3D printer Control Center DIY!

tablet control

After Upgrading the Printrbot Maker to Play, it was time to go to the next step. I wanted to be able to have a stand alone printer. I was using a Raspberry Pi 2B as an Octoprint server. Octopi was installed and ran just fine. I installed CuraEngine on to it and that was a step in the right direction. It still was not what I wanted. I tried Adding a 3.5″ touchscreen so I could have more control AT the printer. I made some progress but it was slow going. I just could not get a full version of Cura onto the RasPi 2B. The cost kept going up.

  • Raspberry Pi 2B $35
  • Micro SD card 16GB $16
  • 3.5″ Tontec Touchscreen $50
  • WiPi dongle $14
  • USB cords $12
  • $127
This excludes the power supply. $5
The Raspberry Pi foundation released a 7" touchscreen for their boards recently.
this reduces the price to have a decent sized touchscreen.
  • Raspberry Pi 2B $35
  • Micro SD card Class 6 16GB $16
  • Raspberry Pi 7" touchscreen display $60
  • WiPi WiFi dongle. $14
  • USB cords $16 (depends on how you power the screen)
  • $141
This excludes the cost of one or two power supplies. $5 to $10.
Still on the high side when you compare to the Tablet that has everything integrated into a single package. Plus Bluetooth and a Battery system is included.]

It was time to switch gears. I started looking for a 8″ Windows Tablet. I would have preferred a Linux Tablet but they are all “Android”. I may look into Tablets that except Linux later. The real test was to see if this would work at all on the Hardware available.

So I started looking for a Windows Tablet. What I was looking for was an Intel Atom processor, At least 1GB main memory and at Least 16GB storage. I wanted to stay under $100. To get anywhere near this I looked at remanufactured tablets. I finally found a Hipstreet W8 Pro 8″ Tablet. It stated it had an Intel D525. It actually has Z3735F 1.83Ghz Quadcore Processor, 1GB of main memory plus 1GB Video memory, Met the 32GB storage and it was $54.99.

  • Tablet (refurbished) $55
  • OTG cable $12
  • 8GB micro SD $5 (not really needed)
  • $72
tablet control2

Most Tablets have a single Micro B USB connector, plus a micro B to A adapter. They also have a Micro SD card slot. On this model the charge port is the USB Port. That causes a problem as it needs to be able to charge as it is used. I had bought a Micro B to Micro B OTG adapter cable to go between the Tablet and the Printrbot Play.

I tried a Hub that I had converted to back-power. The port adapter would not let the hub back feed power. In the earlier article I stated I had used an LM2596 to supply power to the RasPi. So I had 5V (actually 5v2) available on the printer now. I cut midline into the OTG cable and built in a power injector. The OTG cable will not back feed on one end. Data and power now were working to the printer. Beware,the constant charge may ruin the tablets battery over time.

power injector


I upgraded the Tablet to Windows 10. I then only had 7GB left of the 32GB. In Win8 I had about 20GB free. The upgrade left a backup file of 9.7GB. this is so you can go back to your original operating system. After testing it for a couple of days I deleted the backup. That left 17GB free. I installed a 8GB micro SD card and pointed document saves to it.


To be able to send files to the Tablet I added it to the Workgroup. So files can be sent to the printer from any other computer in the house. You have to start the file at the 3D Printer. This may seem to be a pain, but I usually start my prints from my iPad while at the printer in Octoprint anyway. The first few layers are the most crucial so I like to be there. So this system works for me. I will look into installing a print server, but I like it this way. More about that in a bit!

I then installed Cura 15.04 and Repetier 1.5.6. Both installed with no issues and work fine. Repetier Server installed with Repetier. Repetier Server interfered with the connection to the printer. Only one device can connect to the printer at a time. I uninstalled the server. I tried to enter the server but was unable to contact it through the web interface. I will work on this later.

It printed its own mount with no problems.

The Tablet slices objects ok, but can be a little slow. I suspect really large or complicated files will require slicing on a more powerful computer. The RasPi was slow too so no loss there.

So what does this all add up too:

Because this is a full featured OS it can get on the Internet. It can run the full featured 3D Printer programs rather than just the slicing. It adds WiFi and Bluetooth to the system. And it can work all alone by itself. It adds a touchscreen interface. Plugging in the printer powers and charges the tablet.

