Z-height and Flashing issues...

Troubleshooting talk for software

Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Sat-18-Mar

I have an early Metal Plus, with an F4 board. Over time I've had to reflash the firmware to get it to work - it always seemed like whenever I didn't print to it for some time (> month), I could no longer connect to the board. Reflashing always revived it.

Recently I had been iterating on a design, printer had been working for several print jobs. On the last job I went to print, while it was printing, it stopped moving up in the z-azxis. After poking around a bit, I found that it no longer would home - although my sensor was behaving properly (ie, if I brought a piece of metal near, its light would turn on). M119 shows valid states as well. I figured it was time again to flash the board, as I don't think I have enough hours on it for there to be a short.

Well, Printrbot's OS X flashing utility will not flash the board, so I opened VMWare and ran my Windows VM. I can get the computer to see the board, but it errors out when flashing the firmware:

Blank check fail at 0x00000

I'm borrowing a AVR flasher to see if I can do a lower level flash.

Any other things I can try? I checked the PB store, they are out of stock of the F6 but have some refurb Rev 5's in stock. I do NOT want to go to a G2. We have a Simple "Pro" at work, and while our other two PB's are solid, I've given up on trying to tinker with the "Pro". I've tried USB printing, cloud printing, and and kind of dismayed at the machine. It prints wonderfully, when it prints. But, its compatibility mode has some major quirks, and ultimately - for the time being - is gathering dust.
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Z-height and Flashing issues...

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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby RetireeJay » 2018-Mar-Sat-19-Mar

The F5 is a fine board. I agree completely about not going to Rev G.

It's odd that you've had to re-flash so often. That's not normal. In over 5 years of owning my Plus, starting with a Rev D and now with an F5, I can only remember one time when I experienced a firmware failure - and that was the "hard" failure that drove me from Rev D to Rev F5. I've re-flashed occasionally for functionality upgrades, but not because the 'bot failed to respond to my computer. (I'm on a Windows machine, not a Mac; I do recall that there were some compatibility issues with Macs and Rev D boards having to do with the Y endstop. Maybe it helps to start up the printer with the Y endstop triggered (or not triggered, as the case may be).
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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
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Sat-22-Mar

I guess I don't mind getting an F5, but would prefer a new board over refurb.

The reflashing issue has bugged me for a while, but I didn't have any recourse except to buy a new board. Several times since I've had it (bought new), it failed to be detected by my mac, S3D, etc... and the only way I was able to get it to respond was to flash it - the only explanation I have is that the program memory was getting corrupted somehow.

Another thing (which I'll hopefully be able to debug soon) is that Flip acts like it is erasing my board, but then when it goes to check it fails. Something is preventing an erasure. At the moment the correct program is on the board, but it doesn't home properly.
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Mon-19-Mar

Status update...

I looked over the stored settings closely - the Z axis max travel was set to 0.

So I changed that value and the printer homed properly and I was able to print something.

At this point I'm not going to try to do a complete reflash. I'll see if I can eke out a few more prints.
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Wed-20-Mar

After a day it lost the max Z travel value. I'm on the fence -

Do I try to flash it using Atmel studio?

Do I try to replace the chip with a reflow station? Never done this before, butt here's one at work I can use.
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby RetireeJay » 2018-Mar-Wed-21-Mar

Before you try re-flashing or replacing a component, I'd suggest checking very carefully for both the starting and ending instructions generated by your slicer. It may be that there's an instruction in there that's messing with your Z max setting. Whatever is causing the change, it's not truly random. Zero is just one possible number among millions. So this points to some programmatic change, not a "lightning bolt" scrambling the bits.

Use M503 to see what's in active memory. You might check that before and after every print and see if you can figure out what's making it change. Study all the cases in the M500 - M503 series of commands at viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2763 to see if you can restore correct values either from EEPROM (M501) or from the "Factory Default" (M502). But before doing a "Factory Default" go ahead and log your current values (M503) and print them or save them to a file (cut-and-paste from the log file) so you can restore other parts of your good configuration besides the Z max value.
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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: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby Mooselake » 2018-Mar-Fri-12-Mar

The blank check failure at 0 doesn't look good, as in either the flash is trashed, or the chip is set to prevent reprogramming. Since it almost functions I'd discount the first option and look to see if something's preventing reprogramming. This is, by the way, why flashing is the last step in diagnosing problems, not the first like many urban legends promote.

Before you start doing low level flashes read up on AVR fuse bits; perhaps one is set to prevent you from altering the program memory. I believe you can read and/or change (very, very cautiously after a lot of research) these with an AVRISP or similar.

