V2 Electronics/Driver Board

This topic contains 11 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  keraynopoylos 8 years, 6 months ago.

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    We’re looking at a few different options for stepper driver boards for DIYLILCNC V2. Here are the criteria we’re looking for:

    -USB Compatible

    -Capable of driving at least 3 motors @ 3Amps/motor

    -Open source (hardware, firmware, and controller software)

    -Cross-platform (Windows/OSX/Linux), open-source GUI controller software

    -~$100 price point

    So far, we’ve had good experiences with the HobbyCNC Pro Chopper board:


    • Good price: $80-$100 (3 or 4-Axis versions)
    • Handles multiple [up to 4], high-current motors.
    • Works with EMC2 (great open-source control GUI) in Linux, or Mach3 (not OS) in Windows
    • Operation is stable & very robust


    • Requires assembly/soldering.
    • Requires additional parts (transformer).
    • Assembled board/power supply are large for a desktop machine.
    • Requires parallel port on controller PC.
    • Closed design (firmware/hardware).

    We’ve also been testing the TinyG, a very cool USB-based CNC controller. It’s still in development, but looks promising:


    • Decent price: ~$100.
    • Works via USB on Mac and Windows (Possibly Linux).
    • Arrives assembled.
    • Surface-mount components keep board small.
    • Works with off-the-shelf PC power supply.
    • Easily extensible, works with Processing, CoolTerm, etc.
    • Firmware is open-source.


    • No stable GUI (yet).
    • Still a bit buggy with GCode interpretation.
    • Requires additional heat-sink for use with DIYLILCNC-size motors



    Nice list you have going here Chris!

    I’m like a walking advertisement for buildlog.net right now, but I’m really <u>really</u> digging their 4 axis open source CNC controller (here: http://www.buildlog.net/blog/2011/08/open-source-4-axis-stepper-driver/)

    It uses the pololu drivers (2A max per motor), has active cooling (fan), and works really well with EMC2. When I’m not using one of the grbl boards (grblShield, stright grbl with breadboard, stepper shield, etc) I’m using this controller and so far it’s been flawless.

    I’ve used a lot of different boards over the last 6 years (xylotex, hobbycnc, and a some Chinese knockoffs from ebay, among others) and the one thing I really like about designing around the pololu drivers is that they’re cheap ($12) and replaceable. So if you blow up an axis, just pop the driver out of the board, and replace it with another. Most of the other designs would require you to replace the whole board.

    A second “cool” point about the buildlog.net controller goes to the idea that you can control a relay, which in turn could control the spindle, through the 4th axis! You can read more about that in this blog post: http://www.buildlog.net/blog/2011/10/pololu-compatible-relay-driver/


    Mike Ehrenberg

    @chris, have you gotten any further with the motor driver selection for V2?



    @Mike, we’ve done lots more testing with the TinyG. It’s a great little board, very hackable on the software side (I wrote a little interface for it in Processing that I used for a couple of custom-CNC art projects).

    The limitation with that board (and any boards that max out around 2A per motor) is that the DIYLILCNC V1 design needs more torque than it can provide on the X and Y axes, which leads to slipping/stalling. This could be addressed by adding some gearboxes or lead screws to reduce the amount of torque needed to drive these axes.

    So for V1, looks like HobbyCNC is still the best option for torque/power and a robust software interface. It’s also come down in price recently.

    We may try to add some gearing into the V2 design, which would open up more options for using different driver boards that provide lower current like the TinyG or pololu drivers.



    “Works via USB on Mac and Windows (Possibly Linux).”

    Is there a reason it shouldn’t run on Linux? I went onto their site and they have a Linux version of the software they use to connect to it.

    As I’m a Linux user I would of course very much like it to run on Linux.



    @T4b, I don’t know of a specific reason it wouldn’t, but I haven’t tested it myself. The TinyG can’t run off EMC2 (or Mach3), so you could either use the terminal in Linux, possibly CoolTerm, or the Processing GUI I whipped up.



    Could you please confirm if the hobby cnc pro chopper is the preferred choice?






    But it’s still parallel only with that board.

    I wonder if i could get a parallel port expansion card for one of my unused PCIe slots.

    Im mega keen for the release of V2. Ive been lurking around on this forum for a while keeping my eyes out :)



    Hello and congratulations for your work on the project.

    I have been following your website for a while and have been waiting for Ver.2 in order to get the parts and start building.

    If I have understood correctly, the HobbyCNC PRO Chopper Driver Board Kit is what we’ll be needing for the electronics, right?

    Does anyone have any idea if this can be bought anywhere else other than http://www.hobbycnc.com?

    I am particularly interested in any vendors based in Europe, in order to save on shipping costs and not have to deal with customs and importing fees.

    (also, any updates on when we should be expecting the design files?)

    Thank you in advance and well done once again!




    We’ve got two cool shows coming up: SIGGRAPH (LA) and OKFest (Helsinki). SIGGRAPH is the first deadline – we’ll be dropping the initial v2 docs for that show within the month. The OKFest organizers want to build a metric rig, so that fits perfectly with @keranopoylos’ request. If you’re really chomping at the bit, send us an email at info(at)diylilcnc(dot)org and we might just put you on the super-secret beta list.



    Hello and thanks for the reply. I have already ordered the HobbyCNC pro board.

    Regarding the beta, while I would be more than happy to assist in this way, I’m not sure I’m the right candidate.

    I will probably take my time sourcing the parts/materials needed(I hope to find everything else in europe) and building it, as I will be doing it on my spare time(which is not a lot). I guess you would like to have the beta phase move as fast as possible.

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