Before we answer this question, we have to figure out what is firmware in the first place? In a nutshell, it is the code that makes your 3D printer work and come alive. In other words it can simply be termed as “software for hardware.”
Many of us consider various devices as strictly hardware but they do require software to run. For example various gadgets, such as optical drives, a router, a network card, a scanner a camera or for that matter, a 3D printer, all have their own software as well as the board to run them, that is pre-programmed into their own special memory contained into the hardware itself.
As a general rule all such firmware is typically stored in the device’s flash ROM (read-only memory). However, it is possible to erase and rewrite it.
In short, your firmware is the software on the board that will control the overall behavior of your 3D printer and its various boards.
What is Marlin Firmware?
Now the key question here is that should you want to mess around with the old original one to enhance the capacity of its board? As in is upgrading it worthwhile? Many Anet A8 owners have started to ask themselves if they can benefit from original software upgraded on the board.
This is the part, where Marlin (and its skynet3D cousin) comes into the picture. Would it give best results, or is there no need to upgrade? Let’s find out:
Marlin basically runs on your 3D printer’s main board. It is directly responsible for managing all the real-time activities of your 3D printing machine’s boards.
It actively coordinates the steppers, heaters, sensors, LCD display, lights, buttons, and just about everything else that is involved in the 3D printing process via its mother board. Virtually all of the printer’s functions are thanks to its boards and their software.
Furthermore, Marlin also implements a state of the art additive manufacturing process known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).
In this process the motor of the printer (thanks to the board) basically pushes the plastic filament through a very hot nozzle that will melt and extrude the requisite filament material even as the nozzle moves under main board control. It will repeatedly lay down very thin layers the plastic; thereby resulting in a physical object thanks to the sensor software running it.
Marlin’s control-language is a derivative of G-code that instructs the sensor board to do fairly simple things such as “setting heater temperature 1 to 200°,” or even “moving to XY plot at speed F.” all thanks to the sensor board. In order to print a 3D model with Marlin, you must convert it to G-code by using a program known as a “slicer.”
What Is Skynet
Skynet is also a form of firmware that will enable your 3D printer’ sensor board to work to its optimum settings capacity after its upgrading is complete. Many people have opted to switch from Marlin 1 to Skynet because the latter requires less ROM to process after it’s upgrading and it is also less stressful for the board and its settings.
Apart from that, there are still plenty of upgrades available for it not just on Thingiverse but a veritable host of other websites as well.
While its core function is the same as marlin 1 many people think it is a totally different class of software in its own right and it brings with it its own functionality on the table and enhances the board as well.
In terms of overall print quality, the Skynet3d configuration.H provides considerably more features that you will be able to use in order to improve your 3D prints.
However, it is pertinent to note that the Skynet3D software itself will not be in a position to change how the g-code commands will be executed especially regarding the print bed.
Lastly, Skynet can help you make good and sure that there is no risk of a thermal runaway and its consequent fire hazards. Something that might occur with marlin 1. Best of all, it can work well on a stock Anet A8 without any modifications on your stock 3D printer.
Both Marlin1 version as well as Skynet version 1 and version 2 are great for Anet 8 and in the vs debate either of the two get the job done, especially as far as the z axis leveling is concerned, without any problems with the extruder.
Ultimately, you will have to check and see which version you like more before you keep either software. You can always revert back to your old set. Or once you have found the right version you may add and use it.
How to install Skynet on your Anet A8 Board
- Arduino IDE You may download it from the website menu or via usb.
- Anet A8 board support for Arduino IDE –
- Marlin release for which you will have to visit the main Marlin github releases page or use a usb if you think you can get a device with the data
- Start Arduino IDE
- Next thing is selecting programmer. Select “AVRISP mkII
- As a last thing, you have to install LiquidCrystal.h library to your Arduino IDE
- Unzip (extract) downloaded Marlin
- Open Arduino IDE again and select the Open under File open. After that you will have to Navigate to Marlin-1.1.7/ Marlin and open Marlin .ino file.
This is the the main file which you wil have to configure. Overwrite the default file by Configuration.h file from Marlin -1.1.7/ Marlin /example_configurations/Anet/A8 folder:
cd Marlin -1.1.7
cp Marlin /example_configurations/Anet/A8/Confiuguration.h Configuration.h
If the Anet 8 printer is still connected and you have performed everything properly, the code should be successfully verified when you click on the verify button.
If it verifies, you should click on the upload button so as to upload the new software to your Anet A8 without any problems.
The config itself is very simple indeed. Just find the option you want to enable and remove its comment operator //. Alternatively, If you want to disable this specific option, you may simply comment it out.
Check to see if it works so that you may keep the upgraded version without any changes or go back to the old config if you face any problems regarding the updated versions. You could also find support on Facebook. If you feel that both of them are very similar, you may keep the original one.
No need to save the one you have added, only keep the one that works for you and press delete on the other versions.
There you have it; both Marlin and Skynet are great options in the vs debate. However, Skynet has a slight edge since you can print a lot more stuff with it and it also provides protection against thermal overloads. However, you may use them both depending on your preferences. Or just stick to the original.