How to Upgrade to Anet A6 Display on Your A8



The Anet A8 suffers from a less than desirable 5 button display. On the road to upgrading your Anet A8, a rotary LCD screen should be near the top of the list. Besides the Anet A8 Auto Bed levelling KIT, the rotary display upgrade is the biggest bang for the buck. The Anet A6 came with a smooth and easy to use rotary display. Why can't we just use that display? Well, we can! In this guide, we will show you how to upgrade the Anet A8 to a rotary LCD screen display. Since Anet uses different pin mappings and hardware configuration, the ubiquitous reprap discount display is not an easy upgrade. However, if we use the Anet A6 display, we're on ice cream street!


STL Files

Thingiverse STL link for Display Adapter Mount (pictured above)


How hard is it to install?

The LCD upgrade will require compiling and uploading Marlin 1.1.8. We are going to show you the easy way and the harder way. Some Anet A8 printers are being shipped without bootloaders. This will add some complexity to this upgrade. However, we have written a complete and comprehensive guide on how to correct this. See our Burn Bootloader guide on how to solve this issue and unlock the ability to upload new firmware to your Anet A8. Or, keep reading to find out how to do all of this without a bootloader or Arduino IDE - The Easy Way (Although you WILL have a bootloader added if you go this route!). Or the Hard Way with burning a bootloader and uploading with Arduino IDE.


The Easy Way

The easy way is a direct upload of the Anet A8 Marlin firmware with the new display already configured. No bootloader or Arduino IDE is required. Uptanium has put together the USBasp Programmer Kit to upload the pre-configured Marlin firmware with the Anet A6 display already configured. The kit contains firmware packages pre-compiled that you can choose from and directly upload.

The Anet A6 LCD is one of the packages included in the kit. The kit actually does much more though! Before any upgrades, you can archive your existing firmware before attempting to upload. Once you compile and upload new firmware with Arduino IDE, your old firmware is gone forever. With the USBasp Programmer Kit, you can create a Snapshot and experiment with new firmware. If anything goes wrong, you can Restore From Snapshot Check out our Firmware Snapshot guide to learn more about what snapshots are and why you need them.

Steps

  1. Purchase the USBasp Programmer Kit on Amazon HERE.
  2. Purchase the correct Anet A6 display HERE. or HERE
  3. Print the display adapter from the above STL file and install the new display. Take note that the new display will mount to the back of the printed display adapter.You will need smaller screws with a a pointed tip like below to attach the display.


  4. Anet A8 Rotary screen screws


  5. Using the original screws from the 5 button display, install the new display with the adapter as shown. The adapter utilizes the original Anet A8 display screw locations.


  6. A8 rotary screen installed


  7. The new display will come with 2 new 10 pin ribbon cables. Since the original display already had one installed, route a new cable down to the motherboard so you now have two 10 pin ribbon cables. Connect one ribbon cable into the J3 port on the back of the display and the other into the LCD port on the back of the display.


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  9. Make the connections from J3 on the display to J3 on the motherboard and the same with the LCD. The ports are labled on the motherboard as shown below.


  10. Anet MISO MOSI SCK VCC pins


  11. Now that you connections are made, remove the ribbon cable from the J3 connector on the motherboard and power on the printer.
  12. Connect the USBasp programmer into a USB port on your PC then connect the 6-10 adapter into your motherboard as shown below.


  13. Anet A8 USBasp programmer orientation


    Create a Snapshot (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)


  14. On the supplied USB drive, navigate to the avrdude folder inside of the Software folder (F:\Software\avrdude) and doubleclick on avrdudess.exe as shown below.



  15. Since avrdude is going to take a snapshot, you will need to paste in the folder where this snapshot will be saved. If you try to click on the browse button, avrdude will think you want to select a file and this will not work. The easiest way is to keep the supplied USB drive connected and paste in the path to the MyBackups folder like below.



  16. Now, at the end of the destination path, name your backup and make sure to append the .bin Like below. We named this one your-snapshot-name.bin






  17. Now, make the following selections in blue after you have named your snapshot and click GO as shown in green


  18. A8 backup firmware


  19. Avrdude will complete and show you that it created the snapshot and where it is stored.


  20. Can you save firmware?


    Check the file location that you selected and you will see your snapshot.







Upload Pre-configured Marlin For New Display



  1. While the programmer is still plugged in, navigate to the firmware file called Anet-A8-With-A6-Rotary-BOOTLOADER-Included.hex located in F:\Upgrade-Snapshots on the supplied USB. This time, you can use the browse button as shown below in red. Make all of the selections in blue. Notice that the Write radio button is selected this time.


  2. upload upgraded marlin firmware


  3. Now click the GO button highlighted in green and this will upload your new firmware.
  4. Now remove the USB programmer from the printers J3 port and plug in the ribbon cable that you disconnected.
  5. Done. You now have an updated Anet A6 rotary display.


  6. If for some reason you wanted to revert to your old firmware and install the 5 button display again, use the exact settings above but use the browse button to locate your snapshot (your-snapshot-name.bin) and click GO. It's that easy with the Uptanium USBasp Programmer Kit. Learn more about Snapshots in our Firmware Snapshot guide.



The Not So Easy Way



This way will be considered the manual way. The steps to configure Marlin for the new display will be covered in this section. If you do not have access to the USBasp Programmer Kit, follow these directions.

