Introduction: Ember 1080p Hack

Many people have asked us about using a 1080p projector with Ember. Out of the box, Ember uses a Wintech 1280x800 projector that projects onto a 64x40 millimeter build area, resulting in an XY resolution of 50 microns per pixel. It’s pretty dang precise, but some users find themselves wishing for a larger build area. If that’s you, this guide will teach you how to hook up the Wintech 1920x1080 projector to Ember, which allows for a 96x54 millimeter build area -- 50% larger! If you just want more precision with your current setup, check out pattern mode and Optical Proximity Correction.

First caveat: Wintech’s 1080p projector (and pretty much any 1080p projector you’re likely to find) will not fit inside Ember’s enclosure, so you’ll need to be up for some serious modifications. Researchers are the most likely to want to do this, but everyone is welcome!

Second caveat: you’ll need to recompile Ember’s firmware application (smith). Recompiling is pretty straightforward, but does require use of a MicroSD card and the command line.

Third caveat: Print Studio only generates 1280x800 images, so you’ll need to find slicing software that will generate 1920x1080 images.

Sound good? Let’s do it!

Step 1: Connect the 1080p Projector to Ember

In order to connect the 1080p projector to Ember, we have to take the printer apart at least a little bit. The degree to which we need to take it apart depends on your needs. Here's the bare minimum:
  1. Remove the large, grey back panel (six 2mm screws)
  2. Unplug the HDMI cable from Ember's projector
  3. Plug the HDMI cable into the 1080p projector
  4. Plug in 24v power to the projector, then plug in power to Ember
If you want to install a longer HDMI cable and/or do serious modifications to Ember's assembly, follow steps 1-4 of this guide to take your Ember apart, then follow this guide to remove the projector.

Step 2: Change the Resolution and Rebuild Ember’s Firmware

In order for Ember to project images at the correct resolution, the firmware needs to be modified. Luckily, we can do that by changing a mere two lines of code. Then we'll rebuild the firmware. Here are the steps:
  1. Download the Ember firmware github repository and unzip it.
  2. In the C++/includes folder, open Hardware.h in a text editor.
  3. In Hardware.h, modify the following lines as follows:
    • constexpr unsigned int VIDEO_MODE_WIDTH = 1920;
    • constexpr unsigned int VIDEO_MODE_HEIGHT = 1080;
  4. Save and close Hardware.h.
  5. Follow the instructions here to create an Ember development image on a MicroSD card and boot from it by inserting it into the slot in the front of the printer and power cycling the printer.
  6. Stop once you finish entering the resize-rootfs and reboot commands.
  7. Connect your computer to Ember with a USB cable.
  8. Open a Terminal or Command Prompt and copy the entire C++ folder to Ember.
    • Mac users can use the scp command thusly: scp -r C++ root@192.168.7.2:/C++
    • Windows users can download pscp and use it thusly: pscp C++ root@192.168.7.2:/C++
  9. Once the C++ folder copies successfully, SSH into the printer and follow the instructions here to rebuild and start smith and smith-client.

Step 3: Load a 1080p Print File

Now you just need a print file containing 1920x1080 images. Print Studio won't make them, so you'll need to find other software that will -- Autodesk Netfabb, for example.

With Netfabb, you can use the Windows regedit utility to modify a few registry keys under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Autodesk\Netfabb\engine_ember. See the first image in this step for the keys to modify. (Netfabb must be closed when you modify these keys.)

There are a few other slicing utilities besides Netfabb -- this may be useful if you can figure out how to use it.

Load your print file via USB into the printer, hit Print, and enjoy 1080p resolution!

Comments

author
oujifei (author)2017-01-16

one more caveat: you need to make your own tray with a bigger PDMS window :)

author
scottC181 (author)2016-12-14

Love the idea....

Did you guys make any functional prints with this mod? I only ask because there are a few missing details (tray mods, mirror, etc...).

author
shalomo (author)2016-10-28

Awesome Instructable! Now we all have the power!

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More by osmithy:Pier 9 Guide: Othermill "I Made It" PCB ProjectHow to Take Ember ApartUpgrading Older Ember hardware for Pattern Mode
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