[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!

[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!

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

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

Around Christmas time 2016 a friend let me borrow his Micro M3D printer. I enjoyed playing with it and decided to get my own. I came across the Anet A8 DIY printer kit and purchased on from a seller on AliExpress.com (shipped from the US warehouse). During the time I spent many hours researching information on this printer. I found out that while it is a decent printer there are some major issues with it if you do not spend about $50-60 on some aftermarket addons to make the printer work better and safer. I am going to cover what the must do-s are for this printer are and what other modifications I did to mine. They will be broken down into 3 categories: required, recommended, and optional. The required ones are the most important since they are safety related. Each category will get it’s own post since I do not have time to write them all at once. After that there will be a general write up post on the printer and tips to get it to do what you want.

Required Upgrades

Heat Bed MOSFET

The factory heat bed mosfet is severely under powered and you will burn up the connector where it connects to the board OR completely fry your Anet board. This is a manufacturer issue but for the price I am not surprised that this was an oversight. The MOSFET can be had for between $10-15 on Amazon or EBay and looks like the image below. Some people also go with a SSR or Solid State Relay but it is really personal preference as both will handle the current required to run the heating bed.

To connect the MOSFET is simple. You will have a small 2 wire plug that will come with the MOSFET, these 2 wires go to where your heat bed + and – go now. Not connect the heat bed wires to the heat bed terminals on the MOSFET. Now run 2 more wires from the MOSFET + and – to your power supply directly. This takes the load off of the Anet board and puts it on the MOSFET.

In addition to this I would recommend going from the PSU to the MOSFET with 12 Gauge silicone wire and running dual (4 wires total) 16 gauge silicone wires to the heat bed itself. There are 2 positive and 2 negative terminals on the heat bed and they are the same connection that accept 12V. If you measure the bed resistance you will get between 1.0 and 1.1 ohms on a working bed. If you have anything different then your bed is broken.

 

Upgraded Power Supply

The factory power supply is also very under-powered. It is rated at 20 Amps and actually puts out around 15 Amps. This leaves very little head room for expansion. This also causes the heat bed to take forever to warm up. Replace the PSU with a 30 Amp one like the one pictured to the right. You can purchase one on Amazon with THIS LINK. After just changing this my heating times for both the heated bed and the extruder were greatly increased. I highly recommend this upgrade as it is under $20 shipped.

 

That is where I will leave this post. I have also put some pictures of actual Anet board failures because the users were not listening to advice about using a MOSFET and checking their connections. This is a great printer but you will need to give it a little TLC before you start printing with it.

Parts Links:

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[TTT] Securing your digital life using Gmail 2 Factor Authentication – Move from Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL

I get at least 2-3 calls and/or emails a week from people asking what to do when their email accounts get hacked. They are usually tipped off when they see suspicious emails being sent from their account or when one of their contacts gets a suspicious email from the account that was compromised.

In my personal experience Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL accounts are usually targeted due to the inferior security that is on those providers systems. Yahoo has had multiple security breaches that were not only covered up but then were improperly communicated to it’s users. That being said if you use Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL you should really think about moving to another service.

My personal favorite for a free email service is Google’s Gmail. You can sign up at Mail.Google.com. Once you sign up make sure you use a secure password (10+ characters, numbers, Aa letters, and a few symbols). Once you do this you can begin the switch over from your provider. I have provided directions for Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL to forward your email from these providers to your Gmail account. I would also setup a vacation responded (permanently) so that when contacts email your old account they will receive an automated reply letting them know to use your new Gmail address.

Once you have the email migrated to the Gmail account you will need to setup what is called 2 Factor Authentication. This will make it so you either need a SMS (Text) code sent to a mobile number to login OR you can use the Google Authenticator application to generate a code. Sign in to your Google account and follow the directions below to see how to setup the 2 Factor Authentication.

Turn on 2-Step Verification

When you enable 2-Step Verification (also known as two-factor authentication), you add an extra layer of security to your account. You sign in with something you know (your password) and something you have (a code sent to your phone).

