While messing around with the Hipstreet tablet I dropped it and cracked the screen. I bought a Unbranded (that is the brand name) 10″ tablet. It had the same Intel Z3537F quad core processor and 2GB main memory. It was also a 32GB storage. It also was upgraded to Win10. I then tried the OTG cable with the power injector. A no go. One end worked for Data, the other for power. It would not work as data and power no matter what I tried.
Next I tried to get a data connection through the keyboard connector. No luck there. It needs a pull down to activate the data port. No firm information on the resistance value. It could be 10K or 100K ohm. After checking the keyboard connector I could no longer charge the Tablet. If it wasn’t for bad luck I would have no luck at all.
So I opened the tablet up. I cut the battery leads. I soldered a small Molex connector into the board. I reduced the LM2596 to 4.1V. Now the tablet is directly powered. Now I had power and Data both. The power system is not optimal. I would like to have the battery in the system as a surge source. I have had some power crashes.
The Control Center works well, but it can take a while for the date and time to correct themselves. The 10″ screen is not as clear as the 8″ was. And the scaling is different. Overall I liked the Hipstreet 8″ tablet better. It was faster (better SSD I believe) and the single cable was a cleaner installation. Size wise the smaller tablet was better overall.
I found it is nice to use a Bluetooth keyboard in conjunction with the tablet. Makes it much easier to change print settings. I setup a public account within my local network. This allows me to send files from my other computers to be used on the tablet. The one problem is the inability to use a USB stick in the tablets for file transfers.
What to look for in a control center Tablet:
Separate power and USB ports. Much easier to setup to operate with the printer
2GB main memory. Allows you to open a web browser while operating the printer.
Decent quality screen.
An extra USB port.
Bluetooth keyboard or Keyboard connector.
In the past I have written a couple of articles about my Printrbot Play with Control Center. And not a lot has changed on this.
Since the Last CURA has advanced to the point that it’s newest version is 64 bit only. this rules out it’s use on a a cheaper tablet, most tablets. So I have been looking at future options. The fact is true Tablets are on the wane. in their place has risen the 2 in 1. These are Laptops that have a keyboard that folds all the way back so that they can be used as a tablet. On the good side many of them have processors better than an Atom based CPU to choose from. On the bad is most of them use a laptop power supply at 19.5V.
The Atom based Tablets mostly used 5V power in from a cell phone charger. So getting 5V from 12V is relatively easy. You can get 19.5 volts from 12V but it is more expensive and larger in size. Some printers are 24V so this would not be a problem on those.
Since these 2 in 1’s come with a keyboard there is not the problem of trying to find a TRUE Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for ease of use. And they are lightweight so there is no reason they cannot be mounted to the side of a printer. They are found in sizes from 11″ to 17″.
The primary one I have been looking at is the Dell 11″ 3168 2 in 1. It has a Celeron N3060 Dual Core processor, 4 GB memory and 32GB SSD, 64 bit Windows 10. It has a lot of connection options which are nice compared to Tablets. It has 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, a MicroSD card slot. So much better connection options than the tablet. You have enough USB ports that you can use a cheaper mouse with dongle. and you can use a USB3.0 stick to backup your files or transfer files to the 2 in 1.
New this costs about $249, outlet $203. Considering the 64 bit operating the 32GB SSD might be a bit on the small size. But it has an upgradeable drive bay as they can also be found with a 500GB HDD. A SSD is preferred for use as a control center because of vibration from the 3D printer. I think a 64GB SSD drive would be large enough. But the Micro SD card could be used for that extra storage to keep the price down.
There are two ways to power this from the printer. 1. Tie it into the 110V to the printer. when the printer gets plugged in so does the 2 in 1.
A Boost converter to raise the voltage from 12V to 19.5V.
I do not consider running off battery a viable option. Even with screen blanking and such active you could easily end up with a print that is longer than your battery life. You cannot let the system power down as it is streaming the code to the printer.
Overall I am contemplating the move to a newer control center computer. Newer software is all going to 64bit. The added memory will really help with programs like Sketchup. The CPU is not a whole lot more powerful than the Atom in the tablet.
I recently let my Nephew borrow the Play with tablet. He did not have any experience with a 3D printer. He found it very nice to have the right programs and drivers already waiting rather than have to install all of that on his computer, then try to figure it all out. He was printing on it in minutes and had a very good experience. He now has an upgraded play his dad gave him. Then he found out what it takes to get everything working right versus it is setup and ready to go. He also agrees that having a computer integrated into a 3D printer would help bring them into the mainstream. He liked that he could use the printers tablet to get into Thingiverse then download and be printing very quickly. Currently he sneaker nets a SD card to the printer which he runs in his wash room due to noise.
Good printing everyone!
Today I installed Matter Control 1.4 on the 3D Printer Tablet. It seems to work well on the Intel Atom Z3537G Processor. I played around with settings to get it sized to my Printrbot Play. Took a little bit of searching to find how to set it up. Matter Control Supports the Printrbot Simple Metal but does not show the Play. You just need to set the bed size and makes sure it is not looking for a heated bed.
I used the Windows version on my 10″ Win10 “Unbranded” Tablet. I did run into one problem. When I used the maximize/restore down (upper right window controls) The mouse and the touchscreen were not clicking in the proper place. I had to tap or click below the buttons or check boxes to get the proper response. When maximized everything was fine, except pert of the screen was under the Task bar. Hiding the Task bar would solve this. If you were using the Tablet just for 3D Printing I do not see where this would be an issue.
So now an unfair comparison between MatterControl T10 at $299 or my $76 Tablet;
The Matter Hackers MatterControl Touch;
It is a touch enabled, WiFi enabled Tablet with no battery. It supports mail alerts. Web control and other feature.
GPU: Quad Core 4×1.4GHz
Android 4.4 KitKat
Internal Storage: 8GB
External Storage: SD Card
Web Control: Coming soon
Controller Does Not Contain Battery – Must Remain Plugged In
Reading through their advertising I could not tell whether it can “browse” the internet for content, such as Thingiverse or YouMagine. It does not support remote printing, yet, and sending files from other devices like smart phones or tablets. You can install a web based android print client.
Overall it looks like a pretty good solution if you have no computer skills of your own. If you know your way around a computer you can do this for a lot less!
My Tablet specs “Unbranded” Tablet:
Quad Core 1.33Ghz (up to 1.8Ghz) Intel Atom CPU Z3537F
Internal Storage 32GB
External Storage Micro SD card up to 64GB
WiFi and Bluetooth
Controller Does Not Contain Battery – Must Remain Plugged In (I disconnected the battery and power directly, this might change)
I think mine compares pretty nicely. If I want “web control” I could install Octoprint or Repetier server. And I have more than just MatterControl to use to print with. Plus the ability to Draw and change objects with Sketchup.
I think I came out pretty good so far. More work to do still!