General Printrboard Troubleshooting

"3D printing is hard." -Brook Drumm, CEO/Founder of Printrbot

You don't have to be a new user to relate to Brook's sentiment.  The thing that can be tricky about troubleshooting is that many behaviors have more than one possible cause.  After a couple of searches online, one comes across a handful of forum comments blaming electronics (Printrboard) for a variety of issues, e.g. connection trouble, strange motor movements, hot end failing to heat, etc.  While a faulty Printrbot is certainly not outside the realm of possibility, it is far less common than you might think.

 If you suspect your Printrboard is "dead", try the following troubleshooting steps.  You may be relieved to find that the problem lies elsewhere.

 

1. Reflash the Firmware: Before doing anything else, flash your board.

Click here to access the official "Printrbot blessed" firmware documentation, including downloads and instructions.

2. Check Settings: M501

Connect your Printrbot and enter M501 into the command line in Cura/Pronterface.  Review your M501 settings against the Printrbot M501 Settings Chart.  Click here for a pdf on pulling up your M501 settings.

These settings are important, as they pertain to things like build volume, motor pot trim, and steps/mm.  For example, if the motor pot trim (M907) is set improperly, your motors will behave as if the wiring is fatigued (jittering/stuttering).  If the build volume (M211) is set incorrectly, your bed may grind when your bot executes the 3-point probe before the print begins because the printer will think that the bed is larger than it actually is.

3. Review Wiring Connections: Check and Re-check

Click here to review the Printrboard wiring diagram specific to your model.  Make sure that all of your wiring is connected properly.  Don't just glance at the diagrams.  Inspect each connection one-by-one.  Pay special attention to the orientation of the motor wiring colors.  If your motor wiring is plugged in backwards, your motors will turn the wrong way.  

Heated bed users, make sure that your hot end thermistor is connected to "EXTRUDER" and that your bed thermistor is connected to "T-BED".

Really take your time on this step.  Overlooking a misplaced wire is an easy mistake to make.

4. Connect and Test: Manual Commands

Connect to your software (Cura/Pronterface UI) via USB and open the command window (Cura/File/Print).  Verify each movement individually and monitor the behavior of the bot as you go through the checklist below.  Checking these commands one-by-one will help you isolate any mechanical issues (loose belts/loose set screw/etc).  

It is much easier to see what is going on with your bot by monitoring individual commands rather than trying to catch issues while a print is running.  See below, the recommended order for checking commands. 

  • Raise Z axis (~10mm)
  • Home X axis
  • Home Y axis
  • Home Z axis
  • Bring hot end to temp (~210C)
  • Raise heated bed temp if applicable. (~80C)
  • Fan ON/OFF (The Pronterface UI in Cura does not have a Fan ON/OFF button, but you can send the command "M106" to activate your fan and "M107" to turn the fan back off.)
  • Extrude (~10mm)
  • Advance X axis (~10mm)
  • Advance Y axis (~10mm)

 

5. Auto-Start Print: Pre-Sliced Gcode

After verifying that the computer, software, electronics and hardware are all communicating and working together properly, try printing via SD card. Using pre-sliced gcode is a way to find out if there is something screwy with the gcode that your software is generating.  Software configuration can make a 3D printer look like there is something wrong with the machine when the printer is simply doing what it has been told to do in the gcode.  For instance, if your non-print travel movements are set at 200mm/s and your print speed is 15mm/s, the bot will appear to be moving erradically while a print is running.

Use this pre-sliced gcode as a test to further verify that the electronics and hardware are working together properly.  *NOTE: Your Auto-Leveling Probe must be calibrated before performing this test.  

  • Click here to download the 3mm box gcode.
  • Load the gcode onto a microSD card (4GB or smaller) and make sure that the file is titled "auto0.g".  "auto0.gcode" or "auto0.g.gcode" will not work properly
  • Insert the microSD card into your Printrbot BEFORE powering ON.
  • Power ON your Printrbot.
  • Click here for more info on printing with an SD card.

5b. Re-Configure: No SD card?  No problem.

If you do not have a microSD card lying around and you are not experiencing any communication/connection issues, you can start fresh by going back through the Configuration/Machine Wizard in Cura.  Follow the steps below.

  • Open Machine Settings - Machine/Machine Settings

 

  • Remove Machine

 

  • Add new machine

 

  • Configuration Wizard

 

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