Sunday, September 14, 2014

The September Project, Part IV

In Part III, I finished playing with the Trimble Sketchup app, and found a way to safely download the driver software for the Bukito. Night before last, I downloaded drivers and installed them on my spouse's older Windows system, and trundled the cart on which the Bukito currently rests into the other office.

Yesterday we finally started playing with the actual printer, actually hooked up to power and actually connected to the computer. Exciting, right?

It would have been, except that as I read the instructions under the First Print tab, the first line says "Open Repetier Host (see “Software Downloads” at" Obviously, I missed that in the suggested software table—probably because I was stressed about the compatibility issues in Step 1—but it's not too late. 

Sure enough, Step 2 under the Software tab says we need to download several pieces of software:

  • Cura, a slicing application
  • Cura documentation
  • Repetier-Host, which seems to provide a front-end for the printer operations
  • Slic3r, which is included in Repetier-Host and downloaded with it (no separate download)

Why we need both Cura, a slicing application that includes a host, and Repetier-Host, which includes a slicer, is not immediately clear. I hope it will become more apparent as we begin to use them.

The helpful step-by-step instructions for starting Slic3r to generate folders needed to hold the downloaded Cura profile just adds to this confusion, but it goes just as the instruction set describes—that's a plus!

A more troubling statement is set into a colored box to emphasize it: "Your printer's Azteeg X1 or X3 controller comes preloaded with Marlin 3D printer firmware already configured for your Bukobot/Bukito model. You don't need to install printer firmware in most cases." Since the top of the page says clearly that the Bukito has an Arduino X2 controller, I hope the statement applies in the same way as for the Bukobot X1 or X3 controller. 

First WHUH?!

Under the Settings tab, the careful step-by-step instructions for what settings to enter into the suggested Cura and Repetier-Host downloads that will actually send our 3D models to the printer don't always match what I see on the screen. 

For example, the techish "Check Remove M105 Request from Log" shown in the instructions doesn't appear anywhere on the Repetier-Host Printer Settings screen. Reading on in the Deezmaker instructions, I find a G-code statement (for the Cura app) with a comment "M104 S0; Turns off Extruder heaters". So if M104 controls the extruder heater, maybe M105 is a temperature sensor, and the check-box for "Remove Temperature Sensor Requests from Log" is the one that should be off.

We go on, filling in settings for both applications by guess and by gosh, and at last (well into the dinner hour), we are ready to start the engines!

Second WHUH?!

When I follow the instructions for Repetier-Host under the Test Flight tab, the application's Manual Controls panel shows the printer Disabled. Because it is disabled, I cannot go forward with entering X, Y and Z values as directed; the controls do not respond at all.

I click Connection in the app's menu bar, and learn that the port I'm trying to attach (COM1) doesn't "exist".  I suspect there was a slip in the driver download/install process, so this issue might be mine. It isn't until I'm in bed last night that it dawns on me: maybe the printer needs to be powered up for the connection to go live.

I'll publish this, then we'll dig in again.