What my plans are, why I bought one finally.,...

It's about time I got into the 3d printing world. For the kind of work I do, this kind of machine is perfect for my needs. I can prototype designs a lot quicker. A lot of my delays come from problem solving designs. If you look at projects like the Cryostasis tube and the death pit, they took a very long time as it was all done by hand, making tweeks as I went along - pain staking. So hopefully this will free up some brain-power for more creative things.

Small scale stuff works well for me. Ok it might not do minature figures in high detail, but that can be left for real life sculpting, and the machine can focus more on ordinary objects, tool making (jigs). Even if not directly printing for the workshop, it's still a handing piece of kit to have around.
So I 'm not expecting there to be no finishing required. This is to enhance the workshop, not replace it! That said, there's still a lot for me to learn.There'll be some experimenting with material science in due time.

*[add] thoughts on 3d printing in general

Why I picked a Tevo Tarantula.
- within budget
- wanted something modular I could adapt
- large community support
- Some good praise on parts like the heat bed
- company seem organized with branding and packaging
- Wanted something I could put all my electrical skills towards and tinker with (better man-machine relation)

November 2017, I ordered the Tevo Tarantula. I picked dual extruders and large heat bed. There were only a couple of machines with dual extruders that caught my attention at the time. The heat bed from what I gathered was pretty decent along with the wheels with their eccentric nuts. I also liked the idea of it being modular, so I can change things around at a later stage and if there was a problem I could replace just the part.

I already knew it would require upgrading and will have problems to deal with. It doesn't even come with an on/off switch lol. So I continued to do homework, learned I only knew the tip of the iceburger and gave myself new anxiety, sigh. Despite knowingly it has many issues, I hear it can print like a dream once upgrades have been done.

Then it was a long frustrating wait for it to arrive. It got to the point I was already fuming before it got here. I started my long shopping list and started to plan the enclosure. Instead of building an enclosure from scratch, I thought I'd make it a bit easier for myself and just buy an Ikea cabinet. Had to cut a new back and top panel for it. Most people get a couple of lack tables, but I went for a Metod kitchen cabinet (slightly bigger).

When the Tarantula did arrive (Jan), it was left outside on its side. My eyes widened....the sound of thunder cracked and the skies echoed....sorry, been reading lots of kids books lately. Blood began to boil….I held off from actually opening and checking the contents in case there was a problem - I would have blown my lid by this point.

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Then slowly parts (tools, upgrades) started to arrive and assembly could begin. Yes paper coated acrylic. I'm debating if washers will really add any clamping power. But might do so just to help spread the weight out and avoid cracks.

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Putting it together was pretty easy, but following the manual is practically useless. This is where help from the community really kicks in.

I did have the common Z-switch-died-on-me scenario happen. Easily fixed by resoldering.

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Then I had the dreaded unlevel bed problem which I noticed wasn't being helped by washers being crushed (distorted) into the holes for the eccentric nuts and causing the bolt to kick out at an angle. Also the split washers weren't helping with getting both sides at equal heights. So I used calipers and dug around for some washers (+1 for the spacer) to match the height of the eccentric nut….Oh so much joy!!

TIP - as you tighten fittings, they can push the aluminum extrusions out of alignment. Just keep an eye on that and try to hold parts down securely before joining them with fittings.

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I had major issue with being unable to get the frame square. Cursing everything under the sun and then finally after reassembling twice, I noticed the enclosure's base isn't flat…..*SOAB*. So I got sidetracked cobbling together a new base with kick stand that could be pulled out for easier access. Also lighting was an issue, so I got RGB thinking they'd give white as well. At least it has mood lighting.That spot light clamped on, bakes me head!

The psu and mainboard are now outside the enclosure. It isn't much better really outside, but it's neater and I can access them better. I'll need to keep an eye on it all to make sure it's getting enough airflow. I've used ferrules and installed a mosfet, and so far nothing's melting…apart from PLA of course!

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Powered up and immediately started stressing. Had square lines on the LCD, which when checking the cables were backwards, so easy fix <face palms - quick pointer there that tripped me up.>. Once done, I could move the hotend and I got jitters of excitement.

Then, flashing firmware which was something I feared. I was hoping I could just use the stock firmware but when navigating the menu, I couldn't make any changes. So changing the firmware suddenly became priority and would give me the options I needed.

I struggled for a bit trying to understand marlin and aurduino stuff. .It (aurduino) would verify and say ok, but fail to upload/connect to the Tevo's board. Sometimes it'll say invalid handle. Oh no, technical glitches I cried. Pulling on the cable I discovered the end of it looked glob with bluetac or something similar too annoying to clean. Swapped it out for a new one and bingo - I'm a moron!

Tip - Don't use crappy cables or at least check them properly.

Did a quick check on calibrations, nothing seems to need adjusting.

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Pre-Print

Then there were a few things I wanted to cover before actual printing, such as;

- general procedure (bed levelling, auto homing).
- selecting test models to print and prepare them.
- what to do when you're finished. Seems funny, but it's not widely covererd.
- how to deal with clogs and keep nozzle clean.
- check over common trouble shooting problems in case I encounter them.
- mother on speed dial, fingers crossed.
- Sort the spool holder better.

At some point I should get some other PLA and get a door in pace.

If I was more sensible, I should do a massive backup everything, clean up systems etc.....buts that's long and boring.

Looking for a webcam. But it's a choice between a camera or more printer parts...still got to get filament!! I ordered an aluminum  bed and bits to convert to dual Z.

Wanna print dammit!

 

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I've been so busy compiling files and making tweeks etc which is why it's taking me so long to blog. Much progress has been made. Got hold of some PLA+ which is much better to test prints with. The rainbow PLA that came with the Tarantula is nice, but is translucent which makes it difficult to see details sometimes.

Haven't actually attached the aluminum bed yet. I seem to be doing pretty well so far. My main focus currently is calibrating it spot-on, working out over extrusion and fan control. Dual extruder makes the fans unbalanced.

 

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Early Print Samples

So finally some pics of prints. I'll add links and credits later....

Tip - to remove prints from bed, use a fan to cool down part rapidly and a blade. If the part is sturdy, you could try a swift knock with a spanner or something weighty. Just a tap, if it isn't coming off, don't bash it! It could mess up the bed setup.

Essential Fanduct.

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Skull on left is better resolution, has better bridging, less stringing, better cooling.

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After some more tweeks and switching to black PLA+

Credits:
*EInstein by LSMiniatures - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:966908
*Cuddling owls by mooses - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:50212
*Sundial by danowall - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:982884
*Optimus by rhinodk - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2197130
*Flexi rex by DrLex - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2738211 not what I used, but has stronger links.
*T rex skull by MakerBot - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:308335

*Belt tensioner by supasorn- https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1780636
*Front Z by RC-3D - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1896185

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I'm amazed how flexi this chap is!

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So to contribute to the community I've been designing some parts. Some simple LED strip holder for x axis. The 45 degree version ended up hitting the bed.

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*Since making this, I've found that you can just simply slide the led strip striaght into the 2040 slot without the need for any holder - doh! 

Then I got creative and started to use the printer asI intended. This is to light up the bed even more. It's only an early version, still lots of work to do. Tolerances are tight currently.

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Yeh, I'll have to get round to sorting better pics. The enclosure isn't ideally suited to be used as a photobooth....yet!

 

Maintenance Tips:Check belts
Check bolts/nuts
Clean and grease leadscrew (Z rod)
Clean wheels and check condition
Check cables, connections
Watch for weird movement, vibrations, parts falling off.
Listen out for weird noises

 

Dialling Inramble