Friday, June 30, 2017

Mega Review - Anet A8, Printr Element, and Mars3D PLA

If I ever get my head on straight and write scripts, or at least outlines for my videos, then I'd never forget anything. Until then, you have these writeups.

Anet A8

I love my A8, but how can I not? I create it's final form with my own hands. Plus it adds capabilites to my workbench that I didn't have before. Mostly in terms of size. Anything this printer can't do, well, that's on me isn't it? It doesn't have a power button. Well, I guess I get to be one to fix that. Oh, wait, someone else already has. These cables are kind of in the way, I guess I need to fix that. Oh wait, tons of people have fixed that one. Oh well, I guess I still get to choose the color.

But as I said in the video, the build process was fraught with peril. Wrong power cable, missing screws, outdated instructions. Oh, and the biggest one of all was that I was trying to do this whole thing without putting the USB adapter with the microSD card in my computer first thing. The same microSD card that had all the latest build instructions and recommended software on it. I know they're trying to save on paper, but a 3x5 card with the words "PLUG IN THE USB ADAPTER FOR THE MANUAL, DUMMY" that is laid on the top of everything so it's the first thing I saw would have gone a long way. But, also like I said, none of these problems were insurmountable for me.

I imagine there are a lot of kits like this out there waiting for that weekend where the person who bought it will have the time to put it together. I'd love to create a rescue home for them.

You can buy the A8 here and support what I do:
Use Coupon Code GBA8US for the best deal (usually around $149)

Printr Element

The first upgrade I did to this printer was to upgrade to Skynet firmware, a branch of Marlin designed for the A8. Did it improve the experience? Slightly. Very slightly. But can I make a confession here?

I don't like the Marlin interface.

It's nothing against the people making the firmware. They're doing the best they can with what they've got. But it's an interface for the lowest bidder. A few buttons and the cheapest LCD screen they can, this is the best they can do. It needs a serious upgrade. Get yourself a raspberry pi and you could load it with Octoproint or AstroPrint, it's true. But after spending all weekend just getting my A8 running, I'm glad I didn't need to burn another weekend getting the pi loaded up.

The Element by Printr is a great out-of-the-box solution. It's not much more than you'd spend on a pi (after getting all the adapters and everything), but works with very little effort on your part.

In the video I mentioned the downside that it relies on a stable internet connection to work, and that's true. But what I didn't mention is that once you start the print your connection can be as unstable as you like. The file is stored locally and the print will succeed, baring any catastrophic failure. And it's a huge step up from Marlin.

Mars3D Filament

I didn't expect the filament to make a huge difference in my test prints, but was I ever wrong about that. If you really want to appreicate good PLA, just use some bad PLA for a while. Now, it is still PLA, but if you want to get some good PLA that doesn't cost much more than the cheap stuff, check out what Mars3D's offering:

Mystery unreviewed item

There's one more thing I need to review that didn't make it in the video because the review for it is still in progress. What could it be? Only time will tell.

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