What I wish I knew before I built my HyperCube Evolution

I must admit, I jumped right in and went hog-wild and just built away. I have no regrets, but I’ll be honest, my wallet would be happier if there were a few things I wish I fully understood before I started on my custom-built HyperCube Evolution Journey.

What I got wrong

First and foremost, I chose direct drive, without fully understanding the “Weight” of it all πŸ™‚ While I absolutely love my direct drive, there were some major “gotchas” that snuck up on me.

When you get excited about building a HEVO, read the Thingiverse page & comments and surf the internet – not much of this is common knowledge. I hope this post will soon make it common knowledge and help others not run into the same issues I did!

HEVO Gantry Sag

Going direct drive with an 8mm X/Y gantry ended up being an issue. 8mm rods just don’t have the strength in a 300×300 build area to hold the mass of the Titan Aero without sagging under its weight. (Hemera would have the same issue!)

DuetWifi Mesh Compensation with 8mm rods

Ouch πŸ™ Look at that gantry sag!

With a little help from FB groups and some google/bing searches I saw a few people with direct drive mention they went 10mm rods and that there were STL’s available for such so I chose that route. Ordered new X/Y rods, printed new carriage and brackets and rebuilt the top end of my printer.

DuetWifi /Mesh after upgrading to 10mm X&Y rods

No Gantry Sag! (Just some alignment that was later fixed)

While not the best screenshot to. use, You can see I had some squaring off of my frame to do on this build, but the gantry sag is clearly gone. I’ve since corrected the layout and bed/mesh leveling looks great.

But…

The 10mm Rods started to sag after printing for a while. I believe the stress of belt tension and just a single head crash into a failed print caused them to sag under stress. Rotating the rods and trying out different Y carriages seemed to help recover most of it and Mesh compensation worked to fix it but I’d like to get rid of it once and for all.

Now that I got rid of gantry sag I hit a few other “laws of physics” that needed some tweaking. Turns out that moving from 8mm rods to 10mm rods adds quite a bit of mass and with high acceleration, motion and jerk settings that mass leads to “ringing” in prints. Luckily there are ways to diminish this via software and hardware so we’ll dive in a bit more down below.

Cheap idlers

It turns out that wanting to print soft filaments vs sticking to PLA wasn’t the only decision that needs to be made with the trade-offs of direct drive vs Bowden.

The mass of the direct drive has huge implications. Not just in gantry sag – but other components. It turns out cheap 20 tooth idlers can do mostly well with a light and nimble bowden setup but throwing the mass around of direct drive, you can clearly see sloppy idlers showing up.

I thought I was getting a good deal when I bought some online specials, but in the end, I just suffered.

Bad Idler “noise”:

Vertical Banding (Idler teeth/tension showing in print)

See those vertical lines? That’s not ringing – no amount of optimizing for vertical ringing seemed to do anything to hide them. What did work to remove this artifact was replacing my cheap idlers with more robust ones that don’t wobble, twist or skip under tension.

Gates belts and idlers are highly recommended but require non-standard mounts and carriages (and some changes to the geometry/math of the X/Y movement). I’ve found a few brands of GT2 belts and idlers that we’re looking to stock up on that has so far proven to get rid of these vertical artifacts and we’re just testing for longevity/life right now. We’ll update this post with some feedback here soon!

300×300 Glass bed too small

Sometimes things don’t click. You build a 300×300 and you think “Hey, I’ll get this 300×300 glass” and well… It works, but it doesn’t.

Get bigger.

I use an MK2A 24v bed that is actually 328×328. I’d recommend that you get a cut of glass that is closer to the 328×328 size. The reason being is that you want some flexibility in your print area to cover for print wipes, carriage space and actual fitment in the printer. With a 300×300 piece of glass, the far end of my X and Y is beyond print area by a few mm… ahh well, live and learn. When I replace, I’ll go slightly bigger. My newer builds have beds and glass larger than my print area just to compensate for this fitment.

Did you know?

You can use silicone sheets between the glass and your print bed to secure it in place. These silicone pads will friction hold the glass in place. No more clips getting in the way of your prints!

Skip the Glue Stick

I’ve been used to using a glue stick and it worked, but it gets messy. Before you know it, there will be gluestick dust on everything and that is the last thing you want on your linear rails/rods/Z lead screws and such.

Just get a PEI Sheet out the door and put that on the right sized piece of glass. You won’t regret it.

