Mar.23, 2014

A team of hardware hackers from Germany has created a board to make the BeagleBone a perfect CNC application controller, for 3D printing, milling or other applications. The board is called T-Bone and offers unique features to improve application performance and to make software development easier.

The BegaleBone is a low-cost credit-card-sized Linux computer that connects with the Internet and runs software such as Android 4.0 and Ubuntu. BeagleBone can be used to run user interface, configuration, G-Code interpreter, and path planner. T-Bone is designed to be a cape for the BeagleBone Black, dedicated for motion control for 3D printing, milling or other applications using stepper motors.

T-Bone handles real-time communication with the BeagleBone via a small microcontroller, which is fully compatible with the Arduino toolchain, so everybody can easily modify it. Complex acceleration and velocity calculations for the stepper motors are done by dedicated motion controllers. These are dedicated hardware components, developed to get the maximum performance out of a given stepper motor without putting any workload to the host system.

The T-Bone will come preprogrammed for Reprap Mendel 3D Printer. The Software will include low level drivers, the printer application and a high level Web Interface for control. Just connect your steppers, heaters and sensors, configure the software and you are ready to print.

The T-Bone is an open source project, all software will be released as open source software on github.

Main features of the basic board:

  • 5 stepper motor driver (run syncronized, 3 x up to 4 A, 2 x up to 1.5 A)
  • 10 inputs for end switches (two for each axis)
  • 3 inputs for incremental encoders (3 axis supporting closed loop control)
  • 3 inputs for thermistors
  • 1-wire interface for digital temp and other sensors
  • 2 high power outputs (for extruder and heatbed, up to 12 A)
  • 1 mid power output (for fans, LEDs, ..., also expandable)
  • Power supply for BeagleBone (5 V, 1.2A)
  • Input voltage 12 - 24 V

The team plans also to create some additional expansion boards for more axis, extruders, other actuators and sensors. For the production of the first batch of hardware, they have just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. A fully assembled T-Bone cape is priced at €99. Check out more or pledge the project here.

Posted in 3D Printer Accessories

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Tim wrote at 4/11/2014 8:56:07 PM:

How to make this campaign successful? 3 simple changes: 1) make a reward for t-bone shape 3d printed in plastic for $10 w/ cut-out for actual rectangular t-bone board, 2) make this board rectangular and give out STL of t-bone plastic holder #1, 3) move project basic kit reward straight to porterhouse (stackable boards).

Julio wrote at 3/26/2014 12:48:59 AM:

I don'd mind the name, but the shape will make it difficult to place. Why not design a simple rectangular board and then pack it in a T-bone steak shaped box?, I mean, if the T-bone guys want to keep the name and image.

Suro wrote at 3/25/2014 5:11:30 PM:

A very promising design, and I'm glad to see it. At the same time, I do agree with JD90 - the meat thing has got to go. It's not only weird, it appears that the board is larger than it needs to be (and thus tougher to enclose/use) just to make it look like a steak. That is not a feature I need or want. I just want a super fast control board, that's small and easily expandable. Luckily, if it's as open source as they claim, someone will no doubt re-do the board design in a few months. Assembly will still be a pain, but at least it'll get done.

T-Bone wrote at 3/24/2014 11:58:16 AM:

The driver chip for X,Y, and EXT is a TMC2660. It uses a very energy efficient semiconductor technology and can therefore more power than other chips from the same size. The two Z motor outputs are driven by a chips similar to TMC5031 (it's a new extended version with higher input voltage). For more details about the driver chips see also The metaphor was inspired by a beautiful song from Neil Young. It's about life and that you not always get what you want ;)

jd90 wrote at 3/23/2014 8:18:42 PM:

I think I like it, but I don't know what's going on with the circuit. They don't say what their stepper driver chips are, but it seems 4A is far fetched from the ICs nearest those connectors. Maybe I could look up data sheets if I knew which driver chip it uses. And the meat metaphor needs to go away. It doesn't make any sense, it's ugly, contrived and it's not catchy.

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