Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Monday, February 3, 2014

3D Printer - Comments on 'The Kit'

This is the final in a series of posts describing my adventures with 3D printing, and specifically, with a Prusa I3 RepRap Kit.   The first of the series is here.

There were some goods, bads, and uglies associated with this kit (as a review by Greg discusses on the 3D Printer Czar website). 

First, the ugly, NO INSTRUCTIONS!   I know that this is being worked on but kits should not be shipped without instructions unless there is a clear understanding by the buyer that this is the case.   Even then there would be some things that would have helped mitigate frustration.  First, provide some high quality photos of an assembled printer taken from multiple angles!  Second, provide some links to the most relevant variants of this particular printer where instructions do exist!

Next, the bad.   As Greg stated in his review there were some missing parts in my kit and the wrench that was provided was one size too small to actually fit anything!   In my case at least some of the missing parts might be due to a customs inspection as the printed parts bag was open and parts had spilled from it.  

Finally, the good.   This kit really does provide excellent quality parts for what I think is the best variant of all the Prusa printers and at a very reasonable price.   I could not find a better price for the Prusa I3 with Ramps (though I did find a comparable price with a Sanguinololu board.   I had also priced out the sourcing of parts outside of a complete kit and the end price would have been pretty close to the cost of this kit.   I would also say that the support of my build from Han in Hong Kong was pretty good considering that he is probably pretty stressed out by having to answer questions that documentation would circumvent! 

The bottom line...if documentation is available for this kit buying one is a no brainer.   Good quality parts, a great variant of the Prusa I3, and literally everything you need in one nicely packed box (save a region specific power cord).   The kit even comes with the glass for the heated bed which many kits do not. 

The above is what I wrote as a product review on the 3D Printer Czar's website.   Here are some more observations from my build:
  1. The smooth rods for the z axis are 1cm too long.  I had to drill a hole in the upper supports for the rod to protrude...otherwise it would have blocked the servo by the same amount.
  2. Unless I am completely off my rocker some of the areas where you think that a 10mm bolt should work...there is not enough room (as in the bolt does not protrude from the other side).  I have been forced to use the longer 16s and of course ran out of them and used some of the 25s which of course I then ran out of them.   I am getting some more bolts but I think it is another thing for you to look at. 
  3. The tie-ties provided don't fit any of the holes where they are intended to go.   I had smaller tie-ties that I was able to use but even these did not fit on the x-axis carriage.   I used bare wire here and wrapped it tightly to secure it.  I guess, in all these cases, I could have expanded the slots but I found the alternative tie-ties and wire easier.
  4. I was missing the parts that connect the z-axis servos to the threaded rod that drives motion on that axis.  I was able to do a work around using shrink wrap tubing and some cable ties that worked (and continues to work).
  5. The kit comes with the fan for the extruder but not the printed part that would allow you to mount the fan!   Not a problem as I printed one but a good note for the instructions...or just include that part!
  6. Pointing the buyer to a version of a firmware configuration file that matches this printer would be a nice idea!
Finally, even when the documentation is done, I would STRONGLY recommend that the Czar add a forum feature to their website.   All support requests should be channeled through that medium.  That way the questions that I ask may not need to be answered again as another user might see the answer.   In addition, while active in the build process, users might actually help themselves!  There are plenty of free alternatives out there that could meet this need.


  1. I ordered the same Prusa i3 kit as you from 3D Printer Czar. I may have even ordered it on the same day as you. Unfortunately, my experience has been much worse. It's interesting that we ordered the same kit on the same day, but what we each received was different. Your kit included a fan; mine did not. My wrench was the right size; yours was not. My smooth Z rods were both about 1 cm too long, so I had to drill the same holes. I also didn't receive the Z couplers and a considerable amount of the nuts, bolts, and washers were not included. Which extruder assembly did you receive? Their site lists Greg's extruder, but I received Wade's extruder.

    They finally sent me a PDF of their documentation, but it included things like the leveling springs that mine did not. There were a few other things that were different, but I don't remember them off the top of my head.

    I noticed in the picture of your RAMPS board, you have a red/black wire pair going into the D9 (middle blue) screw terminal. According to the diagram I found for the schematics (http://reprap.org/mediawiki/images/6/6d/Rampswire14.svg), that terminal is used for a 2nd extruder. What did you put in there? Is that for the fan?

    I think I'm at the point where I try the firmware and calibration, but I can't get Marlin to work at all. It complains about no response from the hot end thermistor. In my experience, thermistors are pretty straightforward with no polarity to worry about, but these thermistors look very similar to diodes, so maybe I'm wrong. It's been a while since I've tested it (I've been waiting on a package from 3D Printer Czar with the missing components), so maybe I didn't check for polarity. The Sprinter firmware does allow me to control motor movements on all 3 axes, but sometimes they just randomly stop working, but that could still be a calibration setting. I can't seem to force the hot end or heat bed to heat up, though.

    Can you share your configuration file?

    Thank you for the posts. The pictures are great and it gives me hope of one day getting this thing to print something...anything!


  2. Great Content, I have appreciate with getting lot of good and reliable information with your post .3D printing is creating its mark because it reshapes development and producing and turns people, tiny businesses and company departments into “makers.” CSC’s new report, 3D Printing and therefore the way forward for producing, explores the opportunities of 3D printing services and provides ten queries firms ought to be asking as they prepare to hitch this trend. Click here Best 3D printer manufacturer company in China.