One of my favorite parts of 3D printing is the ability to constantly upgrade and improve the performance of my printer with out having to start over again from scratch. Most of the time I learn new things along the way too. Klipper firmware is one of the cheapest and most awesome upgrades I’ve found so far for my Creality Ender 3 Pro printer. From a 5X increase in printing speed to better overall print quality, I have zero regrets spending the time to flash a bootloader and install the new firmware. After running Klipper for ~8 months, my only real annoyance with the whole setup was the mediocre integration with OctoPrint.
Don’t get me wrong here, OctoPrint is a great piece of software and I use it exclusively for my Workbee 1010 CNC Router due to the ease of transferring files to the machine over my home network and it’s reliable performance once setup and dialed in. I also like that there is a large community of users that have created plugins and will help troubleshoot issues.
After the most recent OctoPrint update, I lost all of the customization I had done on the GUI and I was annoyed at the prospect of having to set everything backup manually because my backup wouldn’t load. I decided it was time to make a change and try out Mainsail. I’d been seeing posts about it for months in some of the 3D printing groups and forums and my curiosity was peaked. I don’t regret the change, yet…
So far I really like the layout and dashboard that Mainsail provides. It looks good on my browser and on my phone and makes it easy to find exactly what I’m looking for quickly. The Heightmap tab is very reminiscent of the Bed Level Visualizer plugin for OctoPrint with the exception that it worked immediately without having to change a bunch of commands in the settings. And I think by far my favorite feature is the ability to easily edit configuration files from the browser, rather than needing to SSH into the Raspberry Pi.
But it’s not all perfect with Mainsail, there’s a lot that I’m going to miss. Mainsail lacks security… There’s no login, no API, and no way for me to access it from outside my network without opening up my $300 firestarter to the world to burn my house down with… As I have steered my focus more toward CNC and woodworking these features aren’t a huge loss for me right now. A year ago, when I was printing Ear savers by the 100s each day from the comfort of my office at work while my S.O. was working from home, it would have been a deal breaker.
I look forward to seeing what enhancements come out of the creators of Mainsail in the future. For now I’ll just enjoy my super fast printing from home.
UPDATE 9/13/2021: I eventually moved back to OctoPrint for managing my 3D printer, not that there was any particular issue with Mainsail. It functioned well and did everything that I asked of it. My main reason for moving back was to try out some new plugins that were released for OctoPrint. My main interests were the PSU Control and the USB Keyboard plugins which have turned out to be quite excellent and improved ease of use in my setup. Updates in the OctoKlipper plugin have also improved clipper integration to the point that I feel more comfortable using it as my main control software for now.