Setting Up Your Brand New Sidewinder X1
Authors: Bahij Nemeh, Chanh Phuong
First of all, congratulations on your purchase! The company that produced the Sidewinder X1, Artillery is a relatively new company consisting of folks that worked for other 3D printer manufacturers and left to start their own. They took all their learnings and built a pretty solid printer, especially at this price point. It’s arguably the best bang for your buck. Even though it has gone through many versions, it is not perfect and there is still stuff to look out for. These are some things you can do out the box to mitigate those flaws and keep your printer running reliably for as long as possible. We have developed this method for use on our Fulament warranty service, to ensure the quality of your machine before shipping.
Tightening Down the Frame
Let’s start by tightening the frame. Although the printer comes 95% pre-assembled, it's still a good idea to go over some of the critical connections and make sure they are nice and tight. Start with the 4 bolts on the bottom of the printer, the same ones put in during the initial installation. You want to really make sure they are very tight, they connect your X and Y-axis and can be the source of a lot of vibrations if loose. It's also good practice to just go around your machine and tighten any bolts, you never know what may have loosened during shipping.
Check The Tension of the Wheels and Belts
Next, you want to make sure all the wheels and belts have the correct tension. So for belts, you want them as tight as possible without them buzzing when they move. The wheels are a little harder to get right. You do not want them spinning freely or to be too tight against the frame. The goal is to have the axis move when you spin the wheels with your finger. But you want this motion to be smooth, the wheel should spin with relative ease and not be jammed up against the frame.
Let’s start with the Y-axis, this belt controls your bed. The tension on this belt should be just right from the factory. But if it got too tight or too loose, this is what you can do to adjust it. Firstly, loosen these two bolts. Don’t remove them, just loosen them enough so you can move the bracket. Pull this bracket away from the printer to tension the belt as you tighten the bolts you just loosened. These bolts need to be pretty tight. What I do is tighten by hand, then go ¼ turn more.
Next, we’ll take care of the bed carriage wheels. There are 6 wheels holding your bed carriage in place. The 3 on the left are solidly mounted and the 3 on the right are on adjustable eccentric nuts. The bed should not wobble at all; it’s only supposed to move back and forth. If it’s wobbling, here’s what you do to fix that:
With a thin wrench, turn the 3 eccentric nuts on the right ¼ turn at a time to loosen or tighten to the wheel. Turning this nut will bring the wheel closer or farther depending on how you turn the nut. Once again, the goal is to have the axis move smoothly when you spin the wheel. You don’t want the wheel spinning freely but you also don’t want the wheel to be jammed against the extrusion.
Next comes the X-axis bar, there are 3 wheels here. The leftmost one has an eccentric nut and is adjustable. Check for the correct tension and adjust it if needed. You can follow the same steps as for the bed wheels here.
The extruder has both wheels and a belt. Both need to have the correct tensions to perform optimally. Let’s start with the belt. To adjust the belt’s tension, follow these steps:
Loosen the bolts here but do not remove them. Next, pull the bracket away from the printer as your retighten the same bolts. Make sure you are pulling hard enough to get the proper tension, it can be difficult sometimes.
There are three wheels holding the extruder in place, with the bottom one being adjustable. Like the bed carriage, there is an eccentric nut that can be turned to move the wheel closer or farther away from the x-axis bar.
Loosening the Extruder Tensioning Arm
Broken titan arms are not a rare problem to see on the Sidewinder. While there was a bad batch of printers with weak titan arms, the majority of the broken idler arms are due to over tensioning by the user or factory. To get the proper tension, loosen the adjustment stud (pictured below) by turning it all the way to the left. Heat your extruder and start loading filament. Keep tightening the knob to the right until you feel the filament being grabbed, once your extruder grabs the filament give it another half rotation to get the proper amount of grip. Afterward, your printer should be able to easily extrude the filament without grinding it or applying too much tension on the idler arm.
Next is printing and installing cable strains. Ribbon cables are another failure point for the Sidewinder. Loose ribbon cables can cause electric shorts to happen, frying your ribbon cable and/or your PCB boards. It's a controversial topic whether it’s caused by user error or a design defect. Regardless of what you believe, it is good practice to install cable strains off the bat. There are several designs available but I personally like Chanh’s cable strain and replacement cover for the extruder. And while you are at it, print out Svandru’s bed cable strain relief. I recommend printing both out of PETG for added flexibility and temperature resistance. The bed strain is right near the heated bed and will take a considerable amount of heat.
You can get the files here:
These are just some of the basic first steps to get you started. Load up some files and start printing! After you get some practice with your printer we recommend doing some extra steps such as extrusion and flow rate calibration, but that’s an article for another day.