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OctoPi for Beginners

OctoPi for Beginners

OctoPi and OctoPrint are groundbreaking innovations in the 3D printing arena. If you have ever wondered about the possibility of printing remotely, then you would easily understand why. The average duration of a 3D print spans from thirty minutes to twelve hours, and that’s for the less complicated or small to medium-sized prints. Larger and more complex prints can last for a whole day or even more.

So, what happens during this period? Thirty minutes of your time is too precious to supervise and monitor a machine, let alone hours or days. But if you have nothing much to do and enjoy watching the printer do its thing, you can enjoy the view. However, as time goes by, spending hours by the printer becomes less exciting, and there will be more important things to attend to.

Also, initiating a print session from a different location from your printer is super-exciting. Are all of these possible? Yes, and that’s where the OctoPi and Octoprint come in.

OctoPi is a solution to multiple problems for 3D printers. Asides from other challenges, OctoPi and OctoPrint, make extended 3D print monitoring become a preference instead of a requirement. In addition, OctoPi and OctoPrint go together. So, we will be examining their impact on the 3D printing world.

What is OctoPi?

OctoPi is the operating system for OctoPrint, the software that communicates with the printer. OctoPi is a crucial component of the remote monitoring setup for 3D printing. This operating system works with the Raspberry Pi to facilitate the remote 3D printing process.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a small-size super-chip computer-primarily created as a learning tool for programming languages such as Python and Scratch. In addition, raspberry Pis serve as automation tools and other uses.

We can connect a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to the Raspberry Pi, which will be the brains behind the operations on the screen. The Raspberry Pi can also connect to other devices via the internet. The Raspberry Pi doesn’t work on mainstream operating systems like Windows or Mac. Instead, the Raspberry Pi works on a customized or specially-created operating system known as the Linux-Raspbian.

There are several versions of the Raspberry Pi, beginning from the earliest Pi 1 Model B to the recent Pi 3 Model B+, Pi 3 Model A+, Pi 4 Model A, Pi 4 Model B, and most recently, the Pi 400.

In terms of 3D printing, the Raspberry Pi communicates the print instructions to the printer.

What is OctoPrint?

OctoPrint is a software that makes remote initiation and monitoring of 3D printing possible. The OctoPrint software is free and open-source. With the OctoPrint setup, you don’t have to encounter your printer before you can tell it what to print. In addition, you can load a new print from as far away as another country-virtually anywhere in the globe.

Invented by German Gina Häußge in 2012, OctoPrint has garnered a wide following, and a built a robust online community.

How Does OctoPrint Work?

The OctoPrint software could run on either a personal computer or a Raspberry Pi. For the Raspberry Pi option, here’s how it works.

After generating the print commands (GCode) through your slicer software, as usual, the next step will be to download these instructions to a GCode file. Your computer will then send this file wirelessly to the Raspberry Pi.

Without the OctoPrint, you would have connected an SD Card to your computer to download the GCode. Then, after downloading the GCode, you would have then inserted the SD Card into the printer to send the commands. With the OctoPrint, there is no need to go through this hassle anymore.

Your Raspberry Pi will connect to your printer through a USB cord through which the OctoPi will send these instructions to your printer. You must first set up your OctoPi on your Raspberry Pi (details later).

Features and Benefits of Using OctoPrint

For OctoPrint to win over the hearts of so many 3D print enthusiasts, the software must be solving big problems and delivering fantastic benefits. So let’s go over the features and advantages of the software and discover the reason for its growing popularity.

1.      It’s Free and Open Source

The innovation in the OctoPrint technology has all it takes to succeed with a fee attached. However, OctoPrints is accessible at no charge. The software also comes with the blessing of being open source. This means that users have unlimited and unrestricted access to its source code.

With the source code at your disposal, you can tweak its functionality to suit your preferences. Also, typical of many open-source software, OctoPrint has a community for online support-a robust one at that.

