What is OctoPrint?
From the OctoPrint web site:
Print anything from anywhere.
OctoPrint allows you to send your GCode from any web browser to your printer.
You can fully control and monitor your printer from the web interface. When you install a webcam you can also take time-lapses.
OctoPrint is very flexible, you can customize it to your needs, install or develop additional plugins.
You can install OctoPrint on almost any computer/operating system, but it makes a lot of sense to dedicate a Raspberry Pi to that task.
What do I need?
A Raspberry Pi!
Although any Pi will do, don't use an old 'B' model. These are too slow and source of frustration.
A B+ or any newer model will do.
You need a power supply, it is important that it can deliver a steady 2 Amps. A weak / unstable power supply is a source of troubles. Many issues with SD-Cards are actually caused by bad power supplies.
You also need an SD-Card. 4GB is enough, if it is bigger you can upload more GCode files, no need to buy a huge one though, but get a fast one.
If you want to go wireless, go for the new Raspberry Pi 3, as it has wireless on-board (For the other ones you need a wireless dongle).
I had a B+ for quite some time, but I recycled it for another project and replaced it by a Raspberry Pi 2.
The B+, Pi 2 and 3 share the same form factor, so cases are interchangeable.
Although not mandatory, you should get a webcam as well. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module is giving good results:
Almost any USB webcam will also work, but you can check the Webcams known to work article.
Note that the lens of the Raspberry Pi Camera Module is setup for subjects at a 'normal distance', so anything closer than 30-40 cm will be out-of-focus. To avoid any accidental changes the Raspberry Pi guys have decided to glue the lens . It is not a big issue, but you will need to spend some time to remove the glue to free the lens and be able to focus properly on the build plate. (That's why you can see some scratches around the lens on the above picture, the red marks helped me in focusing)
How to install?
There are plenty of tutorials available, I won't make an additional one, but there are basically 2 paths:
- You are new to Linux: use OctoPi, a pre-installed image for Raspberry Pi
- You are comfortable with Linux, follow the Setup on a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian article
Is OctoPrint for you?
OctoPrint is a great solution if you want to manage and control your printer remotely (I often start a print before going to work and monitor from the office )
It is in active development and there is good support from it.
There is however a caveat if you are an Ultimaker 2 user: USB printing is not officially supported. You can't use 'Ulti-GCode' and so you will loose the ability to use 'Profiles'. If you don't care about profiles, then there should be no problem.
Rasberry Pi 3 notes
- Use at least a 2.5 Amps power supply
- If you use the WiFi, disable the power management it is causing spurious disconnect (see this thread)