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Easy CNC controller introduction

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Post time: 2016-02-24 16:53:55
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The Easy CNC controller was designed to let you control a small CNC milling machine without having a computer or laptop connected. Just put your g-code on an SD card, put it in the controller and your ready to go.

Milling SFE 800.jpg

The controller has a simple configuration screen that lets you tell it what kind of machine you have attached it to. There are 5 axes available. X, Y and Z are locked but V and W can be renamed to work with different CAM software or slaved to the X, Y or Z axes. Each axis output can deliver up to 3.5A of current.

CNC config screen 800.jpg

Once the controller is configured then running g-code is a simple 3 step process. Open the g-code file, scan the g-code and run the g-code.

CNC screen 800.jpg

The controller will work with g-code from almost any CAM software that can output Mach3 or generic g-code. It has been tested with Free Mill, PyCam, ArtCam and MeshCam. MeshCam can also generate indexed 4-axis g-code. Put your g-code on a SD card and put the card in the controller.

Once the file has been opened you can view the g-code. This can be useful as g-code often includes comments about the size of the stock expected and what cutting tool should be used. You can scroll through the code using the navigation buttons if required.

CNC view g-code screen 800.jpg

The next step is to scan the code. The controller reads the g-code looking for unrecognized code. It also determines the size of the job and checks if the job will fit in the machine. The machine will request to measure the tool length to make sure the Z axis has enough clearance. If there are any problems they will be reported before you go any further.

CNC scan results screen 800.jpg

Once the code has been scanned a preview of the toolpath will be displayed. This can be quite slow for large complex jobs and can be skipped.

toolpath preview 800.jpg

Once the job has been scanned you can run the job. You also have a choice of resuming the job if it has previously been interrupted. The resume point will be shown automatically but it can also be set manually.

CNC unfinished job screen 800.jpg

If the g-code includes tool changes then the controller will stop and request a tool change. The new tool will then be measured before the job continues.

The controller offers 2 methods of measuring a tool length. The tool is driven at low power (20%) towards the bed. If a touch sensor is connected then you can use that. If no touch is detected then the tool will be driven gently into the bed so that the motor stalls. The tool is then raised and the steps are counted to determine the tool length. If the lower limit is reached then it is assumed no tool is installed.

Hardware Specifications:
  • Power: 12V - 36V, 25A maximum.
  • 5x TB6560 stepper motor drivers rated at 3.5A each with current limiting and thermal overload protection.
  • 2x 5A Spindle motor outputs (reversible) with current sensing, PTC fuses and blown fuse detection.
  • 2x 2A coolant pump / blower outputs with PTC fuses and blown fuse detection.
  • 240 x 128 LCD display.
  • 5x home switch inputs.
  • 5x limit switch inputs.
  • 2x Spindle motor speed sensor inputs or 1 speed sensor and 1 touch sensor.
  • Emergency stop cuts power to all motors.
  • Security key lockout to prevent kids pressing the wrong button when your not looking.
  • SD card socket.
  • CP2102 USB interface for software updates / data transfer.
  • Sockets for optional bluetooth and Xbee / WiFly modules.
  • DS1307 real time clock.
  • I²C bus broken out for both 5V and 3.3V devices - useful for adding additional hardware.

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