Testing Your Bot

Connect to your bot

Double-check your voltage

This is also a good time to double-check that the red switch on the back of your power supply that selects your local voltage level is in the correct position. The switch should be pushed to the right, with the text "115V" visible, in areas with 120V power mains (USA and Canada). The switch should be set to the left, with the text "230V" visible, in areas with 230V power mains (EU, China). Make sure you don't have the power supply set to "115V" when plugging it into a 230V outlet!


Plug in the power and turn it on

Find the black power cord provided in the kit. Plug one end into the power supply on the left side of your machine and the other end into a wall socket. Flip the switch on the power supply to ON. The fan on the power supply should start up.


Plug In USB and Connect

Take the included USB A to B cable and plug one end into the Arduino MEGA on the right side of your bot. Plug the other end into your computer. Next, open up the ReplicatorG program that you installed in the very first step.


First, select the appropriate Machine -> Driver -> Thingomatic driver for your build platform. If you've just built a MK6-equipped bot, make sure that you select on of the options with "MK6" in the title — otherwise your stepper motor won't move correctly.


Now, you'll need to find the correct serial port that your machine has registered as. You can see a list of connected serial ports in the Machine -> Serial Port submenu. If your computer doesn't have a built-in serial port, you may only see one entry; if you're using a desktop with built-in serial ports, you'll probably see several entries. The way a Thing-O-Matic appears in this menu depends on the platform you're running on. On Windows machines, it may appear as "COM3:". On Linux machines it often appears as "/dev/ttyUSB0". Macs will see multiple entries for each serial port, with a unique ID associated with each physical connection. The entry you'll want to choose on a Mac is one of the form "/dev/tty.usbserial-XXX", where XXX is a unique identifier.

After you select a serial port, ReplicatorG will try to connect. (If you've got the "Automatically connect on startup" option unchecked in the preferences panel, you'll may need to press the 'Connect' icon on the right side of the button bar to tell ReplicatorG to connect.) The status bar should turn green, as shown. The console window below should list both a Motherboard and Firmware version.
If the console window reports that the motherboard can not connect to the toolhead, make sure your patch cable is connected between the motherboard and extruder controller, that the extruder controller is plugged into the power supply, and that the power on the Thing-O-Matic is switched on.

Step 3: Open your Control Panel

Open the control panel by selecting the Machine -> Control Panel.

You should be presented with this window.


Testing Your Axes

The first step to testing your bot is to verify that all of your stepper motors are working. These are the motors that move your bot around, and if they don't move, then you don't print. First, there is some information you need to know about your XYZ axes configuration.

Get to know your axes


The Thing-O-Matic moves along three axes: the X axis, the Y axis, and the Z axis. The X axis is the one that runs from left to right; the Y axis is the one that runs towards and away from you. (Think of these as being like the X and Y axis of a graph, seen from above.) The Z axis goes up and down.

Spend a moment to familiarize yourself with the directions of the axes. It will save you a lot of frustration later!

XY Axes and Relative Motion

Look closely at the picture above. On first glance, the X and Y axes may look backwards to you. Moving the X axis in the negative direction means moving it to the right. The reason for this is what we call Relative Motion. To be specific, we're talking about the motion of the extruder nozzle relative to the build surface.

Imagine for a second you are a tiny little person that is standing on the build surface. You are facing the back of the machine. Suddenly the build surface you are on moves in the X– direction (to your right). You look up at the extruder nozzle and see that it is (from your perspective) moving to the left. The relative motion of the nozzle to the build surface that has been achieved is a movement in the negative direction.

When you look at the control panel in ReplicatorG, you'll see the "X+" button is on the right. When you click it to move the platform, though, you'll see the platform move to the left. This is expected! The controls in ReplicatorG indicate the relative motion of the extruder, not the motion of the platform.

First Axis Movement

WARNING: MAKE SURE YOUR PLATFORM IS CENTERED IN THE MACHINE BEFORE YOU BEGIN. You don't want to jam your axes into the sides on your first run! The XY axes can be moved by hand, and the Z axis can be raised/lowered by rotating the drive screw.

Do not force the axis movement! If you clicked one of the buttons, the stepper driver for that axis remains active in 'holding mode'. This means it will fight you to keep the axis in the place it currently is. To turn the motor off, click the 'Disable Steppers' button.