Or maybe you'll luck out and find that your startup or end gcode needs some work.

Kirk
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Tue-21-Mar

Sorry for missing your replies!

Here's where things stand:

1) It isn't the starting G-code - I use the same profile / g-code start/stop at work on the same printer (same S3D factory file too).

2) I'll look through the M500 codes and compare.

3) I also spent some time reading up on fuse bits - it sounds like the chip is probably set to prevent reprogramming, but I haven't hooked it up to a programmer so I don't know for certain.

Here's the frustrating part - I have two power supplies - the original one supplied by Printrbot (cheap 6A? wall wart) and a new Mean Well LRS-350-12. Ever since I switched to the Mean Well (after my last post), I've not lost my Z-max. I checked the voltage on the wall wart, and it was 12V+, but perhaps a component inside was failing? We've had quite a few "working" power bricks cause intermittent issues with cameras and microcontrollers - usually swapping the brick fixes things and further inspection reveals a blown cap.
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby RetireeJay » 2018-Mar-Wed-07-Mar

Interesting. Glad you got it fixed!

I have no idea why a flaky power supply would cause such a specific glitch repeatedly, but apparently it can. It's possible that a dip in voltage that lasts only a few milliseconds could cause discernible effects, so an ordinary meter might never show the problem; you'd need an oscilloscope to catch it. PB seems to always be in the habit of shipping power supplies that just barely meet the required needs on paper, but we all know that some power supplies are specified rather generously compared to their actual performance in real life situations (incoming line voltage, ambient temperature, transient loads, etc all at their "worst").
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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: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Fri-10-Mar

I've always been *slightly* skeptical of the old power supply, but couldn't justify spending $$ on a good one (I stayed away from the $17 meanwell knockoff's) until I had a chance to install the heated bed.

I'll update this thread if the situation changes, but hopefully it will continue to work (knock on PLA woodfill).
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby Mooselake » 2018-Mar-Fri-11-Mar

Like RJ says PB has been known to ship marginal power supplies since the original Kickstarter bots (the infamous Diablotek, aka demonTek, for example). These are best used as supports for your spool unrolling mechanism rather than powering your Printrbot (thought I'd posted a picture of mine, but can't find it).

Rather than repurposing an ATX PC supply I suggest you use one of the ubiquitious 12V 29A (also sold as 30A) switching supplies often marketed as "LED supplies". Meanwell has one on Amazon for around $40, or the mystery brand variants are in the $20-$30US range, probably cheaper on eBay and the usual Chinese Megamarts with greatly extended shipping times over Prime. You'll need to print or otherwise make a cover for the exposed power terminals (I used one from Thingiverse, along with a Dremel assisted IEC connector) to avoid the risk of lighting up your eyeballs, not to mention that whole potential vfib thing. These supplies will let you adjust their output for 12.0V under full load which will add a boost to your heated bed's warmup time.

Kirk

Edit: I see we were cross-typing. I've used both the knockoffs and Meanwell's with success, but the MW has better margins and regulation. IMHO worth the extra couple sawbucks on a thousand dollar printer (and by the time you're done they're almost all a thousand bucks by the time you're done...)
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby ururk » 2018-Mar-Sat-08-Mar

Yeah, I ended up going with the LRS-350-12. I also bought an "expensive" IEC connector from Newark ($16?) as I didn't trust the $7 connectors on Amazon. This power supply is almost small enough to fit inside the metal plus - if the base had more z-height, I think it would fit. I'm totally fine buying cheap electronic boards (pressutre, temp sensors) but when it comes to power I get a bit more cautious.

I ended up designing my own case because the connector's screws were in a different position than available designs.

I don't want to think of what I dumped into the printer, on top of the original cost :D
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Re: Z-height and Flashing issues...

Postby Mooselake » 2018-Apr-Sun-11-Apr

ururk wrote: when it comes to power I get a bit more cautious.

Lighting up your eyeballs from the inside, or house hunting after the big fire, isn't a whole lotta fun. Most of the time you get away with it (sort of like letting those new fangled cars with the driving assistants do the driving), but when it doesn't work out...

ururk wrote:I don't want to think of what I dumped into the printer, on top of the original cost :D

That was just the down payment :D It's like machine tools, the tooling and add-ons cost at least as much as the machine. I don't want to know (or have Mrs. Moose find out :o ) how much went for all the toys here. The sad part is that, like all the previous owner's tools here, it'll all go for pennies in the estate sale (likely to be resold on eBay...) some day in the hopefully very distant future. Unless you let your Tesla drive for you, that is

Kirk
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