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Firmware and Bootloader Questions for Anet A8

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bostonman:
I've been planning to update the firmware in my Anet A8 printer. I've viewed some YouTube videos (there is a guy with many videos regarding this printer).

Anyway, I believe I've gone through the steps enough to understand a few questions I have.

The first is regarding the bootloader. it's suggested to use the Optiboot bootloader because it's smaller in size, and also, a bootloader provides the ability to upgrade the firmware via USB.

My questions are:

If I chose not to install a bootloader, will this be an issue if I have a programmer already (thus saving space)?

If my board already has a bootloader, and I assume it's not the Opti version, will writing another bootloader cause the board to have two bootloaders?

If it's not a loaded question, what do other bootloaders have that the opti bootloader doesn't that makes it smaller?

As for firmware updating, I believe I understand all the steps. A few questions, however, I think they are self explanatory:

If I update the firmware and chose specific features to enable (or disable), will I need to do this each time I update the firmware to a new rev (I'm quite sure the answer is yes - but they use separate configuration files which maybe don't get updated often and can be reused with the changes).

I found two methods to update the firmware. One is using Visual Studio, the other is using Adruino software. Both seem to have similar methods and need some sort of definition(s) to talk to the Anet A8. I'm fearing that maybe all these definitions will not be available in the future. Is there a way to save one package so I can reinstall firmware if need be in the future?

Ranayna:
That should at least have partial answers for you:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/anet-a8-3d-printer/msg3180296/#msg3180296

This is how the FW upgrade worked for me, but i never did additional upgrades afterwards.

bostonman:
I appreciate the link.

If you read on, you'll see I was involved in that thread. :)

The actual FW update to the printer is half the problem, but the bootloader was one thing that baffled me. Does a new bootloader write over the old one, or is it possible to accidentally write two bootloaders thus wasting space?

There is a step within the (easier?) update steps which is to edit one line of code, and I'm uncertain why, however, I think I'd need to respond to the message in the thread you provided since it's exclusively for the printer and not general bootloader stuff.

Ranayna:
I know that  you were involved ;)

I can only say that i simply did not bother with any bootloaders. I mentioned it, yes, but since everything worked after the upgrade, i did not further look into them.
I did what i enumerated in that post to upgrade the firmware. Everything with the Arduino IDE, an especially pointing out the board definition that worked for me. There is nothing stopping you to dowload the .json file and adding it from your file system.

Oh, and i do not remember if i ever mentioned that here on the forum: The thermal runaway checks did really work for me, at least partially :D I had several cases where the Anet stopped because the cooling fan was set too strong, and the nozzle temperature fell more that 10 degrees from the set value. That caused the printer to stop.
I never actually tested the other case though.

bostonman:

--- Quote ---Oh, and i do not remember if i ever mentioned that here on the forum: The thermal runaway checks did really work for me, at least partially :D I had several cases where the Anet stopped because the cooling fan was set too strong, and the nozzle temperature fell more that 10 degrees from the set value. That caused the printer to stop.
I never actually tested the other case though.
--- End quote ---

This is good to know as I'd probably wonder why the printer turned off.

What fan speed do you use? From what I've seen, my standard speed settings don't seem to make the heaters deviate by 1 degree C, but the more knowledge I have, the easier diagnosing problems will be.

Any firmware updates I've done in general over the years have been simply plug n play. Either FPGAs or other various updates. Having to deal with bootloaders and other stuff has been a (confusing) education.

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