Steps

  1. Purchase the correct Anet A6 display HERE. or HERE.
  2. Follow steps 3-6 above to install the new screen using the STL file link to print the mount.
  3. Download a copy of Arduino IDE and Install the "Anet V1.0" board in the Arduino boards manager. Instructions here for both.
  4. Download Marlin 1.1.8 HERE. Since the newer 1.1.9 version is too large, (1.1.9 needs many modifications to fit on the Anet A8) 1.1.8 is truly the best option. From the stock Anet A8, 1.1.8 is an upgrade and is certainly preferred over the stock firmware.
  5. Once the folder has been downloaded open it.
  6. Inside the folder, locate the Marlin folder.

  7. A8 LCD rotary screen upgrade

  8. Inside the Marlin folder, open the example_configurations folder.


  9. Inside the example_configurations folder, locate the Anet folder.

  10. Inside the Anet folder, select the A8 folder.

  11. Once inside the A8 folder, copy both files in the folder.
  12. Marlin config.h

  13. Navigate back to the Marlin folder. It should look like below.
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  15. Now paste theConfiguration.h and Configuration_adv.h files into this folder that you copied from step 10. Since you are replacing these two files in this folder with the Anet A8 files, you will need to select "Copy and Replace" as seen below.

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  17. For the next step, you are going to need an advanced text file editor. We recommend using Notepad++.You can download it free HERE. (automatically downloads for Windows).

    Once You have downloaded and installed Notepad++, you will need to navigate back to the Marlin folder and open it. If you are in the right folder, it will look the image below. (This is the same folder that you pasted the configuration files into.

  18. Marlin navigate


  19. Once you are back in the Marlin folder, locate the Configuration.h file. This is one of the files that you copied over to the Marlin folder in previous steps. Right click on Configuration.h and click Edit with Notepad++ as shown below.


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  21. This will open up the Configuration.h file in Notepad++. Press CTRL+F to open the search or find feature and paste in "ZONESTAR_LCD" without the quotes. You should Jump down to approximatley line 1532 and see that "ZONESTAR_LCD" is highlighted in green.

    A8 Search for zonestar

    This is the stock 5 button display that the Anet A8 uses. We will want to comment out (add two forward slashes //) before the text #define ZONESTAR_LCD, Like below. Once you have added the two forward slashes // before the text #define ZONESTAR_LCD, you will see the text turn green indicating that this display is deactivated (ignored by compiler) in the configuration.

  22. Marlin Zonestar LCD A8


  23. Next, you will uncomment or remove the two forward slashes // from the text "#define ANET_FULL_GRAPHICS_LCD" as seen below. This is only a few lines below the #define ZONESTAR_LCD text that was just edited from above.Line 1537 to be exact. You will notice the color of the text change indicating that this will make the new display active for the compiler.


  24. Anet A8 LCD rotary uncomment full graphics


  25. Finally, in Notepad++, select file then save. Then close Notepad++.


  26. Open Marlin save config


  27. Power on the Anet A8 and connect a USB cable from the printer to your PC.


  28. Next, open Arduino IDE that you installed in step 3. Once you have Arduino IDE open, select file then navigate to the Marlin folder again. You should be back in the Marlin folder where you pasted the two files. Select Marlin.ino as shown in blue below then click open. Once the Marlin.ino file is selected, click open.


  29. Marlin select folder


  30. After you have selected the Marlin.ino file, make the following selections in blue. Note - Your COM port may not be 10 as shown below. Just make sure that you have a check mark next to the COM port that shows up.


  31. Arduino upload sketch


  32. Once the selections have been made, it is time to upload the firmware. Click the Upload button as seen below.


  33. Arduino upload sketch button


  34. You will see the firmware start to compile. This will take a few minutes.


  35. Arduino compile progress


  36. If you see the error below, this means one of two things.


  37. BL error


  38. The first reason for seeing the error message is that you are not connected to the printer. You will have to check that the USB is connected and the printer is powered on. If you are certain everything is connected, double check that you have the correct COM port selected in your device manager. Go to device manager and copy or make note of the COM port as seen below. Expand "Ports COM & LPT" to see what port you are connected to. Double check that Arduino IDE has this COM port selected.


  39. COM port in Device manager


  40. The second reason for the error is (if you are certain that you have the correct COM port selected) that your printer does not have a bootloader installed. A bootloader is a snippet of code loaded onto the motherboard to allow communication with Arduino IDE and your PC. If you have discovered you have a missing bootloader, see our Burn Bootloader guide to resolve this issue. Anet have been known to ship their printers without a bootloader!

    Once you have burned a new bootloader, return to this page to complete steps 19-23 to finish the upgrade. Once you burn a bootloader, you will no longer have any firmware on your printer and your screen will be blank. Don't panic though, you are almost there!

    Once your sketch finishes compiling and uploading without error, you should see Arduino IDE complete successfully. Once the compiling is complete and the upload finishes, your new rotary LCD screen will now be active!

    There are no other steps. The screen will just begin to work. If you are not seeing a screen, double check that the grey 10 pin ribbon cables are connected correctly. LCD port on display to LCD port on Anet motherboard and J3 port on display connecting to J3 port on Anet motherboard.

    Also, double check that the 2 configuration files were successfully copied to the correct folder from the above steps. Check that #define ZONESTAR_LCD has the two forward slashes inserted in front of it and the forward slashes are removed from #define ANET_FULL_GRAPHICS_LCD and save the file again. Recompile again and check.

    Anet A8 LCD rotary Guide


    Done!