For the new Kossel build I decided to step up the controller from an Arduino based RAMBO for a 32 bit power house. Following the lead of other users online, I settled on the Smoothieboard. Capable of driving up to 5 stepper motors with ethernet connectivity to boot! I purchased the board from Uberclock.
Upon receiving the board I found a number of QC issues. The PCB didn’t look “right”, there was a film laying on the board in places that looked like something had spilled and dried on it. The CPU label wasn’t legible, and the SD card didn’t “click” all the time when inserting the supplied SD card. There as very basic polarity issues with the board. The 12v input, for example, has + and – signs silk screened on the board. These signs don’t match what the polarity of the connector is! Not only are the mostly covered up by the connector itself, but they only apply to the solder points, which switch polarity from the connector right next to it.
This polarity issue is also present for both MOSFETS. The input 12v lines are switched from the outgoing line. Warnings about this are on the Smoothieware website, but why not make all the polarities the same, or at least mark them correctly?
CPU labeling has been made unreadable.
Close up of the stepper connectors.
Close up of the end stop connectors.
Close up of the power connectors, used for the hot end, bed, and any accessories.
The film is more noticeable on the backside of the board.
Another problem I ran into was the solder used with the board. In non-technical terms I couldn’t get the solder to liquify. I could apply all the heat I wanted but without supplying an ample amount of flux to the solder I couldn’t remove any of the connectors.
More film (the fingerprints are mine though)
The first board I received had a faulty stepper driver. Attached motors could not move, the driver was always “on”, holding the motor in place. I contacted Uberclock, who very promptly sent me a replacement board and a shipping label for the defective product.
After wiring up the replacement board, printing started immediately. The controller, having a 32 bit CPU, could think faster than an Atmel CPU. The honeymoon quickly vanished though, as the controller froze during the middle of a print.
The controller would randomly freeze and have to be unplugged before it would work again. Attempts at new config files, reflashing, etc were all attempted.
Uberblock once again sent me out a replacement board. The owner had a child during this time and was a little slow to respond, but more than understandable given the circumstances. He was friendly and understood my frustrations.
The third board arrived, after a few successful prints the Z (or Gamma) stepper driver started having issues with the direction pin. Sometimes moving the stepper in one direction would result in it moving in the opposite direction.
This issue took me a while to figure out, and I fear I’ve fallen outside the warranty period of Uberclock. They have been nothing but helpful trying to resolve these issues.
While the smoothieware firmware is extremely easy to flash, configure, and calibrate, the quality control for these boards is quite horrible. I will be returning (or trashing) this board and will try an Azteeg X5 Mini in its place.