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Raspberry Pi! 3 Reasons You Need One

Before we get into why you need a Raspberry Pi, let’s talk briefly about what a Raspberry Pi is. No, a Raspberry Pi is not a type of dessert! In fact, it is a micro-computer that runs on Linux and is completely open source.

The uses for a Raspberry Pi can vary from a Retro-gaming arcade all the way up to a fully functional computer. Although it does lack resources compared to an average laptop or desktop, Raspberry Pi’s are great for doing simple tasks. Simple tasks like what we will be talking about today, running Octoprint!

What Hardware Do We Need?

There is nothing I hate more than wasting time reading a lengthy tutorial, only to find out I need tools that I don’t have! So, I like to list the required items up front so you know what you are getting into.

Hardware List:

Raspberry Pi

Extended Ribbon Cable

Raspberry Pi V2 Camera

Reason Number 1: Wireless Printing

If you purchase a Raspberry Pi for nothing other than wireless printing it will be worth it!  No more swapping SD cards, or having to have your laptop next to your printer. All you really need to do is Drag and Drop your .stl files from your computer onto the Octoprint’s web-server.

The beauty of Octoprint is that is completely open source, with TONS of content and resources at your disposal. There are YouTube videos and tutorials on how to set them up which I will include in this article.[/vc_column_text]

Octoprint Installation Tutorial

Reason Number 2: Bed Leveling

By adding a few simple Octoprint Plug-Ins you can take your 3d printing experience to the next level. No doubt that bed leveling is the number one issue confronting people who are new to 3D printing.  What if there was a way to visually see the high spots and low spots in your print bed?  With Octoprint there is!

The Bed Visualizer Plug-In for Octoprint allows you to import your data from your touch probe and creates a 3d representation of your build plate.  This allows you to manually adjust the build plate and/or choose where you would like to place your print on the build plate.

One example on how I personally applied this feature, was from my last article on printing Nylon on my Prusa MK3.  When I first began to print, I found the right side of my print was being squished too much while the left side was not squished enough. Unfortunately, the downside to the Prusa machine is the lack of manual bed leveling adjustments.  However, using the bed leveling software I was able to find a spot on my print bed where there was less of an impact on my 3d print quality.

Reason Number 3: Time Lapse Videos

The next Plug-In we will be talking about is called Octolapse. By far one of the most satisfying things, other than watching your first 3d printed object come to life, is creating a nice clean time-lapse video. Luckily, Octoprint makes this easy too!

Unlike other time-lapse videos, where a picture is snapped at random points and stitched together. Resulting, in a video where the motion of the print head creates a vomit inducing a seizure. Octolapse allows you to choose from a number of set positions to take a snapshot.

How does this work?  The Octolapse Plug-In works by intercepting the gcode that is being sent to the 3d printer from the Raspberry Pi and inserts specific movement commands. Once those commands have been executed, Octolapse will take a snapshot.  Once your 3d print is complete, those snapshots are compiled into a short video like the one seen below.

You can either use a USB webcam or a Raspberry Pi Camera. I prefer to use the Raspberry Pi Camera V2. It has an adjustable lens to really let you dial in the clarity and resolution. However, if you do go with the Raspberry Pi Camera V2, do yourself a favor and purchase an extended length ribbon cable. The one that comes with the camera is way too short, you will probably need a longer one.  You can buy a longer cable on Amazon.

Final Verdict

I personally put off purchasing a Raspberry Pi for a long time.  It seemed like just one more thing I needed to learn along with 3D printing.  However, it was super simple to set up.

Admittedly, I have NO experience with Linux and have been a hardcore Windows user from the start. Although, I do some experience programming.  Luckily, there is a HUGE community of great people just itching to help you out if you were to get stuck.

Now that I have the Raspberry Pi installed along with a couple of crucial Octoprint Plug-Ins, I consider it one of those revolutionary tools that could not envision myself living without.  Kind of like the Instapot, HA!

Clearly, I have only touched the surface of what adding a Raspberry Pi to your 3d printer can do.  Be forewarned that once you install one, you will find more and more uses.  I hoped you learned something today, feel free to like, share, and comment below.

As always thank you for your time!

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