Off to the board house today!

LaserWeb – How it’s coming along

On Nov 8, 2015, I saddled up the crazy horse to start developing a new frontend for running Laser cutters!

That was after years of frustrating experiences with chinese DSPs, and Inkscape Plugins and Visicut that doesnt want to connect, the Lasersaur ecosystem thats not too friendly to non-lasersaurs and trying to use 3D printer hosts to work a laser…  Those just never worked!

6 Weeks in, here’s some of the interesting stats:

  • 92 Commits! 21 Stars, 4 forks, 2 contributors!
    92 COMMITS!!!
  • 81 Commits by myself, adding 130679 changes and removing 54948!


  • Working on it from 6AM to 11PM sometimes!



Thats a LOT of work!


So how does it look now?

Let me give you the quick tour!


Overview of the main window


machine control

Machine Control Widget

2. console

Command Console

4 webcam

WebCam Widget

dxf params

Supports DXF, SVG, Millcrum and GCODE. For DXF/SVG you can specify cutting parameters on import! No External CAM needed Material Thickness + Z-Down per pass allows for multipass cutting (which changes the Z height if your machine support it – to allow optimal focus distance even on the subsequent passes)


gcode editor

Gcode/Millcrum editor allows you to make last minute changes manually

port and drc

Serial Port selector and DRO


DRO data also updates the position of the beam indicator in realtime so you can see where the cut currently is / jog the machine to position








Depending on which firmware you connect to (note you can have multiple boards running different firmware on each, all connected to the same PC and managed by the same instance of LaserWeb!) – it dynamically adds/removes features in the UI – to match the capabilities/requirements of the firmware! (For example if it detect LasaurApp, it shows status indicators for the endstops, doors and chiller.   If it detect Grbl, it adds reset, unlock, help and settings buttons.   This also makes changes to the GCode dialect (LasaurGrbl needs to receive G30 to home, but the others need G28, with this capability we can have a single GUI talk different dialects!)

So what firmware is supported?

  • Smoothieware
  • Marlin for Lasers
  • LasaurGrbl
  • Grbl 0.9 / 0.8
  • Repetier Firmware

I’ll create and post a tour video later!

Download and use instructions:

P3Steel Variant

An old buddy of mine asked me on Sunday which reprap I recommend these days… Always a dangerous discussion to head down right?

Well, I won’t bore you with too much of the detail, but those who has been following me for a long time know’s I have access to a large metal laser cutting/bending factory (see videos here, here and here)

(and for those of you only following me on WordPress, do checkout my Youtube Channel, page, Github, Facebook etc as well.  I rarely crosspost so best to follow me everywhere)

So seeing as I have these at my disposal, I figured, then the P3Steel should be the best Reprap for me to recommend right? (;

But a day or two later, as these things go – before I could even send in the files to get manufactured, we started adding things, deleting things. Merging in ideas from other sources

Soon ending up with this:

Screenshot from 2015-12-08 12-27-33.png

  • Removed the truss like cutouts – adds a lot of cost to laser time, and I am not shipping these (only cutting two for Isak) – so weight is not an issue
  • Added the Metal Xends and X Carriage from
  • Added the press-fit M3 nuts from (can’t find source link now 😦 – will post later) on the the Y carriage for bed mounting
  • Added dual mount holes for steppers for Bowden and Added a Dual hotend X carriage plate that I drew up
  • Added Spool holder from

DXF is is on

Will post pics once the cut parts gets back from the factory!

Wifi 3D printing / CNC / Laser with ESP8266 / Bluetooth with HC06

A friend of mine (or am I being too forward?) suggested in the comment thread on Google Plus that adding Wifi/Bluetooth to SmoothieBrainz would be a good idea:

So I added it:

Two-in-one footprint allows you to solder on either a HC-05 bluetooth module, or an ESP12 Wifi module.

For the Wifi module, preprogram it with ESPLINK firmware:




Raspberry Pi Zero 4 Port USB Hub – Open Source PCB Design

pi hub.png

Github link:

In line with my other projects I need to make a USB hub attachment for the Pi Zero.
Seeing as the community figured out that the Raspberry Pi Design team was clever enough to leave us D+  and D- test points at the bottom, I came up with this design above.

See those pads for D+, D-, gnd and 5v?  Yip, the ide is that you can acually reflow this board onto the back of a Pi Zero!

Where’s the Gerbers?  I haven’t uploaded the gerbers to Github yet, since I only finished the Eagle drawing a few mins ago. Eagles are off to, and once I tested the board, I’ll upload.

This is a 4 Port USB2.0 hub designed around the TI TUSB2046B

  • Directly solderable to Pi Zero USB+PWR pads
  • Cutout for GPIO pin bottoms
  • Screw holes match Pi Zero


Part     Value           Package

C2       0.01uF          C0603
C5       15pf            C0603
C6       15pF            C0603
C7       1uF             A/3216-18W
C9       22Pf            C0603
C10      22Pf            C0603
C11      22Pf            C0603
C12      22Pf            C0603
C13      22Pf            C0603
C14      22Pf            C0603
C15      1UF             A/3216-18W
C16      1uF             C/6032-28R
C32      22Pf            C0603
C33      22Pf            C0603
IC5      LD117AS33TR     SOT223
Q2       12MHz           CTS406
R1       15K             R0603
R2       15K             R0603
R3       10k             R0603
R4       22              R0603
R7       22              R0603
R12      15K             R0603
R13      15K             R0603
R14      15K             R0603
R15      15K             R0603
R16      15K             R0603
R17      15K             R0603
R18      15k             R0603
U$5      TUSB2046B     LQFP-32

As always, design’s yours to do as you please, if you do end up getting rich selling these, remember you owe me a few beers (;

