motionPro 6600 motion controller

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$199

motionPro 6600 Controller

Includes the motionPro 6600 Controller and a custom-made jogger. All pledge levels include compatible connector housings and pins.

Details

A software agnostic four-axis motion controller with independently configurable integrated motor drivers

As Featured In

Geeky Gadgets

"Designed for any application or project that uses stepper motors for fine motion control, the motionPro 6600 has been created for makers, developers and enthusiasts..."

MickMake

"Access is via plain old TTL or USB with opto-isolators and noise filters for added protection."

The motionPro 6600 is a four-axes motion controller for stepper motor-driven machines that comes with integrated, high-powered motor drivers. The hardware is designed to be software agnostic and will work with any logic that puts out TTL-level step and direction signals. This expands the scope of applications significantly, since you are not limited to a single, proprietary controller software and can write your own custom software drivers.

The motionPro 6600 is designed to be user-friendly and can be used by anyone, from those with little to no electronics knowledge, such as students, hobbyists, and budding makers, all the way to trained and experienced professionals with backgrounds in engineering and electronics such as professional developers, machinists, and product designers. The controller is designed in such a way that it can adapt to your growing skill levels and demands from increasingly sophisticated machine design.

The motionPro 6600 comes integrated with the latest version of grbl firmware, but it can also be controlled using external software such as the popular Mach 3, LinuxCNC, or even custom software written by you for bespoke applications. The controller eliminates the need for any external drivers and comes equipped with four high-powered, independently configurable, Toshiba stepper motor drivers.

The motionPro 6600 is vital for anyone who owns or builds:

  • Milling machines
  • Robots and mechanical arms
  • Linear slides for cameras, DSLRs, etc.
  • Laser engravers/cutters
  • Waterjet machines
  • Pick and place machines
  • Sorting machines
  • Automotive applications such as lumbar support adjustment, etc.
  • Storage retrieval systems
  • Pretty much anything that uses stepper motors for fine motion control

This controller is also for folks who have one machine and are possibly looking to use the same machine for different purposes. For example, some might start with a laser engraver but at some point want to have a mill. With this controller, users can run both without having to modify any electronics.

Features & Specifications

  • Control up to four axes per machine
  • High-power stepper drivers capable of driving up to four NEMA 17/23/34 motors at up to 4 A per motor
  • Independently configurable current limits and stepper resolutions (up to 16 micro-steps) for all four axes
  • Selectable “clone axis” function - Clone the X or Y axis, or use it as a 4th axis
  • Software agnostic - Use with the on-board grbl firmware or any other external control logic that is capable of giving out TTL-level control signals
  • Connects using USB, parallel/printer port, or the onboard IDC connector
  • All step and direction inputs have been broken out for control using external logic
  • On-board opto-isolators between control signals inputs and the driver chips
  • Great thermal performance (tested) with a heavy-duty heatsink for primary heat dissipation and PCB copper pours for secondary heatsinking
  • Reverse power connect protection
  • Wide input power ranging from 12 V to 36 V. On-board 3.3 V, 5 V, and 12 V outputs for connecting fans, etc.
  • Noise filtered inputs for all limit switches, probes, and emergency stop switches
  • On-board parallel port for direct connection with software such as Mach 3 or LinuxCNC
  • Physical dimensions: 202 mm x 140 mm x 40 mm. Weight (with heatsink): 743 grams.
  1. Multi-voltage power outputs - 12 V, 5 V and 3.3 V power outputs are available onboard for powering external devices such as fans, 3rd party communication drivers, etc.
  2. DB25 expansion port - All unused DB25 post pins are also available on this expansion header for connecting additional external devices (TTL-level only).
  3. Multiple logic inputs - Any external control source can be applied through IDC header here or in parallel/printer/DB25 port.
  4. Higher power drivers - 4 high power stepper drivers with up to 4 A per channel.
  5. Independently configurable current limit settings - Current limits for all drivers can be independently configured.
  6. Opto coupled logic inputs - All drivers have opto-isolation between their logic inputs and external input devices.
  7. AUX axis - Auxiliary axis that can clone the X or Y axis or can be used as an independent 4th axis.
  8. Motor connectors - Multiple motor connectors for connecting different power level motors. Contacts are rated at 2 A and 10 A.
  9. Excellent heat management - In addition to a beefy heatsink, the copper pours within the board act as a secondary heatsink keeping operating temperatures well within the rated limits.
  10. Torque adjust - Each driver has its own independently configurable torque adjustment settings.
  11. Stepper resolution - Up to 16 microstep stepper driver resolution that can easily be set with DIP switches according to the chart on the board. Each driver has its own independently configurable microstep resolution.
  12. grbl expansion HDR - The grbl expansion header lets you control other devices such as coolants and other external devices using relays etc. This header also breaks out the SPINDLE PWM and SPINDLE DIR pins that can control laser devices or be connected to spindle speed and direction devices.
  13. Limit switch inputs - Noise filtered endstop, probe and emergency stop switches.
  14. Onboard grbl logic - The controller includes onboard grbl logic. Other logic sources can also be selected.
  15. Limit switch mode - Flexible limit switch configuration. Endstop switches can be configured to operate in normally open or normally closed configurations.
  16. USB - Control the onboard grbl logic with USB.
  17. VIN - Wide input power range: 8 V to 36 V with two different connector options.
  18. Reverse power protection - Power inputs are protected against reverse power connections.

