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Router electronics

The control electronics are built from a kit  based on the Gecko controls G540.

The electronics were installed into the metal case that came with the kit. The result is shown below.

The power supply is in the middle and the stepper motor controller is the black box in the right back.

The box has a nice big red emergency stop button on the front.

On the back of the box are a bunch of connectors.

I used computer network cabling for connecting the controller to the router. A pair of regular patch leads connect the two. One connector is used for the limit switches and touch probe. The other carries the controls for the SuperPID router speed controller. The USB connector connects to the control PC using a standard USB lead. The SuperPID controller needs a 5V supply from the computer. This 5V supply is taken from USB port and fed to the SuperPID through the Ethernet connection.

Parallel port connection

The PC is connected to the controller via the parallel printer port. A parallel printer port makes for a very easy connection between the PC and controller. The PC uses two outputs to control each motor. One output specifies direction and the other line toggles up and down for each step.

Parallel ports make for a very cheap and easy way to get a digital I/O interface. LinuxCNC runs on a distribution of Linux with real time modifications. This turns a cheap PC into a very capable real-time machine controller.

A note about the printer cable. During the build I connected a cable I thought was a straight through printer cable was actually an RS232 cable and not all of the lines were connected. This made for some unexpected results. It is best to check with a continuity tester that all the pins in your cable are connected.