On Again, Off Again

It looks like I may have jumped the gun in announcing that the Shapeoko was operational again. It turns out that while it was visible on the USB bus again, it was still not fully functional, or even partially functional for that matter. Carbide Motion would “Connect” to the Shapeoko again, but within seconds it would display an unhappy “Cutter is not responding” message and return to the screen asking you to connect the cutter. I did some reading on this and it appears that it has to do with the 16U2 not being able to communicate with the 328P, and since the 328p was also just replaced and re-flashed with the same results, it is apparent there is yet other un-diagnosed damage or failure on the circuit board.

At this point, I believe we will start looking into alternate options for a controller / driver board for the Shapeoko. I’d like to get something that will let me use it with EMC2, and there would be an appeal to having both the Shapeoko and the laser using the same driving hardware and software. I’d also like to have manual jog controls available for positioning the router. Using a mouse on the laptop is difficult at worst and slow at best when you have to constantly divert your attention back and forth between the screen and the router.

If anyone has some suggestions for a good controller to drive the Shapeoko (and possibly also a laser) I’d be all ears. Sign up and leave a comment below.


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The Shapeoko Is Back

After killing it, replacing the Atmega 16U2 IC and re-flashing it, our Shapeoko 3 Driver Board Registers on the USB Bus

After killing it, replacing the Atmega 16U2 IC and re-flashing it, our Shapeoko 3 Driver Board Registers on the USB Bus

 

A few weeks ago while cutting out some wooden letters for one of my Wife’s Christmas present projects, our Shapeoko died. The machine itself appeared to be OK, but it disappeared off the USB bus, and was never seen or heard from again. I tested the traces on the board, and verified pin to pin continuity between the USB connector and the Atmega 16U2 IC, which it’s driver board uses instead of an FTDI or similar USB to TTL Serial converter. Normally when you plug in any USB device to a Linux computer, you see [something] in the dmesg output – even if it has no drivers for the device and in many cases even when the device does not even work. (I recently ran into a case where a USB device kept complaining that it was “unable to enumerate USB device” – but the kernel was still aware of its’ presence on the bus.) In this case, plugging in our Shapoko yielded nothing. Not even the awareness of something drawing power off the port.

 

I traced out the pins, made sure the zeners weren’t bridged, and I could connect to the 16U2 via the ICSP header (in fact, I was able to save the binary program from it along with all it’s fuse bits!) However, despite all this, it simply did not work. This evening Jeremie replaced the 16U2 with a new one that arrived today from Digikey, I re-loaded the binary programs from the old chip into the new one and voila: The screen shot you see above! Now all I need to do is re-assemble the machine and test it with a real live cut, but that should be peanuts at this stage now that it is alive and well again.

 

I just love fixing things!

 


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Collets, Christmas and Catastrophes!

A few weeks ago I ordered a three-pack of different-sized collets for the router in the Shapeoko, and yesterday they arrived. One of the things I love about shopping online is that with the delay in shipping sometimes, you can easily forget that you’ve even ordered anything and such was the case this time. When I opened the mail and found this cardboard box addressed to me, I had no idea what might be inside, and was just as pleasantly surprised when I opened it and realized it was something I’d wanted for a long time!

As it turned out, I had been discussing at that *very* moment a Christmas project my wife wanted to do with some letters cut out of wood, much like I had done on the Shapeoko in previous years. With the new collets in hand, I was more excited than ever to give them a try! Yesterday morning I headed out to the garage early in the day to begin dusting off the Shapeoko. It had sat in it’s corner for several months prior to this, having cut all that I needed it to. I had been experimenting with using Inkscape to generate items with pockets – carving out sections of wood with the end mill, and was getting quite good at it. The only problem I kept running into was that the bit would sometimes slip, drop, and then gouge the wood it was trying to cut a pocket in. Hence my delightment at getting the proper collets for the router.

I spent the better part of Saturday working on this, and cutting out letters for my wife’s Christmas craft. They turned out practically perfect, and I was thrilled with the results. I repositioned the wood I’d been cutting from to make one last set, and was positioning the router into place when all of a sudden Carbide Motion reported that it couldn’t talk to the Shapeoko. That’s odd, I thought, but sometimes it would disconnect when the router was switched off, so I wondered if maybe this wasn’t a similar problem. I unplugged the USB cable and plugged it back in. No dice. Power-cycled everything. No dice. Even rebooted my computer. Nothing. It was as if the USB cable wasn’t even plugged in. I checked dmesg – and there was no indication as far as the computer was concerned that anything was plugged into the USB port. It was dead in the water.

And so it sits now. We’ve contacted Carbide to see if they sell the controller separately. I can read and write the Atmega 16U2 chip which is the USB to TTL converter for the driver board, so it seems to be OK, meaning the problem is most likely elsewhere on the board in some other tiny component. When powered from the 24VDC power supply, the 16U2 has power, so that’s not the problem, and there are only four components between the 16U2 and the USB port which all seem to check out, so I am truly at a loss for what might be causing it to not appear on the bus. Wiggling the board doesn’t help, and like I said – it was working fine all day and then suddenly just disconnected. Bizarre. Maybe it is time to consider a controller upgrade as well.

 


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