BeagleBone Black Does CNC With RAMPS

[Bart] Wanted to try controlling a CNC with his BeagleBone black, but didn’t want to invest in a CNC Cape. No problem – he created his own translator board for RAMPSLinuxCNC for the BeagleBone Black has been available for a few months now, and [Bart] wanted to give it a try. He started experimenting with a single stepper motor and driver.  By the time he hooked up step, direction, and motor phases, [Bart] knew he needed a better solution.

Several CNC capes are available for the BeagleBone boards, but [Bart] had a RAMPS board just sitting around, waiting for a new project.  Most RepRap fans have heard of the RAMPS – or Reprap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield.  In fact, we covered them here just a few days ago as part of our 3D Printering series.   RAMPS handle all the I/O needed for 3D printing, which carries over quite nicely to other CNC applications as well.   The downside is that they’re specifically designed for the Arduino Mega series.

The translator board brings all the BeagleBoard Black IO signals where RAMPS expects them.   [Bart] wasn’t done though – he also added in compatibility for grblShield and parallel port connections.

One thing we want to know more about is the 3.3V to 5V voltage translations. RepRap has begun working on RAMPS-FD to handle 3.3V requirements of the Arduino Due.  Reusing hardware is great – we wouldn’t want to risk blowing up a BeagleBone Black to do it.

13 thoughts on “BeagleBone Black Does CNC With RAMPS

  1. The Pololu stepper drivers can be run at either 5V or 3.3V. He says he has a jumper on his board to pick the voltage to the RAMP but that he always runs it at 3.3V. So there shouldn’t be a problem.

    1. Looks like a Black specific stuff which is unfortunate as I have a Bone. I’ve been playing with an Arduino hooked up to a Pololu driver but just decided yesterday that the Arduino didn’t have enough umpf for me. So I was about to pull out the old Bone and start playing with it. Just in time to find out LinuxCNC has been ported already! Yippy! Great timing HAD!! :-)

      1. My MachineKit images work with the Black and the original (white) versions of the ‘Bone. The black specific details are mostly pinouts…the first version of the BeBoPr boards used a bunch of pins that are allocated to the on-board eMMC and HDMI interfaces on the ‘Black. Everything still works if you have the original White version of the ‘Bone, except you have to use a cape to get the HDMI/LCD output! :)

        1. I figured it probably would work with the old Bone. Thanks for confirming it. I’ve seen mention of the cape description files (K9 and BeBoPr hardware overlays). Is that documented anywhere? I’m kind of rolling my own cape from a protoboard just for fun. And no HDMI either. That’s what X and networks are for! :-)

  2. Most stepper drivers would probably work with 3.3V signals even if the logic is at 5V, but you are closer to the threshold of what is one and off. I therefore used 3.3V as the logic supply and added the jumper option to play with, but if you try to run all the features like limit switches and thermistors, etc, the 5V will get back to the BeagleBone and probably break something.


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