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Vanilla Marlin Firmware configured for Ender 3 + BLTouch

This is the 1.1.9 version of vanilla Marlin Firmware pre-configured for Creality Ender 3 printers with the original or generic BL Touch sensors. The standard configuration file from Marlin distribution was carefully reviewed to include the latest Ender 3 specific settings from the official Creality firmware. If you don't have a BLTouch sensor please use this version of Marlin that supports Mesh Bed Leveling.

I made avaliable the 2.x versions of Marlin for the same board and printer but I recommend using the 1.1.9.x because it is much more stable and has more features. The 2.x versions of Marlin are too big for the board memory and several features had to be removed in order to fit the firmware.

There are three installation options available, the traditional with Arduino IDE, the new method using Visual Studio Code + PlatformIO and the third one that is uploading the compiled firmware directly to the board. I recommend the PlatformIO option for most of the users, once the software is downloaded, the firmware can be upgraded in less than 5 minutes.

This firmware was made for 8-bit boards and will not work on 32-bit boards.

Features

  • Official Marlin firmware + bugfix with all hardware settings from Creality latest official firmware (April 2020).
  • BLTouch original/generic up to 3.x. enabled by default (BLTouch 3.x might need the 5V logic enabled from the LCD menu).
  • No need to remove any capacitors from the board.
  • Installs from the original Arduino IDE (smaller download and frequent updates from Arduino team).
  • Source code was modified to prevent releasing the BLTouch sensor during "beep" events triggered by LCD menus.
  • Thermal runway protection enabled.
  • Does not reset the bed level settings after the G28 (Home) command.
  • Custom menu with maintenance mode, emergency mode and full auto bed leveling sequence (warmup, wait, home, level and then save settings).
  • Ultra-precise bilinerar bed leveling algorithm with 25 probing points and slow probing (takes around 5 minutes to complete, 10 including the bed heating).
  • Run and toggle the bed level and BLTouch tools from LCD menus.
  • BLTouch voltage/logic settings from the LCD menu.
  • Slim menus enabled.
  • Baby steps enabled and configured for the "Magic Numbers".
  • Emergency parser enabled.
  • All changes from the original Marlin config file were marked with the comment  "//Customized DBP"

Requirements

  • 8-bit boards only! This will not work with 32-bit boards.
  • BLTouch installed on pin 27
  • Z stop switch removed (it can block the Z axis movement)
  • IMPORTANT! BLTouch tip height must be adjusted according to the official instruction manuals. There are different BLTouch sensors and the YouTube videos tips are most of the times wrong
  • Bootloader installed in your board
  • Arduino IDE for installation option 1
  • Visual Studio Code for installation option 2
  • AVRDude for installation option 3 in Linux or MacOS (AVRDude for Windows is included in the package)

Note about the bed leveling strategy

There are two ways to perform the automatic bed leveling, the first is before every print and the second is only when necessary. Based on my experience with the Ender 3, it's better to do an extremely precise (slower) bed leveling when necessary than a simpler one before every print. This firmware configuration reflects this choice.

If you want to do quick/imprecise bed leveling before every print you will need to reconfigure the firmware.

Instructions using Arduino IDE (option 1)

  1. Install the Arduino IDE
  2. Quit any software that could try to access the printer from the USB port (Cura, Serial Monitor, OctoPrint, etc...).
  3. Run the Arduino IDE and configure to download the Sanguino board. Add the following URL to the board manager (File->Preferences->Additional boards manager):
    https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Lauszus/Sanguino/master/package_lauszus_sanguino_index.json

     

  4. Install the following libraries/boards in the Arduino IDE:
    • U8Glib
    • Sanguino
  5. With all requirements in place unpack this entire Marlin distribution to a folder and open the "Marlin.ino" file from the Arduino IDE.
  6. Look for the configuration.h file and change the following lines to the relative coordinates of your BLTouch mount to the Nozzle. The actual settings are for this mount. If you don't have the measurements now you can configure it later with the M851 GCode (see instructions below).
    #define X_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER -42
    #define Y_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER -5
    #define Z_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER 0 

  7. Disable the endstop interrupts feature by commenting (//) the following line in configuration.h. This feature needs to be disabled only if you are using Arduino IDE, with PlatformIO this problem does not exist.

