Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Have questions or comments about Simplify3D, Slic3r, Cura, Reptier, etc? Or wondering about which CAD software to use...discuss it here...
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Gwhite
Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by Gwhite » Sat Apr 16, 2022 2:52 am

I have a five year old M2E, still chugging along nicely. I'm mostly using PrusaSlicer for my routine printing jobs, in anticipation of the demise of Simplify3D. The one thing I still use S3D for is the "Machine Control Panel", which allows me to communicate directly with the printer, send Gcode commands, turn the extruder on & off, advance & retract filament, move the bed around, etc. I mostly use it when I'm changing filaments, but it's also handy checking firmware settings, recovering after losing adhesion, etc. You can create custom macros to perform common operations, like heating the extruder and retracting filament to change spools & the like.

As best I can tell, there is no equivalent functionality in PrusaSlicer. If the S3D company goes belly up, at some point their license server will go away, and I assume that will kill the software once & for all.

Is there a nice equivalent program I can run on Windows to control My M2E via USB? All the hits I got on Google were either for S3D, or complete slicers.

Thanks!

ketil
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 9:58 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by ketil » Sat Apr 16, 2022 6:53 am

I've always used printrun/pronterface for this. I customized settings and some extra buttons for the M2. Keep in mind though that I've had my M2 for 10 years, so I probably have an earlier version, with 12v heaters and an earlier extruder/hotend. You may need to change values from my defaults. My customizations are here, not updated for 8 years or so but hopefully still useful. 👍

https://github.com/kefir-/M2-config

PS, this is one of the reasons I prefer to stick with open source software. I'm a hobbyist and I do this fairly irregularly, but I'm in it for the long run. I'm not negative to paying for someone's work, and I have purchased and used simplify3d in the past, but I want to avoid unnecessary regular expenses, and I want my 10 year old work to still function. Commercial licensed software can change their license and functionality at any time. So I use Slic3r/PrusaSlicer for slicing, Pronterface for printing, and I use FreeCAD and a bit of OpenSCAD for modeling.

Gwhite
Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by Gwhite » Sat Apr 16, 2022 2:06 pm

Thanks! I'll take a look at it. At first glance, Pronterface looks perfect.

airscapes
Posts: 554
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:36 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by airscapes » Sun Apr 17, 2022 4:07 am

I have used octoprint for years and still do. I have replaced the Rambo board with a Duet 2 which has a built in Web interface that is excellent, but I still have octoprint connected to use the webcam. A Raspberry pi and octoprint works great with all slicers, is very inexpensive to buy a pi and it frees your laptop giving you remote control.

jferguson
Posts: 233
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:26 pm
Location: St Petersburg, FL

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by jferguson » Sun Apr 17, 2022 8:01 pm

Gwhite, do you have some reason other than concern that Simplify3D may go away? It's what I use for my M2, but I still use Cura for theTinyBoy.

I really like Simplify3D though. for slicing, but then Octoprint for running the machine which I leave setup at the shop and then when I need to print and am not otherwise going to the shop, I slice at home, Use my NAS to send the G-code to the shop, the remote switch to power up the printer, lights, etc then run the print watching occasionally with the camera. the thing shuts itself off at the end of the print and turns off power to the lights and printer.

I get at the shop computer, it's NAS, and the Octoprinter via RealVNC which works a treat.

Gwhite
Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by Gwhite » Sun Apr 17, 2022 11:17 pm

My current workflow is to slice in PrusaSlicer for most stuff, partly to get more comfortable with it. I have a ton of S3D factory files, and if I have to re-print something, I use that. Occasionally, I will slice a new design in S3D, but that's pretty rare. Once I slice a model, I put the Gcode file on an SD card, and I pop it into the LCD interface on the printer. I had too many issues with print crashes early on when Windows would hiccup the USB connection and trash a print. I have a USB switch that I can toggle when I need to talk directly to the printer, mostly to use the S3D Machine Control Panel.

