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April 14 – April 21, 2023 “A Project That is Furniture” Contest

Happy sunny Friday! Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest for this week, where we asked creators to post their festive Easter-Themed projects!

Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Sara Lynn, Albert Tejera, Karen Tripp Van Thournout, Chad Jones, Robyn Stillie-Mountjoy, and Carmine De Luca are the winners of the “A Project That is Easter-Themed” contest! A prize is on the way!

This Week’s Theme: A Project That is Furniture

The theme of the week is “projects that are furniture”. Share with us your tables, chairs, cabinets, desks, beds, and other furniture-related projects that were made using the LongMill, and we will reward the ones we liked best with great prizes.

Happy crafting!

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First look at the SuperLongBoard

Hey everyone, I’m excited to share with everyone a project that Chris and the rest of the Sienci Labs team have been working on in collaboration with Andrew and his team Expatria Technologies to develop a new CNC control board and firmware system. The SuperLongBoard (SLB for short) represents a huge step in hobby CNC technology, as it’s advanced electronics and software bring not just new features and functionality to the LongMill, but at a price point that we believe will be affordable for hobbyists.

LongMill running at 10,000mm/min and 750mm/s^2
The SuperLongBoard taking its first baby steps

What is the SuperLongBoard?

The SuperLongBoard is a next-generation control board for the LongMill CNC. This development gives access to a whole new set of features, functionality, and integrations more commonly found in industrial applications to the hobby CNC market. Some features and functionality include:

  • Full integration of gSender within the control board, removing the need for a separate computer to run the CNC
  • Advanced, programmable stepper drivers that run motors faster, quieter, and with more torque
  • Faster, more accurate motion control processing for smoother movements
  • Ability to control more than 3 axis, for full 4th and 5th axis motion control
  • Networking and file transfer with wifi and ethernet, USB port and SD card for removable storage, HDMI output for display outputs, and more
  • Standard PWM control for laser and spindle, with compatibility with industry-standard RS485 protocols for industrial-level spindle control
Rapid tests using the SuperLongBoard

Additionally, this design will have many input-output connections and ports to allow for new features and accessories to be used with the new board, effectively future-proofing your machine for years to come. Some of these features include:

  • Automatic tool changing support
  • Skew, cutter, and joint compensation
  • External wired and wireless pendant control
  • Camera and machine vision for features like failure and crash detection, auto zeroing, auto-tracing, and more

Please note that although these features are something we want to work on down the line, we currently do not have specific timelines on these features and they will not be available during launch.

You can even set up the SuperLongBoard to send messages through Slack!

The SLB is a system of two different parts working together. The first is the board itself, which contains all of the core functionality. This includes motor control, sensor inputs and outputs, and lower-level processing of g-code. Users will be able to tether this part of the controller directly to the computer using a USB cable in the same way as the original LongBoard currently used in all LongMills to control their CNC machines.

SLB takes things to the next step with the addition of an onboard compute module. The SLB has a small connection interface at the bottom of the board that allows for a compute module to be attached and replaces the computer or laptop. Users can connect a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to control all functions of the machine directly through the SLB.

The SLB can operate with and without the compute module. I expect that given the considerably low price of the compute module over a computer, around $40-80 dollars plus the cost of the monitor, keyboard, and mouse, as well as the extra speed, user experience, and reliability of an onboard system. But we are planning to allow for the board to be used in either configuration.

This control board will be backward compatible with ALL LONGMILL CNC MACHINES OF ALL GENERATIONS, which means that users can upgrade their machine’s capabilities by simply replacing the controller. All of the hardware and software will come ready to go, plug and play for all LongMill CNCs, and will have a similar form factor to the current LongBoard so that it can be integrated easily into your existing machine.

Why the SuperLongBoard?

The creation of the SLB comes with a series of motivations. The first and main motivation is our belief that at this current stage, the integration of smarter, more reliable, and more capable CNC control electronics will make the biggest improvement to the CNC user experience.

