Phi Mainboard 5LC is a 3D printer controller with a focus on network connectivity. In addition to all the things that other controller boards can do, Phi provides a web interface that you can use to interact with your printer over the local network. With Phi, you no longer need a separate single-board computer (like a Raspberry Pi), which saves you money, simplifies setup, and spares you from long start-up times.
While Phi’s feature set is geared toward 3D printers, it can also be used to drive other digital-fabrication equipment, such as CNC machines.
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Powerful Brains • Flexible Networking • Fast & Functional Web Interface • Runs RepRapFirmware • Support for a Wide Range of Hardware • Open Source
Brains—plural. Powering Phi are two processors: an ESP32-S3-WROOM module and a SAM E51 microcontroller. The former handles networking, SD storage, USB communication, and displays; the latter handles kinematics, stepping, digital and analog I/O, and other realtime controls. This delegation of roles ensures that motion control and other time-sensitive operations do not get bogged down by networking.
Whether your network is wired or wireless, Phi has you covered. You might start out using your printer over Wi-Fi, then decide to run cable at some point in the future. Or vice-versa!
Note: Because the Wi-Fi drivers for Espressif chips are available only as binary blobs (without source code), Phi will ship with firmware support for Ethernet only. For personal use, however, you will be able to build and upload firmware with Wi-Fi support. We will strive to make this process easy, even for non-developers, and to ensure that it does not require specialized tools.
Phi’s web interface, Duet Web Control, allows you to upload G-code files, configure settings, start jobs, control the device, and monitor prints. It even adapts to various screen sizes, so you can use it from a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone.
Ten seconds after you power it on, Phi will be serving the Duet Web Control interface, which will await your instructions. And G-code uploads are fast, as well: up to 800 KiB/s on Wi-Fi and 600 KiB/s on Ethernet (though of course YMMV).
Phi might not have a USB port for connecting a webcam, but you can still use some IP cameras to get a video feed of your machine in the web interface. One affordable, DIY option is to use an ESP32-CAM module.
Phi runs RepRapFirmware, which has a huge legacy in the 3D-printing world and is credited with introducing numerous advancements. It supports Cartesian, delta, CoreXY, polar, and most other kinematics. More importantly, you can configure RepRapFirmware without having to rebuild it. Most settings in the firmware, especially those related to kinematics, are configured using G-Code, so you can even make changes on the fly!
If you want to go all-out with the display, Phi supports PanelDue in both 4-pin and 10-pin configurations. If you’re interested in a more basic display (since there’s a web interface anyway), Phi also supports ST7920/ST7565-based 128 x 64 graphical LCD displays like the RepRapDiscount Full Graphic Smart Controller and the FYSETC Mini 12864.
Phi includes five built-in stepper drivers. If you need more, a Duet 3 Expansion Mini 2+ will bring you up to a total of seven stepper drivers. And if seven still isn’t enough, you can always add CAN-FD expansion boards like the Duet 3 Expansion 3HC, the Duet 3 Toolboard 1LC, and the Duet 3 Expansion 1XD. Or connect several of these boards to the CAN-FD bus, and drive a truly absurd number of steppers, heater outputs, fans, thermistors, etc.
Phi supports all of the expansion options you might expect - NeoPixels, BLTouch and other Z-probes, thermocouples or PT100s (using daughterboards), SSRs (for heated chambers), VFDs, accelerometers, filament monitors, etc.
Phi was created using open source and freely-available tools: KiCAD for schematic capture and PCB layout and GCC and CMake for firmware development. Phi’s schematic, PCB layout, and firmware will be publicly available on our GitHub shortly after the product ships.
