Scott and I had our first RepRap session this evening. First off, we made sure the extruder was connected up correctly. When James and I were building Kurzweil a year ago, we lost the "12 Way Connector" that came with our BfB kit. We fudged a solution to get the extruder connected, but it's fragile, and got messed up during transportation across campus for the end-of-year poster session a month ago. Printing a new 12-way connector is an excellent candidate for a future project.
Once we were sure the extruder was connected properly, we performed the tedious but necessary rituals of bed-leveling and z-axis-setting (thus further fueling my desire for one of those well-constrained Mendels...).
We started noticing problems while printing the test rafts. The extruder was clicking, and I could see the filament jumping back, so I released the pressure bearings a bit. I may have gone too far, because the flow from the extruder became pretty feeble, so I tightened them back up half as much as I loosened them. That seemed to make the extruder run more smoothly but the flow was still pretty weak resulting in this test raft:
I think the problem is either in the tension of the pressure bearings, or some kind of clogging in the nozzle or the insulator, which, if you were wondering, looks like this:
I know that the bulge is a problem others have run into. The Bfb kit called for us to cut off a ring of the nozzle to restrain the insulator, but we didn't have the tools to do that and Ian at BfB assured us we'd be fine without it... I'll look around for solutions but if anyone reading this has a take on the situation I'd really appreciate the input.