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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    I thought it was still in the planning / pre-purchase phase too.
    The parallel port on the Gecko side is just a port for connecting step and direction wires. It can be fed from other sources at the PC end. It's just a convenience. It's doesn't limit anything.
    As a side-note, I've been looking into how to add additional axis and linuxcnc allows you to use multiple parallel ports so up to 9 axis is possible. You can mix n match on the stepper or servo drives too.
    Obviously you wouldn't use parallel ports on a build without budget limitations but most in the diy section have to decide where to save money. And... where it's worth spending extra.
    With Linux you don't have to worry about obsolescence as it retains old drivers in new versions. It's a different story for Windows based systems though.
    Hmmmmmm. Now I don't fancy Linux myself but.....
    A mini pc with 2 or more ethernet ports... A couple of the Mesa 7I98 ethernet cards.... A few daughter boards......
    Now that could get interesting.
    I say the 7I98 as there are plenty of options around you can use as daughterboards that have IDC26 ports. Or even DB25 using the converter cable (LPT-DB).
    Prob even the UCBB from cncdrive would suit it.
    Not as much around to use with the 50 pin ports (ie: the 7I80HD).

    Not sure on availability for me in uk though, Prob cost me a grand for these above bits
    I'll stick with UCCNC for a little while.


    Obsolescence isn't so bad with Windows now that there are some pretty reasonable ethernet controllers around.



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    I use LinuxCNC and I'm definitely not a programmer, nor is any programming required. After the initial install you'll spend almost no time in Linux anyway.

    Linux CNC itself comes with an extremely simple graphic user interface. It's point n click.

    I started with the mindset that it's free so there would be no harm in trying it and switching later if if didn't meet my needs. It did, so there was no advantage in paying for an alternative.
    I have been using Linux for over 20 years so I am comfortable with it. I will definitely be looking into it. I just need to put together a dedicated Linux box

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    As for bottlenecks, you'll almost certainly run into them due to a lack of machine stiffness, or spindle power on a small diy build before your steppers become an issue. You won't be maxing them out.
    Good to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    If you plan to use the free hobby version of Fusion 360, it limits your ability to use faster rapids anyway.

    I have mine set to max out at 12,000mm / minute with 3.5a steppers. I've never set it to cut faster that 5080mm (200") / minute.
    I use Fusion all the time. It is my goto for modeling. I only have the hobby version so I will have to deal with the limits until I find a cheaper/better alternative. Or until they hack the hobby version to the point of it being useless, which is where they are headed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    The reason people like the hobby Gecko G540 drives and the 80v "pro" version (besides their plan n play simplicity) is that they are reliable and simple.

    Avid sells motors and cables prewired for a G540 which saves a bunch of messing around:

    https://www.avidcnc.com/380-oz-in-ne...aft-p-151.html

    https://www.avidcnc.com/cnc-motor-cable-p-45.html

    They definitely aren't the best drives out there but they are 100% suited to a 48" x 48" hobby machine (as are others).
    I looked at these. Something to consider. Although the inductance is a little high, it has made me start to look into the 34s. Thanks for throwing another wrench into my research. Just what I needed, more stuff to research. LMAO

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    Anyway, you should wait until the end to buy any electronics. If the rest is done, post some pics of it so recommendations can be suited to your build.

    If not, wait until you know how much weight they will be moving and with what ball-screws.
    Yeah I am still waiting on a few pieces for the framing/mechanical parts. I have not ordered any electronics yet. At this point my brain is fried trying to decide on the best combination of components. I am starting to think that I am overthinking things too much.

    Thanks for the info!



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by adam_m View Post
    Just adding my 2 cents... but for what you're planning to do with you machine (wood, plastic and aluminum) and the table surface you're planning to have, I don't know why you're being talked out of going with a G540. It's compact, a single unit, takes up little space and has been nothing but solid for me. They have good service as well, I had one driver go bad and Gecko replaced it for free.

    My experience is limited but I have had nothing but good/solid performance from mine. Granted the parallel port is old tech but I only run 4 axis on my machine anything more than that and yes you need another solution.

    . so by my standards and from one beginner to another, I wouldn't hesitate.

