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Modular, open source robotics kit lets you build your own 3D printer

Mar 23, 2017 — by Eric Brown 1,984 views

The Labs Cortex-M3 based “JuicyBoard” robotics kit is designed for building stepper motor controlled devices like 3D printers or CNC routers.

The JuicyBoard has surpassed its modest funding goals on Crowd Supply, providing a modular, open source development kit for stepper motor oriented devices such as 3D printers and CNC routers. Built around an NXP LPC1769 Cortex-M3 MCU, the kits are available starting at $179, with shipments due June 15.

JuicyBoard R1000A (upper) and R1000AX
(click image to enlarge)

The kits are based on one of two development boards: a 125 x 66mm R1000A board with 10 feature slots that sells for $64, and a more advanced, 175 x 66mm R1000AX with 15 feature slots, selling for $94. The R1000A is available as part of the $179 Starter Kit while the R1000AX drives the still available, $239 Earlybird Builder Kit, as well as the identical $299 Builder Kit. A variety of modules are bundled in these kits, and are also available separately, ranging from $5 to $39, for those who want to build their own kits from the board up, a la carte style.

JuicyBoard block diagram (left) and R1000A baseboard with modules
(click images to enlarge)

The base feature set available on both boards includes the 120MHz MCU, a USB Type-B data port, and a USB Type-A port with 5V output that can “power an external system like a Raspberry Pi,” says Labs. There are also 5V (3A output) and 3.3V (1.5A output) switching regulators. The board is powered by a 9-to-24V (27A) ATX compatible input.

JuicyBoard baseboard details
(click image to enlarge)

The R1000AX model is further equipped with microSD and full-sized SD storage slots. You also get triple channel precision power monitors, as well as an LM5060 hot swap controller that protects the system from “overshoots, undershoots, and overloading.” This higher-end model also supplies a 100A PSMN1R2-30YLC,115 NFET switch for emergency shutdowns. Unlike the R1000A, the R1000AX is also capable of supporting Ethernet PHY modules.

The central add-on module is the R1001 NEMA stepper motor driver based on TI’s DRV8825 stepper motor IC. The $19 driver module is capable of micro-stepping at 1/32-inch resolution, and allows current to be set in 10 mA increments. The driver also offers temperature, voltage, and current monitors.


Other add-ons include modules with Quad 1A or Quad 20A low side NFET control switches. There is also an analog/digital I/O module, a breakout extension board, and a temperature sensor module. Future plans call for an AC PWM module, an optically isolated AC spindle control module, and a Photon/P1 module for adding a wireless connection.

An optional module retention bracket can be used for securing the plug-in modules to the carrier board. “I planned all the mechanical dimensions of all modules to fit securely within this bracket, which can be made of ABS plastic or a metal sheet,” explained Labs’s Sherif Eid in an email to LinuxGizmos.

JuicyBoard module retention bracket
(click image to enlarge)

JuicyBoard runs on Juicyware, a GPL v3.0 licensed fork of Smoothieware, which in turn is based on ARM’s mbed library. As a result, Juicyware “has a path to portability to other microcontrollers in the future,” says Labs.

The company used open source PCB design tools to create the JuicyBoard, and has open sourced all module hardware and firmware under GPL v3.0. A template KiCAD PCB project is available, as well as documentation for how to build a 3D printer or CNC router.

JuicyBoard campaign video

Further information

The JuicyBoard is available now on Crowd Supply, with prices noted above, and a shipment date of June 15. More information may be found at the JuicyBoard Crowd Supply page.

(advertise here)

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