QIDI X-Max Improvement debug list

The extruder & hot end on the stock X-Max is a critically flawed design.Several people, contributed to a solution that allows alternate extruders including an E3D V6, a Slice Engineering Copperhead or Mosquito, a Trianglelab Dragon, and probably many others. The extruder and hot end change fixes the overwhelmingly majority of the problems with the QIDI X-Max 3D printer.

This list is for improving this design https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3994628 in this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1811744122380955 . The design work is led by Chad Wills, whose work has provided an amazing improvement to this deeply flawed printer.

List of issues in design as printed on 7/10/2020 from a QIDI X-Max purchased earlier this year (some revisions compared to older models apparently).

  • Bearing Clamp Broke
No photo description available.
The Bearing Clamp for the bearing block on the right snapped off
Image may contain: screen
You can see the material is thinner here, contributing to the failure. Vertical ribs or more material offer a resolution.
  • Bearing cage loose on bearings. The lower duct could help reinforce the clamping with some minor changes or perhaps a simpler option are zip tie slots to allow tightening the carriage to the bearings despite X-Max revision and print size variations.
  • Positive Retention Belt Clip. The Belt clip was bowing and offered only a loose compression fit.
Making the Belt Clip more robust & adding the retention slot helps keep it in place.
  • The top of the BMG Clone Extruder this the metal frame near the end of the Y travel at the front of the machine. This needs another ~3mm drop.
  • NOTE: It was actually the screw on the BMG Clone Extruder that was draging first.

    The cable towers and board mount drag slightly on the frame near the end of the X travel on the left side of the machine. The towers need to be dropped by ~2mm (I need to validate measurement). The board needs to drop by ~2mm as the clip on the ribbon cable is the highest point.
  • I had to drill out my BMG extruder door holes. A teardrop cut at the top of these might help prevent failure but this is a nit-picking, minor issue.
  • It’s difficult to reach the lower left board screw with the extruder in place.
  • Heater Cartridge & Thermocouple board routing cutout is too small, it should be widened.
  • I’d like to keep the foam rubber on the ribbon cable and as-is the connector is pushed away from the towers by a lack of clearance. A 1-2mm move should allow the tower to clear.
Not enough clearance between board and tower.
  • Rear 5015 Part Blower Fan impacts Y Axis stepper when homing. The QIDI isn’t very smart and if it can’t reach the Y limit switch it will just keep hammering away, trying to self destruct the printer. I shimmed the Y carriage to hit the limit switch earlier with tape and a 3mm shim. This was enough, so a ~3mm shift will allow this to clear.
  • It would be nice to find a way to get a second screw on the rear 5015 Part blower fan. If it bumps out of place, the airflow isn’t directed to the part.

QIDI X-Max Review

We’ve been looking for a solid 3D printer to make parts in a variety of materials including PC, Nylon, ASA, PBT, & more.

We got a QIDI X-Max as a low cost option. We knew it was a gamble but the community was thriving and review materials we saw showed a very successful machine. The machine was $1275 shipped and delivered. Here was a review with some higher temp materials that swayed us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJI8tOkkCqo&feature=youtu.be

Unfortunately, we lost on this gamble. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Of my 7 printers, my QIDI X-Max is my least reliable and most problematic. It arrived with numerous problems out of the box.

You’re better served with a Prusa MK3S with a few small changes in an enclosure from our thousands of hours of print time.

The hot end design of the X-Max is laughably poor. Worse than our $299 Anycubic 4Max Pro printers. Get ready to hear the extruder click click click as it fails to consistently deliver filament.

The filament path from the reel to the hot end is terrible and requires revision.

The bed is thick aluminum which sounds nice but mine is absurdly unlevel.

There is no filament sensor.

I plan to change to Chad Wills hot end design https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3994628 . I need to take the aluminum bed and fly cut it for level. We’ve insulated the bed and need a more powerful heater cartridge. We’ve already had to replace a motherboard, a ribbon cable, and constant hot end problems because the heat break isn’t actually cooled. The filament entry is right next to the only point of heat dissipation at the top of the heat break. QIDI expects the airflow, delivered above the heat break, to work when pushed against a perpendicular heat sink with no airflow path.

Overall it’s cost us more time than it’s worth and we’ve been deeply disappointed.

We hope to improve the printer to the point of rudimentary function.

