Update-O-Rama: ReplicatorG 0034 & Replicator Firmware 5.2
Once again, like a groundhog on February 2nd, the MakerBot software crew emerges from our den of creativity to blink at the sun and tell you that summer is only a few weeks away. But, unlike our friends of the Marmota monax species, we come bearing gifts. Gifts of software, firmware and shiny new features!
ReplicatorG 0034 Released
Since we last announced a new ReplicatorG, we’ve quietly released a few intermediate versions, but for most users this jump will be from ReplicatorG 0029 direct to ReplicatorG 0034. That jump includes a lot of under-the-hood changes and a few UI and usability improvements. They include: faster two-stage warm-up for printing, new UI for the Bot Control Panel, Nozzle Offset tweaking, alternative preferences system, spelling mistake fixes, updated print anchor code, updated start and end gcode, fixed dual extrusion bugs, skeinforge 47 for The Replicator, new GCode commands, and much more.
To make our Windows and Mac friends happy, we have wrapped ReplicatorG in installers! And we’ve even made some instructions about how to use them! Sadly, our Linux users are stuck with ye-olde tar.gz installer for the moment.
After the break, we’ll tell you a little bit about some user interface changes in this new version of ReplicatorG.
Replicator Firmware 5.2 Released!
This firmware is smarter than ever! On some of our first batch of bots, the distance between the Right and Left extruder is further than expected. Replicator Firmware 5.2 includes tools to customize that setting, so your dual material prints can be more accurate than ever. To update your firmware on The Replicator, follow the instructions in the Upload New Firmware wizard found within ReplicatorG’s “Machines” menu. Make sure you choose “MakerBot Replicator (MightyBoard)” !
Two faster ‘Warmup’ steps
ReplicatorG 0034 includes a change to make theMakerBot Replicator heat faster by doing two smaller, faster heating steps. This means that when you generate new Gcode for a Replicator, you’ll now see the heating status bar twice: once while the platform is heating, and a second time while the extruders heat up. By doing this as two steps and using our power supply more efficiently, the bot actually warms up faster.
In the first warm-up, the platform heats. The LCD interface will look like the picture below. Note that the platform can take 10 minutes or longer to heat up!
In the second warm-up, the extruder heats. The interface will look like the picture below while the extruders heat up. This will go much more quickly than the platform.
If you’re heating up both extruders, you’ll see a target temperature for both — unlike the photo above, which shows The Replicator heating the right extruder and leaving the left extruder cool.
So, to recap: don’t be surprised if you see two status bars while printing after you make the upgrade to ReplicatorG 0034! Even though there are two bars, we’ve made the whole process a bit faster, by making two smaller, faster heating steps out of one much slower heating step.
We noticed that while most DualStrusion prints are good, we needed to be able to compensate for slight differences in the distance between nozzles — in both the X and Y directions. So we built a new calibration script to fix it, and added it into firmware 5.2!
And, BTW, all new Replicators will go through this process before leaving the factory.
To start the nozzle calibration script, go to The Replicator’s Utilities menu and select “Calibrate Nozzles.” You will see this screen:
The Replicator won’t start printing those lines until it’s warmed up, which might take a while.
When it does start, you’ll see it print a series of straight lines parallel to the front of the build platform, starting at the front left corner of the platform and extending back. The second series of lines will be perpendicular to these, and will start at the center of the platform and extend left.
Then the second nozzle will print a set of lines alongside each of the first two sets. All four sets will have 13 lines, with the first line being longer than the others.
When it’s done it should look something like this:
Now the LCD Interface will give you some new instructions.
If you look closely at the paired sets of lines, you’ll see that the first lines in the second set are a tiny bit in front of those in the first set, while the last lines are a tiny bit behind. Somewhere you’ll find a line from the first set and a line from the second set that match up almost perfectly; that’s what you’re looking for.
Here you’ll tell The Replicator which lines matched up best. The longer first line is line 1. The middle one is line 7, which is the default. So if, say, you’re looking at the set of lines on the left side of the platform and you decide that the line just before the middle one is the best, use The Replicator’s menu buttons to tell it that the best Y-axis line is 6. When you’ve selected a number for each axis, press the center button to finish.
The Replicator will remember these settings and carry them forward to make sure that the nozzles are aligned correctly for future DualStrusion prints.
That’s the low-down on the big changes in ReplicatorG 0034 and Firmware 5.2!