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M3 Ethernet Connection Options

Posted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:53 pm
by GBuchwitz

I’ve been working with the folks at MakerGear Tech Support off and on to resolve an intermittent Wi-Fi/OctoPrint connection problem for an M3 SE I bought in July.

If I ultimately can’t get the Wi-Fi connection working reliably, I’m hoping to get some novice-level instructions on how to use an Ethernet cable to connect to my laptop to my M3 (via OctoPrint) - both directly and via our home modem. I know almost nothing about Ethernet connection.

Thanks! - guy

Re: M3 Ethernet Connection Options

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:22 pm
by Tim
Generally speaking, ethernet is far better than Wi-Fi and much easier to set up, although it works best if you have your entire home wired up in Cat-5e cable. If you have a router with multiple ethernet ports (my Verizon router was like that), you can wire a cable directly between your printer and the router, depending on the distance and whether or not you will have cables running all around the house and whether you're okay with that or not. If you have a router like my current Comcast router that has only one or two ports out, all of which are being used, then you will want to get an ethernet switch (Trendnet, Linksys, and a number of other manufacturers make them) which has anywhere from four to thirty-two ethernet ports that you can connect any ethernet cable into (there is no concept of "upstream" or "downstream" in a switch, which makes it very simple to use).

I have a raspberry pi 3, which is the same or similar to what is driving the ethernet in the M3, and although it has Wi-Fi, it is very weak (no antenna, so nothing to improve the range) and I can't reliably keep a connection between the basement and the 1st floor. The ethernet connection is solid, stable, never fails, and has no security and passwords to set up.

Re: M3 Ethernet Connection Options

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:47 am
by GBuchwitz
Thanks very much for your advice, Tim.

My home modem is in my office vs. the garage where my M3 lives, so in my case running a Cat5 line between these devices would be difficult.

Assuming I should be able to connect my laptop to my M3 via a direct Cat5 cable connection, how would I set that up?

Thanks again. - guy

Re: M3 Ethernet Connection Options

Posted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:49 pm
by Tim
Direct point-to-point ethernet is a bit harder to set up, but it's doable. I haven't tried it myself because the only laptop I have doesn't have an ethernet port.

The appropriate instructions are probably something like this:

The idea is that your laptop is connected to your LAN through Wi-Fi but you will use your laptop's ethernet port as a bridge to connect the printer to the LAN. Apparently if you want to connect the two devices together with just a cable, it needs to be a "crossover" cable. Otherwise, you can use the usual common patch cables and plug both the printer and the laptop into an ethernet switch. Simple switches like the TrendNet TE100-S5 (which is what I have) are absurdly cheap (< $10 on Amazon).

Re: M3 Ethernet Connection Options

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:50 am
by GBuchwitz

You’re the first person I’ve communicated with regarding prospects for a direct laptop/printer Ethernet cable connection who’s been able to actually describe how & why this might be achieved. Thank you for the education.

I’m in the process of evaluating a replacement Pi I received from MakerGear today to see if this fixes my Wi-Fi laptop/M3 connection reliability problem. If not, they’ve offered to replace my M3 with an M2e (no Wi-Fi but can receive files via USB and SD card... and I suspect by Ethernet connection also).

Before I’d do that i’d first try an Ethernet-over-power line solution. And if that didn’t work I’d attempt your Ethernet bridge via crossover cable approach.

Thanks very much for your help!

V/r, - guy

Re: M3 Ethernet Connection Options

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:24 am
by Tim
Also you might consider a Wi-Fi range extender. As I mentioned, I have a Raspberry Pi and while it does support Wi-Fi it really has trouble reaching from the basement to the router on the 1st floor, even though there's not a whole lot in between them except the floor. So your problem could be what I was seeing, which was that the Pi connection was constantly turning on and off; sometimes it would be there for a few minutes and then disappear. It did not make for a very useful communication channel. But the Wi-Fi range extenders cost about the same as a pair of ethernet-over-power boxes, and ethernet-over-power sounds like the best solution to the problem. I'd like to hear how it works.