Troubleshooting

 

Troubleshooting

Here are some of the more common problems encountered by Solidoodle owners. If you do not find a solution here, help is only an email away. Please do read the full FAQ before contacting support. You can also find more detailed information on common Solidoodle problems at the Solidoodle Official Wiki. Also, we have a large group of experienced users on both our google groups, and the soliforum.

Email us at support ‘at” solidoodle [dot} com.
update: additional troubleshooting information can be found at
wiki.solidoodle.com.
Before contacting support, you may want to try the calibration tutorials at http://wiki.solidoodle.com/solidoodle-1

Table of Contents

Pronterface won’t connect to the printer
The bottom layer of the part peels up off of the platform during a print
My Printer Carriages are getting stuck / binding to the rods
The part is very difficult to remove from the build surface
My Kapton has been scratched. What do I do?
Successive layers shift in the X or Y direction during a print
Instructions for Adjusting the Stepper Motor Chips
The Heat is unstable – it varies a great deal instead of resting on one temperature.
The included light/fan will not turn on
X, Y or Z axis only moves in one direction
The fan appears to be broken
The printer seems to be printing off the edge of the platform.
The nozzle appears to be clogged
My Printer has been damaged in shipping


Pronterface won’t connect to the printer

  • If the printer port doesn’t appear in the “Port” menu, ensure you have the Arduino USB Drivers and Python serial library support installed properly per our guide on How to Install Software.
  • Pronterface only recognizes USB devices that are active at the time the program launches. Try closing Pronterface, unplugging your printer from the wall and USB port. Next, replug your printer into a USB port. Then, open Pronterface and select the appropriate USB port. If that works, plug your printer into a power outlet.
  • Check your baud rate in Pronterface.The baud rate should be set  to 250000.
  • Solidoodle does not support USB hubs. If you are using a USB hub, try to plug the USB cable directly in to your computer.


The bottom layer of the part peels up off of the platform during a print

  • Make sure the z-stage adjustment screw is set to print about .3mm above the build surface. For the first layer, the extruder should be slightly spreading each strand of plastic into a flat layer, not laying a thin strand of filament on top of the build surface. Try turning the z-stage adjustment screw counter-clockwise very slightly to raise or lower the nozzle on the first layer print.
  • Make sure the build platform is clean. It is recommended to clean the build surface with a small amount of dish detergent or glass cleaner. Even finger oils can prevent the first layer from sticking.
  • Make sure your build platform is level with the plane of the extruder movement. An uneven build surface can prevent the first layer from sticking on one side
  • Try printing with a raft. A raft will give the part more surface area to stick to the heated build platform.
  • It is vital that you wait for the build platform to heat to a proper temperature before you start printing. Prints on a cold surface will not properly adhere.a video example of the Z-stage calibration:

Notice that the objective is to get a good first layer. Using a pair of calipers to zone the Z-tab in to precisely .3mm wont be nearly as effective as doing a few trial and error runs.

My Printer Carriages are getting stuck / binding to the rods
This is most often due to lubrication. Apply some all purpose lithium grease to the rods and this should solve the problem. DO NOT, under any circumstances, use WD-40 as this has the potential to melt ABS plastic. In a small fraction of cases, the problem may be due to improperly tensioned belts. In this case, it is advisable that you tighten the belts on the far left and right side of the printer, via the attached screws.

We have a video for tensioning belts:

True Circle Realignment Instructions

Notice that the objective is not to get the belts tight so much as it is to get the belts even. Try following the video play for play a few times to get the feel of the the process.


The part is very difficult to remove from the build surface
This is usually caused by the extruder smashing the first layer down too hard. Try turning the z-stage adjustment screw clockwise with a small allen wrench to increase the height of the nozzle on the first layer.

Often the best way to remove stuck parts, is to wait for them to cool. Cool parts are far easier to remove from the build platform. Users who need parts, and can’t wait for them to cool should use a paint scraper, or other tool to pry the parts loose from the build surface. Keep in mind that this puts your Kapton tape at risk. It is very easy to scratch your Kapton tape removing a firmly placed part.


