Upgrading Your Sidewinder X1 with the BMG Extruder
Bondtech has been in business since 2014, releasing their well-known dual-geared BMG extruder in 2017. The BMG extruder has been the extruder to model in the 3D-Printing world until the recent release of the Hemera from E3D. I have been using the BMG extruder for several months now and have been giving me exceptional prints. So, I couldn’t justify moving to Hemera. If you’re interested in doing this upgrade, here is what I did, and some pros vs. the Hemera, in my opinion of course.
What you’ll need:
Picture of this setup installed on my X1
- Bondtech BMG Extruder (No. 1)
- E3D V6 Hot End Kit – V6 Heatsink, heatblock, heatbreak, heater cartridge, thermistor, and brass nozzle (No. 4)
- M3x35 Hex Bolts (3)
- Moon’s Stepper Motor – Model MS17HD5P4100 (No. 2) (Currently no stock.)
- Titanium Heatbreak
- Volcano Heatblock
- Micro Swiss 0.5 Nozzle - V6
- Micro Swiss 0.6 Nozzle - Volcano
So let’s start off with some pros to doing this upgrade vs the Hemera.
- The BMG extruder has been on the market since 2017. It has been tried and tested by many folks. It simply just works.
- It fits right onto the stock mounting brackets. There’s no need to print anything extra to get the extruder to work. This also means that the 20-pin ribbon cable remains in the same position.
- This upgrade is modular, meaning if something fails, it’s easy to swap out that piece. Whereas the Hemera is all in one, if the stepper motor fails, for example, you can’t just pick up a new Nema17 motor, you have to buy E3D’s proprietary motor.
Before starting this upgrade, I recommend printing out parts coolers for this upgrade. I designed one for the BMG/V6 and BMG/Volcano: See attached.
Assemble the Bondtech BMG Extruder and V6 Hotend. There is an official video from Bondtech: Click Here. Note: The extruder will come with instructions as well, please read them carefully to install the correct gear on the stepper motor and in the right orientation.
- Remove the stock extruder. Here is the official video from Artillery: Click Here.
- Install the BMG/V6 or BMG/Volcano Combo in place of the stock extruder. This lines up with the stock holes. Line up the stepper motor with the BMG extruder. I made a video showing how this looks: Click Here.
- You will need to connect the E3D thermistor and E3D heater cartridge to the stock plugs. You have two options for this: 1) you can cut the stock connector and solder it on, 2) you can crimp the connection and reuse the stock connectors. The polarity is not important for these two components. For reference, the connectors are JST-XH, the thermistor is 2.54mm, the heater cartridge is 3.96mm.
- Adjust the VREF on the E0 Stepper Driver. I adjusted mine to 0.50v, and it’s been working great, some people do 0.65v. If you don’t do this, the stepper motor will get very hot, shortening its lifespan. Here is a video on adjusting the VREF: Click Here. I don’t have a ceramic screwdriver so what I did was turn off the machine, adjust it, don’t need much, turned it back on, and carefully measured. I did this because I’ve fried a board before, so be extra careful doing this.
- Reverse the direction of your stepper motor in Marlin. And while you’re in there, enable EEPROM for future modifications to Marlin. This is covered in my video: Click Here. For more information on Marlin and how to update your firmware, this is a great video: Click Here.
Thoughts and Impressions
I did this upgrade a little before the release of the Hemera. I was tired of dealing with under extrusion with the stock extruder. The Titan Aero’s cooling design is somewhat lacking, so a clone would be worse off, in my opinion. That’s what the stock extruder is, a Titan Aero Clone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for printing low-temp stuff like PLA but when it comes to anything above 220c, it starts to struggle.
With this BMG/V6 extruder combo, my prints are reliably great. Like I said earlier, it just works. I like how clean this setup is, how it just fits, and how reliable it’s been. If the Hemera came out 2 weeks earlier, I’d probably be blogging about that, but this is what I have. It costs a little more but hopefully this write up will help you make an informed decision.
Here are some prints using this setup:
This is a functioning bath toy for my son. It also has overhangs and such just like the famous Benchi.
This is a print of some ornaments for my wife.
Starting another ornament print. I wanted to show the consistent extruding with this setup. I rarely got that with my stock extruder.
- Happy Printing.