Now it's time for your bot to take its first baby steps. On the left side of the control panel, there are buttons labeled X+, X–, Y+, Y–. These buttons when pressed will tell your Thing-O-Matic to move the extruder head in these directions. Remember: this movement is movement of the extruder head relative to the build surface!

Test that your MakerBot moves each axis in both directions. The table below tells you what direction each button should move each axis:

Button Movement Seen From Front
X+ platform moves to your LEFT
X– platform moves to your RIGHT
Y+ platform moves TOWARDS you
Y– platform moves AWAY from you
Z+ nozzle moves UP
Z– nozzle moves DOWN

If an axis is moving the wrong way there are two ways to fix this:

  1. Shut down ReplicatorG. Turn off the machine, unplug it from both the wall and the USB connection, open the electronics bay, and rotate the stepper connector 180 degrees. This will invert it.
  2. Or, you can invert it in software by going to Machine -> Onboard Preferences and clicking the appropriate button to invert that axis.

Secondly, you are looking to make sure that each axis moves nice and smoothly. It should make a humming noise, but any grinding noise or a lack of movement means something is wrong.

If you're having trouble with your stepper motion, take a look at the Thing-O-Matic troubleshooting page.

Crank up the speed

There are sliders underneath the movement buttons labeled XY Feedrate and Z feedrate. These set the speed of the axis movements. You can either gradually increase these or drag them all the way over. Once you do, repeat the back and forth movements from before. The axis should continue to move nicely, except this time at maximum speed.

If you're having trouble with your stepper motion, take a look at the Thing-O-Matic troubleshooting page.

Test Your Endstops

There are 3 endstops provided in your Thing-O-Matic kit. They are used to detect when your Thingomatic has reached a certain point, which allows your machine to automatically determine where it is from any position and automatically start printing in the same spot, even if something went wrong.

Step 1: Trigger Each Endstop By Hand

The endstop is a simple mechanical switch. Press it down and you'll hear a nice, satisfying click. If everything works right, you'll also see the little LED on the endstop turn on as well.


If the LED does not turn on, you probably have a wiring problem. Check the electronics installation page and make sure you hooked it up right.

Step 2: Trigger Each Endstop By Machine - Manually

Click the 'Disable Steppers' button in the control panel. We'll be moving the axes by hand first to make sure they all can actually reach their endstops.

One by one, move each axis to its appropriate endstop. Do not touch the endstop itself, but rather move the axis so that it triggers the endstop. The endstop should light up like it did above.

If any axis is unable to trigger its endstop, make sure there are no obstacles and try it again. If there are obstacles, make sure they are permanently out of the way, otherwise it could cause problems during printing.

Step 3: Test Each Endstop For Correct Wiring

Move each axis to the opposite side of its movement from the endstop. Next, turn the speed for each axis down to about 500 for XY and 100 for Z. You will be moving each axes towards its endstops, and triggering the endstops with your finger (or some other object).

Test each axis in sequence by holding down the appropriate endstop and pressing the corresponding button for that axis (X–, Y–, and Z+). The axis should not move while the endstop is triggered.

If this does not work, you most likely have the endstops plugged into the wrong headers on the motherboard. This is a simple mistake to fix, so open up the electronics bay and make sure they are plugged into the right headers.

Step 4: Home Each Axis

This is the final test: can the machine automatically move itself to the home position for each axis? At the top of the Control Panel, there is a 'Homing' menu. Under this menu there are a variety of options that will automatically 'Home' your axes. Homing is the process of moving towards an axis until it hits the switch.

Select the menu option to home each axis in turn: X–, Y–, and Z+. At the end, each axis should be in its appropriate spot, and the machine should be stopped and silent. If it is grinding one axis into a wall, then you need to power off your machine, and start from the beginning of the endstop instructions.

Don't forget to disable your stepper motors: when they get energized they will generate heat and make your motors hot. Turn them off by clicking the 'Disable Steppers' button.

Test Your Extruder

Now your steppers are working, it's time to test your extruder. The extruder testing is pretty simple: you need to make sure everything reports the right temperature, that everything heats up, and that all the motors move in the right direction. Follow the step by step directions and you'll be extruding in no time flat.

All of these instructions will focus on the right half of the control panel which deals with the extruder.

Temperature Measurement Check

First things first: check the temperature readings. These will be in the greyed out 'Current Temperature' boxes. If you are using the automated build platform, you'll need to check that too. The temperature readings are in Celsius. Since the extruder is off and cold, it should be reading room temperature. Depending on your location and season, that should be something around 21°C.

