Portabee KIT Manual

Assembly guides & operating procedures for the Portabee KIT 3D Printer.

Portabee Kit 3D Printer

Hardware Assembly

The PDF assembly instructions for the Portabee 3D Printer Kit have been extensively developed and use exact 3D models of the 3D printer parts for illustration.



Software for Portabee machines is open source, totally free, and available for MAC and PC.


3D Model Preparation

Download CURA


Printer Control

Download Pronterface


3D Modelling Software

Download Sketchup

STL Export Plugin


3D Model Search Engine

Visit Yeggi



Installing your Drivers


Windows Drivers

The latest version of CURA comes with some drivers on installation,

However these FTDI drivers for the electronics board will work as a base case:

Install the drivers for your operating system, make sure to choose the correct version (32bit or 64bit)


Now, we need to find out the usb serial port to use in Pronterface.

Open up device manager (search for device manager in start menu, or right click My Computer -> Properties -> Device Manager)

You should look under the item “Ports (COM & LPT)”

There should be a “USB Serial Port (COM X)” item, take note of the COM port (COM1, COM2, etc..) and this will be our Pronterface port.


MAC Drivers

So there are a number of USB to SERIAL drivers for mac here:

Download and install one of these drivers.

And then we will want to search for a new device, this gets slightly technical,

Open the  Terminal App (Go -> Utilities -> Terminal) and enter:

ls /dev/cu.*


This will display a list of all the usb devices connected

You are looking for one that mentions USBSERIAL eg:



This will not be the same string as above, but you are looking for something ‘usbserial’ ish

Copy this entire string, and this will be our Pronterface port.


Connecting to your 3D Printer

You should make sure that your Portabee Kit is fully constructed and clear of any debris left over from the build. Go ahead and plug the power cable into the socket on your machine.

Now, we want to open up Pronterface

Portabee Pronterface Download


Here we need to input the port we found earlier (COM1, COM2 etc.. for windows) (/dev/cu.usbserial-… for mac)


Set the baud rate to @ 250000

Loading up Pronterface, Finding the COM Port


Press connect. The right panel of Pronterface should show data related to a successful connection.

You can now manually control the printer, using the arrows, to discover for yourself which axis is which.

The nozzle temperature and heating bed temperature can also be manually set here, and you can validate those two elements (be careful here, this is where things start to get hot, do not leave your machine un-attended while these heated elements are on).

You should ensure your endstops (the switches on each axis) are fixed in position, and use the HOME function on each of the axis as shown below. This will move each axis to the home position, where it will touch an endstop and movement will halt.

Portabee X,Y,Z Axis HOME


Congratulations! You have a software interface to your machine, and your Portabee is ready to come to life.


Preparing a Model


Ok so lets choose a 3D model from Thingiverse. Pick a simple object for starters, and download the STL file.

Once we have the STL file of our desired object, we can load this into CURA.


Please Note: Cura has been upgraded since these screenshots, do not panic! The boxes and settings remain largely consistent.


Portabee Documentation CURA


Once our 3D model file is loaded, we can see our printing options to the left.

Portabee Documentation CURA

There are quite many printing options available, and this may take some time to comprehend.



Filament Diameter to 3.0

Nozzle Size 0.5

Print speed 30 mm/s (start slow to begin with)

Printing temperature 0

Bed temperature 0

Tick add raft just to make a solid footing.

Tick Enable Retraction


There are a number of other settings, these may take some time to comprehend.

Make sure the important ones are set as above, and then you will get a feel for other settings over time.


An important step is to set the Steps Per E to 514

CURA -> File -> Preferences -> Steps per E

This will ensure a good flow rate of filament for Portabee Classic Machines.



Portabee Documentation CURA

Now that we have loaded our STL file, and set up our desired Print Settings, we can press the ‘Prepare Print’ button.

This will prepare a new file your_cool_thing.gcode which contains all the information required to print your object.


Printing Stage

So, we have a good connection to our printer, and also some nicely prepared Gcode from CURA.

Head back into Pronterface.

Check that the axis are all still nominal, move each axis around a little bit.


Now, before we hit print, there are some important things note about the 1st layer of a 3D print.


Alignment or “Getting the first layer to stick”

Making sure the first layer sticks to the platform is critical during the beginning of a 3D print.