Who is motionPro 6600 for?

DIY’ers and makers - These are folks like me who started with a simple project, got hooked, and learned plenty along the way. They have a fair idea of what they want in terms of electronics and are looking for solutions that scale with their needs. This group also include experienced builders, possibly with educational backgrounds in electronics and mechanical engineering, who have specific features in mind when selecting electronics for their machines such as, being software agnostic, scalable in terms of their future needs, etc. For example, a maker who owns a laser can easily upgrade to a mill and vice-versa without any changes to the electronics.

Industrial designers - These are folks who have learned a lot about design, are now working with a design firm, and possibly know a lot about manufacturing processes as well. These are people who work with digital fabrication tools very often and either have a personal mill in their homes/offices or are planning to get one. The motionPro 6600 is perfect for them. These users have a varied set of demands since they work with different materials and processes. This controller has the features that let them accommodate everything they want to do today and later in the future. For example, they can rapidly prototype using the onboard logic, while for small batch runs they can use more professional software.

Industrial users - These are folk who own businesses and typically have at least one precision motion machine in their shop. This board benefits these folk in terms of replacing faulty/improper cheap hardware that may have seemed adequate for experimentation, but cannot be relied on for long-term, rugged use. They also include folk who work in robotics and need for fine motion control. With a heavy-duty heatsink and rugged physical interfaces, this controller can stand on its own in any harsh industrial environment.

Makers of consumer products - These are folk who make consumer products that utilise stepper motors, such as camera sliders, consumer grade robots, etc. This controller is especially suitable for folk who are testing out new designs such as mechanical arms or a novel camera slider and who need the ability to load their custom firmware onto the controller.

Folk who run educational and vocational training institutions and maker spaces/labs - These are places where kids and students learn and experiment with mechatronics. These are also community spaces where folks can ‘rent’ machines to bring their projects to reality. This controller is useful for machines in these places because it can reduce costs by using a single machine for different purposes. For example, you can configure interchangeable attachments that work as a mill that can also be used as a laser engraver, all without swapping out the electronics. The laser engraver bundle can help you do exactly this.

Research lab personnel - These are people who need custom made plastics in their research. These include parts for custom prosthetics and other medical applications. While it would be easy to contract these to a fab, it’s more cost effective to have a mill in-house. Research labs have very diverse needs and designs and using a commercial fab for incremental changes can be very expensive. With this controller, researchers can mill parts or use the machine for other custom work without having change the electronics.

How did this project come about?

I have always been a tinkerer. Electronics was my passion and though I chose a career far away from engineering, I have always kept in touch and kept working on hobby projects. At one point I was creating a lot of PCBs with surface mount devices and it was getting very expensive to create stencils for all of them. I realised that I needed a low-power laser that could carve out stencils from common plastics. I eventually built a laser engraver/cutter which did cut stencils.

However, I was now hooked. The world of DIY was just too cool to let go after one project. I then built my own 3D printer and then upgraded my laser to a more rugged machine with the option of attaching a mill to it.

