3D Printers have come a long way in the last 2 years. It used to be the norm to be tethered to your printer and dedicate a whole computer to running your print jobs or even worse use SD cards to sneaker-net your printers.
When we are creating our large scale installations we need our printers to run 24 hrs/day 7 days a week. This means we need ultimate reliability and can't be swapping usb cables and SD cards around.
Even now printers like the Form1 and MakerBot Replicators still use this old method! It's amazingly annoying for your battery to die during a print or for a restart to ruin a print after hours.
Some of the new printers like the Type A Machines Series 1 have on-board networking and wifi which solves this problem. This is possible because of an open source project called OctoPrint. Octoprint handles all the communication for your printer allowing wifi stand alone printing. Octoprint runs on the immensely popular Raspberry Pi and with their new Model B+ it's simple and surprisingly inexpensive to add on wifi to your 3d printer.
Step 1: What You Will Need:
Step 2: Prep the SD Card
First you need to make sure your SD card has the correct image on it. You can download a pre-compiled version of OctoPrint here, grab the most recent version and download the .zip file. It's large ~1.1GB so be ready to wait if you connection isn't fast.
After the zip file has downloaded unzip it to somewhere you will remember.
Open up win32 diskimager and select the OctoPi Image you unzipped earlier. Select the drive letter for your SD card. Make sure you select the right drive or you could wipe out your system! win32diskimager will now flash the image onto your sd card. This should take a couple minutes. A window will pop up when it's done.
Step 3: Prep the RasberryPi
Now it's time to move over to the Pi.
Insert the WiFi Dongle into the Pi's USB slot
Remove the adhesive and but the heatsink onto the pi's CPU
Remove the SD card from your computer, insert it carefully into the Pi. It should click in.
Step 4: Configure OctoPrint
The next step is to do some basic configuration on the Pi's Octoprint Image.
Connect an HDMI monitor to the Pi's HDMI slot and a USB keyboard and mouse.
Finally connect your Pi to Power via the MicroUSB port.
Make sure the right source is selected for your monitor and You will see the Pi boot up.
When is is done the blue basic boot screen will appear.
First expand the file system to the whole size of the SD card.
Second go to advanced options then enable SSH.
Finally enable boot to desktop and reboot your Pi.
It will reboot and go into the Pi Desktop.
Step 5: Setup WiFi
If you only want to use Ethernet to connect to your printer then you can skip this step.
To setup a wifi connection open the WiFi config wizard form the desktop.
You can scan for active networks then enter the password or enter the network name, type, and password manually in the manage tab.
Once your wifi is configured you can power down the Pi with the button in the lower left corner of the screen.
Disconnect your Monitor, Mouse, and Keyboard, you won't need those any more.
Step 6: Print!
It's time to get your printer going, Connect the Printer's USB cord to the Pi and then connect the Pi's power cord.
If you're connecting via Ethernet then make sure that is connected to your Pi and your base station. Wait 30 seconds or so for the Pi to communicate with the network.
or just octopi.local
into your web browser. The Pi interface should pop up, if it doesn't go back and make sure you configured your wifi and Pi correctly in the previous steps.
You will be prompted to create a username and password for access control. This is important! Without access control anyone on your network can take control of the printer.
Once you enter your Id and password and sign in you will see the main screen.
Here you can monitor what's going on with your printer, it's files and temperature.
In the connections tab you may have to select a baud rate and port. By default a Series 1 communicates at 230400.
The interface will read 'connecting' then 'operational'
Upload a file, then hit the print icon next to it. Your print will start!
Congratulations you have just upgrades your 3D Printer and you're ready to start making!
P.S. You can get to the interface from any device on your network, try it out on a phone or tablet!
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