Qidi X Smart 3 tweaks

From the title you will have guessed that I could not resist the temptation to buy an X Smart 3 while they were on special offer at GBP299.

The X Smart 3 is a lovely little machine. It prints excellent high quality models at a very fast speed. My testing suggests around a third of the time as on my Qidi ifast but of course it has nothing like the same chamber build volume.

I have had some issues with the X Smart 3, some of which were finger trouble on my part and some that needed recourse to Qidi’s excellent support team.

Attached to the link below is a ZIP file that has the full write up detailing my modifications to the X Smart 3 to add a LAN socket, modify the processor fan operation and to add extension feet to raise the body of the printer to allow more air flow. The ZIP file contains the PDF document and two STL files, one for the extension feet and one for a printed template to aid positioning the hole for the LAN socket.

Note that the LAN connection will not appear on the printer control panel but is visible by the Qidi Slicer application. The IP address allocated will be automatically defined and you will need an application like Fing to discover what this is. The control board will be discovered as a Raspberry board.

Since the above write up I have progress on a HEPA filter housing for the X Smart 3 rear fan. Below is a write up on this and some changes I also made to my i-fast

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Diesel Heater Service and how to do it

My diesel heater has been installed and working for a few years and I have never had a problem with it starting or running until this week. We had a spell of very cold mornings and on switch on it just created clouds of white smoke before the pump finally starting to click.

I have never had the heater apart and I was somewhat concerned about doing this but the internet solved this. I recommend the following site which although relating to an Espar D2 heater, the details are much the same for the Chinese copies. The embedded video is worth watching.

https://sprinterdiscovery.com/heater/

The essence of the service is that if the heater smokes on start up then the gauze filter around the glow plug is clogged.

The strip down is quite simple with the only issue to watch is that the two large gaskets can easily get damaged. The gauze filter was different to the one as shown in the Espar above, more just a simple gauze tube. Getting the filter out is tricky but a pair of narrow nose pliers and some careful poking did the job. The filter showed heavy carbon deposits which were cleared after soaking in WD40 and using a fine wire brush. The main heat exchanger shell was very clean considering the period of use but I did managed to liberate some carbon dust particles from the burner tube head.

The heater assembly went back together easily and it fired up from switch on this morning despite another chilly start.

New gauze and new gaskets are available on EBay.

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Tormach Power Drawbar piston service

For some time my compressor has been intermittently kicking in without anything running to justify it. By chance I heard a slight hiss and then felt a small ‘breeze’ coming from the bottom of the Tormach drawbar compression cylinder stack. This device has three pistons stacked together to give enough downward pressure to open the drawbar gripping the TTS collet. The machine was installed in 2016 so the seals have done quite well to survive this long.

I did some web based research and found that Tormach offer a seal replacement kit so clearly this was something that was an expected service activity. I ordered the kit (which cost less than the courier charge). Here is an image of the kit.

My research also found a very old YouTube post by John Saunders at NYC CNC where he describes how to undertake the service activity. It looked like a job I could manage.

My PCNC440 model was slightly different to John’s in so far as removing the piston assembly out of the machine. On mine you have to just remove a single shoulder bolt and a pull out pin. However before doing this you need to put any of your TTS tools in the collet to relieve the pressure from the cylinder plunger head. Once this is done, turn off and bleed the air supply before removing the two air feeds. Mark them so you know which one goes to which port. Also mark the three piston sections with a Sharpie so you know which order and orientation they are in.

The piston stack has the three sections clamped together with four bolts inserted from the top of the stack. The bottom end mounting plate also has long screws that pass through spacer tubes but only fasten into the bottom piston section. Note that these spacer tubes might well have some large additional height setting washers so don’t lose them.

I suggest removing the bottom three screws first of all so you are left with just the three cylinders still held together by the top four bolts.

Now for a tricky part – you need to remove the large circlips that are fitted to the top and bottom ends of the piston stack. These are not easy to remove unless you have a decent tool to grip them. Basic handheld circlip pliers are unlikely to perform and you could end up search the workshop for flying circlips. For this reason you must wear some eye protection while removing the circlips. I bought in a pair of these pliers and they were superb for the job.

Once the circlips are removed you can remove the four top bolts holding the stack together and be able to split the three sections. Be careful how you do this so you see and understand what is where and the order of assembly.

The end plates that were held by the circlips are pushed outwards. All the other sections should freely slide out as appropriate.

With everything ready, start from one end of the assembly and do a logical swap out of the old seal and swap in the new one and re-assemble that section. Clean off any debris in the seal grooves and add new grease to the seals and their locating grooves. I used silicon grease.

The kit comes with 6 standard section O rings, 3 wider section rings and 3 central piston seals as shown in the image above. By swapping only one seal in and out at any one time you get a good control check that you haven’t missed anything.

My kit also had some small O rings that are not shown in the Tormach image of the kit contents. I can only assume that the kit is universal to a number of other piston types.

Update : Tormach has since confirmed that the extra small O rings are for the 770 and 1100 versions only.

The whole swap out activity took around 2 hours. This piston worked fine when re-installed back on the 440. “Phew!”

Qidi X Smart 3 special weekend pricing

Worth considering ?

For those of you considering getting or upgrading a 3D printer, Qidi are offering their X Smart 3 on a special weekend price reduction from £399 to £299. This is a lot of printer for the price with a heated enclosure and fast printing speed. You can watch a review by Aurora Tech here.

I have no affiliation with Qidi but have a great respect for the company, their products and their superb support infrastructure.

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Eccentric Engineering Turnado arrives

Another asset to the workshop tooling register

I love to use gravers. It is like turning wood but with metal.

I have four regular use gravers made to William Smith’s receipe, two for general turning, two for parting. These get used in conjunction with my Hemminway quick release hand turning rest as shown below.

There is something very therapeutic about being in direct contact with the material being worked on rather than being decoupled through a tool post and handwheels.

I have a potential project looming that will require hand turning and on a larger scale than is practical with my gravers. If I had a CNC lathe this would be straightforward but alas this is something maybe for the future. After some research I came across the Eccentric Engineering Turnado hand turning device. There are a few videos on YouTube about it and I believe Quinn at Blondie Hacks uses one. She also uses Eccentric Engineering’s tangential/diamond toolpost which is another of Gary’s useful products. Here is a screenshot from Gary’s site.

I took the plunge and ordered a Turnado. It arrived on my doorstep here in the UK 3 days after posting from Australia which was impressive.

The kit as received needs dedicating to the lathe on which it will be used. This involves deciding how to mount the working table on the carriage and setting the lathe centre height correctly. Setting the table height involves turning down five pillars to the correct length – quite a simple process you would think…. but I blew it and cut them too short. Totally inexcusable clang and I had to remake them. Very red face and very blue language resulted. The correct gap between the two plates was 12.7mm on my Myford.

The mounting on the Myford carriage needs a round boss that matches the boss under the standard top slide assembly. I measured this as best I could, modelled it in Fusion and 3D printed a prototype.

The 3D model worked fine. With confidence restored in my ability to measure properly I turned up the boss in steel. All went well and the Turnado table mounted correctly and gripped very well on the lathe carriage. Here is a picture of the lower side of my finished assembly. Apologises for the pink 3D model – of late I have had a heavy demand from grandchildren for Barbie related models.

Having now played with the Turnado I can say that it is a lovely well thought out piece of engineering and works well. Using the hand tool is a delight and the accessories for profile turning will be indispensable.

Nice product Gary.

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