Get Moving with New Software from OpenBuilds

If you’re reading Hackaday, you’ve probably heard of OpenBuilds. Even if the name doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve absolutely seen something on these pages that was built with their components. Not only is OpenBuilds a fantastic place to get steppers, linear rails, lead screws, pulleys, wheels, and whatever else you need to make your project go, they’re also home to an active forum of people who are passionate about developing open source machines.

As if that wasn’t enough reason to head over to the OpenBuilds website, [Peter Van Der Walt] recently wrote in to tell us about some new free and open source software he and the team have been working on that’s designed to make it easier than ever to get your creations cutting, lasing, milling, and whatever else you could possibly imagine. If you’ve got a machine that moves, they’ve got some tools you’ll probably want to check out.

BlackBox CNC controller

“OpenBuilds CAM” is a web-based tool which imports SVG and DXF files and creates toolpaths for all sorts of cutting, whether your machine does the business using a beam of angry photons or a simple drag knife. The resulting GCode can then be plugged into “OpenBuilds CONTROL”, which as you may have guessed, does the actual controlling of the piece of hardware connected to your computer. There’s no worries about vendor lock in here either, CONTROL will talk to any Grbl-compatible board.

But what if you don’t have a board? Well, it just so happens that OpenBuilds offers a very slick new piece of gear they’re calling the BlackBox. This beefy CNC controller includes a laundry list of features that [Peter] says the team is very excited about, including stepper drivers powerful enough to run NEMA 23 motors. As an interesting note, they’ve actually made the enclosure for the BlackBox out of cleverly solder masked PCBs; a fantastic trick we don’t see often enough.

The video after the break shows the CNC router version of “Hello World” using CAM and CONTROL, and should give you a pretty good idea of the typical workflow. If it looks familiar to you, it might be from our previous coverage of LaserWeb, a similar web-based project spearheaded by [Peter Van Der Walt] a few years back.

14 thoughts on “Get Moving with New Software from OpenBuilds

    1. thanks for the recommendation, I will have to check it out. I am currently using Candle to control a modified shapeoko 3, and while i like it for its simplicity it does have some draw backs. Its great for running code generated elsewhere but lacks any editing or creating ability.

      The plugins for bCNC look cool and could potentially be very useful to me. what languages are your plugins based off of?

  1. Both LaserWeb4 and the Openbuilds CAM use the same backend, Openbuilds is just a re-skinned version.

    And, I wasn’t very happy with both of them. DXF support didn’t work at all for offset cutting. And in general, file loading felt really picky. Didn’t feel stable at all about half a year back.

    So, I’m working on my own CAM software https://github.com/daid/NinjaKittens3 it follows “less=more”, so not 10.000 settings and configuration options, but working very well out-of-the-box and without expert knowledge.
    Starting to work quite well, but need to improve the UI a bit more, and write a bit of documentation, as well as making a easy to download release.

  2. For the machine control / running of the g-code it’d be interesting to see how this compares to cncjs
    https://github.com/cncjs/cncjs

    There’s also jscut for simple 2.5d cam http://jscut.org/
    For anything more than that I’d probably look at Fusion360 / Aspire / ArtCam

    For the BlackBox CNC controller that looks like it’s using a ATmega328p with grbl instead of a 32bit ARM.
    I’ve always been more fond of TinyG2 / G2Core over Grbl
    Although I’m currently looking at using the duet wifi board at the moment since it has trinamic drivers (that in theory could measure torque), the ability to power Nema23 2.8A steppers, 32bit ARM, PanelDue 7″ LCD Support, builtin wifi.
    Although I plan on hooking one up with an Rpi / CNCjs or maybe a custom software web interface later on.

  3. Looks like everyone is building CAM software at the moment, count me in!

    I’ve been playing with WebAssembly to do 3D simultaneous paths from STL models. I have a (very) rough proof of concept that will do parallel paths and then simulate it. I took some time off the project to make an ESP32 CNC controller but the plan is to come back to it shortly and integrate the two projects together. 9 axis@750Khz and CAM/simulation in the web browser all done from a dirt cheap chip. One day it’ll make chips, that day will be awesome.
    https://github.com/funkBuild/machinist

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