While 3D printing has revolutionized what type of shapes people can make at home without a huge amount of auxiliary equipment, one thing you always need to keep an eye on is how much filament you have left. Though you can attempt to change filament rolls mid-print, this can be dicey, and means that you can’t just press a button and have your part “pop out” hours later.
In theory, you should be able to calculate how much filament is used on each print, and thus how much is left in your roll. How much filament your machine thinks it uses compared to how much it actually uses, however, may vary — here’s an article about tuning your extruder steps — so the best way to find this info out is to weigh the filament roll.
For this purpose, Tindie seller Balearic Dynamics has come up with the “3D printer filament monitor for arduino,” which comes with rollers and a load sensor. Based on its weight readings, it outputs your filament weight via an Arduino and LCD display. A clever solution that will hopefully mean you never have to make an unplanned splice again!