3d printer electronics question

I’ve been comparing the various electronics boards for 3d printers and I’m looking at the MKS boards and the RAMPS boards. The MKS board is an all in one solution with the Atmega 2560 chip on board and the stepper driver chips on board. It looks like there is a newer version of this board, the V1.5 whereas the RAMPS seems to come in V1.4.

Can anyone recommend which they prefer or does it make any difference? Is there another option I’ve missed?

It depends on what your printer is, and what you’re doing (are you interested in newer 32 bit firmware, for example, etc). I am, because I have just spent 4 hours editing and compiling marlin, which is a nightmarish bit of code. I’ll calm down in an hour or two…

Essentially, MKS Base 1.x is the same as RAMPS, but on a single board.

I prefer the Arduino Mega + RAMPS + stepper stick combo. I tend to hack my printers a lot so being able to swap out, upgrade, replace & repair in a modular fashion is really nice. In other words, if you short out a motor driver, you can just pop in a new step stick and good to go. I imagine MKS is fine if you think you’ll “set it and forget it”. You can also upgrade to higher current drivers if needed, etc…

I just bought this ramps for a new build: http://a.co/3ktYRkL – it’s fine. I had to gently bend a header that was leaning, but otherwise it’s a fine clone.

There are smoothieware clones on ali express which are MKS SBASE (as opposed to base). Haven’t done smoothie, but I bet bill may know a thing or two.

Thanks for the link and the info. I like the option of being able to replace stepper drivers on the ramps boards.

I haven’t decided what I’m doing yet but basically building my first 3d printer. I might buy a hardware only kit and try to buy decent electronics for it separately.

I’ve heard that a lot of the ramps boards that come with kits or on Ebay have low quality mosfets but they are relatively easy to replace with high quality ones. I also found an external bed heater mosfet board that interfaces to the ramps board so that it takes the load off.

I’ll check out the MOSFETS on my latest 1.4 board from that link. In my experience, the MOSFET issue is not a big deal with current 1.4 version (from a decent supplier). The FET problems people have had seem to be more common in the ramps derivitve all-in-ones like Printrboard (printrbot) and Ultiboard (ultimaker). Those too have been remedied now, but I’ve had FET failure in a $2500 Ultimaker and a Printrbot Simple Metal (that was an ommited R at the gate of the mfet actually). Anyway, chinese knock-off ramps seem to be doing fine for me.

On the heated bed, ramps seems to do okay, but I’d switch the polyfuses with proper fuses if your worried. changing out the fet on the heaters might be nice too.

As far as kits go, Prusa i3 from Prusa Research (not knock off) is the gold standard. Parts are excellent.

Really, I’ve found way more woes with mechanical parts. Too many cheap kits with bent rods or sloppy bearings. I chose to order from McMaster and Misumi for important high tolerance mechanical parts.

Why don’t you drop by sometime this week and I’ll show you the delta reprap my students and I are building. It’s going well, and you can check out all the parts yourself. I could also introduce you to the guts of our hive printers too.

Lastly, keep in mind that a LOT of people building these kits don’t have the benefit of good electronics tools like a scope for trouble shooting, etc. With proper instruments it’s a lot easier to verify the right currents and voltages. Finally, with some know how and hacker skills, you can get around most electronics glitches. I screwed up some wiring when hacking my printrbot and fried a pin on the microcontroller, so I just reassigned that function to another pin in firmware and routed the circuit there. It’s a lot harder to straighten a hardened linear rod to ± 10 micron.


Prior to buying a dual extrusion 3d printer, Mike was working on building an mendel 90 or i3 clone. If you email him, he might give you all the parts he has for a great price. should include electronics etc. his email is mike169@gmail.com

Lorin, I’ll be at the meeting tonight. If you can’t make it tonight I’ll stop by another time this week. Thanks!

Nope, didn’t make it. Send me a PM. I’ll be at hive pretty much every day this week working on the current 3D printer build so I’m sure we can find a time…


Brent, forgot to add:

Either way (MKS or Ramps), add active cooling
Replace poly-fuses with fuses.
Change the mosfets for heated beds or 30W+ hotends .
Step-sticks work, but buy extras, they’re fragile during the testing / installation phase (surprisingly durable once properly installed, though)

A fan goes a long way. None of these designs (especially clones) have taken the step to cool well via PCB copper pour and convection.