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What controller board to choose?

Discussion in 'CNC Mills/Routers' started by Gaccus, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. Gaccus

    Gaccus Well-Known
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    I Have an Ox and a CNC Shield (with individual psu's for all the motors). But I have a hard time finding any good info about software for the Shield. It's also hard to find any info how to connect components to it such as limit-swithces and auto zero point etc. Almost all the tutorials use Mach 3. Is that still the best solution? And what is a good card supporting that?
    Or is grbl now more common and user friendly? I had to put the cnc-machine on ice for almost two years, so I'm totally out of the game at the moment.
     
  2. CNCMD

    CNCMD Veteran
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    Unfortunately you are going to get a wide range of responses. I would think the 1st question for you to answer is what is the expected use of your machine.

    IMO the more you want to add to the machine (multiple probes, coolant control, air control, etc.) the less GRBL is going to suit your needs.

    I started with an XPro CNC controller and used it for about a year, and it was good, but I wasn't happy with the support for GRBL senders. Many are just way too quirky to me. The XPro will need drivers if you are trying to push anything more than the small factor Nema 23's, and even then your not able to give them full power.

    I recently switched to Acron CNC board and I am very happy. There is definitely a cost to enter but you end up with a good product.
    If I was starting from scratch I would buy a Gecko 540 that puts out 4A per channel (4 axis). This is be enough to power High Torque Nema's. It also has a parallel out that hooks directly to the Acorn.

    Again, really depends on your desired use of the machine. Inventables X Controller is nice too.
     
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  3. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    If you have the real Protoneer CNC shield, here is a place to start Arduino CNC Shield – 100% GRBL Compatable. He started with an open source design, but the Chinese made cheap clones. So, he did not put out the V3.1 files. Therefore, if you went with a clone, you have the older version that was designed for GRBL 0.8 and earlier. Read here about the differences in GRBL versions gnea/grbl . In fact read (and re-read) the entire Wiki. It will answer most GRBL related questions.

    I use a genuine Arduino board and DQ542MA drivers to handle my larger stepper motors. The small drivers used on the CNC shields and in some all in one boards are not adequate in my opinion. I had trouble on long runs with a CNC shield and DRV8825 drivers. Other people have had great luck. But, that may be because my machine is larger and heavier, therefore requiring more amperage.
     
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  4. Gaccus

    Gaccus Well-Known
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    Thank you for the respond.
    I do have the cheap Shield clone, which now seems really outdated.
    I do have TB6600 4A stepper drivers for the motors, so I got the power. The Acorn looks ok. But does it only support its own Acorn program? How is the community around that? Good tutorials around?
    I will pay the price for for a Acorn or other boards if necessary.
    But the Shield's price is tempting. I see the genuine support grbl 0.9, but 1.1 is out now. Will it support that or do I need to buy an updated one? I also see they sell a Raspberry Pi hat. That is 1.1 compatible. Is that the thing to go for now instead of the Shield? I have a couple of Pi's laying around :)
    And how is GUI for grbl. Last time I tried it was very basic. If I have to use a terminal to use it's full potential, it's not for me I'm afraid.
     
  5. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    I can't speak for usina Rpi or Acorn. I used GRBL panel and liked it, but in the last few months, I switched to Estlcam and love it. I do not believe it works with Linux . I use a really old small laptop (11 inch screen) using Windows 7. It works great. I love the probing function and the ability to engrave on curved surfaces. It works with Arduino and many other types of controllers.
     
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  6. Anthony Bolgar

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    I have an estlecam license and I love it. I used an arduino mega with it to have the ability to use the pendant controller he developed for estlecam that has a jog wheel on it as well as real time feed and speed controls. It is free to use if you are willing to wait 6 seconds after saving a toolpath, but the license is around $60, well worth it and it enables him to keep developing the software.
     
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  7. Gaccus

    Gaccus Well-Known
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    Estlecam looks like everything I need.
    It seems like the Arduino road is now a good one and going for that. What board are people using and is there a big community for that particular board? Is it he Arduino Mega?
     
  8. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    I just use a genuine Arduino board. You can buy a cloned version from China, but for a few dollars more, I knew I would not have issues. I use an Xbox controller to jog my CNC around. I may look into the pendant. Being able to increase/decrease speed during a cut sounds like a nice upgrade.
     
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  9. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso OpenBuilds Team
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    I agree, get a real Arduino either a Uno or Mega, then get a screw shield off ebay for it (makes connecting wires easy).
    Then get 4 drivers, I recommend 542 type drivers, the ones Openbuilds sells are great.

    I've been using Estlcam and love it, does everything I need including probing, tool changes, spindle control.. I use an X-box controller for a pendant.
    As a bonus High speed type milling (trochoidal and "peel" pockets) is the easiest to setup I've seen.
    This weekend I've been using TinkerCad to make .stl files, and Estlcam can use them to 3d mill my sons CO2 car project, blew my sons mind when we went from a drawing to 3D milling so easy.
    I will do a quick guide on how we did this soon.
    Cheers
    Gary
     
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  10. Gaccus

    Gaccus Well-Known
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    I'll go for the Mega. It's available in my country for about $50, so wont break the bank. That screw shield is a good tip. Thank you all for all your help. I'm sure I'll be back when I start trying to get this thing to work :D
     
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  11. Gary Caruso

    Gary Caruso OpenBuilds Team
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    I always forget how much mega's go for, when I can get an Uno for $16 and a Mega clone for $8.
    Let us know if you need help setting up Estlcam with the Mega.
    Cheers
    Gary
     
  12. Giarc

    Giarc Master
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    Gary, I can't wait to see that tutorial!
     
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  13. Troy Proffitt

    Troy Proffitt Veteran
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    I use the Protoneer CNC PI3 hat from here: Raspberry Pi CNC Hat V2.60 - GRBL v1.1 Compatible - Extra Options | eBay

    Then I connect the Pi3 to my tablet via VNC viewer (free) so it's all wireless. I don't need a pendant since I just use the touchpad on my tablet to move the spindle around. It's a super clean / easy setup. I use BCNC (which is installed on the Pi3 to run my GCODE and use Estlcam to create the GCODE.
    Here is a video of running my CNC from my android tablet :
     
  14. gstprecision

    gstprecision Well-Known
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    @Troy Proffitt that is pretty much the same set up as mine. I did not think of using a tablet to run it. I remotely connect using remote desktop from my office laptop to upload or set up the RPI.
     

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