Welcome to Our Community

Unlock hidden features. Sign Up for Free Today!

OpenBuilds APEX Controller

Discussion in 'Controller Boards' started by Mark Carew, May 4, 2017.

  1. MaryD

    MaryD OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    351
    APEX Preview.png
    SPECS: Coming Soon...
    BACKGROUND:
    It is no secret that the OpenBuilds team has been working really hard over the past couple of years on a brand new, high end professional-grade CNC controller for the open source community. This collaborative project between Peter van der Walt and Mark Carew has spawned one of the most innovative designs ever seen in the CNC world. Expect this to become the Industry Standard!

    Recognizing that electronics are usually one of the more challenging parts of a DIY machine build, we knew that this new controller needed to be easy to use. The drivers plug right into the control module – no wiring necessary! This ultimate design is plug and play yet totally hackable.

    The CNC controller was built to be a robust system that could move from machine to machine throughout the workshop without having to rework the entire electronics structure.

    So much more has gone into the design of this ground breaking new system that we can’t list here (yet)


     
    #1 MaryD, May 4, 2017
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
    sooimon, Newf, Hal Jackson and 8 others like this.
  2. Rick 2.0

    Rick 2.0 OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,290
    Likes Received:
    518
    Looks great. Can't wait to see it in action. :thumbsup:
     
    Mark Carew and MaryD like this.
  3. mytechno3d

    mytechno3d Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2013
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    152
    I can 't wait to see it in action with my plasma
     
    MaryD likes this.
  4. SBLabs

    SBLabs Journeyman
    Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2016
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    38
    Super excited this will run on smoothieware! We've been looking for something better than our current MKS SBASE board and can't wait for this!
     
    MaryD likes this.
  5. Adam Filipowicz

    Adam Filipowicz Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2014
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    42
    Cant wait. How close is this to actually being sold?

    1-2months, 1 year?
     
    CiaraB and SBLabs like this.
  6. mcbuilder22

    mcbuilder22 Journeyman
    Builder

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2015
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    7
    I'd like to get my hands on one of these for my C-beam "2XL" machine. Good work
     
  7. Rob Mitchell

    Rob Mitchell Journeyman
    Builder

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2015
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    16
  8. GinoTheCop

    GinoTheCop Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2016
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    141
    I can't wait to see it in action and what it is going to be capable of..

    Looks really so great and so promising too...
     
    MaryD likes this.
  9. CiaraB

    CiaraB OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2016
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    5
    Hello Adam. Great question!

    We are very excited to launch our new APEX Control System as soon as possible. ;)
    We expect this awesome new product to be available in several weeks (no ETA at this time) on the OpenBuilds Part Store!

    Be sure to keep an eye out!
     
    Adam Filipowicz likes this.
  10. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    May 19, 2016
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    52
    So, is this ARM GRBL that Sonny has been working on? would make sense with the possibility of 6 drivers! is there an HDMI on the other side?

    Or a Smoothie type, looking at the layout can see it's more smoothieboard (Cortex) looking than ARM?
     
    #10 Gary Caruso, May 5, 2017
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  11. Mark Carew

    Mark Carew OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Resident Builder Project Maker Builder

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Messages:
    1,888
    Likes Received:
    994
    Hey guys, we really want to hold off on announcing (promising) any specs at this point in time until we have completed final version prototypes we are satisfied with, as you know so much can change in the development process.. We have a write up that is ready to be shared listing all the specs of the APEX and will release at the time of finalization. Thanks for understanding :thumbsup:
     
  12. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    May 19, 2016
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    52
    Totally understandable Mark, looking forward to the announcement :)
     
    Mark Carew likes this.
  13. Mark Carew

    Mark Carew OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Resident Builder Project Maker Builder

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Messages:
    1,888
    Likes Received:
    994
    Thanks brother, same here! Its really going to be a great CNC controller and everything we all have always wanted in one :thumbsup:
     
    Paul Stoller and SBLabs like this.
  14. GinoTheCop

    GinoTheCop Master
    Builder

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2016
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    141
    Fingers crossed..
     
    Mark Carew likes this.
  15. Rick_Brade

    Rick_Brade Well-Known
    Builder

    Joined:
    May 16, 2014
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    3
    Feature request:
    I would pay extra for a controller design that I could simply unplug from my CNC lathe and plug into my CNC Plasma, or any other CNC based project. Ideally, I would love a system where I could just leave the stepper motors attached to the machines, but have a plug to attach for the steppers on each axis, and another plug for the limit switches. Each machine would have it's own profile in my CNC software.

    All things being equal, I would rather spend more money on a top-of-the-line controller that has all of the bells and whistles that moves from machine to machine (with my PC) than to buy multiple controllers that skimp on the features for every individual machine.

