8.1 Common Issues

8.1.1 The left extruder prints too far to the side

This is a good indication that your toolhead offsets are very wrong. Write them down and then set them each to 0 mm and see if that corrects the problem. You can quickly change the toolhead offsets from the front panel using the “Toolhead Offsets” item under the “Utilities” menu. See Section 3.7.11 for directions.

For assistance on calibrating your toolhead offsets, refer to Section 4.2.

pictNote If you recently installed Sailfish and are seeing this behavior, then likely you failed to do all the setup steps from Chapter 6. Two of the important installation steps were to save the toolhead offsets before installing Sailfish and then to restore them. If you did not do those steps, or did them incorrectly (e.g., used the wrong version of ReplicatorG), then perhaps you should review Chapter 6.


8.1.2 Incorrect target temperatures

You probably have Sailfish’s “Override Gcode Temperature” feature enabled. This feature ignores the temperatures requested in your gcode and instead uses the printer’s preheat temperatures. You can either set the preheat temperatures to the temperatures you want (Section 3.7.3), or disable the temperature override (Section For Cupcakes and Thing-o-Matics, use ReplicatorG, MakerWare, or MakerBot Desktop to change these settings via the Onboard Preferences windows.

pictNote If you recently installed Sailfish and are seeing this behavior, then likely you failed to do all the setup steps from Chapter 6. One of the important installation steps is to set the printer to “factory defaults”. And one of those factory defaults is to disable the “Override Gcode Temperature” feature. If it is enabled and you do not recall enabling it, then likely you forgot that installation step.


8.1.3 Extruder cannot reach temperature

Do you have an extruder on a dual extruder printer which cannot seem to reach temperature during a dualstrusion print? You may be able to resolve this with a change to the PID parameters for the extruder in question.

This problem is particularly common on Replicator 2X printers manufactured during or after October 2013. For these printers, it appears that MakerBot made an engineering change to their Replicator 2X line and then released them without adequate testing. The change appears to have been made to expedite assembly but results in too much air wash over one of the extruder’s heater blocks; usually the right extruder. With the increased air wash cooling the extruder and the default PID settings, the extruder cannot reach temperature.

Alternatively, it may simply be that the heater core for the extruder in question is too weak: it has too high of a resistance causing it to be of lower wattage than normal.

In either case, you can attempt to change the PID settings for the extruder. Do this with ReplicatorG – Sailfish. Connect to the printer over USB and then invoke the “Onboard Preferences” window from the “Machine” menu. In the onboard preferences window, click on the tab for the extruder in question: extruder 0 is the right extruder and extruder 1 is the left extruder. For the PID parameters, change the “I” value to 0.45 and the click the “Commit” button. Once the change has been made, power cycle the printer. Then test the behavior. If that does not work, the problem may lie elsewhere. Be very careful about experimenting with the PID values as you do not want to destabilize the heating controls. Also, be warned that MakerBot did not actually implement “true” PID control. Their implementation, which Sailfish follows for compatability, is not true PID control.

8.1.4 Fast, violent motion

Should your printer seem to move too fast or violently, then likely one of two things is occurring:

You are printing an old-style print file which has only unaccelerated motion commands. Such print files often use the file extension .s3g. Regenerate the print file and ensure that it is a .x3g file.
The printer’s acceleration is disabled. See Section for help on checking this setting on Replicator-style printers. On Cupcakes and Thing-o-Matics, you will need to use ReplicatorG, MakerWare, or MakerBot Desktop to check this setting via machine “Onboard Preferences”.

Fast, violent motion is typically associated with printing at high speeds without acceleration. If acceleration is already enabled, make sure you are using the correct type of build file, .x3g. As of Sailfish 4.0 for the Thing-o-Matic and Cupcake and Sailfish 6.2 for Replicators, Sailfish uses a new kind of accelerated move command. In ReplicatorG 0039 – Sailfish, those new commands are used when generating .s3g files, while in ReplicatorG 0040 – Sailfish, .s3g files use the old commands and .x3g files use the new ones. If you use an .s3g file generated with any version of ReplicatorG other than 0039 - Sailfish, it will contain the old unaccelerated move commands and Sailfish will run them as non-accelerated moves, resulting in violent, jerky movement that is hard on your printer and produces poor quality prints.

