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Brock Brandenberg (bergdesign)
From: Fort Worth, United States
Posts: 1
Now that you've completed your shiny new Makibox, you're probably wondering where to go from here. This is a walk-thru of the steps necessary to get a first print out of your new 3D printer. If you've already achieved this milestone, then you probably won't learn anything new from this post. It's really just meant to fill the void that Makible left on its support page.

I'm a Mac user, so this guide is described from the Mac platform's point of view, but I will gladly add suggested info for Windows or make any corrections, changes and additions that the more experienced users see fit. I'm not a pro at FDM plastic printing, but I'm a mechanical engineer with lots of product design experience based on CNC manufacturing and a long-time computer programmer on the Mac platform. I didn't have any major issues getting my box built, but after I was done with the extremely-well illustrated assembly instructions, I found no further cohesive instructions for getting software configured and data successfully sent to the Makibox. This is my humble description of what was required, in the hopes that it will help other users not already familiar with custom micro-controller hardware connected to a PC.

So let's get started.

When starting to work with devices like the Makibox in its early stage of evolution, you'll have to use a number of tools that are a bit out of the ordinary and off the beaten path. And often, these tools won't work as expected - they'll crash, freeze, disconnect from your printer or leave the printer in an odd state that could require a reboot. And as you struggle to solve any particular problem, you might find that the rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper with no solution in sight. Get used to being an early adopter of 3D printing.

Now with this said, you shouldn't have to struggle so hard just to get started. You've built your Makibox and now you're stuck asking what you should do next. This walk-thru should help. It's not the only way to do it, but it is one way and once you understand how the various pieces can work together, you can try alternate procedures and tools because you'll be experienced enough to know what to look for.

This is a verbose walk-thru, but it's not very complicated in principle. In general, you will...

  • Install an application to establish communication with your Makibox
  • Make sure that your firmware is up-to-date
  • Find a 3D model to print
  • Slice your model up into G-Code suitable for your printer
  • Send the G-Code data to your printer
  • Marvel at your accomplishment and first printed masterpiece :)


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First Step - Making contact with your Makibox
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In a nutshell, you will:

  1. Install Repetier-Host
  2. Configure the settings to match your Makibox
  3. Confirm that the settings allow you to successfully control the Makibox


Now, the details.

The very first thing you will need to do is install a program that can talk to your Makibox so that you can do things like test the movement of the axes and "tune" the axes to allow the mechanism to move smoothly and reliably. John has some good videos for this part, so we won't cover them again here. Tune into the YouTube channel listed on the support page to view his videos when you get to that point where you can control your Makibox from your computer.

As of April 2014, Makible's Chrome application called 5DPrint no longer works. Instead, you can download Repetier-Host which is free and is also capable of talking to your Makibox. There are other alternatives, but start with Repetier-Host because it works well. Once you're familiar with the whole 3D printing process, you can move on to another if you so choose.

Go to http://www.repetier.com/download/ and download the version for your computer's operating system. The Windows and Mac versions are similar but not identical in appearance, but their features are roughly on-par with one another so don't be too confused by differences in screenshots that you might see. I'm a Mac user so these instructions are currently biased for a Mac.

Once you've downloaded Repetier-Host, just launch it and open its "printer settings". You will need to update some settings to make sure that Repetier-Host can communicate properly with your Makibox. In the "printer settings," add a configuration and give it a descriptive name, like "Makibox A6 HT".

Switch to the "Connection" tab and set the following values. These are fixed values for the Makibox with the 5D Print D8 board.

iconCode:
port = usbmodem001
baud rate = 115200
stop bits = 1
parity = none
transfer protocol = autodetect
receive cache size = 127
use ping-pong communication = off
firmware sends ok after error = on


Now switch to the "Behavior" tab and set the following values. These are not absolute values, meaning that you can vary some of them as you learn and establish your own practices, but these are good starting points.

iconCode:
travel feedrate (X and Y axes) = 3200 mm/min
Z axis travel feedrate = 100 mm/min
default extruder temp = 238 C for ABS, or 193 C for PLA
default heated bed temp = 120 C for ABS, or 60 C for PLA
number of extruders = 1
check extruder & heated bed temp every = 1 second
don't log temp requests = YES (checked)
dump position = 0,0,0
go to dispose after job/job kill = YES (checked)
disable extruder after job/job kill = YES (checked)
disable heated bed after job/job kill = YES (checked)
disable motors after job/job kill = YES (checked)
add to comp printing time = 8%


