TFT35 Dual Mode 3D Print Control – Hands On

I used to be rebuilding one of my three-D printers — once more — and made up our minds I wished a show improve. A colour display screen is sweet, however there are some boundaries. I additionally discovered there are methods round those boundaries, so I sought after to percentage my ideas on a dual-mode colour contact display screen LCD controller on your three-D printer. The display screen in query is a TFT35 from BigTree Tech. It’s very similar to an MKS display screen, however it may possibly function in two other modes, as you are going to see.

A couple of years in the past, I picked up an Anet A8 which was once very reasonably priced, particularly on sale. Now not the most productive printer, regardless that, as it has that affordable acrylic body. No drawback. A field filled with aluminum extrusion later, the printer was once reborn. Over the years, I’ve utterly transformed the extrusion gadget and the Y-axis, leaving simplest the motors, bearings, and the controller/show as the unique.

That ultimate phase was once what afflicted me. The Anet board is if truth be told lovely succesful for a small affordable board. However it is only what the printer wishes and not anything extra. For those who sought after to Mod the printer there was once little or no reminiscence left and simplest one spare pin for I/O. So it was once time to switch the board and why no longer the controller, too?

(*4*)(*8*)(*2*)(*20*)The more-or-less usual show for Marlin.

The A8 has an LCD2004. That suggests it has a 20×4 LCD. As an alternative of an encoder knob, there are five buttons: principally up, down, left, proper, and input. Maximum printers now have an LCD12864 which, as you’ll be able to almost definitely wager, is a 128×64 LCD they usually use an encoder knob for route that you’ll be able to push for the input key.

Alongside Got here a Spider

I took place to have one of those mendacity round so after I put in a brand new motherboard — a Fysetc Spider in case you are curious — I additionally stressed out within the new LCD. I needed to recompile Marlin, after all, however that’s simple. All of it labored, it simply appeared somewhat bland.

The TFT35 in contact mode.

There’s in a different way to management a printer, and it’s one you will have considered earlier than. Because the printer accepts instructions by way of a serial port, it is advisable to take a pc like a Raspberry Pi with a pleasant LCD and simply have it factor instructions to the serial port. Bonus issues if the board has greater than one serial port so you’ll be able to nonetheless hook up a PC or a Raspberry Pi operating Octoprint or an identical. Seems, you don’t must construct this. The MKS touchscreen makes use of an ARM chip (it isn’t a Pi, regardless that) and has a slightly display screen that you’ll be able to use to management the printer. Those come in several sizes and are normally referred to as one thing like TFT35 for 3.5 inch show.

The merit isn’t simply look. Having a host of contact display screen buttons makes many stuff more straightforward. As an example, if the printer is at (0,0) and you need to jog the top to (100,200), that finally ends up being numerous button pushes in Marlin. With the contact show, you’ll be able to convey up a navigation display screen that makes it simple. Or, you’ll be able to convey up a whole terminal and input G-code. While you press Ship, it presentations the result of the command, if any. You’ll be able to set a temperature with the knob, on-screen buttons, or press the quantity and kind in what you need with a digital keypad.


Break up Persona

Those shows are colourful and great, however there are some things they are able to’t do. Marlin has some wizards and person interplay that insist on a right kind, native LCD. However the Marlin code thinks the MKS show is a faraway host laptop, attached over serial. Presentations that may act like each forms of LCDs are a candy Mod, and right here’s the phase that was once by no means transparent to me earlier than: those shows can transfer modes all the way through printer operation. In different phrases, it’s not a case of settling on a style and rebooting the whole thing. You’ll be able to be taking a look on the colourful touchscreen, then transfer over to the inventory show whilst printing after which transfer again any time you need. The most productive of each worlds.

At the face of it, the show seems like an MKS TFT. You could have colourful menus and a slightly display screen. The relationship for that could be a easy two-wire serial port, in conjunction with — after all — energy, flooring, and an not obligatory reset connection. They supply a cable you’ll be able to use or regulate to connect with your setup. There could also be an EXT3 port for forums that experience that connector.

If all you need is an MKS show, you’re executed. Because the show seems like a bunch laptop, you don’t even must recompile Marlin if the serial port you used was once lively. In my case, the second one serial port wasn’t arrange, so I needed to recompile, however I do this regularly sufficient, anyway.

On the other hand, should you cord the traditional EXT1 and EXT2 ribbon cables on your printer, the show can emulate an ordinary 128×64 LCD. If you’re already arrange to make use of one of those shows, you must no longer wish to recompile Marlin to make use of this show. On the other hand, in case you are arrange for a unique form of show, you’ll wish to inform Marlin to make use of the traditional “REPRAP DISCOUNT GRAPHICS CONTROLLER.”