Go to Thingiverse, download an object file, Extract it, Load it into one of the printer programs then slice and print it. I also can use the web browser to run the Printrbot Simple Metal through the Octoprint web interface. This includes sending files to it. A pretty big bonus!

The closest solution I could find to this is $299 MatterControl Touch

And the Printer control LCD’s at $50 to $100 are just ridiculous.

That is a lot of money to do what it does.

Edit: The Tablet WiFi allows you to make your 3D printer mobile. It gives an easy way to log into network connections. That was a problem with the Raspberry Pi and Octopi. There was no easy way to change to a different  WiFi network. Even after I added the 3.5″ touch screen getting connected to an open network could be trouble. But the Win10 Tablet is much easier.



The 8″ touch might just be a little on the small side for some. The On Screen Keyboard covers what you are typing most of the time. So program settings can be a trial. A Bluetooth keyboard might be a good addition, or a 10″ Tablet. More main memory would be nice, but that adds cost. The idea is to keep the price low.


This probably would have worked on a 16GB storage model. It would have worked as Win8. More main memory would help, but price needs to be factor. It makes no sense to plow as much on the tablet as the printer costs. If you do that then you are behind the game in my opinion.

I went a bit further and set it up to run from the printers own power. This is not really needed. It is nice but if you do not have the equipment or skills, but I think you ought to at least look into it. I am not talking down to anyone here. It was not that hard to do and I believe it was between easy and moderate difficulty. Everything to do it is readily available. The information to get it done is a search engine away.

If you can install Windows programs then you can do this project!


I am pretty happy with how this project turned out. It works great. does most of what I wanted. There is still some things I would like to try, like adding print server abilities. I think Sketchup 2015 would work on the tablet. The screen might not be big enough to really work with it well. I still am going to try it anyway. Then that would be one more feather in its cap as a standalone system.

Someday 3D Printers will be part of our everyday life. There are many places that want to cut out the shipping fees and printing it on site is where they want to go. They want you to pay them for the designs and then you print it out! You may even be under a service contract for the guy to come and fill your printer and service it! I want my own printer that is not locked down like todays cell phones!



I installed Sketchup Make onto the Tablet today. Sketchup works pretty well. The screen size may be a bit on the small side for complex projects. A mouse might make Sketchup easier to use on the tablet. But I think small quick objects could easily be designed right at the machine. This Tablet keeps surprising  me as to what it can do!

I created a user named 3D Printer. The desktop only shows programs needed by the printer. I need to find a Bluetooth mouse to try out.


Made the Tablet removable. Much easier to work on the Tablet when it is not mounted. The tablet block slips down into a squared U shaped block with V sides. The Tablet block is mounted with 20lb. 3M double sided tape. The U shaped piece needed some hot glue to stay attached.

I really like the Hipstreet Tablet. Very clear screen at 1280×800.

Simple Maker to Play Upgrade Kit

I rate this Kit at about 3 out of 4 stars.

So I bought the “PLAY” upgrade kit from Printrbot. The kit is not quite straight forward to carry out. First you have to print out some of the upgrade. You have to disassemble your Maker. Then you have to hope all the parts printed out, close enough to the, right size for you to complete the upgrade. I thought I had my Maker and my Simple Metal both pretty well calibrated. I still had issues with part sizing.
Printrbot Play

Cons to this upgrade:

  1. PLA is just not that good for some of the parts, example the Z axis mounts. If you try to force fit any PLA parts they will break.
  2. If your printer is not very close to on you will need some drill bits close to metric sizes to make things fit. If they are oversized then you will have to come up with a different plan.
  3. You do not reuse any of the screws from the maker, so you end up with tons of extra screws and nuts.
  4. There are no direct “instructions” for assembling the upgrade. You have to use the Play assembly instructions. This has several areas that will confuse you as the PLAY parts are slightly different than the Maker parts.
  5. The Extruder shroud covers the print so it is hard to see if your print is starting correctly.
  6. About 20 hours of printing parts before you can even start assembling the upgrade.
  7. You cannot even think about extending the X axis of this printer. You can “tune” a little bit more out of it. More about this later.
  8. The leveling probe adjustment is not any easier than it was on the Maker. Just different.

