PRACTICAL 3D PRINTING n BY CHUCK HELLEBUYCK
Using 3D printers for practical
projects on your workbench.
Adding an LCD and SD Card
to a 3D Printer
Just about every 3D printer starts off being controlled by a USB connection. At
the heart of most 3D printers is an Arduino based design. The Arduino receives
the G-Code serially as it controls the hot end and step height to produce the 3D
print. However, this can be a pain to have a computer tied up just for controlling
the 3D printer. It would be nice to break away from the computer and run it
independently. It turns out that this is actually easy to do on most 3D printers.
The Fabrikator Mini 3D printer I’ve shown in previous articles is incredibly handy for electronics hobbyists. It can print
fine detail and is small enough to fit on your bench. It’s great for making small knobs, brackets, and other support parts.
Designs can be printed in pieces as well, and glued or fused together.
One of the drawbacks of this little printer is the need to have it connected
to a USB port to print. Fortunately, the printer runs the popular Marlin
firmware, which has all the software pre-installed to add an LCD/SD module.
The Marlin firmware just needs one line uncommented in the code to
enable the LCD/SD card function for this display. There are several LCD
modules listed in the firmware, so you have to pick the right one:
// The RepRapDiscount FULL GRAPHIC Smart Controller
(quadratic white PCB)
// ==> REMEMBER TO INSTALL U8glib to your ARDUINO
Figure 3 - Configuration.h uncommented line.
The Configuration.h file in the Marlin.ino sketch is the file that needs to be
modified. You just uncomment the line for the RepRap Discount Full Graphic
Discount Controller. The comments also point out that you need to install
the u8glib library if it’s not already installed. You then just upload the new
n FIGURE 1 - Fabrikator Mini with LCD/SD
58 June 2016