This new design will aim to eliminate many common issues universal to hobby CNC at this time, including:

  • Electromagnetic interference issues
  • Computer, compatibility, and connection-related issues
  • Resonance and driving issues restricting motor performance

With the integration of an onboard computer and far more sophisticated electronic systems, the SLB will not only be able to eliminate these issues, but it will also allow us to have better control of the hardware and software to optimize every aspect of the board and iron out bugs more easily.

As some readers know, we’re also in active development of the rotary axis. The SLB will also open up more possibilities for integrating new add-ons and improving already existing add-ons such as the AutoZero touchplate and LaserBeam. Some other potential add-ons include:

  • Plug-and-play router or spindle with programmable speed control
  • Bitsetter
  • Toolchanger
  • Plasma cutter

There are no specific development timelines for these items, but the SLB will allow for better compatibility for add-ons such as the ones listed above.

Development of the SuperLongBoard

The SuperLongBoard has been in development since the Fall of 2022. We’ve received our first batch of prototype boards and have been working with Andrew to develop the firmware and software for the control boards, finalize the PCB design, and prepare them for long-term beta testing.

The development of the SLB actually comes with many different individual developments that all work hand in hand. First is the integration of grblHAL, a rewrite of GRBL that was originally designed to work on Arduino-based controllers. One of the limitations of GRBL was that since it was designed to work on low-performance microcontrollers, it has limitations on what features that could be added. Additionally, there are limitations on things like how many processes could happen at any given point and the raw speed of the processing of g-code and motor signals.

grblHAL essentially uses something called a hardware abstraction layer (HAL). The HAL is essentially like a switchboard that the GRBL core knows how to use the microcontroller to communicate with different aspects of the board, such as the spindle control, motor drivers, and networking. This means that the development of core firmware that includes all of the functionality can be developed and only the HAL needs to be adapted to each model of the microprocessor. This means that the development of grblHAL benefits the whole community since features that are developed for one controller can be implemented on other controllers almost immediately with basically no modification. grblHAL, although still fairly new, already has a fair number of plugins that can be used to add functionalities.

The next part of the development is with the gSender integration into the SLB and to use grblHAL. Since the plan is to integrate gSender directly on the compute module, we are working on optimizing it for the hardware, such as improving the general performance and UI, adding new features and functionality, and testing the speed and reliability of gSender as a whole. We’re already working on the new gSender, and you can find an early access version here.

And lastly comes the design and production of the PCBs themselves. At this stage, we’ve mostly finalized the design of the board and are making the last few touches to the design and layout. The new control board uses a larger number of components, adding to the challenge and complexity in manufacturing, but we’ve been able to work closely with PCB manufacturers for the first batch of prototypes and expect this area to come along relatively smoothly.

We are expecting to work on testing the boards in-house for the next few weeks and start beta testing in the next coming months.


At this time, we’re expecting the manufacturing and production cost of the SLB and case to cost around $100 (prices here in CAD). The compute module is expected to cost between $40 to $80 depending on the model and spec, bringing the total cost of production to around $150.

Chris and I have been talking about the pricing and how we want to figure this out, but we do have a few goals:

  1. To offer it with new LongMill machine kits with minor changes to the current price
  2. To have a simple and inexpensive upgrade path from the original LongBoard to the SBL
  3. Reduce buyers remorse for currently existing customers

Here is our tentative pricing. Please note that pricing may change and is not set in stone.

SuperLongBoard, onboard computer, and enclosure: $280CAD/$210USD

This would be the full package with everything you need to plug and play with any LongMill. This also includes the onboard computer. Users who wish to use the onboard computer will need to provide their own monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

If you want to mix and match parts, you can use the pricing estimates below:

SuperLongBoard only: $180CAD/$140USD

For users that only want to upgrade the controller, but do not have the onboard computer. This would mean that you would still need to connect a laptop or computer to your controller. This also doesn’t include the price of an enclosure, so users can either make their own or integrate it with an existing enclosure. The case for this version of the controller is not backward compatible with the original LongBoard currently used in the MK1 and MK2 LongMills.

