I mentioned this briefly in the “Expectation for the Next Firmware” thread, but i wanted to elaborate on some features and discuss this a bit more since I think it’s a large enough feature that it likely won’t be in the NEXT firmware update (GD32Base-2.2 is the current as of this post).
I understand most of this feature really depends on how much room is left in the ROM for the firmware. I am a software engineer and have worked in the embedded world so i understand what this would entail and the limitations. So just talking the “ideal” feature I think, we’ll assume there is enough room in the module. If for the full feature the touch screen would have to be replaced, you could certainly integrate/upgrade it with Wifi directly. I will say that if there is a nice Wifi feature set like i’ll describe (and other ideas from others i’m sure), I would certainly pay for that upgrade!
My only experience with an existing wifi setup on a 3d printing module has been with the Monoprice Mini. I think they had a good idea with their interface, but it was no executed properly, so it didn’t really work. If it did work, the base functions would be (not in order):
- upload a file to run
- Current progress of run
- ETA for completion
- Current temp/speed/whatever for module
- Current file being printed
- update firmware
- restart unit
Basically the same functionality at the touch screen, just on a single webpage. I picture this as a remote interface, since if i’m near the unit, i can just use the touch screen (except for the upload a file feature). My setup has the unit off in a room by itself since it’s generally quite loud. So my personal use would be to basically have the page open to monitor the current print/function, then be able to clear the bed and start a new one. I don’t know is “most” people have their unit basically sitting next to them, but that’s not my setup. I tried to have that since I work from home, but the very first meeting I had people were like “what’s that whistling sound?” (which was of course the 3d printer).
For the firmware in the current setup, if the drivers/library for wifi were able to be included, you could detect a wifi dongle in the USB port, have a setup for it in the Settings page on the touch screen to be able to connect to a wifi network, and have a basic page that would load when connected to. It would have to show the IP address so someone could put that into their browser, but otherwise would be simple enough to run. Using the USB connection for the dongle is why it would be important to have the file upload, since it replaced 1 of the ways to get files to the printer (the PC connection wouldn’t be affected, since that’s a different port). The process I could see would be:
- Plug in the dongle
- Power up the machine
- Go to Settings > Setup Network
- Follow prompts to set up network connection
- Show IP address there (also be able to see it in About, but adding it to the progress screen would be important to not interrupt current functions)
- Go to my browser on another device
- Type in and get the web page with whatever functions it has.
As I said, if there is not enough room or whatever for the current touch screen module, and so had to be upgraded to have more storage/programming space, I would expect it to have the Wifi module integrated with the touch screen. Then the dongle would not be needed but the rest of the setup would likely be similar.
And again, its much more important to fix issues and such with the current firmware/software/whatever and get all of the units together and delivered to everyone, but i thought i would get the discussion going since there are new products already being talked about!