Electronics

Last Update: 2 September 2020

The LongMill electronics come pre-assembled and are pretty much ready to go out of the box. However, we recommend double-checking a few things before powering-on.

 

DC power supply connector polarity and E-stop connector

It’s important that the connector coming from the DC power brick has a white or red wire on the left side and a black one on the right when the screw terminal is facing you (as pictured). Both this connector and the connector coming from the e-stop should have the wires attached very securely. The order of the wires going to the e-stop connector don’t matter.

Check that the wires are connected appropriately by tugging on them. Secure them using the screw terminals and a flat head screwdriver if they’re loose or disconnected.

For the DC power connector, if you’re unable to get the tinned wire ends to clamp inside the connector securely then consider snipping the wires ends off and removing some more of the wire insulation to reveal a stranded length of wire. Once exposed, stick the wire back into the connector and clamp down onto the stranded cable tightly.

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Motor connector wiring

The wires, looking down from the side with the screw heads, should be, from left to right, BLUE, YELLOW, GREEN, RED (pictured). Check if the color pattern on all four of your motor wires is correct and re-arrange them if needed. As previously, also check that the wires are connected securely to the connector.

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The wiring color pattern should be blue, yellow, green, red.

While you’re at it, double check that the motor-side, white connectors on each axis are pushed all the way into the motor housing to ensure a good connection. If these connectors are sitting too loosely, then they can cause issues later on since the motor won’t move as expected.

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Properly seated DIP switches

Looking at the underside of the control box, you should notice four red switch blocks on the circuit board through the slots in the steel (pictured). These are a way of toggling how the motors are controlled by their respective motor controllers, where the slots in the steel have been made wide enough so that you can reach in with a small flat head screwdriver or an Allen key to adjust these switches without dissembling anything.

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These DIP switches normally look like they’ve been properly switched when in reality they’re ‘floating’ between the up and down positions, as is the case for switch 2 in the picture below. Because of this, it’s a good idea to push every single switch into it’s correct position before moving on to the next step, putting switches 1 and 3 into the ‘up’ position and switches 2 and 4 into the ‘down’ position (pictured).

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Plugging in the motors and power supply

With these checks done, start by connecting the motors. Track each cable from each motor to its corresponding green connector and connect it to the board. The fit of these connectors is tight but you need to be sure to push them ALL THE WAY in so that there is good contact between the plug and the connector. Each plug on the board is labelled on the top (note that there isn’t a difference between the Y1 and Y2 plugs, the Y-axis motors can be connected to either of them).

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Next, plug the DC connector into the LongBoard before plugging the power supply into the wall; a green LED on the power supply brick should light up to indicate that it’s receiving wall power.

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Now, connect the emergency stop button to the control box via the connector on the top. You should be able to find your e-stop button (pictured on the right) in a bubble wrapped bag the #3 top carton. Turn it on by rotating the button clockwise. You should see a red light on top of the box light up to confirm that everything is receiving power.

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Once you’ve checked that the lights are turning on, press the e-stop button to turn it back off.

A note on the control box is that it will be limited in it’s placement due to the length of the Z-axis motor cable. If you don’t think you’ll be using the on-board control buttons feel free to mount the box out of the way – the basic operations can be controlled via a USB cable and the e-stop. If you wish to place it further from the machine, extending the wires for that cable is quite straightforward either through the use of a soldering iron or through crimp-able wire extenders.

 

Connecting the LongMill to your computer

To manipulate your LongMill and send it files, you’ll need a g-code sender which acts as the control software. We recommend using UGSPlatform, which is what we’ll be using to show the next couple of steps and in the remaining part of the assembly.

You can download UGSPlatform here: bit.ly/2Z3DIVC

Note: Some users have reported some bugs with the latest version (Dec 2019) of UGSPlatform. We recommend users to use the August 2019 version of UGSPlatform.

UGSPlatform works with any operating system (MacOS, Windows, Linux) that has Java installed. Most computers come with Java installed but if you don’t have Java, you can download and install it here: https://www.java.com/en/download/

Once you have UGSPlatform downloaded: locate the downloaded file, ‘un-zip’ or ‘extract’ it (usually found when you right-click the file), then open the “ugsplatform” folder.

There will be a folder inside called “bin” which will look like this once you open it up:

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If you are using a 64 bit Windows computer, use ugsplatform64.exe

If you are using a 32 bit Windows computer, use ugsplatform.exe

If you are not sure which type of Windows you are using, you are most likely using a 64 bit computer. You can try both and see which one starts.

If you are using a Mac OS computer, use ugsplatform.

You should be greeted with a screen that looks like this. If you aren’t and you encounter an error while opening UGS because it’s not able to locate Java, then there is another program on your computer blocking UGS from opening properly; see the general fix for this here.

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Connect your computer to the LongMill control box via USB.

Note: Your computer will automatically install drivers for the Arduino at this point if they are not already on your computer (can take a minute or two). If you try to connect your machine but you cannot, you may need to manually install the drivers. You can do this by installing the Arduino IDE which will install the drivers during the installation, or you can follow the instructions on doing them manually for Windows.

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Plug in the USB cable onto the LongBoard.
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Connect your USB cable to your computer.

Once that is done, go to the top left corner of the program. First, make sure that your baud rate is set to 115200.

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Then click on the refresh icon. This will go through and auto-detect which USB port your machine is connected to. If you have multiple things connected to your USB ports, you may have a few different options to choose from. You can either unplug the other items you have plugged in, or you can try connecting to each one to see if they make a connection.

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At this stage, power on your machine.

Finally, click on the highlighted “Connect” button. If your machine connects successfully, you should see this icon turn orange and you should see in the console output a message like “Grbl 1.1g [‘$’ for more help]”

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You will usually hear a gentle hiss and a thump noise when the machine connects. If so, you can now try playing around with moving the machine. You can jog the machine in the direction you want within the “jog controller” window.

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The “jog controller” lets you move the machine around.

You can choose the amount that the machine will move in the XY directions by changing the “STEP SIZE XY”, the amount in the Z direction with “STEP SIZE Z”, and the feed rate with the “FEED RATE” boxes.

Start with:

  • STEP SIZE XY = 10mm
  • STEP SIZE Z = 1mm
  • FEED RATE = 1000

Later when you’re using your LongMill you can change these numbers to whatever works best for you. For now, moving the machine around will be important for when we mount the machine to the wasteboard next!

NOTE:  Once you’ve connected to your machine via UGS or your preferred interface software, go to the console communication tab and type in: “$110=4000” and hit the ‘Enter’ key. This will modify the maximum feed rate of the X-axis to being 4000mm/min which we’ve found will help it to run more reliably. If you’d like to know more about this recent fix, see our post here: https://forum.sienci.com/t/fixing-the-x-axis-torque-out-issues/332

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Anyway, on to the table mounting!