View Full Version : Opensource CNC

03-16-2004, 08:09 PM
In addition, i keep waiting to find "opensource cnc" or soething similar

a real, organized effor to make some great quality opensource hardware and software available.. not cad\cam packages, but things like digitizing systems, 4,th,5th,6th axis designs, PCBs for all the important electrical components. I know there is interest in this. I will post more about it. If someone would donate some webspace, we could start.. And also use surceforge resources... Im sure we allready have alot of designs, they jsut need to be put together in a good format and tested by multiple users..

Good, easy to create PCB designs would be usefull. I have lots of stuff to contribute. Links to examples forthcomming.

Just a thought..

Robert Guyser

03-16-2004, 08:32 PM
Count me in, I've got a driver board for a 5408. http://webpages.charter.net/pminmo/CNC/5804channel.jpg

Working on one for a 3977 chopper driver. Pcb's are made, In debug.

Personally I'd like to see some effort into a standard established, that uses the parrallel port interface as designed, with a edge clocked strobe to latch the output data. That way software developers could have a common driver if they wanted. Would o aid in the Widows NT/2000/xp kernel world, so it would become less dependent on other cocnurrent running threads.


03-16-2004, 08:41 PM
I am fairly experienced with web design.. If someone would donate webspace, i would register a domain and setup a site.. Or maybe sourceforge would be good place.

Sourceforge is amazing

03-16-2004, 09:45 PM
A fantastic idea. Power to the people.
I can offer web storage but not a domain as such.
There is already a domain name for this site so it would have to be a sub domain at this stage.

But upon thinking, this whole forum is an open source domain. Why not post all your specs and articals here? I am sure the admin here would set up whatever was needed, they seem very willing to help out with all sorts of requests.

Surely it is better to keep every thing in one place?

03-16-2004, 11:54 PM
that would be jsut fine, and it would also give the projects exposure to the very experienced people on this board. I will have to go over to sourceforge and look at how they organize projects. And maybe someone could setup a pole to see what the best first project(s) would be.

This is an unfinished example of some of my work I could contribute. I have 6 or 7 projects like this. some are much more finished



Mariss Freimanis
03-17-2004, 01:20 AM
Well, we are doing just that. It is the G2002 project.

It is an open source 6-axis, USB powered (remember, parallel ports and com ports are disappearing soon), 32-bit general purpose I/O all run by a Rabbit Semiconductor module. Right now it is running true 3-D vectors, constant contouring of anything you can draw in ACAD. Unlimited step pulse frequencies, (>4MHz) in 8 freq ranges of 65,536 evenly spaced velocities with 1,024 vectors per second on 6 simultaneous axies.

Open source means the schematics are open source, the firmware code (Z80 super-set) is open source as is the principle of operation.

It is open to everyone but CNC firmware developers are particularly welcome. The hardware is designed, it works perfectly but firmware is a work in progress.

Please visit the Yahoo Group "geckodrive" if you are interested. Go to www.***********.com to get there if you aren't already a member.

See the "files" and "photos" section of the group to get oriented. Open the "G2002 Manifesto.txt" from the files section for a quick overview.


03-17-2004, 01:23 AM
When real electronics gurus are around, i am never the person to goto. I am most skilled at industrial design. I could put a pretty case around the thing?

I will check it out for sure. Sounds like 1 key component.

So this device is an interpreter? No more mach 2 or truboCNC?

Or is it a pulse generator that reads a processed G-code?
Ive heard some reference to it..

Mariss Freimanis
03-17-2004, 01:51 AM
Presently it reads ASCI text files using a gerber format, which is a close but simple G-Code cousin. An example: *X1234567Y0Z98* means "move X to 123.456 inches, Y to 0 inches and Z to 0.0098 inches.

It would solve the trignometry to move from where ever it is in 3-D to that 3-D X,Y,Z location. The resulting motion would be a constant 3-D vector velocity of exquiste accuracy and smoothess.

The point is not to write another G-Code interpreter. There are plenty of very good ones around that very talented people have poured their efforts into. Rather, it is to develop a vector based motion engine that gives performance beyond anything a PC can do. You supply the co-ordinates, it supplies the best possible flawless motion.


03-17-2004, 09:58 AM
I'm all for the idea, let me just say that sourceforge is not that desireable.

