3D Printer control boards

Preamble

There is a wide variety of control boards out there. Which one is best?

Featured image from How to wire a 3d printer arduino RAMPS 1.4 A4988 stepper motor driver.

The choices

From 3D Printering: Electronics boards:

  • RAMPS 1.4 (see also RAMPS)- optional SD card adapter and LCD control panel. Five motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and two extruders.
  • RAMPS 1.4.2 (see below)
  • RAMBo – built in drivers (if one fails the board is useless), optional SD card adapter and LCD control panel. Five motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and two extruders.
  • RUMBA – replaceable Pololu stepper motor drivers, optional SD card adapter and LCD control panel. Six motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and three extruders.
  • Sanguinololu – underpowered ATMega1284P, FTDI, replaceable Pololu stepper motor drivers, optional SD card adapter and LCD control panel. Four motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and one extruder.
  • Teensylu – No FTDI, AT90USB1286, similar to Sanguinololu. Four motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and one extruder.
  • Printrboard – AT90USB1286, integrated SD card reader, built in drivers (if one fails the board is useless). Four motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and one extruder.
  • [Traumflug]’s Gen 7 electronics board – similar to Sanguinololu. Four motor drivers for X, Y, Z, and one extruder.
  • Smoothie – Ethernet and ARM Cortex M3.

In addition, there are the MKS boards:

MKS Base V1.5 is the latest version ,it is the combination of Arduino MEGA2560 plus RAMPS1.4 and A4988 in 3D printer. It is a feature rich all-in-one electronics solution for Reprap and other CNC devices.

There are a number of versions:

  • MKS Base V1.4;
  • MKS Base V1.5, and;
  • MKS Gen V1.4.

See MKS Base V1.4/Base V1.5/Gen V1.4 3D printer board Marlin firmware installation guide. There is also a MKS Base 1.2 board. The RepRap wiki page has been depreciated, MKS Base. For more information, see MKS Base V1.5.

RAMPS 1.4.2

Don’t purchase the RAMPS 1.4 board, which go for around £4 on eBay. There is a later, improved version 1.4.2, although it does cost significantly more.

RAMPS 1.4.2

Available from German RepRap, for €59.95. See, RAMPS v1.4.2 open source control board and the RepRap RAMPS 1.4 page.

The RAMPS 1.4.2 has the following enhancements over 1.4

  • Standard automotive blade fuses instead of thermal fuses increasing the heat resilience.
  • Current carrying improved by increasing the thickness of the cooper at the PCB from 35 to 70 micro meters.
  • Suppression caps added to each end-stop to avoid spurious signals.
  • Added an additional connector to XY, E1 and E2 to connect a second stepper motor.
  • Connector for external reset added.
  • Labelled D8, D9,D10 with Heatbed, Extruder 1 Fan and Extruder 2.

Connections provided:

  • 2 * extruder heating
  • 1 bed * Heating
  • 3 * Temperature sensor for Extruder 2 and 1 bed ( No more board longer necessary )
  • 5 * for Pololu motor base
  • 6 * opto end stop (3 * Min, Max 3 * )
  • 1 * Connection option for SD card reader and LCD
  • 1 * Connection for external reset
  • 1 * Connection for FAN adapter.
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