Onboard computer: $80CAD/$60USD

The onboard compute module is essentially a Raspberry Pi CM4 or another compute module of the same form factor. There are many different versions of CM4 form factor modules, all of which have different price ranges and specs. The price points of these modules vary greatly, which means the specific cost of this will be tied to which module we decide to choose. This would be available to users who choose to start with the SuperLongBoard and decide to add the onboard computer later in the future.

Enclosure: $30CAD/$23USD

The enclosure serves to protect the controller from dust and damage, as well as provide some mounting options onto the LongMill.

What’s next?

With regard to the LongMill

Once we get the SuperLongBoard into production, customers will be able to order them from our store to upgrade their machine electronics or as the controller that ships with new LongMills.

Here is our current general plan:

  • Once the SuperLongBoard is launched, to offer the original LongBoard and SuperLongBoard as separate options. The option for the original LongBoard would be the same, and the SuperLongBoard option would be a little more expensive.
  • Once we run out of or decide to phase out the original LongBoard, all new LongMills will ship with the SuperLongBoard.
  • For existing LongMill customers, we may provide a coupon so that users who wish to upgrade to the new controller can do so at a lower cost.

Based on where we are in current development, we expect SLB available sometime in the late fall or winter of 2023.

The exact details and pricing will come later.

With regards to other CNC machines

Given how powerful and integrated the SuperLongBoard is, we expect other CNC users to want to integrate the board with their own machines. While the board itself isn’t expected to cost a lot, given the complexity of support, resources, and documentation, we expect that a significant consideration in terms of support and price point will come down to many different factors.

We do plan on releasing the board designs open source as we have done for all of our hardware and software, which means that even if we don’t provide any official support, users who want to tinker should be able to figure out how to integrate things.

Here is our current general plan:

  • Users who want to use this board for other machines will be able to purchase it from our store, but they will not receive any technical or setup support. We will provide resources that we feel will be adequate for an experienced user to use for setup. At some point, we may also set up an online community where people can help each other.
  • In the future, there may be a certain tipping point in terms of scale for us to offer specific machine support, or if a third party decides to provide support themselves.

SuperLongBoard Survey

If you want to help contribute to our development for the SLB, please feel free to do our survey!

Link to the survey:

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April 7 – April 14, 2023 “A Project That is Easter-Themed” Contest

Happy Good Friday, everyone! Thank you to those who entered this week’s contest, where we asked you to share game projects made on your LongMill.

Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Jacob Columbus, Daniel Pilkey, John Corbin, Morris Forbes, John Lupacchino, and Lori Shell are the winners of the “A Project That is a Game” contest! Lookout for a prize!

P.S. We will be closed Friday, April 7th for Good Friday and back in the office on Monday, April 10th.

This Week’s Theme: A Project That is Easter-Themed

Happy Easter holiday, everyone! Celebrate the Easter holiday with us by posting your Easter-themed projects. We want to see all the bunnies, baskets, eggs, and any other Easter-related projects that were made on your LongMill. Share them with us for a chance to be one of the winners of this week’s contest and win free prizes!

Happy making!

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gSender – Hal + Rotary support Early Alpha

We’re super happy with how gSender has been adopted by the hobby CNC community since it’s original release. We’re continuing to grow both new users and new features and are working to create a product that meets everyone’s needs.

Part of that growth is reaching out to newer portions of the greater CNC community. As such, we’ve begun steps towards supporting two new areas – alternative firmware, and rotary addons.

The first such firmware is grblHAL. We chose this firmware for a few reasons – it’s similar enough to GRBL to be a good first addition, and we’ve identified it as a strong candidate for the updated LongBoard controller releasing later this year.

