Preparing For The Makerbot

In a recent discussion in the MakerBot Operators group one member asked if there is anything that they could be doing whilst waiting for their MakerBot to arrive. This page contains a compilation of the suggestions that may be useful to other members in a similar situation.

Basic Kit

The basic MakerBot kit is the cheaper of the two and requires the acquisition of a few common tools and parts beforehand that are not part of the kit. This kit is ideal for people who have most of the parts listed below. The required parts include:

  • A USB2TTL cable to talk to the generation 3 motherboard and extruder controller. Available from the MakerBot store and many other places online. It may also be known as an FTDI cable due to the manufacturer of the microchip used in the cable.
  • Category 5 ethernet cables. These are used to connect up the various electronic components of the MakerBot such as the extruder controller and the endstops. You should never connect the MakerBot electronics to a computer or network device using these cables as they are not ethernet. At least one cable is required for the operation of the MakerBot. They are available very cheaply online or can be made yourself using the correct tools.
  • Standard ATX power supply. This is used to provide the power to the MakerBot electronics. The generation 3 motherboard features a 20-pin ATX connector, most modern ATX power supplies have 24-pins but the extra 4 pins are often detachable. They are available very cheaply online but it's worth trying to find an old computer that is out of use and recycling the power supply if possible.
  • Wrenches/Spanners. You will need wrenches/spanners of various sizes to construct the MakerBot.
  • SD Card. This is an optional component required if you wish to print things directly from the MakerBot rather than using a computer to send the data. The generation 3 motherboard does not support SDHC cards. A computer is still required to be able to print even with a SD card.

Deluxe & Basic Kits

The deluxe MakerBot kit comes with all of the parts absent from the basic kit listed above. Both kits can benefit from some useful additions.

  • A multimeter (a cheap one will do). This is a very useful tool for any electronics work, it can help you check continuity and find faults with the electronics. A more expensive multimeter may be able to read thermistors but is not required.
  • Soldering iron (a basic one will do). This has many uses such as soldering endstops and can be used to touch up any loose connections on the supplied electronics. A more expensive soldering iron may feature temperature control.
  • Solder (the finer the better) used for soldering.
  • Metal ruler with millimeter precision. This is useful for measuring many parts accurately.
  • Small spirit/bubble level useful for checking the level/plumb of surfaces.
  • Medium hemostat useful as a wrench for fastening small nuts and bolts.
  • Helping hands that are typically supplied with 2 alligator clips and 1 magnifying glass.
  • 2-part epoxy in the form of a double syringe.
  • Finish or paint to apply to the plywood exterior.
  • Spray lubricant to lubricate mechanical parts (Do not use WD-40, this is not a lubricant).
  • 1-sided razors.
  • 18-20 gauge stranded wire in two different colors, one for the nichrome connection and one for the thermistor connection.
  • A 4-6 inch analogue or digital caliper This is not strictly necessary for construction, but very useful in confirming fidelity of prints during calibration, and for measurements in the decimeter range. Also can be useful when measuring things you want to design parts to fit onto.

Spare Parts

This is a list of parts that you might need within a month or two to perform maintenance and repairs on your MakerBot. It might be worth purchasing these ahead of time if you can afford it to reduce downtime in the event of a breakage.

  • 1-2 extra PTFE or PEEK thermal insulation barriers
  • 2-3 insulator retainer rings. These can also be printed on a functioning MakerBot.
  • 2-3 extra thermistors
  • 2-3 feet of insulated nicrome wire

Future Parts

This is a list of things you might want once your MakerBot is functioning.

  • Some samples of all the different plastics such as ABS, PLA and HDPE.
  • A 3 inch pocket knife (ideal for prying parts off acrylic).
  • A heated build platform to reduce warping on larger prints.
  • A clear tackle box ($5 at Walmart in the fishing section, don't buy the hardware ones as they cost twice as much, and the holders aren't as good).

Free Stuff

This is a list of things you can do for free to help yourself before you get the kit.

  • Clear off a table for you to work on, if you have small children get a plastic tote to hide all the parts in when you are not working on it.
  • Download Skeinforge, Blender, & ReplicatorG.
  • Install Arduino, Sanguino & RepRap libraries for Arduino. (Optional — only if you want to recompile the firmware)
  • Read existing blogs and old mailing list traffic to learn from others' mistakes and get your assembly right on the first try!
  • Start a blog. Just list what you want to do, it might sound silly at first, but it keeps you honest with yourself.
  • Place a Marker on both the MakerBot & RepRap Google Maps.
  • Track down any owners of a MakerBot or RepRap within 1 hours drive of you. Get their number and email if you can.
  • Start a MakerBot group for your area if one does not exist
  • Join the RepRap forum and Bits from Bytes Forum.
  • Friend all the members of RRRF if you can on Facebook.
  • Install and learn a solid modeling cad package.
  • Look through Thingiverse for things you'd like to print.

Early prints

You may want to print a few small test and calibration parts to get things going. Here's a few simple objects:

See other thingiverse items tagged calibration or benchmark

Also, you may want to print these parts as spares and upgrades once you've got the machine working well.

See also other thingiverse items tagged Makerbot upgrade part.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.