My Kapton has been scratched. What do I do?
You have some options! The easiest, and most effective method is to remove the current Kapton sheet (being careful not to burn yourself on the platform – patient users will turn their power off first). Second, apply a Kapton square to the build platform, making sure to avoid wrinkles, and bubbles at all costs.

A second option would be to cut some Kapton tape to repair the scratches in the original. While this may save some Kapton, we do not recommend it for all users, because it produces a rough, uneven build surface. The new Kapton should melt onto the old Kapton, and work reasonably well. Solidoodle sells 1/4″ Kapton rolls for this purpose in our online store: http://store.solidoodle.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=63&product_id=75

We stress, that it is safest to do this with the power off. If you insist on doing this with the power on, we recommend you use tweezers to apply the tape.

Exercise caution – the machine can be hot.

The following problems are more rare:

The extruder squirts out plastic intermittently
The filament drive gear may be clogged with filament dust. Here’s how it works: A toothed drive gear attached to the extruder motor feeds plastic into the hot end of the extruder. The filament may slip against the drive gear if it becomes clogged with plastic dust. The deep teeth of the drive gear are designed to accommodate some amount of shredded plastic but may clog if the plastic accumulates. This can happen if the extruder motor is run while the heater is below 210C, which can cause the drive gear to strip the filament. In this case, filament may squirt out of the nozzle intermittently, as the drive gear alternately grabs and slips against the filament. Periodically inspect the drive gear teeth for accumulating plastic. The extruder body is made of clear acrylic for easy inspection. If you notice plastic accumulating on the drive gear, remove the “swing arm thumb screw”, carefully noting the position of the three washers in relation to the spring. Then, use a toothbrush to clean the drive gear while running the extruder motor. Finally, carefully reassembly the extruder.

For reference, a properly reassembled “swing arm” looks like this:

We have discovered  that external cooling sources can prevent the printer from functioning correctly. A strong AC unit blowing directly into the Solidoodle can actually prevent the extruder from properly warming the filament. Take care that cold air isn’t being blown into the printer.


Successive layers shift in the X or Y direction during a print
This may be caused by a few things:

    • The filament spool does not rotate freely during a print, placing too much force on the motors.
    • The part is too large for the build surface and/or improperly positioned. In this case the extruder may bump into the end of the axis during a print, causing the layers to shift over.
    • The flow rate is too high, causing blobs of plastic to build up on the part, eventually causing the extruder to get caught.
    • An improperly set trimpot on a stepper motor driver. The trimpots, which control motor current, could be set too high or too low. The four stepper motor drivers (X, Y, Z and E) are located on the motherboard and can be adjusted with a small screwdriver. This is a tricky problem to diagnose, so we recommend you contact us first so we may walk you through it.If the problem happens to be the belts, use this video to realign them:

True Circle Realignment Instructions from solidoodle on Vimeo.

Here are some general guidelines:
If the current is too low: there may be no indication except layers shifting in the X or Y direction.
If the current is too high: in addition to layer shift you you may notice a slow, audible click when the printer is powered up and the motors are enabled but not moving. Gently turn the trimpot clockwise to increase current or counterclockwise to decrease current.


Instructions for Adjusting the Stepper Motor Chips
NB: As this procedure can be somewhat finicky, and because it involves the motherboard, we suggest you perform this procedure under the guidance of a support tech. Remember that the board is fragile, and can be harmed by static bursts.

The stepper motor chips can be found on your mother board. The motherboard is located on the back of the machine. The stepper motor chips are in the center of the motherboard, with screws for adjusting the trimpot. For those who are less electronically inclined, a trimpot, or Trim Potentiometer is essentially a knob that allows you to adjust the current going to a given component. In this case, the potentiometer is controlled by a small screw.

The Stepper Chip is Highlighted in Red. There is a chip for each axis.

Make sure your machine is powered up, and adjust the screws carefully. You shouldn’t ever need to turn the screw more than 1/16th of a turn.  It is vital that the screwdriver only touch the screw, and not other parts of the board. If you carelessly touch the screw driver to the board you may incur a short that ruins your board. For the stepper chip, clockwise is more power, and counterclockwise is less. Chips which do not have enough power may act unpredictably. Chips with too much power will often overshoot their intended goals.
It is almost always advantageous to use a multimeter for this procedure:

 

This is where the probes must go to adjust the stepper chip.
Notice the screw for the stepper chip below.

