So it finally happened. Despite having backed the Buccaneer on Kickstarter, I could not stand wating any longer and bought me a Velleman K8200 3D Printer. By design, it is very different from the Buccaneer. While the Buccaneer is aimed at end-users, the K8200 is clearly made for the hobbyist that doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty once in a while. This thing does get modded a lot. This is in fact needed, though, because the print quality is not overwhelmingly excellent out of the box. However, the one feature that made me want to throw all my money at this printer was that you can turn it into a CNC router for milling PCBs with relatively little effort. Print yourself a fixture for a Dremel (or similar) tool. D’oh.
The printer took me almost a whole weekend to assemble, and most of the time it was fun. The build instructions are very detailed, but sometimes the order in which you should do things does not seem optimal. Nothing too serious, though.
The first real problem arose when I wanted to print the first part – I could not connect to the printer. Turns out that the Linux version of RepetierHost cannot use non-standard baud rates like 250000. WTF. Pronterface does work, however. But I found a much nicer solution: Octoprint. I thought about installing it inside a jail on my FreeBSD server, but since there is a prebuilt image for the RasPi, that seemed to be the best way to go.
I designed a RasPi holder with FreeCAD and attached it to the K8200. It’s rather simple but it gets the job done quite nicely. Maybe I’ll upload it to Thingiverse someday.
By the way, I did not opt for a refund on the Buccaneer. Although the printing volume has been reduced in the development process, which was disappointing for many backers (myself included), and the project is taking much longer than anticipated (which is to be expected when someone is new to product development, I suppose), I still think the Buccy can be a great product. If nothing else, it will probably have a better print quality than the K8200. We’ll see.