Add touch control to your printer for cheap!

Smartphone controlling Prusa i3
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Do you struggle to control your printer with this small knob and low resolution LCD screen ? Or maybe you are tired with this blocky user interface that it offers? I will tell you a secret – start using a 3d printer touch control so you can control your printer with your old smartphone with OTG (On The Go) function. Install simple app and you can perform any operation – XYZ movement, extruder, hotend and heated bed temperature… You can even print a gcode from the app!  All you need is OTG cable. You can design an enclosure for the smartphone to embed it into printer. Or just buy regular suction cup mount and stick it on the desk.

Unfortunately no such control for iOS users 🙁 But I found few interesting apps in the Google Play Store. Lets review them and I am sure that everyone will pick one for them self.

Smartphone controlling Prusa i3 - 3d printer touch control

LG smartphone used as interface of the prusa printer

1. 3D Fox  – 3d printer touch control

Number one on the list is 3D Fox – app that allow you to connect your printer via USB OTG or Bluetooth. Using the app you can control all motors, extruder and temperatures with custom commands and macros. there is command line to send G-Code to your printer for more functionality.  You can interface with it via webserver that it can setup, so you can perform actions over local network. One disadvantage that I found is that there is no landscape mode. Developer claims that in future versions you will be able to change speed and temperature during print, control fan and support for FTDI FT232R chip when requested. Overall app gets  7/10 score. It is good app with potential to be excellent when it will support more printer boards.  App is free and you can find it here.

Prepare Page of 3D Fox App - 3d printer touch control

In prepare tab there is full set of control and macros.

2. Cyrus remote – 3d printer touch control

It is app for the Cyrus 3D printer but i found that I can connect it to my Prusa i3 and control basic functions such as XYZ movement, extruder, fan, temperatures and even step size in mm while extruding. It works in landscape, and offers much more functionality for Cyrus customers. There is option to visualize path. There is nothing more to say about it. it is excellent if you have Cyrus 3D printer, otherwise you can perform basic actions. My score is 4/10 (but I had Cyrus printer I would rate it 10/10). App is free with limited functionality for non-Cyrus users, you can find it here.

Cyrus remote control screen - 3d printer touch control

Nicely designed control page, however not all controls are available for non-Cyrus customer.

3. GCode Simulator (Free) – 3d printer touch control

GCode Simulator is app that just like others  let you perform basic actions, and offers G-Code visualisation and details about printing settings. It is really similar to the Cyrus remote, but user interface is emm… simpler. Full printing is only supported in the full GCodePrintr app. I am giving this app 9/10 for the functionality. Download it here (free version).

Control screen of GCODE Simulator - 3d printer touch control

Gcode simulator offers lot of functions, but UI is a bit ugly.

4. Reprap Control – 3d printer touch control

Last app in my review is Reprap control. Again – basic functionality, you can setup printing from SD. User interface could be better, but hey, app is free.
You should check it, I bet that it will continue to grow, but for now 3/10. Try it here.

Reprap control, main panel - 3d printer touch control

Reprap Control offers basic functions, with not so obvious key placement. It takes some time to get used to.

Which one is the best? I leave this opinion to you. I personally would use 3D Fox because of local network functionality, but maybe in the future I will find better app. One thing I know that it is really convenient to use smartphone instead of my laptop or PC. Let me know in the comments if you know any other app worth mentioning.

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