April 2018 Update

The last month has been a world win, MRRF 2018, ATXPiHat board sales, plugin update, working on getting some reviews, and the GPL controversy.

Thank you to all my customers and friends that are supporting this ongoing project. We have gotten some really great feedback from everyone. Running a small business out of your house with a full time job is a lot harder than I ever thought. Fortunately my evenings and some of my weekend time these days are my own, and I am driven to make this work. I want to say thanks to my wife Lisa for supporting me and Steve for all of his help.

During the week of April 15th, because of a family event, the store will be closed. I will do my best to get back to anyone that needs help, but it will most likely not be until the following week. Family always comes first.

This past month we released the 1.0.6 version of the ATXPiHat plugin that finished all of the plugin features. We are still having some issues with the amperage detector and are working on a more permanent fix (cough, cough rewrite) for this.

After several requests, we published the “Deep dive ATXPiHat LED and Switch support“. There is a lot that can be done with these features and they are now fully implemented. Take a look and let me know what you think.

I did spend the weekend of the March 24th in Goshen, Indiana at the 2018 Midwest RepRap festival. My feet hurt when it was all over. I met a lot of folks, talked about all things 3D printing and showed off the ATXPiHat to anyone who looked interested (and a few who were not). I also got a chance to spend some time with Matt Snow, from “Inside the Mind Of Matt“. He is an up and coming YouTuber that has a channel that works with 3D Printing, metal casting, and other types of creative endeavours. He has agreed to do an online/YouTube review of our product and I am hoping that it all works out for the better. I did provide a ATXPiHat free of charge. I was able to get pictures with Joel Telling, Thomas Sanladerer,  Lauren Renee, and Josef Prusa. I did have a chance to stopped by and talked to Mike Hackney from Sublime layers and the Beaglebone folks. The tacos were better than last year, thanks Google.

I went to the E3D talk about their new kinematic tool changer. Really interesting information and if they can get the price down to something more reasonable, this will be an innovation for the RepRap community. If this turns into a expensive toy that only the $1000 plus machines can do, then I am not sure how this benefits the general hobbyist. I think that the new Multi Material 2.0 for the Prusa MK3 and MK2.5, has a good future. I also had a chance to look at and handle a Bondtech BMG extruder. I really like this product, in my mind if Bondtech products are good for Prusa, it is good for me. I am leaning away from Bowden configurations. I understand that it is hard to work with flexible materials with Bowden tubes. This is one area that I see issues with where the Bowden style tool head changer from E3D. It relies heavily on the Bowden configuration for FDM tool heads. We have to see where this goes. OK, please no flaming, I know that there is a mass issues with fixed extruders.

I have been looking for a few months for a metal/steel backed polymer plate that is magnetically attached to the heated build plate. Several reasons, inductive/capacitance sensors do not work well with glass or aluminum. Generally speaking these sensors have a 3/6mm distance and the glass interferes with most of them. Tom did a great video testing all of this. I have been using borosilicate glass and glue stick for most things and have had OK luck. Another reason, is that sub-straits like PEI (Polyetherimide) work well when heated and almost everything that I print stick well. At MRRF, I came across GeckoTek, that has a build plate that is machined aluminum with embedded magnets, a removable thin metal plate with some sort of polymer surface that PLA sticks well to. I have not tried, my preferred plastic, PETG yet. When the plate is cool, remove the surface plate, flex it a little and the parts come right off. The owner of Geckotek stated that the polymer surface is their “secret sauce”. I would agree. Being an Anet A8 user, they had a standard 220×220 version that fit the bed perfectly. Initially, I was worried that the additional bed thickness would be a problem for the heated PCB, but not at all. It does heat a bit slower, but not anything that was a deterrent to its usage. My 10mm inductive sensor loved the surface. You have to see the gap at which it detects the build plate. You get printing from edge to edge, no more clips to get in the way of the print head. An finally, because of the thickness of the main plate, there is no warping. In my opinion, $80, it is totally worth it. Yes, I paid for it. No sponsors here.

While at MRRF, I ran into Tim and Samantha Hoogland of TH3DStudio. We talked for a bit and they purchased several of the ATXPiHat’s for testing. I am waiting to hear back from them on what they think.

From the product perspective, we have several things in the works. We started testing the ATXPiHat on the Pi Zero W. As of this article, Amazon and Adafruit are totally out of stock. I m trying to get our hands on a Pi B 3+, the cost for these are currently out if control, I am waiting for the cost to come down a bit. Amazon does not even have any listed. AdaFruit is the only place that I could find that has them and there is a waiting list. I am also hoping that Gina will come out with a Octoprint image that works with this board. All of our installation work is done on the stock image that Gina provides.

Steve and I have completed the hardware development and initial manufacturing of the ATXPiHatZero. The software support is currently in development and it will be a month or so until these are available. I will make a formal announcement once we are ready to sell these. This is a stripped down version of the standard ATXPiHat. There is no voltage/amperage monitoring, LED support, or external switch support. It handles amperage for larger printers, like the CR-10/s, and has an additional port for a filament or temperature sensor. These will also be significantly less expensive. Please keep your eyes open for this announcement.

If you are a part of the community there has been a significant amount of effort in identifying which printer manufacturer is abiding by the Marlin GPL license. Scott Lahteine has worked very hard and my discussion with Tim at MRRF confirmed what I was thinking, Scott makes close to nothing and barely gets enough income to keep up the work. Tim told me that he bought Steve a CR-10 printer. Nicely done. To be honest, I never thought about it until recently, and I have to agree that this needs to be an important part of the community. We need to support Scott and anything that is done under the GPL license and not purchase equipment and services that do not abide by their responsibilities. Hats off to all of the YouTubers that are no longer going to work with these organizations. Creality came out this week and stated that due to an issue with a nondisclosure agreement they are not able to provide the firmware for the CR-10s. I am not sure what to make of this. Time will tell.

As I grow this small business, I will make sure that I contribute to Scott’s work. I contribute a little to Gina via Patreon, but as things grow, I will contribute more.

Recently, baprojectworkshop.com was accused of not living up to the “open source” moniker that we talk about. All of the software and schematics (these are available at the bottom of the ATXPiHat release page) are released to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. As for the actual completed board designs, the gerber files are not open source and they will never be. We will release as much of the designs to everyone that we can. On our roadmap, there is a future release, that will be leveraging some hardware and software that is not open source. It is a feature that we have had a significant amount of requests for, and building it from scratch does not make sense. It would be to expensive and no one would want to purchase it.

If you would like to discuss this further, leave a comment below, sign up for these and other announcements or contact me.

Warm regards,

Brian

 

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