Programming the Aus3D Z-Probe (Part 1)

One of the more interesting components in the Mark2 3D Printer is the Z probe, an IR probe designed to precisely measure the height of the bed for automatic bed-levelling.

This is the first product that I’ve been shipping that I’ve needed to program and test, and I’ve had some fun along the way trying to make the process faster.

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RAMPS Fan Expansion Board

One of the problems I’ve encountered in the past when using RAMPS electronics to control a dual-extruder printer is the lack of sufficient fan support. Dual extruder setups can require a few fans, usually one controlled fan (for cooling the print) and one or two always-on fans for cooling the hotends. Adding a second hotend takes up the 12V MOSFET usually used for running a controlled fan, leaving no option but to solder directly to the 12V lines on the board – which removes any control over these fans.

Don't look! Spoilers!
Don’t look! Spoilers!

If your printer has an always-on power supply (like a regular LED-style power supply as found on most printers) then these fans are going to be running 24-7 unless you manually switch off the power. I had to deal with this for a few days while testing the MK2 printer, and I decided to play around with the problem and see what solutions there are.

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Aus3D MK2 Printer Development (Part 1)

I’ve been selling Prusa Mendel i3 kits on Aus3D for a while now. The kits I’ve been selling so far (which I’ll refer to as MK1 kits from here onwards), are fairly decent kits. I didn’t design them, they were designed and manufactured in China – I’ve been buying them in and making a few improvements before shipping them as the Aus3D Prusa Mendel i3 kit. I ended up reverse-engineering CAD files for the frame so I could print / cut replacement parts locally, and I’ve had these files available on GitHub for a while now.

The MK1 Design. Certainly different from most i3s!
The MK1 Design. Certainly different from most i3s!

As a business strategy, this approach makes sense. China is good at making stuff, and these kits work pretty well – better than most other Chinese printer kits I’ve tried. As someone trying to run a business, I’ve been happy to attach my business’s name to them.

As an engineer, I know we can be shipping a much better kit.

Continue reading Aus3D MK2 Printer Development (Part 1)