 


You should be using a lower calibration for your multimeter.

 


An example of a stepper chip reading.

 

An example of checking the voltage while adjusting the screw. In many cases you will be able to hold both probes in on hand, and the screw in the other.

Proper Voltages
X axis: .443
Y axis: .520
Z axis: .500
Extruder: .192


The Heat is unstable – it varies a great deal instead of resting on one temperature.

There is an easy fix for this. Do the PID auto tune operation by entering M303 190. This only works for the Nozzle heater, and not the bed. Once you have entered the command a readout similar to the following shall read out:

bias: 103 d: 103 min: 147.98 max: 152.02
Ku: 65.06 Tu: 30.67
Clasic PID
Kp: 39.04
Ki: 2.55
Kd: 149.66
Once you have these values, you may adjust the PID settings by entering the following (with your particular values.)

M301 P39.04 I2.55 D149.66

The included light/fan will not turn on
The Solidoodle‘s lights and fan are supposed to be on at all times. Because of this, a fan or LED lights not working is often indicative of a bad connection, or bad hardware. The former is far more common than the latter. Trace the leads from the LED lights to the board, and ensure that they are properly connected.
It is sometimes the case that the fan has been installed with the leads reversed. If you suspect this is the problem, reverse the leads and see if the fan roars to life.

X, Y or Z axis only moves in one direction
This is most likely due to a problem with a limit switch. First, check the wire connections at each of the limit switches. Then, check the wire connections to the motherboard. If the problem persists, unplug the limit switch from the motherboard and check the switch for proper functionality with a multimeter. If the switch is faulty contact us for a replacement.

The fan appears to be broken
First, make sure that the fan is properly seated into the motherboard. It is not uncommon for the fan to come loose during shipping. Often, erratic fan performance is associated with loose connections. If this is not the issue, make sure that the fan blades are not obstructed by loose plastic, or dust. If you decide to replace your stock fan with a new fan make sure and get a fan that works well with a 12v power supply. Fans should be strong, but be wary of fans that are too powerful, as they may cool the filament below extruding temperature.

The printer seems to be printing off the edge of the platform.
This is often the result of an improperly centered print. Not all 3D modeling programs use the same centering coordinates, and this may be the source of your dilemma. We recommend that you use an external centering program, such as ReplicatorG, for centering procedures. If you are using Repetier host, then simply use the “Center” button in the STL view. If the part appears to be centered, but is printing off center, you will need to consult the belt tensioning exorcises above to fix the problem.

The nozzle appears to be clogged
Clogged nozzles are exceedingly rare, but when they happen they can be very frustrating. The first thing to do is to see if you can clear the jam by hitting the “Extrude” button on Pronterface. In many cases, the hot filament will be able to melt the more solid clog.

However, for many of you this will not work. Here we will offer our best advice on clogs. Please be aware that clogs are a frustrating issue, and that even though we have given the best possible advice here, clogs may take a few frustrating minutes to clear.

There are basically two main types of clogs. The first appears in the PEEK plastic tube (the black plastic fitting in between your acrylic and the nozzle.), the second type of clog occurs within the nozzle.

The first clog is best solved by pushing the filament deeper into the printer, allowing it to melt in the nozzle. This can be achieved by pushing a slender screwdriver or hex wrench into the filament port.

The second clog is a bit harder to resolve. You may need to stick a needle, or other sharp implement into the extruder nozzle to break up the clog. Some have sworn by using a Cat 5 cable for this task, but it is difficult in any case.

If this fails to help, you may need to remove your extruder head and clean it. This is not recommended for novice users, and is best done under the supervision of a support representative. In this case, please contact support via support ‘at” solidoodle [dot} com.

My Printer has been damaged in shipping
Don’t worry! We may be able to help you with your broken printer. Just contact us at support ‘at” solidoodle [dot} com for assistance with your Solidoodle. We’re available seven day s a week.

You can also contact Solidoodle support  via:
  • IRC Freenode: # Solidoodle
  • or Skype: Solidoodle.