Rotary and 4-axis is also something we’ve been repeatedly asked to support. This is also an area we’re looking at developing our own version of, and have taken some preliminary steps at how we’re going to support it at a software level. We’ve taken steps at supporting files with A-axis commands for both Grbl and grblHAL firmware flavours.

Please note that this is an exceptionally early release – we really want to get this out there to start gathering feedback as soon as possible. A number of functionalities may or may not work unexpectedly with your hardware. This is our first time branching outside of supporting specifically our machines, so there will be some growing pains as we fine tune the new firmware support.

grblHal Support

Choosing your firmware flavour should be as simple as selecting whether you want to use GRBL or grblHAL before connecting.

This is a MVP which includes all expected common functionality (visualization, sending, jogging, DRO, MDI, probing etc.), surfacing, calibration and firmware (minus flashing), macros, laser and (now) Rotary.

Functionality and ease-of-use should be the same experience regardless of what firmware flavour you’re using – all HAL specific functionality are handled behind the scenes so you can continue to interact with the program as you’re used to. Try connecting, loading jobs, jogging, probing, checking out our Firmware tool and other surfacing etc. tool interfaces and anything else you’d typically do on your grblHAL enabled CNC machine.

We’re going to continue to work on further support for HAL specific functionality, along with clean up any rough edges moving forward. Look forward to network connection, flashing, and cleaner toolchanges coming in future releases.

Primarily, this build has been tested on the Flexi-HAL CNC controller in collaboration with Andrew from Expatria Technologies.

Rotary Support

Full rotary support is on its way to gSender soon, you will now be able to run your files that have A-axis movements with ease. We are still working on improving rotary for gSender, you may see some features that don’t quite do anything as we plan on working on them and adjusting a several things in the coming weeks. We do have a few great features that we would like you to try out though:


The visualizer in gSender will now be able to visualize A-axis movements for users to see, in addition, we decided to add an object that represents the stock material, which rotates accordingly during a job. We also updated the outline feature to work with rotary files more correctly for those who need to use it with rotary. We plan to refine the visualization in the coming weeks to improve it further.

Rotary Mode

Since GRBL does not support the rotary axis, we decided to get creative and come up with a good workaround. We have implemented a feature named “Rotary Mode” where some firmware values are adjusted to mimic the A-axis movement behaviour. You will be able to load 2+1 axes files that utilize the A-axis. You will notice that the Y-axis is disabled in this mode as the A-axis takes its place during a job and the fact that the Y-axis cannot be used when the A-axis is being used, so it is disabled in the app until you Rotary mode. This feature is meant for Grbl machines specifically.

A-axis Support

A-axis movements are not handled on machines running Grbl , so we found a way to mimic the behaviour in gSender and allow users to run files that have the A-axis. gSender will interpret A-axis movements as Y-axis movements now, this pairs with the rotary mode feature that helps us achieve this. This behaviour only applies to GRBL to allow the app to read A-axis movements correctly.

A-axis Control and Display

You can also control and see the position of the A-axis from gSender. A-axis control works just like all other axes, you have access to jog control buttons on the user interface, as well as the shortcuts on your keyboard or gamepad. The A-axis position readout is available and again works the same as the other axes, you have the ability to zero or go to the zero position, and update the position manually via the position input. Once we’re satisfied that all this functionality is working as expected and no other requests are made for features we’ve forgotten, the plan will be to refine the look and location of these buttons so that they can be implemented more seamlessly into gSender’s existing interface


Note: this is not an EDGE build, it contains completely new functionality aimed at grblHal/rotary users. EDGE will continue to receive updates independently while we continue to move it towards a new, Main release in the coming weeks. Once we’re satisfied with how progress is continuing with the HAL and Rotary support version and Edge is looking relatively bug-free, then Edge will become the new Main and HAL/Rotary will become the new Edge. To make this happen, we’d greatly appreciate and and all feedback you can provide

You can find the binaries for Hal/Rotary on Github.

