CNC (AKA Computer Numeric Control) is one of the latest trends the DIY community has been arduously tackling. And with good reason! With a DIY CNC machine you can now build more and more DIY projects. Now, there are quite a few CNC electronic boards out there. You can get a parallel port breakout board, some stepper drivers sized to your motors and then start wiring and wiring and wiring...
Boy! All this wiring! Isn't there a way in which I can get my CNC electronics assembled without having to wire every single control signal into the breakout board? A stand alone controller card should do the trick, but what if the stepper drivers are not properly sized?
Wouldn't you truly love to have a modular system which plugs itself together in a few minutes? A system you can still connect to your computer, has all the protection required and the access points to connect your stepper drivers, spindle control, plasma startup signal, home sensors, Emergency stop signal, but takes less than 5 minutes to assemble. Wouldn't that be awesome? Well behold as I present Avayan Electronics' AE-CNCMB, AKA the CNC Mother Board.
Here at Avayan Electronics we have been designing motor driver boards for about 12 years. We may not be world famous (yet) but our stepper drivers have been used in home based CNC machine all across the world. And we are now proud to offer the CNC Mother Board Project which will enhance the CNC building experience.
So how are we going to do it? We have designed a series of stepper driver modules optimized for CNC machines. Have in mind these are not ordinary stepper motor driver boards. First, they are built with supremely robust power stages from Texas Instruments. Devices such as the DRV8818 and DRV8825 will supply the juice to your motors with up to 3A worth of current or up to 32 degrees of microstepping. Needless to say, we are always designing new modules which will be compatible with the current system.
But that's not all! To make sure these devices operate well within range even when subjected to worst than warm environments, we have added the very latest in thermal heat sinking technology. The power stages are bolted to a heat sink so powerful we can run these devices past their current rating, while still remaining fairly cold. This translates into high efficiency and prolonged life time, while your stepper drivers take your CNC machine into the next level.
To simplify matters, these modules are designed with a form factor allowing them to be interfaced to a socket connector on top of the CNC Mother Board. The mother board is the access point to the PC, which through the conventional parallel port will send all the control signals while you employ typical CNC control programs such as MACH3 or LinuxCNC. The CNC Mother Board will provide control for up to 4 axis (X, Y, Z, and A) so you can build a CNC router, mill, plasma cutter, lathe, etc. But the beauty is that you decide how many modules you need and which modules you need, whenever you need them!
As stated, we will keep designing modules in a near future, so you can always upgrade, upgrade and UPGRADE!!!
Is that all? Heck no! The Mother Board also contains two solenoids beefy enough (up to 30A) to get your spindle turned ON and OFF as specified by the G Code output. It will also give you access to all the home signals on a per axis basis and the Emergency Stop signal.
So how are we going to use this funding?
All of these boards will be assembled at a local and professional PCB Assembly House for a perfect quality product. Before we ship each unit, we will test them with motors to make sure you get a fully functional unit.
We are looking for 100 or more users wanting to enjoy from a painless CNC build. And no! We are not removing any of the fun of building your own CNC machine. We are just making it a more enjoyable experience by allowing you to get some chips quicker ;-)
Risks and challenges
Risks on this project are minimal to none. Yes, it is true we do not have a 100% functional product in the sense that we are still adding features. For example, one item we would like to add is isolation. Our first prototype with isolation had a small bug, but we are well on our way to fix it.
We are also exploring other changes such as modifying the home sensor connectors so they are detachable. The risk in a change of this nature is almost null, but we want to let viewers aware these improvements are plausible.
The truth is that we will do a small run of prototypes before we release this to the market. These prototypes will be tested in a CNC plasma cutter and a CNC router to ensure the product is of uttermost performance and reliability. Any bug found during this stage will be corrected, in the same fashion that previous anomalies have been successfully corrected.
So what's the risk? The plasma cutter on the video was being driven with a CNC Mother Board and three AE-CNC8825-TP modules. So it works!
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter