Which controller for Low Rider (UK)

Hardware/firmware question - my choice is MiniRambo 1.3 (clone) vs Rambo 1.4 (clone) vs Duet/Duet2. I’m in the UK so genuine Rambo stuff not available. What’s best and easiest to get running? Have a missed another solution? Where do I get firmware from? I’m a geriatric woodworker/engineer and am trying to future-proof so my mind and ideas can continue working when my body won’t - no electronics experience and can’t find simple guidance. The rest of my Lowrider2 is well on the way.

Well, I am using a Duet2 on my Primo as a dual endstop solution. I also gave serious consideration to using another one for my LowRider, but I have not installed it. My Primo started out with a MKS Gen L v1.0 board (Basically a RAMPS 1.4 stack) which actually worked reasonably well, except for curves, which it often choked on doing the math for.

There are a couple of us here that can help you with configuring RRF for the Duet to run your LowRider, with or without dual endstops for auto levelling/squaring. Personally, I love the Duet in this application, the CNC mode firmware is very nice, the CNC mode web UI has some great features, and I have a PanelDue attached which I find extremely useful.

The RAMBo 1.4 is a tried and true solution, and there are MANY people here that can help you with that. There is stock, off-the-shelf firmware ready for download and install and tutorials and help to get that running with whatever computer operating system you might have. The firmware works with the 12864 smart controller (Highly recommended) This is a very nice lower cost board (Compared to the Duet at the very least) and there is ample support on these forums.

As far as “future-proofing” goes, my opinion is that the 32 bit boards will have a longer life expectancy. That said, the current crop are inexpensive, and given that no matter what we seem to expect of the future, we seem to fall short in any kind of computing predictions. Therefore, in the future, it is more likely that no matter what we buy today, it will be cheaper to just buy something better later.

I am running my LowRider on an SKR Pro 1.2. I chose the 32bit board because I like to allow the arc commands in Gcode, which are more mathematically intensive. Estlcam has an option to disable these, and it will instead present curves or arcs as a series of short, straight lines (Chances are that you’ll never notice a difference) Your 3D printer pretty much already does this, since the .STL mesh that you slice for printing is already presented as a series of short, straight lines, and has no true curves in it. So though I like to have those curve commands, it doesn’t really matter.

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“Best” is dependent on the features you need.

MiniRambo will be unable to do auto-squaring in a dual-end stop configuration as it doesn’t support enough drivers. Any 5+ driver board (Rambo, Duet, Ramps, lots of others) will support dual-end stop and auto-squaring on a router/cutting machine - you’ll need one additional axis/driver if you want to mount a 3D print head. Need for auto-squaring can be minimized by use of “hard stops” that the machine is held against while powering on the controller.

Easiest to get running is going to be choosing a board for which V1 is maintaining pre-built firmware. (Absolute easiest would be buying a board from the V1 store that comes pre-flashed with the firmware, but I’m inferring from your post that this isn’t an option.) Next easiest will be to use on that others on these forums have sorted out - sounds like @SupraGuy is willing to assist if you choose to go with the Duet.

You’ll need to decide what other features (wi-fi access, 8- or 32-bit, supported screens and storage devices, etc.) are important to you. MiniRambo (clone) would check all my “required” boxes, but I’d need to balance the cost savings against the ability to auto-square as a “nice to have” feature. I’d probably swing for the full Rambo (clone).

I agree with @SupraGuy that investing a lot of time or spending big now to “future proof” from the controller point of view is probably not a very beneficial exercise. Buy what meets your needs (and fills your wants) at this time. Replacing the controller will be a straight forward task should you decide in the future that an upgrade is warranted.

Full disclosure, I’m running my MPCNC Burly on a CNC Shield/Arduino controller that was in my surplus parts bin because a supplier sent me two by mistake when I ordered something else. It’s limited to 3 axes plus one cloned axis, so I can’t have auto-squaring but I’m not feeling like I’m missing anything. It runs grbl, so I can’t use the pre-built V1 firmware that’s based on Marlin, but I didn’t have too hard a time sorting it all out.

