How do we WiFi-ify a printer usuallly?

Traditionally, GCode senders communicate with the 3D printing boards via USB cables:

If we are to add WiFi / Bluetooth capabilities, we can't simply plug in a dongle and expect it works: simply because the Arduino board is not an USB host. Smart people invented a workaround by modding an ESP8266 / HC-05 module to the printer board directly. But you have no luck if you use an OEM printer, or you are not good at electronics.

How does an 3DESP work?

This board is a WiFi-enabled bridge. ESP8266 opens a telnet server at port 23. When there is TX/RX from telnet, the ESP8266 communicates with the USB Host Shield (UHS) and send commands to printer board.

What can an 3DESP do?

No, you shouldn't print over WiFi. Same reason as why USB printing is inferior to SD card -- there could be too much interference and lag. You might see many blobs in your precious print.

  • You can send a file over WiFi to the SD card first! By then you save the trouble walking to and fro your desk and printer. (I know some put a printer besides your desk, but you just can't put all 20's when you run a workshop at the uni!).
  • You can tweak your printer over WiFi! I put my printer 10 feet away my PC at home. It's not an easy task to run such a long wire. Although you can't stream a printing GCode, but homing / probing / PID tuning are definitely not a problem.

Any future development plan?

Let me say it again. It can tranceive GCode to Marlin now!

As in the above, streaming is not an option. Communicating with Repetier-Host / Pronterface is a good start but that's not an end. Future development to implement:

  • Http portal. Implement most Repetier functions (like move to, temperature logging etc.). Upload GCode to SD card and manage files using M21-M32.
  • Wake via WiFi. Add a relay to switch on/off the printer and listens to http/telnet commands to wake printer up.
  • Eagle PCB schematics and boards
  • ...Your suggestions!

Do I plan to release schematics and firmware?

Yes when I got more time. I am now an intern in medical field, and leisurely designed mechatronics products when I was at the college. Internship is busy... will you mind to buy me a coffee for all these work? (went out for a night shift after typing)