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E5X MCS T4.1 Controller

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1.0 Introduction

The E5X MCS T4.1 (“E5X” for short) is an Ethernet controlled 5 axis Motion Control System powered by a powerfully capable 32-bit Teensy® 4.1. It is an easy to use and powerful motion control system that can drive up to 5 axis (+1 clone/slave) CNC machines.

The E5X is designed to run grblHAL firmware, which is fast becoming the firmware of choice for CNC control due to increased functionality and added features, far surpassing the current 8-bit CNC controllers on the standard port of grbl or grbl esp32.

Teensy® 4.1 was selected as the core controller due to its high processing power and many auxiliary inputs/outputs (which can be used for future expansion). With an ARM Cortex-M7 processor clocked at 600 MHz it is the fastest microcontroller amongst all grbl and grblHAL compatible microcontrollers. This makes it a powerful controller for many years to come.

Connectivity is through a native ethernet or USB port – depending on the user’s CNC requirements. 

The E5X MCS allows for custom motor setups such as high-performance closed-loop stepper motors or servo motors. 

The engineers at Maker Store got together and made a list of all the features we wanted in a high-performance CNC controller. The result is the E5X MCS T4.1, a CNC Controller that outclasses all GRBL-based controllers and is modularly adaptive. Powered by a Teensy® 4.1, the E5X exceeds the current available technology, with future upgradability built into the design. As advanced CNC components steadily increase in availability, a capable and adaptable controller to take advantage of these advancements is a must-have for all CNC machines. Proudly designed and tested in Australia by the team at Maker Store – a wholly owned Australian company. 

The Maker Store E5X MCS T4.1 is the cutting edge of grbl powered motion control systems with upgradability built into the design. This is the future of CNC and motion control.

1.1 The Name

About the name “E5X MCS T4.1”:

  • E5X – Ethernet 5 Axis (+1 Slave)
  • MCS – Motion Control System
  • T4.1 – Powered by a Teensy®  4.1 Microcontroller

The development team at Maker Store calls it the “E5X” for short.

1.2 Specifications and Requirements

Click to expand
#Description#Description#Description
1COMMUNICATION11LIMIT SWITCH INPUTS21AUXILIARY OUTPUT LEDs
2RESET BUTTON12MOTOR OUTPUTS22SPINDLE STATUS LED
3DIGITAL INPUT13MOTOR ALARM STATUS23LIMIT SWITCH STATUS LEDs
4SPINDLE DIGITAL14CASE BOLTS (x4)24QR CODE ONLINE DOCUMENTS
5SPINDLE ANALOG15MOUNTING HOLES (x4)25FUSE BLOWN LED
65V LASER PWM16MOTOR ALARM INPUTS 5 or 24V26HOLD/E-STOP LEDs
7DIGITAL OUTPUTS – 24V17TEENSY® 4.1 MICRO SDC SLOT27POWER LEDs
8DIGITAL INPUTS – 5V18SERIAL COMMUNICATION28LIMIT SWITCH FUSE LED
9POWER INPUTS19PROBE/DOOR LEDs29REVERSE POLARITY LEDs
10POWER SWITCH20DUST/MIST/FLOOD LEDs  

Board Specifications

Software Requirements

ioSender is the recommended G-code sending software for the E5X MCS. While other grbl compatible G-code senders may work, you will not get the full functionality of the grblHal firmware unless you use ioSender.

Computer Requirements

Windows 10/11 computers are required for the E5X MCS controller and the recommended ioSender G-Code sending software. MAC/Linux operating systems are not yet supported by ioSender and not recommended for grblHAL-based controllers.

Connectivity is through a native ethernet or USB port.

Assumed Knowledge

  • Basic understanding of electrical wiring.
  • Basic understanding of hand tool use.

Tools Required

You may require tools to mount the controller to a surface (recommended). The controller case comes with 4x M4 mounting holes. The recommended method of mounting the E5X MCS is using 4x 8mm M4 Cap Head Bolts, M4 Shims, Slot Washer (as a spacer) and Tee Nuts to our Aluminium Extrusion

  • 3mm Allen Key – for M4 Cap Head Bolts.
  • 2mm Flat Head Screwdriver – for wiring to the connectors.

2.0 Mechanical Drawings

The following drawings show the physical dimensions of the E5X MCS and the mounting hole placements.

All dimensions are in mm

Click to expand

The mounting tabs on the E5X MCS plate are made for M4 screws or bolts. Simply insert M4 bolts or screws through the mounting tabs and into your material of choice on the other side. The E5X MCS can be mounted to a piece of extrusion or flat material such as acrylic or MDF. As the E5X MCS does not require active cooling, it can be mounted in a sealed enclosure.

