After some research I came across the RepRap project and decided it would the most cost effective route. I like making my own electronics and I was expecting the MakerBot Store to start offering the motor controller PCB's again, but they never did. So I set out to create my own motor controller board. I wanted 4-axis stepper control, power regulation, parallel port connectivity (in case a CNC router became more important) and opto-isolated I/O's all one board.
This instructable follows the steps I used in order to create my Quad Stepper Controller.
Why a 3-D printer ?
- because they're awesome, they can create something from the ground up. This something can take almost any form that will fit inside of the printable area. All the 3-D printer requires is plastic filament and a design. Currently I am planning on building a RepRap Mendel, buying it piece by piece in order to avoid knowing the full price :)
What will I print ?
- everything; the ability to print almost anything your imagination comes up with is priceless. Some of the things I might print could be enclosures, mounting hardware, tool holders, prototyped parts and of course RepRap parts to name a few.
Step 1: Schematic design
The driver design is based around Allegro's A3982 DMOS Stepper Motor Driver with Translator, unfortunately this is is surface mount so prototyping will be more difficult. The circuit also contains support components including voltage regulator, filtering capacitors and protection components. The A3982 is a constant current motor driver which means it can drive a variety of stepper motors.
The other half of the circuit contains opto-isolators. The goal of this half was to provide protected I/O's to the parallel port just in case I happened to loose interest in a 3D printer and decide to build a CNC router.
Warning: If you decide to use the schematic provided, you may have to re-design the opto-isolator circuit. Two (possibly more) of the opto-couplers are stuck on. Have not been able to troubleshoot the issue yet.