Building an Anet A8 Printer
When the opportunity to buy a $145 3D printer presented itself, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I knew going into this that I would spend at least $100 on improvements, many hours on building, and many more hours on troubleshooting, but I felt strongly that this was my best opportunity to gain a better understanding and foundation in 3D printing.
First, I will list all of the upgrades and safety accessories I highly recommend, then I will add details regarding the build, start-up, upgrade integration, and first print. Know that this document is a work in progress and will be updated as changes are made to the printer.
Skynet 3D firmware flashed to motherboard
Upgraded extruder and nozzle
Extruded aluminum frame
ADDITIONAL SAFETY ACCESSORIES
Fire extinguisher (MANDATORY)
Screw terminal crimps on to power supply wires!
The Anet A8 printer arrived from Gearbest in a deceptively heavy box full of laser cut plastic pieces, screws, nuts, and labeled wires. There was a microSD card reader with both Chinese and US instructions that walked through the assembly. Between the PDF assembly instructions, this video by Osdoyi, and the build tips from James at Propwashed I was able to get the printer assembled.
There were some upgrades that I purchased at the same time as my printer as they were strongly suggested by many other Anet A8 owners. These upgrades include:
The bearings I was happy to have during assembly, as the bearings that came with the printer were damaged upon arrival. To my knowledge these are the only parts that were damaged, all the others seem to be in working order. Brett at "Let's Print 3D" has a great step-by-step tutorial for replacing the original bearings with the Ingus Drylin bearings.
The Power supply was a recommended upgrade by many users. To my knowledge, the older Anet A8 kits included a 12V 16A power supply that barely met the current draw of 15A. The newer kits include a 12V 20A power supply which should be suitable, but substituting in the 12V 30A power supply should alleviate any concerns with high current draw during operation.
Let me preface by saying that you should always have a fire extinguisher on hand, and you should also know where your circuit breaker is in your house. Also, without the fused switch installed, the printer should be plugged into a fused extension cord or power bar with a switch - turned off.
When my printer was all assembled (with the upgraded power supply) I was very excited to plug it in and turn it on. I made the mistake of plugging the printer in to a power strip that was live (with other electronics plugged in), the plug sparked, and tripped the circuit to that part of the house. I had to go and flip the breaker after unplugging the printer, but I also had to reset all of the GFCI circuits and outlets - which was a pain. The source of the short was a poor connection between the power cord and the power supply. To resolve this, I will purchase a crimper and screw terminal prongs for those wires. Additionally, when I plug it in the next time, I will make sure the power strip is off and no other electronics are plugged in.