Category Archives: Raspberry Pi

Printrbot Simple Makers kit

So I bought a Printrbot Simple Metal. Then I decided to buy a Printrbot Simple Makers Kit. I want to be able to play around with modifying the Printer. My Wife did not want me to be screwing around with the GOOD printer.

Simple Makers Kit

Simple Makers Kit

So far, Octoprint, Octopi, print server on a Raspberry Pi A+ for the Simple Metal Printer. Then it was moved up to a RPi2 B board and installed CuraEngine installed so Octoprint could handle simple slicing tasks on its own. You just drag and drop the .stl file onto the web page and it slices and saves a g-code file for printing. I set this up for the Makers kit also. It is not very flexible as yet. There is no way to change the slicer settings within the web interface. They can be changed several ways, By SSH, RDP or by a FTP program such as WinSCP. this is done by editing the text in the CuraConfig file.

So far I have replaced the 10″ 8mm Z axis round bars with 13.5″ (350mm) 8mm bars. Then the 10″ bars were moved to the X axis to replace the 6.5″ OEM bars. New parts were printed to upgrade the bed from 100mm (3.97″) to 150mm (5.9″) (stock print area is 100mm X 100mm). Also printed out a spool holder that slips down over the front Z axis bar. I printed out a “finger flobber” (makes it easier to insert and remove filament) a Fan shroud and a Z axis Stabilizer (stiffens the Z axis for better prints) .

Printbot claims 100mm X 100mm by 115mm. My tests showed it more like 97mm X 97mm X115mm. This is due to the bed depth and the Screws on the right side of the bed. I was able to loosen the Y Axis switch screws then push it farther back. This gained a couple of millimeters. Then I put a toothpick into the pivot of the switch and bent the lever towards the switch body. This gained a couple more MM. My Y axis is now set at 102mm. To get the full advantage of the X Axis extensions I had to countersink screws into the bed.

finger flobber, Z stabilizer,Axis upgrade, Z axis longer smooth rods

finger flobber, Z stabilizer,Axis upgrade, Z axis longer smooth rods

Future plans include doing away with the Plywood, making those parts out of Plastic (printed) or Diamond plate Aluminum. this will make for a stiffer more accurate print. Adding two 12V fans, one to cool the board and one to cool the extruder/motor. Embedding the Raspberry Pi into the frame. Powering the RasPi from the printer power supply, rather than a separate PSU. Then I will look at extending the Z Axis. I see possibly changing the position of the Z Axis Delrin nut, from above the stepper to below the stepper. This would extend the Z axis about 42mm (1.65″). This would bring it to about 150mm (around 6″) total.

PrintrBot just eliminated the Simple Makers Edition kit from their site.

There are still some of these kits available on Amazon. These are a good source for the electronics to build a more advanced printer.

A few tips for the kit.

1.After you have it together a few days re-tighten every screw you can get too. The plywood shrinks some due to a difference in humidity. If you live in a humid area you probably won’t have this problem. The bearings under the bed really need to be tightened. This means you need to remove just the print bed.

2. Do not over-tighten the GT2 belts. They tend to slide off the rollers if they are too tight. I believe this is also a problem caused by the plywood. This is especially true of the X Axis.

3. If you want to have the least troubles, print out a spool holder of some type real soon after completing the kit.

4. Make sure you Calibrate your printer. This increases the accuracy of your prints.

5. Think seriously about using Octoprint. Having your printer untethered from your Computer is great. I did not setup an outside port, but you can make the printer available over the internet.

6. Invest in a zip tie gun, you will get a much more consistent tightening of the zip ties that hold the kit together.

Raspberry Pi Wallet?

My Wife bought me a “Charging Wallet”. It is a Halo2cloud 3000ma inside a wallet. It had a micro B USB connector so I powered up an Raspberry Pi A+ on it. I plugged a rather large USB WiFi into also. The Battery has a power switch on it which is a nice feature.

EDIT: This Wallet is sold under various names. It is not shown on the HALO2CLOUD as a product but can be found in the FAQS. Charge-it 3000, Pocket Power 3000. The Battery itself is labeled Pocket Power 3000. Instructions here

The Battery and the board on top of the Wallet. There are  headphones plugged in to it!

The Battery and the board on top of the Wallet. There are headphones plugged in to it!

I connected to it by SSH. I was playing Weird Al Yankovich’s “Amish Paradise”.

Here it is inside the Wallet!

Battery in its niche inside the Wallet!

Battery in its niche inside the Wallet!

Now carrying out an upgrade running on the Battery.


Remove some connectors (HDMI, GPIO Pins and USB) to reduce its thickness and it would all fit into the wallet. Maybe an ADAFRUIT touch screen attached? You have a RasPi-Wallet!

My wife would kill me if I cut up her Christmas gift. I posted these pictures as I thought some of you would get a kick out of this!

Well I did it to myself again. I just ordered a Charge-it 3000 Wallet.
I also ordered some stuff from Adafruit.

Model A+ Raspberry Pi (A+ #2)
PiTFT capacitive touchscreen
Miniature WiFi (802.11b/g/n) Module: For Raspberry Pi
GPIO Ribbon Cable for Raspberry Pi Model A+/B+ (40 pins)

I did not order a camera, yet.