    //#define ENDSTOP_INTERRUPTS_FEATURE
    

     

  8. Compile and upload the firmware. Make sure you are using the following settings.
    • Board configuration: ATMega 1284P 16Mhz
    • Programmer configuration: AVRISP MKII
    • COM Port: Depends of your computer. Usually only one is available for selection.
  9. Follow the post-installation instructions below.

Instructions using Visual Studio Code + PlatformIO (option 2)

  1. Download and install Visual Studio Code.
  2. From Visual Studio Code extension menu, install the PlatformIO IDE extension.
  3. With all requirements running, unpack the entire Marlin source code downloaded from the link below to a folder.
  4. From Visual Studio Code select File->Open folder and select the folder where the platformio.ini file is located. Attention! Use the "open folder" command, not the"open file".
  5. Look for the configuration.h inside the "Marlin" sub-folder and edit the following configuration to the relative coordinates of your BLTouch mount to the Nozzle. This does not need to be too precise, the only purpose is avoiding the probe to test outside the bed. The default settings X = -42mm, Y= -5mm and Z=0 are for this mount:
    #define X_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER -42
    #define Y_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER -5
    #define Z_PROBE_OFFSET_FROM_EXTRUDER 0 
  6. Save the file and then select Terminal->Run Task->Build . It will take a few minutes for the system to download all dependencies and compile the code.
  7. If the code compiled properly you will see something like this in the terminal: "=== 1 succeeded in 00:00:30.050 ===".
  8. Connect your printer to the computer using the USB cable.
  9. Go to the Visual Code menu Terminal->Run Task->Upload .
  10. If everything goes well another message like this "=== 1 succeeded in 00:00:55.010 ===" will be printed.

Installing the pre-compiled HEX (option 3)

The pre-compiled firmware is also available here. You can simply burn the compiled HEX file directly to your Ender3 board without installing the Arduino IDE or Visual Studio Code.

To upload the pre-compiled firmware you will need the AVRDUDE 6.3 tool. For your convenience I included the Windows version of this tool in the zip file that contains the HEX firmware but the tool is also shipped with the Arduino IDE. The upload command in Windows PowerShell should look like this:

./avrdude -p atmega1284p -c arduino -P COM3 -b 115200 -v -U flash:w:firmware.hex:i

The serial port is something between COM1 and COM8, depending on where the USB driver is pointing to, and firmware.hex is the file you are uploading. If you are using other operating system like Linux the port address will be somehting like this /dev/ttyUSB0.

After initializing the board with the new firmware don't forget to reconfigure the probe offsets running the following command from any serial terminal. Replace the default offset values in the command (-42, -5, 0) with the ones for your probe mount.

M851 X-42 Y-5 Z0
M500

Finally, follow the post-installation instructions below.

Post-installation configuration

  1. Manually pre-level the bed! This is important because the BLTouch has limited max/min detection ranges and the print quality can be affected if the Z-Axis moves too much.
     
    1. Cool down the bed and the nozzle. Heating should have little to no effect on this specific procedure.
    2. Disable stepper motors using the LCD menu command.
    3. Place a credit card on one the bed, the thickness of the card will be used as a reference distance.
    4. Turn the Z axis with your hand until the nozzle hits the credit card.
    5. Move hot end to several positions of the bed, starting from the 4 corners. For each position, adjust the bed level knobs to keep the nozzle at the credit card thickness distance from the nozzle. This is what you would do in manual calibration but instead of using a paper you will use the card for convenience. The card thickness does not matter because the BLTouch probe will redefine the Z reference.
       
  2. Heat the bed to the printing temperature and run the bed level command from the LCD (Prepare -> Bed Leveling -> Level bed)  or using the G29 gcode or using the Heat and Level command from the custom menu (recommended). Note that the Heat and Level command waits 2 minutes after the bed is hot to allow the mounted surfaces to expand/contract properly.
  3. Save the settings using the LCD menu or the M500 gcode (if you used the Heat and Level custom command, they will be automatically saved).
  4. Add the following gcode to the startup code of you slicer, right after the line of the G28 command to load the bed level configuration from the memory before every print:
    M420 S1

     
  5. After enabling the bed level, print something large and flat to adjust the Z offset. The nozzle will always be far from the bed until you adjust the offset to a negative value (LCD -> Prepare -> Bed Leveling -> Z Offset). Don't forget to save the settings after the print to keep the offset in the memory, you can use the LCD or the M500 GCode for this.

