Smoothie not so smooth

A project log for Fox.Build PNP

This is an attempt to bring pick and place capability to our makerspace based on the work done by Erich Styger

shane.snipeshane.snipe 09/09/2019 at 01:332 Comments

We finally got the 50 cables routed and it was time to start plugging stuff in. The anticipation of driving the gantry around was palatable.  We had a monthly makerspace meeting up coming up on Friday so we got together on Wednesday to make it work for the grand unveil. 

We plugged in the smoothie board and it came up in pronterface.  It was like magic. We did not even flash the board yet. Smoothie boards have an advanced method of getting firmware on the board. The microSD drive contains two files. One is a config file which we got from McuEclipse.  The other is a file pulled from  called you guessed it , firmware.bin.   I am writing about this because I wondered about it for 3 months before we got to the point where we needed to know and we figured it out. It is not like any other microcontroller project I have worked on. The really slick part is you can edit the file on the microSD card because it appears as a external drive to the computer. 

Next, we hooked up the drive board with the connectors in the right orientation and got nothing. Looked up the forums and apparently this driver adapter board had the connectors on backwards so you had to  force them on in the opposite direction. The tabs are backwards but it kind of works. Then we got the 3D printer controls to come up.  Now this is where it dawned on me that we basically using 3D printer software with a few special configurations. It really is quite slick and once we understood that, the locations of connections made a lot more sense.

We hooked up a motor and we got the error for the lack of endstops. Well that is easy enough to fix so we wired up all the endstops.  We tried the X motor and got a one movement before it would crash. We tried the other axes and the Y axis motor and driver got hot. Then the screen stopped working and we were back to just having nice blinking lights.

So we missed our grand unveil and hit the trouble shooting site.  We reloaded the firmware and config files after reformating the SD card. Bingo we were back to the run once and crash mode. We put a meter on the power supply and we were seeing some weird spikes so we pulled and industrial strength power supply out and all of a sudden, we could move the X axis multiple times without crash. Yes!   Thinking our teething was over we started plugging everything else in and soon we heard the clicking from the Y axis we saw before. Touching the Y axis motor driver resulted in a burnt finger and a return to the forums to look for the problem.

Turns out, on the batch of boards that we bought, the wrong version of the digital pot was used.  The choices are replacing the component in question or applying a marginal fix in the config file.  Since the down side is frying a $70 board, we will start with the config file.  There is a replacement on Amazon but since the lead time is 3-4 weeks, it may be the same board coming from China. We are going to get the heat sinks on and put a fan on those. Maybe it will hang in there.

Here is the link to the explanation of the issue.

We made the changes to the config file and now it seems to be OK. Hopefully with the fan and heat sinks it will not get too hot. Next is the plumbing.


shane.snipe wrote 09/18/2019 at 21:58 point

Sorry, I had meant to get the link and put it back in the log. Here it is.

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lamikr wrote 09/18/2019 at 05:23 point

I have now also got my smoothieboard from aliexpress. Is there any links for getting more info related to wrong potentiometer on board? I am wondering whether I have the same problem and how to detect that.

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