I really like S3D, but they've been promising an upgrade again & again for YEARS now.. Despite constant pleas from their users, they still won't provide ANY concrete info on when the mythical Version 5 will be out, what the features will be, and what it will cost. The S3D forum used to be very active, and it's largely a ghost town now. Nobody is recommending it for new users (I certainly used to, and stopped some time ago...).

My suspicion is that the company is down to a handful of people, and they keep the lights on by writing & configuring custom proprietary slicing software for printer companies. The company is so poorly run that I don't see any way that they can survive the mess they've made of Version 5. They squandered pretty much all the customer loyalty they once had, and any new customer who does due diligence won't touch it with a ten foot pole.

I had an adventure today with an old S3D file. It has a 3x3 array of identical parts. I needed to modify the model slightly, and the filament I had on the printer required different settings. The only way I know how to deal with that in S3D was to blow away everything, load in the new model, duplicate it 8 times, and then rearrange them on the build plate. Then I had to blow away all the processes, load in a new one for the filament, duplicate that 8 times, and reassign each one to a different model to print sequentially. I probably could have done it faster from scratch in PrusaSlicer...

It's all nicely seamless for day to day operation, but S3D occasionally calls the mothership to make sure your license is valid. The long term concern is If S3D evaporates as a company, the server will go away, and the software will stop running. Unless they are gracious enough to release a patch that disables the license check, or some hacker comes up with a way to spoof the license server, that will kill it once & for all.

airscapes
Posts: 554
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:36 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by airscapes » Mon Apr 18, 2022 12:08 am

When you have a factory file with multiple copies, yes you have to remove them add them. But to change the process, you can group them, make your change to one and they are all changed. Leave them grouped or remove the group..does not matter unless you want to change just one process different than the rest. You can go into each process grouped or not and alter which modes is printed.

If you choose octoprint, you will find the USB works perfectly without issue, that was the main reason to move to it. You won't need to play with sd cards, you don't need to leave your laptop and go to the printer, you have full control remotely. you can also use any slicer, the gode is uploaded to the pi and stays there. You can just search and reprint a job if you have named it so you know what it is 6 months later, no name length issues like with the SD card in the rambo.
Work flow is slice, save to computer, in octoprint gui (browser) click upload, go to your file and upload. Once it is uploaded and saved, click print.. Your PC is free, no SD card sneaker net.. You have full console access and lots of fancy plugins I don't bother with but you may find useful. Please take an hour to check it out if you have not.

Gwhite
Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by Gwhite » Mon Apr 18, 2022 12:57 am

My understanding is that Octoprint requires Octopi, which requires a Raspberry Pi, which means space on my bench, more cables, and yet another a power brick.

My PC where I do my CAD designs & slicing is about 5 feet from my printer. Schlepping an SD card back & forth is hardly much of an inconvenience. It's simple, and very reliable.

Phil
Posts: 208
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2016 7:49 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by Phil » Wed Apr 20, 2022 10:42 pm

If S3D goes under, it sounds like a business opportunity. A buyer could rejuvenate the software and keep the brand going.
Hopefully, the current owner(s) will sell the firm's assets and let this happen.

Gwhite
Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Alternative to Simplify3D Machine Control Panel?

Post by Gwhite » Thu Apr 21, 2022 12:08 am

Even if they finally announced Version 5 tomorrow, they have pissed off so many customers it's hard to imagine them surviving. Even their most loyal users have mostly switched to free options like Cura or PrusaSlicer to get features that were on the S3D user wish list for years. The list of broken promises is long, and they treat their user base like children.

Even before the pandemic hit, they missed several (vague) promised dates for Version 5. They made it clear they were going to renege on the "free upgrades for life" promise to existing users, and they steadfastly refuse to come up with any sort of info on what new features we can expect. I love the software, but the company is run by an idiot.

They used to have a very active user forum. Now, a week or more can go by between posts, and it's usually just "do you support my new XYZ printer"?

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