This Z Screw was loose and impacting the holding plate as delivered. A deeper well or through hole design would fix this.
The holding plate designed for Z screw retention is bent.
The filament path backs up to the primary heat disspiation surface causing constant cloges at the extruder or hot end entry.
The filament path backs up to the primary heat disspiation surface causing constant cloges at the extruder or hot end entry.
The filament path backs up to the primary heat disspiation surface causing constant cloges at the extruder or hot end entry.
A 30mm fan provides airflow to a flat plate perpindicular to the fan. No airflow is provided to the heat break at all. No idea how this was approved and put into production. They have some design revisions that do nothing to remedy the fundamental flaw.
The aluminum bed is absurdly unlevel and will need to be fly cut for good use.
Click, click, click, click goes the extruder as it can’t push the filament at even half the rate of our Prusa MK3S machines.
The magnetic sheet is nice but the material is far too aggressive with PLA which it’s designed for. You MUST set the temp low or you will be breaking parts and the sheet material on removal. I converted to PEI sheets.
Expect to modify all points of airflow. Airflow design is the worst of any printer we’ve ever used for both the part fan and hotend fan. This was later cut out more.
The suggested / original filament path immediately causes the filament to hop off the reel on Y travel moves. Expect to completely re-work this.
Wall mounting is a solid option with a filament path through the top. For hygroscopic filaments, a Polybox II or similar mounted with teflon tubes to the extruder is best. Here I’m using an idler because this isn’t the final installation location. You need a teflon tube and hole through the top.

Tire Pressure Monitor for Trailer Prevented Tire Blowout

During Race season, we are often towing race cars hundreds of miles at a time. I’ve had a EZTire-TPMS Real Time/24×7 Tire Pressure Monitoring System for several years and it has helped see tire temperature and pressure information to make sure the trailer is aired up properly and the tires aren’t overheating. The truck has it’s own system.

This past weekend on a tow to Road Atlanta, we had a puncture just before getting on the highway. The TPMS system quickly alerted us and allowed us to pull over and plug the tire before hitting the highway.

To plug the tire, we needed to fire up the generator to power our compressor.

EEZTire-TPMS Tire Pressure Monitoring System mounted in our truck.

After a few hours, we received an alert from the TPMS system again. Unfortunately the plug didn’t hold and we had to stop again. This time we needed a full tire change but were again happy the system alerted us before a blowout!

Fortunately the rest of the tow was uneventful and we made it home safely. The EEZ Tire Pressure Monitor System and the Trailer-Aid Tire Ramp proved critical to fast and safe tire changes.

This Trailer-Aid Tandem Tire Changing Ramp worked wonderfully for a quick & simple tire change.

The offending bolt that caused all this trouble

Some friends have asked me where to get the parts, here is how to purchase the EEZ TPMS System: https://amzn.to/2WWHFXh

Here is how to purchase the Trailer-Aid Trailer Ramp: https://amzn.to/2V4SaGq


Google Photos Sucks

I used Dropbox camera upload for years for my small business and personal use. In 2014, they disallowed business users from this feature which was a major issue for me. I get why they did this and suggested they simply don’t enable this feature on by default while continuing to allow users to option it for their business. This was a frustrating policy change that I’ve written about before here & here.

I tried using an older version of their app until 2017 when compatibility broke and I was forced off Dropbox.

I moved to Google Photos which was good and bad. The phone integration and sharing with Android users is better. Organization is an absolute mess. You can’t create sub-albums, preventing good organization. When you want to sort to an album, you are forced to scroll through an unsorted list every time. Uploads from a PC are a garbage process. You can only reliably upload 5 images at a time or so through a browser even with a fast computer and fast connection.

If you use their “Backup & Sync” app, who knows where the files go? You can’t search by filename, it doesn’t sort by creation date or modified date. They just go into a black hole. If you have an album, you can’t delete files from the album. You are forced to find the origin image in your raw photos or archived list somehow (remember you can’t search with in any clear definitive way). So, organization is a proper clusterfuck.

Dropbox recently announced they made a mistake and are re-allowing camera upload for business users. I’ve already switched over in full.

The question now, since both systems suck, is which one to use? Laboriously migrate back to Dropbox? Try to work with Google’s organizational clusterfuck? It’s a wholesale mess either way now.

