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So ... 3d Printers....

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Eh, I thought you were hacking the NES and Genesis Everdrives.  Nobody cares about N64.  Get that 3D printer.

Well if somebody can find me some source code I can.  The n64 cart has an open-source alternative.  The others don't afaik. 

I have the Anet A8.  It definitely needs some upgrades and several plugs and wires are undersized which are a known fire hazard.  Expect to spend an extra $100 or so on upgrades.  That said, I really like it.  It's my second 3d printer and it has worked really well for me.  The print volume really sold it for me.  If you can live with a bit smaller print volume I'd go with one of the smaller Prusia I3 based units that doesn't need quite so many upgrades.

With RepRap based printers like the A8 or other Prusia I3 based units, you really don't need to worry about included software as there are many free and often open source options that work well.  Some of the closed source hardware designs may lock you into certain software.  The Anet controller board firmware is not open source but there is a group called Skynet3D that has an alternative firmware available that's I believe open source (free anyway).

Starter filament I wouldn't worry about since you will need far more to get things dialed in and then plenty more for printing.

They are available from more places than Gearbest but pretty much all of the sources I've heard of have non-existent customer service.  I got mine from which lists a US address but ships from China. 
Ship time was a bit under 2 weeks but might be more now with the holidays.

My next question was going to be where to buy.  Gearbest is out... as you said their customer service isn't great, they are out of units in the US, and shipping is no longer free. 

I've found a ton of i3 clones on ebay/amazon/ect.  Some have anet pcbs and some have melzi.  I've heard bad things about both so I'm not sure which one to get.  The melzi are slightly cheaper which makes me think they are worse.

The build size is what interests me.  It's large enough to print enclosures for projects without having to print in pieces. 

I want to try and get one that's already in the USA just so it'll get here before the holidays. 

I believe the Anet PCB is a rearranged Melzi. But I am seeing reports that people are getting newer Anet boards that have improved connectors which is good. I've seen some other variations between kits. Some have gotten acrylic sub frames on the heat bed which is not as good as the aluminum that I got.

Keep in mind that printing right up to the edge of the designed print volume can be difficult. I try to leave some margin. And large prints are both more difficult to print and can take a very long time.


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