When buying a PEI sheet, make sure you get one that already has 3M tack on one side and one that has been cut “flat” – some of the cheaper options actually come from PEI rolls and will be extremely difficult to install if the material has a “curve memory” from being rolled up.

What I got right

DuetWifi

While not cheap, it is an amazing product. Support from dc42 on the forums is absolutely amazing, features of board, performance and quality of drivers are just second to none – we’ll, second now tot he 3rd generation that has since come out.

  • 32bit Processor
  • Wifi Print Capability
  • Quiet TMC 2660 stepper drivers with 256 micro-stepping
  • Onboard SD Card
  • Configure via gcode
  • RepRap firmware
Duet Wifi Controller Board

As you already know, I’ve built my HEVO’s around a direct drive extruder. At current acceleration and jerk settings, prints were getting “ringing’ noise. While not something that actually hurts prints or diminishes their strength/durability I didn’t want to have this artifact after investing so much time and resources into my build. Tuning this individually is also fairly problematic. Sometimes your slicer tries to override them so keeping everything in sync can be a chore.

DuetWifi offers a feature called “Dynamic Acceleration” – This gcode parameter allows you to find the frequency of the ringing and it reduces acceleration dynamically to reduce/diminish this ringing noise.

It’s creative solutions like this, amongst many more that are available in RepRap firmware on the DuetWifi that just keep me recommending this product. Support from the vendor has been amazing and many more cool features are soon to come including programmatic gcode with conditional logic!

Now, this isn’t to say Marlin isn’t cool and there aren’t some amazing 32 bit Marlin 2.0 boards hitting the market at very economical prices. I’m super excited about all of the changes we’re seeing and the growth of printing as a whole. I’ve just been extremely pleased with my choice of using the Duet. They’re strong supporters of Open Source and Open Hardware and have an amazing community as well.

24v

For a 300x300x400 print volume, 24v was the best decision I ever made. On forums and HEVO communities, some people were saying to stick with 12v for electronics and go with a mains heater but I wanted to avoid connecting to mains. I use my printers at home, on the road, as a teaching instrument and something even my kids have free range over. I didn’t want to worry about grounding, high voltage, and extreme wattage. And to be honest, after going 24v, I haven’t even had the urge to worry about it.

For printing PLA, my printer warms up the hotend to 205 and the bed to 55 and they’re both ready to print at just about the same time. For PETG, the hotend goes upwards of 250c and bed around 70c, but I’m still printing in just a matter of minutes. No long painful waits and at 24v both the hot end and heated bed have absolutely no problems keeping their temperatures consistent.

24v Power Supplies are abundant, affordable, and when properly installed the safest bet. I recommend sticking with the Meanwell brand. They have proven reliable, tested and UL listed for American markets. Their 24v 450 watt PSUs are a great & reliable power supply for HyperCube Evolution 3D Printers.

Genuine E3D Hotend

I’ve experienced a clone. Never again. The Genuine E3D Titan Aero (and other E3D) products are machined well, sized well and built well. I’ve seen so many people suffer through knock-offs and have miserable experiences.

There is nothing worse than dealing with bad gears, faulty parts and cast pieces that aren’t milled to reliable specs. Go genuine. The ROI on YOUR time is totally worth it!

Not only are genuine parts built well, but they print well. The quality of your components in 3D printing absolutely has an impact on the quality of your parts you 3D print. Working with difficult, flimsy and poorly made parts is a sure fire exercise in frustration and one of the reasons so many people give up on 3D printing all together.

.9 Degree steppers

Taking a lesson from friends with MK2S and other Prusa printers, going with .9 degree steppers has been a great decision. The Duet controller has no problem driving these and I haven’t had any issues with stalls or skips compared to 1.8s. It did fix some vertical banding I was getting even after replacing my bad GT2 idlers.

I use .9 Degree Steppers on X/Y and 1.8 degree steppers on Z. The .9 steppers aren’t as abundant as cheap 1.8s but they don’t really cost much more (if any) so they’re definitely worth it on your average size HEVO.

BLTouch

A genuine BLTouch for bed leveling and mesh compensation has worked out extremely well. If you pair a BLtouch with the DuetWifi you get both of these as a first class citizen. With Dual Z motors the BLtouch allows you to do bed leveling (it will adjust each lead screw) and then a mesh level on top to adjust for imperfections in print surface. The combination of both is absolutely a HUGE time saver.