    Adam,

    p.s. I think my build is in one of these threads on the forum if you're interested. I run the following, KL23H2100-35-4B steppers, Power Supply-KL-600-48, G540, Mach3, Windows 7pro (dedicated machine)
    I have not been talked out of the Gecko products. In fact I keep going back and forth with them. As mentioned the parallel port is an issue as I do not have a computer that has one that I can use for this. And adding a UC100 or other USB/ethernet adapter just pushes it further out of my budget. I already have an old laptop that I have setup for the CNC. Also as far as bang for my buck, when compared to other options the Geckos do not rate well. BUT there is no doubt that there are advantages like ease of use and support/warranty. And to be honest those are very important to me as well. Hence the reason I keep them in my considerations. I just need to determine what my actual needs are performance-wise and see if the Geckos will work and if I can put together the components and be within my budget.

    I will go look for your build to see how you put things together.

    Thanks Adam!



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    Hi,
    No-one is trying to talk OP out of a G540. A G540 is rated to 50V and 3.5A and his steppers NEED more. The G203 is 80V and 7A, its just that much bigger and more powerful.....the numbers don't lie. Gecko, all models, have a good reputation
    and that's why they are recommended.

    There are some good Chinese ones that compare favorably in specs and reliability but at half the price........anyone buying drivers will look and have to come to some conclusion about the price/quality trade-off. That's not talking someone out
    of something but presenting the choice to be made.

    Craig
    Agreed



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    24's fit on 23 mountings.
    I was wondering about that. I think I have seen mounts that are for 23/24s.

    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    For true closed loop, servos are the way to go.
    I know servos are the way to go but unfortunately they are no longer in my price range. I guess I was hoping that the hybrid closed loop setups were a step up and offered some added protections/features. So all the hype is just marketing rhetoric?

    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    However. A respected router builder here in u.k. (commercial & hobby) highly rates the Lichuan LCDA86H & LC60H2102 combination for closed loop steppers.
    Mostly on 2m+ size builds.

    Lichuan LC60H286 motors are a better fit for hobby units imho. But...
    .... With resistance of 0.5, induct of only 1.3, torque of 3NM, at only 4.5A........ They're not exactly cheap.
    I will look into these but it sounds like they are not in my budget.

    Thanks



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by adam_m View Post
    I didn't think the OP had purchased anything yet...if he had then of course he'll need to match voltages and amperage.

    All I was trying to say is that from a "package" deal, the G540 works, is reliable and is a good way to intro into the hobby.

    Adam,
    I have not purchased any electronics yet, so I am still considering/researching all options.



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Goemon View Post
    I thought it was still in the planning / pre-purchase phase too.

    The parallel port on the Gecko side is just a port for connecting step and direction wires. It can be fed from other sources at the PC end. It's just a convenience. It's doesn't limit anything.

    As a side-note, I've been looking into how to add additional axis and linuxcnc allows you to use multiple parallel ports so up to 9 axis is possible. You can mix n match on the stepper or servo drives too.

    Obviously you wouldn't use parallel ports on a build without budget limitations but most in the diy section have to decide where to save money. And... where it's worth spending extra.

    With Linux you don't have to worry about obsolescence as it retains old drivers in new versions. It's a different story for Windows based systems though.
    I have always been a big Linux fan. I would like to make sure to isolate the Linux PC from the CNC so that if I were to want to use the PC or if there is an issue with the PC (does happen at times) it does not interfere with the job that is running. I assume I would need to offload the step/direction commands to a separate board like the Mesa or something (I suppose even the Gecko would do this?). Please correct me on this if I am not understanding the LinuxCNC correctly. This is a question I have about LinuxCNC but have not got to asking it yet.

    Thanks



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Hi,

    I assume I would need to offload the step/direction commands to a separate board like the Mesa or something (I suppose even the Gecko would do this?).
    LinuxCNC can drive a parallel port quite nicely. Even if your motherboard does not have a parallel port there are PCI cards for about $20 which adhere to the older parallel port
    standard and will work fine. A parallel port has a maximum of 17 IOs, and is adequate for a very basic machine only, if however you have multiple parallel ports that restriction
    vanishes. The Mesa boards are a bit like a parallel port but on steroids.

    If you are already familiar with Linux then LinuxCNC is your best solution.

    As far as programming LinuxCNC goes, all the basic functions are already written and installed, no programming required. The only time that sort of programming is required is if
    you have say analogue servos for which you require LinuxCNC to close the loop, or maybe secondary encoders or similar. For the vast majority of Step/DIR machines no special programming is required.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    Hi,
    LinuxCNC can drive a parallel port quite nicely. Even if your motherboard does not have a parallel port there are PCI cards for about $20 which adhere to the older parallel port
    standard and will work fine. A parallel port has a maximum of 17 IOs, and is adequate for a very basic machine only, if however you have multiple parallel ports that restriction
    vanishes. The Mesa boards are a bit like a parallel port but on steroids.

