3d printing directly through the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins
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README.md

Printipi

Printipi is a software package designed to bring 3d printing to the Raspberry Pi. It takes on all of the roles generally given to dedicated microcontrollers (interfacing with stepper drivers, temperature control of the hotend, and cooling fans) while also running under an operating system. This means that the same device that is running the firmware can also perform other tasks while printing, such as hosting a web interface like Octoprint.

Although called Printipi, it is not necessarily limited to running on the Pi. New platforms can be supported by implementing a handful of interfaces (see the wiki page for more info)

Printipi also aims to support a multitude of printers including typical cartesian printers (supported), deltabot-style printers (supported), or polar-based printers (not yet supported) - without the messy use of hundreds of #defines, some of which may not even be applicable to your printer. Instead, each machine type gets its own file and C++ class under src/machines that exposes its coordinate system and peripherals through a handful of public member functions. In this way it is possible to add support for a new type of printer without digging into the guts of Printipi.

Note: The documentation for Printipi is still a bit lacking. As of this time, it is not recommended to users who aren't comfortable with digging into the source code to figure out how things work.

Demos

Printipi powering a Mini Kossel @ 120mm/sec (2014/10/19): http://youtu.be/gAruwqOEuPs
Printipi powering a Mini Kossel (2014/08/18): http://youtu.be/g4UD5MRas3E

Pi2/Pi Zero/Pi [future version]

A handful of users have reported issues when using Printipi on the Raspberry Pi 2, which are most likely related to DMA. Don't expect Printipi to work on a Pi 2 without modification (but please do contact me if you get it working).

Compiling

Prereqs: gcc >= 4.6, clang++ >= 3.4 or another compiler with support for C++11
gcc >= 4.7 is highly recommended because of the benefits gained from link-time optimization, which isn't supported in gcc 4.6 when using C++11
gcc 4.7 can be installed in the stock version of Raspbian via sudo apt-get install g++-4.7 and to use it over the system's gcc, compile with make CXX=g++-4.7

The easiest way to build Printipi is to actually do the compilation directly on the Raspberry Pi.

First, log into your Raspberry Pi and get the sources: git clone https://github.com/Wallacoloo/printipi.git

Then navigate to the src directory and type make MACHINE=<path/to/machine.h> <target>, where <machine> is the relative path to some machine contained under src/machines, e.g. rpi/kosselrampsfd.h or the generic/cartesian.h machine, and <target> is either debug, release, debugrel, profile, or minsize. Both are case-sensitive. Example: make MACHINE=rpi/kosselrampsfd.h release.

A binary will be produced under the build directory with the name printipi. Navigate to that folder and run the binary (you will want root permissions in order to elevate the scheduling priority of the task, so run e.g. sudo ./printipi).

Usage

The firmware can either be called with no arguments, in which case it will take gcode commands from the standard input (useful for testing & debugging). Or, you can provide the path to a gcode file. The provided file can be any file-like object, including device-files. This allows one to pass (e.g.) /dev/ttyAMA0 to take commands from the serial port.

Using with Octoprint:

Prereqs: install the program "socat". E.g. sudo apt-get install socat

Because Octoprint prints to a serial-like Linux device-file, and Printipi can take commands from any file-like object, it's possible to create a virtual serial port to pipe commands from Octoprint to Printipi. This is just what the provided "launch-firmware.sh" file does. After running that script, a new device should be visible in the Octoprint web interface (a refresh will be required) to which you can connect. In theory, this should work with most printer controllers that connect to a printer via serial/USB, but only Octoprint has been tested.

Configuration Files

The files under src/machines define classes of machines - deltabots, cartesian bots, polar bots, etc. Each one of these is analogous to a master "config file". That is to say, you should find the machine definition in that folder that is most similar to your own (e.g. src/machines/rpi/kosselrampsfd.h), make a copy of it (e.g. copy it to src/machines/rpi/customkossel.h and be sure to rename the kosselrampsfd C++ class contained in the file to customkossel in order to reflect the path change), and then customize it. Unless you are a developer, you should never have to edit code outside of your config file. To build your customkossel machine, type make MACHINE=rpi/customkossel.h.

Documentation/Assistance

Besides this readme, there is also the auto-generated documentation that can be viewed online (note that this documentation is aimed towards Printipi developers moreso than end-users) or you can compile the documentation via make doc and view the resulting index.html in a web-browser.

If you need assistance in anything Prinitpi-related, feel free to post a thread on the Printipi Google Group or email wallace.colin.a@gmail.com.

If you would like to report a bug or request a feature, use the issue tracker.

Contributing

If you wish to support Printipi development, take a look at the issue tracker for tasks that need to be completed. After creating a fork with your changes, please submit your pull requests against the master branch.

If you wish to port Printipi to a new platform, just follow the instructions in the wiki.

Limitations

Printipi currently runs entirely in userland. While this makes development and usage trivial, it makes hardware management less safe. Printipi uses one of the Raspberry Pi's DMA channels in order to achieve precise output timing (2~4uS precision), however if you install another program that tries to access the same DMA channel as Printipi, it will lead to errors (Very, very few programs use DMA directly though, so conflicts are pretty unlikely).

Also, very heavy bus contention may degrade timing accuracy. Experiments show 500ksamples/sec (2uS resolution) to be dependable under most operating conditions, except heavy network/disk usage. 250ksamples/sec (4uS resolution) is dependable for at least 1 MB/sec network loads, and is the default data rate.

The Raspberry Pi has no user-accessible analog to digital (A/D) converters, meaning that it's slightly more complicated to read analog sensors, like thermistors and force-sensitive resistors (FSRs). Since both of these act as resistors, this limitation is bypassed by using an RC circuit - a capacitor of known capacitance is charged to its capacity, and the time it takes to discharge through the resistor is measured.

Lastly, only a limited set of gcode commands are currently supported. Namely, testing has been done using Cura for slicing.

License

With the exception of certain files*, Printipi is licensed under the MIT license. This means that you are free to use, modify, distribute, and sublicense the code as you see fit. You are perfectly free to use it in your own closed-source or commercial projects. While you are not obligated to do so by the license, it would be appreciated that you share any improvements you make (e.g. make a public fork on github containing your modifications and then submit a pull request to have it merged with the master branch).

*util/rotation_matrix.py is (c) Edward d'Auvergne and reproduced here only to aid in calibration