Installed the V4.2.7 silent motherboard on my Ender 3 Pro

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the steps I took to install the silent motherboard on an Ender 5 Plus. Today I will post the steps I took to install the V4.2.7 silent motherboard on an Ender 3 Pro (I did this upgrade a couple of weeks ago but had to wait for stitches to get removed from my fingers to type better again). This is not an upgrade I planned on doing since I never really thought the printer was that loud. But apparently, I was wrong. Everyone else thought the printer was too loud, especially my kid, whose room is in the basement with the printer. Even with my hearing issues, I have to admit a massive decrease in noise with the silent motherboard installed. This post will not so briefly lay out the steps I used to replace the board.

Opening the Chassis

Four screws need to be removed to open the access panel under the printer. Before turning the printer on its side, there is one screw located just under the bed that has to be removed. I didn’t realize this initially and had to figure out why the access panel wouldn’t open. See the picture below where I circled the screw in red.

Screw on top the Ender 3 Pro chassis that has to be removed to open the access panel. If you look close, you can see a purge line I forgot to pull off my bed.

With the top screw off, I carefully placed the printer on its backside. Here were the three remaining screws.

There are three screws on the bottom of the Ender 3 Pro chassis to open the access panel. Don’t forget the 4th screw on top of the chassis!

At this time, I also removed the micro SD card and USB cable (which goes to my Raspberry PI).

Replacing out the board

Replacing the board out was pretty simple. Before doing the upgrade, I did take a picture to ensure I knew what things looked like beforehand. The first thing that has to be disconnected is the fan mounted on the access panel. Please note where it is plugged in and note that it gets plugged into a slightly different location on the new board.

Pictured is the original motherboard for the Ender 3 Pro. The fan on the access panel is the first thing to remove. I circled its connector in this picture.

I then removed the four screws holding the original motherboard in place. Four M3 screws are holding the board into place. I removed the zip tie holding the wiring together. As I was into the process, I also found it necessary to remove the protective tape where the wiring enters the access panel.

After getting the old board unmounted, I used the same four M3 screws to mount the silent motherboard into place. I then inserted my SD card to make sure everything aligned correctly. The micro SD card goes in and out easier on this board. The spring in my original one seemed wrong (I can’t explain it better than that). I’m not sure if the spring in my original board was just worn out or if the new one is better manufactured.

Different USB cable

I then went to plug the USB cable in and found out the new motherboard changed the USB connector type. The original board had a mini-USB connector, while the new board has a micro-USB connector. I think this is a good change and luckily had a micro-USB cable sitting around. The only thing I had to do was put a piece of tape on the power pin of the new micro-USB cable (but not on the micro side), just as I had done with the mini-USB cable. Cutting off the USB power is essential to prevent my Raspberry PI from sending power to my printer via USB. Before putting that piece of tape on the USB cable, my printers would act erratically when connected to the PI’s.

I carefully covered the USB cable’s power pin with electrical tape to prevent my Raspberry PI from sending power to the 3D printer.

Swapping the cables

Swapping the cables out is relatively straightforward. The only thing to be careful with is removing the hot glue that is dabbed on the connectors. I used a small needle nose plier to remove the hot glue carefully. Below is a picture of the new board mounted and the original board with the wiring still hooked up. After the picture, I will point out a few differences to note with the new board.

The new board is mounted, now to move the wiring over.

First, it should be noted that the four stepper motor connectors are reversed on the new board. These are the four connectors shown on the left-hand side in the picture above. This is not a big deal. The stepper motors still go into the board in the same order. That order is (from top to bottom): E (extruder), Z, Y, X. I unplugged these from the original board and left them as the last thing I hooked up to the new board. They are nicely labeled and easy to tell where they go.

Right away, I moved over the ribbon cable. It is easy to see where it goes, and seemed to be best to get that out of the way.

On the right side, there are two new connectors. Again, this isn’t a big deal, but it means paying attention. The connectors on the right side all go into the same place, except for the fan mounted on the access panel. A few pictures above, you can see where this fan was connected to the original board. It was the bottom white connector along the right side of the board (as pictured). Below you can see this connector has been moved to the left (just to the right of another fan connector) to add a new connector to the expansion board.

The chassis fan connector has been moved.

The wires along the right side went in the same order. The only difference being there is now an empty connector at the bottom for future expansion. Once the hot glue is removed, these connectors are relatively easy to move over.

Then I moved the power connectors over. This was quite simple and only required a small screwdriver. I did each wire one at a time to ensure I didn’t mess them up. I would recommend labeling the wires. I didn’t but wish I had. My only complication here was trying to do this with two fingers braced (see picture below).