    I realize that not everyone would be interested in a feature like this, but I'd be completely satisfied with an optional add-on module that bolts to the side of the controller that includes the "quick disconnect" plugs I described. I'm envisioning something like this:

    [​IMG]

    It would be especially cool to have 110v AC outlets for powering things like routers, but that might be asking for too much for the built-in power supply.

    Anyway, It's really a shame that there's not an industry standard for these types of plugs and cables because I think it would be much easier for beginners if they could just plug in cables and not have to make so many confusing connections.
     
  16. Karl Miller

    Builder

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would second a couple of @Rick_Brade suggestions :
    * A/C outlets for vacuum, air compressor, spindle, vfd, mister
    * standardized quick connectors for servos and limit sensors
     
  17. Karl Miller

    Builder

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Regarding the stepper motor drivers, are you designing toward a specific category of driver? Assume l am completely ignorant about options there - I have seen A/C and DC types, and two-phase, etc.
    I ask because your video talks about snapping them underneath the apex board, but I wasn't aware the layout of the green terminal connectors had a standard layout. I would also like to start looking at options in anticipation of buying an Apex box.
    I don't need full specs. :)
     
  18. stargeezer

    stargeezer Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2015
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    77
    Hi Mark, totally understand the delay and I too want to get my name on the list for the first release. Also, is the board going to be available separately from the Apex control box?
     
    Mark Carew likes this.
  19. Mark Carew

    Mark Carew OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Resident Builder Project Maker Builder

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Messages:
    1,888
    Likes Received:
    994
    This is exactly the thought we had with the APEX Rick. Its always been on my wishlist. OpenBuilds has such a nice modular building system so it would be great to move the controller to each machine in the shop (One of the reasons I want to add handles to the top of mine ;) ) and able to instantly load the profiles in the software. We hope we are able to accomplish this mission.
    We agree, and to be honest in testing and design we went through so many ideas back and forth for the best way to make these connections. What we found is that when you are using a modular system your best bet is to use the simple screw down plug ins because they are so configurable on set up and wire length for different machines and you can leave the plugs in place for all the machines and plug the APEX into them as you need the machine.
    Right now we are designing for the DQ542MA drivers they are robust nice divers that perform well for all the machines in our motor range.
    Yes we will have everything as a separate option so that you can build up the system you like, with the components you choose.
    Thanks to all you guys for all the interest and support for the APEX controller! We can't wait to get these in your hands to see what you can do with them.
    Mark
     
    silopolis, stargeezer and Kyo like this.
  20. Kyo

    Kyo Master
    Staff Member Resident Builder Builder

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Messages:
    570
    Likes Received:
    482
    This is Awesome, Very nice job Peter and OB team. This is going to lower the entry point for so many new builders who are intimidated by the wiring aspect of a build.. I look forward to hooking a Apex controller up to my original C-beam plate maker machine. :thumbsup: If you need any more beta testers just let me know :D
     
    #20 Kyo, May 8, 2017
    Last edited: May 8, 2017
    Paul Stoller, MaryD and stargeezer like this.
  21. stargeezer

    stargeezer Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2015
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    77
    Right on Kyo!

    Oh yeah, I want on that list too!

    I've got more than one machine I'd like to try this on! I've also been wanting to build a dedicated plate maker. Not just a OX copy, a lot sturdier than a typical small ox would be, and much stronger.
     
    Paul Stoller, Kyo and MaryD like this.
  22. Karl Miller

    Builder

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2014
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    How can I get on the pre-order, or beta tester list? i. e. could you please put me on it?
    Thank you
     
  23. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Resident Builder Project Maker Contest Winner! Builder

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    31
    Hi all! Some quick replies to the questions above :)

    Gary Caruso:
    "So, is this ARM GRBL that Sonny has been working on? would make sense with the possibility of 6 drivers! is there an HDMI on the other side? Or a Smoothie type, looking at the layout can see it's more smoothieboard (Cortex) looking than ARM?"

    At this time the ARM port of Grbl (Which will be called Gnea) is not far along enough yet.
    This controller is based around the LPC1769, and therefore can run Grbl-LPC 1.1 (for 3 Axis CNC/Laser applications) or Smoothieware (For 3/4/5/6 axes CNC/Laser application, or 3D printing)

    Rick Brade:
    "I realize that not everyone would be interested in a feature like this, but I'd be completely satisfied with an optional add-on module that bolts to the side of the controller"

    We have a host of expansion planned and built in. For example Unused stepper driver bays can be repurposed for expansion modules, and additional GPIO are made available inside the enclosure
    The goal here is to find a fine balance between not limiting an experienced user from extending their use, but also to ship, right of the box, with all the modularity available without any extra skill. Therefore we spent the last two years extensively playing pros and cons, and after a long process think that what we have built in should suit almost any machine imaginable without needing any hacking.... The exiting part is the machines you guys are still going to dream up, that needs that available expansion capacity (;

