Here are the issues I've come across and features I think are missing


#1

Hello all,

First my apologies to the Astroprint Staff, this could very well be a thread of complaining. However, I think it may be easier to have a thread where I can voice my opinion, thoughts and ideas as well as some of the issues I keep encountering instead of sending dozens of support requests. I have contacted recently on an issue and I am quite pleased with the quick response and explanation I received, even though it did not solve my issue. I will mention, and elaborate slightly on this in a bit. I also wanted to start this thread since I sometimes forget or randomly run into issues or ideas, so this becomes a place I can keep track of them, edit and update as I come across/remember them If the Astroprint mods and staff feel this is better categorized somewhere, broken down into multiple posts, or whatever else then once again I apologize and do what you must.

Me & My Setup

I am an amateur hobbyist and thus I do not do an extensive amount of printing. I run a stock Printrbot Jr on Marlin firmware (I believe). I am using one of Adafruit’s Astroprint kits which consists of a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B v1.1 with an Ourlink 150M 802.11n Wireless USB adapter. I use Chrome 49.0.2623.112 (Official Build) m (32-bit) on an older machine to access the printer. Prior to using Astroprint I used Repetier to control my printer and do my slicing.

The Issues

  • [RESOLVED] Updating the software OTA seems to keep getting hung up on the “Configuring…” screen at around ~90% of installation completion. Just today I updated to v0.10(6) and was on that screen for 3 hours. I have to go back to the home page and check the firmware version I can confirm that the firmware was indeed updated. However, I wonder if configuring does get hung up and possibly cause some of my other issues. This seems to be resolved updating to v0.10(7). Personal Update v1.1
  • One of the more annoying things I have encountered (and my previous contact with customer service) is the inability for Astroprint to connect to and keep connected to hidden networks. For reasons beyond the scope of this post, I like to keep my SSID hidden, but I previously did not have easy access to my router’s network settings. This meant I had to get access to my router, unhide the SSID, connect to RPi and connect to the network. After the RPi was connected to my home network, I would have to reconnect to my home network and re-hide my SSID. I speculate this would happen once every 24 hours as the DHCP/network/router would renew. Since my network is hidden all my other devices would obtain a new lease but not the RPi. It would be much easier if I could manually enter my network settings and the RPi be able to save those. I’ve tried looking into the documentation for RPi/Octoprint/Linux in the hopes of “creating or modifying a file” (my words) to do just this. I have since set my SSID to broadcast to alleviate some of these intermittent steps. As of Personal Update v1.1 this has not been fully tested but seems to be better
  • I still get a Astroprint ad-hoc network even though I check the setting to stop broadcasting when a known network is found. This is true whether my SSID is hidden or broadcasted.

The Features

Coming from Repetier I got used to how that program functioned. There were some things, perhaps intentional or not that I think may be useful.

  • The ability to control fan speed. Currently it only seems the fan can be on or off. The ability to run the fan at 62% (for example).
  • I’d like to see the ability to manual place the print object on the bed. Perhaps it is now unnecessary with my archaic printer where I use the original warped wooden bed, or an uneven piece of glass, but I always liked having my prints near my origin. I felt this cut down on print time and kept the nozzle in a “consistent” area. Perhaps my examples are not the best to show this practicality and I could write some gcode that repositioned the start point, but I do think it would be a nice thing to have that would only round out and enhance the software
  • Building on the previous point, Repetier allowed a 3D window with maneuverability with the object. This way you could rotate around the object, and especially since I use an initial loop around the object at the beginning of the print, I could make sure that this loop does not fal outside of the bed.
  • [In Progress] As far as I can tell, if I slice the object and go to print it, but decide to tweak the initial settings I used, I can’t do that. I have to go back and re-slice the object with the new settings. It would be nice in the object folder when I click on one I can review the current settings and modify them instead of going through all the previous steps. As of Personal Update v1.1 this can be done through Astroprint.com UI but through the RPi UI may still be lacking

Added as of Personal Update v1.1

  • A “Universal Stop Print” feature as talked about here: Cancelling prints. Briefly, no matter where you are in the UI/Astroprint universe you can easily force stop a print, e.g., in the case of failures.
  • Again I’m probably in the minority here, but I do not use a heated bed. As mentioned you pride yourselves on your clean UI (as you should) but for me to have that “slider” control, despite this being unchecked in the settings, feels “useless” for me (for a lack of a better term or phrase). My suggestion would be that when the heated bed is “unchecked” in the settings the heated bed slider on the control screen would be hidden or removed. If the heated bed option is checked for use then the slider could be shown. I would think a simple JavaScript function could take care of this, but then again I’m not much of a web developer and I haven’t looked into much of the code for Astroprint :grin:

Again, perhaps some features may not be deemed necessary, but my intention is only to help the developers produce a well rounded product. I haven’t tried Octoprint or Repetier-Server yet as I do enjoy Astroprint, and I only criticize to to improve and not demean.

Keep up the good work. All the best,

  • Joe

#2

@Joe, Thanks for taking the time to write this! This helps us a lot. Here are the answers addressing your points:

  • OTA Upgrade: This is a known problem. The issue is caused by a temporary restart of haproxy when applying the new release. This can cause the websocket connection to be lost and not get the “finished” event. It doesn’t happen all the time, in fact it happens very rarely for us here but your computer/browser might be slower and make it happen all the time. Refreshing the page is all that’s needed. Refreshing is safe because if the upgrade hasn’t finished, it will simply show you the upgrade page again. Having said that, this bug is in our crosshairs.

  • Hidden SSID: If you know how to configure the network yourself, you can use the manual network manager. Here’s a FAQ article that I wrote recently. Having said that, I have added this to our development roadmap as part of the WebUI.

