MakerBot Bluetooth Mod for Ubuntu

This weekend I finished hooking up my MakerBot Cupcake CNC to use Bluetooth. This has been done before. However, I've not found any instructions for setting up ReplicatorG (aka RepG) to use a Bluetooth serial connection under Ubuntu.

I'm using a BlueSMiRF from SparkFun and hooking it up to a Gen3 RepRap motherboard. This is slightly more complicated to use than using a Bluetooth Mate because the pin-out does not match the TTL serial header on the RepRap motherboard. Paeae Technologies has a nice tutorial for using a BlueSMiRF. There's also a nice tutorial for using a Bluetooth Mate on the MakerBot wiki.

If you use a BlueSMiRF like me, I recommend using short pieces of wire to attach the BlueSMiRF to the female header. It's easier to do than bending the pins like Paeae Technologies suggests. Also, you can see that I have the RTS-O pin disconnected. Although I didn't experience any problems, the Paeae Technologies tutorial reports that leaving it connected can cause the RepRap motherboard to reset sporadically.

For the remainder of this post, it doesn't mater which Bluetooth serial adapter you choose; it should not affect the instructions below.

If you feel lost as you make your way through this post, try reading the appropriate tutorial mentioned above and then returning to these instructions. I didn't go into too much detail here and instead only highlight the differences required to make things work under Ubuntu.

To connect to the adapter:
  • turn on the Cupcake,
  • check that the red light on the adapter is blinking,
  • run hcitool scan and make a note of the device address,
  • and finally run sudo rfcomm connect 01:23:45:67:89:ab using your device's address.

Now, enter command mode and adjust the adapter settings as described in the other tutorials:
screen /dev/rfcomm0

Type Ctrl+a, followed by \, followed by y to exit screen.

If you rename the module, to "MAKERBOT" for instance, you can use the module name instead of the address to connect to it in the future (e.g. rfcomm connect MAKERBOT).

Note: if you have trouble entering command mode, make sure you try to do it within 60 seconds of powering up the serial adapter. If you still have trouble, try reseting the adapter first.

Configuring RepG to use the new Bluetooth connection takes a bit of work. First you have to make RepG look for the /dev/rfcomm0 device by adding a flag to the java command line. Then, you have to disable the version of the RXTX library distributed with RepG so that the version installed with Ubuntu will be used instead.

To start, remove the native part of the library:
cd replicatorg-0024
rm lib-x86_64/

Note: I only tested this on a 64-bit Ubuntu installation. If you're using a 32-bit system, you'll need to adjust the library paths accordingly. Also, YMMV.

Finally, apply the patch below to the replicatorg shell script that starts RepG:
--- dist/linux/replicatorg-0024/replicatorg 2011-03-19 19:05:45.409396725 +0100
+++ replicatorg 2011-03-19 19:05:32.219479967 +0100
@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@
 cd `dirname $0`
 # put the directory where this file lives in the front of the path, because
@@ -21,5 +21,5 @@
   PROXY=`echo -n -e ${http_proxy} | sed -n 's/http:\/\/\([^:]\+\):\([1234567890]\+\)/-DproxySet=true -DproxyHost=\1 -DproxyPort=\2/p'`
   java $PROXY "$@"
-  java "$@"
+  java "$@"

If you run into trouble, try deleting your RepG preferences and then restart RepG:
rm -rf ~/.java/.userPrefs/replicatorg

That's it! Enjoy wireless printing.

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