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Modded and self-sourced: A Trident Story


pylo

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History

I am a proud Aquila owner... or used to be. I modded its electronics, the Z-drive, the extruder, added extra part cooling and swapped out the fan duct, made the heatbreak all-metal, encased it, klipperized it, made it virtually silent (fan+electronics mods), added a BLTouch, exchanged the glass plate for powdered PEI, added better bed springs... and honestly, based on other prints I've seen both IRL and online, its print quality could put a lot of premium printers to shame now. But still I've become dissatisfied with this bedslinger. Obviously my mods solved many of its initial issues, but I still constantly fight with first-layer adhesion and can never use the whole bed. Also, some components often need maintenance every few prints. Add to this that printing ABS is still problematic, and printing anything tall is impossible at humane speeds due to the moving bed, I've decided: I'm gonna build myself a Voron 🙂

The Goals

My choice fell to the Trident in its 300mm size. My expectations is that when it is done, it should be much more reliable than my current printer, and I'll also get a larger build volume and better ABS printability. I guess it will also end up being faster which is certainly good, but that really is only a secondary goal for me. Let's see if I can make it.

Right from the start I am planning with a bunch of mods (checkmark indicates finished installation):

  • Galileo2 extruder
  • TAP
  • CAN with umbilical cable
  • Kinematic bed mount
  • Y-axis backers
  • WobbleX
  • An ultra-flat bed from MRW (without integrated magnets)
  • BFI
  • Magnetic acrylic panels
  • Chamber thermistor
  • Nevermore filter (also acting as bed fans)
  • Chamber lighting
  • Voron Revo hotend
  • ✓ Nozzle brush and purge bucket

About the mods

Just a few days ago, the Galileo2 (well, it's public beta) was announced and a small stock even became available with instant delivery (no waiting until sometime in october) at a local store. I might have gone into over-hype mode, but I am intrigued by the G2 and since it was optimized first and foremost for extrusion consistency, I decided I'll order one and ditch my Clockwork2 even though I already ordered the parts for it a week ago. Before the G2, my plan was to mod the CW2 with Bondtech's IDGA. The G2 is also supposed to be quieter which I also welcome: I've been told that Vorons can be pretty loud to begin with, and considering that my current printer is very silent, I'm already afraid the contrast in noise levels will be uncomfortable. So any help is welcome.

I'm sure a lot of people would question the inclusion of the WobbleX. Well, I fervently dug through many forums and the Voron Discord before assembling my BOM, and even though most people claim they don't have problems with Z-banding, it also doesn't seem to be an unheard phenomenon on the Trident or similar printers (like the V-Core). I decided I'd rather get rid of the problem from the get-go even if there is a good chance I might not need it. Don't judge me please.

The bed stuff with the MRW bed, kinematic mounts and backers are due to my first-layer traumas from my current printer. Besides, the kinematic mount might also save a lot of time when doing smaller prints by not having to wait for the printer to warm up. Let's see if this theory holds up in practice.

For the backers I ordered linear guides. This sounds like a Gucci move but not at all. Rails that serve as backers don't have the same quality requirements as the rails with the actual carriages, so these can be dirt-cheap. Hence I ordered the cheapest set I could find on Aliexpress. This way, price was not only lower than Titanium backers, but at the same time I'll even get better print results. You might not want to do this though if you're not building an umbilical toolhead, as the cable chain would be in the way. My build's umbilical though, so no problem here.

The reason for the Nevermore, chamber thermistor and bed fans should be obvious: All for the sake of printing ABS. Related to this are the magnetic acrylic sheets. Being magnetic will allow me to easily remove them or snap them back in, making it a child's play to switch from ABS to PLA and back.

I did not include the pinmod. This mod is so strange. It seems to be extremely popular, it is present in many kits, and if not in a kit a very large portion of users still implement it. All this despite not having seen a single post or analysis or report where it actually made things better. If experts or highly-respected members of the Voron community are asked, they unanimously claim this is a useless mod and there is no reason to include it. So I left it out based on multiple people's advice and I'm glad I did: I'm past assembling the idlers in the build process, and what I see now myself is that the pinmod should not make any difference (the screws/pins are not what the bearings directly rotate around), so it is no surprise if it doesn't. IMHO, the pinmod is basically snake-oil.

