This week’s selection is “How to Diagnose and Fix Everything Electronic” by Michael Geier.
This short paperback book could change your ability to work with desktop 3D printers.
Desktop 3D printers have for some time tended to be rather unreliable. Due to the pursuit of low pricing, their manufacturers have often cut costs in various ways, including lowered component quality, simplified designs, not including automation features, and more. The result is machines that can fail, and they often do.
Sometimes the failure is due to a problem in the mechanics of the system. For example, a filament might jam in an FFF device, or the material might not properly stick to the print surface. Those problems are not what this book is about.
Instead, this book is about electronic failures, which can also occur in a desktop 3D printer. Ironically, some electronic failures can be caused by mechanical issues: a print not adhering to the print surface might get pushed and get caught on a sensor cable, disabling it. This then becomes an electronics problem.
This book attempts to teach the basics of electronic problem diagnosis and repair, and that could be a very handy skill when working with unresponsive desktop 3D printers.
The book begins with a long discussion on the tools required to perform electronic diagnosis and repair. This includes sophisticated gear, such as oscilloscopes, but also rudimentary items such as a magnifier or electrical tape. In all, over a dozen workshop items are identified along with many more “nice to haves”, such as a stereo microscope. Geier explains how to operate each at length.
I’m very pleased to see that Geier includes an entire chapter discussing safety factors. This is quite important when dealing with electricity, as you can well imagine. Geier reviews the types of issues that can arise, and what to do to avoid them.
Basic electrical concepts are explained, including naming conventions and circuit diagrams.
Circuits are discussed in some detail, with Geier explaining the many types of components one might find in them, including resistors, oscillators and switches, as well as the connections between them.
Geier writes some very practical advice that I wish I had learned years ago. For example, he includes an entire chapter on “how to get into a system without breaking it”. I can say from experience this is entirely valuable advice.
Once inside, Geier also includes a chapter on “how to identify things”, another critical skill that can baffle those unfamiliar with circuit boards and their components. He describes the process for a number of commonly found products, but none are a 3D printer. However, the same tips and tricks will work with 3D printers.
Geier provides an outstanding overview of the diagnosis process, where signals are traced from one point to another, until the defective unit is identified. Then he explains how to go about removing and replacing the defective components.
If you have failing electronics, including your 3D printer, you might want to give this book a try to see if you can learn how to repair electronics when they inevitably fail.
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