Arduino controlled motorized 3D printer filament dispenser

I have made and used for months the filament roll support based on the mechanics illustrated in the mentioned project but some filament issues have not yet been solved by this tool.

When it is used by 3D printers filament – usually almost robust – is pulled by the extruder while the roll is placed nearby free to rotate. I have observed meaningful differences in the material behaviour depending on the usage level, based on 1Kg filament rolls. A new filament spool flows almost well but the force applied by the extruder should be relatively relevant. The extruder motor (a Nema17 stepper motor) is not damaged but the two gears of the extruder collect particles of the plastic material due the applied force; this requires extruder maintenance after a while to avoid clogging of the filament in the hot end. These particles tends to detach and mix with the clean filament while it is feeding the hot end nozzle increasing clogging problems and a general more frequent nozzle wear; this occurs more frequently with 0.3 mm diameter nozzles.

When the filament roll is half used and more its spirals become smaller and in some environmental conditions the filament tend to break too frequently.

Long print jobs become less reliable; for example I can’t leave the printer working alone for an entire night without controlling it. Thus the idea to make a controlled filament feeder figured a precise series of issues to solve.

  • Make the automated engine almost simple and easy to reproduce
  • Reduce as much as possible the number of non-3D printable components to make it
  • Reduce as much as possible the stress applied to the extruder while printing
  • Use a low cost and easy to program micro controller board
  • Use the weight load sensor to keep under control che filament consumption and filament feeding
  • Manage the environmental noise interfering with the filament weight measures

Also using a single 3D printer we frequently manage more filament rolls (different colors) not all at the same level depending on the print job we are doing. Using an Arduino and the TLE94112EL shield motor controller may result the most reliable and cheaper solution: the board can control up to 6 different brushed motors with simple commands. This Infineon board has its own half bridge motor controller including three different frequencies PWM channels: 80, 100 and 200 Hz. In practice this means running motors sending commands from Arduino keeping the MCU free to other tasks while motors are running.

See more on Element14:

3D Printer Filament Automatic Dispenser for Arduino – part 1 Design and Hardware

3D Printer Filament Automatic Dispenser for Arduino – part 2 Connection and Software

I sell on Tindie

Coming Soon MicroDrone project: MicroCamera arm test

The microcamera case should be connected to the microdrone arm support, the white component in the slideshow below. The two-parts arm-support has the advantage to be oriented and locked in different azimuth positions between 0 DEG (ground alignment) and about 60 DEG.

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Limitations

Microdrone test support (1200px) 3A well known limitation is that, due the very reduced size of the microdrone (about 14×14 cm) it is also reduced its payload weight so it is was excluded a priori any sort of automated camera movement control. Instead the stabilization of the video shooting is reached with rubber supports.

Another problem found during tests is setting the camera to the most vertical position (60-70 DEG). Due the unbalanced weight between the lenses body and the rest of the circuit when the camera is in a quasi-vertical position the drone tend to be unbalanced on the front side. This problem can be solved in two ways: adding a variable-length back queue to the drone body with the advantage of right balance and more stability or – a more complex solution – moving the camera second-half arm support almost in the same position of the lenses body.

Microdrone test support (1200px) 7The drone legs should be changed as the camera body increase the total drone height. A temporary solution, as shown in the images, has been found adopting commercial plastic hose clamps. These will be replaced by a carbon-fiber flexible and very lightweight part under construction.

 

Coming Soon MicroDrone project: MicroCamera prototype

It has been completed a few days ago the microcamera prototype ultra-lightweight plastic container and support. It will be mounted on the drone and other remote camera control supports.

The tests done with the support connected to a microdrone got very good results. See the next “MicroDrone project” posts for more images and updates.

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The support has been milled in super compact plastic foam lightweight and robust. The entire prototyping procedure needs about a couple of hours. The images below shows the machine at work.

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The prototype CAD design while machining

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Milling the prototype case

Coming Soon Microdrone project: first fly experiment

Just a short video of the first fly experiment.

Imagine a microdrone with a near-to 180 Deg FPV microcamera shooting 30fps in Full HD at an absolutely incredible price. Coming soon.

MicroDrone 01