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3D printer board runs Linux on Allwinner A64

Jun 7, 2021 — by Eric Brown 2,976 views

Intelligent Agent’s $149 “Recore A5” 3D printer board runs Linux on an Allwinner A64, using the SoC’s AR100 core for real-time control. The SBC provides 6x stepper motor drivers, 3x heater outputs, a heated bed, 4x USB, and GbE and HDMI ports.

Norway-based Intelligent Agent has begun selling the 5th Gen model of its open-spec Recore 3D printer control board for $149. The product is still in development and targeted at early adopters and software developers assisting in the Recore project.

Recore A5
(click images to enlarge)

The Recore A5 has a 1GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A53 based Allwinner A64 SoC, which we have seen on Linux hacker boards such as the Banana Pi BPI-M64 and Pine A64. Although the FAQ suggests there is also an STM32 MCU on the Recode, the board taps the Allwinner H64’s 32-bit, 300MHz AR100 core for “fast realtime aspects, mainly the stepper motors.”

The open source AR100, also known as ARISC, is an OpenRISC 1000 architecture coprocessor that appears on modern Allwinner SoCs. With the help of a proprietary Allwinner blob, the AR100 typically provides power management services to Linux.


The project shows benchmark results with a much faster step rate (with 3x active steppers) compared to major MCU based controller boards or the BeagleBone PRU, which plays a similar real-time role on BeagleBone based 3D printing solutions. Intelligent Agent previously released a $99 Replicape 3D printer controller add-on for the BeagleBone Black.

As noted by the CNXSoft post that alerted us to the Recore, most 3D printers are powered by MCUs and do not include an application processor running Linux. On the Recore, as in other Linux-equipped 3D printers and control boards, the Linux computer enables an HMI interface such as a touchscreen display, as well as a WiFi connection and a USB webcam for remote monitoring. Other Linux-equipped 3D printers include the Raspberry Pi based Kodak Portrait 3D Printer and Autodesk’s BeagleBone based Ember 3D printer.

The Recode A5 runs a 3D printer focused Refactor Linux distribution developed by Recore’s principal developer and Intelligent Agent “Main Guy” Elias Bakken. The Armbian/Debian-based Refactor offers pre-installed Klipper 3D printing firmware and OctoPrint 3D printer web interface software. Much on the future development of Recode will be devoted to updating to a more recent branch of Klipper and “upstreaming the AR100 patches in Klipper.”

Recore A5 and wiring diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The Recore A5 is equipped with 1GB DDR3 and 16GB eMMC. The 120 x 120mm board currently lacks port connectors, so you need to add your own standard GbE, HDMI, and 4x USB 2.0 connectors.

Other features include 6x TMC2209 stepper motor drivers that can handle up to 2A RMS, as well as 3x heater outputs and a “high-powered” heated bed that has been tested at up to 20A. You also get 4x thermistor/thermocouple inputs, numerous I/O pins, and a 12V or 24V input that can handle fans of equivalent voltage.

Further information

The Recore A5 is available for $149 (ex VAT) in limited quantities and without port connectors, power supply, or other accessories. More information may be found in Intelligent Agent’s announcement, which goes into more detail on hacking the AR100 for stepper functions, as well as the shopping page, which has some YouTube videos, and the wiki. There is also a GitHub page with PDF schematics, Allwinner binaries, and other files.

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One response to “3D printer board runs Linux on Allwinner A64”

  1. William says:

    It would be better if it had pluggable stepper drivers.

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