This is a guest post by Austin H., a high school student in Arizona who is building his first 3D printer. We are going to follow along with him on this journey. This is his second blog post. You can find his first blog post in the series here.
Here in Austin's own words:
Similar to any developer, engineer or programmer, the most time spent building a project with an extraneous makeup is in the research. Throughout my entire experience compensating, assessing and revising the current state of an almost complete 3D printer, there always arose a time to rethink the solution, research every angle and devise a new attack plan.
In the toils and construction of my printer, a major problem arose in the depths of the night where vague unexplained digital instructions the printer came with explained a previous version of the printer I had bought. There instructions were not even updated! In response to several of my problems concerning many aspects of the printer, I began composing emails to the company. After getting a response past midnight, I realized the email only asked for more info rather than providing helpful suggestions. In patience I replied in great detail my problem. Having purchased it from overseas, the communication and understanding between support and myself ended in ambiguity. Without the answer to my question concerning the management and position of the wires, I ended up guessing the location of several wires. Apprehensive and doubtfully, I soldered together different assortments of wire, negligent to the eventual outcome.
Finally, all the components were assembled, and after running several checks, I decided to turn it on. I plugged it in, and slowly but surely flipped the switch. Within about a second, several wires started smoking, and a horrible smell overtook the room. After immediately turning it off and unplugging it, I checked everything. The main board seemed to be alright, and all the motor and fan wires were also in good condition. Although, the wire that connected the power supply and the main board was charred, along with several wires connecting to the hot end. This could have easily been the end of my journey, as I realized that the power supply setting was set at 230 volts instead of 115 volts as it should be in the United States. After purchasing new wire from a local Lowes store, I replaced any damaged areas. Once again (with the switch set at 115 volts), I flipped the switch only to see more wire burn up. This was devastating, as $500 and my entire summer’s work was all on the line. After taking a break, I began heavy research, investigating the causes of burnt wire, and the solutions to it. Eventually, I came across a situation where wire had burnt up due to a shortage. I investigated every inch of my printer, to find that the only wires burning up were those connected to the hot end.
The extruder thermistor and heating wires were touching, resulting in a shortage. After snipping away, tediously replacing these wires once again, I plugged the printer back in and with an uncertain finger, I pushed the switch down. An alleviating sound unveiled the dynamism of fans, the smell of burning rubber no longer took the air, as a small green light lit the back end of the power supply. I had found the problem, and conquered it!
Knowledge can always be found in the search and journey to a resolution. Most of the time, education comes within the process and experience. My printer successfully turns on, and the hot end heats up to my satisfaction. Although there is much left to fix (such as a unresponsive heat bed), this experience showed me the power of perseverance through a problem. As I continue on this exciting, diverse journey building a 3d printer, I have found that I can always learn even in the midst of failure.