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More to come as the web page is developed
e-mail if you have any questions regarding the hardware.
See the link below for question regarding the MachineKit software

This unit can take place of a Windows based PC running software such as Mach4 combined with a step generator such as the UC100 or Smoothstepper at a fraction of the price.

This unit runs MachineKit CNC Control Software and is set up to control four stepper motors. No other computer (PC) or external step generator is required. There are two configurations installed: 1) Four Independent Axes 2) Gantry Router with the 4th axis slaved to the Y axis. The user can design further configurations as they need.

This unit can plug directly in to the Xylotex P&P System Kit for a system that can be ready to spin motors in less than a minute after unpacking, connecting the monitor, USB devices, power supply (and optional Ethernet) and booting up.

The unit comes with a 2 Amp 5V power supply, and is pre-loaded with MachineKit software (a derivative of LinuxCNC/EMC2/EMC which is the same base that Mach3 started with). The unit has an Ethernet port for connecting to a local LAN (or internet).
Port A is configured with signals to drive 4 stepper motors with standard STEP/DIR signals.
The USB port can be used to connect a small USB hub to which a USB keyboard and USB mouse can be connected.

The uHDMI connector is used to display the system on a standard HDMI compatible monitor. The monitor should have:
Recommended HDMI monitor settings:

Available from
Item               Part#
------             --------
LCD Monitor        24242 
mouse              9254
keyboard           15904 
microHDMI cable    7558

Monoprice does not have, but you will also need, an HDMI to DVI connector for the monitor, available in the accessories section here: DVI-HDMI

The unit is a complete, stand alone CNC control system, and no other computers or step generators are required. The unit is a hardware based system running MachineKit software; the software is an open-source, community supported project that is distributed free of charge. Questions regarding the software can be posed to the MachineKit user group on Google groups here:!forum/machinekitt

but before asking questions, be sure to read all of the appropriate user manuals:

CNC Control software does have a learning curve, so study the user manuals in the links provided to facilitate the best use of the software.

The BeagleBox has two ports. One is dedicated specifically for STEP/DIR signals and standard I/O. The second port is a general purpose I/O port and will require special end-user supplied setup software to function properly.

Port A has output buffers on the output pins, as well as RC buffering on the input lines. None of the signal lines on Port As should be exposed to voltages above 5V. Port A is configured as follows:
DB25 Pin #   Description
-------- 1 I/O control (out) 2 STEP X (out) 3 DIR X (out) 4 STEP Y (out) 5 DIR Y (out) 6 STEP Z (out) 7 DIR Z (out) 8 STEP A (Y axis slave) (out) 9 DIR A (Y axis slave) (out) 10 STOP input (in) 11 X Home Switch (in) 12 Y Home Switch (in) 13 Z Home Switch (in) 14 Output (out) 15 A Home Switch (in) 16 Output (out) 17 Output (out) 18-25 Signals Ground
Port B is a general purpose I/O port with 3.3V I/O lines. These lines must be programmed for use before they can be used for external devices. They should be buffered externally before being used. Voltages exceeding 3.3V that are applied to any of these lines can destroy the BeagleBox and associated hardware. They are not buffered, filtered or isolated.

Pin 1 or Port B is a 5V power source for external lower current devices with GND return on Pins 18-25. Remember, do not apply 5V to any of the BBB lines. The +5V can be externally regulated to get 3.3V for external devices.

The control hardware unit runs a BeagleBone Black ARM Processor. The MachineKit software includes a G-code processor called AXIS which is useed to read G-Code files and interface to the hardware to generate the STEP/DIR signals. AXIS display can use a lot of the hardware resource (time slice) especially when run in 3-D graphics mode. When running the G-code during an actual cut, it is recommended to run the the simple Z plane (top down view) or in the simple Numeric Display mode (showing position rather than graphics).

        Female DB25                     Male DB25
Pin     Port A          Func.           Port B          Func.
1       8-7             OUT             +5V for logic
2       9-13            OUT             9-25            I/O
3       9-11            OUT             9-27            I/O
4       9-23            OUT             9-29            I/O
5       9-15            OUT             9-31            I/O
6       8-15            OUT             9-16            I/O
7       8-16            OUT             9-24            I/O
8       8-11            OUT             9-26            I/O
9       8-12            OUT             9-28            I/O
10      8-9             IN              9-30            I/O
11      8-10            IN              9-42            I/O
12      8-14            IN              8-17            I/O
13      8-18            IN              8-8             I/O
14      8-13            OUT             9-21            I/O
15      9-41            IN              9-18            I/O
16      8-19            OUT             9-22            I/O
17      9-14            OUT             9-17            I/O

18-25 are attached to GND

Pin 1 onPort A is an output and the signal is also used to enable the buffers on both ports. It needs to be programmed active low to enable the port buffers. It is BBB P8-7.

Port A DB25 pins 2-9, 14, 16 and 17 are outputs and need to be programmed as such in the BBB. They are driven from the BBB by LVC541 buffers.

Port A DB25 pins 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 are inputs and need to be programmed as such in the BBB. The are driven to the BBB by LVC541 buffers. The inputs have RC filtering on them and are pulled to 3.3V with pullup resistors.

Port B I/O are buffered through FET switches are inputs or outputs as based on the direction setting inside the BBB.
It is NOT recommended to browse the internet while the MachineKit software is generating STEP/DIR signals and/or controlling other I/O.

The Ethernet port can be used to connect to a LAN, and with proper setup can access files on a Windows based machine (Win10 tested). Proper knowledge of both Windows Networking and LinuxCNC networking is required to use this feature. The Ethernet system is not setup in the BBX as shipped. More on this later.

* The BeagleBox is designed for standard wood router/CNC (Sherline/Taig) systems. Plasma Systems might require special shielding and grounding that are out of the scope of this setup, and should only be attempted by systems integrators that can set up a system to keep any stray or induced voltages/current from getting in to the stepper motor system.

Further page enhancements in the future (i.e. setup instructions, simple parameter change instructions, limit switch setup instructions and diagrams, STOP switch setup, relative machine home locations, FAQ page, etc. etc.....)

Below is an screen shot of the AXIS software used for CNC control.

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