Figuring out which electronics and what matching firmware you should be using is pretty confusing for first-timer RepRap builders.

So what electronics kits can you use with your RepRap, and what firmware should you be using?

Gen6

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This is on the list to serve mostly as a reference point, it was the very fist electronics kit I got running on a RepRap. It was extremely basic, and didn’t support many of the features I now consider mandatory. It had pins for endstops, stepper motors, the hotend and that was it. If you already have a Gen6, it is a great way to get started. However, if you are looking at purchasing something for your new printer try one of the others below instead.

  • Created: 2010
  • Design: all-in-one board
  • Cooling fan support: No
  • Heated build platform support: No
  • Dual extruder support: No
  • Extra input and out pins for making your own custom features: No
  • Recommended Firmware: Marlin (Marlin installation instructions can be found here.)
  • Gen6 Reprap wiki page
  • Cost: Not really for sale at time of writing anymore, but you might be able to find a second hand one on ebay floating around cheap.

Printrboard

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The printrboard was developed as part of the printrbot kickstarter campaign, and is compatible with many other RepRap designs. It has plenty of support for all the latest 3D printing features. But the main reason the printrboard is on this list, is the oh-so-sweet ATX 4-pin connector that connects to your power supply.

  • Created: 2012
  • Design: all-in-one board
  • Cooling fan support: Yes
  • Heated build platform support: Yes
  • Dual extruder support: No
  • Extra input and out pins for making your own custom features: Yes
  • Recommended Firmware: Sprinter
  • Printrboard Reprap wiki page
  • Cost: $129.00

RAMPS 1.4

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This is what I currently run in my 3D printer, and I love it to bits. If you are familiar with building a PC, you will be right at home with a RAMPS (RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield) setup. It is often described as a ‘sandwich’ and consists of a stack:

  1. Arduino Mega (this is pretty much analogous to the CPU in your PC.)
  2. The RAMPS board itself (this is pretty similar to the motherboard in your PC)
  3. Pololu A4988 Stepper Drivers (this is similar to your video card, or other peripherals)

If something breaks, or burns out. Just swap out the broken component. Plus the Arduino mega and the stepper drivers are cheap and easy to find. It supports all the latest 3D printing features, and is easy to extend if you feel like getting your hands dirty with code and electronics.

About the only thing that could possibly make the RAMPS board even more awesome is if it came with regular ATX power connectors. It can be a little tricky to wire up the power for RAMPS board (see here for instructions and tips on matching power supplies). Most people I know use Power supplies out of computers to power their printer and it makes sense to use the connectors that already come with them.

So if you are looking for an electronics set for your printer that uses commodity components, is easy to repair and extend. Then this little guy is for you.

  • Created: 2011
  • Design: Replaceable components
  • Cooling fan support: Yes
  • Heated build platform support: Yes
  • Dual extruder support: Yes
  • Extra input and out pins for making your own custom features: Yes
  • Recommended Firmware: Marlin
  • Reprap wiki page
  • Cost: $$40.00 (All in, Arduino, RAMPS board and stepper drivers)