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A8 upgrades

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I know this topic is probably beating the proverbial dead horse with a stick, but these group pages seem to be broken for me. I can't view any group posts beyond page one. Any method I attempt to move to page two or beyond just keeps pulling up the same page one of threads. I seem to recall the same issue last time I tried to use these forums a few years, a different computer, different browser (I've tried chrome, firefox, brave, and edge), and different ISP ago. I'll post about that in the site issues section for help, but hopefully I'll actually be able to see replies to this thread and keep up with this.

EDIT: Hope external links aren't breaking the rules.

I've got an Anet A8 that was assembled from a box of parts I got second hand. First and only 3D printer. I've had it set up and working good enough for a few years, but haven't used it a lot and after initial setup never had to mess with it much. Getting the itch to start messing with tweaking things on it again. Know it's stupid since it works, but I basically want to overhaul it into an AM8 with some upgrades.

What I bought ($100) included:

  • Anet A8 (in pieces)
  • Anet3D main board running Skynet3D 2.3.2
  • 2x 25-30w power supplies
  • E3D V6 hot end and incomplete stock extruder assembly
  • Y-belt tensioner

Got it up and running with the help of a X carriage printed by a co-worker at the time.

I added (in no particular order):

I also bought a BLTouch to setup auto-leveling, but never got around to redoing x-carriage and installing it.

So I plan to order an all metal AM8 kit this weekend. I know I could save a little by printing most of the bracketry and cutting my own 2040, but I want to buy an all metal kit. It will also be installed in an enclosure rather than open on the desk like it is now. That's for a few reasons. One, it's taking up desk space. Two, I think more stable temperature will help with prints, I think my prints sometimes suffer due to drafts and cool room temps. Three, I think it'll make for a cleaner, tidier, and better contained installation. I'm not sure if it will be a Lack enclosure, or I'll come up with something more portable. Possibly not at first, but I intend to incorporate some lighting, some temperature control (heat & fans), and much neater electronics mounting and wire routing than I currently have.

I also want to replace/upgrade to a more capable main board and newer supported firmware (probably Marlin 2.0?). The options have me confused. I know back when I got this printer a Ramps (1.4?) was the big thing for upgrades, but I wasn't interested at the time. That was almost 4 years ago now. I'm sure things have advanced since then, newer, better, and faster. I read about several versions of MKS and SKR, but I can't really make out the differences, which is "better" or "easier". All of these seem to have about the same capability and compatability to my novice eyes. I like that the SKR's have two Z motor headers.

-MKS Gen L V2.0
-SKR 2
-SKR Mini E3 V3.0

One thing that I think I get is that RAMPS requires an additional Arduino board, where MKS/SKR have it built in. I also understand that two these boards (Ramps too) require additional drivers for the stepper motors, it sounds like these setups run smoother and quieter than stock board which will be nice. I see a lot of stepper driver models, but I don't really understand the differences. Seems like TCM2209 might be the one to use. The SKR Mini has them built in, and a lot lower price. On the flip side if I get a bad driver with the other two I can replace a driver rather than the whole main board.

FWIW, I also intend to upgrade LCD from the Anet 5 button when I upgrade the main board.

Thoughts, suggestions, advice? I can gurantee that I'll read it (if I see it), can't gurantee that I'll like or agree with it. I'm sure the best option would be to just buy a better off the shelf printer, but that's not going to happen. As I told a buddy the other day, I won't buy another printer for $300, but I'll spend $500 (maybe not all at once) to make my existing printer almost as good.

I guess when it's all over I'm practically building a whole new printer, planning to reuse a few parts, but it wouldn't take much more pieces to just have a new printer. For now I want persue this as an upgrading my existing printer, and if it happens to switch over to building a second, so be it. When/if that happens, I'll buy a few motors, a few switches, an extruder and a hot end.

X-Belt Tensioner Anet Short Lack
by JPK89
Anet A8 T corner
Anet A8 Corner Brace Bottom Right Frame (Minimalistic)
Anet A8 Corner Brace Bottom Left Frame (Minimalistic)
Stock Anet A8 E3D V6

I almost pulled the trigger on the BTT SKR Mini E3 V3.0 and BTT TFT35-E3 V3.0 Display a few minutes ago. Looks like I can get them delivered for about $75, and I think they would make for a very welcome improvement in the functionality and ease of use for my printer. Any good reason I shouldn't do it?