Thing-O-Matic / MK5 Extruder: Thermal Switch Block

Thermal Switch Block on Thermal Riser
Thermal Switch Block on Thermal Riser

The best place to mount a thermal switch (or a thermal sensor, depending on how much you trust your circuitry) is on the MK5 Thermal Core, but that’s far too hot for the switches I have in hand. As a compromise, I decided to mount the switch on the Thermal Riser tube leading vertically upward to the Filament Drive gear: good thermal contact, a solid mount, and out of harm’s way.

All the alternative locations seem worse. Tucking it inside the insulation wrap doesn’t provide a solid mechanical mount, so you don’t get a repeatable position and the leads get bent every time you move something. Bolting it to the plate over the Core looks solid, but that’s just a flat sheet of metal with four screws connecting it to the Core: no real thermal contact surrounded by lots of cooling air.

One good omen: with an operating temperature well under 100 °C, JB Industro Weld epoxy will work fine and eliminate any need for fussy clamps and fittings.

So I sawed off a random chunk of aluminum plate, squared it up in the Sherline mill, and poked a few holes in it. This doodle has dimensions roughly equivalent to the final object, but absolutely nothing is critical other than the 5/16 inch central hole:

Switch block sketch
Switch block sketch

The 4-40 setscrew secures the block to the Thermal Riser. Aluminum expands considerably more than stainless steel, so I dropped a snippet of PTFE wire insulation into the hole as a rubberdraulic plunger.

The lug on the top provides strain relief for the wires; it’s not an electrical connection. The modular phone cable trailing off to the Thermal Cutout box has wires insulated with low-temperature plastic, so a few inches of Teflon hookup wire keep them out of the Danger Zone.

The small hole is just big enough for a thermocouple bead.

This is what the thing eventually looked like, but I made some measurements before sticking that switch in place:

Themal Switches - prepped and mounted
Themal Switches - prepped and mounted

Up next: measurements!