Build day 04

A project log for Hotrod Ender 5's for the hackerspace.

Build log of 2 new 3D printers for Heatsync Labs hackerspace (

cprossucprossu 06/20/2020 at 01:023 Comments

All things do not go as planned. One of our printers does not seemed to have shipped, or got lost along the way, and both of our BL Touch kits were missing in action, and contrary to the initial order in fact backordered until who knows when. Raspberry Pi 3B's are still nowhere to be found, however at least it looks like there's been a lot of movement on the Raspberry Pi 4 boards and octoprint, so that may very well be the way we go.

So the first build day was here and has passed, I officially did it back on 06/13/2020. Not everything I want is installed on the printer, however it is functional, so I will take you on a journey of checking out what we have and building the unit we did get in up.

So in this picture, starting from the upper left, we have our two extra entire stock Ender 5 extruder assemblies, 2 "T-Nut" kits that were recommended, and two aluminum "geared extruder feeder" upgrade parts. Going from the bottom left there are two tempered glass Creality branded printer beds, two Meanwell 24V-350Watt power supplies (Model LRS-350-24), two TH3D EZBoard Lite V1.2 control boards, and two TH3D filament sensors which are supported natively by the EZBoard control boards. No Ender 5 BLTouch bed leveling kits to be found.

In this picture you can see we only got one of our two promised Ender 5 3D printers. We shall build this one up and use it as an opportunity when the second one comes in to document anything I forgot to on this machine. (Well other than the BLTouch kit that is). I already checked that there were not in fact 2 printers occupying the same dimensional space through a quirk of quantum physics, sadly.

Now to make sure we have enough pieces and parts to build a printer out of, time to spread it out and make sure it's all here. Going from Left to Right, Up to Down on the table closest to us, We've got 4 double wide aluminum '2020' extrusions that will be the support structure for the top of the machine, we have a roll of filament kindly provided for testing, the stock Ender 5 display screen (in a mylar bag), the extruder feeder assembly, the heated printbed, the Z Axis  assembly (which includes motor, bearing assemblies, lead screw, mounting hardware, and aluminum '2020' extrusions, the base of the machine (which includes the stock power supply, stock control board, a case covering both, wiring, aluminum extrusions, and various pieces of mounting hardware and triangle brackets. They've also been kind enough to supply a assembly for hanging a roll of filament off the side of the printer, a power cord, a scraper, and a bag of machine screws and tools for the printer.

Here is our X and Y Axis gantry crane (which contains the entire extruder assembly (PTFE tube, wiring, heater block, heater cartridge, thermistor, a fan, a blower, a heatbreak, nozzle, nozzle cover, and a dandy metal shroud to keep it all contained), the X axis motor, the Y axis motor, bearings and belts all over the place ready to drive both, aluminum '2020' extrusions and triangle brackets to hold it all together. This part goes on the top!

This is a great time to feed all of our wiring through the snap in cable protector we printed up earlier for this very reason.

It snaps in place, showing us that we did good. Now the sharp edges of this metal casing will not wear through the control wires of the machine. This is a very good thing.

While we're down here, let's change the voltage of the stock power supply to match what we get in USA voltage electron magic pixies out of our standard outlets.

Much better. Even though we don't plan on using this power supply, we want to make sure it's ready to go in case we press it into action later. Speaking of that power supply, we need to get this thing out of there!

Just so you know, the really nifty top part of the control box with the awesome assembly instructions is hiding the screws for the power supply. Not cool!

Wow, that is a lot of adhesive, took a lot of patience to get off without ruining it. My placement of this giant sticker actually created several moments of hijinks when I placed it out of the way, for possibly refitment later. I myself managed to get my gloves, my cell phone, a part of the printer, and a mylar bag stuck to it, right before my colleague got their journal stuck to the darn thing. I have decided this thing will go away, and perhaps we'll make some custom graphics for it after it's proven itself, ones that do NOT cover the power supply screws!

Well that's ugly...

Nothing a little 90% isopropyl alcohol, elbow grease, and a rag could not fix at least.

A clean slate.