Set up 2-Step Verification

  1. Go to the 2-Step Verification page. You might have to sign in to your Google Account.
  2. In the “2-Step Verification” box on the right, select Start setup.
  3. Follow the step-by-step setup process.

Once you’re finished, you’ll be taken to the 2-Step Verification settings page. Review your settings and add backup phone numbers. The next time you sign in, you’ll receive a text message with a verification code. You also have the option of using a Security Key for 2-Step Verification.

Note: To ensure that you can access your account in the future, add an email recovery option as well. Sourcehttps://support.google.com/accounts/answer/185839?hl=en

 


Forwarding Yahoo Email (Source)

Turn on Mail Forwarding

  1. Mouse over the Settings menu icon Gear Icon | select Settings.
  2. Click Accounts.
  3. Click the primary Yahoo account.
  4. Go down and select Forward.
  5. Enter the forwarding address.
  6. Select Store and forward or Store and forward and mark as read.
  7. Click Verify.

    – A verification email will be sent to that email address.

  8. Click Save.

Verify your forwarding address.

You must verify your account before forwarding will work.

  1. Access the email account you’re forwarding to.
  2. Open the verification email we sent.
  3. Follow the email’s instructions to verify your account.

Forwarding Hotmail Email (Source)

If you recently moved from Outlook.com — the new name of Microsoft’s Hotmail service — to Gmail, you can automatically receive mail sent to your old Outlook.com address in Gmail by setting up mail forwarding. Alternatively, enabling POP3 in Outlook.com lets you import both new and existing emails from your old account into Gmail.

Forwarding NEW Emails

  1. Log in to your Outlook.com account, click the **cog** icon and select **Options** from the menu.
  2. Click the **Email forwarding** link under **Managing your account.**
  3. Select **Select forward your email to another email account** and enter your Gmail address in the text field. Save your new settings.

Migrating New and Existing Emails

  1. Open the Outlook.com Options page by clicking the **cog** icon and selecting **Options.** Under **Managing your account,** select **Connect devices and apps with POP.**
  2. Select **Enable** and click **Save.**
  3. Log in to Gmail, open the **cog** menu and click **Settings.**
  4. Open the **Forwarding and POP/IMAP** tab and select **Add a POP3 mail account you own.**
  5. Enter your Outlook.com email address in the text field and click **Next Step.**
  6. Enter your Outlook.com email address and password in the **Username** and **Password** fields and click **Add Account** to save your new POP3 account.Optionally, enable **Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server** before saving your new account if you do not want Gmail to automatically delete emails from your Outlook.com account after importing them.

 Tips and Warnings

  • If you enable mail forwarding in Outlook.com, you still need to log in to your account at least once a year to prevent Microsoft from closing your account.
  • By using POP3, you can import messages from up to five email accounts in Gmail.

Forwarding AOL Email (Source)

Gmail has two methods for forwarding messages from AOL, which you can use either to consolidate your email or to move away from AOL entirely. Importing your mail works best when closing an AOL account, as it imports your entire mailbox and contacts, and forwards new messages for a month. Adding your AOL account to Gmail, on the other hand, sends all new AOL emails to your Gmail inbox.

Importing AOL Email

Importing your mail copies your old AOL mailbox to Gmail so you can close your AOL account without losing any emails. This method forwards new incoming messages only for the following 30 days, however, making it a poor choice if you plan to keep using AOL. To start an import, click the gear icon on Gmail, click “Settings,” “Accounts and Import” and then “Import Mail and Contacts.” Enter your AOL email address and password, select which items to import — Gmail has three separate check boxes to import contacts, existing messages and new mail for 30 days — and click “Start Import.”

Checking AOL Email

To read new AOL emails on Gmail, click “Add a POP3 Mail Account You Own” in Gmail’s “Accounts and Import” settings. Unlike importing mail, this method forwards your messages indefinitely. Enter your AOL email address, click “Next Step” and fill in your AOL username and password — use your email address, including “@aol.com,” for the username. Check “Label Incoming Messages” to tag emails sent to your AOL address and help separate them from Gmail messages. Before pressing “Add Account,” check “Leave a Copy…” if you want your AOL emails to appear both on Gmail and on the AOL website or AOL Desktop.