Meshtastic

3D Printer Advise Please

Hi All,

Last night I managed to get Meshtastic going on A LilyGO TTGO T3 LoRa32 868MHz V2.1.6 ESP32 ,after some fiddling on my laptop running Linux Ubuntu 64bit ,I managed to flash the board via VS Studio Code so I am now very excited to proceed testing and do some outdoor range testing etc.
I now want to build a casing for the board with a 3D printer and as I am on a very low budget I was wondering if other forum members that already have done this can give me some advice in 3D printers please.
I have found a low budget printer in the link below and maybe somebody can tell me if this would be a suitable printer for printing cases or housing for various esp32 boards?

Would this work with the drawings from the link below?

I have never used a 3D printer so I am totally new to this technology.
Also a note that I am running Linux only (ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS 64 bit) as I believe Linux Rules :smiley:

Regards

Mark

PS: What a fantastic project I Take my hat of to those all making this possible, you did an amazing job!!!

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I would go for an Ender 3 they are more rigid than the anet a6 due to using aluminum extrusions as a frame instead of plastic the cost is alittle more but worth it.
Also they are very popular so the support and modifications available are plentiful.

You can buy them direct from creality or local retailer of your choice.

I would recommend a glass bed as a first upgrade makes leveling the bed easier (note some models of the ender 3 include a glass bed)

Linux is no problem for the majority of 3d printers first off you will need a program to convert the 3d model into language your 3d printer understands, Cura is a good choice and is available free as an app image.

Any questions feel free to ask :slight_smile:

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I would suggest a magnetic print bed instead of any other fixed beds.

Furthermore you should decide for yourself if you just want to print or if you want another “3D printer project”.

So i wouldn’t go for a low budget printer, because most of the time users will upgrade due to low print quality and constantly tuning of print parameters, calibration etc.

Also at some time you try other filament materials, so i would suggest a direct extruder instead of a bowden one.

A integrated automatic bed leveling feature is also very neat, and reduces print fails to a minimum.

Just my two cents…

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I have to disagree with just about everything here. Try as they might, budget printers like Ender 3s often ship with warped build plates, which is why perfectly flat glass is so important for that even “squish” on the first layer. And it self releases once cool, which is nice.

But aside from benefitting from a little glass, Ender 3s are perfect for beginners because they’re so cheap. If you don’t end up liking it, you’re only out <$200, which is less than half the cost of the cheapest Prusa. But in 2021, cheap Chinese printers are really good, producing fantastic quality even with stock slicer profiles as long as you do your due diligence to calibrate your extruder, which you’re going to have to do with any printer anyway, whenever you change filaments.

Bowdens are fine for just about everything other than TPU, but get your sea legs in PLA/PETG/etc, and feel free to upgrade later once you actually know what you’re doing. Personally, I’ve never bothered.

ABL is a nice convenience, and can even compensate for putting a fancy flexible build plate on top of a warped bed, but again, I’ve never bothered. On the rare occasion that it needs to be tweaked, that can be done on the fly during the first layer, often before the skirt or brim has even finished.

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@Ol_Dave and @drewsed and @BoostWillis

Thank you both for the useful information and tips, much appreciated, I have installed Ultimaker Cura on my laptop to get an idea what the software is all about etc, so far seems to run fine and I have been able to load a project from the link in the 1st post so that all works ok by the looks of it , I think I have made up my mind on which model to go for and hopefully I can print my 1st housing or casing whatever you want to call it soon, if all goes well I will post the results of the 1st 3D printing attempt, thanks again guys :slight_smile:

Regards

Mark

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No worries good luck, if you have any problems let us know :slight_smile:

Also if you have a spare raspberry pi installing octoprint is really handy so you can upload directly to the printer from a browser.

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I’ve done a lot of 3d printing (and I’ve sent in some PRs for the firmware in the prusa printer). I started with a cheap printer, but warning you will spend more time futzing with it than printing :wink:

Finally a couple of years ago I bit the bullet and switched to a ‘real’ Prusa MK3 (most of the cheap printers are to some extent a clone of his (open source) mk2 design). OMG SO MUCH BETTER. It just works - almost every time - very little fiddling. And the slicer (and the hardware and the firmware) is open source and 100% linux friendly.

So a few months ago when a friend asked about printers I recommended the new Prusa Mini. It is almost as large a build area as a MK3 (and definitely enough for meshtastic cases) and pretty cheap. It is only about $100 more than ‘equivalent’ clone printers ($350). And apparently it “just works” also.

Also: Prusa has a great track record of when they make new versions of exising printers, they sell upgrade kits for the old printers quite cheaply (and then you 3d print the new plastic parts yourself).

