This is a great idea.
FoldaRap looks super sweet and stable. Thanks for the heads up on that!
IMHO (Don't laugh, Pearce! I can be humble!) the SD card is the way to go. Search "ultipanel" at Thingiverse - everything required to read an SD card, display pertinent data and control the printer is built into Marlin firmware. I've started on the panel but sadly have been sidetracked. For something like this, a power-hungry host PC will be burdonsome. Besides, SD cards are almost as cheap as bubblegum these days; 32gb cards can be had for less than $20 and it'll hold a bunch of gcode.
The Peltier heater for the build platform on the FoldaRap is going to be less efficient than good 'ol resistance heating. Insulating the build platform will be essential for reducing power consumption. I think the resistance heater draws 9A at 12V, so that will be your biggest power sink. I've found that laying small pieces of foam around the part being printed improves bed T control and probably lowers power consumption. I've toyed with the idea of making a thin steel build platform and little strips of foam insulation with magnets in them that could be positioned as required on the platform, but haven't tried it yet. Definitely insulate the underside of the build platform.
Insulate the hot end as well as you can, too.
The two motor z-axis drive used on Prusa models is another thing to go after and one advantage the Mendel has (only one motor). I doubt there's a huge power hit there, but keeping both ends of the x axis at the same level can be a real pain with the two independent motors. Having the two lead screws mechanically coupled with one drive motor is something I dream about.
I'm looking forward to seeing your progress!
Thanks for your interest and input.
I totally agree that the SD card is the way to go. We will be designing a couple systems, an ultra-low power version with the SD card, and another version, that will allow for new part creation in the field.
With the heated bed easily more than doubling the power consumption, I'd prefer to leave the bed unheated. There have been some good results using blue painters tape on the printing surface. The bottom surface won't be as perfectly smooth, but that's a pretty minor setback. I will definitely take your advice and make sure the hot end is well insulated.
Dr. Pearce likes the idea of using the FoldaRap, as do I. I will most likely build it as is, rather than try to rework it using a single z-axis motor, the power it will save vs the time it would take me to figure it out doesn't seem justifiable. I unfortunately did not join this project until after our mendel was built. So I am not nearly as well versed in the ways of the RepRap as I would like to be, but I'm sure all that will change :)
I will keep this page up-to-date, and log any issues/dilemmas I run into. Please feel free to leave any ideas you may have, your expertise is more than welcome! --Debbie 05:34, 18 July, 2012 (PDT)
The freechargecontroller links go to a "sponsored listings" page and the Arduino MPPT link goes to an error page saying some directories are not writeable. Same for the main page of that website. 126.96.36.199 19:28, 23 April 2017 (PDT)