This week’s tutorial shows you how to make your 3D Printer wireless. This is a Medium skill level tutorial.

Have you run into this problem? You want to 3D print something that will take several hours, but you also want to use your computer for other things. Figuring out how to solve this problem just got easier.   

I’m going to show you in this tutorial how you can, for around $45 dollars, make your 3D printer wireless, and how you can receive notifications when the print is done. If you have an old webcam lying around, you can even see what your printer is doing from any Internet connection…how cool is that?  

Let’s get into the detail: Many 3D printers work on a serial over USB connection to stream commands to the 3D printer.  This is simple and straightforward, but still there are many things that can go wrong:

  • Your computer can go to sleep
  • You can jiggle the cable a little bit and interrupt the connection
  • A demanding program on your computer might cause a hiccup in the print process
  • You need to access your computer for other works but it’s tied up with this print run

Even though many 3D printers have an SD card function, you still have to walk over to the printer, and enter the SD card in…and if something goes wrong, or if you want a notification when the print is done, using an SD card isn’t the best solution.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just have the printer do it’s thing while you can do yours? We think so which and this short free tutorial will show you how.

First, you want to make sure you are using a 3D printer that does not need any proprietary control software to run.

Second, you will need to purchase a small Linux computer called a Raspberry Pi 3 for around $35, a power supply for around $10, and an 8GB micro-SD card with adapter for around $10.  Many of you will already have these items at home, and this process will work with virtually any Raspberry Pi version, as well with most micro SD cards. There is a benefit to using the new Raspberry Pi 3 because it already has WiFi is on-board.

Here are the basic instructions which will get you up and running a wireless-enabled printer in about 30 minutes:

  1. Download the open-source print control software, OctoPi from octoprint.org and unzip it into an IMG file.
  2. While that’s downloading, there are a couple of other pieces of software that you will need to use.
  3. Download Win32DiskImager from https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/ for you Windows users…for Mac, there are instructions on the OctopPi website that will help you install the image file on the microSD card.
  4. Do a Google search for “Bonjour for Windows” and install Bonjour on your computer.  If you are running Mac, this is already installed for you.  You don’t have to do this step, but it makes it easier to log into the Raspberry Pi later on.
  5. Insert the microSD card into your computer (using the adapter if needed) and run the win32diskimager program, selecting both your micro SD card and the IMG file of OctoPi.  Write that image to your microSD card.
  6. Your microSD card will show up as a new drive on your computer…before we get to the Pi part, we want to get wireless pre-working.  Navigate to the root of that card and open octopi-network.txt in Wordpad (be sure to use Wordpad, as notepad doesn’t format the text correctly)
  7. Remove the hash mark at the beginning of the three entries that correspond to your network setup, and enter in your SSID and password and save the file.
  8. When that is done, remove the SD card from your computer and insert the microSD card into the Raspberry Pi 3.
  9. Connect the Raspberry Pi to your 3D printer using the USB cable.
  10. Power up the Raspberry Pi and wait a couple of minutes or so.
  11. If you installed Bonjour earlier, navigate to octopi.local in your web browser and you will see Octoprint.  If you did not install bonjour, then find the IP address that the Octopi grabbed, and log in that way.
  12. Once you have made some decisions that Octopi asks you about access control, go to Settings and select the baud rate at which your printer runs.  Then edit the printer profile to make sure that the size of your print bed is listed accurately.  This is not strictly needed, but it is nice for visualization.
  13. Now go into your slicing program, slice a 3D model and create a GCode file.
  14. Upload your gcode file to your Octopi server and click print, and you’re done!

There are more add-ons for Octopi that allow you to use a webcam, get notifications, and more, just look in the settings menu to see what is already installed, and what other add-ons you might want to use.

Thanks for watching this Raspberry Pi video blog and come back next week for another tutorial from HoneyPoint3D!

 


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