All along, I realised that a variety of software controls all of these machines and, unfortunately, the software typically support only a limited set of electronic hardware. I thought to myself it would be really handy to have hardware that works with a bunch of different software and physical interfaces, and is powerful enough to serve through a user’s increasing levels of sophistication as they grow and learn as a maker. It also had to be easy enough to use and be useful for a variety of experience levels from basic consumers and kids just experimenting all the way to experienced, professional makers.

My initial design was a success which the motionPro 6600 expands on considerably.

As I kept working on my projects and kept talking to others in this space, I realised the different needs they have. I kept integrating these needs into the controller.

What is included in the package?

All motionPro 6600 controllers come with a variable feedrate custom jogger. All connectors and crimp pins are also included in the package. No tools are included. Also a fan is not included and not needed under normal operation. However, if you are mounting the controller in a box, a standard 80 mm or 120 mm computer fan should be placed so that it directs air at the heatsink.

A laser bundle is also avaiable which includes a 4A laser driver.

Documentation

Visit this site for detailed documentation.

Comparisons

motionPro 6600 Gecko G540 CNC xPro V3 Smoothieboard v1 Buildbotics Duet 3D Smoothstepper
Price $250 $269 $120 $190 $450 $170 $180
Integrated motor drivers Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Max current per channel 4 A 3.5 A 2.2 A 2 A 6 A 2.4 A NA
Max voltage 40 V 50 V 24 V 24 V 36 V 24 V 5 V
Software agnostic Yes No No No NA No No
Number of Axes 4 4 3 3 + 2 extruders 4 3 + 2 extruders 6
Logic input physical interfaces Parallel port, USB, IDC header Parallel port USB USB, Ethernet Web/JSON WiFi/Ethernet, USB Ethernet, USB
Onboard logic Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electrical isolation between logic and drivers Yes No No No NA No Ethernet version only
Noise filtered endstops, probe and emergency stop Yes Yes No Yes Yes NA NA
Over-current protection Yes Yes Yes Software only Yes Software only No
Individually configurable axes on hardware Yes NA Yes No Yes No No
Reverse connect protection Yes NA No Yes Yes NA NA
Independently adjustable torque settings (apart from max current) Yes. Can be set to 100% or AUTO which determines torque based on the step pulses No No No No No No
Comprehensive heat management Yes No No No Yes No No
Optimally supported stepper motors NEMA 17 NEMA 23 NEMA 34 NEMA 42 NEMA 17 NEMA 23 NEMA 34 NEMA 42 NEMA 17 NEMA 23 NEMA 17 NEMA 17 NEMA 23 NEMA 34 NEMA 42 NEMA 17 NA

NA indicates that the information is either not available or not validated.

Manufacturing Plan

I have equipment that can handle low volume production, such as a reflow oven and a semi-automatic PnP machine. I also plan to offer a few internships to local students who would help me with the actual assembly. Should the volumes rise, I have had discussions with a local assembly unit.

Component procurement is already in place. I usually procure components from reputable suppliers such as RS Components (Farnell in the USA) and DigiKey India. Along with this, I also have a few reliable local and overseas suppliers who I’ve been working with for almost a year without any issues.

Production will start after the campaign ends and pledges will likely ship 45-60 days from the end date.

Shipping & Fulfilment

  • If I choose to self-fulfill pledges, they will ship from India via Fedex, DHL, or DTDC. I have been shipping through them for more than two years and never had any problems.
  • If I choose Crowd Supply’s fulfilment service, everything will ship from Portland, Oregon.
  • Certain countries apply custom and import duties and as such these will be borne by the backers.

Risks & Challenges

  • The manufacturing plan accounts for 50 units. Should the number of units rise, the time-to-delivery may increase.
  • The controller also includes parts such as heatsinks that are machined from aluminium. Any changes in the tooling cost or the price of raw aluminium may impact the end-user price.
  • I get all my boards manufactured from a reputable fab here in India. Any sudden pricing changes from them may force me to look for manufacturers outside India and this may impact delivery schedules. The same goes for part sourcing.
  • Any feedback from influencers to whom the boards were sent may have to be incorporated and this may impact delivery schedules as well.

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Credits

Class B Project

I'm a software services marketer while my wife is a test data manager. I've been tinkering with electronics with my dad since I was 5 years old. That led to me being an electronics engineer. However my career path took a detour with electronics becoming a serious hobby and now a passion.


Hrishikesh Bidwe

Owner

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