You want the kapton (orange) tape to be very smooth and flat, on all of the 3 pieces.

The nozzle head should be very close to the bed on Z-HOME, you want to carefully adjust your z-axis endstop holder so that the nozzle goes down very close (the width of a paper) to the heated bed. Now move the bed around, and the nozzle should remain at this height at all corners of the bed.

You can test the initial height using an actual sheet of paper, it should just barely slide through on all areas of the bed.

Gently tighten the z-home so it remains solid (don’t go too tight on the screws here, just enough so it holds).

Now, your nozzle should be really close but not quite touching on all areas of the bed, and very even across the bed.




Make sure the bed is hot

Nozzle temp to 185 C for PLA (ABS is 215-235 C, depending on the grade of the particular plastic ).

(let this go for 10 minutes or so, get both elements nice and warm).

Raise the print head, z-axis upwards a few clicks.

Do a test extrude, hit it a few times, make sure the filament is nice and flowy.

Clean up all the crazy filament you extruded.

Load up your GCODE, and Go.


Portabee Cura Load File

Portabee Cura Load File



And we should begin to see two circles being drawn around the object.


Hopefully the filament gets pushed solidly through the nozzle, and starts flowing nicely before these two lines are over, don’t worry if this is initially a bit choppy, but it should get smooth before it starts the ‘real’ print.

Now because we have ‘add raft’ enabled, we should now see a sort of criss cross pattern being produced, and our nozzle is so close on the z-axis that it is even pushing this first layer into the bed just slightly, so it sticks really well.



Happy printing!

The Portabee Team





Source Code

Portabee Kit is an open source 3D printer that is part of an ongoing community effort to bring 3D printing into fruition worldwide.

The Portabee Kit is of RepRap heritage, meaning that a sizeable percentage of its own parts are printable, and is to some degree self-replicating.

Here are the STL source files for the core Portabee parts.

We encourage you to use this source code to produce spares for your Portabee.

Please also modify and build upon this source code as you see fit to make Portabee and 3D printing even more awesome.


(STL files are for Cura, SKP are for Sketchup)

Structural Printed Parts








































Portabee Extruder

extruder block


53 tooth driven gear


9 tooth drive gear


idler block



Mods & Upgrades

Y Brace Mod

y-bearing-holder.stl | SKP

y-bearing-idler.stl | SKP

y-brace.stl | SKP

Extruder Filament Guide

by tkc_exp

Z-RodEnd Filament Guide

by tkc_exp

Z Rod Constraint

by tkc_exp

Cooling Fan Frame Bottom

by Almindor

Extruder cooling fan frame

by ikromin

Filament Spool

by tkc_exp

X rod clamp endstop

by Ybm

Adjustable z endstop

by Ybm

Gen 6 board case

by Beatrice1975

Z-Endstop Holder

by Beatrice1975

Microsoft LifeCamCinema Mount

by tkc_exp



Happy printing!

The Portabee Team



There are two versions of the 3d printer electronics shipped with Portabee Kits:

ATmega 1284
ATmega 644

You can the version number directly off the largest chipset on the electronics board.


ATmega 644 Version Electronics

There exists a great guide over here at Modlr’s side:

Firmware Part 1
Firmware Part 2
Firmware Part 3

Please follow this handy guide for ATmega 644 boards. Thanks Modlr.


ATmega 1284 Version Electronics

Download Arduino and Marlin files over here:

Basically you just need to extract both rar folders.

Open arduino.exe (under the folder arduino-1.0.2).

Now, quite a few error messages will pop up. Click OK all the way. These errors are expected.

Now in Arduino window, go to File > Open

Open marlin.ino (under the folder Marlin-Marlin_v1 > Marlin).

In this Marlin window, Go to Tools > Board and select “Sanguino W/ ATmega1284p 16mhz”

Then go to Tools > Serial Port and select the correct printer COM port

Click the arrow that points to the right (this arrow is right under “Edit”).

Then the sketch gets compiled and uploaded onto the Gen 6 board. When it’s successfully uploaded you will see “Done uploading” somewhere at the bottom.

So, there are settings available in “Configuration.h”, however, many of these are obscure and technical, take care.

Some screenshots are here to go over the instructions: