I looked around a bunch and finally settled on the Prusa i3 Mk2 (beta) from Aus3D. One of the primary things that influenced me in this choice was that Aus3D is local in Adelaide. When I first inquired about a printer, I was tossing up between the Aus3D and the original from Prusa Research. The price was about the same (once you factor in currency conversion and shipping). Chris from Aus3D responded to my email suggesting that he was in the final stages of upgrading his kit to Mk2 with a bunch of improvements. He said I could have a beta version. I missed out on a few features that came out with the official release, but I’m happy with the printer.
Some of the features and design choices I particularly liked was the use of proper lead screws, thick acrylic frame, infrared z-probe with auto bed leveling, and a E3D v6 lite hot end which I upgraded to a full E3d-v6. I also really like that it had pre-drilled holes for a Raspberry Pi to run OctoPrint. All of the steppers had connectors, not just wires and the limit switches were on small PCBs with proper connectors and mounting. All of this added up to some good engineering choices and a local supplier as a bonus.
Quite a bit of a learning curve here too, and it took me some time to get consistent prints. The design of the GoPro holders also evolved (left to right) as I learned what size feature I could reproduce and became familiar with the material properties.
The camera is held in by a small protrusion in the back of the holder which mates with the slot on the end of the camera. Then it’s just a matter of an elastic band to keep it from tipping out. The tolerances are tight enough that its a snug fit anyway.
So, lots of printing later…
There were a good 8 prototypes that didn’t get used. Near the end I was coming to the end of the spool of blue ColorFabb (a PLA/PHA blend) that I got with the printer. I picked up some green PLA from Bilby3D (another Australian company). I had been printing on kapton tape at 60C, but the new green filament wasn’t sticking at all. A switch to blue painter’s tape and a bed temp of 45C per the tech support folks at Bilby and we’re back in business. I used 2 of the green holders to mark ‘front’ on the spherical camera.