MP Mini Delta Advance!

So, I got my wife a MonoPrice Mini Delta 3D printer years ago, when she expressed an interest in learning to do 3D printing. Turned out she wasn’t so interested after a while, so I figured I’d try put the thing to use. However, I was pretty daunted by the problems with the original firmware, and with the explanations of how to do bed leveling and get quality prints out of it. I did print off some low poly dinosaurs for our son, and game pieces for a friend. Here are a few of the things I printed: far from everything, just what I had handy in a single folder of images:

… but then there was a clog, and even after unclogging it, I found myself annoyed by the fact I couldn’t get the bed leveling and proper calibration done. Off and on, I fiddled briefly and gave up.

Things got better over time. For one thing, some alternate firmware became available! Someone named Demitrios V. (a.k.a. aegean-odyssey) forked the Marlin firmware and made some adjustments to make it work better for this specific model of printer, and once I got the hang of it, this system of calibration helped me out a lot. There were a few speedbumps along the way: I didn’t quite understand the auto-calibration process at first, and also learned that because my model is a very early one (as in, I backed the original production on IndieGoGo), there’s some alternate steps I have to follow when using the auto-calibration codes. (Which is to say, anytime I make any hardware adjustments.)

I also was getting some warnings about things overheating or underheating—but it turns out that was just an issue somehow related to the start code in my slicer overriding the stored calibration settings. 

Now, though? Things seem to be working pretty well. There’s some small upgrades I am looking to do—I need to print the bed clip upgrades, and want to add some legs to the bottom of the printer, as well. I also have a magnetic build surface I need to add to it, though I’m sort of waiting till the old disposable sticky-backed build surface I’m using now just gives out (or until there’s enough stuff accreted on it that I can’t remove and I just decide to junk it). 

My current printing project is a Halloween item for my son: megawillbot’s Halloween Pumpkin Spider Transformer. The (admittedly ugly) feature image for this post is actually the pumpkin slices for that Pumpkin Spider, in the process of being printed. (I only had red and white PLA, not orange, but it’s being painted anyway.) 

I guess I’ll update when the thing is fully printed, assembled, and painted—probably with a few images, one at each stage along the way. (I probably won’t bother snapping an image when I experiment with smoothing some bits using my Dremel tool, but I will report back about how it goes. I know from experience that the thing needs to run slow or it’ll melt the PLA and then bad things happen, but maybe I’ll be able to get it to work well this time…)

I don’t have a lot of time to sink into this, but it’s nice to have the machine functional again. My son’s very into Pokemon at the moment, and there are a lot of little Pokémon figures that people have shared on Thingiverse, so I’ll probably print off those occasionally for him for now. 

I did also back a few Kickstarters for 3D printable STLs, and the one I’m likeliest to try print up and paint within the next year or so is the Hexton Hills map tiles STL set. I’d like to try run a West Marches-styled game with a map slowly taking shape as players explore it; I figure having a good pile of tiles ready to go would be nice when the day comes. (I was thinking earlier today maybe “The Waste Marches” would work: a sort of postapocalyptic take on the West Marches style, that is. In any case, a pretty set of hexmap tiles would be fun to print, and the Hexton Hills tiles are also set up for decent printing in PLA. (And if there’s a place I can go to paint them, and it’s not too busy… so much the better.)

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