Making A 3D Printer Work Wirelessly

Looking for more ways to enhance his 3D printer, [JJ] decided to make it wireless. He got his hands on some $10 Bluetooth modules and figured this would be just the thing to make the link with his laptop.

They came as surface mount modules, so the first thing he had to do was develop a breakout board that he could patch into his Ultimaker 3D printer. This provided a nice opportunity as he needed to do some level converting to make the 3.3V module play nicely with his 5V CNC electronics. The first version of the board turned out well but he had really a poor communications range. The second version, which is pictured above, hangs the module’s antenna off the edge of the breakout board and works a lot better.

We’ve embedded a clip after the break that walks through the development of this board. [JJ] shared the Eagle CAD files as a megaupload link, but we’ve also mirrored the file after the break for your convenience.


[download zip archive]

[Thanks Kyle]

10 thoughts on “Making A 3D Printer Work Wirelessly

  1. hmm yeah. It is a nice hack, although one should wonder how much less reliable this makes the serial connection and how much data you can pump throug it. Ultimakers are very quick to print, so need their data at a high rate.
    And on another not, this post of JanJaap was like 3 months ago…

  2. i don’t understand the necessity of a wireless cnc, or even how its an improvement, but i guess everyone is just going to tell me not to be “square” and its just for fun

  3. I probably won’t do this with my MakerBot Cupcake, but I went ahead and bought three of those Bluetooth TTL modules (2 for $10 + 1 on the breakout board for $14). I couldn’t believe I could get them for those prices! Lowest price for a Bluetooth module on Sparkfun is $30 or so plus $7 shipping.

    Time to Bluetoothize EVERYTHING!

  4. I’d like to see someone figure out how to use the rest of the pins on the board. According to the datasheet, it has PCM, SPI, USB and a bunch of IO ports. It’s possible this module could be used for all kinds of things with the right programming.

  5. Bluetooth transfer rate tops out around USB 1.1 speeds, iirc.

    That is, unless one have access to a wifi radio on the same device. Bluetooth v3 allows for data to be carried over wifi if the hardware is set up correctly.

    The nice thing about bluetooth vs wifi is that it has all these profiles in the spec. File transfer, HID, audio streaming, all are specified as profiles. If both sides have implemented those profiles your up and running.

    In comparison, wifi only handles the network frames. One have to bring ones own protocol stack on top of it to do anything.

    This may have changed with wifi direct however, but the data on that is so far scarce.

  6. If you get the right BT transceiver modules you also get an AT command set and activation pin so you can get them to talk directly to each other instead of just talking to a BT host adapter on your PC (or in your smartphone).

    The two I bought months ago turned out to only talk to a BT host, only recently got them working properly because I wasn’t given a vital piece of information when I bought them, the password for these modules is simply “1234” (not “0000” as I was led to beliee) when ‘installing’ the BT module on your computer/smartphone.

    Still don’t know what I’m going to do with the modules :)

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