Setting up OctoPrint on your 3D printer is a very useful thing that opens up a bunch of new features. A lot of people don’t know how to set it up so I decided to write an article detailing how to do it.
You can install easily OctoPi on your Mac, Linux, or Windows PC. However, the simple and most cost-effective way to run OctoPrint for your Ender 3 3D printer is through Raspberry Pi.
Keep on reading through to learn how to install OctoPrint on your Ender 3 or any other 3D printer.
What is OctoPrint in 3D Printing?
OctoPrint is a free, open-source 3D printing software that adds several features and functions to your 3D printing setup. It lets you initiate, monitor, stop and even record your 3D prints via a connected wireless device like a smartphone or PC.
Basically, OctoPrint is a web server that runs on dedicated hardware like a Raspberry Pi or PC. All you need to do is connect your printer to the hardware, and you will get a web interface for controlling your printer.
Here are a few things you can do with OctoPrint:
- Stop and stop prints via a web browser
- Slice STL code
- Move the various printer axes
- Monitor the temperature of your hotend and print bed
- Visualize your G-Code and your print’s progress
- Watch your prints remotely via a webcam feed
- Upload G-Code to your printer remotely
- Upgrade your printer’s firmware remotely
- Set access control policies for your printers
OctoPrint also has a very vibrant community of developers building plugins for the software. It comes with several plugins that you can use for additional features like time-lapses, print live-streaming, etc.
So, you can find plugins for just about anything you want to do with your printer.
How to Set Up OctoPrint for the Ender 3
Setting up OctoPrint for your Ender 3 is quite easy nowadays, especially with the new OctoPrint releases. You can easily have your OctoPrint up and running in about half an hour.
However, before you do, you’re going to need to have some hardware ready apart from your printer. Let’s go through them.
What You’ll Need to Install OctoPrint
- Raspberry Pi
- Memory Card
- USB Power Supply
- Web Camera or Pi Camera [Optional]
Technically, you can use your Mac, Linux, or Windows PC as your OctoPrint server. However, this isn’t recommended since most people can’t devote an entire PC to function as a 3D printer’s server.
As a result, Raspberry Pi is the best option for running OctoPrint. The tiny little computer offers enough RAM and processing power for running OctoPrint cost-effectively.
You can use other models, but they often suffer from performance issues when you add plugins and accessories like cameras.
USB Power Supply
You’re going to need a good power supply for your Pi board to run without any issues. If the power supply is bad, you’re going to be getting performance issues and error messages from the board.
So, it’s best to get a decent power supply for the board. You can use any good 5V/3A USB charger you have for the board.
A great option is the Raspberry Pi 4 Power Supply on Amazon. It’s an official charger from Raspberry that can deliver 3A/5.1V to your Pi board reliably.
A lot of customers have reviewed it positively, saying it doesn’t under power their Pi boards like other chargers. However, it is a USB-C charger, so earlier models, like the Pi 3, might have to use a USB-C to Micro USB Adaptor to get it to work.
USB A to B Cable
The USB A to USB B cable is very necessary. It’s how you’re going to connect your Raspberry Pi to your 3D printer.
This cable usually comes in the box with your printer, so you might not have to buy a new one. If you don’t have one, you can get this cheap Amazon Basics USB A Cable for your Ender 3.
It has corrosion-resistant, gold-plated connectors and shielding to resist electromagnetic interference. It is also rated for fast 480Mbps data transfer between your printer and the OctoPrint.
Note: If you’re using an Ender 3 Pro or V2, you’re going to need a Micro USB cable rated for data transfer. Top-quality cables like the Anker USB Cable or the Amazon Basics Micro-USB cable are well-suited for the job.
Both these cables support high-speed data transmission which is necessary for OctoPrint.
An SD card serves as the storage media for the OctoPrint OS and its files on your Raspberry Pi. You can use any SD card you have, but A-rated cards like the SanDisk Micro SD card are the best for OctoPrint applications.
They load plugins and files faster and they also offer lightning-fast transfer speeds. Also, you stand a lesser chance of your OctoPrint data getting corrupted.
If you’re going to be creating a lot of time-lapse videos, you’re going to need a lot of space. So, you should consider buying at least a 32GB memory card.
Web Camera or Pi Camera
A camera isn’t quite necessary when setting up your OctoPrint for its first run. However, if you want to monitor your prints live via a video feed, you’re going to need one.
The standard option available for users is the Arducam Raspberry Pi 8MP Camera from Raspberry Pi itself. It is cheap, easy to install and it produces decent image quality.
However, most users say Pi cameras are hard to configure and focus for proper image quality. Also, for the best result, you’re going to have to print out an Ender 3 Raspberry Pi Mount (Thingiverse) for the camera.
For higher image quality you can also use webcams or other camera types. You can read more on how to set that up in this article I wrote on The Best Time Lapse Cameras for 3D Printing.
Once you have all this hardware in place, it’s time to set up OctoPrint.
How To Set Up OctoPrint on an Ender 3
You can set up OctoPrint on your Raspberry Pi using the Pi imager.
Here’s how to setup OctoPrint on an Ender 3:
- Download the Raspberry Pi Imager
- Insert your MicroSD card into your PC.
- Flash OctoPrint on Your SD card.
- Select the Proper Storage
- Configure Network Settings
- Flash the OctoPrint to your Pi.
- Power Up Your Raspberry Pi
- Setup OctoPrint
Step 1: Download the Raspberry Pi Imager
- The Raspberry Pi imager is the easiest way to install OctoPrint in your Pi. It lets you do all the configuration quickly in one software.
- You can download it from the Raspberry Pi website. After downloading, install it on your PC.
Step 2: Insert your MicroSD card into your PC.
- Place your SD card into your card reader and insert it into your PC.
Step 3: Flash OctoPrint on Your SD card.
- Fire up the Raspberry Pi Imager
- Click on Choose OS > Other specific-purpose OS > 3D Printing > OctoPi. Under OctoPi, choose the latest OctoPi (stable) distribution.
Step 4: Select the Proper Storage
- Click on the Choose Storage button and select your SD card from the list.
Step 5: Configure Network Settings
- Click on the gear icon on the lower right
- Tick the Enable SSH Next, leave the username as “Pi” and set a password for your Pi.
- Tick the Configure Wireless box next and input your connection details in the boxes provided.
- Don’t forget to change the wireless country to your country.
- If it has been provided automatically, just crosscheck the details to make sure they are correct.
Step 6: Flash the OctoPrint to your Pi
- Once everything is set and you’ve crosschecked your settings, click on the Write
- The imager will download the OctoPrint OS and flash it on your SD card.
Step 7: Power Up Your Raspberry Pi
- Remove the SD card from your printer and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.
- Connect the Raspberry Pi to your power source and let it light up.
- Wait until the act light (green) stops blinking. After this, you can connect your printer to the Pi via the USB cord.
- Make sure your printer is on before you connect the Pi to it.
Step 8: Setup OctoPrint
- On a device connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Pi, open a browser and go to http://octopi.local.
- The OctoPrint homepage will load up. Follow the prompts and set up your printer profile.
- Now you can print with OctoPrint.
Check out the video below to see the steps visually and in more detail.
OctoPrint is a very powerful 3D printing tool. When paired with the right plugins, it can improve your 3D printing experience immensely.
Good Luck and Happy Printing!