If you like the work I do, please consider supporting me by donating to



SmoothieBrainz! – Update on CNC controller project

smoothiebrain - ready

Click for Larger version

Took about a whole weekend of work, but Arthur Wolf and Jim Morris had me convinced by the end of the comments on

SmoothieBrainZ! That won’t be the final name, but for now it’ll do, is a little test-bed platform me to develop more hardware around the Smoothieware ecosystem

Some important notes:

  • No, this is not a smoothieboard / azteeg replacement
  • It fits in a 100x80mm PCB so even Eagle Freeware users can take my work and base off that.  Not everyone has Eagle Pro (;
  • Its still a two-stack PCB design – this board houses endstops, logic, microcontroller, USB + SD, that sort of thing.   Another board will stack on top with the stepper drivers, mosfets, relays, laser control, feature X, Doodat Y and Whatchamacallit Z… Easy expandibility…
  • More than 3 Axes and Thermistors.  During the posts on Social Media about my Trinamic/Grbl work, I got a lot of requests for these features, and Smoothie has it, so added to the board
  • In the name of cost, ease of assembly, etc I removed the Ethernet support that a real Smoothieboard has. Useful for sure, but most of us probably drive our machines over USB anyway.  If you still want ethernet, I put a pinout compatible header onboard for one of these WaveShare LAN8720 Modules – if you need/want ethernet, its only an $11 upgrade later


More importantly, you probably have some questions (especially if you read my previous posts in this series)

  • Where’s the stepper drivers?  Those awesome Trinamic’s you were talking about
  • What about GRBL now?
  • Pi Zero? Hello, I thought thats what we were donating toward (;

Well, hold on to your hats (:

Here’s the updated project schedule:

  1. The Smoothie – brain board is now done
  2. Next I copy the previous board shown here to the same base template as the SmoothieBrainz board.  Allows the stepper daughter board to be interchangable with the two boards (so if you like Grbl+Pi Zero, make that, If you want Smoothie, make that instead )
  3. After that, come the daughter boards:  Here I also plan to have a few versions (trinamic TMC2660, DRV8711, DRV8825, THB6064, these are all viable options for stepper drivers. I could also make all 4 versions if budget allows…
  4. The daughter boards will also have the extra components like hotend/heatbed control, OR laser PSU control, OR CNC Spindle control (0-10v for VFD, as well as Mosfet for DC spindles)

Pi Zero?  Well, since the community discovered that the USB pads are exposed, I am waiting to get one in hand (or if you have one, please help me out with a vernier) to measure where exactly these pads are.  I am thinking of making a space on the brain boards. where I can solder in the Pi Zero.  Sort of like reflowing it onto the board (but not quite) by having a large throughhole in same spot as those two pads. You can then solder the D+D- from the bottom by holding Pi Zero against the board and soldering into those throughholes, wetting the Pi Zero’s pads too.
If you’d like to donate, you can do so from

CNC Controller Update

The community has spoken! With their Wallets!

Note the change in title, from the previous two… clearly the words “grbl” and “raspberry pi zero” are now missing from the title.

Thing is, over the last week a lot of new information came to light:

  • The media is now calling the Raspberry Pi Zero a failure, a missed shot, and a design abomination.   The lack of networking support (and no, despite the hype around that post on, an ENC28J60 is not better than sliced bread. Its an old, slow ethernet Phy interface chip that I played with two years ago and still hate… that said, its fine for IoT, not fine for fast streaming websockets to drive a CNC), the need for adapters by using a OTG port, all those left the Favourite Pi, quickly becoming the “it may still have a use case in IoT, because it’s cheap…” Pi…
  • The community wants 4 axis. This had to be the most-replied to comment on my social media this week! Grbl only supports 3 Axis…
    The second complaint in regard to Grbl came from one of my biggest supporters, Mark Carew ( in that Grbl slows down in small cicles (8Bit is so 1980’s right?)Lastly, my own complaint against grbl is the pin and ram limitation of the ‘328p (and then the cost of 2560’s as an upgrade option).  While coding in support for the Trinamic into Grbl (see I had to drop the Enable Steppers pin, to have enough pins for the SPI Chip Select for 3 drivers. sigh. That, and though I have the Trinamic driver in there, I doubt I have space left for the DRV8711 Driver now…
  • Stepper driver support. One of the developers of another project told me that one of the other players is working on a board with SPI drivers too. I know who, I know what. But I am not telling. Point is, a little competition means a) we need to hurry up and get the open design out there asap and b) that firmware support becomes easier – the more players there are, the more boards support the same chips, the more the end user will win (more developers working on code, example settings, etc)  –  it also tells me that the work I started on in Jul 2015 (github log to prove) – was relevant and I saw this coming (;

So what does this mean now?  No more Pi Zero? No more Grbl?

NO.  But it does mean some diversification…

Watch this space! Looks like we are going to support at least

  • Drivers:  DRV8711 AND Trinamic 2660 (and if budget allows DRV8825)
  • MCU:  8bit Grbl, AND 32bit (Smoothieware) (low cost version, and a bells and whistles version)
  • Connectivity: Pi Zero, (Smoothie: USB and LAN8720a Ethernet), AND (ESP8266 Wifi with ESPLink Firmware)

Update on Donors

If you’d like to donate, you can do so from
Having a few more boards in the queue means prototype costs just went up, a lot!

Here’s a list of all the donors on this project so far:

  • Samer Najia – $50
  • Casey Coward – $5
  • Brain Bland – $10
  • Klemen Zivkovic – $10
  • Frankie Graffagnino – $25
  • James K Rivera – $10
  • OpenBuilds Part Store – $250
  • Manual Conti – $5
  • Jeremy Francois – $15
  • Fred LaPlante – $50