ESP32-based CNC controller board targets pen plotters and lasers, runs FluidNC open-source firmware

FluidNC “TMC2209 Pen/Laser CNC Controller” is an ESP32-based 2-axis CNC controller that runs FluidNC open-source firmware and takes up to two TMC2209 stepper drivers to drive pen plotters and laser engravers

ESP32 wireless modules have been used in a range of 3D printer and CNC controllers for years with boards such as Grbl_ESP32 CNC breakout board, Phi MainBoard 5LC 3D printer controller, and the Makerbase MKS DLC32 board we found in TwoTrees TS2 laser engraver and TTC 450 CNC router running MKS-DLC32-FIRMWARE open-source firmware.  The FluidNC TMC2209 Pen/Laser CNC Controller offers yet another option and a different open-source FluidNC firmware that is an evolution of the firmware for the aforementioned Grbl_ESP32 that also happens to work on the MKS DLC32 board…

FuildNC ESP32 CNC controller

FluidNC “TMC2209 Pen/Laser CNC Controller” specifications:

  • Wireless module – Espressif Systems ESP32-WROOM-32E
    • ESP32 dual-core microcontroller
    • 4MB flash
    • 2.4 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity, built-in PCB antenna
  • Storage – MicroSD card socket
  • USB – USB Type-C port
  • 2x TMC2209 stepper drivers.
  • Optional StallGuard for sensorless end stops
  • RC servo connection
  • 6x inputs (limit and control switches)
  • 3x 5V outputs to control lasers and accessories.
  • I/O Expansion port for displays and pendants.
  • Power Supply – 12 to 30VDC (3A minimum) via 2-pin terminal
  • Dimensions – 70 x 70mm
TMC2209 Pen Laser V2 board pinout diagram
Pinout diagram

You’ll find further technical details, a YAML configuration file, and instructions to get started on the wiki. FluidNC source code can be found on GitHub, and a convenient web installer can be used in Chrome, Edge, or Opera (WebSerial is needed so Firefox won’t work) to install the firmware to compatible boards. The PCB is open-source hardware with all resources available on EasyEDA, meaning you can (relatively) easily build it yourself if you would rather do that than purchase it.

FluidNC ESP3D WebUI to control the board

I first found the TMC2209 Pen/Laser CNC Controller board on Tindie sold for $45, but it can also be purchased on Elecrow for $40 or even lower if you buy it in bundles of 2 or 5. If you’re interested in FluiNC but a 2-axis CNC controller does not cut it for your application, you’ll find a long list of supported hardware on the project’s wiki.

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