Questions from a new owner (of old M2)

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Questions from a new owner (of old M2)

Post by marcuso » Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:30 am

I purchased an old M2 unit. Not sure which version, but it does have the single power supply. I assume that it was an early copy of the versions with single power supply. It does have the stepper motors that are the silver rather than black color. The LCD appears to be the oldest version (lines on the left). I presume this is Rev E based on the firmware download page.

I did read through the beginners guide. That was very helpful. I have some questions that I am hoping someone is kind enough to answer.

It appears that Simply3d is the slicer of choice. Reading online, it sounds like development is stalled and it is not worth the $150 at this point. I am wondering if there are any slicers with good profiles available for the M2. What do you all recommend?

It sounds like the V4 hotend/extruder is a worthwhile upgrade? Anyone think otherwise? Would I be better off with an E3D or similar? If so, would it work with the current mainboard.

Is my mainboard outdated? Are there current firmware updates? Should I look to upgrade to either a new Makergear board or go down the path of 3rd party (Duet, etc)?

I will need to replace the glass bed (broken in transport). Are there any other build surfaces the Makergear version that I should buy instead?

Any recommended upgrades or maintenance items.

And finally, I know this might be a biased area to ask this question, but would I have been better off just getting a Prusa? What have I gained over the Prusa by buying the M2?

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Re: Questions from a new owner (of old M2)

Post by airscapes » Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:12 pm

Don't own a Prusa yet but from what I can see my M2 is like the big cast iron table saw they used to have in shop class or the one Norm has! The prusa is a nice aluminum table saw.
S3D works, there is no license charge after buying it. I think the older 4.01 version has less issues but from what some have told me the current 4.12 is stable. I have played with the prusaslicer and it is good, but I have never figured out the support.. The slicer is where the Art meet the science of the mechanics.. You will (hopeful) learn your slicer and you printer and be able to know what settings need to be adjusted for the particular model and filament, regardless of which slicer you choose. I think with Prusa you would get the most plug and play of any 3d printer as they are developing the slicer and they use it in their factory to make parts with their printers for making more printers.. I would not trade my M2 at this point for a Prusa but if I ever buy a second printer it will be a Prusa so I can compare side by side.

Can not answer the hot end question min is V4. I have 4 of them, one with a .25mm nozzle, .35mm, .5 and .75. I switch hot ends rather than nozzles as it is simpler but still requires calibration. Hot ends and other parts have gone up in price over the past year. The v4 hot end has no issues printing PLA,Wood enfused PLA, PETG, TPU, Nylon 910/640/EPA, and ABS. Those are all the filaments I have used. I would suggest you buy some eSun cleaning filament it is worth the effort to use between material changes to prevent nozzle clogs, I have had NONE in over 2 years.

I use the glass bed with the Polymide tape and never have adhesion issues I see on some of the other 3dprinter boards where people use cheap 3d printers with various surfaces. A lot of that has to do with now much time you put into properly calibrating Z offset and Extrusion multiplier. The M2 will keep those setting because it is so solidly built.
Good luck and I am sure you will get much more info from some of the folks who have been here for years.. It sometime takes a few days, most info you could ever want is here, you just have to find it.

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Re: Questions from a new owner (of old M2)

Post by ednisley » Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:18 pm

Welcome aboard!

Being a crusty old-timer, I have exceedingly strong opinions not lining up with current wisdom, so fetch your salt shaker and apply as needed. None of this is meant to be discouraging, but I don't do unicorns & rainbows.
the single power supply
If it's an old-old M2, then check the label on the bottom of the brick to find out if you have a 12 V supply. If so, check for charring inside / around the RAMBo power connectors, because they can't handle the current required for a 12 V platform: ... g-failure/

Regardless of what you find, plan to upgrade the whole thing to 24 V as soon as possible; it'll avoid having to work around defunct connectors.

If it's a new-old M2, it may have an under-powered Z-axis motor: ... per-motor/

The diagnostic test requires measuring the winding resistance with the multimeter you'll need for other reasons. The resistance should be a few ohms; if you measure around 30 Ω, then the motor is crap and you should plan to replace it.
Simply3d is the slicer of choice
I have outlived enough proprietary programs to see very little value in paying money for what's really a commodity product.

Opinions differ, but there's enough kvetching about crap support for paid software that I highly recommend any of the Libre Software alternatives. I use Slic3r, which was the foundation of PrusaSlicer, and other folks swear by Cura or whatever. In general, there's no magic involved, and you must learn the grisly details of slicer configuration anyway.
V4 hotend/extruder is a worthwhile upgrade
That may be driven by the power supply upgrade, but it's worthwhile all by itself.
There's no magic in RepRap-based controllers; they all do about the same thing and there's no reason to upgrade until it dies for some obvious-in-retrospect reason. However, finding the right version of the firmware to work with the particular combination of hardware you have may be difficult, particularly starting from scratch.
replace the glass bed
Some folks swear by cast aluminum tooling plates, but plain old borosilicate glass works fine if you pay attention to everything else. I use hairspray as an adhesive, other folks swear by polyimide tape, others by whatever the new hotness may be.

One high truth: whatever works perfectly for them may not work at all for you.
would I have been better off just getting a Prusa
Nope. IMO, you'd just have bought a different set of problems.

With all that in mind, I've been designing & printing about a thing a week for the last nine years and the magic still hasn't worn off. Pretty nearly every project includes a 3D printed part, because it's the single best way to get exactly the weird shape I need. With very very rare exceptions, I can design a part, slice it, and print it with zero problems: my considerably hacked M2 Just Works.

Far more examples than you really want to know about:

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Re: Questions from a new owner (of old M2)

Post by insta » Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:35 am

Buy NEMA17 dampers.

I have 6 M2's that until last week were in active production duty, some as old as 2012 (!!). Between all of them, they have run about 40 miles of filament. I have abused them, neglected them (*), covered them in hairspray overspray, broken the glass beds, shorted out the wiring in places, blowtorched nozzles 30-40 times, run exotic filaments through them. One of them is running an E3D volcano on 2.85mm filament.

They just keep working.

(*) this does not apply to the ones I'm selling
Custom 3D printing for you or your business -- quote [at]

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