We took the bottom off of the chamber which holds the Power Supply and the Control Board. I am comparing all the connections on the cheap chinese ripoff power supply that came with the printer to our Meanwell unit to make sure they are the same. Looks good.

I decided to inspect each crimp connection, making sure nothing was loose or could be wiggled. I was very tempted to go through and replace all of these with known sourced 3M crimps, however these seem like they are of good quality.

I decided to err on the side of caution, I gave each connector a little time with my hand crimping tool in the insulated crimp position.

Rinse and repeat for all the remaining connections. Hey past you, it would be a great idea to set the voltage switch on the new power supply to 120 right now before you get distracted by the old control board, and before you install it the power supply screws! Wow, past me is really dense and does not listen (At least he figured it out before plugging it in, and the switch is in the same place as the old power supply, and it would have been a bigger issue in a country that uses 230v if it was set to 115v).

So here's the stock Creality3D V1.1.4 control board that we are going to remove and replace with the EZBoard Lite V1.2, however we still want it to be usable as a spare, and we sure don't want firmware that is questionable on this thing. This means we've got to burn a bootloader to it so we can put whatever 31 flavors of Marlin we want on it. I am going to use USB µISP I scored with my 2019 Hackaday Supercon swag bag to burn the bootloader on the stock Ender 5 board (Thanks Tindie, thanks ! this thing has been useful on more than one occasion!)

I should note, to get it to fit the board without removing the screen connector, you do have to snip one side of the connector down on one side with a pair of sharp cutters. Not a big issue. You can also use a arduino uno to burn the bootloader too. I might demonstrate that when I build the second printer.

Hooking up our screen temporarily.

I've plugged a USB cable into the printer on the mini USB port.

Zoomed out so you can see and taste the jank. Don't let anything short out now, you hear?

Here's the firmware my printer came with. It will never see a print from us, for we are going to cast it into exile with our programmer.

You'll want to import settings for the "Sanguino" using the Arduino IDE, then select it as your board.

Make sure the processor is set as ATmega1284 or ATmega1284P (16MHZ)

Set our programmer (In this case USBtinyISP), however you can also select "Arduino as ISP" if you are using an arduino to burn the bootloader.

Burn baby burn. (This isn't as cool as the apollo guidance computer, but I couldn't resist.)

You will then be greeted by a blank screen when you put power to the control board. We can then see if we have appeased all the programming and hardware gods by attempting to compile and upload the Marlin 1.1.9 software I have previously prepared using the Arduino IDE.

Okay, that's a good sign, let's navigate a little.

Perfect! No more catch your lab on fire firmware, it's gone now.

Now we have to initialize the EEPROM and clear it out. We don't want any monkey business if we press this thing into service.

Once this is done, let's just go through and store settings.

With that done, we've just dedicated a lot of time on a control board we're going to pull out of the printer! AMAZING! (However it will be quite useful if anything should happen to the fancy pants control boards we are going to install next).

We shall start our removal process, not with screws, but with Isopropyl alcohol. Now why you ask is that needed for a printer control board?

Well you see there's a layer of hot melt glue over all of the connectors. If I just start pulling these out without getting rid of the hot melt glue, the connectors along with their sockets will come right out! That's frustrating.

Isopropyl alcohol isn't going to hurt anything, so let's just get it over everything we're going to remove.

Get them soaked well, let it permeate the hot melt glue, and before it dries, you'll find that the connectors are easy to remove, and you can even peel the hot melt glue off the connectors and wires with ease.

I am now following the EZBoard installation manual, and I am going one connector at a time with this. I am super happy that they made sure all of the screwholes are away from components on this board. There are actual Phoenix Contact branded connectors on this bad boy, and everything looks pretty good. Fuse is a bit offset, but not a huge deal.

All stepper motor wires hooked up.

I would like to make a note here, as stated in the manual, the fan for the control board cooling and the fan for the parts cooler are swapped around, just like they are in the SKR Mini E3 V1.2 board. So it's not a complete 1:1 swap, if you swap boards, the location of this will matter and will have your blower going 100% while your control board cooks itself with no cooling fan until a job starts (if the fan is commanded on at all that is). As one slightly famous crazy Aussie bloke may say "Trap for young players!".

