of $180,000.

That was until now. 18-year-old Maker Lukas Hoppe has set out to introduce an SLS 3D printer that packs all of the key elements of those industrial-grade machines without the astronomical price tag. What’s more, it will also be open-source and feature a heated build chamber.


Hoppe admits that he only got into 3D printing about a year ago, but immediately became an advocate of the Atmel driven RepRap movement yet was always tempted by more pricier 3D printers. This got him to thinking: What if there was a way that would combine the open-source principles of a RepRap with the professional quality of SLS devices? And so, the $2,000 You-SLS 3D Printer was born.

As expected, the machine is based on the highly-popular tandem of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and a RAMPS 1.4 board, along with Marlin firmware. However, controlling a SLS machine is a bit more complex than commanding a conventional FDM printer, and so, Hoppe employed another Arduino to drive the recoater. The rest of the You-SLS consists of commonly available parts that make constructing as simple and inexpensive as possible.


What really sets this gadget apart from other SLS printers is its X-Y gantry system, as hardware and software for those systems is readily accessible.

“I decided that it would be best to stick with the Cartesian X-Y system, as the software is hassle free, it allows the use of a standard RAMPS board, which again is very common with open source printers, and the hardware is available all over the world from different suppliers at a low cost,” the Maker adds.

The DIY system will employ a three-way heating system: each of two pistons will be equipped with two 300W heating cartridges and the build chamber will be heated by two optical heaters with independent temperature feedback controls. The laser sintering system itself will revolve around a laser-diode with 2W of power at a wavelength of 445nm.


In order to cool the various lasers, stepper motors and electronic components, the Maker notes that his design moves the lasers outside the hot environment by creating two parts: a lower segment, which contains the two pistons and a recoater, and the upper segment that holds the XY-stage and the laser diode. This way, the hot and the cold parts of the machine are separated.

The You-SLS printer’s outer dimensions are 90cm x 50cm x 55cm, which will make it a welcomed addition to any Makerspace workbench. And with a print bed of about 20cm x 15cm x 10cm in size, this allows larger parts to be printed diagonally and for jet small parts to be created without using too much powder to fill the bed.

Sound like something you’d like? Hurry over to Hoppe’s official Indiegogo page, where the Maker has already surpassed his $1,100 goal.

Building a DIY 3D printer for less than $200

One 13-year-old Maker just designed and built his own 3D printer for under $200. 

Truth be told, a number of 3D printers still remain out of reach for many everyday consumers not looking to shell out thousands of dollars on a device. This leaves countless Makers dying to get their hands on a machine to do one of two things: either spend their savings account or create their own. We don’t know what you were doing at age 13, but chances are you weren’t constructing your own easy-to-use, inexpensive 3D printer.


Meet Zach Sousa, who recently unveiled plans for the second iteration of his DIY 3D printer that he devised, built and uploaded to Instructables — all by himself. The gadget, which he calls The Edge 2.0is roughly the size of the Printrbot Simple with a slightly larger 6″ x 5.5″ x 4″ build envelope. The device weighs just over five pounds, and can be made from materials costing no more than $200. While he is still testing the final print resolution, 3DPrint.com reveals that he has managed to print successfully down to 200 microns!

The idea for an updated model of the Edge came about following its tremendous popularity, having garnered well over 125,000 views and thousands of likes online. Similar to its predecessor, v2.0 is controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board, as well as driven by five NEMA 17 stepper motors.


The Maker crafted each of the machine’s parts using a combination of laser cutting and 3D printing, along with a little soldering and wiring to round out the Edge 2.0’s design. In order to complete the project, Sousa calls for a computer with Arduino IDE, running Pronterface and a slicer program like Cura or Slic3r.

Interested? Head over to its official Instructables page for a step-by-step breakdown of the project.

TwinTeeth is a PCB mini-factory for electronic hobbyists

Diyouware’s innovative PCB fabricator will give Makers the ability to create PCB prototypes right at home.