The Z axis should move slower than the X and Y axes, so the travel feedrate is much lower for Z than for X and Y. Note that these are not printing speeds but rather max movement rates that you might use to manually move the print head around during calibration using the buttons under the "Print Panel" tab. The printing speeds will be determined by settings in the slicer, which we'll discuss a bit later. The extruder and heated bed temps depend on the material you will be using, and like the travel feedrates, these values are only used for pre-heating the extruder and bed if you manually turn them on using the buttons under the "Print Panel" tab. The slicing software discussed later will override these Repetier-Host printer settings when you actually print a 3D model by embedding values into the G-Code that the slicer generates.

Now switch to the "Dimension" tab and set the following values. Some of these values can vary slightly, and in fact Makible has changed their recommendations over time because of some manufacturing changes and assembly variations. But these values are good starting values that are in the right ballpark.

iconCode:
Home X = X min
Home Y = Y min
Home Z = Z min
X min = 0 mm
X max = 108 mm
Y min = 0 mm
Y max = 148 mm
printer type = classic printer with dump area
print area width = 108 mm
print area depth = 148 mm
print area height = 86 mm
bed left = 0 mm
bed front = 0 mm
dump area left = 0 mm
dump area front = 0 mm
dump area width = 10mm
dump area height = 10mm


You can ignore the "Advanced" tab. If you want to read more about each of these settings in Repetier-Host, you can do so at http://www.repetier.com/documentation/repetier-host-mac/.

Once you have updated the settings, you should be able to use the "Print Panel" controls to move around your printer's hot end. Note that the scroll bars can be hidden on the Mac, so depending on your window size, you may have to scroll to see all the controls under a particular tab. This is a good time to make sure that you have the axes properly configured in your Makibox... The vertical dimension is the Z-axis (moves the hot end up and down), the short dimension from front-to-back is the X-axis, and the long dimension from left-to-right is the Y-axis. You can click on the buttons next to X, Y and Z under the "Print Panel" tab to move around the Makibox hot end and bed.

This is a good time to watch the videos about "tuning" your Makibox because you can now heat up the print bed and move the mechanisms around to adjust things and level the print bed. Come back here when you've leveled the bed and made some of the necessary adjustments.

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Second Step - Updating your Makibox's firmware
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In a nutshell, you will:

  1. Install MacPorts
  2. Use MacPorts to install dfu-programmer (and all of its dependencies)
  3. Download the latest firmware for your Makibox
  4. Use dfu-programmer to send the firmware to your Makibox


Now, the details.

Now that your computer can communicate with the Makibox, you can use Repetier-Host to send a command to your Makibox so that it returns the current firmware version. Under the "Print Panel" tab in Repetier-Host, locate the G-Code field and type "M608" into it (without the quotes), then hit the "Send" button. You should see the firmware version and driver board model echoed back in the log at the bottom of the window. The log may automatically scroll because there is a preference set to constantly query the Makibox for the temps of the extruder and hot bed.

Your firmware may be up-to-date, but if it's not, it may cause you problems like it has caused me. Take the time to go to the Makible BitBucket page at https://bitbucket.org/makible/5dprint-firmware/downloads and look for the latest firmware version. Compare the latest version with your version, and download the newer version if yours is older.

Now you can't use Repetier-Host to update the firmware in your Makibox, so you will need to install a different utility to do this. If you're using a Mac, you will use "dfu-programmer" to send the new firmware to your printer. However, dfu-programmer is not easy to install, so instead you should first install a program called MacPorts which can then download and install dfu-programmer for you very easily. It sounds more complicated than it is, so just follow the instructions and it will make your life much easier.

