Skycube Mods: Save the Aladdinbox from Sucking!

Who Wants Skycube Mods!?

Well, if you didn’t get a chance to check out my review of the Aladdinbox Skycube.. do it now.  If you are too lazy to read that or you already have, the quick synopsis was that it sucked.  So you have a few options as an owner.. save it from itself and fix it, send it back, give it to a unsuspecting friend, or throw it away.

  I’m not the type of guy to throw away something unless it’s truely outlived it’s purpose.  So, enough of the jibber-jabber.. Let’s do some Skycube Mods!  I’ll start off with the free ones and then get to the ‘expensive’ ones!

My first gripe about the printer was the terrible leveling routine.  I managed to find that this printer is a clone of the iNSTONE Easier/mini, so I joined the iNSTONE 3D Printer Support Group on Facebook and learned a few things. 

There’s an alternative way to level this machine that seems nearly as unhelpful as the original way.  By flipping the machine on it’s side you will have access to 4 screws located under the mounting points for the Y carriage linear rods.

  You tighten these screws to push the rod UP into the plastic clips that keep them in place, or loosen them to let the Y rods get a little sloppy in their holder.  Remember how I said you have to set the printer on it’s side for all of this?  Yeah, SUPER unhelpful.

The First Skycube Mod

Marlin status screen skycube mod

Status screen with the Marlin firmware

So the first of the Skycube Mods will be the leveling process.  There’s only one way to overcome all of these issues. Through live Z axis corrections!  And this locked down version of Repetier just won’t cut it for that.  So, now I get to kill two birds with one stone.. fix the crappy bed level AND the locked down Repetier!  All in just one of the Skycube Mods?!  Efficient right?!

I’m going to skip all of the technical stuff for this article and just post up links for my custom cut of Marlin 1.1.x bugfix for you to all enjoy.  There are instructions and all the drivers that you will need in the zip file.  Get the Skycube Mod firmware here!

Now, Print like it’s a REAL 3D Printer!unloaded spool holder skycube mod

Now you have full fledged firmware running on a printer that you can actually level the bed on.  What’s next in the lineup of Skycube Mods?  With all of this extra awesome you are going to want to use it more, and that mini spool holder just ain’t cuttin’ it.

Grab my handy-dandy Skycube ‘Big Boy’ Spool holder.  You just take out the screws from the mini holder and slap this puppy in it’s place.  It’s a two piece design that functions pretty well.  It’s an original design and will be updated with any changes as I see fit.  You are also free to edit the STL files as well.  It’s also printable on the Aladdinbox Skycube!

Spin that Z Axis!

The next of the Skycube Mods is purely for convenience sake.  When raising the Z, I would just twist on the lead screw.  This got old quick because there wasn’t really a nice way to do it without sticking your hand inside the Skycube from the top. 

I ended up editing a Cr10 lead screw knob off of Thingiverse for my design.  I knew I had to make the threads longer so the knob would sit high enough out of the top of the chassis.  This Skycube Mod also allows me to watch my fancy bed level mesh work it’s magic!

Want Some Sweet Prints?  You’ll Need This!

A real nice print profile is the next of the must have Skycube Mods.  I’ve spent a few kilograms getting this dialed in nice and tight with the firmware.  Using my custom profile also saves you from adding in the M420 line into the startup code.  That’s the command for Marlin to pull up that swanky mesh leveling job you just nailed.  Seriously though, download the profile here and get the Skycube printing like a pro!

Break out the Billfold!

spool holder skycube mod loaded

All-metal extruder and 1kg spool!

I’m not a fan of cheap plastic extruders.  I decided to get a nice all metal extruder with a better teeth profile for feeding in filament.  The stock extruder gear worked flawlessly for me.  Any all-metal extruder for a bowden setup will work just fine here. 

You can find these online, in prices ranging from $10-$30.  Just get whatever you can afford with decent reviews.  The most important things for me are filament path and teeth profile. 

I like finer teeth because it tends not to ‘chew’ up the filament and cause feeding/retraction issues with it hanging in the feed tube.  This should allow for trouble free flexible filament feeding and less problems further down the road.

Time to Level Up!

The most expensive of the Skycube Mods on this list is a new main board.  WHAT!?  Why purchase a new main board?  Well, the old one just wasn’t really any good.  It was missing a bunch of the headers for accessories.. like extra fans and internal lighting.  I also could never get the steppers to be as silent as I thought they should be.

  I am not sure what caused this.  The replacement board I purchased was a One+ by FYS.  It uses the same form factor and LCD pins as the original board, it just has the optional headers and quieter stepper drivers.  Both of the boards use the same A4988 steppers.  I am stumped as to what caused the loud noises from the stocker board.  The screen on the One+ also has a green back light.