Maybe not really a mod, but it might be worth noting I opted for a BTT Pi+U2C in the electronics compartment. The nice thing about this is two-fold: First, the BTT Pi can be powered by 24V directly, so you save the space and cabling for a separate 5V PSU. Second, the U2C can piggy-back on the BTT Pi, saving again space and cabling. There is enough space so it's not like you need to save it, but this will make everything much tidier, neater and even easier to wire up.

I'll completely ditch the screen. My current printer has one but I still use it exclusively over the Fluidd web-UI only. I know I won't need a screen on my Voron by experience.

The self-sourcing

My self-sourcing experience was a mixed-bag at first. It is very time-intensive, for me it cost multiple days all things considered. I fully understand if not all people are willing to go through this process. The upside is you can control the brands and quality of the components, whereas with kits this is either unknown or at least might fluctuate. It might be tempting to think that self-sourcing is cheaper, but this depends on a lot of factors: what components you already have, what components are redundant to you in the kit due to future mods, how is component availability in stores, and even where you live (due to VAT amount or shipping costs). You also need to optimize shipments to order from as few stores as possible. Simply taking a kit's price and adding those of my components that weren't in the kit doesn't offer a full picture, and I didn't make this calculation.

Of course, at first glance the completed BOM ended up being much more expensive than a kit, totaling to about 2400 EUR incl. VAT and shipping. This might sound scary compared to a kit's price that sells for around 1500 EUR, but considering all the extra stuff I ordered (PIF parts, TAP, CAN, MRW bed, Delta fans, WobbleX, Kinematic mount, twice the extruder, a quality crimping tool and allen-key set, chamber lighting, ...), I think I did pretty good. I am not sure a kit would have been cheaper, and even if it were, not by much. Unfortunately, I also used to be pretty sure that even if I saved some money by self-sourcing, I did not save much. Frankly, between all the extra time, work and headache it might not have been worth it.

At least that's what I thought at first. Then yesterday, I saw Lecktor's announcement about their fully-modded all-extra 2.4 kits. Yeah, I know it's a 2.4 and not a Trident. Yeah, I see the mods list is different from my own. Still, it is a lot more comparable BOM to my build than any other kit. Their prices start at ~2200EUR (excl. VAT!), so this makes me think I have grossly underestimated the money I saved by self-sourcing. What do you think?

The build

I started building last weekend (16. Sept). The printed parts are PIF parts and I have nothing to complain about. They are made out of FormFutura's "Premium ABS", the accent color being "Ocean Blue".

Unfortunately, the guys at Lecktor were in sleep mode apparently and they did not ship my order for a whole week. This resulted in most mechanical stuff having arrived on time except for the Lecktor parcel. Since that parcel contains all the Z-drive components and all the non-backer rails, all I could do for now is assemble the frame and the idlers. Nevertheless, the first mod is in place 🙂

Squareness seems good. This is not exact but deviations between diagonals seem to be around or under 0.5mm. I built the frame on my kitchen countertop to help with that (the bench in the picture is not it), and I did not need to do any readjusting afterwards. The bed got the Keenovo heater applied but is waiting for the GraviFlex foil (also in the Lecktor parcel arrgh...).

To be continued...
(don't worry, the rest of the posts should be shorter, lol)

 

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Edited by pylo
Typos and a price correction
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First of all, welcome to the forum! Pretty epic first post. 😁

 

You have quite a number of thoughts there.

I self-sourced my Trident, but that was early days of kits (they were more of Nero's "BOM in a box" at that time). I doubt I saved any money by self-sourcing, but I did specify each component. My current build as an LDO V0.2 kit, and I'd feel fine grabbing any of their kits. Components are all quality and they add several nice mods & upgrades. 

I already have many of your proposed mods on my 250 Trident and I'm happy with them all. Chamber thermistor is easy and useful. Nevermore has worked really well for me and I'm not bothering with bed fans because the Nevermore is moving plenty of air for me. 