Networking & Connectivity
|Phi Mainboard 5LC||Duet 3 Mini 5+||Smoothieboard 5X||SKR 2|
|Networking||Wi-Fi and Ethernet||Wi-Fi or Ethernet||Ethernet||None|
|Processor||ESP32-S3-WROOM-1-N8 ¹ + ATSAME51N19A||ATSAME54P20A||LPC1769FBD100||STM32F407VGT6|
|Core||Dual-core Xtensa-LX7 + Cortex-M4F||Cortex-M4F||Cortex-M3||Cortex-M4F|
|Frequency||240 MHz + 120 MHz||120 MHz||120 MHz||168 MHz|
|RAM||512 KB + 192 KB||256 KB||64 KB||192 KB|
|Flash||8 MB + 512 KB||1 MB||512 KB||1 MB|
|12 V regulator||3 A||1 A||None||None|
|5 V regulator||2x 3 A||1 A||None||4 A|
|3.3 V regulator||2x 1 A||2x 0.8 A||0.8 A||0.8 A|
|Input Voltage (VIN)||11 V - 25 V||11 V - 25 V||12 V - 24 V||12 V - 24 V|
|SD card||Yes - SDIO||Yes - SDIO||Yes - SPI||Yes - SDIO|
|Steppers||5x TMC2209||5x TMC2209||5x A5984||None|
|Heater outputs||1x Bed, 2x Hotend||1x Bed, 2x Hotend||1x Bed, 2x Hotend||1x Bed, 2x Hotend|
|Servo/Laser/VFD Port (5V output)||Yes||Yes (signal shared with a fan)||No||No|
|GPIO (free, addressable digital/analog pin)||14||12||39||9|
|Fans||4 PWM (2 with tach input), 1 always-on, VIN/12 V selectable||4 PWM (2 with tach input), 1 always-on, VIN/12 V selectable||3 PWM||3 PWM, 2 always-on|
|Displays supported (without adapter or significant modification)||PanelDue, Mini 12864, RepRapDiscount Full Graphic Smart Controller||PanelDue, Mini 12864||None||Mini 12864, TFT35, RepRapDiscount Full Graphic Smart Controller|
|CAN Expansions||Duet 3 Expansion 3HC, Duet 3 Toolboard 1LC, Duet 3 Expansion 1XD||Duet 3 Expansion 3HC, Duet 3 Toolboard 1LC, Duet 3 Expansion 1XD||None||None|
|Other Expansions||PT100 or thermocouple temperature-sensor daughter board, Duet 3 Expansion Mini 2||PT100 or thermocouple temperature-sensor daughter board, Duet 3 Expansion Mini 2, SBC||None||ESP-12S/ESP-07S Wi-Fi Module, EXP-MOT Driver Expansion (signals shared with display headers)|
|Price||$149 ²||$154 ³||$194 ⁴||$52 ⁵|
You will find Phi’s documentation in the hardware design repository wiki. We will add materials, including guides and technical articles, by the time boards ship our to backers. Meanwhile, if you have a question that just can’t wait, or if you want to see a topic covered in our documentation, please feel free to reach out using the Ask a technical question link below.
Phi Mainboard 5LC will be assembled, tested, and packaged by our contract manufacturer in the Philippines. They will assist in sourcing the PCB and components using their extensive network. We chose this particular company, which caters to both local and international clients, because of their extensive experience with electronics manufacturing. Furthermore, having an onshore manufacturer will give us faster lines of communication, allow us to monitor the entire process more closely, and facilitate tighter coordination should an issue arise.
After testing and packaging the production batch of Phi boards, our CM will send them to Crowd Supply’s fulfillment partner, Mouser Electronics, who will distribute orders to backers worldwide. You can learn more about Crowd Supply’s fulfillment service under Ordering, Paying, and Shipping in their guide.
The pandemic-induced global component shortage continues to be the greatest risk for any electronics project – and it’s no different for Phi. We tried to mitigate this risk by using well stocked components wherever possible. This is not a full solution, however, as integrated circuits (ICs) remain in short supply. Fortunately, reputable vendors appear to have begun restocking the ICs we need for Phi, and we expect to have stock available in the coming months. Once we hit our funding goal, we will prioritize the procurement of these components in particular.
"Makers, hobbyists and 3D printing enthusiasts that would like to upgrade their existing system may be interested in a new open source ESP32 3D printer controller called the Phi Mainboard 5LC..."
Produced by Likha Labs in Manila, Philippines.
Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.
Includes the controller board, a Micro SD card, and a bag of crimps, terminals, and housings for Molex KK 254, JST VH, and screw connectors. Ready to use—firmware flashed and Micro SD card preloaded with necessary contents.
Manila, Philippines · likhalabs.com
A small company focusing on the design of advanced, open-source electronics for digital fabrication machines.