Before having a BLtouch and dual Z leveling I hated the thought of pulling a printer out for maintenance and experimenting with new designs or changing some physical configuration because bed leveling on such a large print area inside a CoreXY printer design can be tedious, to say the least. Now I just run a Bed level and mesh compensation and my lead screws adjust back to my BLtouch trigger height and I can print away after doing mods.

The genuine BLtouch’s of at least 3.0 version is what I’d recommend. Knock-off brands are based on BLtouch 1.0 designs and have known flaws and just don’t seem to last long.

HEVO

Yeah, in general, this printer is impressive. It’s been a great experience to build it, learn it, tweak it, and suffer through some of my mistakes. I hope this blog can help you not repeat my learnings, but even if you do, I’m sure you will end up loving your HyperCube Evolution too!

Checkout the HyperCube Evolution on ThingiVerse.

This printer has surpassed all my expectations, challenged many of my assumptions and forced me to learn a lot of things, but I’m glad I went through the experience.

What Is convenient, but not needed

There are a couple of things I’m torn on as to whether or not I got any value from them or they improve the printer experience. Hopefully my experience can help you figure out if they make sense in your build or not.

Paneldue touch screen

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the DuetWifi touch screen. While handy, it’s honestly not needed much if you have your printer near a PC, the DuetWifi dashboard via browser has everything you need.

DuetWifi Paneldue

When is a touch screen handy? For loading filament. Extrude, retract. That does about 99% of what I use it for. I also use it for macros – such as to unlock motors to do manual movement of motors but otherwise, I don’t see or use the touch screen and I’m not sure I’ll ever realize its true potential or recover its costs.

However, for those who like to extrude and retract filament, it does a fine job πŸ™‚

If you do get the PanelDue – I’d go for the larger (7″) screen. Smaller screens are hard to use with touch capability.

stall detection end-stops

Stall detection is a way for the Duet (and other controllers) to use TMC stepper drivers to detect when motor stalls. This allows you to “simplify” some of your builds by not needing end stops and flags on your carriage to be able to do your end stops. The duet detects the motor stall and sets min X and min Y and uses the config.g max X/Y to know the limits of the print area.

It works. I just feel it’s a tad stressful for belt based systems. On more than one occasion I’ve lost tension from a hard stall detection that caused my belts to get out of whack. I blame that more on some of the difficulty of doing proper belt tension on some of the carriage designs out there than the duet, but I’d honestly recommend sticking with optical end stops and doing the wiring vs relying on stall detection. It’s very neat, but I think I’ll stick with opticals.

What I’d do If I could do it all over again

I’d keep just about everything I did but go with Hiwin Linear Rails out the door. I am happy with direct drive, I’m happy with the print volume, I’m happy with the duet controller, the 24v system but the one thing I stuck with – was linear rods and I wish after the 8mm issue I just invested in swapping to linear rails.

HEVO Linear Rail Mount

I simply didn’t know much and since I’d already done 8mm, 10mm seemed like something I could do without changing up much of my design.

Needless to say, all of my builds from now on will all be linear rail-based. Our next blog post will be about our linear rail builds and to show off some of its capability! Look for that to come out here soon!

Final Thoughts

I’m perpetually impressed with the HEVO. I still show my prints, creations and upgrades/mods to friends and family like I just saw it for the first time again.

If there is one last thing that would be my parting advice if you’re just now getting to build your own HEVO is to “Build it taller” and “build it wider” – even if just by 20mm. Having extra height in the bottom to install electronics or fit in tall steppers is great and having extra space on X and Y means using a direct drive extruder – especially the new Hemera will have all the room it needs to be able to print your full desired print volume.

I definitely recommend you build one and I would advise you go linear rail out the door. Even if you stick with bowden and won’t have that much mass flying around, your bowden will probably print just “that much faster” with a decent linear rail system than relying on rods and knowing you can effectively switch hotends and carriages without concern is a great piece of mind. After all, some people are building Tool changes, multi-tool carriages and other cool features where linear rails just offer better performance, support, and rigidity which translates directly to print quality.

1 thought on “What I wish I knew before I built my HyperCube Evolution”

  1. Great blog post! It was extremly insightful while still being concise.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with the HEVO. The practical notes about the linear rods and the effects of weight on the gantry are of particular interest to me, as I design my own printer.

    Reply

Leave a Comment