I grabbed the Wobble-X halfway on a whim, and halfway to try to address a minor Z axis issue. It actually does help. My front left leadscrew isn't perfectly straight and got to squeaking even with lube, and I suspect introduced some VFAs. Wobble-X made it all go away. The downside is now I have to be careful removing the build plate so I don't lift the bed and let the balls fall and try to escape. On the whole, for me it's been a worthwhile update.

I have the regular MRW bed and no kinematic mounts. No issues at all--it's a quality part.

Those front idlers, they aren't stock. They look like the pin mod ones. I agree that swapping to the pins won't make a material difference to overall print quality. That said, I have added the mod myself (I added the pretty ones that conceal the screw heads). Aesthetically I like them better, but I also like that the tension is distributed evenly and you can adjust the pin angle with the screws. That way you can make certain the belts ride exactly correctly (the downside is you can get that wrong and really mess up the angle).

I'll be interested to hear how the Orbiter2 goes. I've been waiting on that to be released and will almost certainly build one later as an alternate to my CW2.

 

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Hi @pylo and welcome to the forum.

I see that you've checked out the orbiter 2 extruder. I watched the Steve-Builds livestream on that. Pretty cool extruder, not gonna lie. I like it but TBH, I'm done with printed extruders. IMO, an extruder needs to be rigid and precise and printed parts creep and bend and screws get loose, etc. Now that's not to say that the CW1 and CW2 extruders don't do a good job, just saying that I have bags with spare parts for them, just in case and that says a lot about printed extruders. After building, setting up and printing on the two RatRigs I have... I have learned to really appreciate the Bondtech LGX-Lite extruders they came with. Never once have I had an issue pushing any filament, never have the screws come loose and rarely if ever do I need to click open the tension lever to load or unload filament. It just works, all the time, every time. So now I run one on my Voron 2.4 and couldn't be happier. You can see 4 of my 5 builds in the Build Diary section if you're interested. They are Voron Switchwire, RatRig V-Minion and V-Core 300 and I'm currently in the process of building a VzBot 330. The Vz-Hextrudort that comes with the VzBoT is an all-metal CNC extruder. It will be interesting to see how it compares to what I've already tried.

Anyways, Good luck with the build and welcome to the maddness Hahahaha

Edited by Penatr8tor
Forgot something...
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Hi Guys, thanks for the warm welcome 🙂

@claudermilk Yes, those idlers aren't stock. That is the BFI (link) from the mod list above. Here's close-up picture of it. It is also what I meant when I later wrote "the first mod is in place". It makes sure I can later change my toolhead should I so decide so without losing build volume. Also it apparently solves a problem of the stock idler where it split for some users. This is a very cheap mod and easy to install while assembling a new printer, so I thought it is a worthy future-proofing. My back idlers are stock though. As for the pinmod, when I said it should be snake-oil, I was referring to its original design goal of giving smoother motion. If you like it for a different reason, then my opinion doesn't apply at all. As for the G2, I'll be sure to write down my experience, starting with this post 😉

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@Penatr8torI also saw that Steve-Builds video. AFAIK the plastic parts in Bondtech extruders are also 3D-printed, though MJF which is ofc a superior technology compared to FDM. The G2 kit comes with MJF printed gears, and there are other plastic parts that I'll have to print myself. I haven't completely given up on printing these parts myself, but I'm also thinking about ordering these from a cheap Chinese print shop using MJF. I checked and printing all those parts in MJF would cost about 44$+import vat+shipping. Nah. I'll try my luck with my roll of ASA first.

Here's how the MJF looks like in the Galileo2 kit. The other MJF parts are gears.

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And here's a picture of the whole kit's contents.

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Edited by pylo
Added link to BFI mod
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Yep, that is a pin mod. 😄 I agree, the added smoothness isn't really a thing. I like the sleeker look, the even tensioning, and getting away from that split issue. Also, it's a mod so why not? For me, I was tearing into the printer anyway for Tap so it was a good time to make the switch.

Jealous of you having the G2 kit. 