    Rick Brade:
    "It would be especially cool to have 110v AC outlets for powering things like routers"
    - This was considered, but, defaulting to a mains output is limited in terms of the "modular" nature of the controller. Instead there is an onboard SPDT relay, with its switch terminals exposed on easy-disconnect terminals. Should you wish to control a mains powered router for example, you can either splice your Live wire, into the NO poles of the relay, or use the relay to switch a larger external SSR. Just one example of course - the use of a generic Relay means that its not limited to turning a router on. It could switch AC or DC, using the NC terminal to break circuits, or the NO terminal to close the trigger on plasma torch. The possibilities become a lot wider than simply powering a load at will

    Rick Brade:
    "It's really a shame that there's not an industry standard for these types of plugs and cables"
    - That's why OpenBuilds decided to tackle this head on and invent the future!

    Karl Miller:
    "Regarding the stepper motor drivers, are you designing toward a specific category of driver?"
    - Yes, as OpenBuilds has spent considerable time finding and evaluating drivers and motor combinations that already work really well together, the as-shipped complete Apex will fit our DQ542MA drivers, as they suit the motors OpenBuilds stocks really really well.
    However, the option exists, to install push-on screw terminals onto the headers inside the chassis, and extend the signals to your own drivers. You still benefit from the additional Buffer circuitry included on the Apex board! (Yes, it is not just sending the unbuffered 3.3v signal from the micro-controller directly to the drivers, we actually included a whole 3.3v-5v high speed buffer interface to provide clean, fast, signals to the stepper drivers)
     
  24. stargeezer

    stargeezer Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2015
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    77

    Hi Peter,
    This board sounds awesome, I can't wait to get my hands on one. The one passage you included above caused me to pause just a little but I'm sure it is something I didn't understand. I've been using electronic proximity switches for limit switches. They become completely unreliable below 4vdc and exhibit questionable reliability below 5vdc. Would this be a concern or just require an independent 5-36vdc power supply to meet the needs of these switches?

    Thanks so much.
     
  25. Peter Van Der Walt

    Peter Van Der Walt OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Resident Builder Project Maker Contest Winner! Builder

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    31
    @stargeezer that refered the Output IO for the step drivers. Endstop and probe connectors have 24v power supply and open collector IO protected against high voltages.... Because no-one gets between me and my SN-04s either!
     
  26. Smily0

    Smily0 New
    Builder

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have nothing constructive to add, other than I'm excited to see the options. I'm in the design stage of my first build and have not been able to select a controller yet. Thankfully I'm a little ways out from needing to buy one, so this could be a perfectly suitable choice.
     
  27. Sonny Lowe

    Sonny Lowe Veteran
    Staff Member Resident Builder Project Maker Builder

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2015
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    59
    I have only one wish/request, I'd love to be able to run a Mach3 Style Pendant with this controller. Although I make all my setup adjustments on my mini mill manually (love those OB jog knobs), this would be great for something like the C-Beam Machine XLarge (which I see in my near future :D), since you can end up pretty far away from your laptop or tablet of choice. They also offer the Pedants in wireless versions :cool:

    Sonny
     
    #27 Sonny Lowe, May 9, 2017
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  28. Adam Filipowicz

    Adam Filipowicz Veteran
    Builder

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2014
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    42
  29. Lee Whiteley

    Lee Whiteley Well-Known
    Builder

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2014
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is going to be exciting for myself. I've not ever used the type of driver boards a lot of folks are using here. I've been focused strictly on Mach3 and using older computers to put it all together. It's been rewarding though I must say. At this point I have a machine that I can machine a 4'x8' plywood panel. It's a very capable machine.

    I'm now ready to explore the creations that people have put together and also start to learn what an Arduino board is.

    Could someone recommend where I could go to start an education on the Arduino boards?

    Thanks for a great site!!

    Lee
     
  30. David the swarfer

    David the swarfer OpenBuilds Team
    Staff Member Moderator Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    306
    well, the pendant is USB, so surely that should plug into the PC and the GUI handles communication with it?
    so, buy one for your favorite GUI developer and it will get integrated (-:
     

Share This Page

  • About Us

    The OpenBuilds Team is dedicated helping you to Dream it - Build it - Share it! Collaborate on our forums and be sure to visit the Part Store for all your Building needs!
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Support Open Source FairShare Program!

    OpenBuilds FairShare Give Back Program provide resources to Open Source projects, developers and schools around the world. Invest in your future by helping others develop theirs!

    Donate to FairShare!