So we put the parts cooling blower into the correct socket. for this new board.

What we have here is a tinned lead. The fine folks at TH3D often joke that tinned wires are 'a terminal issue'

I for one am going to take their advice here. That means our leads will be bare wire or ferrule crimped connectors when installed into their control board.

Looks like we've got 16AWG stranded wire here. We need to know this to strip it without damaging the wire.

Cut off the end, we don't want to see any more solder.

Strip it to the proper length using the proper tool and position.

Install the wire, and tighten down the contact.

Let's put a ferrule on these!

First we look at it, determine the size of the wire (we'll need it in a moment), cut the tinning off, and strip the wire to the proper length.

We'll use the guide on our tool to set it up.

We press the lever to release one of the selections we can make. Tools like these are satisfying to use!

Red is the one we want this time around.

Satisfying clunk!

Insert the crimp first, press on the handle until it just catches the crimp, the push your wire in, then crimp all the way.

If you did this part right, you should not be able to remove the crimp without destroying the wire.

Looks like we got some 14AWG this time.

Strip, rinse, repeat.

It took me longer to write up the steps I did than it did to install that power supply and control board. Oh, while we're at it, let's just go ahead and...

Set that power supply.

Okay, better!

I gave it some power, and the following screen came up! This is awesome!

Time to install the board fan and button this up.

I then took this moment to tighten every screw and fastener on the bottom of the machine. I left no screw untested, first by unscrewing, then tightening to make sure no loose or stripped screws come back to ruin our day later on.

Time to put the frame together and make this thing look more like a 3D printer.

Let's get this out onto a tray, NICE!

This is where I need more hands to take the picture and show what I am doing. The goal here is to make the gantry move smooth by adjusting the bearings with the cammed lobes to make them just tight enough. I've found they come a little too tight from the factory and cause issues. I want it so I can still slip the plastic bearings barely under pressure, similar to how one might set a hydraulic lifter in a car engine. Once the gantry moves back and forth with no bumps and no 'jaggy movements', hills or valleys, I can then mount this to the printer.

Whoa partner! But not until I make sure every bolt and screw is tight, this one wasn't. Gotta test all of them you know!

It's starting to look like something now!

After making sure everything is tight on the Z axis, time to mount it to the rest of the printer.

The feeling of progress.

Now is a good time to put our 3D printed strain relief on the heated bed.

Always clip your zip ties as close as possible with a really sharp pair of cutters, make sure that no one can cut themselves on the zip tie end.

Let's get the otther tie wrap in place.

A job well done, let's get this thing mounted now.

I might get to print something soon!

Time to get our alumunum feeder assembly parts out and see what goes where.

Seems okay, but also seems like I am missing parts.

I've alligned the gear to the center of where the filament goes in.

The pressure assembly seems wrong, and I had to use a couple of parts from the old feeder assembly, but it is together and appears to work.

I'm hooking up all the wires to where they need to go, and putting the display in place.

I managed to not take pictures of me installing the tempered glass bed, so just imagine before this picture there is one of me attaching the print bed with binder clips.

I've put power to it, and gotten out my super duper helpful metric tape measure! I can move the axis back and forth with the test firmware, even though it is for an Ender 3, and get some information I need. The main one is to find out if my leadscrew takes more turns to go 10MM than the original leadscrew they used for the Ender 5. This will come into play when I make the firmware for it.

When I attempted to move the Z axis 10mm, it only moved 5mm, this means that the new style leadscrew was installed on this printer. This gave me everything I needed to build the firmware.

So I went to

And then set what I needed.

We'll have to come back to the bed leveling once that stuff arrives.

I'm not sure where I am going to mount the filament sensor just yet, so I'll get back to this once we get some operating time into the printer.

No other changes were made, so I put it in queue and got a firmware spat back out.

Put it on a microSD card, put it into the printer, turned it on.

Well that was painless!

Half installed my bed supports, because the Thingiverse file does not say what nuts and screws to use, so someone else has the job of figuring that out.

