E3D-v6 on Printrbot Simple Metal

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If you have a Printrbot Simple Metal 1403 and an E3D-v6 head, congratulations, you are about to discover precision printing like never before.

This page is dedicated to providing modders with the resources to complete the mod with as little pain as possible.

I dedicate this page to Jimmy Hartanto (Aistaca) and Jim Lind (Spoon) who have written comprehensive guides and paved the way for me and you.

Here I've put all of their work together, including my detailed experience making the mod, as someone with zero Arduino or 3D printer assembly experience -- yes, if I can do it so can you!

Let’s get started!

Tools you will need:

- Soldering iron and solder
- Sharp nosed pliers
- Box-cutter
- Wire stripper or wire cutter
- Two spanners
- Multimeter (aka voltmeter but make sure it has a beep test function)

Material to buy/ prepare:

- Molex connectors (the kind with locking clips)
- Molex header pins (male and female)
- Short length of wire (can support 12V, about 20cm)
- Cable ties (the zip type, not the gardening variety)
- M2.5 hex screwdriver head or wrench
- M2 hex wrench (should come with E3D v6 kit)
- Preferably a battery-powered power drill 
- Drill bits (I’ll explain later)
- Flat strong aluminium plate (an IKEA cabinet wall anchor will do)
- Boot-strap connector (otherwise, DIY with a 2-pin Molex connector with two joined ends)
- 5mm (or smaller) rubber sleeving (optional, I messed up mine)
- E3D v6 kit, of course :)

Steps (and estimated time): I took MANY hours more than the estimated time here, but if you follow this, it should save you a lot of pain, extra work and glares/ concern from the wife.

1. Download and print yourself an adapter here

If your Ubis is at its life’s end I hope you can squeeze one last print out. (20 minutes)

2. WHILE that is happening, unbox the E3D v6 kit (1 min, if you don’t stop to stare at the parts)
3. Give the E3D v6 assembly page a once-over. (Seriously, don’t get excited - yet, just browse only. 5 mins)
4. Follow the ASSEMBLY STEPS

- When you get to the thermistor, take note, the sleeving can be tricky. First, cut the sleeving by itself, THEN slide it in to the thermistor. Next, make sure BOTH sleeves ride up to the thermistor head but be prepared that they can start fraying. So don’t push too much and like the picture shows, hold it TIGHT.

- After installing the thermistor in the heater block, use the multimeter to test: a) both open ends of the wire (result: NO BEEP) b) one open end of wire and heater block (result: NO beep) IMPORTANT: This confirms your thermistor is properly installed with no short circuit. (10 mins)

SKIP the ferrule installation, soldering the joints is a much more secure option.
Then cut OFF the thermistor wire’s white mini Molex clips. Leave ends exposed for now.
5. Heater cartridge installation including multimeter Ohms reading test (2 mins)
6. Thermistor wire soldering onto the thermistor (3 mins)

- Don’t forget the rubber sleeving!

7. Finish up the heat sink, PTFE tube installation (2 mins)
8. Switch your attention to Jimmy’s adapter which should have printed by now.  (5 mins)

- Place it on top of your E3D v6 hot end. As long as the adapter’s diameter isn't bigger than the E3Dv6 hot end, you're fine.

- If the PTFE tube cannot go through the adapter, that’s where the drill bit comes in handy. Make sure the PTFE tube goes through the centre. The adapter should sit nicely over the hot end.

- Now cut off the excess PTFE tubing.

9. Say goodbye to Ubis (3 mins)

- Shutdown your Printrbot, disconnect power and USB cables.

- Cut off filament (but if you must, do a pull before you shut it down).

- Use the M3 hex wrench (a power drill with M2.5 hex head will be best) to unscrew the bottom 2 extruder screws from the motor. The Ubis will fall out when you unscrew the 2 bottom screws. Did I say to let the Ubis hot end cool down first? Well, you should obviously :)

- Disconnect the Ubis from the Molex clip.

10. Transplant begins (7 mins)

- Re-mount the extruder, do NOT tighten!

- Insert the E3D v6 and adapter into the hole where Ubis used to be.

- You may need to widen the extruder temporarily to push it all the way in. This is where the IKEA cabinet anchor comes in handy.


IMPORTANT: Align the hot end about 45 degrees away from the Z-probe. When the hot end reaches temperature, you will be able to further tighten the heat block (turns counterclockwise).

- Once the hot end is fit in place, there is almost no possible movement. It should not shake like a loose tooth.

- Now tighten the extruder screws to the motor. This will give your E3D hot end the final grip it needs.

- Test that the hot end is extremely tight on the printer and you should not be able to move it by hand.