Plan of attack for this project:
It will be powered through the micro B USB. Remove GPIO pins and USB Connector to reduce the overall height. I will solder into the GPIO with the ribbon cable to the PiTFT. I will extend the USB port out to the end of the Wallet by soldering a pigtail into the USB points on the PCB. I will leave the audio and the HDMI connectors in place. The PiTFT will be cut into the outer wallet and glued under it with Contact cement. So it will be a display in a leather frame. The A+ will be in the billfold area. I will probably have to remove some of the wallets credit card slots to reduce the thickness of the Wallet. I would like to leave at least one to store extra Micro SD cards. At least one card will be a Raspbian image and another will be setup with Pirate Box. If I find enough room left over I may also install a camera board. Storage is going to be limited by the fact that the USB is going to be filled with a WiFi dongle. So large class 6 cards will probably be the best bet.

There will be a way to stand the Wifi side of the wallet up when it is used as a pirate box server. Most likely a strap that will allow it to lean against. Normally it will be velcroed shut.

I will probably cut out a leather ring to put around the A+ to help prevent crushing the connectors left on the board. This will be contact cemented into the Wallet. The RasPi will then be slipped into that. You still will not be able to carry this wallet in a back pocket unless you want a crushed electronic mess!

I decide to leave the HDMI as I saw an article where the PiTFT and a HDMI display can be used simultaneously. This might be a bit much with only 256MB on the A+.

When I start the build, after the parts and pieces gets here, I will move to a different Forum.

Stuff is on the way, but the Holidays are going to delay some of it. So there will probably be some work starting in about a week to 10 days!

Raspberry Pi Model B+, so far!

Received A new Raspberry Pi Model B+ a week or so ago!

This is the new version from the Raspberry PI foundation.

What’s changed;

  • 40 pin GPIO header instead of 26 pins.
  • 4 USB ports instead of 2.
  • Improved power system.
  • Micro SD instead of a SD card.
  • Connectors on two sides instead on all four sides.
  • four mounting holes.
  • Less connectors.

There are some other changes also but these are the most significant changes.

The USB ports are now close to the edge of the card rather than jutting out like the single port used to. This makes for a smaller over all card size. The corners are now rounded. That was an often made request but the RasPi B+ still will not fit into a tin. More significant is the four mounting holes that will allow a much more robust mounting system. The Micro SD (uSD) card is also close into the board edge and is a push/push style socket. This is going to be a lot tougher than the slip in plastic holder on the older model B. The Improved power system uses switching regulators rather than the linear regs of the B. This has lowered power consumption of the B+ to 600ma rather than 750ma specified for the earlier B. This has also allowed for the 4 USB sockets to be able to handle 600MA shared between ports. That can be raised to 1200ma shared by adding a change into config.txt. For that to work you will need to upgrade to a 2A PSU (Wall wart). The 40 pin GPIO leaves the first 26 pins compatible with the original B Models GPIO.

These were all good changes in my opinion. But not all is happy in the Raspberry Pi changes world. There has been some complaints as the older GPIO cables do not work unmodified. There was a loss in I2s by one. Also there seems to be some problems with USB HDD’s that used to work with the old board having trouble with the new board. But overall I think most Raspberry Pi users are going to like the new board better than the old one.

I installed my B+ on the Motorola Lapdock I use. I do not have any free monitors at the moment. I followed the advice to update my Raspbian on a working card with sudo apt-get update && upgrade. I then used Win32DiskImager to copy that to a Micro SD card. I had no problems on the first boot. The new Micro USB power connector location did caused me to wiggle things around some to get it to fit onto the Lapdock. I was still using the separated power and USB version so I did not have to rewire anything. If you were back-powering your Rev 2.0 board by USB then you will have to rewire. The new B+ does not really support back-powering. So what did it run like? well it ran just like the older B Model. Nothing really different. It found my WiFi dongle and connected and the keyboard and touchpad worked just fine. I have not tried any sound on it as yet, so I need to get that tried out soon.

I did encounter some problems when I connected the Seagate “GO” drive to the Lapdock. First I lost the touchpad. The next boot I had the touchpad but lost WiFi. Then I booted and everything worked. It is acting like the old problem of a USB hub on hub fight we had on the Lapdocks in the earlier days. The last couple of times I have fired it up all seems to be working ok.

There is an A+ version to come out in a couple of months. There is a lot of speculation going on about it getting a second USB port. The fact is the price point on the A Model was reached by omitting the LAN9512 (now LAN9514) USB hub chip and some of the associated parts from the board. I saw from the discussion that it is probably going to stay a single USB port board. One of the best points of the A models has been their reduced power usage from the B models. This is due to the lack of the hub chip. I think we will see the A+ Model’s come in at about 250ma to 300ma usage.

I am hoping that it will get the 512MB upgrade as the memory package has dropped in price since the Raspberry Pi was introduced. I think it will save them some cost in inventory by just purchasing only 512MB units rather than 256MB and 512MB packages. I think this will be a likely upgrade for the A+. Other than that it will get all of the features that are in the B+.

Final thoughts;

If you want to buy a B+ for better performance then you will probably be disappointed. It performs just like a Rev 2.0 board mostly. If you need more GPIO or lower power usage then it might be worth it. If you want to get away from using a hub with your RasPi then it might be worth it. You just have to have one, well why else buy one!

It really is a Raspberry Pi in an improved package. The best part is it is still just $35 for the B+. And the A+ will most likely remain at $25!