I messed with the Z axis and limit switch quite a lot before I got it where I wanted it.

I brought everything up to temp, did a basic bed alignment, found out there's a dip in the center of this tempered glass bed (so I will have to shim it with aluminum foil as I did my own personal printer), looked for smoke, smelled for burning, loaded some filament and AWAY WE GO!

Always good when your first try works.

So with that, the printer works, has been put into where it will live for now, some of the 3d printed parts I made were added to it, and we've got a few lingering issues.

1) The Z axis tray appears bent, not sure if this is because of my supports, or other issue.

2) The Z axis squeaks

3) The bed has a dip in the center (needs to be shimmed out)

4) Filament sensor not installed (have to figure out best place to make it easy to still load filament)

5) BLTouch is not installed due to parts not being here

6) Rpi's not in stock yet

and obviously

7) Second printer cannot be built until it shows up.

This has been fun, and I will revisit it once we get the second printer and the BLTouch kits in.

All in all I am way happy with the result, and once the printer gets tweaked and the pandemic dies down a bit, I look forward to seeing what this beast does when we abuse it and put it through it's paces.

As a result of the way I did this, each printer will have:

A Spare power supply

A Spare control board

A Spare complete Hotend (from PTFE tube all the way to the nozzle itself, including heater cartridge and thermistor)

A Spare extruder feeder

Still to be determined is replacing the sleeve bearing 24 volt 40mmx10mm fans (and the blower) with something quieter and more reliable, sleeving the wiring with something easy to get off and on, and once Octoprint is going deciding on what webcams (or possibly RPI-Camera module) we will end up using, along with the possibility of a fancy pants touchscreen for Octoprint.

Edit 09/02/2020 : It was noted that I did not show the installation of the belt covers I had printed for these machines (Thanks again @ marvthegrate!) , so I am retroactively adding this in below:

The covers I had printed will just snap fit onto the railing of the printer. This is the X axis gantry left side belt/dust cover.

The process is similar for the other parts I printed and put on the machine:

Front left hand side cover shown here being placed

Rear left hand cover

Front right hand cover. It should be noted the parts for the most part have a countersunk hole so you can add some screws if you don't want them to be as movable.

So if you need a more robust mounting solution for your covers rather than the snap fit, just grab some metric hardware about the right size and you're good to go

I chose on these machines though to keep the covers loose/snap fit as to make servicing easier, but that could change as more fingers get near the machine and we gain operational experience.

Some notes on the covers though, I did not install the X axis gantry right hand side, or the rear right side covers (even though I printed them) due to the fact different mounting hardware would have to be obtained for the gantry one, and a limit switch would have to be moved from it's stock location on the rear right cover. I feel that there is merit in leaving as much of the movement of the machine stock for future repair/understanding of the machine. I did leave the parts with each machine's box of parts so we can change our minds at a later date.


freefuel wrote 06/20/2020 at 17:54 point

I don't use hair spray or glue stick, the trick is to keep the surface free of all dust, oil or other contaminates. if mirrors crack try tempered glass. 

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freefuel wrote 06/20/2020 at 16:40 point

get yourself some mirrored glass cut to the print bed, then wash it. so long as it stays spotless with no finger prints your prints will stick. all that is needed to remove the prints is to allow it to cool completely. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

cprossu wrote 06/20/2020 at 17:47 point

We ran that for years on our old 3D printers, and it gets messy after many applications of hairspray or gluestick. a bigger issue was regular mirror glass would crack after a while (It's not so fun when you want to use the 3D printer and find it full of glass shards!), so we've had borosilicate glass on those machines ever since then.

What I am using on this build is a tempered glass top that has a smooth side on the back (if needed) and a carbon material side. It should not need any hairspray or gluestick at all. Shimming it with the foil should give me a flat surface. I really want to see how it holds up with the abuse we give it.

What I am using (not endorsing this store or anything) is the link below.

I do not see a reason to run mirror glass in these. If this experiment fails I shall first try flipping these over for the smooth side, and then if that still fails I shall run borosilicate glass like we've been for years.

  Are you sure? yes | no