    If you are already familiar with Linux then LinuxCNC is your best solution.

    As far as programming LinuxCNC goes, all the basic functions are already written and installed, no programming required. The only time that sort of programming is required is if
    you have say analogue servos for which you require LinuxCNC to close the loop, or maybe secondary encoders or similar. For the vast majority of Step/DIR machines no special programming is required.

    Craig
    Well like I mentioned earlier, my dedicated PC is a laptop so no go on the PCI card. If I were to go with a Mesa board do they have a ethernet solution? Are there other ethernet breakout boards that will work with LinuxCNC?

    Is this the correct workflow using LinuxCNC?

    G-code Sender (internal) ---> LinuxCNC (via parallel/ethernet port) ---> Breakout Board ---> Stepper Drivers ---> Stepper Motors

    Now that I think about it, I do have a ton of old computer components/parts stored away. I may have enough to build a basic PC (or 5) if necessary. But I would prefer to go the ethernet route if possible. I assume that ethernet would be much better than parallel port?

    Thanks for the info!



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Hi,
    I've only used LinuxCNC on a single parallel port, and it worked fine.

    First off I wouldn't waste your time trying to use a USB to parallel converter, they never worked with Mach3 running a parallel port motion control, and it will not work with LinuxCNC
    for the same reason.Any sense of simultaneity is lost though the USB.

    As to whether Mesa boards have an Ethernet version, I don't know. My understanding, and pictures I've seen of them are that they are PCI cards. I don't know whether they do a PCIe version either.

    1) LinuxCNC IS the Gcode interpreter and trajectory planner
    2) The numeric trajectory data is consumed by the motion control solution, which in the case of LinuxCNC is the realtime software core that produces pulse streams with interrupt driven software timers.
    3) The pulse streams are communicated to the outside world by use of one or more parallel ports or a Mesa board via PCI.
    4) If a parallel port is used, recommended that it be buffered by a breakout board. Note: Mesa boards are, to my knowledge, buffered and have screw terminal output/input connections
    and therefore no breakout board is required.

    A Windows PC solution would be for example:
    1) Mach4 IS the Gcode interpreter and trajectory planner.
    2) The numeric trajectory data is consumed by the motion control solution. Excluding the somewhat archaic Mach3 parallel port motion solution, an external motion controller like an Ethernet SmoothStepper.
    3) The pulse streams are communicated most commonly from the motion control board to a breakout board which offers buffering and screw terminal inputs and outputs.

    The only major difference between the two schemes is that Windows PCs are poor candidates for producing high speed, clean and stable pulse streams with interrupt driven software timers, as a consequence
    Windows CNC software all but requires a dedicated hardware motion control board.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    First off I wouldn't waste your time trying to use a USB to parallel converter, they never worked with Mach3 running a parallel port motion control, and it will not work with LinuxCNC
    for the same reason. Any sense of simultaneity is lost though the USB.
    Yeah I read that LinuxCNC does not work with USB

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    As to whether Mesa boards have an Ethernet version, I don't know. My understanding, and pictures I've seen of them are that they are PCI cards. I don't know whether they do a PCIe version either.
    I found this diagram on the wiki.printnc site



    It looks like you can connect to the BOB either through parallel or ethernet. But I could be misinterpreting it.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    1) LinuxCNC IS the Gcode interpreter and trajectory planner
    2) The numeric trajectory data is consumed by the motion control solution, which in the case of LinuxCNC is the realtime software core that produces pulse streams with interrupt driven software timers.
    3) The pulse streams are communicated to the outside world by use of one or more parallel ports or a Mesa board via PCI.
    4) If a parallel port is used, recommended that it be buffered by a breakout board. Note: Mesa boards are, to my knowledge, buffered and have screw terminal output/input connections
    and therefore no breakout board is required.
    This explanation is great!

    It is starting to finally make some sense. Thanks for your patience!



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    And here is the LinuxCNC Breakout Board page on PrintNC site that I got the image from. I did not see any mention of the ethernet port on the page though. Wonder if it is a USB port? Hmmmm

    https://wiki.printnc.info/en/controllers/linuxcnc/bob



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Hi,

    It looks like you can connect to the BOB either through parallel or ethernet. But I could be misinterpreting it.
    No, the board you pictured is a plain parallel breakout board. The other connector is not Ethernet but is an older style USB, and its ONLY meant for a power supply
    from the PC. This board could be used with Mach3 and parallel port motion control OR LinuxCNC and its parallel port motion control, but it cannot be either
    Ethernet or USB.

