How to Monitor/Control Your 3D Printer Remotely for Free
I was sitting here with my Ender 3 wondering how people monitor their 3D printers properly.
Being able to keep an eye on your 3D printer is pretty important, especially for those longer 3D prints. There are a few ways to monitor and even control your 3D printer that I found out which I’ll detail in this article.
How Do I Monitor My 3D Printer Remotely?
Monitoring a 3D printer remotely has become very easy, especially if that 3D printer comes with wireless connection capabilities. With this technology, you can check up on the printer from anywhere in your network’s range.
Monitor 3D Printers with Software (Repetier Host)
Checking up on the printer and using it remotely can be done with standard software that comes in the box with the printer. But in some cases, the print software doesn’t come with the printer, or sometimes you might want more functionality.
In this case, you can use third-party software like Repetier Host.
Repetier Host is free to use third party print software. It is used for controlling 3D FDM printers, and it works with a wide range of printers.
Repetier host comes with a lot of functionality such as slicers, bed levelers, print bed fillers, speed control, etc.
What do you need:
- A PC running Windows 8 and above, or a Mac running OS X, or Linux.
- An internet connection.
- An FDM printer.
Let’s go through the installation steps:
Step 1: Download and install the Repetier host software for your OS here.
Step 2: Install the software on your PC.
Step 3: Run the program and configure it with the settings for your PC from here.
And Just like that, you can print from the host using USB, internet, or SD card connections.
Monitoring your 3D printer with Repetier host is very easy. The publishers of Repetier host also published a software called Repetier server that helps with that.
Repetier server is a program built for controlling PCs remotely from a server created on your home network. The program is a web interface that can be accessed by any device on the network. Let’s take you through the installation process.
What do you need:
- A PC running Windows 8 and above, mac. Or a Raspberry Pi(This is the device that will host the server.)
- An internet connection
- A home router.
- A wireless PC.
Step 1: Download the Repetier Server software for your OS here.
Step 2: Install the software on your device with instructions here (PC, Mac, Raspberry Pi).
Step 3: Configure and set it up with instructions from here.
Now you’ve installed the Repetier server, as long as you have the login details, any device on your network can monitor the printer remotely. However, to monitor the printer from outside your home network, you have to install special tools like a VPN tunneler.
Even if your printer does not come with wireless technology, there are still several ways you can monitor the printer remotely. These methods require you to purchase and set up some additional hardware but trust me it’s worth it.
Let’s look at some of the popular ways of monitoring 3D prints remotely:
Monitor 3D Printer With Octoprint
Octoprint is an awesome way to monitor your printer remotely especially if the printer does not have wireless capabilities. Octoprint uses a Raspberry Pi board to create a USB proxy.
The USB proxy then connects the printer to a network, so it can be monitored and controlled via a web interface.
Octoprint also comes with a load of plugins that can increase the functionality of the 3D printer.
What do you need;
- A PC with wireless capabilities.
- A Raspberry Pi with a Wi-Fi adapter.
- An SD card for the Raspberry Pi(8Gb minimum).
How to get it done:
Step 1: Download and install the OctoPrint Software with Etcher.
- Download the OctoPrint image here.
- Download and configure the Etcher software.
- Insert the SD card in the PC and follow the instructions here to flash and configure the Octoprint image to the SD card using Etcher.
Configure the wireless settings using settings found here.
Step 2: Configure the Raspberry Pi
- Insert the SD card with the OctoPrint image into the Raspberry Pi.
- Connect the Wi-Fi adapter to the Pi and power it on.
Access OctoPi from your PC by connecting to http://octopi.local.
- Follow the first run instructions and create a username and password.
- Logout and disconnect the Raspberry Pi from the power supply.
Step 3: Connect the printer to the Raspberry Pi.
- Using a standard USB A cord, connect the printer to the Raspberry Pi.
- Power on the Raspberry Pi.
- Connect to the web interface with the PC
- You should be able to print from the web interface now.
Monitor 3D Printer with AstroBox
AstroBox is another USB proxy option for remote monitoring. AstroBox’s high-end offering, the AstroBox touch offers the same functionality as the OctoPrint only with a simpler and easier to use package.
The AstroBox Touch comes with the preinstalled software, unlike the Raspberry Pi. It also comes with an LCD touchscreen making it easier to set up and use. You can find out more about the configuration and setup here.
How to Hook Up a Camera/Webcam to 3D Printer
Hooking up a camera or a webcam to your 3d printer can come in handy. You can set up the camera to monitor your prints live, or even record and make some pretty cool time-lapse videos. There are many ways to connect a camera to your 3D printer, we’ll be going with some of the common ones.
Connect Creality Camera to 3D Printer
The Creality camera comes with quite a lot. It’s a wireless camera that doubles as a USB proxy. This means that while it’s connected to your 3D printer via a USB cable, you can not only watch the live camera feed, you can also control the printer.
All this can be done in the companion app that comes with it.
Connect Octoprint Camera to 3D Printer
As we mentioned earlier, Octoprint comes with a lot of accessories and plugins that can be used to extend the functionality of the printer. One of these accessories is the camera. A simple web camera can be connected to the Raspberry Pi board to give the user remote monitoring capabilities.
For the Octoprint, you can either get a Raspberry Pi camera or a web camera like the Logitech. Let’s show you how to set it up.
Step 1: Connect the camera module to the pi board.
Step 2: Power up the Octoprint and connect to it.
Step 3. Open the Octoprint software and click on the control tab, you should see the live feed of the camera in the tab.
Connect Camera Through AstroBox
AstroBox also supports web cameras. Any type of web camera as long as it has a USB connection can be used with AstroBox. All you have to do is connect the camera to the AstroBox module via the USB and access the live feed in the interface.
Connect Camera Through Repetier Server
The Repetier Server also works with a wide range of USB cameras. Just connect the camera to the server hardware, and you can get a live feed of the print. You can find detailed instructions for configuring the camera here.
Lastly, to get a great feed from the camera, its mounting position is very important. You can print some brackets from Thingiverse to get the best viewing angles and stability.
Can I Monitor My 3D Printer From My Phone?
Yes, you can monitor and control your 3D printer from your phone. All the remote monitoring software mentioned up there have settings that make it possible to monitor the printers from your phone. Let’s go through each of them.
You can use an old smartphone as a webcam, whether that’s an iPhone or an Android.
The video below shows a method of using a Skype video call with your PC to monitor your 3D printer. You can video call from your mobile phone and see directly what’s going on with your 3D printer.
Repetier host comes with a mobile companion called the Repetier informer. Repetier Informer can be set up to deliver alerts about the status of ongoing prints. This is useful but is still somewhat limited.
On the Repetier server, you get greater control from the mobile device as you can control and monitor the print in real-time. As long as your phone is connected to the same network as the printer, you can access and control the printer.
Octoprint Makes it possible for the print to be accessed from any device, whether mobile or PC. As long as the device accessing the print is on the same network as the Octopi hardware, there should be no problems accessing it. You can access the printer by typing http://octopi.local in the browser.
AstroBox comes with a mobile app that can be used to monitor prints remotely. No matter where you are, all you have to do is just log in to the app, and you can see how the print is going. You can also print and get print updates from the app.
Hopefully this article gives you a clearer idea on how to monitor and even control your 3D printer remotely, giving you a better 3D printing experience.