Monday, March 6, 2017

Fixing the Replicator heated build plate, once and for all

An email this morning made me realize this was an adventure I had completely on twitter. For those who don't follow the breakneck pace of the social media machine, I should do better commenting these things here.

On Monday, November 28th I woke up and my heated build plate, which was working fine on Saturday, wasn't heating up any more. With much trepedation I checked the likely culprit and found exactly what I feared.
This was a known problem on these old Rep1s. The thing is those last 2 pins are pushing through a lot of voltage to power the heating coil going through the build plate, more than the connector is rated for. Sometimes that connection gets loose and as a result you get burn out, charing, and the connection stops.

There are 2 known solutions to the problem. Number 1, Order a new connector that is hopefully rated for the power requirements and while you are waiting for it to arrive, clean the carbon off the connector with some steel wool. Then when the new connector arrives, open up your bot to get at the main board, remove the old connector and disconnect it from the main-board, connect the new connector, string it through your bot, close everything up, and you're good to go. This I did some time ago. It's the clean solution, but while you're waiting your Replicator is essentially bricked.

Solution 2 is a lot faster, and more than a little dirtier. It involves getting some heavy duty clippers, modify the connector, dig out the wires from the connector being careful to note which is which, slip on some shrink tubing, solder the wires directly to the connectors. Guess which one I did this time?
This solution is more permanent, commits you to the connection, but never needs to be fixed again.

Optionally, you can dig out and solder all the connectors, but that's more work for 3 connectors that will work just fine with a touch connection.

I've said before that the Rep1 is the VW of 3D printers. It will never be unfixable with off-the-shelf parts, though in the end it might be nothing but duct tape and bailing wire, or in this case, zip ties and direct solder.

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