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A new way to CNC - single board with 4 powerful motor drivers, power from ATX PSU, and... wait for it... integrated wireless comms! Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on June 22, 2014.

A new way to CNC - single board with 4 powerful motor drivers, power from ATX PSU, and... wait for it... integrated wireless comms!

About this project

Now Funding Stretch Goal!

$22K - Fund the development of the "Print from SD card expansion board". Expansion board will allow users to print g-code files stored on an SD card. Will also include an LCD display to scroll through files. Kickstarter backers will receive a %20 discount on the SD expansion board!

New Reward Offering!

Zeus DIY router kit:  

Includes everything you need to build the full Zeus CNC router in one weekend.  

Footprint: 500mm x 750mm 

Kit includes: All mechanical pieces (cut to length extrusions, custom gantry plates, belts, pulleys, hardware)  

All electronics (CNC xPRO driver, 3 Nema 23 motors, 1 Nema 17 Motor, Power supply)  

Router and router mount (Drill Master 1/4" trim router)  

*Kit does not include spoiler board (it's just not economical to ship)

A few more spec's on the Zeus CNC Kit:

Cutting bed: ~15.5 x 23.5 in

 Z-axis travel: 
Up to 4in, with the 3/4in spoiler/table setup there are about 2in between the spoiler and the Zaxis 

X axis:
Nema 23 motor Belt and pinion setup using GT3 timing belt/pulleys 
Custom designed gantry plates for maximum strength

Y axis: 
Dual Nema 23 motors Belt and pinion setup using GT3 timing belt/pulleys
Custom designed gantry plates for maximum strength 

Z axis: 
Nema 17 motor
Leadscrew driven
Custom designed gantry plates for maximum strength
Custom mounting brackets for Router

Gantry plates are water-jet 1/4" Aluminum 6061.

The CNC xPRO DRIVER

A Little Background:

 Spark Concepts' jump into CNC began a few months ago after some "minor renovations" to my kitchen left me explaining to the wife why she was missing a cupboard over her range.  After admitting that it was a custom size cupboard and the pile of sticks in the garage would never be "Humpty Dumptied" back together again, a plan was hatched.  We would build a CNC router for the business.  My wife would have a cupboard in a few short weeks, and we would have a new toy.  Well, it's been 4 months and the cupboard is still missing but we have a great CNC driver to share with everyone :).     

Like any husband in hot water, there a was an intense flurry of work for weeks getting the CNC router designed and fabricated.  On finishing the hardware fabrication we started looking into electronics and found very little that fit our budget and desired capabilities (personally I have never been a huge fan of shield stacks for final products, or wiring two motors to one driver).  So being electronics guys we decided to spin our own board with everything we could think of along with the ability to expand for future needs.  This was the birth of something amazing -> the CNC xPRO Driver.

Uses:

Easily use the CNC xPro to drive:

  • 4 Axis CNC Mill
  • 3 Axis CNC Mill With Dual Drive Motors
  • Laser Cutter With XY, Auto Focus, and Rotary Attachment
  • Plasma Cutter 
  • Pick and Place for SMD components
  • Or wireless robotics (would love to see this used on a wireless quadruped) 

Software:

The CNC xPRO is designed to run the opensource gcode interpreter GRBL, opensource programming environment Arduino, or anything you can write in AVR studio.  The xPRO comes pre-flashed with GRBL so all you need to do is wire up your motors! 

From the computer side we have found that Universal-G-Code-Sender and GRBL Controller 3.0 work extremely well (and are free downloads). 

The software stack we use here at Spark is:

Most of these are opensource! 

The Vision:

We set out to create the only CNC driver anyone would ever need.  To do this we needed a single board solution fully extensible for future development.  We wanted 4 motor drivers to allow dual motor configuration for the X, Y, or Z axis or the ability to run as a 4 axis machine.  We have A LOT of scrap computers lying around and figured everyone else would too, so the CNC xPro is powered directly from an ATX computer power supply (don't have scrap?  Pick up a ATX PSU on Amazon for ~$10 -- sure beats the $50 price tag of most dedicated 12V supplies). Lastly, wireless CNC-ing; this started as a "why not" but quickly turned into a "gotta have it" (just wait, you'll see).

 How We Did It (about to get nerdy in here):

Here is a quick look under the hood...

  • 100% GRBL version 0.8c compatible
  • Capable of powering from ATX PSU (these are dirt cheap and we have tons laying around from recycled desktops)
  • Capable of powering from a dedicated 12V/24V two wire power supply
  • Drive 4 motors with DRV8825 Stepper Drivers - 2.5A (peak) with 1.75A (RMS) with up to 1/32 microstepping
  • 1 Driver capable of cloning X,Y, or Z or being run as an independent axis
  • Hardware support for both USB and Wireless Operation (XBee, WiFly, or RN42-XV)*
  • Emergency Stop to cut all motor power (with optional override)
  • 12V and 5V** outputs for powering peripherals (fans, pumps, vacuums)
  • Quickly connect to Stepper Motors and limit switches with 3.5mm screw terminals
  • Expansion port for coming upgrades (handheld jog controller, integrated spindle speed control, etc.)

*For CNC applications we recommend RN42-XV 
**5V output available with ATX PSU

Here is a look at the schematic for this board (.PDF file is available on the Spark Concepts' website).

