Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

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Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2013-Dec-Sun-17-Dec

Inspired by Retireejay's design here http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=89&t=5080. I couldn't get the OpenSCAD by tdeagan to work (corrupted somehow? or maybe my new version of OpenSCAD?) so I made one that's specific for the Printrbot Plus v2.1.
Apparently the rod spacing for v2.0 is different, so I created a separate version for that printer below [Edit: Now tested by REPRAP SQUAD. There are some caveats but it seems to work, and I'll probably try making some minor modifications before I'd post it on Thingiverse.]

printrbotv21_dialholder.PNG


The specific dial indicator I'm using is the inexpensive (less than $15) Harbor Freight 1" travel machinist's dial indicator. The hole for the indicator mount is 18 mm tall 7mm wide for a tight press fit. There's no cross piece necessary, it should just press fit into the holder and be solid enough without movement. If you need to really lock it down (or have a different dial indicator) print the wedge thingy from RetireeJay's original design.

I was able to get my bed level absolutely perfect with this with no guesswork involved!

Printed at 0.15 infill, 0.3mm layer height, no support structures. I've only printed this in PLA. ABS and other material would almost certainly work.

Some general instructions for use:
1) Calibrate your printrbot plus v2.1 as best as you can. I used cardstock for Z height spacing. Recommend you do this with the bed and head both warmed up (due to thermal expansion)
2) Verify your dial indicator is the same (or similar enough) to the one I used. Print the dial indicator holder and insert the dial indicator as shown.
3) Home the printrbot. Move the printer head to the center position on the X axis.
4) Move the Z axis to 20mm above home. Do this before you remove the dial indicator every time.
5) Attach the dial indicator on the left side of the rails by hooking the top piece first then swinging the lower clip into place. It should be snug with no movement.
2013-12-08 13.51.00.jpg

6) Lower the Z axis to the home position. Rotate the dial indicator bezel so the needle is at the the zero position.
2013-12-08 13.53.58.jpg

7) Manually advance the bed to the far Y position. Adjust the bed height (corner screw/nut nearest the indicator) so the dial indicator reads zero again.
8) Return the bed to the original Y position. The dial indicator should still read 0. If there's warp in your bed, you'll see it between the two points. Keep in mind the indicator is EXTREMELY accurate so a little warp/ imperfections in the Kapton tape adhesion is inevitable.)
9) Raise the Z axis 20mm, and carefully disconnect then move the dial indicator to the opposite end of the X axis. Be careful to not move the dial indicator in its holder.
10) Lower the Z axis to home position and adjust nearest bed screw until dial reads zero.
11) Manually advance the bed to the far Y position. Adjust the bed height so the dial indicator reads zero.
12) Repeat steps 5-11 as necessary for super level bed action!

Work carefully and methodically, as you won't have to do this very often (ideally, once!)
[edit: this is now up on Thingiverse too under http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:199475 ] Hope this is useful to someone!

Attached: STL file.

If you have any suggestions/ revisions let me know.
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Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby RetireeJay » 2013-Dec-Tue-11-Dec

Thanks to Printbird for his work on this.

I'd like to add a thought about Dial Indicator usage.

Printbird says to zero the dial indicator when you first touch down, and then to make all other points on the bed equal to zero. That's perfect for bed leveling.

But in my case, I am STILL :( searching for the perfect way to print nylon. One that will never allow the nylon to curl at all, even in the corners of large prints, but also one which will allow me to remove the print from the bed without damaging either the print or the bed.
As a result, I am still bouncing around among different bed setups:
- Glass with canvas glued to it (a big problem is to find the right glue!)
- Glass with muslin glued to it (a big problem is to find the right glue!)
- Glass with something else (blue painter's tape, brown paper adhesive tape...)?
- Garolite 1/8" thick (very good for adhesion - sometimes too good - but Garolite doesn't stay perfectly flat; it warps)
- Garolite 1/32" thick glued to glass or aluminum (proposed)
- Aluminum with any of the above coverings (proposed)
- Aluminum with hairspray or some kind of glue covering it

Given all of these combinations, every one of them has a slightly different z zero setting for ideal extruder-to-bed clearance.

