In this post I will write about my adventure upgrading my uncle’s CubeX Duo to the latest version of marlin. They had already installed a Makerbase V1.1 board prior to eliminate the need for the CubeX cartridges, but the nozzle had been cleaned in their shop with something much larger than 0.4 and print quality suffered horribly. The replacement hot-end which are hard to find from this old company were selling on eBay for over $100! I decided this could not be feasible with the availability of E3D parts online.
After looking at the prices of a new hot-end for this printer, I decided to modify it for him. We are still working on this modification but have decided to start our guide. We purchased the V6 clone hot-end from Ali-express via Triangle Labs. The parts required include some printed ABS pieces, so if this is your first printer and you need them to make them for you please contact us and we can help. It is required to convert the old-style hot-end to the E3D and retain the stock extruder. You can also opt to upgrade to the BMG style extruder, but that will be done at a later time.
Required Parts & Tools:
- E3D V6 or Clone Hot-End https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32844028127.html
- Already upgrade to aftermarket control board such as Makerbase MKS V1.3 https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32384368763.html
- Soldering Iron, or crimping tools to connect wiring
- Electronics knowledge
- Cut-off tool and files to modify old hot-end
- ABS printed Hot-End conversion/adapter https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1689321 (We used the conversion here) – Alternatives: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1239945 or https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3204349
- Patience, lots of it.
I will be the first to say this printer really kicked my butt. I began trying to upgrade marlin because I had no idea what the previous guy done. The firmware was so old, marlin wouldn’t output any information other than a random message. After upgrading marlin, I could not for the life of me figure out the proper steps/mm settings for the Z axis. I tried to use an engineering method by measuring the pitch of the Z screw, but something must be up in the bushing. Eventually I had to resort to using a caliper and measuring the travel, and finally got it close enough to make a distinguishable print. I will share my steps/mm and firmware, but I cannot guarantee this printer has not been modified. Every single version of firmware I found for this printer online, had different Z axis steps. I cannot explain why, or begin to reason how; but nobody had the same X,Y or Z steps in the firmware shared online from similar modifications. I have attached my firmware to this post, you will need to read our other blog posts or ask on the forum for support uploading. It may require some tweaking for your specific parts. As stated I am unsure what this one had done to it prior to coming to my shop.
Converting to E3D Hot-End
This guide is not going to go into great detail like my other guides, because this job is not for the beginner. If you have never messed with control boards, electronics and have several years under your belt in 3D printing I do not recommend taking this on alone. I almost told him to come pick this thing up, when fighting with the firmware. I found multiple JST plugs which had broken wires, cracked PLA home sensor mounts and more. We printed all new X and Y axis home switch mounts via the links above. Don’t forget to build your E3D V6 Hot End according to specifications! Follow this link to see the manual! https://wiki.e3d-online.com/E3D-v6_Assembly
If you have already converted your CubeX Duo to an aftermarket control board; You will simply need to print out the adapter piece we linked to above. Make sure you use a high-temp resistant material such as ABS or Nylon, maybe even PETG. Then you will take the old hot-end off the printer and cut the top piece which fits into the extruder off. I used a air powered cut-off tool, and then filed down the remaining aluminum until flat as shown below. Once you have cut and sanded your adapter down, test fit several times and ensure it is snug. Do take your time while doing this, as once you take too much material you end up with slop in these parts. Any type of slop or play inside of this adapter, and you will need to try another method. As it may eventually lead to filament feeding issues down the line. I used an M3 tap and M3 screws to keep the adapter tight.
When you remove the old hot-end you had to remove the extruder on top, and loosen the torx screw which holds the hot-end in place. Now that it’s time to re-install the hot-end, make sure you followed the instructions and prepared your E3D V6 hot-end. I recommend placing the hot-end and adapter together, having all the wiring in the hot-end. Then you will simply slide the hot-end into the hole from underneath the carriage, mating it with the extruder by lining up the nub and twisting counter-clockwise. Then snug down your extruder screw (the vertical one) and proceed to hold the hot-end firmly into the extruder, and re-tighten the torx screw which holds it in place.
Now you will need to perform all of the wiring, it will require customized steps depending on how you upgraded your control board. The heater, and thermocouple connections are up to you; then ensure the correct one is chosen in firmware. The firmware we are providing is already setup for the hot-end above, but you may need to make adjustment’s if you purchase a different kit. The thermocouple, and the e-steps may need some tweaking for your printer. Once you have the firmware uploaded and ready; it’s able to print without spending 100$+ on hard to find, rare hot-ends! I will continue to edit this as I have more information and photos, please don’t be afraid to ask questions as I will help with your conversion if I can.