Deficient Advertising

Right here’s what I by no means understood in regards to the software. Taking a look on the write-up about it on other supplier websites like Amazon, Banggood, or AliExpress, it gave the impression of it is advisable to use the display screen in both mode as a static configuration selection. In different phrases, you may cord up EXT1 and EXT2 after which use the emulated mode till you made a decision to change over to serial at some long run date. However that’s no longer the way it works. You’ll be able to attach the entire cables and turn backward and forward between show programs at the fly.

That’s large. It way you’ll be able to have a pleasant person interface that allows you to management the printer, print from an SD card or USB stick, or even make customizations to the menu with the supply code supplied on GitHub or with a easy configuration dossier edit. (And, sure, you’ll be able to upload customized menu pieces merely.) But if you wish to have to do one thing very explicit to Marlin, or a brand new function presentations up that the LCD doesn’t find out about but, you’ll be able to merely transfer to the Marlin show mode. Then you’ll be able to transfer again.

Choose your mode with a slightly or the encoder button.

The method to change is inconspicuous. Simply hang down the encoder knob or push the display screen for a couple of seconds. A display screen will display up permitting you to pick out the Marlin mode or the BTT mode. Simply contact the one you need. In Marlin mode, the touchscreen does not anything excluding transfer modes, so you may wish to use that approach. For those who hang the encoder down in Marlin mode, the printer can even see the repeated input keys till the LCD pops up the choice display screen.

For those who use a bezel, watch out. For those who tighten a case down sufficient to make the contact display screen assume you’re urgent the display screen, you’ll get caught within the variety mode, which is smart. Simply don’t overtighten the LCD!

Set up

Putting in the LCD was once simple save a couple of issues. For some explanation why, the pin 1 designation for EXP1 and EXP2 don’t seem to be constant amongst distributors. A Geeetech show labored high-quality with the Spider board, however the TFT35 didn’t wish to arise in Marlin mode in any respect. I implemented energy on the serial port and the board gave the impression hung. The solution was once to snip off the alignment tabs at the ribbon cables and turn them 180 levels.

The serial port was once additionally a thriller. With so little documentation on the rest, I simply soldered the facility and flooring wires after which hand twisted RX and TX so I may change them till it labored. As I anticipated, the cable wanted a pass on the ones traces to paintings. You even have to compare the show’s baud charge to the port you’re the use of.

After that, all of it labored high-quality. The EXP1 and EXP2 connectors do hook up with the board’s reset, so that you don’t wish to cord the serial port’s reset pin when you’ve got the ones attached. On the other hand, I did realize that switching the mainboard to DFU mode will now and again fail with the show plugged in. Reflashing the show calls for an SD card that flashes a binary dossier after which reboots and rather a lot fonts and icons. If it is attached to the Spider, it now and again hangs when seeking to reboot all the way through an replace. It additionally works now and again, regardless that, so I think it is only loading at the reset line. In any tournament, popping the connectors will make it paintings should you don’t need to check out again and again.

The show has quite a few different ports, however you most likely shouldn’t use them. As an example, there’s a port for a filament runout sensor. However should you attach it there, it’s going to simplest paintings in case you are printing the use of an SD card or USB stick within the show. A more sensible choice is to glue it on your printer and inform Marlin to inform the host if a filament destroy happens. This may occasionally paintings with the show or one thing like Octoprint.

In idea, you must be capable of attach Octoprint itself via one of the additional serial ports. On the other hand, I by no means were given this to totally paintings. The subordinate port turns out to paintings lovely smartly, nevertheless it by no means sends Octoprint acknowledgments so Octoprint waits perpetually or till you pressure it to proceed — use the Faux Acknowledgment button within the terminal. Because the Spider has more than one serial ports, it isn’t a large deal, however in idea, the TFT must paintings somewhat higher if it may possibly intercept and clear out the knowledge flow between the printer and the host tool. In follow, I don’t actually realize any issues. Some Octoprint plugins like DisplayLayer can ship standing data to the TFT, anyway.

The Verdict

(*5*)Marlin mode is to be had at any time.

Actually, I don’t transfer over to Marlin mode very regularly, however it’s great to have it if I would like it, and you’ll be able to even trade the colours to fit your needs. I actually sought after the passthrough mode to paintings however couldn’t determine what was once happening with out digging into the supply code, and that could be a challenge for every other day.

Some other notice: The use of the jog keys units the printer to relative mode. If you’re used to popping codes right into a terminal, you may wish to get used to issuing a G90 earlier than you ship a circulate since the TFT will trade it to relative anytime you do a jog.

Those shows are reasonably priced and simple to interface and because they are able to nonetheless paintings as a vintage show, there’s no explanation why no longer to do that simple improve. There are many mounting choices you’ll be able to print, after all. The completed consequence seems to be nice and doing such things as shifting in each X and Y are a lot more straightforward with the brand new show.

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