An unexpected household hit

My toddler is only about 17 months old but closer to the size of a 2.5 year old. So, he’s climbing everywhere he can without enough coordination to keep himself safe often.

I decided to get this Kids Kitchen Helper Kitchen Step Stool with Safety Rail so he could get up to the countertop, get his food, and “help.”  It was an unexpected success and he’s using it multiple times daily now with great success.  Most items like this come as cheap particle board and are poorly made where this was actually solid wood and reasonably well put together.

I did have to tighten some screws on the base that were pre-installed but beyond that, this stool far exceeded my expectations.


The Great GoDaddy Fiasco of 2017

The Billing Fiasco

GoDaddy billed us on 8/22/17 for full price, $2,699.91, for 3 wildcard domains. I had spoken to a rep about this some weeks before and said we hadn’t made a decision, so didn’t want to renew yet.  We had 2 months left on our certs…

The SSL Certificate Revocation Fiasco

I called in to cancel this charge.  We planned to investigate, possibly change SSL cert structures due to a web domain expansion, and barter for better rates.  The rep at the time said the NEW certs had to be revoked in order to cancel the charges at 10:33AM. GoDaddy’s system requires that you barter heavily for reasonable rates.

I specifically asked to ensure this would not affect our present certs which had two months left (expiry of 10/21/17).  All seemed well, our refund was due.  I should have checked more thoroughly.

The SSL Explosion Fiasco

At 2:11PM a customer reports a bad cert. This means customers who were new to our website from 10:33AM to 2:11PM were greeted with a security error.  Since we recently moved to all HTTPS/SSL, our entire site(s) were down. Business halted. Everything was fucked. This lost us thousands of dollars, hurt our brand & image, and was an IT nightmare.

The GoDaddy Hostage Fiasco

In short, GoDaddy took a long time to tell us to fuck off, that this was our fault, and we had to order more services to fix it. That our old certs could not be restored. They held our services hostage, offering no resolution, and tried to milk us for more funds.

The – Character Fiasco

We now embarked on a quest to bring our websites up using a newer UCC/SAN SSL Certificate.  In so doing, we found that several domains did not work. Turns out, GoDaddy represents the domains on their webpage and in their documentation with a dash character of UTF-8 code hex 0xE28091 (integer 14844049) rather than the FAR more common (and accurate) hex 0x2D or 45 integer you’d find on your keyboard.  We hypothesize that some designer liked the thinner – afford by this crazy character set and that this is costing their support tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The customer support rep was angry at us for this problem, though he stated that this happens with some regularity for YEARS. We try to explain the problem to him. His understanding and DGAF attitude seems this information and any potential technical resolution will stop with him.

The Solution Fiasco

We were finally able to get our sites up and clean up this mess around 6:15PM. We could have done this faster if we had stopped, gave up on GoDaddy and their support entirely, and just spooled this up on our own.  It probably would have taken us less than 2 hours after failure had we caught the issue and assumed that GoDaddy was an absolute wasteland of competence and/or assistance at every level. This downtime cost us thousands of dollars and completely burned our relationship with GoDaddy. 

The Resolution

We will be migrating our dozens of domains, SSL certs, and all products with GoDaddy.  We have spent tens of thousands of dollars with them over many years. This isn’t the first time we’ve been treated like garbage within their structure but it is the last time. Fuck GoDaddy. Never even think about using them.

Quickbooks Enterprise is Unworkably Slow

We use Quickbooks Enterprise 17 for our company accounting, inventory, & packing slips.  Today, QBE17 stopped working in credits & invoices.  Just moving from one invoice to the next became a 10 minute ordeal.

This halted some production. Once we, later in the day, contacted support we found that this was an Intuit problem.  We stopped for a moment to grasp this.  We have a Quickbooks Enterprise Program that we host locally on our server with clients on our computers.  What would Intuit have to do with this?

We posited that some features we don’t use like invoice payments must be making remote, offsite queries and returning garbage data thereby halting our software.  We tried various firewall settings to no avail.  The solution which worked was to change the gateway IP of our local server. This breaks the internet connection of the server but maintains a local connection within our office.  Everything works again!

In summary, this single point of failure is a massive design flaw with a pointer to a web location that can bring the local software package down.  This should not be.