The Dial Indicator plus easily-adjustable optical Z endstop have given me a new lease on life. I set the Dial Indicator to zero at its full extension. Then, on my machine with the current extruder nozzle, I adjust for a clearance of 0.265 inch as measured by the indicator. This repeatably gives me just the right clearance to mash the bottom layer down onto whatever I'm using without going too far and dragging the nozzle on the bed itself.
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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
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby plexus » 2013-Dec-Tue-11-Dec

Isn't the issue of edge curl related more to the shrinkage of the material as it cools? I now have a machined flat print bed and the materials all curl in the same manner as when I wasn't using as precise a surface. From what I have read, keeping the environmental heat high can help. This is why better printers are in enclosures. I don't think you can prevent some materials from curling due to shrinkage and its not really possible to keep the print surface, say 75% of the print temp and slowly ramp it down as the print progresses, unless you make up some custom heatbed hardware and software.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Tue-20-Dec

I'm printing your new bracket right now as I just got done ripping apart my whole print plate setup and rebuilt so I will post pics once it's done. Thanks for the redesign that works with v2+
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Tue-20-Dec

Sorry my pics are not great as my tablet doesn't take great ones. This is at .3 layer height and .15 infill, ambient room temp 63.3 degrees. (1st layer set at 195 and the rest at 200) during print I noticed that the hotend could only keep up at about 190-192ish during print and I'm assuming it's due to the fans and rather low ambient room temp.

It came out very good with only a small piece of stringing once on the very tip towards the end of the print. Everything fit like a glove and I can't wait to test it out and get my new bed setup perfectly configured.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2013-Dec-Tue-22-Dec

REPRAPSQUAD, great to see it came out well and that it fit your dial indicator correctly (it fit mine perfectly, but not sure how often the design of that product changes!) I simplified the original design idea to be a little more forgiving for PLA stiffness (big ol' thumb thing for the lower "clip".)

Interesting to hear about your repeatable height technique RetireeJay, I have only printed PLA so far but will be trying ABS soon (for durability and the homebuilt extruder reasons, it looks appealing.)
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Tue-23-Dec

The sad part is that when I went to mount it recently it wasn't spaced out enough for my X rods. It's way too close together. Out of curiosity what is the spacing on your x rods from outer edges of rod to rod. I'm wondering if the v2.1 is closer together. Either that or something went awry.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby RetireeJay » 2013-Dec-Wed-09-Dec

REPRAP SQUAD wrote:The sad part is that when I went to mount it recently it wasn't spaced out enough for my X rods. It's way too close together. Out of curiosity what is the spacing on your x rods from outer edges of rod to rod. I'm wondering if the v2.1 is closer together. Either that or something went awry.


The spacing on my rods is (measured) 41.83mm center-to-center. You can see that in the PDF drawing posted earlier.
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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)
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2013-Dec-Wed-14-Dec

REPRAP SQUAD wrote:The sad part is that when I went to mount it recently it wasn't spaced out enough for my X rods. It's way too close together. Out of curiosity what is the spacing on your x rods from outer edges of rod to rod. I'm wondering if the v2.1 is closer together. Either that or something went awry.


Darn! It sounds like the v2.1 must be different than v2--I'll update my posts accordingly. I don't have the measurements for the v2.1 in front of me, I'll take a look tonight.

If you make an accurate measurement of the v2.0 rod spacing I'll publish a version for the v2.0.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Wed-18-Dec

My calipers say 46.5mm from outer edge to outer edge of z rods. So Center to center would be 38.5.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2013-Dec-Thu-01-Dec

Ah. That is a good 20mm wider apart than the v2.1 and I suspect RetireeJay's original design is closer to that.

I've made the changes on my variation on his design--but not entirely sure the dial indicator probe will be long enough to reach the bed with the modification.
I've gone ahead and made a version for 8mm rods that are 47mm (edit: OK, verified the center to center is now 38.5mm), but don't have a way to test it. If you're up for it, be my guest! (Thanks for testing! See below.)

printrbotv20_dialholder.PNG


Dial indicator for Printrbot Plus v2.0 (Tested, but see below)
Printrbot v2_0_DialIndicatorHolder.STL
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Thu-09-Dec

I'll probably throw it through my machine today once I can heat up the lab
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2013-Dec-Thu-21-Dec

Has anyone had a chance to try the above version (not the v2.1 version) out on a v2.0 printrbot plus? I'll stick it on thingiverse if I can verify that it is correct.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Thu-22-Dec