There are a few issues while performing this Skycube Mod.  The first is that the connection for the two pin extruder heater cartridge is upside down from how the original board was.  You can either resolder the connector on the right way, or mod the case. 

Also, the pins for the steppers are reversed, and the end stops aren’t all correct.  Luckily for you, I made a 2nd copy of the firmware specifically for the One+!  This board runs quieter and a little cooler than the original one.  I like the green back light.  You can pick this board up from a multitude of suppliers for under $30, and honestly it’s money well spent.

Past the Essentials

There you have it, my essential list of Skycube Mods.  I plan on trying out some 3D printed bearings and also adding case lights that I can control via Gcode.  There will also be some upgrades in the parts cooling department as well.

So, was it all worth it?  If you did everything I said, you probably have about $220 into your printer.  This is of course if you got it on sale.  I can tell you first hand that the modified Aladdinbox Skycube will print just as nice now as any other printer under $400USD, save for the tiny build platform.  Before I had a noisy printer that had a 50% failure rate because of things getting knocked off my crooked build surface.  Now I’ve been using the printer more than I have some of my other ones!showing the firmware for the skycube mod

If you like this article be sure to check out some of my other work for Inov3D.  Honestly, it’s all good stuff here! 

I am trying to come up with a catchy phrase to end all my articles with.  If you have something PG13, post in the comments and let me know.

If you liked what you read, feel free to send me a donation to help me provide FREE 3d printed prosthetics for kids and adults all over the world!

 

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About Andrew Delisle

Andrew Delisle

I'm a father of four, happily married, IT professional with nearly 15 years in the field.

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22 Comments

  • Robert O Beasley
    2018-08-05 16:03

    Hi, I successfully installed your Marlin firmware on my Instone mini 3D printer but, I noticed the LCD screen now has a lighter contrast. Do you know how to fix this?

    Thanks

    • Andrew Delisle
      2018-08-05 19:20

      Robert,

      I haven’t had that issue. I know Marlin has some built in contrast tools if the LCD supports it. I know there is not a potentiometer on the board to adjust like some of the other popular LCD combos. I will do some experimenting today and post my findings back in here! Thanks for trying the firmware!

      • Robert O Beasley
        2018-08-05 19:54

        Andrew, I’m not Marlin savy but I have tried messing with the default contrast settings here and there with no luck.
        I’ll keep my eyes on this page in case you come up with the answer.

        Thanks

      • Robert O Beasley
        2018-08-05 20:09

        Andrew, I found the answer to the contrast issue I was having. I opened your supplied u8g_dev_uc1701_mini12864.c file and discovered there was a contrast value written in hex on line 60 of 0x027 which is decimal 39. I changed that value to 0x032 (50) and recompiled the firmware. This change greatly improved the contrast on my Instone Mini.

        Hope this helps you or anyone else having a contrast issue.
        Cheers, Robert

        • Andrew Delisle
          2018-08-06 01:38

          Robert,

          Thanks! Saves me some time. I was just sitting down to check it out and saw your post. I will update the file accordingly.

  • Robert O Beasley
    2018-08-06 22:45

    I have a couple of other questions. First of all, how the heck did you figure out what would work with that board and LCD? I took my board out and the only identifiable part was a reference to a generic company in China. (Dayinhu.com) They had Dayinhu mini 2560 v3.1 wrote on the board but after an extensive google search I could find no useful information for it.

    My other question has to do with Marlin 1.1.x-bugfix. Why use this version? Is there no way to use the current branch?

    Thanks!

    • Andrew Delisle
      2018-08-07 01:38

      Robert,

      The dayinhu website was a dead end. I ended up finding a storefront that had the FYS one+ firmware for a much older version of marlin… 1.1rc5-6(?). I used the LCD file for that and then just tested out the pins until I had the printer homing and heating correctly. It was very close and got me what I needed.

      I like the bugfix version because it has some of the good stuff from marlin 2.0 in it. I had bad luck with 1.1.8 and bed leveling/baby stepping. After discussing which version I should pursue, I opted for the bugfix over 1.1.8.

      I haven’t tried 1.1.9 yet. I had some compiling errors on 2.0 that I wasn’t in the mood for troubleshooting when working on this.

      You are welcome to try the 1.1.9, copy over my pin settings on the ramps pin file. You should also compare the doglcd pins config file as well. I can’t remember if I ended up changing any of those.

      How do you like your InStone with Marlin on it? Have any prints you would like to share?