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Thanks @SupraGuy @ttraband for those responses . They are very helpful and will now do some serious thinking (and a bit more finding out what the acronyms mean).
The ‘future proofing’ I’m concerned about is having devices which help me make things as my body is on a downward spiral in spite of some bionic bits. I have previously swung an 8 x 4 x 3/4 sheet of ply up on trestles and cut/shaped with circular saw and hand guided router. No chance of lifting it now, or bending over to work on it. At least growing old is better than the alternative.
I’m looking at BIGTREETECH® Duet 2 Wifi V1.04 Cloned DuetWifi 32Bit Board Controller Expansion Board + 4.3"/5.0"/7.0" PanelDue Touch Screen Kit for 3D Printer Parts Sale - Banggood UK which is a Duet2 clone complete with controller expansion board (???) and 7" lcd screen. It has wifi, sd card reader, can support 2.4 amp steppers. It seems to be along the lines that you are suggesting, cheaper than Duet2 with the extras, and I’m assuming firmware will be available to match it.
What do you think?
I’m a complete dumbo when it comes to electronics so your help is invaluable.

I have one Duet2 clone, and a couple of the genuine article.

The copper on the genuine ones is notably heavier. I’m sure that they are more likely to properly support the higher currents, and have better cooling.

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I’m sure you’re right @SupraGuy. When the clone costs £117 including control board and 7" lcd screen and the Duet2 cost £144 the corners have to be cut somewhere. On the other hand, the big saving is attractive.
Am I right in assuming that, apart from a power source, this kit is all I need?

If you choose the Duet route, that will do it.

While I do like having the PanelDue, I will say that it’s not a necessity. The web control is markedly better, and easier to use if you use the web browser on your phone. The PanelDue is limited capacity, and functionality. I have a Python program for a Raspberry Pi that will do pretty much everything that the PanelDue does, plus store and edit Gcode files, and some one-touch macros.

One of the big strengths (IMO) for RepRap Firmware is the manipulation of workspace being separate from machine space. Marlin is supposed to have this feature, too, but with the V1 firmware, I’ve never used it. It does mean that some things are a little trickier to do than with Marlin, but the trade-off is still worthwhile, I think.

On my Primo, I did go with a 24V power supply. I opted to do so for the potential extra speed (Which, I haven’t actually used, really) and because I had a number of 24V supplies lying around in my parts bin, along with various ancillary pieces like fans. If you are buying parts, I’d advise that 12V is plenty, and the parts are cheaper.

Do keep in mind that I had a heck of a time trying to get information from the Duet forums, because hardly anyone there does CNC stuff. They also (understandably) are a little easier to deal with when you have a genuine product. and are more willing to help with support from the developers. That said, there are people there (like me) who are willing to help.

Support here is a couple of people who’ve done this. We’re not official support either. We hand around because we like to, but who knows what next week or next month will bring. I have no plans to stop coming here, but if I get hit by the proverbial bus, Duet support around here will take a noticeable hit. (Not that I’m an expert by any stretch, either.)

Not saying don’t do it, but go in with the eyes open, OK?

I think that the Duet is a great board, and its capabilities for CNC machining are at least as good as the Marlin based boards that we use here. I really like the web control, and the processing power is capable of keeping up with about anything that the machine is going to be doing. I don’t think I’d have any trouble adding a laser, or having actual spindle control, with one caveat. Estlcam likes to use the “S” parameter with the move commands for spindle control, and RepRap Firmware doesn’t like it. I get complaints from the Duet at the startup of every Estlcam generated file, unless I edit it myself to remove the reference. If I were to add a laser or speed controlled spindle to the Duet, I would need to edit every file that Estlcam puts out. I don’t know of a CAM processor that will do this in a way that RepRap Firmware will understand and accept. So, it’s a good idea to be aware of that. The Marlin based boards supported by V1 are perfectly capable of doing everything straight from the CAM processing. (I usually just put up with the complaint, because I manually set my router speed control, and I have a separate machine for a laser anyway.)

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Again, thank you, @SupraGuy. So, the one I’ve been looking at will be fine if I go down the Duet2 route. I’ve just discovered that Paneldue is firmware for linking an LCD screen to the motherboard - done a lot of learning today!

Is the Rambo 1.4 the go to board if I want to run Marlin (always thought they were big fish 'til I started this project) and am I right in thinking that there is far more support for using a Rambo 1.4 style board for the Lowrider?

In that respect I’ve been looking at Cloned rambo 1.4 motherboard all on one integrated pcb with 2004 lcd display for 3d printer part Sale - Banggood.com which, like the Duet2 clone, is available from many suppliers in China at around £80 with LCD screen.
Am I on the right track here?

On power supplies, I’ve heard of Meanwell and Amazon do a range. Meanwell Enclosed Type 348W 12V 29A LRS-350-12 seems more than adequate. It delivers up to 30 amps at12v. I’m thinking that the 6 amps recommended may be a bit mean for 5 large nema17s.
Am I on the right track with this too?

I’m assuming a fan will be needed to keep the motherboard cool, one that’s wired into it. And a box to put the gubbins in.

