Mark Benson’s ESP32 Plotter Controller Aims to Be the Perfect Open-Hardware Grbl-Esp32 Host

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Maker Mark Benson has launched an open-hardware plotter controller, built around the Espressif ESP32 microcontroller and designed for use with Bart Dring’s Grbl-Esp32 firmware.

“There weren’t many ESP32 based plotter controller boards readily available,” Benson explains, “so I designed this one to use with my own drawing machines along with Bart Drings Grbl-Esp32 firmware. It has been used successfully (in combination with Grbl-Esp32) with a Core-XY (or is that a H-bot?!?) and a Cartesian plotter with both servo and solenoid based pen lifts.”

The board includes connections for, Benson claims, “all the use cases I think it might need,” including NeoPixel addressable RGB LED support, a pen lift output which can be switched between 5V for a servo or Vin for a solenoid driver board, and Vin aux and 5V aux connectors. An on-board 5V switched-mode power supply takes a 12V input – “but [it] should be OK with 18V,” Benson notes — and offers 1.5A to the ESP32 microcontroller and the 5V connectors.

“It has a Micro-SD card socket which works well with Grbl-Esp32,” Benson adds. “Gcode files can be uploaded to the SD card via Wi-Fi and jobs started from the WebUI, which is nice.”

Benson is selling the boards in through-hole kit form, with the surface-mount parts already soldered into place, via his Tindie store at $50 each; the hardware design files and a forked version of the firmware have been published to GitHub under the permissive MIT License and reciprocal GNU General Public License 3, respectively.

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