Automated machine tools are only as good as the software and controllers that run them. You could have a beautifully robust CNC mill that’s practically useless if it can’t run standard G-code smoothly. Unfortunately, that scenario is common with inexpensive laser cutters, CNC mills and routers, and many other machine tools. You can, however, fix that with a new controller. The new Super Gerbil controller is an all-in-one solution for machines up to 5-axis.
Super Gerbil is a step up from Paul de Groot’s 2-axis Gerbil controller, which was built with laser cutters in mind. Like Gerbil, Super Gerbil is intended to be a drop-in replacement controller that improves your workflow. With it, you can stop using the manufacturer’s substandard, proprietary software and switch to a friendly, open source tool chain. It can accept standard G-code, so it will work with whatever software you prefer, including free options like Inkscape and Autodesk Fusion 360.
It can control up to 5 stepper motors running at less than 2.5A, and has breakouts for external stepper drivers if you need more power than that. There is built-in support for spindle motor control, coolant, and even automatic tool changers. The brain of Super Gerbil is a speedy STM32 microcontroller, so you don’t have to worry about it bogging down while processing complex toolpaths. There is even onboard Bluetooth that you can use to control your machine from the free app.
Super Gerbil is currently in the crowdfunding stage on Kickstarter, and the campaign will be running until December 6th. The 3-axis model costs $145 USD, the 4-axis is $229, and the 5-axis is $301. The 3-axis will ship in April 2019, while the 4-axis and 5-axis models will ship in March 2019.