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Stepper Motor Drivers Necessary?

Discussion in 'General Talk' started by Garrett Groll, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    I first got into cnc machines by buying the redleaf system from buildyourcnc.com. However, I'm now needing an electronics setup that is usb compatible. I came across the cbeam build video from open builds:

    ...and I can't wrap my head around how he is operating the cbeam machine without stepper motor driver's!?! Can someone please explain when the use of drivers is necessary?

    All I've ever known is that drivers are necessary because that's all I've ever used (redleaf systems come standard with drivers The redLeaf CNC Electronics and Computer Plug-and-Play System )


    Also, while we're discussing this video...can anyone provide the link to the laptop he's using in the video?
     
  2. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    Mark is using the X-pro v2 cnc controller on his C-beam machine. The X-pro is a USB controller running GRBL. You do not see any extra drivers as the X-pro is using "on board drivers" in this case the DRV8825 driver is installed on the controller board itself. The redleaf system uses "external drivers" connected to a break out board via wiring. They both use drivers just in different ways.

    Could you make use of a Smoothstepper? They have both usb and ethernet versions.. That should allow you to use the redleaf system you already have and convert it to usb connection.
    I am not sure what laptop he is using, sorry.

    edit: I watched the video again. I am going to say. Acer Aspire E1-470P
     
    #2 Kyo, Jun 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
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  3. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    Kyo, I really appreciate the detailed response! Thank you so much!

    I can't even comprehend how it's possible that 4 drivers are "on board" that controller. Technology is just getting to be crazy amazing.

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Smoothstepper. I've never heard of a smooth stepper. I'll have to remember that for future builds. With this current build, I'm needing it to be ultra portable. I need to be able to mount everything on my machine so that all I have to carry around is the machine and a laptop. The redleaf is just too big and bulky to be carrying around.

    I just looked up the Acer Aspire E1-470P on amazon and that seems to be the one! Good eye

    I've got one more question. What kind of usb cable do I need to run from the controller to the laptop?
     
  4. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    No problem, glad to help. Sounds like the X-pro would be a perfect fit for you. Compact efficient good support and easy to use.

    Tell me about it! I still have my first PC tower tucked away in a closet someplace. I was so impressed with the specs when I purchased it (xp 512mb ram ect. ect. ) and now the Raspbery Pi 3 blows it out of the water for under $40 and it has wifi built in.

    To connect the X-pro to a laptop you will need a usb type-b cable. I want to say mine came with a cable but it may not have I don't recall for sure.
     
    #4 Kyo, Jun 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
  5. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    Hey Kyo, thanks again for all your help with the X-Pro. Everything is up and running and working very well! It's so much cleaner and simpler than the redleaf system. Today I got to thinking about what you said about the raspberry pi. I hear that name tossed around all the time. Is a raspberry pi a breakout board kind of like the x-pro is? Is it capable of powering motors like the x-pro?
     
  6. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    I know you haven't replied yet, and I don't want to overwhelm you with questions...but I have to ask you these things as they come to me so I don't forget!

    I just saw this video:

    and it kind of lead me to believe that the raspberry pi is more of computer than it is a cnc controller. Is that correct?

    The x-pro is great, but I'd love to get rid of the usb cable running from the x-pro to my laptop (the x-pro is installed on the cnc machine) Could I install a raspberry pi on the cnc machine right next to the x-pro? That would allow me to ditch the laptop/usb cable, and then I could use a wireless keyboard to control the raspberry pi, which would allow me to control the x-pro, which would allow me to control the cnc machine! Is my thinking correct there? If this is possible, you opened my eyes to a whole new world with the raspberry pi!
     
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  7. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    No worries, ask away I am happy to help. The Raspberry Pi is a full fledged desktop computer the size of a credit card.
    The new Pi 3 specs are pretty solid and more then enough to run most cnc's
    Quad Core 64-bit ARMv8 processor
    1.2GHz
    on board Wifi
    on board bluetooth
    hdmi
    x4 usb ports
    10 /100 ethernet jack


    Yes your line of thought is correct. You can indeed use a pi as your control computer and connect to your x-pro. Another way to ditch the usb cable is Bluetooth. I believe there is a Bluetooth module for the X-pro "Here" I have not used it however so have no direct knowledge on that front.
     
