Mad scientist performs 3D printer brain transplant

mad scientist!Wouldn’t you like to see that headline in your newspaper or favorite news Website? It’d be at the top of mine, because that’s just what happened recently with my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer.

The Gigante is 5 years old now, which is like 50 in 3D printing years, especially with the rapid changes in the field. I’ve been suffering through a lot of 3D print fails, and the last large-format 3D print I completed somehow printed at an angle.

Even Cerberus 3D’s Steve Graber, the mad scientist who built the printer, couldn’t figure out how that happened.

Multiple problems with chattering and fails led Steve to recommend replacing the Gigante’s brain.

We last did this 2 years ago, updating to a new Smoothie controller board, which is, in essence, the 3D printer’s brain. This time, though, he prescribed a totally new type of controller board ….

Cerberus 3D's Steve Graber replacing the controller board on the Gigante 3D printer- Kevin CaronSteve, who truly is a mad scientist (in his day job he works with dead people who want to come back to life), had moved to a Duet 2 Wifi  controller board. He’s using these for printers like my Cerberus 3D 400, and the Duet 2 does seem more reliable. While it can be used with any type of 3D printer, this controller board adjusts a lot of the configurations automatically that used to have to be addressed one by one.

Most important, this new controller uses one of today’s newer processors, which is 100 times faster than the old one.

Of course, nothing with 3D printers ever goes quite like you expect. Steve spent more than 8 hours setting up and adjusting everything. I was ready to set up the guest room for him, but he had to go back to his shop to re-engineer the 6 struts after one of the ends broke off while he was adjusting the controller. He replaced their heavy duty nylon connectors with metal ones, which meant overnight time with Epoxy before reinstalling them.

He also added some tension between the 2 struts on each carriage, and tightened up the 3 carriages that the struts ride on the uprights, hoping that would eliminate the chatter. (It seemed to help).

By the time Steve left last night at 7 p.m., I had a print running. It didn’t last long, as I got a heat overrun event, but he came back again today and spent several more hours tweaking and replacing parts, including all the wiring. He also updated the firmware – that was what was apparently causing an annoying chatter.

I have a print running right now, after enjoying another great bonus: everything is wireless now. No more thumb drives, no more climbing up a ladder to put an SD card into the motherboard. There’s a new interface, and it’s clean and clear.

Now if this print will just finish ….

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