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  Home :: Blog :: Da Vinci 1.0 Stepper Motor Driver Replacement Skip Navigation Links
Da Vinci 1.0 Stepper Motor Driver Replacement      
  10/8/2015 5:24:17 PM

Recently, after about 5 months of using my Da Vinci 1.0, I started to run into some problems printing. The carriage seems to skip about 5mm or so in the X-Axis from time to time during printing. Sometimes this happens within the first few layers of print, which was not too bad. Sometimes it happens hours into the print. When this happens, a loud rattling sound comes out of the stepper motor. For stock firmware printers, you might see error code 0030. Perhaps I will continue this story in another post...

While debugging this problem, I opened the back of the printer to access the main board. I read somewhere that it could be the stepper motor driver overheating. My first test was to open it up, and aim a fan at them. No luck. I still got it to skip. While staring at the main board, a lightbulb went off. Since I only get this X-Axis skip when it's super busy, maybe I can swap the controller for the X-Axis with the Z-Axis. The Z-Axis rarely gets used. With some simple test, I determined the X-Axis was the lower-left module, and Z-Axis was the upper-right. The next step resulted in this blog entry. I pulled the two stepper modules out, and swapped their positions with the printer still on. That's when I noticed that something didn't look right. Some genius at XYZ decided that it's more fun to arrange the lower two modules upside-down. Yes, I burned the chips. At this point, regardless of what the X-Axis problem is, I needed to swap out the modules. I did more research, and found these from Amazon. Little background... While XYZ uses the same A4988ET chip for their driver module, they have a custom board with the currents configured. These ones from Amazon are smaller, and have a pot on them for current regulation. To avoid major soldering work, I opted for these jumper wires.


BTW, Thingiverse user Menneset also has these adapters available if you don't want to get your hands dirty.

The installation was quite simple. I started with the printer turned off this time. Not wanting to fry my motor, I plugged in the module via the jumpers and left the four pins to the motor unplugged.



Once in, I turn on the printer to power the driver module. I also found online that the stock stepper motor draws 1.0A of power. Using the Vref method, I adjusted the pot to match. Simply put, the Vref method says the output current in Amp is double the voltage from the ground to the top of the pot in Volts. That means, simply adjust the pot until that voltage measures 0.500. Once I got that, I plugged the motor pins in. I repeated the process for the other one I burned, remembering to flip it upside-down.





Since the modules came with tiny heatsinks, I out them on there. I also did some simple insolating to avoid potential shorts form the board. Once complete, I tucked the modules in, and packed up the back door.

I wished this upgrade/repair had fixed my X-Axis shift problem. Before this blog was done, about 3 hours into a new print, it shifted again. Now I'm hoping that XYZ will step up with their warranty, and send me a replacement motor. Oh, in case you were wondering why I didn't just work with XYZ on this, I do have an open ticket. The thing is the stepper motor drivers only have a 90-day warranty. Now I have 3 spares.

** Update ** Oct. 13, 2015

I have decided to go ahead and swap out the Y-Axis as well. The main reason is because I noticed that since I swapped out the X-Axis, the printer seemed a bit quieter. I wasn't sure why. So, on a whim, I swapped out the Y-Axis. It took only 15 minutes this time. Most of that time was spent moving the printer. Anyway, believe it or not, the Da Vinci now sounds about the same as an inkjet printer. It's quite amazing actually. If your printer is more than 90 days old, I'd highly recommend making this switch. You will be glad you did.

I am looking into getting header pins with longer legs that will allow me to bend and match up to the original pin layout. This will eliminate all the jumper wires in the printer. Stay tuned for that one. I did successfully install OctoPrint onto another prototype board I had laying around. I already have a Raspberry B running OctoPi. It didn't have enough muscle to handle a PS3 Eye for time-lapse videos. I'm hoping this upgrade will. I also got OctoPrint to control some relay modules which I can use to turn on and off my layer cooling fan. Maybe I'll put together another blog for that.

On the XYZPrinting side of things, the Support department, after a while week, have determined that it was the wire harness going to the X-Axis motor. They are arranging for one to be shipped to me. Meanwhile, I know to wiggle the harness when I hear the horrible grinding noise. I still don't print beyond 3 hours for now though just to be safe.

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