Pro’s to the Upgrade:

  1. The whole assembly is rock steady compared to the Maker frame. There is just no comparison at all!
  2. You get the new V2 extruder as part of the upgrade. Do not try to use your V1 extruder, it will not fit under the extruder shroud.
  3. Plugging in the USB and SD cards is a lot easier in the Play chassis than it was in the Maker Chassis.
  4. You get a Filament Spool bracket as part of the upgrade!
  5. Easier to carry around. It is taller but not really “bigger” than the Maker. I find it is easier to store overall.
  6. Prints are a whole lot more accurate than the Maker ever was!

You need to test fit all of the printed pieces before assembly. This is especially important for the “Bridge”, X bearing clamp. Mine was loose and allowed the print head carriage to tip left and right. I had to sand down the pedestals so it would clamp the bearings tighter. One of the clamps on the bed (Y) bearings was rubbing against the belt Delrin pulley assembly. I had to file down the clamp so the pulley would spin freely. I also found that you need to install a washer under this pulley. If you do not it will bind. You need to steal one of the thin washers from your Maker parts, as it is not included in the Play upgrade.

I did have some problems in my upgrade kit. On the bridge, two of the clamp holes had been drilled, but they had not been threaded. On the base My Z rod holes were not large enough to allow the smooth rods through. This was not just an issue with the coating. I had to find a drill bit and open the holes up. The Wire wraps that come with the Maker are reused on the Play upgrade. They seems to be a bit on the stiff side for the Play. The newer kit my brother bought had a different wire relief that works a lot better than mine.

My brothers play upgrade kit did not have these issues. His Z rods were very tight, but they did go in. He did not have any problems with threaded holes as far as I know.

So most of the problems I encountered were caused by the printed parts themselves. Be ready to fool around with the parts to get everything to fit. Having some files and drill bits around will make it all easier to get done. But if you built a Maker kit then you should have no real problems with the upgrade at all.

The Y axis can be extended! My brothers kit now has a 7.28″ (185mm) extended bed on it. You can usually get a true 4″ (101.2mm) out of the X axis, mine is 104mm and my brothers came out at 102mm.

My Brother had ordered a Heated Bed upgrade for his Simple Metal. He had the OEM bed lying around. So he had it cut down to 5.5″ (139.7mm) by a machinist friend. We then cut a set of 8mm Smooth rods down to 9 11/16″ (246mm) to replace the 6.5″ (165mm) OEM rods. I also had GT2 belt lying around (besides the smooth rod). The printed Y axis ends were used. The bed and Y axis ends were drilled to match. A couple of holes were drilled in the “wing” at the end of the bed to allow belt tension adjustment. The Stock Y switch is usually bent nearly 90deg. We left ours flattened, even flattened them out more than stock to get maximum travel. The we adjusted the firmware until the bed hit the mechanical limit. Then subtracted 1mm. This was about a 3 hour job, but a bed area gain of 3.35″ of print area.

Play Y axis switch bent

Printrbot Y axis and belt detail

Printrbot Play Xaxis switch detail

After applying a few tweaks and tunes to my own Play I ended up with 104mm X 107mm X 130 (4.094″ X 4.212″ X 5.118″). I did not try to get any extra out of the Z axis. It looks like I could get 5+mm out of Z.

My project for today was to get power from the Play to power an inexpensive Windows 8.1 Tablet. I upgraded the tablet to Win10. It has Cura 15.04.2 installed and Repetier-host 1.5.5 and Repetier-Server 0.60.3. Cura works very well, Repetier-host opens and displays an object But I have not setup Slicing configurations as yet. Repetier-Server web page works on the Tablet But I cannot reach it on the network. I was able to design a mount for the Tablet and send the .STL over to the Tablet as a  Home System under Documents. So at least that way can be used to reduce Sneakernet work.

To get power for the Tablet I used a LM2596 board soldered into the power Connector under the Base. The board is double-sticked to the inside of the base. The LM2596 was set to 5v2. It supplied power to my Raspberry Pi and now supplies power to the Tablet. This Tablet has 1 Micro B USB port. It is both the USB port and the charging port. I used a Micro to Micro USB OTG Cable to connect the Tablet to the Printer. I had to cut into the OTG cable and create an injector to power the Tablet. It seems to work well.

I need to do some more setup and testing but so far it appears to be a true Standalone 3D Printer system. I was able to search and download an object from Thingiverse, extract the file and slice it in Cura. I did not print it, but I did print the mount I needed with the Tablet on the Play printer. I have no doubts as to whether it would have printed the file. I may see problems with very large files. The Intel Atom Z3735F Quadcore Processor can only handle 1GB of main memory. The Tablet has 1GB of video Memory as well. It has 32GB of Storage of which only about 17GB is now available after the Win10 upgrade.