Crazy as it may seem, I’ve just ordered a kill button to go in the power feed to everything - hit the button and everything stops.

Just found out what Estlcam is, rather important. Are there other tools to go from stl or dxf to gcodes?
The free stuff I’ve found is for printers or lasers.

Estlcam is free to use, but well worth the $60 to support the developer (and remove the timer).

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… To say the least.

These CNC machines don’t actually need much power 5A/60W is plenty for the motors and logic. I might go to 8A/100W if I wanted to be completely sure that I wouldn’t run out, but more than 120W and it’s just wasted. Look at it this way. The electronics, and several fans won’t take more than 1A. Each motor is configured for 900mA (Less than 1A) and in series mode, you are using 3 drivers, configured for 900mA each. That means that you can run the whole machine on less than 3.5A at 12VDC. If you are running dual endstops (Which means 5 motor drivers), you might bump this up to 5A, maybe approaching 6A if you’re really making the electronics work hard, but you’d have to be making the electronics really sweat.

Unless your spindle is also powered from the DC supply, in which case, make sure you have enough for that. If you are using an AC powered trim router, like the DeWalt or the Makita, then it doesn’t matter. You can save a fair amount of money on the power supply.

I have a small fan on my Duet, but it’s probably not necessary, strictly speaking. I have my motor current turned up a bit though, so I did add the fan to the setup.

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All very helpful, thanks @SupraGuy. Just ordered a nice little unit, half the price of the meanwell and it still promises 8.5 amps (includes cooling fan too) so plenty to spare, and half the price.

Now for the main event - the motherboard. To complicate matters further, One of my suppliers is offering BIGTREETECH Octopus V1.1 so that’s three to choose from, Rambo 1.4 (clone) and Duet 2 (clone).

@ttraband you have suggested getting a motherboard that’s well supported on this forum, which seems very sensible.

Am I right in assuming that the Rambo 1.4 or the BIGTREETECH Octopus V1.1 would have more info/support than the Duet 2?

I still haven’t got my head round the firmware element, except that it needs ‘flashing’ so I shall need to find a source and programme style that matches the board and my requirements.

Take a look at the marlin we keep configured at MarlinBuilder releases. The rambo, and skr pro 1.2 are both kept up to date and will be easy to use. Others have varying levels of support. There is no preconfigured version for the octopus or duet.

Also check out the software workflow for some of the other software pieces.


Thanks for this info. It looks like rambo 1.4 is flavour of the month. I’ll get one ordered.

Just checking out the Marlin Builder releases. They seem sufficiently straight forward that even I may be able to follow them.
I can always ask if I get stuck.

Are you guys is USA?

Depends on who you mean by “you guys.” This is a volunteer community forum, with contributors from (off the top of my head) the US, UK, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, France, China, India, Australia and New Zealand (sorry for anywhere I’ve missed or misnamed). Only one of us actually “works for” (actually, is) V1 Engineering, and he runs the business out of his home in California (I don’t think that’s a secret).

I don’t want to speak for others. I’m in Wisconsin, northern mid-west region of the US.

Well, FWIW, I’m Canadian. As @ttraband said though, I don’t work for V1, I’m just another customer/builder.

Fusion 360 seems to be a distance choice #2 to EstlCAM by users on this forum. It is powerful, but the learning curve can be steep, and the free version has some limits. There are a smattering of other tools used, put often they are paid and can be expensive. The diagram in the first post of this topic gives an (incomplete) overview, and there is more information on this webpage on the CNC workflow.

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Good try Tom.

I live in the US, in Colorado.

V1 ships international from California. The shipping and taxes do get pricey outside the US. There is also a reseller in Germany for some things (see the bottom of the license page)


It is because I’m aware that you are all volunteers, contributing to the success of this forum and site out of kindness and interest, and for that I am most sincerely grateful.

It was the time gap that intrigued me, made me think that you must be the other side of the pond. I’m in South Yorkshire, UK.

My background is in teaching, fine woodwork, miniature railway engineering and art. I’m well passed my three score years and ten and finding woodwork physically challenging - hence the desire to make a cnc router/cutter, to keep making but reducing the physical demands. It also makes great use of my very recently acquired 3d printer.

I’ve been using 2d cad (TurboCad) for many years but 3d modelling (again via TurboCad and FreeCad) is a different ball game, and I’m struggling, but will get there.

As for the Lowrider 2, the printing is done, as from today, all parts (I think) are either in my hands or on the way, all except the table and that needs a bit more thought. Space is at a premium where I live so it will need to be foldable or dismantled. I’ll let you know how I get on