If your temperature is wildly different from that, then you probably hooked up the wires in the wrong direction. Re-read the Electronics Installation page and double check your wire orientation.

Turn Up The Heat

You should only do this step once your temperature sensors are working! Otherwise BAD THINGS may happen.

To repeat, NEVER OPERATE THE HEATER if the reported temperature is anything other than room temperature, usually around 20°C.

First, start off with a low temperature of 50°C. This will allow us to make sure the temperature sensors are truly working. Enter the value into the 'Target Temperature' field. You must tab out or click out of the field for the change to be sent to the machine.

Now, peek into your Thing-O-Matic. There are tiny little LEDs next to each MOSFET. It's a bit tricky to see, but the one near the heater wires should have turned on.

The real test is to wait 10–15 seconds for the temperature to start rising. It should start a consistent up-slope towards 50°C.

Note: If the temperature starts steadily decreasing, quickly set the target temperature to 0. It means that you've hooked up your thermocouple backwards! You definitely don't want that. If you see a temperature reversal, you need to shut down the machine, open up the case, and reverse the thermocouple wires.

If you have an automated build platform, test it separately. It should heat up much more quickly as it has a lower thermal mass.

Turn it All the Way Up

Now that your temperature is reporting properly, turn each one up to operating temperature. That is 220°C for the extruder, and 120°C for the heated build surface.

It will take about 5–10 minutes for them to fully heat up and equalize. During that time, the extruder may give off a wee bit of smoke. That is completely normal and is the result of the oils from the anti-sieze burning off. It's a good idea to open a window to let it dissipate.

Control Your Motor Speed

In the meantime, it's time to test your motor! The speed should be set to the default, 1.98. Leave the duration at 10 seconds for the tests (unless you're feeling particularly impatient or meticulous.)

If you're running a MK5 extruder, enter a value of 255 (maximum speed) into the Motor Speed (PWM) field. Tab away from it, and ReplicatorG will now tell your motor what speed it should run at when you turn it on.

Move Your Motor Back and Forth

Next, press the 'Forward' button next to 'Motor Control'. You should hear your motor turn on, and if you visually inspect it from the front, you should see the motor shaft rotating clockwise. Click the reverse button and it should move in the other direction.

If your motor is rotating counter-clockwise in Forward, first double check that you have pressed the 'Forward' button. :) If the Forward button is pressed, that means the motor wires are reversed. Now you need to turn off your machine, open up the electronics bay, and switch the motor wires. This fix works for both DC and stepper motors.

Test Your Conveyor Belt Motor

Note: On Mk6/Mk7 extruders, this will turn the extruder fan on and off. The conveyor motor is controlled by the extruder board on newer ABP.

If you are using the Automated Build Platform, you'll want to test the motor that drives the conveyor belt. Click the 'Build platform belt' checkbox at the very bottom of the Control Panel.

The motor should whir into life, and your conveyor belt should move with it. The direction of the belt should be towards the front (and the ramp at the front).

If it is not moving at all, or moving in the wrong direction, go back to the electronics wiring step and double check everything. You'll have to turn off the machine and open up the electronics bay for this.

First Extrusion

If everything went according to plan, you should now have your speed set to 1.98 rpm (or a PWM setting of 255 for MK5 users), and your extruder temperature hovering around 220°C. If it has not hit 220°C yet, give it some time. If it has been hovering just below 220°C, bump up the temperature to 225°C for now and you'll need to adjust the PID settings to get it just right.

Make sure your plunger is loosened all the way so you can push the filament in yourself. Take some 3mm filament, and insert it into the extruder, and push it all the way down. If you keep pressing it, you should be able to manually extrude some plastic. Awesome!

Now is time to tighten down the filament plunger. Make it finger tight so the filament is pressed up against the drive gear. Make sure you're at 220°C, and turn your motor on Forward. The filament should begin to be pulled into the extruder, and it should also start extruding.

Plastic is cheap, so let it extrude for at least a couple minutes to 'break in'. Don't get too excited and jump the gun just yet. Make sure it all works properly before going to the next step.

Turn off the Heat

The next step requires a bit of calibration and will take at least 5–10 minutes. It's not a good idea to have your extruder on and hot, so turn it off for now. You can do this by setting the temperature to 0, and clicking the stop motor button.

Next Step: Your First Print.

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