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@pylo Agree and yes, I know the Bondtech extruders are 3D printed. What I meant was FDM printed like Voron extruders. I will say though that the bondtech's only use printed parts for the enclosure. There are no 3D printed drive components like the G2. I'm not saying that they won't hold up tho.

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The Lecktor-parcel is still finding its way to me, so I couldn't continue the build. On the non-air route from Estonia to Hungary it now resurfaced in Germany a week after its shipping, so it is apparently on a world tour now. *Sigh* (For the non-Europeans here, Germany is as much on the way between Estonia and Hungary as Africa is between London and New York.)

In the meantime, I thought I could at least assemble the G2 extruder, so I printed all the parts on my Aquila using the ASA roll I already have. During assembly, I noticed early on that things weren't going the way they should, but I kept building, in the hope that it might still work out in the end. It was futile. Some parts needed waaaaay too much force to assemble, the front and back parts didn't sit flush, the hole of spring-loaded thumbscrew didn't line up with its inserted heat-insert, the ECAS collar couldn't be inserted fully, the pivoting action wasn't smooth, and the cable cover couldn't be fully closed.

After this, I spent basically the whole Sunday re-tuning that material, and even though parts are now dimensionally accurate when not warped, I still cannot print the larger ones warp-free. *Second sigh* I disassembled the first build to save the kit parts of course, and will let someone else print the plastic parts for me.

Welcome to the madness indeed 😄

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

All motion components installed and axii done, toolhead 90% assembled (missing only the hotend fan), bed frame, heating and magnetic sheet installed, and the printer belted. I've found a nice guy from the Voron community in my vicinity who printed me the ABS parts for the G2 extruder, and in contrast to my own prints, these worked great after assembling. From the planned mods, the Y-backers, TAP, Galileo2, and WobbleX got installed. The kinematic mount for the bed is basically done too but I'm deferring the installation of the bed frame for a later stage. That's because I'll still have to flip the printer upside-down and when that happens the WobbleX can easily fall apart if Z is in the wrong position. Keeping the bed off makes handling it a bit easier.

I guess with these, most of the mechanical stuff are in place. Next up is the electronics bay.

 

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Edited by pylo
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  • 3 weeks later...

Time to finish things up. Since my last post, I installed the electronics, setup the software, installed some more mods, went through the tuning guides, also tuned some filaments, and I am very satisfied with the results. This Trident is way better in every way than my previous printer. I've been actively printing with it for over a week now, but let's step back a little.

Like @claudermilk proposed, I started using the Nevermore as bed fans instead of having them separately. I installed two of it though :D:D:D More circulation, more filtering, or less often cartridge-refill. Between the Nevermore and the enclosure, I can reach above-60°C chamber temperatures. Good.

It wasn't on the mod list originally, but I also added a purge bucket and nozzle wiper.

When it came to the endstops, I realized the stock solution isn't good for an umbilical setup and needs to change, which I did not foresee. After looking at some mods and evaluating my options, I decided to try sensorless homing, and it works great! Not only simpler, but less cables and no mechanical switches. Just what I love.

Many days were spent trying to print some additional parts on my old printer. Some succeeded, most took multiple retries, and some failed completely. I lost several days due to this. Once I got the Trident printing, it was a walk in the park. I can already tell it is going to be a lot more reliable printer, with excellent print quality (I already tuned many of my filaments), and it is even faster. I can print 1.5x-2x faster without obvious quality loss. Printing speed wasn't a concern when I decided I'm going to build a Trident, but it certainly is welcome.

The printer is louder than my meticulously silenced Aquila, but this was expected. It is not that bad though.

I consider the printer done. I am still making adjustments to the Klipper config files here-and-there (adding some new macros, pause/resume, adaptive meshing etc.), but none of these are really important. I'll also be requesting a serial.

Next and probably final diary entry will be about some print samples and the Galileo2. I also plan to edit the first post and link all the mods I've used in this project, for the interested.

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Edited by pylo
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  • 3 weeks later...

I haven't vanished. I'm trying to iron out a tiny issue with my Galileo2. I don't want to post about the extruder and print quality until the issue is either solved or I've given up.

Edited by pylo
Typo fixes.
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