BIGTREE-TECH’s SKR V1.3 offers a great amount for its money. Including 32-bit processing, built-in UART channels and Smoothieware and Marlin compatibility. Is this too good to be true? Let’s find out.
This product has been sent with the kind generosity of BIGTREE-TECH / BIQU for the purpose of an impartial review. The thoughts that you find below are mine and are no way influenced by the fact that this was gifted.
BIGTREE-TECH was kind enough to supply the SKR V1.3 along with some TMC2208’s V1.2, and a TFT35 V1.2 Touch Screen for the purpose of this review. However setting up the firmware configuration for the TMC2208’s and the BIQU TFT35 V1.2 touch screen will be covered in a further post.
BIGTREE-TECH’s SKR V1.3
The SKR V1.3 from BIGTREE-TECH, comes packaged in a black box with the companies logo in RED on the front, a simple affair. On one side there is the companies official website address, and the other a link to their Facebook group.
Inside the box the SKR V1.3 is sealed in an anti-static bag alongside its supplied micro SD memory card and a USB cable. On the memory card you will find firmware for both Marlin 2 and Smoothieware. However it is likely out of date, keep a hold of it for reference and start with the latest version of either Marlin V2 or Smoothieware. Also included is some spare jumper bridges and a business card with the company details.
One thing that is particularly nice on the SKR V1.3 is how cleanly soldered the board is. It makes a nice change to look at a PCB and get excited about how good it looks. Perhaps its a bit geeky to get excited over this, but it makes a nice change not to wash flux off or re-solder any points.
Backup the supplied memory card to your computer straight away. Apart from the firmware the memory card contains the instructions, pin out and layout PDFs.
A big thumbs up to BIGTREE-TECH for already supplying that, makes for an easy life.
Just encase, if you do lose the contents of the original micro SD you can download it from BIGTREE-TECH’s GitHub page.
BIGTREE-TECH’s TMC2208 V2.1
The supplied TMC2208’s V2.1 stepper drivers from BIGTREE-TECH were supplied in a handy plastic container and well protected. In the container along side the stepper drivers was their heatsinks.
The stepper drivers themselves are extremely clean. Only one TMC2208 had solder from the chip seeping through. This can be a normal occurrence and doesn’t effect the stepper drivers performance or its cooling. If you are wishing to setup the SKR V1.3 with TMC2208’s in UART mode chances are you are going to need to solder J2 on the back of the stepper driver to the adjoining pad.
If you are uncertain what needs to be soldered take a look at our SKR V1.3 Setup Guide.
Just when things couldn’t get any easier, they do! BIGTREE-TECH just launched their new pre-soldered TMC2208’s V3 stepper drivers for UART mode.
The V3 driver is already pre-soldered for UART. Additionally the pinouts are also pre-soldered in place for those 3D printer boards that still require a physical cable connection.
Soldering of TMC-2208 stepper drivers is now a thing of the past. Allowing features of the UART mode to be widely available to those who are uncomfortable with soldering.
BIQU’s TFT35 V1.2 Touchscreen
Supplied in just an anti-static bag the BIQU TFT35 V1.2 Touchscreen isn’t quite as finely finished as the SKR V1.3 or the TMC2208’s V2.1. Whilst that’s not critical the functionality of the touch screen is important. The screen itself doesn’t seem very well handled during the manufacturing process. It is not particularly firmly attached and the rear of the screen is peeling away, with the amount of light from it I can only presume it is the TFT35’s backlight, and is not adhering well. However time will tell if this will affect performance. As long as it functions and behaves responsively, then it should not overly matter.
It is important to note, if you order a TFT35, ensure that you order a longer cable. As the length of the cable is extremely short.
SKR V1.3 & TMC2208’s V2.1
BIGTREE-TECH’s SKR V1.3 features the 100 MHz LPC1768 ARM cortex-M3 CPU for the SKR’s 32-bit processing. Supporting the following stepper drivers TMC2130, TMC2208, TMC2100, ST820, DRV8825, and A4988 stepper drivers.
Another great feature of the SKR V1.3 is the dedicated jumper controlled UART and SPI channels, making setting up these features on the hardware quick and simple. Most of the setting up is actually very straight forward. It is the lack of servo pins if you have a requirement for them that actually causes the only real problem.
Depending upon your particular printer setup, the SKR V1.3 can either be powered with a 12 V or 24 V and is protected with removable 10 Amp and 20 Amp blade fuses. The 20 Amp fuses is for the heating systems such as heat bed and extruder. Whilst the 10 Amp fuse is taking care of the stepper drivers and elements on the board itself.
The SKR V1.3 natively supports dual extruder setup with a single Z-axis, dedicated pins for TFT touch screen, and dedicated pins for a BLTouch automatic bed levelling probe.
Although there is no other dedicated servo pins, this can be got around fairly easily, for most uses. If you don’t require a dual extruder and would prefer a dual Z-Axis instead, not a problem just reconfigure in the firmware.
Our own over expectation can sometimes make for a bigger fall, and the BIQU TFT35 V1.2 is no exception in this case. I was hoping that the functionality and presets programmed into the TFT35 was going to be far more intuitive and time saving. Instead whilst some work well, others do not. The TFT35 seems feels unfinished with its firmware, menu layouts and its custom configuration files are for the most part undocumented. Although I believe the TFT35 could be so, so much more I feel it is going to be the enthusiasts that get the TFT35 where it should be.
It is the simple things that really let it down. If I want to extrude 200 mm I have to tap the screen 20 times as it doesn’t accept constant touch to just keep going. If you have the PS_ON configured to turn on and off the power supply in Marlin the TFT35 can only turn it off and not on again. Simply because the option has not been made available. Where it should change its own state, so if the PSU is currently off, then turn on is displayed and vice versa.
Print wise we can see an immediate improvement over the MKS GEN 1.4 with TMC2100’s, both printed with same settings, and same problematic cooling fan. (Cause of extra sag)
So whilst neither print is good (Currently work on fix for custom part cooling fan) it’s perfect for showing the difference. It interesting how much of an improvement the extra accuracy makes to the detail, even when the cooling is not as good as it should be.
BIGTREE-TECH’s SKR V1.3 is a remarkably capable 32-bit board, which punches way above its price tag. Ridiculously so! Currently for sale at around $19 USD with free delivery, that’s £15 delivered to us in the United Kingdom for the board.
Taking full advantage of what Marlin firmware V2 has to offer, the SKR V1.3 teamed with their faultless TMC2208’s offers faster and finer finished prints than an 8-bit setup. Whilst this is to be expected, I still was not expecting as good a performance for a board costing as low as the SKR V1.3.
I can honestly say I am so enthused by what this board can do, that I just want to print more than ever before. The installation of the hardware is super easy, and the firmware was fairly straight forward and will hopefully be much easier for you now with the guides I have created.
If your thinking of moving from an 8-bit to a 32-bit board you cant go wrong with the SKR V1.3 from BIGTREE-TECH. If I was to say one thing it would be, Just order it! Ordinarily I would mumble to the screen if someone wrote that, but for a board with the capability of the SKR V1.3 and price. It would be simply mad not too!
It would have been an extra touch to have had supplied spare blade fuses, but not a deal breaker. The only complaint that I have with the SKR V1.3 is lack of dedicated servo pins. Despite there being workarounds in my opinion there should be more connectivity not less.
When it comes to the TFT the quality control is just not the same as the supplied stepper drivers or the board, and the lifting of the screen causes touch accuracy issues. However I did manage to do a test, and the TFT35 behaves perfectly when in a case that pushes the screen down slightly. So if you get a TFT35 best start designing a housing for it whilst it is on its way.