Troubleshooting tips

  • Bed level failing:
    • 1st - make sure you manually leveled the bed, the probing tends to fail if any part of the bed is >2mm lower or higher than the home level.
    • 2nd - make sure you have the M420 S1 command AFTER the G28 line in your print initialization GCode.
    • 3rd - make sure your probe was installed properly, there are maximum and minimum height clearences between the BLTouch tip and the nozzle tip and that changes for each version of BLTouch.
    • 4th - check the wiring! Sometimes the wires are inverted in the default connector setup.
    • 5th - if you are using BLTouch 3.x see the next topic.
  • BLTouch 3.x failing to probe: Be aware that this is rare contition, the vast majority of the users run BLTouch 3.x without problems. I suspect this is related with the hardware (probe/board components, etc) and there is little we can do from the firmware side:
    • 1st - Enable the 5V logic in the LCD menu (LCD -> Control-> BLTouch). BLTouch versions 1.x and 2.x don't have voltage modulation do not require this setting.
    • 2nd - If the previous does not work, enable SW mode (LCD -> Control-> BLTouch).
    • 3rd - Enable and adjust the delay setting in configuration_adv.h (requires recompiling the source). This is trial an error but try values from 300 to 700 increasing/decreasing by 100.
    • 4th - If the BLTouch is version 3.0 (not 3.1, 3.x...) enable BLTOUCH_FORCE_MODE_SET setting in the configuration_adv.h.
    • 5th - If none of the above work you either have a faulty probe or a problem with the capacitor in the board.
#define BLTOUCH_DELAY 500
  • Error "..._PIN is not interrupt-capable..." in Arduino IDE: This is an Arduino IDE bug, disable the feature in the configuration.h file according to the example below to fix (put "//"). If you are using PlaformIO you should leave this option enabled.
//#define ENDSTOP_INTERRUPTS_FEATURE
  • Disable serial port clients before flashing: If the COM ports are used by any other app, the flashing process will fail. Shutdown Cura, OctoPrint, any other slicer and any other Serial Monitor program like the Arduino IDE before compiling/flahsing the new ROM.
  • Correct fuse settings: If you are using other software than AVRDUDE (PROGISP, for example) to upload the firmware make sure you are using the correct fuse settings. Apparently the Creality tutorial has the wrong settings and the board fails to boot afterwards.
  • Reset the EEPROM: Sometimes the EEPROM memory is not reset during the Marlin reflash and this can cause problems. To reset manually use the following G-Codes from any Serial Terminal: M502 followed by M500.
  • Blank screen after flashing: You did not flashed the firmware properly. Please use AVRDude according to the instructions above and if this does not work you might have to reflash the bootloader.
  • Serial Port Monitor for Windows: This small program allows you to send/receive GCode to the printer. If the characters look strange you are probably using the wrong baud rate (start with 115200bps).
  • avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 1 of 10: not in sync: Wrong baud rate for the serial port or serial port already in use (OctoPrint, Cura, etc..). Try configuring the upload rate to 115200bps. If you are using PlatformIO to upload, make sure you are using the correct baud rate for your environment in the platformio.ini file.
  • Reconfigure the BLTouch probe offsets: Use the following command replacing the -42, -5 and 0mm coordinates with the offsets of your actual mount:
    M851 X-42 Y-5 Z0
    M500

Other Marlin downloads for Ender 3

Files
Version
1.1.9.1+ Bugfix + BLTouch for Ender 3 (Aug 3rd, 2020)
Platforms
Arduino IDE or PlatformIO
File size
4.2 MB
Checksum
File 1 SHA256: 1DCD5D998C999C80D72A4153BDF27D3A2682FA5F6E869029EEB282FEE2842739
File 2 SHA256: C69961C0E223D1189FFBC2258DD30D49557BE986C5505011ABBFD479CCE61169
File 3 SHA256: D3CEFC5D5EB7C6536EFDBCED861201DA5E59272FFB0193549E2B469740452F44
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