Tablet ; Hipstreet 8-Inch Windows Tablet 32GB Wi-Fi White.

I will try to get some actual printer photos up soon!

Indy250 PLUS Quad-Copter from RC Timer


Indy250 PLUS Quad-Copter from RCTimer.com

Completed quad-copter with FPV camera

Completed quad-copter with FPV camera

The Indy250 PLUS and the ELGAE FOV127 FPV200-set with LT200, V700 and FPV RTU cable(32CH) RP-SMA were $204 to the door. I already had a Radio (Taranis), Receiver (FrSky D6FR6) and Battery (2200ma 3S).

This is a Tarot frame Clone. Carbon Fiber and PCB design. It has LED lights built under the PCB and they are very bright. There is a connector for 12V and 4 connectors for 5V on the PCB. It has been designed for FPV and gives you the connectors to make FPV easy to install. The Flight Controller is the CC3D and the ESC pins are soldered inverted under the board. These plug into connectors soldered onto the PCB. It is really clean. The Skids are robust but not pretty.

I Attempted to follow the Ground Control Wizard as Suggested by the RC Timer assembly Video. Most of the changes would not save. I ended up setting each item up manually (under each tab) then things started cooperating. The CC3D seems to fly pretty well. I increased the stability some by decreasing the settings sliders under stabilization. I have the ability to change this setting by a three position switch on my Radio. Most of this was setup in the Ground Control Software. My Radio is a Taranis 9X which was covered in the video. I used the OpenTX model wizard to setup for a quad copter. It just does not get much easier than this!

The Speed Controls and the Motors have already been Soldered in place. The ESC are mounted directly to the PCB and the Motors are mounted. I found almost all the screws had been tightened properly. Very few were not as snug as I liked. You will need a 1.5mm allen head wrench and a couple of sizes of Phillips screwdrivers to check the screws.

Completion time was about 2 1/2 hours after I figured out the wizard was not working. No Soldering at all. I did crimp a two pin connector on to the FPV Camera wires so I could plug directly to the board 12V pins. I printed a camera mount for the FPV Camera. The mount was for a FatShark Camera Mount.  I had to flip it upside down and do some clipping with side cutters to get it into the right position. 3D printers come in very handy! Zip ties are very useful in assembling a quad-Copter.

I have flown out one battery so far and it flies pretty good! Very noisy due to the small, high RPM, props. They are 5X3 Gemfan props. The kit came with 38 total propeller’s. 8 Black, 8 Red, 8 Green, 8 Orange, then 2 Black and 2 Orange in a bag that were the original props included. I should be able to get through a few flights without worrying about needing propeller’s. There are bags of screws included in the kit. It looks like the kit was built then they threw in all the screws to build it again. So no worries about finding screws when they vibrate out!

Now for the bad!!

No real Instructions. There is a wiring diagram and exploded view that is called the manual. No battery strap is included. The XT60 connector is soldered into the PCB. I use Deans connectors So I needed an adapter. Luckily my brother had made one. I now have made my own.

The Ground Control Software Wizard does appear not to work properly, at least for me. Setting it up manually was not to bad, but takes a while when you are not experienced with the software. Most of your settings are in the CC3D Flight Control Board. I was familiar with my radio so that helped. The FC includes several different harnesses for different radio connections.

The Camera System that was listed with it cannot be mounted without an extra mount. It would be nice to see some other mount plate options.

There are no spare parts for this frame. There are no bare frames for purchase. So a serious crash could mean buying a whole new Quad. Hopefully RC Timer will get up and make parts or at least a bare frame for parts. No serious “Racer” is going to race a bird with no parts available!

Possible future Changes:

I would like to move the battery from on top to between the skids. This would mean de-soldering the power connector (XT60) and moving it underneath. It is a through hole PCB so this should be possible. This would move the CG down in the quad. Then the Receiver could be moved to the top plate instead of underneath. I would change the power connector to a deans or a EC3 connector.

So overall a nice Quad that is easy to set up and get running. No soldering for those that don’t want that challenge. If bought with the Camera system then you can go FPV without any soldering necessary. And you should be able to have it flying within a few hours!

But it is going to stay in the starter class until RC Timer makes parts available!