I have had to use it in several capacities. I have a project related to my professional area, (I run a group of about 40 scientists and software engineers) and the software engineers really wanted to avoid using it. The server itself is falls down frequently.

But the sourceforge interface even when working is really over-engineered to the point of not being useful.

Bear in mind that you all are also talking about sharing hardware like resources and I dont think its really set up for those kinds of use-cases.

I have a second comment that I think I'll put into another post...


03-17-2004, 10:00 AM
Why not just use this site? It has an administrator that is showing incredible talent. It has lots of capability for managing storing files, technical reports, and the running commentary that is really important for any type of open source project. I think we're basically talking about storing files describing hardware, documentation, pictures, and "bug" reports which amount to people posting on different threads.

So let me ask the question this way: what is it that this site lacks that we would need to have a full blown open source cnc hardware/software site?

03-17-2004, 10:10 AM
Originally posted by Mariss Freimani
Well, we are doing just that. It is the G2002 project.

It is an open source 6-axis.... Mariss


this sounds really amazing and I'll definitely have a look at the project, but there is also room for similar electronic projects -- I have examples in mind of my own work where I'm building a simple "jam circuit" which is if any of several inputs reflect that a switch it reports which circuit went out and also sends a signal to e-stop. so that's just an example but eventually could turn into a useful accessory to the g2002 system.

You would probably agree that it would be valuable to develop a culture of multiple contributors to open source hardware. We'd want a site that collected information on lots of projects like the g2002, yes?


03-17-2004, 05:45 PM
Ohwhite- exatcly

the G2002 project is very ambitious and looks set to release a very interesting piece of hardware on the "scene". A very complex, piece of hardware.

I would love to hear about the g2002 development experience and how it could help dictate setting up a good collaboration system for getting some of these projects goin.

I have seen very high quality work allready on the net. chopper drivers, linear bearings, etc. have all been well designed and implemented by many DIYers - and their designs have been given away for free - fabulous.

What we need is perhaps a style sheet and norms to present these projects in a format that is useable. I always jsut use the best pieces of these ideas I find because you never know what changes havent been made to the documentation that are required for proper operation.

Also - im glad to see the interest - If there is server space offered, I will gladly donate 4 or 5 hours to either integrate it into this message board and make it a file drop, or to make it its own autonomous "OPENCNC.org" or whatever


03-17-2004, 06:32 PM
I personally would like to see it here on the zone, but I don't know if it would rub his advertizers the wrong way.

03-19-2004, 11:32 PM
Originally posted by pminmo
I personally would like to see it here on the zone, but I don't know if it would rub his advertizers the wrong way.

I see competing advertisements on the same pages here all the time. That doesn't seem to rub the advetisers the wrong way.

I'd love to see and contribute to an opensource cnc section/site.

03-19-2004, 11:54 PM
Originally posted by mvaughn
I see competing advertisements on the same pages here all the time. That doesn't seem to rub the advetisers the wrong way.

I'd love to see and contribute to an opensource cnc section/site.


03-20-2004, 02:09 AM
you can upload you files here- http://cnczone.com/modules.php?s=&name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownload&cid=14

03-20-2004, 03:52 PM

After I check out what the setup is, perhaps we should all decide what we think our msot universal, well designed DIY solution is, send it to the forum, and then decide if there is anything we would all feel comfortable making into a wellrounded opensource product. As higher currentdriver boards and controller software seem to be well taken care of by reasonable companies, perhaps a Control Pendant, a DB25 "breakout" mainboard, a relay card, or something similar would be a good start?

A note: I really enjoy laying out datasheets and writing technical descriptions aimed at non-technical audiences. If we have a good design, as the more hardware\electronics centric people begin making it work well, I will make some background documentation on how to produce a PCB board using the laser-toner transfer method, etc. I have alot of this in files allready. And i have tons of pictures from previous projects to help make the whole thing a visual how-to. I think it would be nice if anyone could get our documents and even if its their first PCB, turn one out ina few days of gathering parts and reading.

Also, i really despise a particular set of plans I was duped into buying years ago when I didnt know any better, I woud really like to provide an alternative to sending $40 to some crank!



