A Second OctoPrint Plugin Has Been Falsifying Stats

The ongoing story of bogus analytical data being submitted to the public OctoPrint usage statistics has taken a surprising turn with the news that a second plugin was being artificially pushed up the charts. At least this time, the developer of the plugin has admitted to doing the deed personally.

Just to recap, last week OctoPrint creator [Gina Häußge] found that somebody had been generating fictitious OctoPrint usage stats since 2022 in an effort to make the OctoEverywhere plugin appear to be more popular than it actually was. It was a clever attempt, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the fake data was reporting itself to be from a significantly out of date build of OctoPrint, there’s no telling how long it would have continued. When the developers of the plugin were confronted, they claimed it was an overzealous user operating under their own initiative, and denied any knowledge that the stats were being manipulated in their favor.

Presumably it was around this time that Obico creator [Kenneth Jiang] started sweating bullets. It turns out he’d been doing the same thing, for just about as long. When [Gina] contacted him about the suspicious data she was seeing regarding his plugin, he owned up to falsifying the data and published what strikes us as a fairly contrite apology on the Obico blog. While this doesn’t absolve him of making a very poor decision, we respect that he didn’t try to shift the blame elsewhere.

That said, there’s at least one part of his version of events that doesn’t quite pass the sniff test for us. According to [Kenneth], he first wrote the script that generated the fake data back in 2022 because he suspected (correctly, it turns out) that the developers of OctoEverywhere were doing something similar. But after that, he says he didn’t realize the script was still running until [Gina] confronted him about it.

Now admittedly, we’re not professional programmers here at Hackaday. But we’ve written enough code to be suspicious when somebody claims a script they whipped up on a lark was able to run unattended for two years and never once crashed or otherwise bailed out. We won’t even begin to speculate where said script could have been running since 2022 without anyone noticing…

But we won’t dwell on the minutiae here. [Gina] has once again purged the garbage data from the OctoPrint stats, and hopefully things are finally starting to reflect reality. We know she was already angry about the earlier attempts to manipulate the stats, so she’s got to be seething right about now. But as we said before, these unfortunate incidents are ultimately just bumps in the road. We don’t need any stat tracker to know that the community as a whole greatly appreciates the incredible work she’s put into OctoPrint.

Long-Term OctoPrint Stat Manipulation Uncovered

Developing free and open source software can be a thankless experience. Most folks do it because it’s something they’re passionate about, with the only personal benefit being the knowledge that there are individuals out there who found your work useful enough to download and install. So imagine how you’d feel if it turns out somebody was playing around with the figures, and the steady growth in the number of installs you thought your software had turned out to be fake.

That’s what happened just a few days ago to OctoPrint developer [Gina Häußge]. Although there’s no question that her software for remotely controlling and monitoring 3D printers is immensely popular within the community, the fact remains that the numbers she’s been using to help quantify that popularity have been tampered with by an outside party. She’s pissed, and has every right to be.

Continue reading “Long-Term OctoPrint Stat Manipulation Uncovered”

A workbench with a 3D printer, a home-made frame of metal tubing and 3D printed brackets and phone holders. 3 iOS devices and 1 Android phone arranged around the printer with a clock and 3 different camera angles around the print bed

Even 3D Printers Are Taking Selfies Now

We love watching 3D prints magically grow, through the power of timelapse videos. These are easier to make than ever, due in no small part to a vibrant community that’s continuously refining tools such as Octolapse. Most people are using some camera they can connect to a Raspberry Pi, namely a USB webcam or CSI camera module. A DSLR would arguably take better pictures, but they can be difficult to control, and their high resolution images are tougher for the Pi to encode.

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got a box or drawer full of devices that can take nearly as high-quality images as a DSLR, some cast-off mobile phones. Oh, that pile of “solutions looking for a problem” may have just found one! [Matt@JemRise] sure has, and in the video after the break, you can see how not one but four mobile phones are put to work.

Continue reading “Even 3D Printers Are Taking Selfies Now”

3D Printers Get A Fuel Gauge: Adding A Filament Scale To OctoPrint

It seems a simple enough concept: as a 3D printer consumes filament, the spool becomes lighter. If you weighed an empty spool, and subtracted that from the weight of the in-use spool, you’d know how much filament you had left. Despite being an easy way to get a “fuel gauge” on a desktop 3D printer, it isn’t something we often see on DIY machines, much less consumer hardware. But with this slick hack from [Victor Noordhoek] as inspiration, it might become a bit more common.

He’s designed a simple filament holder which mounts on top of an HX711 load cell, which is in turn connected to the Raspberry Pi running OctoPrint over SPI. If you’re running OctoPrint on something like an old PC, you’ll need to use an intermediate device such as an Arduino to get it connected; though honestly you should probably just be using a Pi.

On the software side, [Victor] has written an OctoPrint plugin that adds a readout of current filament weight to the main display. He’s put a fair amount of polish into the plugin, going through the effort to add in a calibration routine and a field where you can enter in the weight of your empty spool so it can be automatically deducted from the HX711’s reading.

Hopefully a future version of the plugin will allow the user to enter in the density of their particular filament so it can calculate an estimate of the remaining length. The next logical step would be adding a check that will show the user a warning if they try to start a print that requires more filament than the sensor detects is currently loaded.

This is yet another excellent example of the incredible flexibility and customization offered by OctoPrint. If you’re looking for more reasons to make the switch, check out our guide on using OctoPrint to create impressive time lapse videos of your prints, or how you can control the printer from your mobile device.

3D Printer Time Lapse Videos Ditch The Blur

Example output of Octolapse with the print head absent from the images.

Most time-lapse videos of 3D prints show a steadily growing print with a crazy blur of machine movement everywhere else. This is because an image is captured at a regular time interval, regardless of what’s physically going on with the machine. But what if images were captured at consistent machine positions instead? [FormerLurker]’s Octolapse plugin for OctoPrint came out of beta recently and does exactly that, and the results are striking. Because OctoPrint knows where a 3D printer’s print head is at all times, it’s possible for a plugin to use this information to create time-lapse videos where the print head position is consistent instead of a crazy blur, or even have the print head absent from the shot altogether.

[FormerLurker] had originally created stabilized time lapses by hand editing G-code, which had great results but was inefficient and time-consuming. This plugin is the result of his work at automating and enhancing the process, and is also his first serious open source programming project. We’ve covered upgrading a 3D printer with OctoPrint before, and the plugins functionality of OctoPrint means features can be added independently from the core system, which itself largely remains a one-woman effort by creator and maintainer [Gina Häußge].