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Filament Odometer

by KyroPaul, published

Filament Odometer by KyroPaul Feb 14, 2013
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A customizable filiment odometer.
Choose the number of digits you would like displayed and the units (cm and inches).
Also because I'm a nerd feel free to express your values in either Decimal, Oct, or Hex (no binary at this point but if there is desire for it let me know and I'll design custom gears to replace the Decimal option)

I do not have a functioning printer so this is very much a work in progress, let me know if there are any problems with printing or the mechanism and I will do my best to resolve them.

Design inspired by ErikJDurwoodII but this is very much a seperate project to his work


Number gears are comprised of 3 pieces (for easier printing). Asembled them with a full nub on the right (if looking at the numbers right way up) and the single nub of the far side (see below)
Single nub location: Decimal (pointing between 5 & 6), Oct (pointing between 4 & 5), Hex (Pointing between 9 & A)

There is an option for a printed shaft, I have a feeling that plastic on plastic will bind a lot, I recommend using a small piece of steel rod the SCAD is configured to use a 2mm rod by default

The top cap portion is intended to be printed in 2 halves (this is for printability), if there is desire for a single piece option (you will need to print supports) I will include it.

Finally based on the resolution of your printer I don't recommend printing the numbers on the wheels, instead use a sharpe and write them on after (but there is an option to include them)

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I have been working on an updated version that has spacing between all the wheels. I haven't had a chance to complete it I will work on it and hopefully upload something in the next couple weeks

I tried to modify also the system using a spring to have more friction between the filament and the first wheel but it does'nt work. So if someone have an idea.

Fun to build, but everything is such a 'good' fit the poor old filament doesn't stand a chance of turning the wheels.
Also there needs to be a brake on the tens wheel to stop it being dragged around by the friction of the units wheel.
I understand why the cogs and number wheels are separate, but it would be much better if they were printed in one piece. I might have a go at making them up.

Thanks for the feedback. At least it looks good printed.

I have added an optional manual wheel. It is not very attractive, but
should work in both forward and reverse directions (I don't know if
there will be enough friction between the printed wheels, so it might
not do anything).

will also begin working on a complete redesign of this concept that is
more robust (as mentioned below) that can be used for items that are not
filament (i.e. larger rope and string,and linear motion).

My steppers are not this way, but if you had the style of stepper with spindle coming out of both sides, you could easily attach it to that for nearly perfect accuracy! (Assuming it could go both ways for retraction)

How hard would it be to add an external wheel so it can be rolled on a flat surface to measure distances?

I don't know if the added tug would cause problems for the extruder. However, for printers with feed-motors (like the Up), that secondary motor would be powering the odometer (in additional to its normal role of powering the reel).

Also, some firmwares have a built in filament-odometer, such as Sailfish. As long as you don't run out of filament, it should be extremely accurate to use the extrusion-motor steps to figure out the amount of filament used over time.

I agree completely, I designed it because I thought it would be cool, but suspect it will not function in a practical manner.

Well, it might be practical for non-CNC situations! For example, if this design indeed runs smoothly and doesn't slip, then it could be useful for spooling fixed amounts of filament, or maybe even measuring ropes/cables/rods other than filament! :)

The current code is not nearly robust enough for a large range of filament sizes, although I might make a better version in the future that can be used for larger diameter items.