Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Firmware version 1.07

A new Firmware version is available:
The Software version is still 1.04

Version 1.07 contains enhancements to the machines accuracy and the way it senses the z gap setting.
Download link:

The Firmware update process seems to work better now.

If you have problems uploading the .hex firmware file thru the web, here is the CubeX V1.07.hex file you can copy onto your local desktop and then upload it from there.
CubeX V1.07.hex


Friday, July 26, 2013

Z-gap consistency or inconsistency

The CubeX uses reed switches / sensors for the xyz homing. The switch activates thru a magnetic field (from a magnet). The z-sensor / switch is a black ~ 4mm diameter, 25mm long cylinder that sticks down vertical close to the jets back by the large single fan on the carriage.
The magnet to trigger the sensor is glued on the bottom of the print platform. The z-sensor points towards the magnet. Once the magnet with its magnetic field gets close enough to the sensor when the print platform moves up, the platform stops moving (-/+ the offset that you calibrate when setting the z-gap).

The z-sensor is positioned between the print jets and fans.
The temperature in that area can vary with the jets on or off and the fans on or off,
additionally the 6 fans (if you have a trio) can produce a different magnet field when they are on or off.
So all this "noise" could have an effect on the repeatability of the z-sensor.

Since I repositioned the z-sensor and magnet to a less "noisy" location, the z-gap has been very consistent.
The sensor repositioning kit came with the heated printbed, but you can get the z-sensor kit by itself from GRM products.
It installs easily without modifications to the current z-sensor setup. The current sensor just gets unplugged and the new sensor from the kit plugs into the connector instead.

This little modification is well worth it.

Also, make sure to check the "Print bed leveling aid" post, for easier print bed leveling.

Just as a reference, here are pictures of the location for the X and Y homing sensors:

In general, this is what I do before printing:
  1. Select the "Home" button. This will move the print jet behind the print bed so you can do step three.
  2. Make sure the jets don't have any (not even a tiny piece at the tip) of filament left stuck on them otherwise it can affect your z-gap measurement.
  3. Hit the "z-gap" menu button and check or adjust the z-gap with the up/down button.
  4. Then print. 
Note: Always "Home" before setting or checking the z-gap. This has been most consistent.

(Note: I am not affiliated with GRM products and I have to buy my stuff like everybody else, but I gladly promote companies with great products and services that make my life easier).


Friday, July 19, 2013

Filament Cartridge update

Well, the Cartridge binding issues that can cause filament flow errors etc.. might be over.
Cubify made some changes to the cartridge.

I just got a new ABS gray cartridge (Source Graphics has gray and white ABS in stock).
Because of the known possible cartridge binding issues I did not want to take a chance of getting a print failure due to cartridge / filament binding, so I opened up the new cartridge to run it on an external holder, not knowing there were recently some improvements made  to the cartridges.
The inner cardboard spool is now narrower to prevent / minimize binding. The filament is now almost wound up to the top on a new full spool since the spool is narrower. (But has the same amount of filament as before - close to 650g).
Since there is now a gap between the side of the cardboard spool and the cartridge case, you probably don't want to push filament back into the cartridge because it could go to the side of the spool and tangle.
Externally the new cartridge looks the same, so you can't tell the difference.
Not sure when the cartridge improvements got implemented, but I would assume any new cartridge you are getting now, has the improvements.
Some measurements:
The old cardboard spools were ~ 46.5 mm wide.
Then new cardboard spools are ~ 40.5mm wide. The diameter is still the same, and the rest of the cartridge looks the same.
So from the outside, you can't tell a difference.
The date on the cardboard spool inside of the new cartridge is 23-05-13. 
The Lot # of the new cartridge I got is: X12052413-1ABS-IGR (ABS Industrial Gray)
The date on one of  the old (wider) cardboard spool inside is 3-5-13.
The Lot # on one of the older cartridges is: X12050313-1ABS-WHT  (ABS White).
The date of the implementation of the cartridge improvement could be different for each color or type of Cartridge.
I put the new spool and cartridge back together and ran a 6 hour print with the new cartridge without issues. - Nice.
Anyway, hopefully the binding issues are solved.
October 2013  Update:
Well, I still have some winding and binding even with the new spool design, so if one binds once, I take the spool out of the cartridge and run externally.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cartridges and Filament flow errors

