Making your own powerful Controller on the cheap side

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May just be the lighting, but check this pin to see if it’s a good connection.

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I noticed in the schematic that the step and direction pins of the Arduino are connected to the + DIR and + STEP of the driver. -STEP and -DIR from driver to ground. I believe that the better method is to Power +STEP and +DIR from 5 volts and -STEP -DIR to the corresponding Arduino pin. Put the Arduino in a sinking configuration instead of sourcing.

[quote]“GaryDeaver, post:89, topic:33328”]
Put the Arduino in a sinking configuration instead of sourcing.

Why do you think it makes a difference? Either way the same amount of current flows and the chip has to dissipate the same amount of heat.

It’s really just a personal preference in this situation as the inputs to the controller are opto-isolated so you are just operating through a diode.

Why do you have those switches flipped up!?

I think I’ve done this wrong on mine.

Hey Phil, Savvas is building a GRBL + external drivers (+VFD) controller box at the same time as you. He even uses similar type of panduit ducts.

If you can spare some time, it’s interesting to watch.

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For chassis wiring:

#18 can carry 16 amps
#16 can carry 22 amps
#14 can carry 32 amps
#12 can carry 41 amps
#10 can carry 55 amps

based on American Wire Gauge table and AWG Electrical Current and Load Limits.

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I just (re)read this part of the thread.

In case both Inventables’ and DIY controllers share the same hw (Atmega 328) and same sw (GRBL), the only way for Inventables to lock your DIY controller out of Easel would be by accepting their own init string and not the generic one.

I don’t believe they would do it for 3 reasons:

  • it does not fit their business ethics
  • it would be fairly easy for someone to find the acceptable init string and insert it in their GRBL at compile time (or even load Inventables’ hex)
  • they want people to use Easel cause it’s a strong brand for them (I suspect they paid big for the domain)

The reason they said no (again, a personal assumption) is not because they would sell fewer X-Controllers, but because it would be a nightmare to support. (*)

As an analogy imagine what would happen if Apple unlocked OSX for any x86 hardware.

“Hello, my system doesn’t go to suspend mode”
“Hello, my graphics card 3d acceleration does not seem to function”
“Hello, while booting I noticed that someone had taken a second bite out of the apple”

(*) in case of BYOC(ontroller) . Or extra overhead in terms of logistics in case of a drivers only scenario. They currently support two setups (Gshield and X-Controller) and promote only one: the X-Controller (there’s no Gshield option when ordering a new X-Carve). So while they are shifting from 2 to 1 controllers, you’d be asking them to change their strategy and go from 2 to 3.

The quote Phil made was about the hardware pack, not software.

The point I wanted to make is that if you want the ease of mind of a integrated system with support from one (1) supplier it makes sense to invest more in a proven solution versus trying to figure out where things go wrong. To my opinion for business use it is a must. You do not want to lose a day to figure out where you have a problem you want to run your business.
If you are not very experienced in software and electronics it might be a wise idea to do so too. There are a lot of posts with a good track record of Inventables helping out, remember they too are growing from hobby shop to system integrator.

If building the machine is the hobby it may cost time and money so if it makes you happy to try whatever just do it, learn, enjoy and give us great stories, that is greatly appreciated. If you run into problems the community is here to help you out. But do not blame Inventables if it does not work. Some ideas make it to the next upgrade pack so others can benefit too.

Creating Easel, running it 24/7, upgrading and enhancing the functionality cost a lot of money. There must be a viable business model behind it to assure us continuity. Keeping Easel free of charge will not pay the bill so I expect some changes here. How is up to Inventables.

I would consider this to be chassis wiring. The run is short.

Power distribution is like adding a sub-circuit in your house to run to a utility building (my opinion - I don’t know the exact definition).

BTW - I did add a sub-circuit and my electrician used #6 for a 50 amp circuit which makes the tables I referenced very conservative (table says 37 amps for #6 for power dist.).

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I don’t think there’s any danger of stealing Mr. Johnson’s thunder, but I’ve been working on “sourcing” all of this stuff for a while. Goals were:

  • Self-contained controller box
  • Reasonably portable
  • Keep everything modular

I’m using a RaspPI + Protoneer board as my controller. See my previous posts for Chilipeppr evangelism. I also have a SuperPID.

I’m going to need some cooling… I have fans for that. My wiring might be a fire hazard, and compared to Mr. Johnson’s it’s a bird’s nest. To which I say: You should have seen how it used to be.

The yellow “background” is yellow-tinted casting resin. it gave me a flat surface to mount stuff to while sitting flush with the bottom. So I mounted all that stuff to it, cut the various holes in the box, then popped the whole magilla in the bottom of the box.

It’s fairly portable. I wouldn’t want to carry it through downtown, but I can move it around. The casting resin is a LOT better than I expected. It’s not too brittle or soft, and takes a thread nicely. Replacing components should be a dream.

If anyone’s interested, I can post a couple more pictures when I get home.


Very nicely done, Phil. A work of art in itself.

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Yea, it is a little bit(?) of a letdown. I almost was anticipating a 4D cover (no, that is not a typo :grin:).

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Check the data sheet of the LEDs, it should just be a matter of using the correct resistor.

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You can grab 12vdc off your PC power supply, most LED’s will work around 3 volts DC, use a 1000 ohm resistor on each.

What is their function? Just to indicate presence of the 24 VDC or something else?

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You can put the LEDs in series with the appropriate series resistor as mentioned above. From the data sheet for the LEDs take the forward voltage drop of the LEDs * 2 divided by the current you want to run through the LEDs (current is typically 10 to 20 mA for most LEDs - check the data sheet).


Vf = 2.0 volts
If = 0.010 amps

(24 VDC - (2 LEDs * 2.0 volts) ) / 0.010 amps = 2000 ohms.

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It wouild be really spectacular if the demon’s eyes were connected to the contreoller to flash like the led’s on the g shield on the original controller do when the machine is running…

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I was thinking a motion controller, it would only light up when someone got near it!

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Yep. Hook them up just like that.