Monitor and control your 3D printer from anywhere with this simple Raspberry Pi-powered plug-and-play device
Many popular 3D printers come with very basic controls, so preparing a model for printing can be a technical trial. The AstroBox Touch transforms your 3D printer in an internet-connected one-stop shop by linking the printer to the AstroBox cloud web application. It also features a touchscreen interface, allowing for basic printer control that is light years easier than a standard firmware interface.
This article first appeared in The MagPi 70 and was written by PJ Evans
The device itself is a Raspberry Pi with a touchscreen HAT in an injection-moulded case with exposed USB ports, enabling easy connection of your printer and webcam. Setup could be better, as the ‘quick start’ video really didn’t explain anything. Fortunately, we found the user interface very intuitive and it wasn’t long before everything was connected. (A Pi Camera Module cannot be used, as there is no access to the camera connector.)
On both the AstroBox site and the touchscreen, you have access to a range of ‘apps’. You can download files directly from Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory, slice and start prints, then monitor your work with video streaming and time-lapse recording. Additionally, you can create new objects with some design tools – including 3DSlash, which is a fun way of designing that will appeal to Minecraft fans in particular.
Compared to other cloud solutions, this is a very refined product. We were pleased by the ease of setup, and anything that produces a good print first time gets our vote. Integration with the website worked flawlessly both on desktop and phone. The default settings chosen for our printer were not perfect, but you can adjust them to your heart’s content on the website.
The AstroBox Touch is an ideal product if you’re looking to make your 3D printing experience less painful. Its plug-and-play nature is worlds apart from other solutions, although you do sacrifice some of the fine-tuning available in slicers like Cura. If you’re just interested in easy printing, this may be the device for you.
The AstroBox Touch is not cheap: £175 is a lot compared with the alternatives. What you’re buying is an easy, painless experience – and to some people who don’t have the time or interest in a more involved technical setup, that may be money well spent.
The AstroBox Touch’s mission is to transform the frustrating process of 3D printing into a pleasurable and intuitive experience. If the price is right for you, it’s an easy win.