  8. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    A computer that's the size of a credit card for $35...unbelievable.

    Alright, so my x-pro is obviously being powered via usb from my laptop. If I make the switch to raspberry pi, I would need to run a usb from the x-pro to the rpi for power...would that leave the rpi enough power to run itself? I would also be installing rpi's 7" touchscreen. So basically, I would be powering 3 nema 23 motors, the x-pro, the rpi display, and the rpi itself with that one included power supply cord. That sounds like a lot to power from one tiny cord...
     

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  9. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    Nevermind...brain fart! The nema 23's are powered by a 12 volt power supply! So it'd just be the x-pro, 7" touch screen, and the raspberry pi itself that'd be running off that small power cord. That seems more doable.
     
    #9 Garrett Groll, Jul 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  10. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    Alright, I've got another question. Would I need to install grbl panel on the raspberry pi?
     
  11. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    Yep just connect the x-pro to the pi via usb like you would to your laptop and your good to go. The 7in pi display can be powered by the pi itself or its own power supply but you should be fine with the above unit. You will need to install bCNC or another one of the good options available once you have your operating system installed. For a OS both Raspbian or Debian are are good choices.
     
    #11 Kyo, Jul 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
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  12. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    I'm watching videos on how to download windows on a raspberry pi since I'm familiar with that OS, but it seems complicated.What seems even more complicated though is Raspbian. I don't know my way around a command prompt and it seems like that's a necessity with Raspbian. I don't know what I'm going to do. I just placed an order for this starter kit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01C6Q2GSY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    It comes preloaded with NOOBS which I assume is an Operating System. The name sure makes it sound user friendly for noobs like me : ) Do you know if I can install grbl panel on NOOBS?
     
  13. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    Nice starter kit, It includes everything you will need to get up and running. Noobs is a OS installer, it includes Raspbian as well as others. If you want to Install a fresh os for the pi down the road it is really simple on a windows machine all you need is the Win32DiskImager utility Here is a tutorial. I have not looked into windows on a pi so I am afraid I do not have much advice there. Anyone else here are experience with that??
     
  14. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    So grbl panel can run on Raspbian?
     
  15. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    I believe grbl panel is only available for windows OS. For a Linux OS like raspbian you have some options.
    Spark concepts ( x-pro cnc guys ) recommend the following. Universal Gcode sender
    You can also use bCNC as well as some others.
     
  16. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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    oh boy... looks like I've got a lot of learning to do in the coming week. Thanks again for your willingness to help me, Kyo. The raspberry pi will be here in two days, and I can't wait!
     
  17. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    You should be good, A willingness to learn is half the possess. I probably make it sound more complicated then it is to lol :thumbsup: Once your pi gets in we can get you setup with the software you will need no worries.
     
  18. Garrett Groll

    Garrett Groll Journeyman
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  19. Jonathon Duerig

    Jonathon Duerig Veteran
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    In general, you want to stick with a Raspberry Pi unless there is a compelling reason to go elsewhere. The reason is that of the computer boards, it is by far the most used with the largest community. So when something goes wrong, you'll have the best chance of finding somebody else who solved the same problem. And of course, it is the most likely that any random software will be compatible with it and tested.

    It does have some unfortunate limitations (like only 1GB of RAM), but the larger community usually outweighs any disadvantages. I also like that the developers of the Pi have gone out of their way to make each new iteration as compatible as possible with previous ones. So if you buy one, it will still be useful in six months when the next one is released.

    Oh, and regarding power, I usually power the Raspberry Pi touch screen and Raspberry Pi itself independently. Just use two USB micro cables and zip tie them together. This will ensure that you have no power issues even if you have to power a few different USB devices (keyboards, xPro CNC board, etc.).

    -D
     
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  20. Kyo

    Kyo Master
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    I have only used the pi for pretty much the same reasons Jonathan just posted. I have wanted to try machinkit (linuxcnc ) on the beagle bone black but have not got around to it yet. So many projects so little time lol.
     
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