I’m planning to swap out the control electronics in my to an Arduino CNC Shield V3 running GRBL. Having opened up my CNC’s Control Box I’ve discovered it contains three boards – the JP-382C Control Board, the JP-1635A Fourth Axis Control board and the JP-1482 VFD Spindle Control / Power Distribution Board.
In addition to this is a HVAC to DC transformer coil giving out 18 and 36 VDC.
USB CNC 3040 with JP-382C Controller Board
My version of the popular is USB operated via a JP-382C control board. There is a parallel port on the back of the control box and it is physically solder connected to the JP-382C along side the USB connector, but this parallel connection appears to be dead. At least I’ve not been able to get it to do anything with Mach 3 via the Parallel connection. Instead I’ve just been using the software that came with the machine USBCNC via the USB port. I’ve not had any issues using it this way.
At first I was a little apprehensive about using the USB connection at all. I had watched so many videos prior to buying this CNC where everyone seemed to be raving on about and using Mach 3 and Parallel cables. By the time I got my CNC I was convinced that Mach 3 and Parallel were the only way to use a CNC machine and were far superior to USB.
Having got my CNC machine I’ve dug deeper and found that Parallel is no longer the king it once was.
My Planned CNC 3040 Controller Upgrade
The main reason for my planned upgrading of the Control Boards is because I want auto-leveling for milling and engraving PCB boards. Something I understand isn’t possible using the default control boards. Or if it is, I’ve not found it yet.
Having done a little research I’ve gone with using an to replace the JP-382C which allows for probing and auto-leveling. At the time of writing this, the , the and (with heat sinks) are winging their way through the Royal Mail system as we speak. The cost me just under £14 from good old eBay.
Initially I wasn’t going to bother modding / upgrading my CNC at all. Firstly because I didn’t want to lose the parallel connection and secondly I didn’t want to do anything which might void any warranty – if you get such a thing with a Chinese eBay CNC machine? But being realistic, probing and leveling is a must for such minuscule detail as PCB etching so an upgrade is required.
While I’ve had success milling PCB boards without leveling, I’ve found I’ve had to be there to see them through to the end to adjust things to get the depth of cut right where the board is uneven.
In Two Minds about Upgrading
I must admit, I’m still in two minds about butchering up the control box that is supplied with the CNC machine. Should anything go wrong with the machine mechanically, the fact I’ve butchered the original control box would give excuse enough to rid the sellers / manufacturers of any warranty responsibility. Instead I’m giving serious thought to building an entirely new control box with my upgrades installed.
This would give me a couple of benefits. Firstly, I could keep the original control box nice and safe for in the event I need to return the machine in the next 12 months and secondly, I understand that many of the controller upgrades for this machine do not allow the control of the fourth axis easily. By keeping the original control box, I could simply plug the CNC back into that and have fourth axis control. I really don’t want to lose the fourth axis feature having specifically paid for it.
So that’s what I think I’m going to do then. I’m going to build a completely new control box and I’ve got just the box in mind for the job. It’s a small HP computer case which takes a ridiculously outdated small motherboard with a teeny weeny 250W PSU. I had originally planned to use the case to build the PC for controlling the CNC machine but I didn’t have a motherboard small enough.
That case would be perfect for the job I think. Plenty of room for cooling and for future upgrades such as Raspberry Pi control and Wifi / Wireless control etc.
I’ve got a couple of things I’ll need to order now in addition to the board such as a new power supply and some 4 pin Aviation connectors. I will also likely need an unknown quantity of dupont connectors and some berg and molex connectors too. I will look over the electrical connections in more detail later today and work out exactly what I need. I like to have everything I need on the bench in front of me before I start.
There is nothing worse than starting a project and having to come to a grinding halt mid flow because something essential is missing.
My Future Guide to Upgrading my CNC
I will document my CNC upgrading process along the way and will put together a guide with all the information on what I did and how I did it etc. I will post this up in my tutorials and guides section once I have written everything up. I don’t imagine I’ll have this project completed for a couple of months as I’ll likely end up ordering a number of parts from China to keep costs down so I will be waiting on them to arrive before I can start.
In the mean time, I’ll still be playing around with my CNC machine using the supplied control box and learning all I can about it.
Stay tuned for more!