Go to the MacPorts project homepage at http://www.macports.org and download the version appropriate for your version of Mac OS X, then run the downloaded installer to install MacPorts on your machine. MacPorts is itself a command-line utility designed to install utilities and applications that are not normal "packaged" applications like you get from the Mac App Store. Many of these "non-packaged" utilities have dependencies requiring other non-packaged utilities to be installed, and unless you're a UNIX expert, MacPorts will make your life much, much easier. Once MacPorts is installed, launch Terminal (located in your /Applications/Utilities folder) and type the following command at the prompt and press the return key to install dfu-programmer. It will then ask for your password because "sudo" tells the system to run "port" with your security privileges, which requires your password.

iconCode:
sudo port install dfu-programmer


This command tells MacPorts to look up dfu-programmer in its online database, and install anything that it needs to operate. This is much easier than trying to install dfu-programmer manually.

Once dfu-programmer is successfully installed, you can run it to send the new firmware to your Makibox. When you run dfu-programmer, you will need to tell it where your newly downloaded firmware "hex" file is located by either first changing the "working directory" to the download folder where the downloaded hex file is located, or by simply including the full path to your downloaded hex file when you run dfu-programmer. We'll use the latter option.

Open a Finder window and navigate to the download folder where the new firmware hex file is located. Arrange this Finder window and your Terminal window so that you can see both at the same time. Now switch back to the Terminal and type the following command, but do not press the return key. Make sure that you add a space after the word "flash" so that their will be a space between "flash" and the path to the hex file that you are about to add to it.

iconCode:
sudo dfu-programmer at90usb1286 flash


Now using the Finder window with your downloaded hex file, drag the file icon for the hex file to the terminal window to automatically insert its path onto the end of the command. It should look similar to the command shown below. If so, press the return key to run the command.

iconCode:
sudo dfu-programmer at90usb1286 flash 5dprint_D8_v2_20_34.hex


If the command was successful, you should see it return the number of bytes used.

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Third Step - Slicing and printing a model
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In a nutshell, you will:

  1. Download an existing model to print
  2. Load it into Repetier-Host, scale and position it on the virtual Makibox print bed
  3. Slice the model to generate G-Code for the Makibox
  4. Run the G-Code to warm up the hot end and print bed and to print the model


Now, the details.

Now that your Makibox is up-to-date and communicating with your computer, it's time to print something. You will need a 3D model, so we'll just download an existing one instead of learning yet another piece of software at this stage. You can design your own models later once you're familiar with the whole printing process and you're sure your Makibox is functioning properly.

You will use Repetier-Host to load the 3D model, slice it into G-Code and send the G-Code to your Makibox, so you won't need to install any other applications or utilities to finish your first printed model. Repetier-Host includes a copy of Slic3r which is the utility that actually slices the 3D model and generates the G-Code. Repetier-Host is just the model loader and viewer plus the controller that sends the G-Code to the Makibox.

Makible has made some files available that will make this step easier, so use your web browser to download the following zip file, then unzip it. This zip file includes both a 3D model that we will load into Repetier-Host, and some slicer settings that Slic3r will need to generate G-Code that is specific to your Makibox and the color of filament that you will use. The zip archive also includes some pre-generated G-Code files, but you don't want to use those now. Take the additional time to do the slicing yourself to learn all the steps required to print your model since you'll have to do it yourself with your own models.

https://makibox.com/tl_files/support/slic3r_configs/slic3r_configs.zip

Launch Repetier-Host if it is not already running, switch to the "Object Placement" tab and click the "Add STL File" button. In the file open dialog, navigate to the unzipped folder containing the Slic3r config files and locate the "18mm_Makibox_test_cube.STL" file, and press the "Open" button. Repetier-Host will drop the model onto the virtual print bed, and you can click the "Center Object" button to ensure that it is in the center of your print bed.

Now switch to the Slicer tab and click the "Configure" button in the Slic3r group. Note that Skeinforge is an alternate slicer, but you won't be using it right now. We'll stick to Slic3r for now. When Slic3r launches, choose "Load Config" from the File menu, navigate to the unzipped folder containing the Slic3r config files, locate the "ini" file for your particular PLA or ABS filament and color, and press the "Open" button. Slic3r will load the settings from the config file into all three tabs of its window, but you will now need to save these settings under each tab so that Repetier-Host can use them. Click the "Print Settings" tab, then click the small button with the floppy disk icon next to the pop-up menu that displays the name of the "ini" file you just opened, then click the "Ok" button to save the settings. Repeat these steps for both the "Filament Settings" tab and the "Printer Settings" tab. Then you can quit Slic3r because you will use it from within Repetier-Host.