Since there have been several users including myself with filament cartridge issues, and several posts about it in the CubeX user group, I thought I should post about it here with some possible temporary help to keep printing.
This might help you to get by and use a problem cartridge.
(Attempt at own risk).
Each cartridge has a little chip at the bottom where the filament exits, that makes contact with the CubeX when the cartridge is installed. The chip contains information about what type of cartridge it is and possibly records the amount left in the cartridge.
If you have a cartridge read error,  you should check that the contacts in the CubeX and on the cartridge are clean and try to re-insert it. If that does not help try the cartridge in a different cartridge slot if you have a duo or trio. I have had only one cartridge read error and it went away when I re-inserted it a few times.      Otherwise I don't have more help on that one, except power cycling the CubeX and trying again.
If your cartridge is binding (filament won't pull out easily) and or you are getting a filament flow error you can carefully open the cartridge and run the spool externally.
(Note:   A filament flow error might not always be due to a binding cartridge.)

In some cases the filament is wound up crossed onto the spool and hanging the spool externally won't help either because it keeps tangling on the spool. (At least you can see what is going on with the spool hanging externally). In that case unwinding and rewinding up the filament on the spool is the only fix.
(Note: Be careful to not damage the chip at the bottom of the cartridge, and careful with the inner cardboard spool since it is only lightly glued together.)
Here is what I did:
This has worked great for me with the 3 cartridges I had binding issues with. One I had to glue the spool back together, but got it useable off the external hanger.

Take the cartridge out of the CubeX.
Use a exactor knife to cut the label at the cartridge seam.

To open the cartridge, start at bottom of the cartridge next to the chip. Insert a small flat screwdriver to release the clip next to the chip. Try to keep the chip in its place.
Then do the same on the clip next to it and move all the way around to open the cartridge case.

Carefully take the cardboard spool out. Handle the spool with care so it does not fall apart, since it is only lightly glued together.
Once the spool is taken out of the cartridge, make sure the chip is in its place (if the chip fell out, make sure to position and orient it correctly, otherwise it won't make contact with the CubeX) and then close up the empty cartridge (with chip in place).
Also, when removing the spool from a cartridge, make sure to write onto the spool, which cartridge it belongs to, so you don't get them mixed up if you have multiple cartridges of same color etc..
The empty cartridge can now be inserted back into the CubeX.
Inspect the spool and how the filament is wound up on it. You might have to unwind some filament, where it is bound or tangled up, and then loosely wind the filament back up on the spool.
For the cardboard spool, you need a holder with a smooth rod so the spool can rotate on it.
Here is a hanger you can print yourself (in PLA), but you also need a smooth 1/2" rod (should be very smooth / polished) with 8-32 threaded holes on each end and two 8-32 x 1/2" SHC screws and washers  and one large fender washer.

STL file for spool hanger:   Spool holder .stl file
SolidWorks file for spool hanger:  Spool holder SolidWorks file
 Or you can rig up anything similar as long as the spool has a very smooth rod to hang off and rotate on.
Take the filament end, and make sure to get a clean cut of the filament so it will feed in properly. The filament should be still round at the end after clipping it. If not, you can use a exactor knife to slightly taper the end of the filament which might help feeding it back into the guide and filament feed motor.

After prepping the filament end, you can then just feed the filament directly from the hanging spool into the filament guide in front of where you inserted the empty cartridge.

Use the cartridge replace menu. (You can leave the empty cartridge in place during the process).
Once the filament is feed thru and extruding , you are ready to go.
If you have problems feeding the filament and the motor won't pull the filament in, go into the menu with the 240C icon. There you can heat up the jet by double clicking on the TGT temperature, it will toggle between 0 C, 195C and 230C. Use 230C.  Then you can double click on the feed speed to get the motor feeding at different speeds, 8 or 12 should work.
Keep pushing the filament in, pull in and out, eventually it should go.
I had a difficulties last time at a filament change, but eventually after I re-cut the end of the filament again, it feed in ok.
After using the cartridge, I stick it in a plastic bag with the desiccant from the cartridge, till I use it again.