YAZA - yet another Z switch adjuster (Ultimaker)

by MoonCactus, published

YAZA - yet another Z switch adjuster (Ultimaker) by MoonCactus Aug 2, 2013
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This is probably one of the most useful yet simple designs I did for the ultimaker, together with the XY bananas blocks (you can get the full list of improvements on http://www.tridimake.com/2014/01/features-and-improvements-for-a-homemade-ultimaker.html) It makes life easier for sure.
Fine-tuning the level of the Z end switch is a chronic issue, especially when you switch among different nozzles or bed materials and thicknesses.
In this design, the carriage slides tighly in the two concave rails of the outer frame, which in turn is fully secured on the case by four screws: there is NO way the carriage can move otherwise than vertically as it should. Neither the carriage nor the microswitch do touch the plywood for a fluid movement.
Most of what I have tried so far proved to be unreliable in this regard, probably because there was always something that (tried to) sled against the internal plywood wall. The only parts here that rub against the plywood are the fixed parts.
I designed it for an Ultimaker, but it certainly can be adapted to (some) others. The openscad source code is included as usual.


The main screw

I used a long M4. Lock it tightly around the top rail frame segment either with pairs of nuts and counter nuts, or glue them where they go after you damage the thread a bit (!). Both solutions are better that using nylocks in my opinion, as they will finally slip anyway in the long term.

You may like better an M3 screw (less travel per turn), in which case you'll have to change the value in the openscad source code. Or tell me and I can make it customizable. In my opinion, it is a good trade off when you change your printing bed often, because it's faster to tune with an M4 than with an M3. When you keep the same bed, an M3 may be more appropriate to (extreme) fine-tuning.

I used my thumbnut for the main screw, it can be customized at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:70494 I chose a small diameter and small wings so that I can turn it quickly between the thumb and index fingers.

How to mount the rail frame
The nut holder (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:44118) was quite useful to help fixing the Z adjuster rail on the printer frame.

Just make sure how you mount the adjuster: the head need to protrude from your frame of course (or use an extra long M4, or a even a threaded rod cut at the appropriate length). MIne goes up a bit too much I guess.

FInally, the carriage freeplay can be obliterated thanks to the fixing oblong holes of the frame. Better screw each horizontal pair while the carriage is between them, so that you know how much pinching you need (none was required in my case, it is already tight by design).

Now, that's 4 more holes in your frame though! I did not measure the screw length, but they are quite common and you'll guess easily. Hope you like it and that it makes your hobbist life easier :)

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So I really like this design and I want to use it for my custom printer build. Have you had any issues with the screw wearing down the slider block (chariot)? It seems like you could easily make the top of the block a nut trap and put a drop of glue in there to hold it on. Or just glue it as is. A nut trap on the top part might also help.

Apr 20, 2015 - Modified Apr 20, 2015
MoonCactus - in reply to mdroman

I used it for about 2 years with no wear at all. Usually the tuning is minimalist, with a few times longet when I (rarely) change the print bed itself. But I could not turn it as fast as to melt the plastic anyway even if I tried.
Now a captive nut could be added if you really want to make sure, but actually I favor direct threading in PLA or ABS because they leave really no play at all, which is desirable. Avoid Nylon as it tends to expand with moisture tho!
Cheers - jeremie

Printed and mounted right away, no problems at all. Works flawlessly, when my bed is a bit out of level i just crank this and its perfect again! Love it. Thanks for a simple improvement to my machine :D

Don't work for me. Just keeps spinning through!

I suspect you just did let the nuts loose, which you should not of course! Make sure you read the instructions: "glue them where they go after you damage the thread a bit (!)". Or you may want to glue a captive nut to the carriage if your threaded rod slips through it. I think nobody had trouble with it so far so it is weird to me ;) cheers

OK I'll try that. I Glue the 2 nuts to the carriage. I have opened up the top hole so I can use the adjuster manually by winding the nuts up or down a few turns (which is still far better than the original).

Did you ever get this to work? I'm having the same trouble. I don't know what "glue them where they go after you damage the thread a bit (!)". What do you mean, damage the thread?

I turn the long screw and all it does is thread in and out of the chariot... the chariot doesn't move. Help? Video perhaps?

Jun 27, 2016 - Modified Jun 27, 2016
MoonCactus - in reply to InfiniTTTy

Hi Rick! You reminded me of someone years ago, and yes, you are the one who derived my end caps with a bat-symbol :D
Sorry, I am no native speaker, and this was done even before I practiced again my english ;)
Yes it really works flawlessly. Check the last picture where the yaza is fully assembled: the top two nuts should not move on the thread. They rotate as a whole with the screw. The screw itself should be able to rotate freely into the frame (top hole).
So you may glue the two nuts on the thread on each side of the frame top bar, or you can pinch (or "damage") the thread where they are located so they will not want to rotate on the screw due to friction on the top frame. You can also use pairs of nut and counter nut (locked on each other), one pair for each side of the top frame bar, as shown in the openscad overall preview (the one with colors).

Reciprocally, the central carrier hole must be tight, so it moves up or down when you rotate the screw. If you were not able to print it tight enough and the screw slips through the carrier, then you may glue a nut to the carrier (NOT to the thread of course there!). I would recommend to print it again though.

There is no screw on the carrier in my pictures because I did not need any, as the carrier hole was tight enough.

Hope you get it to work, it really made my life easier before I switched to the fully automatic "tribed" (featured on hackaday!). So in my case I need no more this convenient device. Meanwhile (=years) it really was one of the best stuff I made for the UM imho, with the banana xy blocks :)

Much better. This was what made it all "click" for me:

The top two nuts should not move on the thread. They rotate as a whole with the screw. The screw itself should be able to rotate freely into the frame (top hole).


Glad it is now clearer for you! :)

Ah yes! I remember that design! Good to bump into you again!

Thanks for the extra information. I think I understand now.

I recently got a Fleks3D build plate with I use every now and again, so an z adjuster is extra important to me now!

Great Design! Works Flawless, thank you!

Minor revision (thanks to Musti), added a 0.1 mm margin on the holes for the lateral dual rail frame screws (for less post-processing).