2.      Remote and Wireless Printing

The benefit of the OctoPrint Software is the freedom it gives you to print from anywhere. With OctoPrint, you no longer have to be present to initiate a print. Every print-initiating procedure, such as sending GCodes to an SD Card and loading the GCode to the printer, is eliminated.

The prospect of initiating a print from outside your home and coming to meet your new creation is super-amazing. This means you get to save a lot of time and enjoy more freedom. 

Wherever you are, the OctoPrint software can send the GCode to the Raspberry Pi and begin a print session. You only need to install the software on the Raspberry Pi, and you can print remotely through a PC or smartphone anytime you want.

What about controls? Also possible! From the comfort of your remote location, you can adjust your printer's settings to get the results you desire. Likewise, you can regulate the hot end and extruder through your computer or smartphone.

3.      Access Control and Multiple Printer Control

How about the possibility of printing with multiple machines on the same Raspberry Pi? Exciting, right? It’s possible too. You can connect all the webcams and watch all the machines simultaneously from wherever you are.

4.      Remote Monitoring

You can monitor the progress of your print with a webcam. The webcam is connected to the Raspberry Pi and will relay live video to you. So you can be in a different city and still monitor your print like you were in the same room.

Along with the monitoring ability comes the emergency stop option. Courtesy plug-ins, there is now a red “stop” button. You hit this button to stop the machine if you notice that your print isn’t exactly going on as planned.

Apart from using a webcam, you can follow up on your printer’s activity using the OctoPrint’s GCode viewer feature. This feature lets you check on your printer’s progress by showing you the layer number and printer’s nozzle position.

5.      Unlimited Plug-In Options

One of the most notable benefits of the OctoPrint is the army of plug-ins available for it. Your OctoPrint can do what you want and become what you want when installing the appropriate plug-in. Popular OctoPrint plug-ins include;

  • Bed level visualizer

Which works with your bed leveling sensor to give you a view of your machine’s bed leveling. This knowledge will show you what corrections you should make to achieve a level bed.

  • Spaghetti detective

An improvement to the Anywhere plug-in, the spaghetti detective is now called Obico. This plug-in, named after the spaghetti-shaped strands of filament that result when a print fails, is an alert system for failed prints.

  • Pushover

The Pushover plug-in adds a notification feature. For example, pushover notifies you when there is a challenge with your print or when your printer has finished its job.

  • Heater timeout

The heater timeout helps you regulate your printer’s power use to save on energy and prevent a possible fire outbreak. In addition, since your printer will remain connected to electricity throughout the print session, the heater timeout will at least ensure that the extruder goes off intermittently. This way, the temperature of your printer remains in check, and the risk of a fire outbreak is minimized.

Setting up OctoPrint on the Raspberry Pi

To get the best performance, you should use a Raspberry Pi 3, 3+, or four models for OctoPrint. Here’s what you need;

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Raspberry Pi camera
  • Raspberry Pi camera extension cable
  • Short Micro USB to USB cable
  • Raspberry Pi power supply
  • MicroSD card and,
  • MicroSD card reader

Here’s how the setup should go.

  • Download and install the Raspberry Pi Imager on your PC
  • Select “Other Specific Purpose OS,” “3D Printing”, then “OctoPi” (stable version). These steps will take you to the OctoPi image under “Choose OS.”
  • Select the gear icon to open advanced options, then set your country SSID and password.
  • Change the system password without altering the “pi” username. Afterward, click “save.”
  • Connect the SD card to your computer through the card reader and then install the image on the card. Next, connect the Raspberry Pi accessories and boot it up. Make sure not to allow a “format” on the SD card.
  • Now you can view OctoPrint from your browser via www. octopi.local

Conclusion

OctoPi opens the door to two of the most exciting 3D printing discoveries-OctoPrint and Raspberry Pi. Arming yourself with these products will allow you experience freedom and ease like never before. If remote printing is your thing, you should consider joining the OctoPi/OctoPrint/Raspberry community to enter the new realm of 3D printing.

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