Links:

the prusa i3 on ebay

Cura 3d slicing and printing gcode software

Marlin firmware for "real" arduinos on Github

I purchased my 3d printer new from the USA for exactly $155.   That is $50 less than a single DUM headphone cable from MrSpeakers.  It did not work until much duct tape had been applied and zip ties zipped and jigs rigged, but overall it wasn't that bad.  Now that I'm up and running, there are a few things to note:

  1. It can barely heat PLA (at 180 c), so forget about ABS.  I have a hunch this may have something to do with the wimpy PSU it came with.  I just so happen to have a full size version of the same PSU, rated at 30 amps @ 12 volts- someday I will try swapping that one in and see If I can get more temperature.  The firmware has ABS settings, it just will never reach the 225 degrees called for.
  2. The firmware is very firmly stuck in the arduino.  I spent hours upon hours trying to flash this arduino with a custom Marlin software, as I have been taught from my MPCNC project, to no avail.  The best thing to do is do all the tweaks in Cura, load the resulting gcode into a sd card, and run the printer off that.  The USB was getting wonky on me (I can't remember exactly what it was doing, it just wasn't the right thing). plus with the sd card you can put the printer wherever you want.
  3. The build quality... there is no quality.  be prepared to make up the assembly and troubleshooting as you go.
  4. "heated" bed- the bed game is rather weak.  things sometimes stick, but usually don't.  I learned the best way to get prints to stick is with washable glue sticks.  Long story short (and many prints that skittered off the bed before they were done), I need gluesticks.

Once I procure some glue sticks, I'll be printing out my "real" machine.  MPCNC, Here we come!