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  1. #1

    Introducing: Luna - 3D Printer Controller with On-board WiFi and Ethernet

    Hello everyone! I’m excited to introduce Luna, a 3D printer controller with a focus on network connectivity that I've been developing for the past few months.

    Here’s a little tour of the hardware (higher res image at https://i.ibb.co/1b1zqRW/luna.png):

    luna.jpg

    Other things to note about Luna:

    1. Runs RepRapFirmware. Feature set is based on Duet 3 Mini 5+, with some changes:
    - On-board WiFi and Ethernet
    - One dual-port driver
    - Five on-board regulators: (1) 5V, 3A + 3.3V, 1A for core components (2) 5V 3A + 3.3V, 1A for expansions such as NeoPixel, EXP1, EXP2, etc. and (3) 12V, 3A for 12V devices
    - More input/outputs (IO0 - IO6)

    2. Dual processor design: ESP32-S3 + SAM E5 microcontroller. ESP32-S3 is a dual-core, 240 MHZ WiFi + Bluetooth SoC with 8MB flash, 512K SRAM; handles networking, storage (SD card) and interfaces (USB, PanelDue, RepRapDiscount Full Graphic Smart Controller).SAM E5 is a Cortex-M4F microcontroller running at 120 Mhz, with 512KB flash and 196K SRAM; handles kinematics, stepping, digital/analog IO and other real-time control.

    3. Will have open schematics and PCB design, created with KiCad. Firmware will also be open (goes without saying as it is RepRapFirmware).


    There is still some work to be done, but I’m hoping to do a crowdfunding campaign in the future. This thread is open to questions; suggestions are also welcome and may make it to the final hardware as long as it’s not a major change. You may also just express general interest, if you have no questions/suggestions
    Last edited by likhalabs; 08-16-2021 at 09:16 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    have you got a larger picture ?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    have you got a larger picture ?

    You mean larger than: https://i.ibb.co/1b1zqRW/luna.png ?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    excellent.

    what made you go for onboard stepper drivers, rather than upgradeble sockets ?

  5. #5
    As mentioned, the board is based on the Duet 3 Mini 5+ (https://github.com/Duet3D/Duet3-Mini5plus). While the main argument for removable drivers is the replace-ability on failure, why not avoid failure in the first place? The boards from Duet3D are widely regarded as reliable due to good design and having less failure points from using on-board drivers: proper PCB heatsinking, no chance of putting driver backwards, software-controlled stepper current. I've opted to inherit these in the design of this board.


    Furthermore, as the sole developer, I have to choose where to put development effort and time. Using removable steppers would have introduced a layer of variability that was not present in the hardware this board is based on. Will users plug-in an SPI-based stepper? A UART-based one? RepRapFirmware would also require a rebuild upon changing drivers - which kinda defeats the purpose of RepRapFirmware's configure-by-gcode.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    cool - just working through your thought processes here.
    And questions people might want to ask :-)

    So, the big question - what sort of price range are you looking at ?

    And if you want someone to field test one - I'm nominating Autowiz.
    Don't give it to me I'll never get round to using it.

    That boy's gone through more motherboards in the last few years than just about anyone else on the planet !

  7. #7
    Sure, no problem. I did say people can ask questions on this thread

    Regarding the price, I'm looking to be in the same price range as the Duet 3 Mini 5+. That's about 129 USD. It's cheaper than, say, a genuine Smoothieboard or the similar Ultimachine boards. Unfortunately it's pricier than boards from China. However, I do intend to go for quality with this board.

    I'll keep Autowiz in mind Unfortunately the chip shortage is putting a hamper on my ability to put out many prototypes for now.
    Last edited by likhalabs; 08-18-2021 at 08:31 PM.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    yeah the semi-conductor shortage is a real bastard.

    As a system builder for normal people - I simply cannot currently buy a sensibly priced cpu with onboard graphics.
    What there are are going straight to the big boys.
    Before christmas 2020 I could get a decent apu for around £50.
    Cheapest around at the moment comes from south korea (so add a bunch of import tax) and costs £130 + about £35 tax.

    It's bloody mental.

    So, why would someone buy a Luna over the duet mini 5+ ?
    What's your USP (unique selling point) ?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    yeah the semi-conductor shortage is a real bastard.
    Cheapest around at the moment comes from south korea (so add a bunch of import tax) and costs £130 + about £35 tax.
    Oof. That's a lot of extra cost. The chip shortage did its toll on the tiniest of microcontrollers to high-end 5nm processors. Fortunately for Luna, it seems that Microchip fares a little better than other microcontroller companies. I can still get some samples, and there are still some stock or at least a restocking in a few months.

    Regarding the selling points of Luna over Duet 3 Mini 5+:

    1. Luna has both WiFi and Ethernet; with Duet 3 Mini 5+ you have to choose one. While 3D printers are not mobile devices, it's nice to know that you don't have to buy another board if your network setup changes down the line.
    2. Networking, processing human-interface devices (graphic lcd, etc.) is offloaded to the ESP32-S3. The SAM E5 microcontroller can focus on kinematics, stepping and real-time control, resulting in higher theoretical print speeds.
    3. Some other hardware goodies: extra on-board regulators, more IO, dual-port driver, higher-rated MOSFETs.

  10. #10
    It's also RepRapFirmware. Essentially, I've split RRF between the ESP32-S3 and SAM E5 microcontroller. The web interface is Duet Web Control, and it runs on the ESP32-S3.

    One thing to note is that, since the SD card is connected directly to the ESP32-S3, and networking is directly handled by ESP32-S3 as well, there is no 'serial' bottleneck unlike others boards that might use WiFi modules like: https://www.makerlab-electronics.com...sp-8266-01.jpg.

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