In Janurary, I wrote up an Instructables article for my Thwomp Gaming Console build. There are several motivations behind writing Instructables for my projects. First off, it is a great way to get more eyes on your work and traffic to your YouTube channel/ other social media platforms. Secondly, I use the images and bits of text for Reddit posts of my respective projects. Another great motivator are their contests! They are a fantastic way for me to work towards a deadline to enter and get an idea from the sketchbook to reality. Instructables constantly has contests going on of various themes and origins to encourage people to participate on their website. For every Instructable you write, you can submit it for up to three active contests. The prizes can range from a Instructables prize pack (usually an Instructables stickers, patches, and a shirt) to some pretty awesome items like power tools.
I ended up submitting the Thwomp write-up for a 3D printing related contest and ended up taking home first prize! One week later, a brand new Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer and 3D Mouse showed up on my doorstep!
Currently, these printers are not easy to come by. After winning several awards and top accolades, the i3 MK2 were in high demand. At the time of this writing, there are on a 8 week backlog for new orders! So needless to say, I was excited to open up and plug in my new printer. But as it often turns out, there was a kink in my plan…
I did not end up getting a preassembled variant, but the DIY kit! And this kit is no joke, let me tell you. It is a serious investment in time, totalling a full days worth of constant work to put together. After pouring over the mostly well written instructions, I managed to get it together without much incident. I have to hand it to them, this kit LOVES to use hex wrenches and zip ties in the construction. I hope to not see either for quite some time!
My first print was a batarang (included on the preloaded SD card) and it came out quite wonderfully! I am happy to report that after just a small amount of tweaking, this printer is fantastic! I would definitely recommend this to someone looking to get into 3D printing. If you are looking for a good project, even one to do with your kids, pickup a kit. You will save a few hundred dollars and really learn how the printer functions.
One thing I definitely would recommend for any 3D printer setup, is an Octoprint system. This is a small computer board with camera that is plugged into your printer. It allows you to do several super handy things. Most importantly, it allows you to load prints wirelessly from any computer on your home network. This basically untethers your printer, allowing it to be placed in the optimum place in your home (i.e. away from drafty windows and [saw]dust free locations). No more messing about with SD cards and such. It uses a browser based interface that allows you to upload print Gcode directly. Secondly, it also lets your remotely monitor your print job via a webcam. Taking full advantage of the webcam, it has timelapse functionality built in. This is extremely helpful in determining when and how a build failed. I have been using OctoPrint for about a year now, and it is indispensible for my 3D printing setup. The software is totally free/open source and the hardware the widely available Raspberry Pi. While there are different variants out there, i would go with a Raspberry Pi 3, as it has wifi built in.
I have compiled a list of items below that will get you on your way to an OctoPrint setup. The links below are Amazon affiliate links, so by using them, you can help support Geeksmithing without having to spend an extra cent. I have some expensive projects on the horizon, and every bit helps, so thanks!
OctoPrint Setup Parts List:
- Raspberry Pi 3
- Raspberry Pi 8MP Camera Module
- Raspberry Pi Camera Flex Cable (this is longer than what it normally comes with)
- 32 GB MicroSD Card
- Raspberry Pi 3 Power Supply (5V 2.5A)