A few months ago while designing the Arduino CNC Shield I bumped into a guy that was also going through the process of building a CNC machine. Between us we had some good brain storms and ended up with the current version of the CNC Shield.
He has been keeping himself busy with a few interesting projects. He started off with GRBL(G-Code interpreter) but couldn’t believe the price people were paying for 8 bit(16Mhz) computing power with the likes of Arduino Uno/Leonardo’s (he’s an old hardware and software hack, but in his own words he’s been away from the coalface for a while), so he started developing his own board…
Here’s the result : THE LPCDuino.
It’s based around the NXP LPC1549 micro (around 90Mhz of 32 bit power) and has:
- 256K of Flash
- 36K of RAM
- 4K of EEPROM
- Battery backed Real Time Clock(RTC)
- Couple of SPI ports
- super-flexible timers, two multi-channel 12 bit 2Ms ADCs, CAN, a 12 bit DAC, PWM,
- USB port and 3 UARTs.
He’s coupled it with a 128×64 OLED, SD card, Arduino pinouts, two UEXT connectors, an illuminated rotary encoder and some pushbuttons. Phew. It offers an all in one platform for the CNC shield….but about 10001 things beyond that too!
Actually, this fails to mention the killer feature of modern NXP chips (SWITCH MATRIX); pretty much all of the pins are configurable to whatever function you want them to expose; Need the UART on IO6&7 rather than 0 and 1? No problem….SPI on 2 and 6?…done. It’s a hugely useful feature that you can’t really appreciate until you’ve used it!
Anyway, alongside all that hardware power he’s built a FreeRTOS core and drivers for all the peripherals. The board can be programmed in a high level language (probably PAWN, but that’s not decided yet) or you can go all the way down to the metal with a full, free, Eclipse-based C environment and, optionally, full debugging capability…if you don’t need the debugger the board appears as a USB drive and you just drag/drop your new firmware onto it…it’s virtually impossible to brick the thing. The Full Speed USB port can be a Serial Port, Mass Storage Device, Mouse or Keyboard or virtually anything else that USB can do…or some combination at the same time.
I haven’t come to the best bit yet….
… it’s not settled yet, but without the OLED and Illuminated Rotary Encoder it wouldn’t be hugely more expensive than an Arduino Uno R3, and about $10-$15 more than that with all the trimmings.
At the moment he’s built this for his own use, but I love it and the question is…should this become a product? Protoneer could organise a kickstarter or something to get this into production….does the LPCDuino wet your appetite? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments and lets see if we can convince him to let us play with it…I reckon it could be a winner.