3.0 E5X Power and Power Inputs

Safety Statement
The author of this document is not liable or responsible for any accidents, injuries, equipment damage, property damage, loss of money or loss of time resulting from improper use of electrical or mechanical or software products.

Assembling electrical and mechanical machine components like power supplies, motors, drivers or other electrical and mechanical components involves dealing with high voltage AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) and other hazardous items which can be extremely dangerous and needs high attention to detail, experience, knowledge of software, electricity, electro-mechanics and mechanics.

BEFORE MAKING ANY CONNECTIONS OR DISCONNECTIONS POWER MUST BE REMOVED FROM THE DEVICE AND THE CONTROLLER. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL VOID ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES.

Before starting please read through all the instructions.
Note: Any Mains power connections must be installed by a Licensed electrician or suitability qualified person.

All Errors and Omissions Excepted - feedback is, of course, welcome!

Click to expand

The power section of the E5X consists of LED indicators that identify the activated power systems as well as identify incorrect wiring. 

This section consists of following components:

[27] Power Status

The POWER status LEDs show which power levels are active for potential fault diagnosis.

The E5X has an onboard 3.3V Low-dropout (LDO) regulator that is powered by the 5V power rail. This 3.3V power can be used for future expansion for peripheral devices such as LCD screens and pendants.

 

#DescriptionIndication
13.3V Power Active
Based on what power supply is active (3.3V, 5V or 24V) the associated LED indicator will glow Green.
25V Power Active
324V Power Active

[29] Inverse Polarity Indicators

The INV POLARITY indicators report whether any of the power input wires are reversed, resulting in reverse polarity. By default, the LED indicators for reverse polarity are off.

#DescriptionIndication
5V5V Inverse Polarity In-Use Status IndicatorIf the wiring for the 5V circuit is reversed, this LED indicator will glow red.
24V24V Inverse Polarity In-Use Status IndicatorIf the wiring for the 24V circuit is reversed, this LED indicator will glow red.

[10] Power Switch

The E5X has a heavy duty rocker switch for switching the controller on and off. This rocker switch is a double pole, double throw switch which turns both the 5V and 24V power inputs on or off.

#DescriptionFunction
POWER OFF/ONOn/Off Rocker SwitchSwitches 5V and 24V power On (Green) or Off (Red) to the E5X.

[25,28] Fuses

Three fuses are used to protect the E5X controller against damage from overcurrent and short circuits. If a fuse has blown for any reason, the respective fuse light will be illuminated.

The specifications of the fuse are as follows:

TypeVoltageCurrent
Fast Acting Mini blade Automotive Fuse32V 2A

#DescriptionIndication
5V5V Fuse Malfunction IndicatorThis will normally be OFF.
If the 5V fuse is blown, this LED indicator will glow red.
24V24V Fuse Malfunction IndicatorThis will normally be OFF.
If the 24V fuse is blown, this LED indicator will glow red.
LSW FUSELimit Switch Fuse Malfunction IndicatorThis will normally be OFF.
If the limit switch is blown, this LED indicator will glow red.

[9] Power Inputs

 

DescriptionFunction
24V 2A DC ConnectionPowers components such as the limit switches, relay outputs and spindle control signals.
5V 2A DC ConnectionPowers the Teensy®4.1, LED lights and communication devices.

The E5X MCS requires 2 power inputs to be wired to the following power supplies. 

  • 24V 2A power supply 
  • 5V 2A power supply

A dual output switching power supply is recommended for meeting the power requirements of the E5X MCS or alternatively, 2 separate switching power supplies rated at 5V and 24V. The 5V power supply must be connected to the 5V DC terminal and the 24V power supply to the 24V terminal.

The E5X MCS has reverse polarity protection which will illuminate the respective reverse polarity LEDs if power inputs are reversed.

Important
It is important that the power supply outputs are measured with a multi-meter prior to connecting to the E5X. The power inputs must not exceed 24V for the 24V DC input connector and 5V for the 5V DC input connector on the E5X MCS. The onboard circuitry may be irreversibly damaged if the supply voltage exceeds the specified voltage.

[WM] 2.1 Power Inputs
Click to expand

Pro Tip: We highly suggest crimping or soldering the end of your wires for the best connection. To crimp the wires correctly follow the below steps.

  • Take the wires and strip the ends using a wire stripping tool.

 

Click to expand

  • Twist the copper strands of each wire gently as shown on the left. 

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  • Place a spade terminal on twisted strands of each wire and crimp using a crimping tool to make a good connection.

4.0 Motor Inputs and Outputs

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The E5X MCS has outputs for 5-Axis (+1 slave/clone Axis) motor control. These outputs are accessible via 3 Pin 3.81mm screw terminal connectors.

