The Gecko goes on…

My printer has been idle for a number of months and this past weekend I finally spent a little time fixing up some wiring and actually printed a coffee grinder funnel prototype I started working on. The initial print was great – but after making some changes and starting another print job, I almost immediately ran into issues with blockages in the hotend.

I upgraded the machine with a genuine E3D Titan extruder and V6 hotend, but I’m still not impressed with their performance. Need something better – but what?

Update 🙂 I think I have a plan…

Mosquito hotend by Slice Engineering

Came across a company called Slice Engineering in the U.S.A., that has developed a hotend they are calling the Mosquito. The design is very intriguing, and it looks like it might be 1/2 of the answer I’m searching for.








Bondtech BMG-M Extruder

The other half of the answer is the extruder, and a Swedish company called BondTech has an extruder designed for the Mosquito – the BMG-M. I like the dual gear mechanism they’re using, and from what I’ve read, is a good step up from the Titan.

Gecko Upgrades

I received the East 3D Gecko upgrade kit, last fall, and recently I had finally gotten around to tearing down the printer and installing it.  In the process, I also installed some RGB lighting, ceramic heat bed, and the Lerdge power-off module kit as well.

The upgrade kit changes the gantry suspension so that it hangs from 4 points, instead of the original 2 points. It also changes the XY gantry, providing a new rail to make things much easier to square up.

I ended up removing the power-off module after it resulted in a blown fuse in the ac input switch – thankfully the blown fuse protected the main board and power supply.

The ceramic bed is a much flatter printing surface – and is supposed to provide much better print adhesion.  In practice, I find it works really well, provide that you have the surface perfectly clean and levelled from the start.  If either of these things aren’t perfect, you end up with a spaghetti print!

One of the other upgrades I did previously was replacing the stock hotend and extruder with original E3D components.

My Gecko

Well, it’s been a while since my last post.  The Gecko printer arrived, and I had a lot of fun putting it together.  There were a couple spots that I had some challenges with, but the support received from the Gecko designer, Chay Chen, was outstanding – and I’ve had all sorts of fun printing some random objects, some upgrade components for the printer, and some useful objects too!

This is just temporary insulation and lighting – it works for now, and helps with the ABS print jobs!

One of the useful things I’ve printed so far – portafilter holders for my espresso machine!

Another useful print job – I designed this fan mount. The new fans make this printer much quieter!

I’ve made a few upgrades/mods:

  1. Replaced clone hotend/extrudere with genuine E3D Titan extruder, and E3DV6 hotend
  2. Added 2 80mm Noctura fans to replace the 40mm mainboard fan
  3. Lerdge dual extruder daughterboard
  4. Lerdge PC/USB module
  5. 5m of RGB LED light strip
  6. Logitech C270 web cam
  7. Raspberry Pi 3
  8. DS18B20 temperature sensor
  9. Power module

The printer made quite a noise when powered up due to the 40mm mainboard fan mounted behind a bunch of perforations in the front panel of the printer. I added the Noctura fans on the right side of the panel below the print bed – one blowing across the mainboard (I think this orientation is actually better for cooling the stepper drivers), and the other across the heatbed MOSFET (had no heating issues, but figured it can’t hurt!) I designed some custom fan holder/clips to attach them to the panel below the printing platform.
I’m currently using the dual extruder daughterboard to drive the RGB LED light strips.  The PC/USB module allows me to connect the printer to the Raspberry Pi, which is running OctoPi (a Raspberry Pi disk image pre-configured with OctoPrint software), and I’ve added the temperature probe (which required a little soldering – adding a resistor and connectors to plug into the GPIO pins on the Raspberry), and also the web cam, connected via USB.
With the OctoPrint software running a couple additional plugins (OctoPrint-Enclosure, and OctoPrint-Anywhere).  I added a DS18B20 temperature sensor to the Raspberry Pi, and using OctoPrint-Enclosure, display the ambient temperature in my printer. OctoPrint-Anywhere allows me to connect remotely from anywhere to see what the printer is up to, and I have an app on my iPhone that allows me to see the current print job status, and even initiate print jobs, or stop them if I see a problem.
The power module hasn’t been wired up yet.  I’m holding off since finding out that the Gecko designer has actually made a number of improvements to the printer design, and is sending out a substantial upgrade kit at no additional cost!  After I receive the upgrade kit, I plan on installing the module while installing the upgrade.  After that’s all done, I’m going to design an insulated enclosure for the printer.
This printer has been a lot of fun – and I’m truly amazed at the support from the East 3D and all of Chay Chen’s team there, and also the wealth of knowledge of other Gecko owners on the Facebook group – East 3D Gecko 3D Printers CoreXY. For anyone interested in getting this great printer, you can order it on Aliexpress.
Now I have to ramp up my CAD skills!  Have been using a Google’s SketchUp so far, and dabbling with Autodesk Fusion 360.  I think I’m going to take a course soon – never too old to stop learning! 😀
 

3D Printing Anticipation

I decided that I wanted to get into 3D printing a few weeks ago, and began researching.  There’s quite a range in prices, starting from a couple hundred dollars, and up into the thousands.  I’m a little on the frugal side of things – not cheap necessarily, but interested in value.
Initially I was looking at the Prusa I3 clones, and then into enclosed models like the Creator Pro and Qidi.  I ended up deciding that I wanted a cube style printer – a core XY.  To me, they just seem like they would be the most stable platform.  There are few plans out there, but it seemed like a pretty complex task to source all of the materials necessary to build a printer, so I started looking at kits.  
As luck would have it, I happened across the East 3D Gecko.  This kit is very new – and there have been a couple hiccups dealing with the build instructions, and some minor Q/A issues.  However, the designer/seller of the kit (and his team) have been very proactive in getting issues addressed, and they are updating the kit as things get resolved.  I also found out there’s at least one other person in the city here that has one!  The East 3D Gecko Facebook group provides support – both by members, and the actual designer of the printer, Chay Chen.  Chay has also designed a number of successful Tevo printers as well.
The printer uses a 32-bit Lerdge control board, and has a 310 x 300 x 300mm build volume, and has a fixed build platform – which in my mind, would reduce levelling issues.  There isn’t a lot of info out about the Lerdge board, but hopefully it works out well!  Apparently there’s no parts fan with the kit, but this may have just been the initial test kits that this was missing – but results have been pretty impressive without it.  I did order a couple  inexpensive blower fans, but turns out they might be too big. I’ll know soon! 🙂

While I wait for my printer kit to arrive, I’ve been busy reclaiming my office space  – it became over-run in the past few years, turning it into an unorganized storage room – so my biggest challenge has been getting rid of stuff.  
Looking forward to the challenge in putting this kit together!