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Beacon Setup

So you've got a bunch of 3D printers and a few Raspberry Pis or Wireless Hubs, maybe some webcams as well. Connecting all of those devices together would make them much easier to manage, but setting that up is no easy task.

AutoFarm3D makes it super simple to connect Hubs together so you no longer need a degree in computer networking to set up a print farm dashboard!

Farm dashboard

Prerequisites

  • You should have at least two Wireless Hubs (or Raspberry Pis) running AutoFarm3D software. You can also mix and match Pis with Hubs if needed.
  • At least 1 printer should be connected to each Hub.
  • Each Hub should be connected to your local network (WiFi or Ethernet is fine), and should have it's own IP address.

Choose Your Beacon

You'll need to choose a hub to be your 'main hub' that all your other hubs connect to. This hub is what we call the beacon.

The beacon stores all gcode files, manages the central print queue, and stores timelapses, among other things. The beacon is like the director telling all the other hubs what to do, so it is more important than your other hubs.

To set a hub as a beacon, click the button "Logs" in the top right of the main dashboard to open up the Quinly Management Center.

Open Quinly Management Center

Then you'll see three modes available:

  1. Standalone Mode: The Hub manages only the printers connected to it. This is the default mode.
  2. Attach: The Hub attaches to a beacon. Printers connected to this hub will be accessible through the beacon.
  3. Beacon: The Hub becomes a beacon that other hubs can attach to.

Standalone mode

  • 2 printers or 1 printer + 1 webcam

Attach mode

  • 3 printers or 2 printers + 1 webcam
  • (Experimental) Connect even more printers using powered USB splitters (up to 6 printers per hub have been achieved)

Beacon mode

  • For larger farms (more than 5 printers), we recommend 0 printers + 0 cameras on the beacon hub for the most stable performance

Select Beacon Service mode

Choose Beacon Service mode, click "Save And Change Modes", then restart the Hub.

Attach Other Hubs to the Beacon

Now that you have a designated beacon, you can tell all your other hubs to attach to it. For every other hub in your print farm, go to the Quinly Management Center, and set them to Beacon Attach mode.

Select Beacon Attach mode

By default, it will automatically find the beacon. If you have more than one beacon on your network, you can specify the exact IP address it should connect to instead. In this case, my beacon's IP address was 192.168.1.121.

Manually specify beacon

Once you've changed modes, restart each hub to apply the changes. When they boot up again, they'll connect to the beacon.

Tip

If your beacon's IP address seems to change occasionally, you'll need to set it as a static IP. Log into your WiFi router and search for 'static IP' or 'DCHP reservation' settings, and choose an IP address for your beacon.

Access the Farm Dashboard

Once you've restarted everything, go to your Beacon's IP address. In my case, it's 192.168.1.121:8080. All your printers should now be accessible from a single screen!

Farm dashboard