[12] Motor Outputs

#DescriptionFunction
X-AXISX-Axis Enable, Step and Direction signal output.
Transmits motor control signals to the stepper motor drivers or servo motors.
Y-AXISY-Axis Enable, Step and Direction signal output.
Z-AXISZ-Axis Enable, Step and Direction signal output.
A-AXISA-Axis Enable, Step and Direction signal output.
B-AXISB-Axis Enable, Step and Direction signal output.
CLONECloned Axis Enable, Step and Direction signal output.Transmits motor control signals for dual-axis machines.

The E5X MCS has external stepper motor driver/servo support for stepper motor drivers and servos with a Step/Direction interface. Each motor can be independently enabled. 

The E5X MCS supports a wide range of motors which include but are not limited to Open/Closed loop Stepper Motors and Servos. Each motor type has its benefits, see the list below to check which motors you have or which motors are the best fit for your application.

The E5X MCS allows for more flexible motor control by allowing for external motor driver connectivity and having fully independent driver-enable signals for each axis. Each driver can be enabled and disabled independently via software.

 

Open Loop Stepper Motors
Open Loop stepper motors are the most common type of stepper motor, requiring an external driver for its four wire configuration. 

Click to expand

Closed Loop Stepper Motors
Closed Loop stepper motors have a built in encoder for position feedback with the ability to recover missed steps. They also have alarm outputs to indicate faults in the motor system. The motors generally have a four wire configuration for motor control and subsequent six wire encoder configuration that plug into a external driver.

Click to expand

Servo Motors
Servo Motors motors are high-performance motors that have a built-in encoder for position feedback with the ability to recover missed steps. They also have alarm outputs to indicate faults in the motor system.  Servos can come with built-in or external drivers.

Click to expand

The wiring for all motors is nearly identical using the motor drivers’ Step (ST) and Direction (DIR) signal interface. There are two methods of wiring; the Common Anode and the Common Cathode method.

4.1 Motor Driver to E5X Controller- Common Cathode Method

E5X COMMON CATHODE METHOD
Click to expand
E5X MCS OutputMotor DriverDescription
ENENA-Connects the enable signal EN from E5X MCS to the enable pin ENA- on the stepper motor driver.
DRDIR-Connects the direction signal DIR from E5X MCS to the direction pin DIR- on the stepper motor driver.
STPUL-Connects the pulse signal PUL from E5X MCS to the pulse pin PUL- on the stepper motor driver.
NCENA+
ENA+, DIR+, PUL+ connected to +V on power supply.
NCDIR+
NCPUL+

4.2 Motor Driver to E5X Controller – Common Anode Method

E5X COMMON Anode METHOD
Click to expand
E5X MCS Output Motor Driver Description
EN ENA+ Connects the enable signal EN from E5X MCS to the enable pin ENA+ on the stepper motor driver.
DR DIR+ Connects the direction signal DIR from E5X MCS to the direction pin DIR+ on the stepper motor driver.
ST PUL+ Connects the pulse signal PUL from E5X MCS to the pulse pin PUL+ on the stepper motor driver.
NC ENA-
ENA-, DIR-, PUL- connected to GND on power supply.
NC DIR-
NC PUL-

4.3 Clone Axis

The Clone-Axis port and header array clones the movement of another axis for different applications. This is so that both actuators move in sync with one another.

Machines with dual axis actuators of any type use the clone function. The most common use case for Clone-Axis configurations are router style machines with dual Y-Axis actuators. 

The clone Axis can be wired using common cathode or common anode method as shown below.

Common Cathode
Common Anode

The controller comes with Y-Axis cloned by default, this configuration can be changed by moving 3 shunts to the appropriate headers. Follow the process below to do this:

  • Unscrew the M3 Bolts on top of the controller case using a 2.0mm Allen key and gently pull off the case.

Click to expand

  • Locate the shunts and gently remove them from STEPY, ENY and DIRY as shown in the highlighted red rectangle below.

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  • Place the removed shunts in the desired axis location, for example STEPB, ENB and DIRB as shown in the images below.

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  • Ensure that the shunts are correctly seated in their respective locations.

4.4 Motor Alarm Inputs 5/24V

[13] Motor Alarm Status:

The E5X MCS supports motor alarm input digital signals at a 5V or 24V logic level from servo motors and closed-loop stepper motors. Each stepper motor driver or servo motor with an alarm output can be plugged into the E5X MCS. A maximum of 6 driver alarm outputs can be connected to the motion controller.

#DescriptionIndication
X-AXISX-Axis Motor Alarm Indicator
When a motor alarm is triggered, the red LED indicator will turn on.
Y-AXISY-Axis Motor Alarm Indicator
Z-AXISZ-Axis Motor Alarm Indicator
A-AXISA-Axis Motor Alarm Indicator
B-AXISB-Axis Motor Alarm Indicator
CLONEClone-Axis Motor Alarm Indicator

[16] