Stand alone screen

Hello, I have been using my X-carve now for a few weeks. I have the G code sender in Easel, and am using V-Carve to export the G code. I also just bought three 3d printers. So my question to all the experts ( I am not by any means, new to all this “code” stuff) is this, is there a stand alone screen that I can mount next to the X-Carve that I put an SD card in and send the G-Code that way? The screens that I use on my 3D printers allow for this, I can home the 3d printer and everything this way, then push print and the code starts for the print. the screens I bought were an upgrade through another company and it plugs into the Ardreno (or how ever its spelled) and mounts to the outside of the printer. Is there a hack or anything out there that you guys know of for this? I have searched with no results. Thank you!


There are a few projects out there that do this, to the best of my knowledge, they all require a second Arduino to manage the SD card.
Here’s one on the Shapeoko forum.

I kind of understand what’s going on… can someone explain to me the flow of data? what I mean is what do the Ardurino and the GRBL do, or is this the wrong place to ask that? the screen I have has an SD card reader on it.

The Arduino running grlb takes the generated gcode (from Easel for example), and generates appropriate step/direction pulses for the XYand Z stepper drivers.
There’s no capacity left in the Arduino UNO to drive an SD card and/or screen, that’s why the solutions you can find use a second Arduino.

okay, so if I have this right?

the usb cable is plugged into the Ardurino and the GRBL is basically a program loaded on the Ardurino that gets is G code from the usb cable (computer) and then the Ardurino talks to the gShield which is what sends the signal to the stepper motors and such to actually make it all work. so I would need to find a way to get the G code to the Ardurino without a computer… am I understanding this correctly? an the second Ardurino would go in front of the one attached to the gShield.

so a flow would go like this?

screen wit SD card;
new Ardurino;
X-controller Ardurino;
stuff cuts…

I guess the issue would be homing the machine? but I think I can get the reprap smart controller flashed to do this

and when Easel is sending the code is it sending the actual G code I sent it from V-Carve or is it changing it?

is a windows touch screen tablet an option?

regards Neal

I have thought about that. It would make it a lot easier and keep my computer where it belongs, not next to a router table. I was afraid to use a longer or USB extension to keep the computer where it originally was.

I’ve been pretty happy with the Raspberry Pi / grblweb setup. If you’re interested, you can find info in some of my earlier posts; there’s also a good Instructable that someone wrote up which was the basis for my setup. In a nutshell:

  • The Raspberry Pi is the credit-card sized, inexpensive “computer” that is in my shop, connected to the X-Carve via USB, and connected to my home network via Ethernet (could also be WiFi),

  • It runs a small webserver (grblweb) which sends gcode to the X-Carve, and serves up a webpage that allows me to jog the machine, set the workspace origin, and send a gcode file.

My workflow goes like this:

  1. Do the CAD / CAM work in my office on an iMac (right now I am getting hooked on Fusion 360) , generate and save the gcode file to my hard drive,

  2. Copy the gcode file to my tablet (I use a Samsung, could be any Android, Windows tablet, or iPad would work, even a smartphone),

  3. Walk down to the shop with my tablet,

  4. Access the grblweb webpage with the tablet’s browser, setup the X-carve, send the gcode, and start the carve.

So, my tablet serves as the “stand-alone screen” for the X-Carve.

The upside is that I keep my expensive computer out of my dusty workshop.

The downside is that, if I need to make a minor tweak to my gcode, I need to walk back upstairs to my office to edit the gcode, and repeat steps 2 - 4. It also can be a bit cumbersome to use the grblweb page without a real keyboard, but it’s not terrible …

George - can i ask - do you have to run the code generated from Fusion360 through any sort of post-processor (or pre-procressing when in gbrlweb) before you can start the job on the XCarve?

Or put another way - is the code generated by Fusion (assuming you select gbrl in the output options) good enough to run without further editing on the Xcarve?

Many thanks

Once I get my Xcarve up and running, one of my first “upgrades” will be to set up one of my devices (Beaglebone Black, or Raspberry Pi) as a controller with an LCD screen and a few buttons for navigation.

The idea is to plug in a thumb drive with Gcode, have the software access the gcode folder, then select the one I want and run it.

The problem with using an SD card with the RPi is that there is no onboard flash memory, so the built in SD slot is used for the OS. Beaglebone black has onboard flash for the OS, and can use the SD for extra storage…so that would be an option.

Controlling a CNC shield through an arduino loaded with GRBL with this setup is fairly straightforward. In fact, if you check the protoneer site, they have a cnc shield built for the Raspberry Pi.

@JayPeeEss, Apparently folks have had an issue in the past generating gcode using Fusion 360 with the generic grbl post processor they provide. The issue was related to the Z-axis not being moved up to the safe clearance height at the start of the job.

To get around this, I found that someone had written a custom post processor for the Shapeoko that handles this: . It seems to fix the problem.

Full disclosure: I’ve been doing a number of upgrades to my X-carve (re-wiring for the X-controller, X-axis stiffening, dust shields, etc.) and haven’t gotten around to actually carving the simple parts I’ve designed in Fusion 360. But I’ve inspected the gcode file that it generated with the Shapeoko post processor from the link above and it looks fine.

I’ve also made a copy of it and am making some minor modifications to handle the M8 (flood) command, which I’m planning on using to turn on my dust collector.

Long story short: Fusion 360 provides the flexibility to customize the post processor to your needs …

@BradT, when I first went down the Raspberry Pi path I had your same plan in mind. Since the Pi boots off an SD card (and there’s no other SD slot), I got a couple of USB flash drives, thinking I’d store my gcode on a flash drive and then just plug it in to the Pi.

But I discovered that grblweb allows you to upload the gcode file from the client device to the Pi. So, there wasn’t any need for external storage on the Pi.

My tablet does happen to have an SD card, which is where I copy my gcode files for carving, but I just click the “Upload File” button in grblweb to start the carve. Depending on my WiFi connection to the tablet, it may take 30 - 60 seconds or so to upload the file to the Pi, but then it’s off to the races.

The largest file I’ve carved so far is 5.6 MB, and it took about 6 - 7 hours to carve, without any problems …

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thank you everyone for the responses! a lot of info take in and digest. I have seen that there is a touch screen interface for the Pi. I wonder how well that would work.

I think the easiest way or me to go about this for right now until I understand all the interfaces more is to do the following, and please tell me if I’m wrong.

simply do my drawings in V-Carve ( I use fusion 360 for 3d printing only right now), load them onto an SD card, transfer the file to a Surface Tablet, plug the tablet directly into the X-controller like you would your computer, open Easel and load the Gcode into Easel and print just like I would from the computer?

will this work? I know its not quite as stand alone as I was asking about originally but for now until I fgure out all the info you guys have given me I think this is what I want to do.

okay, so hooking tablet up will not work unless it is running windows, if you use Easel, because it needs a driver. that’s why you guys are running the Pi with GRBL web as the interface to the table. makes since now…

I wonder if the Windows 10 IOT version that works on PI will work…

I don’t use SD cards or flash drives, instead I have a single network share that I can access from all of my computers. As long as my CAM program writes the g-code to this share, my X-Carve controller can access it.
I should point out that I run Linuxcnc and not grbl/Arduino. When I get around to trying out grbl, I’ll run a Raspberry Pi with grblcontroller/grblweb for the network access.