101hero: Assembling the printer

The first part covers the short story of the printer, the contents of the box, a few tips and warnings about the ways you might damage your printer unintentionally (if you have not read these you should).

This part is about assembling the printer step by step.

First connect only the PSU to the controller and switch it ON and OFF, the red LED should light up when it is ON.

Now connect the motors and end-stops to the controller (do not assemble anything yet) and attach the SD card slot. The intended order of the pylons as well as the motor-end-stop pairings are below:

After connecting these put a simple “go home” file on your SD card and then power it up. The motors should start moving the carriages (all three at the same time) until one hits its end-stop. Then the other two should stop and only that should move back and forth triggering the end-stop a few times. After this the remaining two should do the same one by one.

If all three carriages hit the end-stops then congrats, you have working motors and end-stops, this is a good start! If not… well then you are in the unlucky group of quite a few people, including me. In this case check out the 101 Hero (Unofficial) Facebook group.

You can restart the procedure by pushing the reset button or power cycling the controller board.

Now on to assembling the printer!

At the top of the pylon arrange the red-black cable of the end-stop so it goes through the shaft:

At the bottom of the pylon the red-black cable should go through the shaft just like above and arrange the cables of the motor like on the picture:

Make sure for each pylons that the spring on the belt is tight to provide tension…

… the belts are properly on the wheel at the top…

… and the bottom:


If the belts are off the wheels try to put them back carefully. If that is not enough then you can loosen the motor a bit by loosening the two screws holding it in place (3mm Hex Socket aka Allan heads). If you have to remove the belt tensioner spring here’s a video how to put it back.

Next, assemble the bottom plate and the three pylons (4 pcs of M4x12 self-tapping screws (PH1 head) for each pylon):

And then add the top plate (2 pcs of M4x12 self-tapping screws (PH1 head) for each pylon, NOTE: the two inner holes remain empty on each end on the top):

And now fix the effector to the rods. The facing of the head does not matter but it can be useful to see the fan (to see if it is working) and the door (for change filament) from the front. The first screw…

… the second screw (you can safely leave it hanging)…

… and the rest:

Now stick some painter’s tape to the glass plate (you don’t need to cover the whole glass just make sure you have no overlaps of the tape) put it on the bottom plate and fix it in place using the paper clips like this:

Now connect the rest of the cables to the controller box:

Next step is to load the filament. The extruder assembly has a door you can open, this door pushes the filament to the extruder motor which is supplying the filament to the heated nozzle. Open up the door and put the filament in at the top of the extruder assembly, guide it into the tube after the motor, like this:

When completed close the door and tighten the screws (2 pcs M3x12 self-tapping screws (PH1 head)).

After completing this step the printer should look like this:

Which is a mess. The cable management is pretty much non-existent for the 101hero by default. People use different cable organizing methods, the most popular is the spiral wrap but personally I like the zip tie method which is nothing special just zip tying the cables at a few centimeters interval, like this:

After completing this step you should cut the ties short, of course. One more thing I did was fixing the bunch of extruder cable to the top plate to an unused hole like this:

You need to leave about 25 cm (10 inches) of cable between the fixing point and the extruder assembly so the hot end can reach the farthest point safely.

And that’s all about assembling the printer. The next post will be about how to calibrate the 101hero.

101hero: Hello

The 101hero is a pylon 3D printer that had a campaign on both IndieGoGo and Kickstarter with early bird prices of US$ 49 and retail price of US$ 99 on 101hero.com.

First of all, the 101hero team’s goal was to create “The World’s Most Affordable 3D Printer” as they said and not the the printer you should start your 3D printing adventures with and this can be seen in a few places. Nevertheless, the printer is functional and the prints can turn out surprisingly nice if one is willing to spend enough time and don’t mind the hassle but if you’re new to 3D printing and you want a printer that works out-of-the-box, this one is not the best choice.

I backed the IndieGoGo run and have received the printer in January, 2017. I am new to 3D printing this is the first one I bought and the first one I ever printed with, In these posts I will share my experiences, tips I find useful and caveats.
The printer comes in two versions: the CV (Consumer Version) and DV (Developer Version). The only difference is that the DV has a USB port and can be connected to a computer while the CV can only print from SD card (which is not part of the package).

Assembling the 101hero is pretty straightforward but before getting started check all the components that should be in the box:

  • 3 pylon assembly – they are identical except for the length of the wires and labels, there should be an end-stop microswitch (to detect that the carriage reached the top of the pylon), two slide rods, a belt, a carriage (fixed to the belt, sliding on the two slide rods, fixed to effector rods) and a motor
  • 1 controller box
  • 1 SD card slot
  • 2 plates – one for the base and one for the top
  • 1 extruder assembly with effector – the “head”
  • 1 bunch of filament – the printer comes with black or white, I bought the green separately
  • 1 roll of painter’s tape – to help adhesion of the first layer printed
  • 1 glass plate
  • 3 paper clips – to fix the glass plate to the base
  • 6 pcs M3x10 machine screws (PH1 head) – for the carriage-straw/strand and straw/strand-extruder assembly
  • 18 pcs M4x12 self-tapping screws (PH1 head) – for pylon-base and pylon-top
  • 2 pcs M3x12 self-tapping screws (PH1 head) – for door fixing on extruder assembly (identical to the ones used for end-stops in early editions)

In early editions the end-stops are hitting against M3x12 self-tapping screws with PH1 heads, I have read that later they switched to Hex Socket (aka Allen) types.

Before assembling the printer I would like to tell you some basics and recommend to do further checks.

When the printer is powered it looks for a file called “101hero” on the SD card and starts to execute it (i.e. printing, moving, etc.). The file is a G-code file and has no extension, it is just “101hero” (when saving the file using Notepad on Windows to prevent it appending “.txt” change the “File type” drop-down to “All files (*.*)” or put the file name between quotes).

The button on the controller box simply resets the printer that causes it to re-initialize and looking for the file and execute it.

The pylons are identical except for the cable lengths and the labels that are on them, that is you can have them swapped and even replaced from a different package, they will work. One important note however – the end-stops are used to detect when the carriages reach the top of the pylon so the motor-end-stop pairs need to be kept consistent, if they are not then the controller will keep moving the carriage until you turn the power off.

A big warning: the power is not only sourced from the power connector but from USB as well – that is as long as your printer is connected over USB it will power the board – regardless of the power switch! Yeah, if you slide the switch to OFF the board will still be powered, although the printer will not operate properly due to the low current but you can damage the printer if you short something.

One more big warning: the controller has no flyback diodes to protect itself from inductive spikes. Simply put: only move the carriage slowly by hand because the motor generates current that will be fed back to the controller. If the current is too high (due to moving fast) it might damage your controller. Although I have not tested it yet, it might also be fed back over USB damaging your computer as well.

The printer has basically no customer support. As of March, 2017 the 101hero team is still busy shipping packages and really unresponsive to support questions, however there is a really active group on Facebook, the 101 Hero (Unofficial) and a forum at 101user.com.

Now it is time to start connecting things, meet me in part two.