03-20-2004, 03:58 PM
Oh. Just to be redundant, this is a short list of what I have to contribute allready:

1- a single sided "modualr" db25 breakout that uses female sockets and jumper wires to provide "total flexability"

2- a standard unipolar stepper driver that works reliably, albiet slowly

3- a "resistor" board to go with the stepper driver that keeps the whole system modular

4- a "pendant" design utilizing a "hacked" ps/2 Keyboard PCB, printed and laminated membrane switch, and a PIC16f84

5- A simple linear guide that, while "borrowing" an idea from John Kleinbauer, is easy to build, easy to source, and very self-contained. Just not very high-performance.

6- A full set of "plans" for a 3-axis, enclosed desktop CNC machine. (see my gallery for small example"

7- A BasicX based "manual" control that provides a manual push-button control for 3 axis, and 2 accessories.

Whats the msot interesting? I will post them all? They are quite large in their current format. I will begin PDFing them later.

03-20-2004, 05:22 PM
These all sound like great contributions Vac!

I am new to electronics/prorgraming/cnc and don't yet know what open source means. could someone explain this concept to me?

03-20-2004, 05:54 PM
opensource is usually thought of as refering to software, the most well known being linux. Open source projects are sort of like freeware in that the programs are usually completely free. some open source projects are research orientated, and some are hardware, and lots are software.. In the late 90s there was actually an attmept to create an opensource 64bit CPU.

open source software often uses what is called the "GPL"

my favorite open source hardware project:

its not cnc at all. its digital music... check it out. impressive to say the least.. a model of what can be done by 1 person!

Heres a link to some info.. there are better links..

open hardware:


popular code repository - and a model of what i think we need


03-20-2004, 05:56 PM
let me say, sourceforge.net isnt a direct model of what we might benifit from.. what is good about surceforge isnt the overly corporate frontend, its the way its a free webbased filesharing system. it lets you check versions of code in and out, so its easy to collaborate. plus, its a good source for high quality freeware.. this is how amazing software gets released for free - like EMC

03-20-2004, 06:04 PM
Thanks Vac,
Now I think I understand. Looks like I'll have to read up A LOT more on programming, electronics and PCB design to be able to contribute. Good, the necessary motivation to learn more


03-20-2004, 06:09 PM
i think that just being the person who asks a million questions can be helpfull. if people spend time putting things into this format, which is nearly commercial quality, or often better, its nice to think it will actually get used.

im still in college, so these kinds of projects benifit be in ways they dont benifit alot of people who contribute. i can stick this stuff my industrial design portfolio, and at the inevitable interviews i can mention PCB, circuit, and mechanical design in addition to being able to draw toasters.

in short, you can get alot out of contributing to these kinds of projects.. escapism isnt far down the list either


glad ive helped open your eyes to something as wonderfull as the opensource community...

btw. i checked out your site. hows the turbine comming?

03-20-2004, 06:29 PM
The turbine is on pause for the moment. Just got a "new" used computer to run the mill. My next step is trying to find a way to cut out a nozzle guide vane from stainless steel and with a Taig Mini mill it will probably be pretty hard so I am trying to figure out a new way to manufacture it without spending to much money. But first I need to get better using CAD software. Currently I am using Rhino.


03-20-2004, 07:39 PM
Originally posted by vacpress
I woud really like to provide an alternative to sending $40 to some crank!

lol ;)

03-20-2004, 08:04 PM
as far as cad goes, i love solidworks. its like legos.. im sure other solids modelers are also good. ive used pro e a bit.. go for SW personal learning edition.

Its FREE. It is for private learnign use, and i think it will output the right iges or stl files.

if you do the tutorials you will be able to get around within 4 or 8 hours of working.. i did tutorials while i built my first designs.. when i ran into a problem, id do a tutorial that helped, either from web or included.

good luck


03-20-2004, 08:12 PM
Is the solidworks learning edition available for download or do you have to request a CD?

I'm not sure what to look for on their site.

03-20-2004, 09:52 PM
Yes, good question mvaughn. I was wondering the same thing. Do you have to attend their class?

06-12-2004, 07:45 PM

I use Pro-e to develop my solid models. You stated that you have use it. It is very powerful and relatively easy to use. Once I have a solid model, how do I create a G-code file to send to a cnc machine. I want to use TurboCNC. Do I need another program or does NC-post do it?

Also another open source 3-axis controller that you all might want to check out is at:


Take care,