I'll try and print it tomorrow and I'll post results
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby nepaholic » 2013-Dec-Fri-08-Dec

Is this compatible with a original PB?
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby RetireeJay » 2013-Dec-Fri-09-Dec

Using a digital caliper, measure the distance between your X-axis rods. You can measure "outside to outside" and then subtract the diameter of one rod to get the center-to-center distance.
There are now two versions posted, with slightly different rod spacing; maybe yours will match up. If not, you can take the design and modify it or else myself or someone else can create one with your spacing. The distance does not have to match exactly; I'm sure that at least a 0.5mm difference between the design and your actual spacing won't matter at all.
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Printrbot Plus operational January 2013
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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)
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Fri-10-Dec

If I remember correctly the pb originals spacing is very close together
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2013-Dec-Tue-13-Dec

nepaholic wrote:Is this compatible with a original PB?

No, but I believe the other designs [ReitreeJay's and perhaps others?] are. I should definitely clarify the key dimensions for this thing; I've only verified it works for the v2.1 (which differs from the v2.0)
(Not online much this time of year, sorry for being slow to reply)
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Tue-14-Dec

Printbird wrote:
nepaholic wrote:Is this compatible with a original PB?

No, but I believe the other designs are. I should definitely clarify the key dimensions for this thing; I've only verified it works for the v2.1 (which differs from the v2.0)
(Not online much this time of year, sorry for being slow to reply)


The x rod spacing on the original is very close together so it won't work. @printrbird I am going to print the v2 version you made today on another printer as I'm having issues with my plus. I'll report back with how it comes back.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Tue-19-Dec

Okay I printed version 2 for the printrbot plus and lc v2 and it fits almost perfectly. I had a few little blobs I had to sand off and I sanded a lil too much so I added a piece of cork that you see in the pic. It works great! Thanks now I'm all calibrated.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Dec-Tue-19-Dec

Oh here's the pic. I tested it out and the rectangular gauge mount hole is a little too high and I mean just a tad. I took a small file and filed a bit off and it actually lines up with where my extruder tip is. As in the dial gauge engages at the perfect z clearance height to print. I set my z axis homing switch to the dial gauge and it looks like it will work great as its exactly what my feeler gauge is gapped at. 2 birds, one stone. I finished up setting my bed and it's looking awesome. Now if I could get my Printrboard to work again, I would be in great shape.

@printrbird - thanks a bunch as you saved me a bunch of time. I would make a minor adjustment on the mountain and I mean like a mm or 2. That would give a v2 guy plenty of space to work with. If you want to put it on thingiverse. Thanks again!
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby Printbird » 2014-Jan-Fri-00-Jan

Good luck with the printrboard repairs, I will make the dimensional change you suggested before I put it up anywhere else. Thanks for testing it out, and glad it worked out for you!! Thanks to RetireeJay for the original design idea.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby redwood » 2014-Mar-Fri-17-Mar

http://www.harborfreight.com/1-inch-tra ... r-623.html

I'll probably do this mod over the weekend. I'll need to stop by Harbor Freight for the $15 dial gauge.

Anything else useful at HF for 3D printer gear? I'm going to pick up some small hand files and hex key set for the printer. I already have other electronic hand tools and digital caliper.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2014-Mar-Fri-17-Mar

redwood wrote:http://www.harborfreight.com/1-inch-travel-machinists-dial-indicator-623.html

I'll probably do this mod over the weekend. I'll need to stop by Harbor Freight for the $15 dial gauge.

Anything else useful at HF for 3D printer gear? I'm going to pick up some small hand files and hex key set for the printer. I already have other electronic hand tools and digital caliper.


It looks like you have it pretty covered. I bought a couple different kinds of small files and I use them constantly to clean up prints. FYI if you buy the files that are all metal with no apparent handle. A guy I know made nice printable handles for them on thingiverse. I usually snag wire loom to clean up wiring projects as well as shrink wrap for cabling.
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Re: Dial Indicator Bracket for Printrbot Plus v2.1

Postby YellowGTO » 2014-Mar-Sat-08-Mar

Another easy upgrade to this is to add a simple bed for the bottom part of the caliper. I just super glued mine on. If anyone is interested I can find the STL and post it up
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