11. Wiring!  (30 minutes)


- Tuck the thermistor and heater wires directly backward, parallel with the bed.

- Bend the wires upward toward the extruder. This gives you enough clearance to the probe and the printer chassis when you home it.

- Cable tie the lot to the printer.

- Run the excess wires (for thermistor, fan and heater rod) back into the printer chassis.

- Don’t re-install the cable wrap yet.


I hard-wired the hot end’s fan to the 12V input on the printer. Simply scrape off a bit of the wire sleeving on OPPOSITE sides of both poles, and solder the fan wires. Printer on = hot end fan on therefore no danger of overheating hot end. (Note, this is the E3v6’s fan, NOT the printing fan which is still connected to the fan pins on the board)

Fan hot-wiring.jpg

Thermistor and heater cables:

I could not find the type of molex connectors that Spoon mentions in his instructions, so I bought the same type with CLIPS to lock, and simply replaced the ones on the printer.

Crimping the molex pins is not difficult.  Use your sharp-nosed plier: 
1. Strip only enough wire to push into the slot, the two end clips should hold a little of the wire with sleeving. 
2. Crimp ONE side of the end clip halfway, do the same for the other. They will almost meet in an inverted V. 
3. Crimp one side down (use the bottom and top of the pin for leverage). 
4. Fold the other side down. 
5. Further crimp both sides then top and bottom. 
6. Do the same for the "inside" pins. To remove a pin from an existing molex head (to recycle the pin instead of re-crimping) 
use a needle to lift the small plastic tab near the wire end of the connector.
Then use the needle to push the pin backward. Insert into new molex head.


- Wiring is almost done, you may need to swap your Y-axis motor’s connector the other way around as it is known to be reverse 
once you flash your firmware with Jimmy’s version (which by the way, the 9-point calibration is awesome! My prints never warp anymore)
- Tidy up the loose wiring under the printer. Cable tie as required.
- Make sure no cable is under stress ABOVE the chassis. Move the Y-axis arm forward and back manually, there should be ample cable play.

12. Test the hot end (5 mins)

- Follow Jim’s steps to test your hot end: http://thisoldspoon.blogspot.sg/2015/03/test-your-printrbots-new-hotend.html

- Screen grabs to show what to expect when you test the hot end



- All should go well.

- Now power down and re-wrap the exposed cables.

13. Firmware Flash (almost there!)  (15 mins)

- Make a boot-strap if you don't have one of those handy. You will need it when you flash the board. If using other clips, test them for conductivity first with your multimeter. I found that not all alligator clips are conductive :) Without a proper boot strap, you will get an error when flashing the firmware.


- Follow Jimmy’s instructions and download his firmware file.

- INSTRUCTIONS on firmware re-flash:

a) Go to http://help.printrbot.com/Guide/How+to+Reflash+Firmware/78 Follow steps 1 to 4

b) Run firmware update app “Printrbot Firmware Updater”. Drag and drop “Simple Metal E3D v6.hex” file onto the app or double-click the hex file. See “Printrbot Firmware STEPS PDF” for more info

c) Go to “http://help.printrbot.com/Guide/Reflash+the+Firmware+with+OS+X/134” Follow step 2 onward

d) Go to “https://printrbot.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202457834-How-to-Flash-and-Configure-Printrboard-Firmware” in last step listed on that page. Go to Step 3 on that link

e) Adjust Z probe.

14. TEST movements - do NOT hit HOME buttons!

- Tempting as it may be do NOT home your printer. If the motors are reversed (I won’t go into technical detail here) your printer will make painful grinding noises.

- Be prepared to power off your printer at short notice.

- In Repetier or Cura, make SMALL movements on each axis, like +10mm X

- If required, go to the app preferences and reverse the axis movement. If that does not work, power off printer, flip motor cable orientation and re-try. I cannot tell you what specific sequence works, because mine strangely worked in the end.

- Once movements are going in the correct direction for X,Y and Z you are good to go!

- If you wired the hot end properly (Step 11), when you home the printer, your wires should butt nicely and not stressed.


15. One last thing (or two):

- Previously in Repetier, I used to run my (printing) fan at 100% but that was keeping my E3D from reaching set temperature by about 20 Celcius.

- After I set it to max 35% and re-installed the original fan shroud (the old short version) the problem went away. I also switched back to the old shroud because the “newer” long-nosed version was too close to the heater block and I didn’t want to risk a meltdown.

That’s it, congratulations on your mod, and welcome to great prints!


Additional info:
Just thought you'd like to see what happens on your interface (I use Repetier) when you run the initial hot end test 
(the little blip occurred when I blocked the fan) and the auto tune steps.
My Mod
Jimmy's Mod and the adapter he designed
Spoon's Guide