  • Hotspot not going away: We would need to look at the logs for this. The system is designed to switch the hotspot off when a known network is found. Not sure at this point why this isn’t working for you

  • Fan Speed: Also a feature that I just added to the roadmap. The challenge here is not to clutter the screen too much. Most people that change from Repetier, Octoprint, etc praise the simplicity and cleanness of our software. We don’t want to loose that so we’re always thinking (possibly overthinking) on how to satisfy advanced use cases without hurting everybody else.

  • Object Manipulation: More on that is coming. Stay tuned.

  • Settings tweaks: This is an excellent suggestion. It has been added to our cloud development roadmap.


#3

Daniel,

my 2 cents…

I concur with the general KISS philosophy that AstroPrint follows…however for the fan instance and the second extruder case having a separate slider VS a pull down or simple button is not really a significant complication. I also agree with Joe’s suggestion regarding adjusting the settings…I always save the my slice settings with a name I can associate back to the model this allows me to tweak that profile and re-slice…kind of a pain and I end up with way too many profiles but it achieves what I think Joe is looking for. I think making it not just viewable but modifiable or better keeping an editable slice profile with the model would be good…

I would also suggest that a simple ADVANCED button placed on screens that could benefit from extra controls would probably keep things clean but afford the flexibility needed by those of us with tricky prints or less than totally understood printers. Maybe instead of button this should be a check box that can remember its state would be better then we can have advanced screens for advanced users and it will stay that way until re-hidden. Maybe some other word would be better like EXPERT or Non-Standard or some such that would discourage the average user from trying to use it all the time and getting lost just like in other programs.


#4

You are right @Darren_DeVecchio, we’re just trying to think of the best way to implement these. Your suggestions are good.


#5

@Daniel Awesome! Thanks for that response! Anyone who stumbles across this, please note I didn’t try very hard searching the forums for some of these issues. For instance, I didn’t realize the OTA Upgrade was a known issue, I thought this was more of a result of my network. I’m just glad I’m not crazy and knowing I’m not the only one gives me some solace. I am on some older hardware so it could definitely be a slow connection/response on my end.

I did try a search for the hidden network issue. The response I got back from support seemed to address more the ad-hoc side of things on the RPi. However, I will take a look at those links, perhaps I missed something. My programming experience is very basic so to work in Linux without a very straightforward guide (i.e., every step is clearly defined and explained) is a bit over my head. The hidden network issue probably applies to <1% of your users so I will have to look over that FAQ article.

As far as the Hotspot goes, again I feel as through this just may be an issue on my end. Although I can’t think of what else might be causing this; it could be just because the hotspot is a known location on my computer so it will always see it as the RPi is on? When I get a chance I’ll boot up and get the log files and post it or send it if the issue continues.

I’ve overlooked your goal for simplicity and I haven’t tried Repetier or Octoprint simply because I haven’t felt the need to. Astroprint UI is nice, clean and simple and I see the attractiveness. I always noticed that the fan was just “on/off” in between the fan and bed sliders. I just felt the fan slider could go there as well. I could go into the GCODE and add fan controls, but to individually control when and where the fan turns I think is extremely helpful. Of course this may be for the more advanced or understanding users, which is why I think to be able to set the fan on 35% for the first layer (for example) and then turn it off during the print and fully on for intricate parts could be a good middle ground.

As @Darren_DeVecchio has mentioned, this could very well be an ADVANCED tab or window you’d voluntarily have to go in. Perhaps if you leave the screen as is. I like to extrude two loops prior to my print (usually depending on how these loops turn out I will know ho the print comes out and I can stop it early). I usually forget to adjust this initially. Sometimes when I go to print again my bed might my slightly off, or I could get some ambient temperature fluctuations during the winter as well, so I might adjust the extruder temperature. I’m trying to remember a specific instance to prove it’s useful, but now I’m rambling :grin: I think having an advanced tab would be great to make those necessary adjustments, but to have the simple UI as your landing screen also be extremely useful because when I know I have a good print I can easily go to that and print it without mush fuss.

If I could provide a counter point, I don’t think having an ADVANCED/EXPERT/NON-STANDARD UI should discourage users. Instead I think it should also be a way for those non-standard users to go in and be able to tweak settings, understand gcode or whatever else is going behind the scenes. That is a user should be able to go and mess up their print just to learn something. Of course, this is a completely different viewpoint and takes away from being straightforward and ease of use. Ultimately, I think it’s a way to make Astroprint more powerful. I digress as I understand your actual point.

Apologies for rambling and beating a dead horse. I think that covered most, at least until I start adding status LEDs, an eclosure and terminal hardware, but that may take another year for me! :laughing:


#6

Points taken. We will add this input for the next UI refresh


#7

I just wanted to update a few things here.

  • I’ve upgraded to v0.10(7) and I did not run into the configuration issue, but I’ve only done some brief printing. I think it’s too early to evaluate about WiFi connection issues, but I did not have trouble connecting last time.
  • I noticed the ability to adjust the slicer settings through Astroprint.com. It looks like this isn’t supported through the RPi UI as of yet.

I thought of some other features.

  • A “Universal Stop Print” feature as talked about here: Cancelling prints
  • Again I’m probably in the minority here, but I do not use a heated bed. As mentioned you pride yourselves on your clean UI (as you should) but for me to have that “slider” control, despite this being unchecked in the settings, feels “useless” for me (for a lack of a better term or phrase). My suggestion would be that when the heated bed is “unchecked” in the settings the heated bed slider on the control screen would be hidden or removed. If the heated bed option is checked for use then the slider could be shown. I would think a simple JavaScript function could take care of this, but then again I’m not much of a web developer and I haven’t looked into much of the code for Astroprint :grin:

I’ve modified my initial posts based on this post as well.


#8

I agree with you about fan speed, it’s very useful when temperature decreases due 100% speed