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Hive13 CNC Projects
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List of All Documented Equipment
GigaBot Printer.jpg
Owner/Loaner: Hive13
Hive13 Asset Tag: None
Make/Model: GigaBot (google)
Arrival Date: Jan 2014
Does it work?: No
Certification Needed?: Yes
Contact: FabLab Warden
Floorplan: 1A


The Gigabot was sold to Bill Steel in January 2020

About this Item

The Gigabot is a beastly printer with an eight cubic foot build area (2'x2'x2').

We were initially loaned this item from Virtual Print Labs. After a year they approached us about buying it and we subsequently purchased it for $2k at the February 17, 2015 meeting.

Multiple members have contributed time and money to fixing and upgrading Gigabot over the last few years (including: Ryan H, Bill S., Jim S, Lorin P.....)

It currently has a 3mm filament extruder and no heated build platform or heated envelope. This limits the print material to PLA and similar materials that do not need heat for bed adhesion.


  • build platform: 600x600x600mm (2 ft cube).
    • Currently we have a large sheet of glass sitting on top of the (warped) aluminum bed. Use blue tape!
    • Has a heating pad, but not currently wired up.
  • min layer resolution: 0.1mm
  • print speed: 60 - 100 mm/s
  • Extruder: Direct drive wade's extruder with E3D volcano hotend. Uses 3.0 (or 2.85) mm filament
  • Nozzles: currently have 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1.0, 1.2 mm volcano nozzles (brass)
  • Electronics: RAMPS board running customized Marlin firmware. Communicate via Raspberry Pi running Octoprint.
  • Other: Automatic bed level compensation


  • Printing on Gigabot is Live! Talk to fab lab warden for training.
  • Gigabot runs Marlin firmware (customized by Bill) and can accept G-code created by various open-source software
    • The Fab-lab printer computer has an appropriate slicing profile in Cura 2.3 software
  • Gigabot is connected to a raspberry pi running Octoprint. This allows loading of Gcode via internet browser
    • alternatively, you can print over USB cable from the desktop.
  • This gigabot is Hive13 hacked and customized, and there are a few non-intuitive "features":
    • Has a left-handed coordinate systems. Gcode generated in Cura expects right-handed, and will be a mirror-image.
    • Homing of Z axis is currently off by ~1mm. If not compensated, it will start printing 1mm in the air.
      • Fixing this in the firmware is on to-do list. For now it is compensated in Cura profile starting Gcode.
    • G29 (bed leveling) command can only be run directly after a G28 (homing) command. This is a safety feature to prevent crashing.
    • G28 (homing) sometimes does not function properly if Z coordinate is >20. Until this is fixed in firmware use G92 Z0 before G28
    • Flipping the big power switch does not cut power entirely, as the RAMPS board still gets power over USB.

General usage checklists

Gigabot Startup:

1.(recommended) Do a hard microcontroller restart: turn off power, unplug Raspberry Pi USB

2.Login to OctoPi via internet browser and connect to printer.

3.Check which nozzle is in the printer, change if necessary. (google E3D nozzle swap. Use TLC, no excessive force!!)

4.Check which filament is loaded, change if necessary

5.Check whether bed is semi-level, re-level if its too far off

6.Check the blue tape, replace if its shitty

7.Clean and/or hairspray the blue tape

Slicing via Cura:

1.Open Cura 2.3.1

2.Make sure "Printer" is set to "Gigabot"

3.If nozzle was swapped, go to Settings-->manage printers-->gigabot-->machine settings and correct the nozzle size.

4.Set to appropriate slicing profile for the nozzle (currently have 0.8, 0.4mm nozzle profiles)

5.Adjust slicing profile as desired—layer height, speed, supports, etc. To save profile, use “create profile from current settings”, don’t overwrite

6.Load 3D model, position, resize, etc. MIRROR your model if it's chiral.

