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Getting Started with OctoPrint

Getting Started with OctoPrint

OctoPrint is a web-based control interface for your 3D printer that gives you more control over your 3D prints. This guide covers how to set up OctoPi on a Raspberry Pi step-by-step.

 

(Source: octoprint.org)

 

Why use OctoPrint?

3D printing has an ever-growing global community that is constantly refining and pushing the boundaries of stock technology and standard printing practices. One of the greatest benefits of being part of such a large and dedicated base is that open source projects aiming at improving the efficiency, accessibility, and functionality of 3D printers are always being developed.

OctoPrint is one of the most well-known of these open source projects. Published by Gina Häußge, OctoPrint is a flexible and easy-to-use 3D print controller that is outfitted with a simple interface and a massive library of plug-ins. This makes the program accessible to anyone who is new to upgrading their printer and means that it is customizable for nearly any setup.

Here are just a few key things this program makes available to hobbyists:

  • View a webcam feed in-browser
  • Wirelessly upload G-code files from your computer to your 3D printer
  • Control 3D printer functions including directly moving the X-, Y-, and Z-axes and forcing extrusion
  • Remotely monitor print temperature and settings
  • Slice models 

Most 3D printers require that files are uploaded via an SD slot or USB port to provide instructions to the machine. This requires that the user inserts the storage drive into their computer, uploads the G-code, and inserts the drive into their 3D printer for each print. For users who do not use external drives, the printer must be tethered to the computer. Either way, each print requires direct user input in the workspace.

Enter OctoPrint: With remote control and model management, hobbyists can manage long prints or start on their next project without having to spend the time stuck to their computers. OctoPrint’s Plugin Manager interface brings even more functionality to the hands of users, including smartphone monitoring.

What is required to use OctoPrint?

To get started with OctoPrint, the following materials are needed:

Raspberry Pi

While any computer board can technically run OctoPrint, both the program’s community and most hobbyists strongly recommend using the Raspberry Pi (specifically models 3B, 3B+, or 4B). Our article on the Raspberry Pi covers why this single board computer is widely recommended for 3D printing projects and details how to get started.

Even if they can be setup, unsupported boards are likely to cause performance issues and negatively affect the 3D printing process.

Power adapter for the Pi

According to the OctoPrint website, all Pi models require a 5.1 V power supply, but the power supply connection and required current varies for each model. Note that a voltage rating under the recommended value can cause performance issues.

SD card

Depending on the Pi model you use, you will need either a standard SD or microSD card, along with an SD adapter depending on your computer setup. If you plan to queue and manage large number of prints using OctoPrint, an 8 GB card should be sufficient. If you plan to make time-lapses or don’t want to worry about storage management, a 16 GB or 32 GB card is recommended.

USB cable

A USB cable is required to tether the Raspberry Pi to your 3D printer. Check the specs for the specific Pi model you have—some models use different USB types.

Before getting started, check that your 3D printer is compatible with OctoPrint.

Flash the OctoPi Image

Most users recommend running OctoPrint by booting your Raspberry Pi with the OctoPi image. Whether you’re on Windows, MacOS, or Linux, there are a variety of flash tools available. We like Etcher and Raspberry Pi Imager due to their ease of use and compatibility with various systems.

If you are using the Raspberry Pi Imager, follow these steps:

  1. Insert your SD card into your computer or connect it using an adapter.
  2. Open the Raspberry Pi Imager and select “Operating Systems” > “Choose OS.”
  3. Select “Other specific purpose OS” > “OctoPi”.
  4. In the main window, select “Choose Storage” and choose your SD card.
  5. Press “Write” to download and install the OctoPrint image.

If you are using Etcher, follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of OctoPi from the GitHub repository.
  2. Unzip the image. Check that you obtained the correct file, which should end with “.img”.
  3. Insert your SD card into your computer or adapter.
  4. Open Etcher, select your SD card, select the OctoPi image, and press “Flash.”

After the installation and verification is complete, you’re ready to setup OctoPrint.

Set up the network

Now that the OctoPi image is installed, it’s time to set up the Pi’s internet connection.

If your flash tool ejected the SD card after installation, be sure to re-insert it into your computer before trying to setup the network.

  1. Open your SD card’s directory (typically named “boot”). 
  2. Find the file named “octopi-wpa-supplicant.txt.”
  3. Open a plain text editor. Notepad for Windows, TextEdit for MacOS, Atom, or VSCode are widely used.
  1. In the first network block, remove the first ‘#’ from the four lines.
  2. Type in the Wi-Fi network’s name in the “ssid” line and the password in the “psk” line without moving the quotation marks.
    • To allow OctoPrint to connect to multiple networks, simply copy and paste the network block (four lines) and input the information for any additional networks.
  3. Near the end of the file, enter your country codeThe stock information is from the UK, so don’t change this number if you’re in the UK. If not, enter a ‘#’ in front of the UK code and remove the ‘#’ in front of the code for your country.
  4. Save the file and safely eject the SD card.

Although the network setup process is straightforward, little things can always go wrong. Be sure to check out the official OctoPrint Wi-Fi setup FAQ for troubleshooting information.

Secure communications

The Raspberry Pi has a preset username and password for SSH access, which allows users to log into remote systems securely. We recommend changing these credentials to ensure that no one else can access your machine, particularly if you share a workspace with anyone else.

First, boot up the Pi and connect to it via secure shell, or SSH.

  1. Insert your SD card into the Pi. If your model requires a Wi-Fi adapter, make sure it’s connected via USB port.
  2. Connect the Pi to power.
  3. Open CMD (Windows) or Terminal (macOS) and run “ssh pi@octopi.local” without quotation marks (or replace “octopi.local” with the IP address assigned by your router to the Raspberry Pi).
  4. If you see the message “Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?” then type “yes” without quotation marks and hit Enter.
  5. Type in the default password for the Pi (raspberry).Hit Enter.

After logging into the Pi, change your credentials:

  1. Run sudo raspi-config. It should ask for the default password once more.
  2. The first option should be “Change User Password.” Hit Enter.
  3. Enter your new password when prompted.

Now, your OctoPrint setup is protected. Use this new password every time you want to access your Pi via SSH.

Connect the Pi to a 3D Printer

There’s one last thing required before you start using OctoPrint with your 3D printer: connecting the Pi.

  1. Disconnect the Pi from its power supply.
  2. Connect the Pi to your 3D printer via USB cable.
  3. Power up the Pi and your 3D printer.
  4. Connect a computer to the same network that you just used to setup the Pi.
  5. Type in “http://octopi.local” (or the IP address assigned by your router to the Pi) on any browser. This will bring up the OctoPrint interface and launch a setup wizard.
  6. Set up a username and password for OctoPrint. Note that these credentials are not the same as the username and password you set up for your Raspberry Pi.
  7. Connect the Pi to your printer by opening up the Connection panel on the left. Select “Connect” using AUTO settings. This works for most users, but you may have to try manually setting the serial port and baud rate if it doesn’t work the first time.

To initiate your first print using OctoPrint, select “Upload” in the lower left and select a sliced G-code file. Once imported, all files will populate the “Files” panel. To begin printing, click on the small printer icon.

That’s it! You’re ready to start printing with OctoPrint and customizing your setup with plug-ins.

Previous article How to Fix Under Extrusion- What Causes Under Extrusion on Your 3d Prints and How to Fix Them

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