Universal 3d Printer Remote Control / Touch Interface via iPad (Instructions)

by BroamChomsky, published

Universal 3d Printer Remote Control / Touch Interface via iPad (Instructions) by BroamChomsky Nov 19, 2014
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me-b0lQUsnU -- example video!

Hi everyone, just wanted to post a short tutorial for turning an iPad into a basic remote control / touchpad control panel for your 3d printer running under Repetier Host, in under an hour. (for FREE!)

Any iPad will do. This idea was used as a method of repurposing an old iPad 1 that I had laying around, although I wouldn't be surprised if similar apps existed for Android and other tablets.

When properly set up, the remote/panel is "tethered" to your computer -- in that, anytime you open the Repetier program, your iPad will also pull open the relevant command panel. Saves a lot of hassle.

This idea mostly came about because I was looking for a way to skirt the tedium of booting up Repetier, connecting to my 3d printer, clicking through several menus, clicking the bed/extruder buttons, typing in values and so on, all just to get the printer in a warmed up and ready state. Now I can simply tap a handful of buttons on a touchscreen and the printer more or less readies itself completely in less than a couple seconds.

Also useful in calibration -- as the remote is wireless, you can use it while sitting beside your 3d printer and test out your x/y/z axis, feed plastic, play around with your fan, calibrate your rest position, just about anything else -- all without needing to be somewhere else, constantly clicking buttons on your computer.

Instructions located under "Instructions"



  1. iOS App "Actions" for iPad, free
  2. Key Macro Script Program (for this I use AutoHotKey), free
  3. Repetier Host


    • Basically what we'll be doing is using a macro program (such as AutoHotKey) to create mouse-click and keyboard macros for use with Repetier Host, which are then accessible within the program as buttons on a touchscreen iPad.

      This method works based on coordinates and desktop mouse clicks, which means you must have Repetier Host open fullscreen (or whichever window size you base the coordinates around) while using the remote for this to work.

      STEP 1

    • http://getactionsapp.com/

      Download and install the Actions app for iOS, and the corresponding server for your computer. I won't get into the tutorial for this program here, but rest assured it's fairly simple, intuitive and the tutorials should get you into and using the program within about five minutes.

      STEP 2

    • http://www.autohotkey.com/

      Download and install AutoHotKey. This part is a bit more complex, and again, I won't give a full tutorial here. There's plenty of help available on the website, but realistically what we'll be needing is fairly straightforward and I'll put examples here.

      In essence this program allows you to write custom scripts for key and mouse combinations. For example, you can take a keyboard shortcut such as ALT-CTRL-A and tie it to a mouse movement to a certain position on your screen, a click, and an input value. This is more or less the basis for our controller.


    • AutoHotKey comes complete (right click on the icon) with a program called Window Spy. In order to figure out the coordinates for your menus (this will vary based on desktop resolution), this program is essential. Basically while this program is running, mouse over a location on the screen and it will give you the mouse coordinates.

      So, after finding out our mouse coordinates, the rest is fairly simple. In order to, for example, home our printer, we need to figure out the mouse coordinates for the "home printer" button in Repetier Host.

      On my computer, the coordinates were (approximately, as it's a fairly big button) 1509, 406.

      Thus our macro script will look like this:

      Click 1509, 406

      Alt-CTRL-A will tell our computer to click the mouse at the following coordinates. This will home the printer.

      This is fairly straightforward, and should take about 20 minutes to set up for all the relevant buttons in Repetier Host.

      Slightly more complicated is auto-setting our bed/extruder temperatures. For something like setting our bed temperature to 65, our macro will look like:

      Click 1862, 577
      Send {BS}
      Send 65

      This will click the bed temperature window, twice, backspace to delete the current value, and enter the value 65. In this example it is tied to ALT-CTRL-C.

      The macro mappings themselves are not particularly important, as we will be tying them into the iOS app. Just make sure you keep track of what's what.

      STEP 3

    • Tying it all together! Load up your "Actions" app in iOS. Under "Magnet Links" when you create a new panel, you should see Repetier Host. Select this.

      Now, create all of your buttons using the macros you have already defined with AutoHotKey. Feel free to be creative, really almost anything is possible here.

      STEP 4

    • VOILA! You're done. Now you have a remote control touch panel for your 3d printer when you're using Repetier Host.

      Thanks everyone!

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This is super cool! Thank you for having clear instructions and for taking your time to share this awesomeness with us! :)