[TTT] Getting started with 3D Printing with the Anet A8 Printer – Overdue Update

A few months ago I posted 2 articles (Post 1 & Post 2) about upgrades to do to the Anet A8 printer. I planned on writing more guides in addition to the 2 mentioned but I quickly found that there was just too much to cover in regards to this printer. I was constantly making changes here and there to the printer so it was hard to keep up.

The bottom line is that the first 2 articles I posted are really all that you need to get good prints and make the printer reliable. Anything further than that you will be customizing the printer for a specific need that you have or want. As I write this followup my printer only has 2 things that are factory left on it; the heated bed PCB and the frame. I have replaced and upgraded every other part on the printer and even added dual color support through the single hotend. The guides were meant to get you started with the printer and to make it safer, these 2 posts did just that.

That is really all that I needed to say on the matter. There will be no other posts as I feel the ones already published cover the goal of the articles and anything further would not be applicable to everyone as people have different demands and needs for their individual printer.

If you need help and/or have questions please check out the Official Anet A8 Printer group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OFFICIALAnet3DprinterSupportGroup. I help run this group now with a few other people and it is a great place to get help with your A8 or similar printers.

I will also be attending MidWest Rep Rap Fest so let me know if you will be there as well!

Social Media Island – Account Lockouts & Freedom of Speech

A few weeks ago I went to use my SnapChat account and found that it was not logged in anymore. No big deal right? I went to log back in and the account is now magically disabled. I went through the account unlock process and it still will not let me log in. I said forget it and just uninstalled the application and moved on with my life.

Today my Facebook account was put in a locked state after I was posting a link to some firmware for the Anet A8 printer in a Facebook group that I help run. I try to submit the account verification with my ID and their page that is used to submit this information is broken.

That leads me to this post. What do you do when a platform that you use to communicate and network with friends locks you out without being able to re-instate the account? With regards to Facebook you post pictures and create memories for your friends and family. I also use Facebook to share posts from this website on the page for it as well. I have multiple people that I exclusively talk to through Facebook Messenger and I realized that I do not have any other way to contact them.

It has made me realize that you shouldn’t centralize your communications through one platform, especially Facebook. I have no way to contact these people that I talk to daily or a way to share these posts on the page for this website since the account is disabled. All my photos and posts are gone. All the guides and help that I have posted in the Anet printer groups are gone. Hours upon hours of work and months of memories are gone because their system decided to flag my account. I really wish I could completely get rid of Facebook but a lot of my friends refuse to switch to Signal which is one of the few platforms that I actually trust.

In addition to this for all I know is that my account could have been reported for saying something that “offended” someone else. Facebook has implemented rules in their TOS that forbid “hate speech” which is nothing that is set in stone and completely based emotional parameters. I completely blew away my profile in late 2016 after all the fallout from the last election. I now have to sensor myself as a conservative person with what I post because I know that if something gets reported enough for being “Offensive” then my account will be removed. There is no free speech on Facebook for conservatives, only if you are a liberal can you actually speak your mind without worrying about being censored. This is WRONG but what Facebook has devolved into.

Just think twice about hitting that “Sign in with Facebook” button when registering with a website. I stopped doing this after my account was flagged in January this year and was inaccessible for over 4 days. Make sure you have multiple ways to contact the people you talk with because like me I am completely cut off from almost a dozen people that I talk to on a daily basis. I will be making another account just to have separate for my site postings in case this happens again.

In all honesty if they outright delete the account and it is not able to be used anymore I will not be making a personal account again with them, business only for sharing posts from this website.

[TTT] TMC2100 VS DRV8825 Drivers

Here’s my take on the TMC2100 drivers after using them for a while AND the DRV8825s.

The TMC2100s are VERY silent when you are in their “silentChop” mode. This is the default mode where it also steps the 1/16 to 1/256 for smooth motion. BUT the “silentChop” mode is NOT made for 3D printers. 99% of the time when using them in this mode they would print fine but they would still skip from time to time. You can make this stop by upping the VREF voltage but then they run hotter and your stepper motors are very warm, I had to run my steppers at almost 1V on the VREF to get them to stop skipping. This made them run at about 70C.

You can switch them to “spreadCycle” mode where they operate like a normal stepper and have the 1/16 to 1/256 translation for smooth movement BUT they are VERY noisy. I have a DC-DC step up converter on my setup for the drivers where I can run anywhere from 12V to 48V. Even up to 36V they were still making a high pitched noise. They did NOT skip though and I was able to use a low VREF and the motors didn’t get too hot. In order to switch them to spread cycle all the CFG pins should be open and you must close the solder jumper on the CFG1 so that it pulls down to ground through the RAMPS board.

What does this all mean? The TMC2100s are good drivers. I also have the DRV8825’s and they are quieter than the TMC drivers when they in “spreadCycle” mode. My 8825s are actually quieter than the TMC2100s and have more torque at a lower VREF.

TLDR; the DRV8825 is my choice for drivers since I do not want any chance of the motors skipping. Save your money and go with the DRV8825’s or the A4988. TMC even says that silentChop is NOT meant for higher torque applications which is what we need for the 3D printers.

[TTT] Getting started with 3D Printing with the Anet A8 Printer – Part 2 of 4 – Recommended Upgrades

Part 1 is here: [TTT] Getting started with 3D Printing with the Anet A8 Printer – Part 1 of 4 – Required Upgrades

The next part of this 4 part series is going to cover the recommended upgrades. These upgrades are not required to use the printer but will help your printer produce better, cleaner, and more accurate prints. I will go over what each one does and why it is beneficial.

Cooling Duct

The factory cooling duct is very simple and doesn’t fully cool all sides of the filament as it is extruding. This upgraded duct will ensure that there is 360 degrees of airflow going around the filament as it is being extruded. This will allow the filament to adhere and cool evenly as it is being extruded to the layers.

You can download it here from Thingiverse.


X Belt Holder

The factory way to attach the belt to the rear of the carriage is with 2 screws and a zip tie. This makes adjustment and belt replacement difficult. This holder allows you to easily adjust and remove the X axis belt by hand without any additional tools. I had this pre-printed from a friends printer before I even had the printer assembled. This made connecting the belt to the carriage much easier as well as getting the correct tension.

You can download it here from Thingiverse.


X and Y Tensioner

In addition to the upgraded mounting blocks I recommend in this post these other two addons make adjustment of the tension of bot the Y and X axis belts much easier. You can simply adjust the tension by turning the screws on the addons to change the belt tension. I should note that if you want to use the X tensioner you must cut the belt about 3″ longer than the Anet A8 guide recommends or just replace the belt with and GT2 style belt (Amazon)

You can download the X Tensioner and Y Tensioner from Thingiverse.


Y Belt Mounting and Clips

Lastly the Anet guide actually tells you to assemble the mounting plate upside down and this causes a shift and un-needed strain on the stepper motor and belt. Make sure the plate is mounted with the single bar down, not up. I have included a picture illistrating this. In addition to that you may want to print some upgraded mounting clips to further level the belt and replace the brittle acrylic ones that are included.

You can download the mounting clips from Thingiverse.

Correct Belt and Y Mounting Setup

I hope this has been helpful. If you need the parts printed and are near the Chicagoland area I would be glad to print some for fellow Anet A8 users. The next part will be coming tomorrow going over some enhancements and extras you can add on to make the printer even better. Until then have fun and let me know if you need any help!