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This Instructable will show you how to set up a Raspberry Pi-based print server so you can control and monitor your 3D printer remotely (including remote slicing) from a phone, tablet, or computer.

Wireless Printing

Of course, the main purpose of this Instructable is to show you how to build a print server that will allow you to untether your 3D printer from your computer. You will be able to launch prints directly from your phone, no computer required.

Remote Printer Control

By the time you complete this tutorial, you will be able to control your 3D printer remotely, from a phone, tablet, or remote computer. The AstroPrint software we will be using allows you to move your printer, extrude filament, adjust extruder and bed temperature, and actuate the fans.

Cloud Slicing

The most powerful feature of AstroPrint, and the one that sets it apart from other software, is the AstroPrint cloud slicing service. With other similar software, like OctoPrint, on which AstroPrint is based, you still need a computer with slicing software to prepare 3D printing files. The 3D print server we will build in this Instructable will allow you to go from STL 3D models, to launching print jobs, without any need for a computer at all. You can do everything from your phone.

Remote Monitoring

By connecting a webcam to the DIY AstroBox, you will be able to see your 3D printer from afar and monitor its progress. The AstroBox software can also automatically create time-lapse videos of your prints.

3D Printer Compatibility

The 3D print server we will build in this Instructable will work with most 3D printers. Basically, any 3D printer that uses non-proprietary host software will work. So, any 3D printer that uses Repetier, Cura, or other community-driven host software will work. The AstroPrint software we will install on the Raspberry Pi will replace this software.

The printers that will not work are those that use their own, proprietary host software packages. The most notable group of 3D printers that are incompatible with AstroPrint are MakerBots.

Customizing the Software

AstroPrint is open source and, with a bit of web development knowledge, you can fully customize the look and feel of AstroPrint. You can change all of the icons, all of the colors, all of the fonts, even the layout of the software. If you want to change how AstroPrint looks, check out the guide on Dabbletron.

Step 1: Gather Your Parts

We will need some parts to build our 3D print server.

To build your own 3D print server you are going to need a few parts. The table below lists all of the parts needed for this build. In the left-most column of the table, I've identified each part with a number. Below the table are some notes about each part corresponding to the numbers in the table.

The total cost for this project is about $85. If you have Amazon Prime you will not even need to pay for shipping.

Aside from the parts in the table below, you will obviously need a 3D printer. Back up to the previous step for an explanation of 3D printer compatibility with AstroPrint.

Parts List

Reference NumberImagePartQuantityLink
1Raspberry Pi 2 Complete Starter Kit1Amazon
2Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter1Amazon
3Micro SD to SD Card Adapter1Amazon

Part Notes

1 This Raspberry Pi starter kit is a convenient way to get all of the Raspberry Pi-related parts you will need for this build: a Raspberry Pi board, a power supply, a Raspberry Pi enclosure, and a micro SD card. Note that this kit does include a WiFi module, but it is, unfortunately, not supported by AstroPrint at the time of this writing. This kit also includes an HDMI cable which is not necessary for this build, but it is useful to have for debugging purposes.

2 This WiFi module is extremely popular for use with the Raspberry Pi. It is also the only module currently supported by AstroPrint. This is a concurrent mode WiFi adapter, meaning it can connect to your home WiFi network and act as a WiFi hotspot which will allow devices to talk to your printer locally and over the internet.

3 The Raspberry Pi 2 uses a micro SD card to hold the operating system (image). So, you will need some kind of adapter so you can plug the micro SD card into your computer and install the image onto the card. If you have a regular SD card reader on your computer, you can get this Micro SD to SD card adapter. Alternatively, you can get a micro SD to USB adapter.

<p>camera will take still shots but not show video. works fine in octoprint.</p>
<p>How would the ethernet setup look like to setup astroprint. i cant get my wifi dongle to work, and you said it can be done through ethernet. i plugged the ethernet cable from my pi to my computer, found the network, but couldn't connect to it. please help!</p>
<p>AstroPrint is open source and, with a bit of web development knowledge, you can fully customize the look and feel of AstroPrint. If you want to change how AstroPrint looks, check out the guide on Dabbletron: published: http://dabbletron.com/index.php/2015/09/25/the-ultimate-guide-to-customizing-astroprint/.</p>
i&lsquo;d like to know if i can use the Internet service in china?
<p>I don't know how or if the AstroPrint slicing service can be used in China. I would definitely advise asking AstroPrint about it though. I suspect that the question has more to do with AstroPrint's business strategy than any kind of politically-based restrictions. </p><p>However, regardless you can still do wireless 3D printing even without connecting to AstroPrint over the internet. Technically, you don't need an internet connection at all to print wirelessly with your Raspberry Pi AstroBox. If the AstroBox lacks an internet connection, it will create its own wireless hot spot. You can connect directly to the AstroBox and upload your g-code files for wireless 3D printing.</p><p>I know that the Chinese government is quite progressive with 3D printing technology and the 3D printing industry is large and growing fast in China (<a rel="nofollow">https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=china+site:3d...</a> so hopefully you are able to use AstroPrint.</p>

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Bio: Hello, my name is Toglefritz. That’s obviously not my real name; my real name is Scott, but on the Internet I use the nom ... More »
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