How you can help

Use it! Please try to keep feedback to this single topic thread so that we can more easily distinguish comments that are HAL/rotary specific – we want to avoid the headache of trying to sort feedback between Main, Edge, and Hal/Rot. Any feedback in this thread about functionality either not working or not working as expected will be taken into account. As always, keep in mind this is a very preliminary release, so if you’re especially attached to your work process, bits, or expensive materials then feel free to stay away until the product is more fleshed out.

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April 2023 Production Updates

In today’s production news, please welcome Kelsey’s (our office manager) latest creation, a healthy baby boy.

Hey everyone, here are the production updates for this month.

For all news and updates, please see our Blog.

Just as a reminder, if you’d like to get these updates as a weekly email newsletter, please subscribe here:

We’re moving (soon)!

In the last update, we talked about our search for a new home. Well, I’m excited to share that we’ve signed a new lease! Our new home will be a few minutes away from our current space in Waterloo, but offer double the square footage plus much higher ceilings, allowing us to store a significantly more amount of material.

At this time, there are a couple of moving parts the most important being that the current tenants occupying the back half of the building until October. Although we’ll have access to the front half of the building in the coming months, we won’t be able to fully set things up without access to the back space and the loading docks.

To allow for some transition time, we’ve extended our lease in our current building til December 2023, so that we don’t have to move everything all at once.

Update on customs hold-ups for US customers

I’m happy to mention that for the most part, the number of shipments that are being held up has decreased. We’ve made some changes to our documentation which seems to have been helping with the situation. We’ve also been working on finalizing the registration of our US corporation to help facilitate orders going to the US. There were some conflicting information and changes to the plan for establishing a US entity that caused this to drag further than we wanted, but we’ve finally started with the next step in the registration that would allow us to get our own EIN and TIN numbers.

After this step, we’ll still need to work on a couple of other things, such as US tax compliance and banking-related stuff, but I am sure we’ll figure each thing out over the next month or two.

LongMill and Extension Orders

Production on LongMill and Extension orders have been a bit up and down as we running low of certain parts needed for the 48×30 machines. At this current time, we are waiting on a new batch of Y axis rails to arrive. Due to the extrusion die being damaged during handling, the rails are still in production. Machines are expected to continue to ship on schedule at 5-6 weeks but shipping rates might not be consistent week to week.

There have also been a few design changes to the ACME locking nuts and couplers that will be reflected in the latest version of the LongMill. The new design helps reduce the chance of rubbing on the support bearings on each end of the machine lead screw. We’ll have the new documentation go live soon. This should help alleviate some of the issues that customers have at start of assembly where they have a binding in one of the axis.

Earlier this year, we hired a couple of new people for the packing team, but we’re still working through catching up.

LaserBeam Orders

We’ve received a new shipment of parts and are expecting the queue for the LaserBeam to be complete in the next week or two. We are currently in the middle of new production for the driver boards, which are expected to finish in a few weeks. We are keeping our lead time estimates to 4-6 weeks, just in case we run out of any parts, but for the most part, we expect orders to ship sooner than that.

Rotary Axis

Production for the rotary axis kit is now underway, with parts for the first 300 units in production. We are working on finalizing the details for the electronics and software, and expect to have a pre-order launch available in the next few weeks. While initially, we were planning to integrate an off-the-shelf rotary axis kit into the LongMill, we’ve decided to fully design the rotary axis from scratch. We found that integrating an off-the-shelf solution would be a reasonably fast and affordable way to set up a 4th axis, there were a couple of compromises we didn’t want to make, such as the form factor, ease of setting up a mounting solution to the wasteboard, and the ability for us to integrate certain features of the rotary axis, such as a way to home and probe off the rotary that would be difficult to accomplish without significant modification to the original design.

There are more details to come, but we feel that the new rotary axis allows for the same type of projects but in a much more user friendly and compact design.