iconNote:
Sidenote: There are a lot of settings required to generate suitable G-Code for your particular printer, filament and model. Makible has done a good job of determining usable settings, so they are a good starting point for you. Some settings specify how your machine is designed to move, and some specify how a model should be sliced up into layers to be best made out of thin slices. Pay close attention to units like mm/min and mm/sec. Various applications may use different units, so you may have to convert values accordingly. The "G-Code flavor" of your Makibox is RepRap (Marlin/Sprinter). This is because the 5D Print D8 controller board used in your Makibox is based on principles established by Adrian Bowyer who founded the RepRap project. Your Makibox has dimensions for each axis that need to be specified so that the G-Code is generated within those limits. These axes also have optimum speeds at which the stepper motors should move. These settings will be the same as those you used in "First Step - Making contact with your Makibox".


Now in Repetier-Host under the "Slicer" tab, choose your newly saved settings from the "Print Settings" pop-up menu, the "Printer Settings" pop-up menu and the "Extruder 1" pop-up menu. You can now press the big "Slice with Slic3r" button to slice up your 3D model and generate G-Code. When you do, you should see Repetier-Host switch to the G-Code tab and the 3D view display cyan-colored lines all over the model. You're finally ready to send your G-Code to your shiny new printer.

Click the run button in the toolbar, and you should see G-Code begin to scroll by in the log view at the bottom of the Repetier-Host window. If all goes well, your hot end and print bed will rise up to temperature and your model will begin printing. Now all you have to do is wait and marvel at your first print :)

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Maintenance - Cleaning your print bed and hot end
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Buy a small can of acetone to clean residue off of the Makibox print bed and hot end. Apply a small amount to a clean cloth (use fabric or a tough paper towel) and wipe the print bed when it is cold.
iconCaution:
Do not do attempt to clean the bed when it is hot.
And always use a clean part of the cloth so that you don't re-deposit residue from a prior cleaning. When you are done, the metal print bed should be shiny and free of streaks and discoloration, if you do as suggested and use a clean cloth and wipe it when it is cool.
2021-04-09 23:29
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RoyT
Tech Addict
From: United States
Posts: 1221
Good post :thumbup:

Suggest some discuss about mount filament spool and load filament. Some have had some binding of filament when mounted on spool holder. When feeding filament, cut off about 1 inch at an angle to get sharp point for feeding. Turn off motor and use the manual knob on the motor to feed. Maybe heat up the hot end in advance and feed filament all the way thru and inspect the result that comes out the nozzle tip before starting print?

At end of print, fully retract filament from the hot end before cool down of the hot end (may need to use End Gcode section).
2021-04-10 01:58
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Josulo
From: Ponferrada, Spain
Posts: 18
Good Post, great work

I wair for windows instruccions.

Thank you
2021-05-21 20:01
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robthebrew
Posts: 732
does what it says on the box.

But no more. Once you have got to the end of that, you will be wondering why things went wrong.

Here are some pointers (assuming no actual hardware failure):

1. print stops for no reason
check that your computer is not doing something stupid like a software update

2. I levelled my bed, but it still refuses to lay down plastic
your bed may be warped. Make sure you level near where the print will be, not way out by the bolts.
Always level the bed when it is a print temperature
Use a thin card or thick paper (should be ca 0.2mm thick)

3. After a while it stops laying down plastic
a. make sure that the spool is feeding without resistance
b. make sure that the print speed is high (can prevent back flow of heat up the neck of the HE tube, softening the plastic)
c. get a fan for the neck.

4. I get wobbly prints
a. make sure you tune the rod holder/guides: this is a touchy-feely thing. Too tight and you will get the cube moving off in one direction, too loose and the cube has a wobble in it.
b. add a Z axis dewobbler

5. when I emergency stop a print, I can't get the next one to feed
If you need to emergency stop, then immediately retract 10mm. This reduces the filament pressure in the head and prevents a plug forming.

6. When I start a print it doesn't feed properly (produces blobby bitty skirt): either your bed is too low, or you need to build up pressure in the bowden. Either pre-feed more filament, or manually assist while the skirt is laid down.

7. Sometimes kapton tape, or a painted on mix of ABS/acetone can make the bed more sticky for ABS

that is all I can think of that doesn't involve fixing hardware failures.
2021-05-21 20:38
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