Build a Pen/Laser Controller with the ESP32 Development Board

Build a Pen/Laser Controller with an ESP32 Board

Bart Dring has created a custom PCB designed for the Grbl firmware ported for the ESP32 microcontroller, the building block for his Pen/Laser ESP32 Controller.

“I have done several pen and laser machines lately, so I decided to create a custom PCB for Grbl_ESP32 for these types of machines. This is a small (70mm x 60mm) PCB with all the features a pen plotter or laser cutter/engraver would need.”

The 2.5D Pen/Laser ESP32 Controller features a pair of stepper motor driver sockets, hobby servo connector, and PWM connector for laser power control. (📷: Bart Dring)

Beyond the microcontroller and stepper motors, the board is equipped with high current (10A max) output control, which can be utilized for a solenoid or fans if need be. It’s also outfitted with a pair of limit/home switch connectors, power output connector for a laser module, 5V/3A step-down power supply, DC barrel connector, and micro SD card slot. Additional features include CoreXY kinematics support for T-style machines, RTOS for custom tasks, and instant on/off capabilities.

The board is outfitted with several headers for the ESP32, stepper motors, and 16-bit laser power control. (📷: Bart Dring)

There are several ways to connect to the controller and to run job — such as using G-code stored on a micro SD card, or streaming it over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth via the ESP32. The controller is compatible with nearly all serial port G-code senders for Grbl, making this another connection option as well.

Dring has provided all the necessary schematics, files, and source code on his GitHub page for those who would like to replicate his 2.5D Pen/Laser ESP32 Controller; however, you will still have to supply your own microcontroller and StepStick-style stepper motor drivers (TI DRV 8825 or Allegro A4988 modules are recommended).

Build a Pen/Laser Controller with the ESP32 Development Board was originally published in Hackster Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original article: Build a Pen/Laser Controller with the ESP32 Development Board
Author: Cabe Atwell