If neither of these things turns out to be the issue, go to ReplicatorG’s “Machine” menu, select “Onboard Preferences”, and compare the values in the Acceleration tab to the ones shown in Table 4.1 If they look very different, you may want to reset your printer to factory defaults. See, for example, Section 3.7.20 for directions on accomplishing this from the front panel. Note that this will preserve your home and toolhead offsets.

8.1.5 Prints start off the platform

Check your printer’s X and Y home offsets. You can do this via the printer’s LCD display, if equipped, or from ReplicatorG, MakerWare, or MakerBot Desktop. See Section 6.4.2 for instructions. In that section, you will also find Table 4.2 which lists the default X and Y home offsets for most types of printers.

You are looking to make sure that the X and Y offsets are not small values or even zero or negative. They should be close to those shown in Table 4.2. Should you change the values and again check them, you may not see exactly the values you set. This is a result of converting back and forth between units of millimeters and stepper motor steps, which must be integer values; the conversion thus introduces “roundoff” errors.

For Thing-o-Matics and Cupcakes, you should run the home offset calibration procedure if you are unsure of what the correct home offset values are. If you know what they should be, then you can set them via the “Onboard Preferences” windows in ReplicatorG, MakerWare, or Desktop.

8.1.6 Printer is skipping or missing steps

There are many possible causes for this behavior, most of them mechanical, including:

Loose pulley which slips from time to time. Tighten set screws on all pulleys.
Faulty stepper motor wiring, or wiring not well seated in their connectors. Inspect wiring; reseat connectors. Problems may only exhibit at certain travel extremes.
Faulty endstop wiring, or wiring not well seated in their connectors. Inspect wiring; reseat connectors. Problems may only exhibit at certain travel extremes.
Electrical noise picked up by endstop wiring and causing false endstop triggers. Route wiring away from stepper motor wiring if possible.
Build is too large for platform and an endstop is being triggered causing lost steps.

Note that on genuine MakerBot Replicator 2 and 2X’s, faulty stepper motor and endstop wiring is not uncommon, even on brand new printers.

If you are sure that the problem is not mechanical, then it may be that you are running an axis faster than it can tolerate. The Z axis, especially on a Cupcake, is particularly sensitive to this. The maximum feedrates allowed for each axis are specified in the machine definition file used by ReplicatorG. Those maximum feedrates are specified in units of millimeters per minute. You may need to reduce your maximum federate. After changing a machine definition, you will need to exit and restart ReplicatorG so that ReplicatorG registers the change. Then you will need to connect your printer to ReplicatorG via USB so that ReplicatorG can communicate the change to your printer.

However, the primary enforcement of maximum feedrates is your slicer. Or, more specifically, the program which translates your gcode to X3G for consumption by the printer’s firmware. As such, you need to also set the maximum feedrates in your slicer. How this is done is slicer dependent and outside the scope of this document.

8.1.7 Leveling script does not move the extruder

The leveling script in Sailfish (Section 3.7.5) is more versatile than that found in other firmwares: it allows you to manually move the extruder carriage to any position you wish to check. Moreover, you can move it to as many positions as you want, in whatever order you want, as many times as you want. Just hold the extruder carriage and move it to whereever you want to check the spacing between the extruder nozzle and build platform. Use the adjustment knobs under the build platform to adjust the spacing between the build platform and nozzle. When you are finished, press the center button to return to the Utilities menu.

8.1.8 Printer homes in the wrong direction

If you are using ReplicatorG for slicing, ensure that the “Use default start/end gcode” box in the “Generate GCode” window is checked. If you are using your own starting gcode, check it for errors.

If that does not solve the problem or you are not using ReplicatorG, then inspect your starting gcode and ensure that the homing commands are correct for your printer type as per Table 8.1. Note that the G161 gcode command homes to the minimum endstops while a G162 command homes to the maximum endstops.

Homing Direction
Printer X Y Z
All Replicators & clones max max min
Thing-o-Matics & Cupcakes min min max

Table 8.1: Printer-specific homing directions

Finally, if the homing commands appear correct in your starting gcode, then check if the direction of motion for the axis or axes has been reversed. If so, you can invert the direction of travel for each axis via the printer’s onboard preferences. Inspect and change them with ReplicatorG, MakerWare, or MakerBot Desktop.