Also if you haven’t seen it yet, check out our debut of the rotary axis in our 2023 April Fools video!

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March 31 – April 7, 2023 “A Project That is a Game” Contest

So many decorative projects! Thanks to those who participated in the contest for this week, where we asked makers to submit their best decorative projects.

Last Week’s Winners

This week’s theme is “projects that are games”! Post your cribbage boards, chessboards, cornhole boards, connect 4, or any games that you made with your LongMill, and we’ll choose our favorite ones to send cool stuff for free.

This Week’s Theme: A Project That is a Game

This week’s theme is “projects that are games”! Post your cribbage boards, chessboards, cornhole boards, connect 4, or any games that you made with your LongMill, and we’ll choose our favorite ones to send cool stuff for free.

Happy building!

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How to replace your brushes in your Makita RT0701 router

Hey guys, I’m excited to share that we are now carrying OEM replacement carbon brushes in our store! If you have reduced or intermittent power and your router, replacement brushes can bring back performance levels in your router.

As more customers use their LongMills for daily production use, we’ve seen more customers replace the brushes in their motors from constant use. Although for most customers, the need to replace the brushes will be extremely low, since they do last a very long time (we have some with 1000+ hours that still have life in them, more than what most people use their machine in 1-2 years), in a high production setting, I can see that there is a small subset of people could save time and money by replacing brushes versus the whole router itself.

At Sienci Labs, we try to have as many spare and maintenance parts available in our store so that customers can make sure that their machines run for many years to come. We also provide open source documentation and drawings, as well on the product pages if applicable, if customers need to source parts locally. If there are any other products or parts you feel like we should be offering, please feel free to reach out!

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March 24 – March 31, 2023 “A Project That is Decorative” Contest

Happy Spring, everyone! Thank you to those who entered the contest this week, where we asked creators to share their best flag projects made on their LongMill. 

Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Allison Warne Dunbabin, Joseph Darnell, Steve McGinnis, Matt Kile, Dan Hickey, and Michael McCurley are the winners of the “A Project That is a Flag” contest! Watch out for a prize!

This Week’s Theme: A Project That is Decorative

The theme of the week is “projects that are decorative”! Share with us something you have created on the LongMill that was used to decorate your space. These projects include any wall art like signs, picture frames, wall carvings, figurines/statues, and other cool decorative items. We will choose our favourite decorative projects and send prizes to the creators!

Happy creating!

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March 17 – March 24, 2023 ” A Project That is a Flag” Contest

Happy rockin’ Friday! Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest for this week, where we asked creators to share their guitar/guitar-related projects with us.

Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Nick Taylor, Dan Smock, Derrick Cundy, Mitchell Lockwood, Jason Boren, and Stephen Cohrs are the winners of the “A Project That is a Guitar/Guitar-Related” contest! A prize is on its way!

This Week’s Theme: A Project That is a Flag

The theme of the week is “projects that are flags”. Share your favourite flag projects that were made using your LongMill with us for a chance to be one of the winners of this week’s contest and win free prizes!

Happy making!

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March 10 – March 17, 2023 “A Project That is a Guitar/Guitar-Related” Contest

Happy Friday! Thanks to those who entered this week’s contest, where we asked creators to share their projects that they sold.

Last Week’s Winners

We are happy to announce that Ron Pillon, David Kehoe, Adrian Bordeaux, Stephen Buck, Julie Lacroix-Lamarche, and Jenn Huberts are the winners of the “A Project You Sold” contest! Watch out for a prize!

This Week’s Theme: A Project That is a Guitar/Guitar-Related

The theme of the week is “projects that are guitars/guitar-related”. Post your outstanding guitar or guitar related-projects (guitar trays, guitar charcuterie boards, guitar cutting boards, etc.) that were made using your LongMill and share them with us for a chance to be one of the winners of this week’s contest and win free prizes!

Happy building!