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Ender 3 USB Port: How to Connect the Ender 3 to a PC

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by Pranav Gharge
Aug 14, 2019
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You may know that the Ender 3 has a mini USB port, but do you know how to properly use it? Learn all the ways to connect your Ender 3 to your PC!

Ender 3 USB Port: Connect Your Ender 3 to a PC

What's the Big Deal?

The Ender 3 Pro up close.
The Ender 3 Pro up close. Source: xiaomitoday.com

The Creality Ender 3 is one of the most popular 3D printers on the market right now due to its stellar value for money. In addition to an SD card reader, it also comes with a mini USB port. At first, this might not sound like a big deal, but in truth, a lot of functionality is unlocked when you know how to use it.

Obviously, the presence of the port means you can connect the machine to a computer using a USB cable, but let’s take a look at what lelse you can do with it.

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Ender 3 USB Port: Connect Your Ender 3 to a PC

Wireless 3D Printing

OctoPrint can easily be set up to run on a Raspberry Pi.
OctoPrint can easily be set up to run on a Raspberry Pi. Source: Thomas Sanladerer / YouTube

Technically, this method isn’t wireless since there’s still a wire involved, but it’s much better than the alternative of inserting an SD card into the machine every time you need to print something.

Obviously, we’re talking about OctoPrint. Just connect a Raspberry Pi to your Ender 3 via the mini USB port and print hassle-free. In addition to remote printer management and monitoring, OctoPrint also has a wealth of plugins that report interesting statistics about your machine. If you’re serious about productivity and convenience, OctoPrint is for you.

If you want to get started right away, check out our guide on setting up OctoPrint for your Ender 3.

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Ender 3 USB Port: Connect Your Ender 3 to a PC

Runaway Upgrade

The Ender 3 LCD screen.
The Ender 3 LCD screen. Source: YouTube / Thomas Sanladerer

Let’s face it: 3D printers aren’t cut out for the stovetop life. That’s why you don’t want them catching fire anytime soon, and your Ender 3 is no exception. Good thing there’s a handy feature in Marlin firmware called “Thermal Runaway” protection. This increases the safety of your Ender 3 setup if the manufacturer hadn’t disabled it by default.

Here’s where the mini USB Port comes in handy. It lets you upgrade your firmware to a newer and much better version of Marlin. You basically just have to flash new firmware via the mini USB Port, and to help you out, we have a handy guide on installing Marlin on your Ender 3.

Alternatively, you could watch a YouTube tutorial to guide you through the entire process.

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Ender 3 USB Port: Connect Your Ender 3 to a PC

Direct Computer Control

Pronterface allows for granular control of USB-connected 3D printers.
Pronterface allows for granular control of USB-connected 3D printers. Source: All3DP

This may be the most obvious use of the USB port, but people seldom use it: Operating the 3D printer using a computer connected via USB.

Software like Printrun (Pronterface) and Simplify3D provide a control interface that allows fine control of your Ender 3 when you connect it to a computer. For instance, you can monitor temperatures, send custom G-code, manipulate motor speed, and move axes fairly easily.

If you’re in a fix and need a fix, try out some control software next time instead of the LCS screen and scroll wheel.

Feature image source: YouTube / Dave Gatton

License: The text of "Ender 3 USB Port: How to Connect the Ender 3 to a PC" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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