Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

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Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby NickVDallas » 2017-Nov-Tue-12-Nov

My Printrbot worked like a champ for a couple of months and now it's a toss of the dice whether it will finish a print or not. It will randomly stop in the middle of a print and start flashing the red LEDs. I could use some help troubleshooting this issue.

Machine: Simple Metal Pro with heated bed upgrade
Print method: Cura 3.0.4 tethered via USB

Things I've tried:
1. Upgraded computer memory. There was a post that stated that if the resources on the computer get overwhelmed then it can cause the printer to stop. I upgraded the memory and ran a print with the system monitor visible. No discernible event occurred on the PC prior to the stoppage.

2. Fan to cool Printerbot and power supply. A poster suggested that issues such as mine could be caused by some control board component overheating. I placed a desk fan blowing on the machine and powersupply. While not as good as direct cooling on the board, it did keep the Printerbot's case from warming up and the power supply fan never bothered to kick on, so it did cool somewhat. One print ran fine and then the next had stoppage.

Is there a way that I can inspect what gcode command was running at the time of stoppage? That way I could see if it's a particular bit of code that fails.

Are the red flashing LEDs telling me something specific or just that we've entered an error state?

Any other suggestions appreciated. Thank you for your help.
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Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

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Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby RetireeJay » 2017-Nov-Tue-12-Nov

Look at the log file on your computer. It may be that you will see an error message such as a temperature fault. Or maybe not.

If there is a wire to your thermistor that's become fatigued and is on the verge of total failure, you can see intermittent temperature faults (going to a very low temperature). Such faults will shut off the printer.

Also, keep an eye on the reported temperature. If you have a fatigued wire supplying power to a heater, the heater temperature may start to drop. When the board senses that it no longer has control of heater temperature, after a certain period of time, it will shut down.

Both of these shutdown scenarios are for your protection.

Wires develop wire fatigue where they are bent back and forth sharply at a specific point. The wire can look OK to the eye, because the exterior insulation is fine, but the copper wire inside is breaking apart. It's best to try to arrange wire supports so that no wire ever gets repeatedly bent back and forth at a point; spread the bending out over the longest distance possible. Cable chain is used for this purpose; you can print cable chain components yourself; there are threads mentioning it in this forum.
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Printrbot Plus operational January 2013
Brass threaded rods (5/16" X 18) & nuts for Z axis
GT2 belts & pulleys
Cable chain to reduce probability of fatigue failure in wires
E3D V5 Hot End, 0.4mm nozzle, also 0.8 and 0.25 in use occasionally
PB fan mount + 40mm fan -- using printed mount adapter, not the E3D supplied fan
Injection molded extruder gears
Optical Z "endstop" (custom designed and built)
Have used many pounds of T-Glase filament. Now also doing some work with Ninjaflex SemiFlex
Print on glass with Scotch Craft Stick or other glue stick
"My next printer is..." Prusa i3 MK3
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Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby NickVDallas » 2017-Nov-Tue-14-Nov

Thank you for your suggestions, RetireeJay. Can you perchance direct me where to find the log file on my computer? Perhaps the name of what I'm looking for? I'm quite sure that I can dig for it and find it eventually but if you actually know what I'm looking for it would be a great help.

I'm completely good with the system shutting down before burning down my house - that's why I didn't buy a cheap Chinese POS. I've not noticed any odd temperature readings indicated on the Cura Monitor. Does this get written to a log file as well by any chance?

As a former electrical engineer I'm well familiar with metal fatigue and bend radii. Printrbot looks to have done a good job on this with, but of course you never can tell until you spend three weeks chasing down an intermittent fault. Are there any particular culprits that these machines tend to fatigue out?

Thanks again RetireeJay. You've already probably saved me hours of work.
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Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby RetireeJay » 2017-Nov-Tue-16-Nov

EDIT: I'm an old fogey. It didn't occur to me that your Simple Pro is one of those newfangled units that don't use a Rev F Printrboard and Marlin firmware. I have absolutely no knowledge of how to do debugging on the Rev G boards with their cloud-based software. I'm sure Repetier won't work.

I have always used Repetier to do my printing, and Repetier displays a log on-screen while it is running, plus saves a log of the current session on disk (which is re-initialized every time you start up Repetier).

I just spent half an hour getting Cura configured to run my last small print, and as far as I can tell it doesn't store a log file, nor even display the g-code dialog on-screen while printing. Cura is developed by Ultimaker primarily for Ultimaker users, and I guess that they normally carry the G-code to their printer on an SD card so logging wouldn't make sense.

