Stratasys 3D-Printer Update.

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Billy

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May 9, 2011, 12:26:45 PM5/9/11
to London Hackspace

It's been a few weeks since this arrived at the space.

Thought i'd give a quick update before asking for help.

It was Harry Eakin that arranged for us to have the printer via the
Mechanical Engineering Department from Imperial College. If you see
him, say thanks and please buy him a drink.

The professor from Imperial that helped us out is Harminder Flora.
He's very friendly and knows his stuff when it comes to analogue and
digital animation. He's worth having a chat with if you're interested
in those topics. He's been invited down a couple of times, though,
he's pretty busy until the end of term.

Samthetechie and i opened up the machine, ran our way through the
service manual, and Sam soldered up a USB cable, so we could connect
it up more easily, rather than using the original serial port
connection.

It works fine. All of the service manual tests run properly.

Here's where we hit the next problem.

The machine was supplied as is. It didn't need too much cleaning to
get basic functionality. We did NOT get the software to run it though.

Stratasys were asking for at least a grand for a site license for the
software to run the printer. The miore i spoke to them, the more i got
the impresion, they really wanted us to dump the printer and buy one
of their shiny new printers.

I chased around to a variety of sources to get the software, but had
no joy. This is unfortunate as while the printer is functional, there
is no conversion software to translate from STL file format to the SML
file format that this printer uses.

We do have a copy of the Asymtek Control Language reference manuals.
However this would mean writing a conversion filter, which is
something i have no idea how to do. It'll probably be a project on the
scale of designing the G-Code filters that the makerbot uses. This
filter will also only be applicable to our machine.

I'm of the opinion that our energy would be better used, rebuilding
the machine using Open-Source components, whether it's Makerbot or
Reprap based. I've learned a fair amount about 3D printers doing this,
but i'm hitting the limits of my knowledge and skill.

The chassis, the heating system, and the power system are all
functional. The motors are working. and the control boards and the
extruders are also working. How we could use them effectively in a re-
build, i don't know.

There are at least 4-5 people at the hackspace working on Repraps and
other 3D printers. They'd be the best people to work out what to do
next.

Please shout on this thread for your availability, and we can meet up
to start re-fitting this thing. I look forward to learning more about
this.

And thanks again to Harry for giving us this new toy to play with...





Tim Hutt

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May 9, 2011, 12:49:28 PM5/9/11
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On 9 May 2011 17:26, Billy <bi...@billycomputersmith.com> wrote:
> We do have a copy of the Asymtek Control Language reference manuals.
> However this would mean writing a conversion filter, which is
> something i have no idea how to do. It'll probably be a project on the
> scale of designing the G-Code filters that the makerbot uses. This
> filter will also only be applicable to our machine.

Is it this:?

http://www.nordson.com/en-us/divisions/asymtek/documents/manuals/76_cs02_01_acl_manual.pdf

Because if so, then writing software to drive that would be much
easier than rebuilding the whole thing. The only additional
information we'd need is this: The ACL manual only talks about generic
'digital outputs' so we'd need to know which ones correspond to the
heater and extruder.

Since the protocol is text-based, you could have a go at manually
making the motors move using hyperterminal or similar.

Tim

Billy

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May 9, 2011, 1:21:27 PM5/9/11
to London Hackspace

On May 9, 5:49 pm, Tim Hutt <tdh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 9 May 2011 17:26, Billy <bi...@billycomputersmith.com> wrote:
>
> > We do have a copy of the Asymtek Control Language reference manuals.
> > However this would mean writing a conversion filter, which is
> > something i have no idea how to do. It'll probably be a project on the
> > scale of designing the G-Code filters that the makerbot uses. This
> > filter will also only be applicable to our machine.
>
> Is it this:?
>
> http://www.nordson.com/en-us/divisions/asymtek/documents/manuals/76_c...
>
> Because if so, then writing software to drive that would be much
> easier than rebuilding the whole thing.

Yes. But the Asymtek boards only have around 128Kb of ram, so we'd
need to stream the data. We'd also have to create the filter to assign
all the honeycombing internal to the models. All this already exists
in the form of STL to G-Code conversion.

Also, it would only be suitable for OUR machine. Any work on the Open-
Source versions would benefit everybody.

> The only additional
> information we'd need is this: The ACL manual only talks about generic
> 'digital outputs' so we'd need to know which ones correspond to the
> heater and extruder.
>
> Since the protocol is text-based, you could have a go at manually
> making the motors move using hyperterminal or similar.
>

That's what Samthetechie and I did when running the tests. We were
able to get a serial terminal talking to it. Is how we got the
servicing test running, as well as using the machines control panel
controls.

> Tim


Adrian Godwin

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May 9, 2011, 1:22:57 PM5/9/11
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It would be crazy IMHO to change the mechanical systems or even the
motion controllers unless they're completely useless. Doing
significantly better than what's there would take a lot of time, money
or both, and probably rather better mechanical engineering facilities
than we've got right now.

I'd say choose the most convenient interface - either the links to the
individual motor driver boards or, if it's documented well enough, the
top level controller and adapt the makerbot software in the first
instance. If that doesn't make good enough use of it, do something
else.

I'd be interested in being part of a group to do this, whether writing
software or reverse-engineering the hardware further.

What are the other DIY stratasys users doing ? If they're running
stock software they may be able to sniff the serial line and tell us
what the auxiliary controls are (if it's not obvious fro the wiring).

-adrian

Tim Storey

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May 9, 2011, 1:34:25 PM5/9/11
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I would also be interested in getting involved in this project. Sunday and Monday evenings are usually good for me but I'll be in tomorrow evening if anyone's around to talk about it further...

t

Martin Dittus

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May 9, 2011, 2:04:38 PM5/9/11
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Just a thought -- did you talk to a sales/support guy, or an engineer? The latter may be more willing to help.

m.

Adrian Godwin

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May 9, 2011, 3:04:44 PM5/9/11
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phil jones

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May 9, 2011, 5:26:29 PM5/9/11
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Worth having a reverse engineering / hackday for getting some software
up and running for this? (Like the lasercutter reverse engineering
day)

phil

Tim Storey

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May 9, 2011, 7:27:24 PM5/9/11
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lets just pull the manual to bits and rewrite the serial i/o

Sci

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May 9, 2011, 8:03:00 PM5/9/11
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-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

On 09/05/2011 18:22, Adrian Godwin wrote:

> What are the other DIY stratasys users doing ? If they're running
> stock software they may be able to sniff the serial line and tell us
> what the auxiliary controls are (if it's not obvious fro the wiring).

THIS.
A the guy over at http://3d4u.org is already as far as digging out the
data from the EEPROMs *and* has the original software.
http://3d4u.org/MyFDM/
He's getting very nice prints from it.

While I'm all for trying out new things, and dislike the idea of just
carbon-copying other peoples projects off the internet, the machine
itself is a rare and valuable resource that shouldn't be wasted by
starting over from scratch and possibly ruining the advantages of the
machine.

Let's build on the shoulders of giants in this case. Let's dig up all
prior-art on hacking/modding these and actually talk to the people who
did it.

~ Sci
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Dave Ingram

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May 10, 2011, 2:20:13 AM5/10/11
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On 09/05/11 18:34, Tim Storey wrote:
I would also be interested in getting involved in this project. Sunday and Monday evenings are usually good for me but I'll be in tomorrow evening if anyone's around to talk about it further...
I would love to help, but I have way too many demands on my time already :-(


D
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