Recommendations to Intuit:

  1. Allow local server/desktop users to sever any internet based connection that breaks, slows, or alters our system. A single point of failure in an ENTERPRISE critical system such as this is a design flaw that needs fixing immediately. We need to get work done while you sort it out and we can connect later.  THIS IS WHY WE OWN THE LOCAL VERSION!
  2. Intuit, if you fail in the above you need to message us through the software or via email when such an event happens so that we aren’t burning hundreds or thousands of dollars because of your design flaw that you chose not to let us know was in failure.

Dropbox just cost me days of work

Dropbox chose, in 2014, to end their automatic camera upload feature.  They forced users to create personal accounts presumably due to mixing of images and loss of business account access with personal images.  I get that it was a problem for them and I believe the solution was to make camera uploads a non-default behavior rather than forcing all users to create a second account. I wrote about it here.

I managed to stay on their old app until 4/12/17, so my business account syncing still worked. I recently caved to their new design and I went through their process to create a new personal account to link to my business account and the process was awful.

So, what was the result?

  • I need a work based media upload feature for my BUSINESS account but can’t get it through Dropbox.
  • Now I have two accounts.  The personal “free” account is far too small as my upload account with a 2GB limit.  This necessitates me creating and paying for yet another account (Dropbox Plus) which is $100 a year extra just to manage my BUSINESS photos, a service I am already paying for with several licenses through my company…
  • This new camera upload specific account now doesn’t have my business size limit, permissions, business support, or the features I used and HAD.
  • Since I created this new account and set up my primary media device, my phone, it has been uploading continuously for hours.  Rather than picking up from 4/12/17 which is where my last upload automatically synced with my business account, the phone is uploading several thousand images and videos.  In talking to support there is no way to resolve this and I am stuck manually going through images I have already sorted within dropbox.  This will take perhaps a days worth of work from me.
  • Dropbox appears to hate media people based on this process.

In the end my workflow is broken, I am paying more, getting less, and Dropbox has no solution for this issue.  I am deeply disappointed in how this has worked for me and my company.  We do have Google Drive and there is a strong chance, we will be moving away from our more expensive Dropbox solution that is now costing us additional time, money, & frustration without need or apparent purpose.

Klean Kanteen – Kid Kanteen Stainless Steel Baby Bottle

A new household member in 2016 means I now talk to a lot of other parents about baby stuff.  As an engineer who has worked with and designed with plastics, I seek to limit my family’s exposure to the material.  Just remember when a product is BPA free, that means some other compound you’ve never heard of is being used for the same purpose.

The essence of the problem is that plastics leach plasticizers and material into their surroundings.  While most parents can’t avoid plastics entirely, I recommend limiting their use as much as possible.  Avoid microwaving or heating the plastic.  Avoid UV (Sun) exposure to the plastic.

This is what we use and we get a lot of questions about it and where we got them, so I wanted to post it up for other parents.  While the nipple is silicone, as long as you don’t heat the silicone & plastic rim, your exposure is limited.  These will last much longer than a traditional bottle, are durable, and heat up quickly in a pot.  If you choose another company’s product, just make sure the stainless is very high quality and does not have any lining.

Klean Kanteen Baby 9oz
9oz Size- http://amzn.to/2lhkGmB

Klean Kanteen Baby 9oz
5oz Size – http://amzn.to/2kUm4iN

You can also get both directly from www.kleankanteen.com/


Best Logitech Harmony Remote?

I’ve used a few programmable remotes over the years and helped friends and family set some up.  Maybe this is age showing or just my disinterest in always having something new but the Harmony 880 still works better for me than any of the newer offerings.

Unfortunately, my 880 finally failed after ~9 years of drops and abuse. I thought I was SOL and started looking at new ones until I ran across this on Amazon:

Logitech Harmony 880

While discontinued years ago, I guess the Chinese factory is keeping these strong.  I got one and sure enough it is just like the old one.  No mold variations, button issues, low quality, or screen changes like you might see on a knock-off product.  Worked just like my original genuine Logitech Harmony 880.

I had to load the software to program the new one. Through the Harmony website, I ended up with MyHarmony desktop software which is not the right package to use to program this remote.  Get the 7.x version of the older Logitech Harmony Remote Software.  You can transfer directly from your old ID/remote programming directly to the new one as a replacement.

Logitech Software Page.
Direct link for Windows.
Direct link for Mac.

Problem solved, and I didn’t end up with some product I didn’t like or that had poorer reviews & reliability!