GrblHAL CNC Controller Based On RP2040 Pico

[Phil Barrett] designed a new CNC controller breakout board called the PicoCNC which uses the Raspberry Pi Pico RP2040 module and grblHAL. It packs a bunch of features typical of these controllers, and if you use the Pico W, you get WiFi connectivity along with USB. And if you don’t want connectivity, you can execute G-code directly from a micro SD card. The board is available in kit form, and schematics are posted on the GitHub repository above. Some of the features include four axes of motion, spindle control, limit switches, relay drivers, expansion headers, and opto-isolation.

This isn’t [Phil]’s first controller board. He also designed the grblHAL-based Teensy CNC controller breakout board, a step up from the usual Arduino-based modules at the time and boasting Ethernet support as well. According to the grblHAL site, nine different processors are now supported. There are well over a dozen CNC controller breakout boards listed as well. And don’t forget [bdring]’s 6-Pack grbl-ESP32 controller, a modular breakout board we covered a few years back. So pick your favorite board or roll your own and get moving.

CX-6000 Pen Plotter Upgrade

[Terje Io] decided to breathe new life into an old pen plotter — the CX6000 from C. Itoh, a Japanese company that made several printers for Apple in the 1980s. He keeps most of the framework, but the electronics get a major overhaul. The old motors are replaced, the controller and motor drivers are modernized using a Raspberry Pi Pico and stepper motor drivers. After tending to other auxiliary electronics like the control panel and limit switches, it’s time to deal with the firmware.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, [Terje] sensibly built upon existing projects and refactored them for his application. G-Code processing is done by grblHAL, with an added mode to handle HPGL code. He modified the firmware from Motöri the Plotter project to parse HPGL, making his new CX6000+ bilingual.

We covered Motöri way back in 2009, and more recently we wrote about the Teensy Controller using grblHAL, one of the 32-bit big brothers of GRBL. Have you ever restored one of these old plotters? Or is it easier to just build your own these days?