A pair of Madrid-based brothers, who you may recall from their recent DiyouPCB project, have now released the design for a new 3D printer. Diyouware’s TwinTeeth — which gets its name from the principle of moving the construction bed instead of the tool head — is best described as an open-source PCB mini-factory geared towards electronic-savvy hobbyists. It is an innovative fabricator of Arduino shield-size PCBs which will enable Makers to create circuit board prototypes right in the comfort of their own homes.


Mega 3D IMG_0002_0

The mini-factory can perform a variety of functions, including photoengraving with a UV laser on sensitive film or pre-sensitized boards, drilling holes using any mini-rotary tool, dispensing solder paste onto SMD PCB pads, plotting circuits with a permanent pen-maker, as well as 3D printing knobs, casings, front-panels and circuits with conductive filament.

Its interchangeable tool head allows users to automate the process of most PCB fabrication stages, with its only limitation being a small Arduino shield sized workspace. The robotic device draws the PCB circuits in rastering mode much like any paper printer does, moving the laser (or the bed in their case) from one side to the other. TwinTeeth boasts auto-bed leveling, thereby giving users a flat plate with a tolerance of less than 0.01mm during the printing process.


“While traditional 3D printers or CNC machines move the tool while the working piece is fixed on the bed, TwinTeeth moves the bed while the tool is fixed. The first method is good if the tool is small and you want to make large pieces. But if the tool is heavy like a mini-rotary tool or a 3D extruder and the piece you are working on is light like a PCB, it is better to move the piece because it provides more precision and reduces vibrations,” the duo writes.

TwinTeeth is embedded with the well-known combination of an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560), a RAMPS 1.4 control board and A4988 drivers,  and is powered by a trio of Nema 17 motors. Aside from that, Diyouware used modified Marlin firmware to support the multiple tools, manage and control the laser, implement the auto-focus system, print in rastering mode, and improve the buffering. A small USB camera was included to make it easier for Makers to see tiny details on high-density PCBs. According to its creators, the built-in camera is also useful to set the home position, a very important element in obtaining accuracy.


Similar to their earlier project, the Makers equipped TwinTeeth with the same PHR-803T optical pickup used in the DiyouPCB with a wavelength of 405nm. Meanwhile, Diyouware developed an entire software suite for the mini-factory, which makes for easier management and control of the machine. This program enables users to connect and disconnect via USB, select tools, move the bed, go to homing position, set the speed and Z position, calibrate the robot, stop and resume a print job, and toggle the camera view, among a number of other things.

  • Print area: 70mm x 80mm x 60mm
  • Print speed: 1200-1500mm/minute
  • Print resolution: 600DPI
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35mm
  • Code: G-Code, postscript and BMP files
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0
  • Filament: 1.75mm PLA/ABS

Interested in your own PCB mini-factory? You’ll want to check out Diyouware’s entire blog post here.

SmartrapCore is a low-cost, open-source wooden box 3D printer

SmartrapCore is the company’s second model and is even easier to assemble than the Smartrap.

As the popularity of inexpensive, open-source 3D printers continues to grow amongst the DIY community, Smartfriendz is hoping to help accelerate adoption with their latest device, the SmartrapCore. Touted as a “true RepRap printer,” it is capable of constantly improving itself by printing its own plastic parts and upgrades. Possessing the same ease-of-use as the French startup’s earlier Smartrap 3D Printer, Makers will be able to access online plans, instructions and assembly assistance through a series of tutorial videos.


However, in an effort to differentiate itself from the Smartrap, the team started the project with a coreXY base. (Hence, the “core” in its name.) The 3D-printed components are placed inside and atop of a wooden box, then simply screwed in using wood screws. As for its hardware, like a number of other RepRaps available today, the SmartrapCore is based on an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) and a RAMPS 1.4 control board.


Smartfriendz shares that the machine is expandable from 20cm x 20cm to around 50cm x 50cm. More importantly, all designs are entirely written in OpenJSCAD along with various NEMA, rod, print and wood thickness sizes. All models are dynamically updated from parameters, while print plates will soon be automatically generated. Beyond that, the team has recently made improvements to reorient the stop on “new plate2,” as well as the J-Head attachment with its inductive sensor.

Interested? Not only can you now purchase the SmartrapCore online, you can also find its files on Thingiverse and Github.