For the last month we’ve been printing with the laptop attached to the printer, what we found pretty inconvenient because it takes a lot of space on our table.
Some weeks ago, we’ve heard about Octoprint, a web based print server ready to plug in a Raspberry Pi with any distro that has an http server installed. It looks like a great idea, but we found something even better: Octopi.
Octopi is a distro based in Raspbian with the octoprint server setted up, basically plug and play. So we took one of the Pis that we have around and, I have to say, intalling it couldn’t be more simple!
As I said, Octopi is plug and play so you just need to download the image and install it in your SD card. Init the Raspberry pi, and you will see a tiny set up screen where you can expand the filesystem, overclock the pi, enable the pi camera… All of this steps are optional so you can click on finish if you want, but I recomend at least expanding the filesystem so it uses the whole space in your SD card.
After that we’re done. Just plug your network cable and access it via http://octopi.local
Octoprint has a number of interesting options. In the Temperature section (which is also what you’ll see when you login) you can see the graph that shows the temperature of the heated bed and the hot end in real time. You can upload your gcode files (you must slice the model in your computer) and store it in the pi or the SD card (if your printer has one). From there, you can just click on the print icon and it will start heating up the machine and print it
From the Control tab you can just do what it sais: move the printer in the X, Y and Z axis as well as swich on/off fans and extrude/retract. Just like you do with your normal software.
A nice feature that you can see in the screenshot: if you have a webcam attached to the pi you can see the live stream from it from there, so you have always a good view of what’s going on with your print from your main computer. You can even record a timelapse of your prints with it and you’ll get a nice video like this one:
The GCode Viewer tab shows you what is being printed in real time. You can also navigate through the layers and see some other info like the speed at which each part is printed (shown with different colors in the grid).
Finally, the Terminal Tab let you send and recive commands from your printer. You can also see the status of the machine if it’s in stand by mode.
The last tab, Timelapse, let you configure the timelapse settings and shows you all the captured video files. I didn’t do any screenshot of it, as it’s super tiny configuration menu as well as pretty straight forward.
For the moment we’re quite happy with the Octopi server, specially with the timelapse function. We’ve plugged a Logitech webcam while we wait for our Raspberry pi camera module and it works really good.
We’ll explain in other post how we hooked up the pi in the back of the printer and used the power supply of the printer to also power the pi throught the gpio ports.