Well I’ve been like a crack addict in withdrawal for the last 3 weeks. My printer stopped working. Basically it was telling me that my printhead was too cold (32 Fahrenheit) and that it needed for the printhead to be at least 42 Fahrenheit before it considered the printer to be operational. The printhead is the device that causes a plastic filament to be converted to a bead of melted plastic that is then laid down in a continuous line. It usually has to be in the 420 Fahrenheit range to melt the plastic.
I chased a variety of potential causes. I even found, modified to add diagnostic messages, and uploaded firmware to the Printrboard, the board that controls the printer. The diagnostic information and the fact that the intermittent error finally became permanent allowed me to finally diagnose the problem, a broken wire in a connector. Here’s a picture of the offender:
While the bad news was that I had withdrawal for 3 weeks, the good news is that I got to use most of the new tools I bought since Xmas to support my new hobby habit. This included digital multi-meter, soldering iron, infrared temperature sensor, “helping hands”, jeweler’s visor, and various other hand tools. It also gave me an excuse to go re-read my college physics textbook for the portion on electricity.
By finding and modifying the software that then becomes the firmware for the Printrboard, I also gained a deeper understanding of how the printer is controlled.
If I hadn’t assemble the printer myself and had the appropriate tools, I would still be sitting here without an operational printer. I can only image what it must be like for the less motivated consumers when their 3d printer goes bad.