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Author: Zone77

We are back!

In these months of pandemic and social distancing, we’ve been working hard to bring you some new projects! We will soon release a new CNC controller suitable for all of you who have professional needs.

The test phase is almost over!

We will soon publish all the key features of the new controller, but first let us tell you about a few features, such as the six-axes control at 350Khz per axis simultaneously!

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Repairing and retrofitting an old CNC

This is an example of how we repaired and reconverted an old CNC that belongs to a friend using our CNC4FUN boards.

We will release the updated source codes within the end of 2019, and our little online shop will open at the beginning of 2020, so you’ll finally be able to purchase our board kits!

First laboratory tests with our boards and the new stepper motor drivers.
This is how the inner part of the CNC electronics box looks once our boards and the new drivers have been installed
The cardboard box containing the old pieces we dismantled: notice how much space has been freed up thanks to the new boards.
The electronics box is mounted again inside its CNC lodging.
Another picture of the inside of the electronics box, with the boards and drivers already installed and connected.
The CNC is ready for the function tests: now it’s as good as new!
We also added a feeler to find the Zero point, another of the items we designed and developed.
The manual controller (pendant). We fitted the board inside a special 3D-printed lodging and connected it to the CNC machine.
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The assembly is almost done!

Although the time at our disposal for this project is not much, we are doing our best to assemble the boards and prepare the internal firmware for you, so that we’ll soon be ready to deliver the first batch.

We will keep you updated on the project status. Stay tuned!


The boards are updated to 1.1 version!

Here’s a recap of the situation:

After the first tests, everything seems to be working fine.
As shown in the videos that I posted in the past few weeks, the controller has been functioning properly both in “MILL” and in “LASER” mode.
These tests have given me the chance to check the hardware and think about some improvements I could make to the boards that will be produced.
Here are the results:

Errors I fixed

  1. I corrected the position of 4 out of the 8 mounting holes both on the motherboard and on the expansion board (1mm offset on the X axis)
  2. I corrected the silk screen names “CHARGE PUMP” and “DIGITAL ENA” of the JP3 jumper (expansion board) because they had been swapped by mistake.
  3. I changed the power supply of IC2 (74HC14) to 5 Volts. It was connected at 3.3 Volts by mistake, but should be powered at 5V (otherwise the signals on the LPT would be mixed, some at 3.3V and some at 5V).
Motherboard version 1.1

Improvements and modifications

  1. I added dual footprint for the ESP32 module (900mils and 1000mils) to increase the possibility of using different boards available on the market.
  2. In order to improve safety, I eliminated the DOOR button and inserted a PANIC! button in its place.
  3. I added the DRIVER-ENABLE pin coming from the CPU-ESP32 in order to be able to switch the steppers on and off via software.
  4. I added a PANIC button to disable the stepper motors, the spindle PWM and the spindle ENABLE. For safety reasons, the PANIC button has a higher priority over the software control coming from the ESP-32 DRIVER-ENABLE pin.
  5. I added the direct drive of a small spindle (100/150W) working in PWM.
  6. I added a step-down DC/DC converter in order to unify the power souces (CPU-STEPPER-SPINDLE) if needed. By using a few jumpers, all the power supplies can also be unified in order to use a single power supply unit.
  7. The full kit (motherboard + expansion board) can now work with three different power supplies:
    a) 12Vcc for the motherboard
    b) 12-40V max for the stepper motors
    c) 12-48V max for the spindle working in PWM

The next step will be testing the latest PCB version (1.1). If no other errors are detected, I will then start thinking about producing a first lot of boards.

Stay tuned!

Expansion Card version 1.1
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Test Motherboard + Expansion Card

Today we are testing the complete version of the project (motherboard + expansion card + stepper driver) on my toy CNC. As you can see from the photos, the steppers are directly controlled by the drivers mounted on the expansion card. It seems to work properly!

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How to meet your every need

"Motherboard only" version

This version consists of the motherboard only. Recommended if you are building your own CNC machine from scratch.

"Motherboard + Expansion Card" version

This version includes the motherboard and the expansion board. The latter is required if you want to use the additional I/O lines and the LPT-style connection. Recommended if you wish to convert an old CNC machine from Mach3-LPT style to ESP32-GRBL style.

"Embedded stepper drivers" version

In this case, the expansion board also mounts the stepper drivers, which must be duly cooled with a heat sink. Recommended if you want to build a desktop CNC machine.

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