Sometimes things are more challenging than they should be with a couple of fingers immobilized.

Finally, I hooked the stepper motors up to the new board. Like I said before, the connectors are reversed on the new board.

Here is what the board looked like before I hooked the access panel fan back up. You can see the empty fan connector just to the left of where it was on the old board.

All cables moved over except for the access panel fan.

Closing up the access panel

The last physical step of this process was to close up the access panel. This fan hooks up to its new location. Then the four screws need to be put back in. I also checked all of the other screws on the printer to make sure none had come loose in the year I’ve had this printer. Here is a picture of the fan hooked up.

All wires are now hooked up!

Getting the printer going in Octoprint

The next step should have been doing a PID tuning via Octoprint, but I ran into a problem here. My Octoprint server would not boot up. At first, I wondered if something was wrong with the connection to my Raspberry Pi. After a bit of troubleshooting, I found out the micro SD card I had Octoprint installed on was corrupt. Luckily that is an easy fix. I used the same Edge of Tech Youtube video to set it up as I had before (just changing anything specific for the Ender 3 Pro instead of the Ender 5 Plus in the video). I now have a backup for my Octoprint servers saved to my local PC to use when this happens again!

After getting the Octoprint server hooked up, I ran into another issue. Octoprint came up with a warning that there was a known problem with the printer’s firmware installed. Creality changed how temperatures are reported via a serial connection. This means Octoprint will be unable to see the temp of the hot end or bed. Luckily there is a plugin called Creality-2x-temperature-reporting-fix that can be installed to fix the problem. After installing the plugin, the temp reporting in Octoprint worked fine. I’m not happy with Creality for making this change; it seems to go against established standards.

PID Tuning

Once the Octoprint connection was finally going, I was able to do a PID tuning. The PID tuning is vital to ensure the hot end is being heated to the correct temperatures. I laid out these steps in my post on upgrading the Ender 5 Plus. Here is a cliff note version of the commands I used to do a PID tuning from Octoprint:

  • Do an M503 command to see current PID settings
  • Autotune PID via M303 command
  • Take the final autotune commands and set them in the firmware with an M301 command
  • Do an M500 command to write the changes to EEPROM.

Testing the printer

Before doing the upgrade, I wasn’t sure this was necessary. The printer didn’t seem loud to me. But then I have hearing issues. After the upgrade, I do notice a huge difference, though. I cannot hear the stepper motors at all anymore. All that can be heard is the fans (which somehow seem louder now, probably because I couldn’t hear them before). My family and gaming group seems to appreciate the silence offered by the new silent board.

The real test of the new board, though, came from doing a couple of prints. First up, I did a Yorkie statue for my wife. This was printed using Marble PLA from Eryone, and the design came from Thingiverse. I love the way this printed. Not only did the upgrade quiet the printer, but it also seemed to make the prints smoother, if that’s possible (I suppose it is with better stepper motor drivers).

Yorkie 3D print.

The second print I did to test the upgrade was a Spock Bust I found on Thingiverse. Again I printed this with Marble PLA from Eryone. I really love how sharp this print turned out!

Spock bust.

Was it worth the upgrade?

Was the V4.2.7 silent motherboard upgrade for the Ender 3 Pro a worthwhile upgrade? Yes, and no. First, for the yes part. The upgraded board with better stepper motor drivers is worth it to get rid of all the noise. Plus, this is a 32-bit board, as opposed to 8-bit for the original board. When using the interface, the difference is immense. Actually, the interface reacts almost too quickly while trying to set temperatures manually. Plus, the first time you turn on the printer after the upgrade, you will seemingly immediately be at the main screen. No more waiting for the boot screen to finish. One other nice thing is that thermal runaway protection is enabled out of the box (honestly, this should have been true before, another oversight by Creality). Finally, this board has some expansion room, which is handy if I want to ad BL Touch or something else.

There are reasons I also think this was a no for being a worthy upgrade. Well, there are better 32-bit silent motherboard options out there. In particular, I am thinking of getting a BigTreeTech SKR Mini in the future. The people I have spoken with that own this card love it. It works super fast and works great with BL Touch (something I look to add to this printer eventually). Since the prices are similar, I don’t know that I would have gone with the Creality silent board again, knowing I could have a better board and an upgraded display for just a little more money. Yes, the Creality board was plug and play, but I feel that plug and play ability just isn’t that important to me anymore now that I’ve had some experience with 3D printers.

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