The TinyG Motion Controller

When you go to a trade show of any kind, you’re expecting cool demos in the booths. At Maker Faire, there were plenty, but one of the most hypnotic was a robot built around Synthetos’ TinyG motion controller.

The demo was simply a large CNC gantry moving a ball bearing around on a string. The gantry moved in the X and Y axes, and the miniature wrecking ball was spooled and unspooled in the Z axis. The ball move around the space, coming to a complete stop without any swaying. There were even a few clear plastic tubes that the ball fell in, and popped out of without raising or lowering the string. It’s the height of motion controller coolness, all made possible with the TinyG.

The TinyG was one of a few motion control and CNC boards found at the faire. In its base configuration, it has 6 axes of motion control, RS485 to network several boards for crazy machine configurations, and a suitably powerful processor to do everything correctly.

Android CNC controller

[Matt] is the proud owner of a JGRO-based CNC router and he’s been working on a way to control it without a computer. What he came up with is a way to drive the CNC machine using this Android tablet.

A big part of the hack is the CNC controller that he’s using. The TinyG is a board that can take commands via USB and convert them to instructions for up to six axes. In the video after the break [Matt] shows off a direct USB connection as the control method. This is the most interesting part to us, but the system can also be run through the network with the assistance of a computer feeding commands to the TinyG. This second method means the Android controller would be wireless.

A trio of repositories host the code [Matt] is using. From the demo it looks like the Android app has no shortage of features.

[Read more...]

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