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I am a mentor for a FIRST Robotics Club. Somebody donated a Printrbot Simple Metal rev F4 printer to the group and I was given the task to try and revive it and get it running. I am new to 3D printing and it has taken a significant amount of effort for me to try and find bits and pieces of information scattered across the web on how to setup the printer and try to get it running. I have not yet been successful. My current problem is that I can't get my computer (Windows 10 pc) to recognize that the printer exists when I plug it in. I don't know if the problem is on the PC side or the printer side.
Here is what I do know and have done:
I'm not sure where to go from here and would appreciate any help.
The banjoland site with the steps appears to be gone. I was able to track it down using the internet wayback machine https://archive.org/web/
I found all the pages with images and such back in Feb 25 2017... The 2018 and 2019 ones had missing part/.
I just typed banjolanddesign.com and it was like magic.
Their are a fair amount of printrbot videos and resources on YouTube that are helpful. With Cura open, I would try connecting the usb cord from the printrbot simple to the computer. If your computer recognizes the printer, the little icon in the top left corner will change to an "hourglass" icon. If your computer does not recognize the printer, you may need to update the frimware. And if your computer still does not recognize the printer, you may need to replace the printrboard. Their are knock off printrboards on ebay but I cannot confirm their validity. The great thing about the printrbot simple is that it is built like a tank and open source which makes it relatively easy to work on and fix compared to other proprietary 3D printers. Plus, almost every mechanical part can be easily replaced and found on amazon or ebay.
FYI, I could never get Cura on window 7 or 10 to work with my printRbot Simple metal. Ended up with Repertier Host (Free) and worked with it for a couple of years.
But as others have stated, the company is gone, with little parts support.
However, I've converted mine to run a simple $25 Ramps 1.4 board with 3D Mesh level, and my hot end is still in good condition. But the plan is to switch it to a E3D unit. Conversion parts are available on Thingiverse.
Its a very good printer, very well mechanically put together. But their support frankly sucked and hot ends parts were expensive.
My experience mirrors yours. I, for the love of life couldn't make this printer work with Windows 10 and the latest Cura version about a couple of years ago. I've now bought the RAMPS Kit to rebuild the guts of the printer.
Too bad. I spent almost $1000 on this printer and the support did not justify the money I spent on it.
Better would be to rebuild the guts and forget the original PB board. I don't think that board is ever going to stand future updates to laptops and/or Cura.
In cura, you should be able to tell it to save the project to an SD card. You can then install that SD card in the slot of your Printrbot and see if it will run. That will tell you quite a bit about the health of your machine.
Remember, if you save to he SD card, the file needs to be in the root and needs to be named auto0.g which is to say "auto zero dot g".
If you get the printer to print you're almost there. At this point I would suspect some driver issue. Other than that, the USB connector on the Printrboard is notorious for failure. The cable frequently bends it free of the circuit board and you wind up with problems.
I was given this link recently. I think you will find it most useful.
The entire Printrbot Archive.
Wow, thanks. Forwarding that on to my friend who has been dealing with my old printrbot. That should be super helpful.
I'm happy to try to help, with the caveat that you should be wary of throwing too much time and money at an unknown printrbot that I'll go into later.
The first thing I'd try is to fire up arduino and see if the board is showing up as a com port when you plug it in. You might be able to flash firmware if it's showing up there.
Before flashing, you might also try repetier host instead and see if you can get it manually moving around.
It might show up in arduino or repetier even if it isn't appearing in Cura. I know that there were some issues with different versions of Cura, and modern versions of Cura definitely do not work. I think your version is okay, but I'd chase down someone calling it out a specific version as working on your Rev4 board.
There's also still an active group over on reddit at https://www.reddit.com/r/printrbot that tries to keep their printrbots running.
Some people have had success moving over to a RAMPS board. There's a tutorial here: http://banjolanddesign.com/2016/05/08/replacing-the-electronics-in-a-printrbot-simple-metal-part-1/
Here's the biggest problem I have with giving advice on this. The advice is worth what you're paying for it, feel free to stop reading anytime:
You're probably already getting the picture, but I'll be blunt. The company is dead and anything you do fix is going to be difficult to maintain. Buying ubis and printrboard parts is still possible, but much more expensive than generic RAMPS boards or e3d clone hotends. You'll likely spend more money and a lot more time resurrecting that printer than you would in buying a much nicer one. Their documentation was always pretty good immediately after you bought the printer from them, but historical documentation was a nightmare and they rapid prototyped so much stuff that it's difficult to find the docs that you need for a specific rev of an old printrbot. I've seen differences in simple metal parts of the same board rev that made things that worked perfectly fine for some users not work for other users. (differing bend angles in the cooling fan mount is one that jumps to mind). They made some good tech, but they're dead now. You're building a frankenstein's monster with very little support. Good luck!
So that's your warning. I'll try to reply when I can about other stuff, but I'm not on thingiverse more than once or twice a day.
Good luck, and welcome to 3d printing. I started on a wooden simple, upgraded to a simple metal, and now print on a Prusa i3 MK2S. It's been a wonderful growth experience, but printers have come a long way in a few short years. I'm mostly including all of this warning text because I still feel bad having watched the friend I gifted my printrbot to go through all of the frustration of trying to make it work. You might consider simply harvesting the stepper motors for other robotics projects and buying yourself an i3 clone kit. It'll be much less work with much better results, at something likely approaching similar or cheaper cost.