  Breathing Life Into The Beast:

We worked with many PCB manufacturers to find one who could deliver consistently and without breaking the bank.

 Here is Bill working his magic assembling the Beta boards by hand (These are the 10 built, tested and ready to ship at the end of the campaign).

  Voila, fully assembled Beta Boards ready to fire up.  

Hooking It Up:

The CNC xPRO ships fully assembled and ready to connect (except for those opting for the bare board).  All you need to do is screw down your motor leads and limit switches, plug in you ATX supply (or 12V/24V supply), and plug in your computer.  You can also add a kill, pause/stop, resume, and abort switches.  Here is what it should look like when you're done.

*If you are powering from a 12V power supply it should look like this. 

And in real life (never is as clean as the cartoons, is it?)

Now, to add Bluetooth wireless, simply plug the RN42-XV into the xPRO and pair it with your computers Bluetooth.  When paired correctly, this creates a virtual serial port over Bluetooth linking the computer to the  xPRO.  (If running Windows you will need to elevate your privileges).

If you feel like being crafty you can now connect your xPRO to your Smartphone and have all kinds of fun!

Testing:

These beta boards have been running upwards of 8hrs straight cutting material like HDPE, Nylon, wood, MDF, and even aluminum.

Here are a few samples of our cuts:

I'd Hack That:

 One of the main focuses of this board was creating an extensible platform for future development (or hacking).  The xPRO has an integrated expansion header ripe for hacking.  Not only is the xPRO compatible with the GRBL software you can easily load the Arduino bootloader and run as a Duemilanove.  Let the fun begin!

Coming Soon:

 At Spark Concepts we are committed to further development of the xPRO.  We are currently working on the following add ons:

  • Digital Spindle Speed Controller With Integrated Feedback Control
  • Handheld Jog Controller
  • Smartphone Jog Controller
  • Gcode Sender for Android, iPhone, and WinPhone

Delivery Schedule:

 

Risks and challenges

We have worked very hard to minimize any potential hiccup. However, obstacles have a tendency of creeping up on you.

We work extensively with PCB manufacturers and assembly houses for our day jobs so we have a very large network we can lean on if obstacles in the fabrication/assembly arise. As previously mentioned we have evaluated many fab house to find the best value to pass on to our Backers. If fabrication becomes an issue we will work with multiple houses to get the orders done right and on time.

As with most large scale product, component availability is a major concern. To mitigate any availability issues, the CNC xPRO has been designed around the latest and greatest IC's which are readily available from multiple distributors. If some issues do arise we will split product into 2 or 3 runs to deliver products to backers as soon as possible.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

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    10 backers

    Rockstar: You will receive our project updates and a personalized email detailing just how great you are.

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    22 backers Limited (3 left of 25)

    Challenge Accepted: assemble your own! We'll send you an unpopulated PCB and access to our online BOM. From there it is up to you.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $100 or more

    9 backers All gone!

    Gotta Have It Now: as a massive Thank You for believing, not only will you get a great deal, but we will send you a pre-production CNC xPRO board lovingly assembled by EE guru Bill. Boards will ship immediately after the campaign.

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    25 backers Limited (25 left of 50)

    Early Bird Bonus Round: With rapidly selling out of the Gotta Have It Now reward, we have decide to launch an Early Bird Bonus Round with special pricing. Get a CNC xPRO board from the first batch!

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    1 backer

    Get the xPro! A CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production!

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    1 backer

    The Wil: Get one CNC xPRO production board PLUS one CNC xPRO bare pcb

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    2 backers

    Get the xPro + Bluetooth! A CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production PLUS pre-configured Bluetooth radio.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    1 backer

    Get the xPro + 4 NEMA 17's! A CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production PLUS four NEMA 17 stepper motors.

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    2 backers

    Get the xPro + 3 NEMA 23's + 1 NEMA 17! A CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production PLUS three NEMA 23 stepper motors PLUS one NEMA 17 stepper motor.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    4 backers

    Get the xPro + 4 NEMA 23's! A CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production PLUS four NEMA 23 stepper motors.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
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    1 backer All gone!

    The Thatcher Reward: One CNC xPRO early bird PLUS one CNC xPRO production board! Shipping in June and August!

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    3 backers

    Gotta Have It All 2: Get a CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production PLUS three NEMA 23 stepper motors PLUS one NEMA 17 stepper motor PLUS pre-configured Bluetooth module

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    12 backers

    Gotta Have It All: A CNC xPro Board from the first full batch of production PLUS four NEMA 23 stepper motors PLUS pre-configured Bluetooth radio.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    The Spragg: Get two CNC xPro Boards from the first full batch of production PLUS four NEMA 23 stepper motors PLUS pre-configured Bluetooth radio.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $900 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Distribution Pack: Get 10 CNC xPRO Boards from the first full production run.

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    8 backers Limited (2 left of 10)

    Zeus CNC router kit: Get everything you need to build the Zeus CNC router in one weekend! Include the CNC xPRO plus pre-configured Bluetooth radio!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Supreme Overlord: A customized Zeus CNC router kit (customize name plate and gantry plate logo cutouts) PLUS signatures from the entire Spark Concepts team!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (23 days)