Installing the Creality BLTouch Auto Bed Leveling Kit on my Ender 3

During the pandemic I have had a lot more time to work with my Creality Ender 3. This has led to a lot of time manually leveling the bed and working to achieve success when getting the initial layers on my prints. The process of constantly re-leveling the bed, and having things change between prints has led to a lot of frustration.

Creality 3D 1.1.5 Upgraded Mainboard for Ender 3
Creality 3D 1.1.5 Upgraded Mainboard for Ender 3

Last winter I upgraded the main board on my Ender 3 to the 1.1.5 board found here. That upgrade brought a significant improvement to the performance of my machine in addition to the silence it brought. Prior to that upgrade the Ender 3 was loud and annoying to be near when in operation. Since then, I have been able to have it behind me while working, playing games, etc. and the quality of the prints has been drastically improved.

With the added use, the amount of time spent re-leveling the bed is much more noticeable. In addition, printing things like Ear-Savers that I have donated to help during the pandemic also shows where there were errors during the leveling process.

I have held back on this upgrade as I am a novice when it comes to 3D Printing and, while I am technologically inclined, a lot of things when it comes to 3D printing are above my head. I am not familiar with the ins and outs of various firmware for 3D printers, or how to go about flashing them, and definitely don’t want to brick a machine like this when I am trying to save a bit of time. Then, I found out that Creality is now making a dedicated kit for installing a genuine BL Touch system to the printer.

Creality Auto Bed Leveling Sensor Kit for Ender 3 3D Printer
Creality Auto Bed Leveling Sensor Kit for Ender 3 3D Printer

As soon as I realized this, I was very excited as this was an upgrade I have been wanting since the beginning of owning this printer. Leveling the bed may not be the ultimate master code to resolving printing issues, but it is a major hurdle in achieving bed adhesion and quality prints.

I researched the kit and everything I was seeing was about a year old at this point and came with mixed opinions – from people who are actually familiar with the ins and outs of these machines, and can go about making these upgrades without a dedicated kit.

I decided that the pros outweighed the cons and pulled the trigger.

Initial Impressions

I received the BL Touch Kit and overall I am very happy with the quality of the physical hardware.

Contents of Creality Ender 3 Auto Bed Leveling Kit
Contents of Creality Ender 3 Auto Bed Leveling Kit

The instructions were absolutely atrocious. They included a QR code that redirected to the Creality homepage when viewed.

I attempted to follow Teaching Tech’s video overview of the process, however, my experience with the software, while just as bad, was not the same as his.

The installation of the hardware was no problem at all. The bracket is a solid piece of metal, and the BLTouch connects with 2 M3 screws. The wiring is straightforward, and was properly wired as opposed to other videos I have seen with BLTouch kits (of non-Creality kits).

Installation and Software

Being that I was following Teaching Tech’s instructions I first used the ISP USB interface to flash the firmware and this is where I hit my first hurde and struggled. I am not sure that my experience was identical, but I was first not even sure where to download the software, then, once found, I was unable to even get the software to launch without getting an error message!

I was feeling punched in the gut at this point, but continued to dig. I happened upon an article hosted on Medium, a site dedicated to blogging and sharing ideas, where the person mentioned renaming the file that contains the ProgISP software. Once I did that, I was off to the races. I flashed the latest 8 bit firmware and then updated my Cura settings to include the ABL code.

This is where I ran into the next problem, improper instructions to set the Z Offset. This one was outlined in the Teaching Tech video. For me, the Z Offset was initially set to -0.2, and the calculated adjustment, per the instructions, told me it would now need to be -2.9 – this just had filament not even hitting the bed. After trial and error, my Z offset is set to -3.6 and I have been having no issues.

Creality Ender 3 with BLTouch printing Raspberry Pi Zero holder
Creality Ender 3 with BLTouch printing Raspberry Pi Zero holder

Problems and what I did to overcome:

  1. Problem: Documentation in English
    1. Solutions: Utilizing video resources to ensure I understood the process.
      1. YouTube Resources: Teaching Tech, DanishGadgetGeek
  2. Getting the necessary downloads.
    1. Creality has NOT made it simple to get the necessary files for this.
      1. Problem: The instructions assume that the user already has the progisp.exe.
        1. When I finally found this download on their site the software was throwing errors for me.
        1. Solution: When downloaded, the folder name included superfluous characters at the end and needed to be renamed: progisp+ 1.72
          1. Link to an article on Medium where I found this to be the solution is below.
          1. See link below as to Creality’s Google Drive Link for ProgISP
        2. Once renamed the software worked perfectly for me.
      2. Problem: Knowing what hex file is needed.
        1. Solution: Downloaded the latest firmware designed for BL Touch and Ender 3
          1. See link below as to Creality’s Google Drive Link for the hex file
  3. Problem: Setting the Z Offset based on Creality’s instructions.
    1. Solution: Grind. Trial and error until the nozzle is laying filament properly.
      1. This was something that was criticized in Teaching Tech’s video and is something that I encountered as well.
      2. For me, the Z Offset was initially -0.2, and the calculated adjustment was supposed to be -2.9, and now, after trial and error it is set to -3.6

Results

After a couple test prints, the BLTouch is definitely making a difference in leveling the bed. I have reprinted the Fan Shroud mod and the layer lines are consistent, and don’t show any signs of leveling issues. I printed a whistle, and the layers were super tight and even.

First Layers of a Ear Savor printing following installation of BLTouch
First Layers of a Ear Saver printing following installation of BLTouch

While there is criticism of the leveling time that is added to each print, for me, its not a big deal. When we are talking hours or days to complete a large print, a couple minutes tied up in bed leveling is not a big deal to me.

On average, including time for heating and leveling the process takes ~4-5 min in a room that is ~21C.

Results of Ender 3 with BLTouch Print of Charmander models
Results of Ender 3 with BLTouch Print of Charmander models

Resources I Found Helpful:

Creality Download Links:

ProgISP: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lXXDpAtkGP2KVKi4O1yqBInqunWGrWvN

Marlin: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1JDbEMAqaiy_l8RkeGpbpMs-Gc1A0ojgY

Articles:

Renaming file: https://medium.com/@jethro_20307/creality-ender-3-pro-bltouch-v3-1-marlin-1-1-9-1-e3512ed9c81a


Please note this product was purchased with my own funds, however, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This in no way changes my opinion of the product. If you are interested in the product please see the link below:

https://amzn.to/3bOYgUH


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