      • Robert O Beasley
        2018-08-07 02:25

        Hey, I want you to know I really appreciate your help. Anyway, I’d love to fool around with 1.1.9 and I have already tried configuring it but I am having one heck of a time getting the LCD to come to life. I have absolutely no way to know what chip this LCD uses. The only thing I found out about this 12864 LCD was that it is a chip on glass version. I pulled the ribbon cable hoping to get some identifiable information but as usual being a Chinese part it led me to zilch. By the way, the ribbon cable says LX-2864B11-3.

        I realized the one+ boards are identical to the boards in our machines but just like the stock board information is scarce. If you would share the LCD files it may help get me going as the ones listed in the official 1.1.9 release don’t seem to work. However, you brought up a very valid point about pins. I never changed any of them in the 1.1.9 version so this might be where I am having trouble.

        I did play around with the marlin firmware you shared and only printed a couple of small key-chain like things. They turned out ok. I wanted Marlin so I could have more control of the printer and be able to level the bed.

        Thanks!

        • Andrew Delisle
          2018-08-07 12:20

          Robert, here’s a pins file that works with marlin 1.1.9. I haven’t gotten around to building a full 1.1.9, and probably won’t to be honest. I will wait for the next official release of 2.0.

          https://github.com/inov3d/Aladdinbox-Skycube/tree/experimental-1.1.9/experimental-1.1.9

          • Robert O Beasley
            2018-08-07 20:37

            Andrew, Thank you for sharing your pins_RAMPS.h file, I was able to get Marlin 1.1.9 flashed onto my Instone Mini. I will now need to double check all of the settings and features available using the latest release of Marlin. Is there anything else I should check or adjust that might need to be changed for this stock board? Thanks!

            Robert

  • Andrew Delisle
    2018-08-07 21:26

    Robert,

    You will have to double check the bed size constraints, thermistor types, enable the watch dog, correct lcd type, stepper and end stop logic, bed leveling, pid, just compare my work in the bugfix version. I have most of the important stuff at the top of the configuration.h file. Just search for those terms in the config file of 1.1.9
    And make sure they match.

    If you have issues, just let me know!

    • Robert O Beasley
      2018-08-08 04:04

      Andrew, I’m having some trouble with my steppers. My x axis is not moving so I wonder if there is a problem with the pin definitions somewhere? When I try to move x I hear a tiny bump but then it goes silent. Y and Z are working as they should. Any thoughts?

      Thanks

      • Robert O Beasley
        2018-08-08 04:27

        Andrew, I have used WinMerge to compare the skycube pins with the one you provided me from the link above and there are differences between the two. I will try to make the changes and see what happens. I’ll let you know the outcome.
        Thanks

        • Robert O Beasley
          2018-08-08 05:16

          Andrew, although there are a few pins that are different I didn’t change anything. I carefully went through the configuration and double checked everything and everything seems as it should be. I think I may have found the problem but I don’t know how to fix it.

          If I manually put the X carriage against it’s limit switch everything homes as it should and Marlin is happy.

          If I move the X carriage off of the switch and try to auto home Z axis starts moving but halts a couple of seconds in and throws an error. (Homing failed PRINTER HALTED please reset)

          Any help is appreciated! 🙂

          • Robert O Beasley
            2018-08-08 06:01

            Andrew. I found the problem. I did not have quick homing enabled. You can delete the unnecessary posts here if you need to. Thanks

          • Andrew Delisle
            2018-08-08 16:38

            So the pins file works, it was an issue with your config file?

            I will leave the comments as long as they are helpful. Maybe months from now someone else will have the same issue and stumble across your post.

            Let me know if you are still having an issue and I can help resolve them

  • Robert O Beasley
    2018-08-08 18:57

    I don’t know if it is relevant or not but, if I turn off quick homing and either individually home an axis or auto home all axis without having x against the limit switch Marlin throws a homing error and asks me to reset. I’m sure there is something I don’t have set right, I just don’t know what it is. However, if I have quick homing enabled it will home without errors.

  • Robert O Beasley
    2018-08-09 21:35

    I wanted to change my hot end icons on the status screen. I know how to convert the image to an array but don’t know how big the image is supposed to be. Do you know where I can find that information?

    I understand the status screens images are several arrays chained together (sort of speak) and each image appears to be separated by a column of hexadecimal 0x00. My question is really about the image size.

    Thanks!

    • Robert O Beasley
      2018-08-09 23:53

      I figured it out. 128X19.

      Thanks

  • felix
    2018-12-30 10:47

    hi!
    the link for the cura profile is broken. can you send me the file?
    thanks!

    • william
      2018-12-30 13:21

      we are still rebuilding the site the download will work again soon or get in contact with andrew delisle on fb

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