    Breakout boards are not intelligent, they have at best some buffering, maybe some relay switching, and if your lucky a PWM circuit for spindle control. They serve to buffer
    the motion control, provide opto-isolation, relays, PWM and screw terminations. They range from very simple through to sophisticated but do not really provide any
    functionality, just convenience.

    Motion controllers on the other hand are intelligent.......they accept numeric data and generate pulse streams.

    If you like LInuxCNC has two parts. One part is the Gcode interpreter, GUI and trajectory planner. The second part is the motion controller, that is that part that turns
    numeric trajectory data into pulse streams. The fact that they are installed and operate as one tends to obscure the fact that there are two distinct operations going on.

    Mach3 is the same, the Windows app Mach3, does the GUI, Gcode interpreter and trajectory planner, while Mach3's Pulse Engine is separate software that resides with/competes
    with Windows kernel that does the numeric to pulse stream conversion. It was this Pulse Engine software that surprised many programmers, astounded Microsoft, and to my knowledge has never
    been replicated, that started the hobby CNC revolution. As fascinating as the Mach3 Pulse Engine is it's too archaic to be considered a viable solution these days.
    LinuxCNC, by virtue of being realtime is a viable solution.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    No, the board you pictured is a plain parallel breakout board. The other connector is not Ethernet but is an older style USB, and its ONLY meant for a power supply
    from the PC. This board could be used with Mach3 and parallel port motion control OR LinuxCNC and its parallel port motion control, but it cannot be either
    Ethernet or USB.
    Oh OK. I was wondering if it was a USB.

    I feel like I am starting to find my way through the confusion some. The following is what I have come up with so far as my options.

    Ethernet
    I found the LinuxCNC Supported Hardware page. It lists the Mesa Electronics 7i76E, 7i96, 7i92 and 7i80 as compatible.

    I also found this page:

    Mesa ethernet setup for 7i92, 7i96, 7i76E and other ethernet Mesa boards

    So I assume that this means that using one of the listed cards would allow me to communicate via ethernet instead of a parallel port?

    Parallel
    If I cannot run ethernet then I would need to build/buy some sort of PC with a parallel port or two. As mentioned I may have everything to build that so the cost my be minimal. If I were to go this route I would either need to:

    1. Use the motherboard parallel port and purchase a BOB to connect to.
    2. Buy a Mesa PCI board

    If I installed the PCI board would I then need to add a daughter board (see image) or just a BOB to connect the stepper drivers to? I have not priced everything but I know having to purchase 2 Mesa boards can get expensive.

    This is the Mesa PCI plus one of their daughter boards.


    Am I on the right track?



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Hi'
    I tried LinuxCNC just as an experiment, and ran my machine on it for about a month.

    I used a PCI card for a parallel port and plugged the BoB into that and it ran fine. At the time I only had the one parallel port card, leftover from the earliest Mach3 days,
    so that's what I used. It certainly was 'cheap and cheerful'. It handily surpassed my expectations and beat Mach3/parallel port hands down.

    I did revert back to Mach4 which also has exceeded my expectations, and is the software that I am most familiar with. Thats not a recommendation that's just a statement
    about my CNC history,

    I've seen pictures of Mesa boards only, much like the one you posted. Looks to be a great set-up. I would certainly get the daughter board if I were going to invest in the
    motion board....I mean why wouldn't you....it looks just the ticket.

    I have not seen an Ethernet connected Mesa board but your evidence is that they exist.

    I would suggest that as you are familiar and comfortable with Linux then LinuxCNC is a slam-dunk for you. You could start cheap, say a parallel port and BoB,
    you could get both for under $50. That would give you enough to run your machine, albeit somewhat limited with respect to numbers of inputs for probes, limits
    and homes for a while. On you've got the machine sorted then invest in a Mesa board, or whatever other solution that comes to you as a result of that experience.

    You were concerned about 'bottle necks', well LinuxCNC is not a bottle neck nor is any of the compatible hardware. I would save the money that you might otherwise spend
    on software and/or motion control hardware that you may concentrate on linear motion hardware like ballscrews and linear rails and cars. Good linear motion products
    are not cheap and yet have a major bearing on the ultimate result, the more budget you can conserve so that you can get the best (you can afford) motion parts the better.

