So enough has arrived that I was ready to start the assembly process. I had read all the instructions over on the RepRap Wiki, watched almost every build video on you tube, printed out some awesome instructions (looking for the link). With that I figured I was ready to go.
Ethan had a friend (Joe) over one Friday night and the girls were out so I figured what better than letting them get their hands dirty. We laid out the printer parts on the kitchen counter and I put the documentation in front of them. They were pretty interested for the first 90 minutes before they disappeared. During this time they got most of the frame assembled with the exception of the X-Carriage. After they left I completed as much as I could before I called it a night.
The following day I got the wooden bed installed along with the X-Carriage and I stared at the extruder that came with the kit trying to envision exactly how to assemble it. It was nothing too complicated however I had to drill and tap the PTFE plastic barrel. I only had one chance at getting this right without having to order another one and couldn’t find any details on dimensions for drill bits, thread type or depth of the tapping. Even though I found this video, I still managed to get it wrong. I drilled the hole too deep and subsequently tapped it. This resulted in the aluminum heater block being tight against the PTFE plastic barrel. It turns out after a few forum posts later that I was supposed to leave room between these two components. How much I am still not sure because details are so sketchy!
After assembling the print head, I then scratched my head for a while looking at my Wade’s Extruder. It turns out the one that I purchased on ebay was not a j-head mount and did not have two holes through the side horizontally, nor was there enough depth to do this. After googling for solutions, I came across a few ideas like this one for using printed parts to hold it in place. OK, my printer wasn’t up yet, what was I supposed to do???
In lieu of this I purchased a piece of aluminum flat stock at home depot and fashioned my own bracket. Of course this didn’t fix my problem with trying to use the included print head but did work great using the upgraded j-head I had purchased from Voxel Factory.
After installing the motors and hooking up all of the electronics I was ready to turn it on. I was extremely hesitant to hit that power switch but after checking everything three times I found the nerve. What the @#$!@????? The motors keep going back and forth, back and forth, x, y, z, extruder over and over again! More research was needed. I found a post on the RepRap Forums that seemed to indicate this could have been a test firmware. So, I broke out another Arduino Mega from the stack and flashed it with the Marlin Firmware. TADA! this resolved my problem and on the next power up I was in business, the printer was now initialized and displayed the LCD screen. After cleaning up the wiring I was almost ready to declare the physical build complete and move onto the PC software and ultimately my first print. Of course, 3D hobby printers are never complete and you are always fiddling with things, printing upgrades and in general experimenting with things.
UPDATE: I later found that my home made j-head holder resulted in the head being loose when printing. To fix this I removed the j-head from the extruder and put an M8 washer inside the extruder before re-installing the J-head. this placed pressure on the j-head when everything was put back together and resolved the sloppy head.