Exploring board replacement options


After a few weeks of using the original controller board along with k40 whisperer I’m starting to think a board upgrade and more powerful software might make sense. I keep hearing about Cohesion 3D, smoothie, gerbel, etc and am a bit overwhelmed. I realize there are direct board replacements and different software/firmware that can be used on them. I’m hoping to find a link to a good thread or comparison site that breaks down all of the upgrade options with pros, cons, specs, etc that can help me understand what the best upgrade paths would be.

Obviously cost is a concern and simplicity is also a concern. A drop in would be preferred butnid also consider something that might require a bit more tinkering.

(Anthony Bolgar) #2

There are 2 different drop in replacement boards available. The first is the Cohesion3D Laserboard. It is a 32 bit controller that supports the X and Y motion, as well as a dedicated Z bed and rotary functions.

The second is the Awesome.tech miniGerbil. It is also a 32 bit controller and supports the X and Y axis motion, but you can not use a motorized Z bed or rotary accessory with it.

Both are very high quality controllers, it just depends if you want to have a rotary and Z bed as to which controller would be better for you.


Thanks for the info. As I don’t plan to purchase a rotary the awesometech might make more see sense considering it’s substantially cheaper.

Will both of these boards allow me to use Lightburn? From the sounds of it lightburn appears to be the best software.

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(Ned Hill) #4

Yes, both can be controlled with Lightburn.

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(Stephane BUISSON) #5

a bit more explainations.

C3D is based on LPC processor (originally choosed by Smoothieware), it’s a Smoothie board compatible. running Smoothieware (better with vectors cut). it’s also compatible with GRBL, (which is better for engraving). C3D mini is a drop in replacement. going from one firmware to another is simple as copying a file on a SD card and reboot the unit. Smoothie is able to manage a lcd screen, but GRBL don’t.

The latest version of Gerbil is now 32 bit. (the first version wasn’t and it was an issue (lack of power processing) for engraving. now that’s behind, and from what I have seen from the kick starter, results look nice.

your main criterias will be the software you will choose. you have the excellent Lightburn for a small fee (30 days trial), but also several open source one like Visicut, LaserWeb, … or Fusion 360 with smoothie plugin.
before you change your controller (I recommend C3D) you can also try K40 whisperer.
The best way is to take the reverse way, choose software first, then the controller would be easy.

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