Controller for ZenXY

Had a lot of fun building my burly mpcnc and I’m looking for a new project. Unfortunately, the Mpcnc has been somewhat sidelined after helping make it’s big brother, though it may be getting a 40640 laser soon (just waiting for a project to come along that requires a laser lol)

The plastic CNC that could

I would like to build a ZenXY but am finding that the pen/laser controller recommended in the build is not available, nor is the esp32. Any recommendations for another option that is supported and fairly easy to implement, while also having quiet drivers? Trying to make this thing as quiet as possible for the living room! Thanks in advance!

I’m very happy with my build. It is based on an Arduino Uno with a CNC Shield and DRV2209 driver’s. This setup uses GRBL for control. I am running the incredible Sandypi software on a RaspberryPi to send the commands which makes the sand table accessible via wifi and completely standalone. Pretty neat setup. May give you some ideas anyway…

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Mine is using an skr mini e3… it was a freebie my wife found at a local discount store so I made it work. Assuming you won’t be as lucky, you can still use just about any Marlin or grbl compatible board on a zenxy. Since the zen doesn’t have complicated features like dual motor or dual endstops, the firmware config is actually relatively simple.

For noise you will want to stick to 2209 drivers if possible, but really even 2130 have enough power (if that is what you have it would work). Depending on your use case, you may also want something with WiFi to reduce sneakernet traffic (this often implies getting a tft and an esp01 module for the board). Also, don’t forget to add a 328p or similar for neopixels, if you plan to add strips later… wish I could pull the argb from my pc mobo and slap it onto my skr mini lol.

On a side note… I just checked and it looks like Bart Dring has his pen plotter boards listed as out of stock. If he happens to have a spare sitting around, I would try and buy it. That esp32 w 2x 2209 is perfect for zenxy imho.


It is hard because anything will work, but there are a lot of differences. I think the ESP32 board with tmc is perfect (I have the 2130 version and the drivers are set very low). If you can’t find one, then you can either go overkill (like an skr and TFT and wifi dongle) or just get something temporary (a Uno with grbl shield, driven by a computer or pi) to get going.

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Thanks for the options guys! I think I may go the temporary Uno/shield/pi route as that stuff is all readily available. Will keep you updated and I sure I will have some questions. Thanks again!

Hi there… I am going to build this thing. I have a SKR-Pro V1.2 in my pile of stuff but I have downloaded the fil for this but I can not seem to get access to it with Platform IO, Says it is a binary and not usable. I also have a few Adruino Uno’s and CNC Shields lying around. If I were to use the Adruinos, where do I get the software to run the ZENXY? I am printing the parts now and would like to trouble shoot the electronics on the bench before committing to the build. All input will be more than welcome.

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The skr pro doesn’t flash the same way. You compile, get the firmware.bin, put it on the micro SD card and power on the skr. It flashes itself and renames the tile to firmware.cur.

You may not need to compile it at all. MarlinBuilder releases has the firmware.bin in the zips, but includes the source for completeness.

I understand about simply placing the .bin file on the card. What I have a problem with is if I have to set any parameters for my table size etc I do not have the ability to edit this file. When I unzip the file and try to load the resulting file into PIO it shows up as a binary file and will not load. The example here shows a file listing rather than just the single file I am getting.

There is a zip that contains the bin and a zip. You can extract that second zip and that project is the one you can build with platformio.

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Thanks a lot. Too simple, kinda makes me feel a little dumb.
Reading thru all theses forums here it is obvious to me that you are one fine and patient person with all the info you so freely pass on here.


PM sent - RE config files

What changes did you have to make to your Marlin firmware? I am using a mini e3 v1.2 that I had laying around.

It has been long enough where I have forgotten many of the details of what I changed. I’m 99.9% sure I didn’t mess with the pins file or anything else though. So all relevant changes should be in my config files: (86.0 KB)

I have commented notes at the top of configuration.h, but sometimes I forget to list everything I did on top. I am usually more consistent about adding a “trug” in the comments after the specific lines I change.

[edit: NM, looks like I didn’t document my changes very well on that one… it’s Marlin… you can use Meld or similar diff app to see the changes though.]

Thank you for that. I will look through it. Ive been trying to get the firmware to compile with my 1.2 board with all the good info that I’ve found online, but it fails spectacularly. I think most of the errors pop up when I change the extruders from 1 to 0.