Mark Benson's ESP32 Plotter Controller Aims to Be the Perfect Open-Hardware Grbl-Esp32 Host

$50 kit-form board includes an SD card slot, 1.5A 5V supply, servo and solenoid driver support, and even NeoPixel compatibility.

Gareth Halfacree
5 days ago β€’ HW101

Maker Mark Benson has launched an open-hardware plotter controller, built around the Espressif ESP32 microcontroller and designed for use with Bart Dring's Grbl-Esp32 firmware.

"There weren't many ESP32 based plotter controller boards readily available," Benson explains, "so I designed this one to use with my own drawing machines along with Bart Drings Grbl-Esp32 firmware. It has been used successfully (in combination with Grbl-Esp32) with a Core-XY (or is that a H-bot?!?) and a Cartesian plotter with both servo and solenoid based pen lifts."

The board includes connections for, Benson claims, "all the use cases I think it might need," including NeoPixel addressable RGB LED support, a pen lift output which can be switched between 5V for a servo or Vin for a solenoid driver board, and Vin aux and 5V aux connectors. An on-board 5V switched-mode power supply takes a 12V input - "but [it] should be OK with 18V," Benson notes β€” and offers 1.5A to the ESP32 microcontroller and the 5V connectors.

"It has a Micro-SD card socket which works well with Grbl-Esp32," Benson adds. "Gcode files can be uploaded to the SD card via Wi-Fi and jobs started from the WebUI, which is nice."

Benson is selling the boards in through-hole kit form, with the surface-mount parts already soldered into place, via his Tindie store at $50 each; the hardware design files and a forked version of the firmware have been published to GitHub under the permissive MIT License and reciprocal GNU General Public License 3, respectively.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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