    Craig



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Sray View Post
    Well like I mentioned earlier, my dedicated PC is a laptop so no go on the PCI card. If I were to go with a Mesa board do they have a ethernet solution? Are there other ethernet breakout boards that will work with LinuxCNC?
    Is this the correct workflow using LinuxCNC?
    G-code Sender (internal) ---> LinuxCNC (via parallel/ethernet port) ---> Breakout Board ---> Stepper Drivers ---> Stepper Motors
    Now that I think about it, I do have a ton of old computer components/parts stored away. I may have enough to build a basic PC (or 5) if necessary. But I would prefer to go the ethernet route if possible. I assume that ethernet would be much better than parallel port?
    Thanks for the info!
    Yes there is. Such as 7I98 and 7I80hd.

    However....
    As I said earlier on.
    A mini pc with 2 or more ethernet ports... A couple of the Mesa 7I98 ethernet cards.... A few daughter boards......
    I say the 7I98 as there are plenty of generic options around you can use as daughterboards that have IDC26 ports.
    Or even DB25 boards (Like the 5 axis one in the images earlier) using the converter cable (LPT-DB).

    Not as much around to use with the 50 pin ports as daughterboards that are on the 7I80HD.

    Last edited by dazp1976; 12-03-2021 at 06:46 AM.


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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Sray View Post
    Yeah I read that LinuxCNC does not work with USB
    I found this diagram on the wiki.printnc site
    It looks like you can connect to the BOB either through parallel or ethernet. But I could be misinterpreting it.
    This explanation is great!
    It is starting to finally make some sense. Thanks for your patience!
    The bob in the image has parallel and USB (not eth).
    The USB is solely for the purpose of supplying the bob with 5v power for the output circuits.
    Or 5v can be supplied into pc (+5v, GND) on the bottom row if no usb available.
    The 12-24v on the right is for powering spindle + analogue + all inputs on the left.

    I could see this bob working fine as a daughterboard with the Mesa 7I98 using IDC26-DB25 cable. Can't see a reason why not.



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    I see no reason why something like this wouldn't work well together from a laptop and Linux.
    To give you 16 outputs, 18 inputs from ucbb bob dedicated for step/dir / limits etc.
    Use 5 axis bob as 12 out 5 in dedicated to run spindle controls- pwm / relays / sensors etc.

    Basically works similar to me unning my UC300eth for uccnc. I can use ANY breakout board with it on it's output based ports.
    With Linux I think you can choose whether a port is in or out based.... Correct?.

    7I98: Ethernet.
    7I98 picture



    A UCBB
    https://www.cncdrive.com/UCBB.html



    5 axis bob (+idc-db cable).



    Last edited by dazp1976; 12-03-2021 at 08:05 AM.


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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    You were concerned about 'bottle necks', well LinuxCNC is not a bottle neck nor is any of the compatible hardware. I would save the money that you might otherwise spend
    on software and/or motion control hardware that you may concentrate on linear motion hardware like ballscrews and linear rails and cars. Good linear motion products
    are not cheap and yet have a major bearing on the ultimate result, the more budget you can conserve so that you can get the best (you can afford) motion parts the better.
    Yeah I already have linear rails/blocks and 1605 ballscrews for all axis's. Still waiting on some pieces before I start my build. I want to get the electronics figured out and ordered so by the time I get the rest of the machine/mechanical built.



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    Default Re: Controller Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    Yes there is. Such as 7I98 and 7I80hd.

    However....
    As I said earlier on.
    A mini pc with 2 or more ethernet ports... A couple of the Mesa 7I98 ethernet cards.... A few daughter boards......
    I say the 7I98 as there are plenty of generic options around you can use as daughterboards that have IDC26 ports.
    Or even DB25 boards (Like the 5 axis one in the images earlier) using the converter cable (LPT-DB).

    Not as much around to use with the 50 pin ports as daughterboards that are on the 7I80HD.
    Once I figure out exactly what direction I want to go with the motion control, I will then need to figure out what all I will need. I am leaning toward LinuxCNC/Mesa board(s). I am just starting to understand the basics of what components are needed in the workflow. Understanding all the possible BOB/daughter boards makes my brain hurt. Especially with Mesa. They have so many different board options. I have no idea exactly what I need and why. That is what I need to figure out next. I am looking into the boards you mentioned now.



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