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Next-Gen Electronics

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I noticed the topic in the wiki titled Next-Gen Electronics. Is this something that is purely internal to Ultimaker, or will it be accepting community contributions? I'd be very happy to donate some of my time to improving the electronics and getting things onto the ARM platform and away from 8bit AVRs.

At the very least I'd be happy to create SMPS schematics for supplying clean, efficient 3.3v power to the system - lets face it, the powersupplies we use on these and running steppers make for very dirty supply.

I run a small electronics consulting company, so even if this is an internal project I'd be happy to act as a 3rd part to bounce ideas off (at no cost) :) Everything in the wiki article is very run of the mill everyday stuff for myself and my team.

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There are multiple ideas for new electronics. On the google groups someone is working on a designed based on ARM.

I've looked into changing the current RAMPS design into something that would work with the BeagleBone. Which should be quite simple, most parts accept the 3.3V that the BeagleBone uses as IO. Only the temperature sensor requires some extra electronics. You could even design a plugin board which replaces the Arduino and accepts the BeagleBone. This is interesting because it adds Ethernet capabilities.

However, I think it's the software department that will be the most work, the current firmware is highly engineered to fit on Arduinos. Moving to ARM would require a rewrite. Moving to Linux based ARM (like the BeagleBone) will give even more challenges.

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I was referring specifically to the official looking effort here:

http://wiki.ultimaker.com/Next-Gen_Electronics_NEW

. I've seen that Ultimaker are looking to hire EEs so I wasn't sure what their technical capabilities are and if they may need assistance to bring their plans to fruition.

I've added my comments on the stm32 controller that was looking for a schematic review in the google group already :)

I'm a huge ARM cortex fan as any of my company's clients can attest haha. Personally, I don't think the software re-write is a negative but a positive considering how the new firmware would be able to leverage the vastly superior ARM platform :)

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this is great and I'm all for it, but I don't feel it's something that's holding the UM back in any way.

the 3 biggest problems I keep seeing are:

1) software - good results depend on good slicing strategies and we're lacking in so many ways here.

2) hot end - too many problems with bowden tubes popping out and performance problems that can be traced here or to..

3) the extruder - which does an OKish job but not an *awesome* job and often lets us down.

the places where UM lacks are print speed and quality - anything to improve these is worthwhile.

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It's more of a behind the scenes thing Alaris, and something which Ultimaker will need to do sooner or later with the way they are growing. Having to rely on third party electronics and their supply chain can be quite harmful to sales - if they cant get in an arduino board, or a shield, or the stepper motor driver, they cant sell machines. If I could hazard a guess at what is causing the delay in shipping new ultimakers, I'd be pretty certain that it's 3rd party parts and not any other sort of backlog, be it stepper motors or electronics. It's not practical to develop and manufacture your own mechanical parts, but it certainly is to make your own electronics. You can source hardware from many companies, but electronics are usually fairly specific.

Having more clock cycles per second, and better code can improve print quality, as commands can be executed faster and there is less change of missing steps or microsecond pauses because the software cant run the commands fast enough. More accurate timers for executing steps or doing finer microstepping also gives you a smoother print quality. Having more time to handle a user interface or even being able to have a networked interface to the machine also opens up more userfriendly options for printing with the machine.

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