Using OctoPi To Avoid Monoprice Maker Select (Wanhao Duplicator i3) Usability Issues

The Monoprice Maker Select 3D printer is a re-branded Wanhao Duplicator i3. Which is itself part of a lineage of 3D printers that can trace their ancestry to the Prusa i3. Josef Prusa invented an effective design that has seen wide adoption, including manufacturers who are very inventive at cutting cost. Now a serviceable 3D printer can be purchased for iPad money. Or even Chromebook money if buying used/refurbished.

That’s not to say everything is great. There are some definite trade-offs made to hit this price point, and the customer sitting in these cheap seats has to sacrifice some nice features of more polished printers.

One infuriating usability problem is the microSD card slot. It is on the side of the control box whose sheet metal enclosure has an over sized slot to make sure manufacturing tolerance issues won’t end up covering the card slot. Great for cheap manufacturing, but it also means is there’s plenty of room for a card to enter the sheet metal opening and miss the microSD slot entirely. If the user fingers release the card, thinking it was in the slot, the card drops into the enclosure and the user has to open the enclosure to retrieve the card.

Another usability issue is the control panel. First, the LCD is a primitive dot matrix display with very limited viewing angle. Second, it doesn’t always respond even when tactile feedback was returned by its control knob. It’s not clear if this is a problem in the knob (tactile feedback without electrical connection) or if it’s a software issue, but it is annoying either way.

One way to avoid both usability issues is to control the printer using OctoPi, the prebuilt image to run OctoPrint on a Raspberry Pi. The web-based interface eliminates the need to deal with the knob and LCD UI. And OctoPi’s G-Code upload/management functionality means never having to use that microSD slot.

Personally, I didn’t feel OctoPi delivered a lot of value for my Monoprice Maker Ultimate (Wanhao Duplicator i6) because the Ultimate had a well placed memory card slot for full SD cards and a decent control panel. In the case of the Maker Select, though, an OctoPi has saved a lot of aggravation.

Maker Select with OctoPi

 

OctoPiUI

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