@Michael_Westbay_West A couple of years ago, I bought a cheap clone i3 kit with the same idea of learning by fixing what ailed it, and that was a success. This is mostly better so far.
I insulated the heat bed with R6.7 fiberglass backed with three layers of aluminum foil and taped to the sides of the bed brackets with aluminum tape, and with that I was able to heat the bed with the provided polycarbonate sheet to 65⁰ in just under 20 minutes. I plan to supplement the polycarbonate sheet with 330x330 glass sheets at least for printing PLA. (I noticed that here in the USA, store employees only seem to be able to cut glass in good ol’ imperial inches, but fortunately 330mm is 13 inches within their limit of accuracy so I don’t have to confuse them with this new-fangled metric system…)
The axes as labeled now matched the firmware, and by being sure to connect the LCD ribbon cables right, the LCD worked fine. I was able to use that to print from the LCD.
I ordered corner braces at the same time as the printer, but they are on the slow boat. I have the M5 t-nuts and screws for attaching them when they arrive, though. I definitely want to stiffen the frame.
I’d like to do something different from the mega gantry plates. I was hoping that one of the milled plates from the open hardware parts store would work, but it doesn’t look like it. But the idea of an aluminum plate instead of acrylic is attractive. Clearly, I need to buy a CNC router!
After I bought the i3 clone, I had intended to build a dual-extruder corexy from scratch and started by buying a replicape and beaglebone to run it, but ran short on available time. I expect to switch to using the replicape to print, probably before I convert to a dual extruder.
I already bought a 20A 24V power supply. If 24V cooks the control board, that will accelerate my path to using the replicape! But I’ve heard that it will work.
For cooling, I’ve been thinking of remote cooling using a vacuum pump (hooked up in reverse) and soft silicon tubing, removing all fan mass from the print head. If I do go dual extruders—and I almost certainly will—then offsetting the new mass on the head sounds like a good idea. And it will allow better cooling without impinging on X or Y axes.
I already put Marlin 1.1.8 on my i3 clone, so going back to 1.1.7 for the x5s feels backwards. Also, the way the knob works feels backwards to me too. So I expect to build new firmware for it soon.
Like you, I have spent my life in software and am enjoying tinkering.