Ugh! Repetier is SO much better!!!! Even if you don't open the log file, if the printer hangs you can see the last commands that went to the printer and any error messages that came back from the printer at the bottom of the Repetier screen.
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Printrbot Plus operational January 2013
Brass threaded rods (5/16" X 18) & nuts for Z axis
GT2 belts & pulleys
Cable chain to reduce probability of fatigue failure in wires
E3D V5 Hot End, 0.4mm nozzle, also 0.8 and 0.25 in use occasionally
PB fan mount + 40mm fan -- using printed mount adapter, not the E3D supplied fan
Injection molded extruder gears
Optical Z "endstop" (custom designed and built)
Have used many pounds of T-Glase filament. Now also doing some work with Ninjaflex SemiFlex
Print on glass with Scotch Craft Stick or other glue stick
"My next printer is..." Prusa i3 MK3
User avatar
RetireeJay
My next printer is...
 
Posts: 4944
Joined: 2013-Jan-Wed-13-Jan
Location: Greenville, SC
Reputation: 496

Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby IB3D » 2017-Nov-Tue-17-Nov

As a pre-purchase question I ask on the reddit forum last month if one could print on the Simple Pro with Cura 14.12.1 as that's what I use for my Simple Metal occasionally with an anemic Atom N450 processor Netbook, I got two resounding confirmations that it is possible. That version along with 15.X.X still contained an onscreen data log if one selects the Pronterface UI under File>Preferences>Print Window. 15.X.X had improvements that proved too much for my pitiful Netbook. If those confirmations were correct, perhaps you might try one of those versions to determine if your printer still shuts down. If you do try either and have success, please post the results back here as I have a Simple Pro on order. Thx
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Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby NickVDallas » 2017-Dec-Thu-20-Dec

So the 'bot still isn't printing, but the symptoms have changed. Now, instead of stopping at some random point in the print, all prints stop after about 5 to 7 seconds (counting verbally, not stop-watched). At this point I decided to replace some hardware and see if that fixed the issue.

I replaced the original hot end with a new one fresh from the factory. Certainly overkill, but I wanted to get the printer back up and running and I don't mind having spares around. I suspected the cables may have gotten damaged when I removed the hot end previously to swap nozzles as a result of a partial plug. No joy though. It's not anything with the hotend hardware.

I checked the connectors as well. All wires seem to be well seated in their connectors. (I did not have a voltmeter to do a real check though.)

I've read that fan issues can cause the machine to stop. Which fan exactly are people talking about, do you know?

I've not had any luck finding a log file. I may just try to run the machine with Repetier and see what happens.

Thanks again.
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Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby NickVDallas » 2018-Mar-Sun-20-Mar

So I got the 'bot up and running again, and it's been running like a champ for the past month or so. The issue was that there was an intermittent break in the thermistor wires from the heated bed. Big thanks to Printrbot support that worked with me extensively to track down the issue. It took the following steps to diagnose:

1. I had to use Octoprint to print. Or more specifically, I needed the log file it generates. This enabled me to see what happened just before the printer crashed. If I remember correctly, the controller was polling the bed to see what temperature it was and got a reply that was way off from the setting. It then fired up the heater to increase the temperature. Then it would read the temperature a second time and throw a fault because the heat bed was not heating as quickly as expected. This is good. It keeps the heat bed from burning down one's house.
Hint: On a PC, you may need to run things in administrator mode in order to access the USB ports.

2. Under Printrbot support's directions, I cut the thermistor wires close (but not too close) to the plug for the controller board, and close (but not too close) to the heater. I then spliced in some new wires (a bit longer to allow for less flexing as the bed moved back and forth. Once done, I ran a bunch of different prints and they all worked fine.
Hint: Lookup a Lineman splice or Western Union splice to see an excellent way to splice wires together.
Hint: If you're going to insulate your splice, put your heat shrink tubing on the wires before you splice them. This is a classic amateur's mistake that I, and my PhD engineer father have both made even though we know better. You'll do it to. We all do.

Thanks again to all who contributed.
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Re: Simple Metal Pro stops mid print, red LEDs flashing

Postby cbxbiker61 » 2018-Mar-Mon-01-Mar

Yes, it's a lot more comforting to know that your printer will shutdown in the event of run-away heater control. It makes you sleep better. I don't know when those checks were put in place, but the earlier Marlin firmwares didn't have them which is a good reason not to run those old firmwares.
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