What Is Needed for OctoPrint?
As a software used for managing and monitoring your 3D printer, OctoPrint surely makes a 3D printer enthusiast or creative’s life easier. Therefore, knowing what is needed for OctoPrint is the first step in fully maximizing its use.
With its ability to make the controlling process of 3D printers wireless and easy, OctoPrint is quite the coveted software. But for you to make use of it, you must first have the knowledge of what is needed for OctoPrint to get started. To help you with the right information about what is needed for OctoPrint, this article provides a step-by-step guide.
What is OctoPrint?
Firstly, let us get a comprehensive look at what OctoPrint is all about before proceeding with its setup! Created in 2012 by Gina Häußge initially as a support for her first 3D printer, OctoPrint is an open-source 3D printer controller application.
The development of Octoprint was initially supported financially by the Spanish smartphone manufacturer, BQ, until April 2016 when they withdrew their support. Eventually, the support was continued by Patreon whose campaign now receives over $6,600 per month from over 2200 backers as of February 2021.
The first version of OctoPrint to be released and compatible with Python 3 was the OctoPrint version 1.4.0 on March 4, 2020, and by then most of the OctoPrint plug-ins were already compatible with Python 3.
Unfortunately, there was an occurrence in September 2018 that led OctoPrint being available to the internet without a login due to thousands of users misconfiguring their OctoPrint interface. This could have led to the loss of data and privacy as well as literal fires from poorly designed 3D printer safety controls. However, solutions have been provided to allow worldwide access to a printer e.g. AstroPrint, Polar Cloud, 3DprinterOS, and the OctoPrint Anywhere plug-in or standard VPN installations.
Furthermore, the OctoPrint open source software offers a wide range of benefits, one of which is providing a web interface for connected printers. As a user of OctoPrint, you are able to schedule prints and even control your printer remotely.
What can OctoPrint Do?
With OctoPrint comes amazing features that are no doubt enticing to all its users and some of the things it can do include:
- Allowing users to start a print job by sending G-code to a 3D printer connected via USB
- Monitoring the status of the print job, the printer itself, the temperature of the print head, and the temperature of the bed.
- Showing the output of a connected webcam in a browser so as to monitor the state of the print, as well as, visualizing the G-code in sync with the print job, or asynchronously.
- Allowing users to extend functionalities (e.g. custom time-lapse creation, external monitoring/control through smartphone, telegram integration for remote monitoring, etc.), and customize their operations through its plug-in system.
- Manually controlling a 3D printer by moving the X-, Y-, and Z-axes, and forcing extrusion.
OctoPrint is an advantage for any user because unlike many 3D printers that need an upload of files to be printed through an SD slot or USB port, it is compatible with almost every 3D printer. As a user, you don’t need to load the G-code into an SD card and insert it into your 3D printer whenever you want to print something and this makes controlling the printing process easy and wireless.
To start using OctoPrint, here are the essentials or things you need to have in your possession:
- Raspberry Pi: Although versions 1 and 2 are compatible with it, it is highly recommended to use the Raspberry Pi models 3B, 3B+, or 4B with OctoPrint as the former are not officially supported. While there are other unsupported boards available for use, performance issues may arise and the 3D printing process can also be affected negatively. So, it isn’t worth the risk. To be sure of the compatibility of your current Pi, you can try installing OctoPi for a test run.
- Power Adapter: It’s easy to overlook the importance of a power adapter for the Pi because most users do not feel it’s necessary. However, getting a power adapter will help ensure that the board is provided with the right amount of electrical power. As informed on the OctoPrint website, all models require a 5.1-V supply, and just as the power connection varies according to the model, the electrical current also varies depending on the model of the board. This is why getting a power adapter is an added boost as under voltage in the process of printing can lead to performance issues.
- SD card: Whatever size of SD card you intend to buy be sure it fits perfectly in your Pi. While most Pi accept micro-sized SD cards, if your computer takes only full-size SD cards, remember to get an SD adapter too. If your printing process is regular, you can make do with an 8-GB card but if you plan on making time-lapses regularly, a 16-GB or 32-GB card is the best choice for you.
- USB cable: A USB cable is another essential that connects the Raspberry Pi to your 3D printer, and so it is a must-have. The cable you decide to buy is also dependent on the type of connection your 3D printer possesses and the various types are USB Type-A, Type-B, Mini, and Micro.
Compatible Printers for OctoPrint
It is important for you to know that for OctoPrint to perform well with your 3D printer, it has to be a printer that is compatible with it. Or else, none of this matters. Fortunately, there are a wide range of commercial 3D printers that OctoPrint works with, and while some won’t be able to use all the OctoPrint functions, some will only work with certain settings in place. To be sure of your printer’s compatibility, you can check the OctoPrint supported printers list.
Other Things to Know About OctoPrint
- Duality: You might be wondering if it is possible for you to run two or more printers with OctoPrint at the same time. The answer is no! Doing this is not officially supported as it would require you to run multiple instances of OctoPrint on the Pi. What you can do, however, is control multiple printers with OctoPrint but not at the same time.
- Update: You can update OctoPrint from the browser window but you should note that backing up your current server before starting the update is important to avoid any loss of data.
- Plug-in Addition: To add plug-ins to your OctoPrint, all you have to do is go to the OctoPrint browser interface and add it from within. You can also pull approved add-ons from the official list using this method.
- OctoPrint Anywhere: This is a plug-in for the OctoPrint server that allows you to monitor your 3D printer remotely as long as there is a working internet connection. You can access it through a computer, tablet, or even your phone, and not only is it part of the approved plug-ins list, but its installation process is also very easy. To install the OctoPrint Anywhere, you first need to access the web interface for your OctoPrint server, open the built-in plug-in manager and search for OctoPrint Anywhere.
- Camera: For better monitoring of your printing process and adequate access to your video feed, you will need to connect a camera to the Raspberry Pi. Whether you make use of any USB camera, webcams, or the official Raspberry Pi camera, OctoPi will automatically detect the camera and you will be able to access it in the OctoPrint browser interface. Although most are automatically detected by Octoprint and start working immediately, you can use the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi to connect USB cameras and the official Raspberry Pi camera can be connected to the camera port on the Raspberry Pi. Once you have succeeded in connecting your camera, you can access the video feed under the Control tab. If you want, you can also adjust the camera settings under Settings> Webcam, and you can also make use of multiple cameras through the MultiCam plug-in.
OctoPrint is a software that makes the 3D printing process easier for you as it gives you the rare opportunity of monitoring your printing as well as controlling the process wherever you are and through your devices.
Historically, OctoPrint has come a long way and an added boost is the variety of benefits it offers ranging from full remote control and monitoring, compatibility, and extendibility to its 100% free and open-source, and so much more.
You can easily run Octoprint on several systems, the Raspberry Pi being the commonest of them, and if you want a pre-configured version of Octoprint with MJPEG-streamer support for webcams, you can download Octopi which is a distribution based on the Raspbian OS for Raspberry Pi.