The Beginning of the End

I predicted the first time I played with the Pico IO API that somebody would get around to this. But wrapping it in Grbl kind of a step further than what I expected, but Ok! Get rid on the PC entirely. See if I care :rofl:

1 Like

Most probably don’t know this but the Warp9 Ethernet Smooth Stepper (ESS) is 10 years old? Older? See below.

It is based on FPGA or “Field Programmable Gate Arrays” which sounds cool until you realize it’s just replicating the hardware of 3 parallel ports.

By comparison, the 99¢ Raspberry Pi Pico 2040 has 8 cores devoted to pin manipulation. So this much cheaper silicone can do the same thing as that ultra expensive FPGA can AND at a much higher rate.

Where the 2040 doesn’t compete is the pin out. So one 2040 can support a well equipped 4 axis machine. But, since it’s so dern cheap, just add another 4 axis by including a second 2040. Heck, why not 16 axis for $3?

With the clock rates possible these 2040 systems can drive the enhanced precision Teknic SDSK servos at their maximum resolution at speeds that are comparable to the regular Teknic’s using an ESS. Talk about crazy precision at crazy speeds!

**NOTE: The Ethernet Smooth Stepper makes its first appearance on Warp9’s website on May 22nd 2013;

Really interesting! I see a lot of hope in PC-less hobby controllers. I’ve had a masso and it is great for what it is. The only drawback is the lack of customization for your own macros etc.

But….if someone can get the best of both, it seems like an obvious next step. Mach4 sucks, UCCNC is pretty good, acorn is nice, but the laptop isn’t.

1 Like

GrblHAL isn’t just open source, it is in fact LinuxCNC’s core cut down to fit in an Arduino form factor. A lot of people don’t know this but Grbl is in fact the basis for the three top 3D printer cores, Marlin being the biggest.

C/C++ or Rust will always beat that awful Lua in my book.

As it stands now this first board would run all of the basic AvidCNC 4 axis machines out of the box. Pull out the ESS and the breakout board and wire directly to this board. It would be even easier if you have a machine with Teknic motors.

I don’t know how I missed this but here is a complete 5 axis grblHAL replacement for your Mach4 / ESS. $55.99 gets you the board with the Ethernet option so you can use any of the grbl UI out there.

YES, that includes your Macs… :expressionless:

This board is based on the incredible Teensy 4.1 which if you have done any microcontroller development then you know the power of the Teensy line.

Windows UI

For MacOS

I’ve seen several folks do this conversion:

Also have you seen any of the stuff that Synthetos has done?

Yeah, I have seen his stuff.

My point is I want full source for the code AND hardware. I am done with depending on other people to fix their bad code or come to the realization they decades out of date.


I think Synthetos is old style Grbl. GrblHAL is the rest of the LinuxCNC core that required large memory, 32bit and FP. So you get all of the inverse timing and work offsets, etc.

Oh look, another rabbit hole…

Well, I am a rabbit :grin:

I just have to figure out whether I want to make a project out of putting together the electronics or if I just want to plug and play and do the projects later…

Go plug-n-play unless you enjoy this sort of stuff.

You can always revisit it later.

See,… intellectually, I know that,… Maybe I’ll use it as an excuse to do a mill cnc conversion in the future.

If this is your first system I would advise getting a turnkey and getting comfortable before jumping off the cliff with the rest of us crazies :crazy_face:

How would you know what you want unless you have sat with a machine for a while?

What bugged me in the beginning turned out to not be an issue. What I thought was cool has been never ending problems. The things I thought I would need later where the things I needed day one.

And then there is that problem where if you built it yourself then there are few people who can trouble shoot the system for you. You are on an island and you haven’t found your Wilson yet…

If you want 6 months of this, then DIY…