7.Wait for slicing, then switch to preview mode to visualize Gcode

8.Save gcode,and load into Octoprint

GigaPrinting Considerations

  • Check the Print time and filament used before starting (available in Cura preview). Make sure there is enough filament on the roll!
  • Consider nozzle size tradeoffs of detail vs speed. General guidelines:
    • Max layer height = 3/4 nozzle size, Min layer height = 1/4 nozzle size
    • Optimal line width = nozzle size + (0.05 to 0.1) mm
  • Biggest challenge on big prints tends to be bed adhesion.
    • Thermal shrinkage of plastic = Large footprint tends to peel up at edges.
    • Solid footprint (solid cube etc) will have more issues than hollow footprint (think upside-down vase)
    • try extending brim or switching to raft in slicing software
    • Different types and brands of filament have different thermal shrinkage.

Work Records

  • A heated build plate is on order. Once installed it will allow membership access to printing with a large supply of ABS. (Expected: Jan 2014 by Ivan)
  • The GigaBot is down for repairs. Pending thermocouple replacement and diagnostics. (12/13/14 by Ivan)
    • The thermistor was drilled out and replaced. The heater was heating element was tested. Reassembly is complete, waiting on firmware from RE3D.
    • Firmware link is broken. Email sent.
    • Jim found the firmware was backup, it has been installed. The X & Y axis needed inverted via boolean in firmware.
    • The extruder is currently not responding, swapped stepper driver, no change.
    • Extruder wiring looks fine and appears connected, still looking for a firmware setting. (12/16/14 by Ivan)
  • A workstation class pc has been setup for CAD modeling and controlling the printer. (Feb 2014 by Ian)
  • Currently, the only way to print on the Gigabot is via the SD card slot--need to fix USB port.
    • Update: A new board has been installed, the USB port works but we may need a long USB cable. USB Type is mini. (12/13/14 by Ivan)
  • This item needs a more permanent work surface so that Bill and others can access it with the printer being up off of the floor (Expected Feb 2014 by Ryan).
    • Update: Gigabot has a usable surface in the fab lab (a table with legs removed)--may still upgrade to a welded platform in future.
  • The Gigabot power supply failed, and needs to be replaced. (3/12/14)
    • Update: Bill replaced the power supply, it is alive again! (3/25/2014)
  • Inductive Z sensor:
    • The 12 V sensor must be powered 12v from the power supply (not the azteeg board)
    • Requires current limiting - 470 Ohm R is currently soldered to wire and heat shrunk on.
    • Lorin built a custom level shifter to convert between 12V low impedance to 5V high impedance. Simple NPN BJT biased carefully. It worked.
    • Azteeg board fried due to ESD. Turns out this is not uncommon...
    • Azteeg X3 board diagram shown at right. Shift board will send +5V high when bed is homed. Wire +5V output of shift board to Z min accordingly. Please consult literature on RE3D if this looks confusing to you. NOTE: Azteeg is no longer being used. This printer is being switched to RAMPS controller.
  • 10/15 - Upgrade to RAMPS controller
    • We agreed to replace azteeg with RAMPS controller. Bill donated a RAMPS board. Documentation on RAMPS is here [1]
    • Ramps controller is being adapted and configured for Gigabot:
      • Pololu high current modules MUST be used, not standard modules included with RAMPS 1.5A+ rating. Ours have heatsinks and will also be fan cooled.
      • AD8495 thermocouple board must be installed (RAMPS default is thermistor - this will adapt). DaveB has one (not at Hive yet because Lorin is busy / lazy and hasn't driven out to get it).
      • Optoisolators are being used on inputs from external sensors, like Z-probe. Lorin is adding TI MCT2 [2] where needed.
      • Schottky diodes and diode clamp at any floating supplies may be needed to prevent problems associated with gigabot's power supply that have led to over voltage in past.
      • 11/15 - TO DO:
        • RAMPS board tested with high current Pololu. WORKS
        • Optoisolator circuit. DONE.
        • Install AD8495 board.
        • Replace PTC's with standard fuses (auto type)
        • Calibrate and configure Marlin.
        • Install and test in Gigabot.
        • Replace cable tracks (they are too small) with easy to thread larger tracks. As long as we're wiring, let's eliminate this proverbial PITA.

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