Minimal laptop to run a Mini w/Cura?

I’m coming to the conclusion that the laptop we have hooked up to the school’s Mini may be just too ancient/slow/unreliable to run their Mini and Cura software. I’m debating getting them a newer inexpensive laptop. Even the lowest end (+/-$200) models out there are quite a leap up from what they are using now.

Can anyone tell me if an Intel Celeron processor (entry-level, dual core) running windows 10 is enough to run this reliably? I can find one of these pretty cheap - around $200, with a decent size hard drive and 4 GB RAM. Should we be looking at an even bigger step up than that? It won’t be used for much else. They do their design work in TinkerCad, mainly on ChromeBooks, then access the saved files over the network and load into Cura on the laptop connected to the Mini.

[Edit] Another thought: we do have an old USB camera. It might be nice if the laptop could also handle running that for some time-lapse photos of the print in progress, or perhaps for live monitoring of the print. Is either of those going to add much of a load, requiring a better laptop? We could live without the live remote monitoring. There is usually no shortage of kids watching it print.

We may also be looking for an inexpensive UPS. We don’t need something fancy, and we’re not trying to make it through long power outages, just something to get us through the occasional flicker.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A Celeron is going to be a 32 bit processor usually, so you may be stuck at 4gb ram, otherwise I would say you would want to quadruple at least for design work in 3d. See if you can find a $200 used Dell Latitude e6530 out there with a docking station (get the one with the Nvidia video card if you can find one). Also make sure the power settings are set to “high performance” (the default is balanced), usb selective suspend is disabled while on wall power under the advanced power option settings for the “high performance” plan, and the mini is plugged directly into the laptop with no usb hub in between it and the laptop.

Save money & headaches and get a Raspberry Pi 2 and Octoprint. You can then just upload your models’ G-code sliced in Cura or use the the version of Cura that come with Octoprint. Octoprint is free and a fully loaded Pi2 runs about $65-75 on Amazon.

Any decent old laptop or computer should be able to run cura fine in my opinion, but i suppose the bigger the STL and the bigger the item takes up space on the bed will make the computer more sluggish as cura in some ways is like a CAD program in that sense. A 64bit capable system and OS is what i recommend. But no need to go for a windows machine if all you are using is Tinkercad and Cura. Save some money and install Ubuntu Linux. It’s what i use most if the time. Windows in my case is only required for Solidworks 3D modeling which is a Windows only program.

I second the thought of looking into Raspberry Pi 3 and Octoprint for just the printing and webcam as that may be another option you should consider.

+1 for RPi and OctoPrint… Been running this flawlessly on my Mini for months…

I was thinking windows, since that and the ChromeBooks are the only things that the school’s IT people will support. On the other hand, they haven’t been much help up to this point, so maybe it doesn’t matter if they don’t support it.

I’m not at all familiar with RPi - I’d like to disrupt the class work flow as little as possible with this change. If they are running Cura on it, can it be used to “find” an STL file on one of their network drives (or a Google Drive) and load the file into Cura without resorting to “sneaker net” to deliver a thumb drive or SD card?

It’s even easier than that… I’ve Google’d a image to give you an idea, but once setup, you can simply access Octoprint from a web browser on any machine on the network, go search for a print (STL or GCO) file and print it. If you select a STL, it will slice and dice it for you. Really easy to use. There are also many videos on how to setup the RPI. It requires a bit of tech knowledge but they walk you through every step… All for < $50. Heck, you can even set it up to access it remotely. You can also setup a webcam to monitor prints - but that may be more than you need. Point is it is a great, small cost-effective solution with lots of options.

Another huge vote for OctoPrint and Raspberry Pi.

I’m running an RPi 3 and the UI is super responsive and all the uploads get processed very quickly. I also have a webcam hooked up and the timelapses get created very quickly.

Check to see if the school IT people will give you a static IP to use for the Octopi machine, then you can just set it up and maintain it yourself with nothing else on their end.

Another vote for the RP3 and Octoprint. You can get a small 7" touch screen for the Pi and run standalone… (c8

Best regards,

+1 for Raspberry Pi and Astroprint!

Any recommendations for good instructions or how-to videos for putting an RP on the Mini? I want to start looking into this option in more detail.

Not sure what parts you’re looking at, but what I did was pretty easy. I printed this case setup…

Then put the Pi in there and screwed it to the Mini with some random small screws I had around. Then mounted the camera holder the same way.

For the software, you download an SD card image you write to the card with a direct image writer. There are a bunch out there, Linux and OSX users can use “dd”, but be careful with it. I believe there are some easy to use image writers out there now. The install directions for OctoPi or Astroprint should include links to what you need. I use OctoPi, mostly just because I found it first. I just drag and drop gcode files over to the web interface. Simple to use, and the live camera feed is great for checking on jobs.

Here ya go… everything you need to get started in one video:

I think it is worth trying to buy SAMSUNG NP355V5C-A01UB it should suffice for this purpose

We’re moving ahead with a Raspberry Pi 3 and OctoPrint. I’ve had the Pi/OctoPrint up and running on my home network, but without the Mini attached, so testing has been limited. I’m headed over to the school later today to test it out with the class.

The one question left in my mind is whether their ChromeBooks will be able to find it just by typing octopi.local, or will they have to type in an IP address. If it’s the latter, I’m not looking forward to convincing the district IT guy to set up the Pi with a static IP. He’s swamped. As far as I’ve been able to determine, ChromeBooks do not have Bonjour or similar installed that would allow just typing octopi.local (but then I’m about as far from a ChromeBook expert as you can get).