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I purchased a (very) low tier printer a while back, and now I am looking to start upgrading. First on my list is to upgrade the controller1).

My initial plan was to upgrade to an Arduino Mega with a RAMPS 1.4 running Marlin, but as I started to try to find a RAMPS 1.4 board I started questioning my plan. Almost every source I could find for the board was either out of stock or very sketchy. Then I discovered that RAMPS 1.6 exists, but I can find even fewer places with it in stock.

Is the Mega + RAMPS combo still what people are using? I made a printer 4 years ago and that was what I used, but due to the scarcity of RAMPS boards for sale I am now unsure if it is still being used by the community.

If RAMPS still is the recommendation, what brands are reputable? (I'm trying to figure out if using RAMPS 1.4 with a Mega is an outdated solution and if there are better solutions these days.)


1) Upgrading is necessary for:
Temperature/humidity sensors for monitoring/feedback; enclosure heaters (plan on having enclosed build space, work in a relative cold space); larger display with plenty of tactile switches; light sensor so the LEDs illuminating the enclosure can be modulated to provide more constant light levels for a webcam; possibly some joy sticks to manually maneuver the extruder and bed; etc. Basically I want something that can feasibly handle any unnecessary sensor/input I may eventually want to add. I'm familiar with Arduino and know it has those capabilities, but have no clue about other controllers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, the 32-bit boards are becoming more general now. These are fine boards when you like to tinker and need many extruders, steppers, etc. Do note that for a simple printer this may be over the top. RAMPS shields are sold in abundance on the Chinese vending or auction sites. What is the reason for the upgrade? $\endgroup$ – 0scar Feb 10 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ I'm a software junkie so I want to be able to have full access to the code on my machine, and I also want to have a controller flexible enough to handle all the upgrades I plan on adding to the printer eventually $\endgroup$ – Rekamanon Feb 10 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ RAMPS boards aren't really "state-of-art" anymore. Marlin supports both modern 32-bit boards (SKR 1.3, SKR Pro, MKS SGEN L, Fysetc S6 etc.) as well as the older Arduino / AVR based boards (RAMPS, Fysetc F6, MKS GEN L etc.). You may also want to take a look at the Klipper firmware. It supports lots of such small features, and you could also use multiple boards working together as one system, all controlled with a Raspberry Pi. $\endgroup$ – towe Feb 13 at 7:43
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RAMPS boards aren't really "state-of-the-art" anymore. The newest version, the Ramps 1.6 Plus, at least supports drivers with UART / SPI communication though, which is required for most "silent" TMC drivers. BigTreeTech's GitHub still seems to miss schematics for it though.

Marlin supports both modern 32-bit boards (SKR 1.3, SKR Pro, MKS SGEN L, Fysetc S6 etc.) as well as the older Arduino / AVR based boards (RAMPS, Fysetc F6, MKS GEN L etc.). Out of those, I'd currently recommend the Fysetc S6 with TMC2209 or TMC5160 drivers.

You may also want to take a look at the Klipper firmware (as mentioned in Puneit Thukral's answer). It supports lots of such small features (as mentioned in your comment), and you could also use multiple boards working together as one system, all controlled with a single Raspberry Pi. It's based on Python modules, so it should be relatively easy to add features to.

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If you own a Raspberry Pi , you may first want to try Klipper firmware. This firmware does the heavy lifting on the RPi itself and sends commands to the printer board via USB.

My Ender 3 pro works much better with this firmware.

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  • $\begingroup$ My printer improved a lot as well. Since my board had expansion slots with free pins, I can also add external stepper drivers. Of course I admit that just buying a SKR board would save a lot of time. $\endgroup$ – FarO Feb 17 at 16:52
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As per https://reprap.org/wiki/RAMPS_1.6,

The RAMPS 1.6 is the second RAMPS iteration released by BIQU/BIGTREETECH. It replaces the original green power connector with a pair of screw terminals, adds a larger heatsink over the MOSFETS, and has a larger bed MOSFET. It maintains the surface-mounted fuses and flush MOSFETS of the RAMPS 1.5.

Also, the positions of the D1 and D2 diodes have been swapped from the positions in RAMPS 1.4, the D1 diode is now the diode closest to fuse F2. The same is true for RAMPS 1.5, also manufactured by BIQU/BIGTREETECH.

In other words, RAMPS 1.6 is pretty much the same as the 1.4 board. It just has some minor changes.

As for availability, I have found numerous listings for RAMPS 1.4 and RAMPS 1.6 on Amazon (US) and Ebay (US) for under $10.

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