Also this subreddit is super active and helpful: https://www.reddit.com/r/prusa3d/

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that exactly reflects my opinion :slight_smile:

Hi geeksville,

Thanks for the additional info, much appreciated :slight_smile:
I have read a few discussions from you the last few weeks on various places, an interesting one was on Github, ESP32/nimble forgets BLE pairing connection to Android client (nasty 'fix' attached) · Issue #16 · espressif/esp-nimble · GitHub
As I am working on a BLE/Lorawan project myself I believe I have seen your name a few times in various BLE topics :slight_smile:

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Thanks for that yes I do have a few pi’s laying about so this really useful info :slight_smile:

Ender 3s are cheap & Ok. Prusas are quite a bit better with better support. Personally I’m really happy with my Prusa i3 Mk3s+. If you can swing it I’d go for at least a Prusa mini or even i3 over a cheaper machine. You’ll have less pain leveling the bed & tuning the machine.

Prusa has been making upgrade kits for all their old versions almost all the way back to their first versions. A lot of the upgrades just amount to print your own plastic parts with occasional parts you have to purchase.

The mini has a newer screen & computer on it than the i3 does. I assume the i3mk4 will have the new board & there will be an upgrade kit if you want to upgrade your i3mk3 whenever they come out with the next version. Other than that the i3 has a bit bigger build volume. The existing UI & CPU is perfectly sufficient for the job.

Prusa is a HUGE open source supporter. All the firmware for the printers, code for Prusa Slicer & even the blueprints for the printers themselves are all open source.

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Hi Phallon,

Thanks for that and from what you and others said I can certainly see the bennefits from a technical point of view and also user friendly by the sounds of it, but Like I said my budget is very small and therefore not an option for even bying de Prusa i3 mini as suggested, so I went for a Creality 3D Ender 3 Pro 3D printer but as advised I did also order an additional glass plate ,I am hoping to receive the unit tomorrow so that I can start printing cases for various projects :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Worth noting that the ender 3 is also completely opensource and Creality contributes to other opensource projects including octoprint.

I did own many older cheap 3d printers and I would agree with other comments made towards the older cheap 3d printers (aside from my mk1 Fabrikator Mini my first 3d printer in 2015 I really liked that machine) but Creality really stepped up the game for cheap 3d printers.
In saying that I would love to add a prusa mini to my 3d printer collection.

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If you don’t wanna mess around with 3D printing, heat shrink works pretty well in my experience/opinion.

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Hi isinglass,

That is an interesting concept, I like the idea a lot, a total different approach that I will certainly keep in mind, thank you for sharing this :slight_smile:

Regards

Mark

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Hi All,

The 3d printer finally arrived this morning after some logistical troubles apparently.
I have put the unit together and paid specific attention to adjusting the rollers and leveling the heated bed, well then we went on a nice ride on the E-bikes as it was really nice weather overhere (17 degrees celcius) , back home started to find a drawing of my liking’s and loaded it into Ultimaker Cura, sliced the drawing and saved on an SD card that goes into the printer and off I went my 1st 3D print, after staring at the printer obeserving the process for well over a hour I produced my first housing/case for the LilyGO TTGO T3 LoRa32 868MHz V2.1.6 ESP32, I was really chuffed with the result and I am really happy with my choice of buy and the good advice from all you guys, thank again guys! the result is posted in 3D Printed Cases etc - #95 by mark

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Absolutely wonderful work - welcome to the world of 3D printing! The Ender 3 series is phenomenal bang-for-buck in printers, and I have no doubt that you will have an absolute ball printing with it. Warning: 3D printing is highly addictive, and you may find yourself accumulating rolls of various filaments, much to the chagrin of your significant other.

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Thank you for your compliment, yes I can imagine it is an addictive hobby as I am already noticing myself, today been busy printing various additional parts for the printer, like PCU Fan Baffle and a Filament Guide, all good fun :slight_smile:

Also I suggest installing a recent version of Marlin as all Enders ship with old versions that do not have thermal runaway protection.

I run the bug fix branch 2.0.7.x.

Also, look into printing a calibration cube and also linear advance. There’s a calibration STL to print (like a calibration sheet) to set linear advance and it will help if you’re getting bulging corners on your calibration cube.

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If your on a budget maybe think outside the box and save money. Now if you really want a 3D printer go for it. My tiny local library has a 3D printer maybe yours does but COVID restrictions may be an issue. Also, there is a community based web site called nextdoor. If that is available, post a request, I bet someone would be thrilled to print a couple of cases. Alternately, maybe use an alternate cover. I just bought the Lillygo gps units and it came in a case for shipping. The plastic is clear, maybe that would work.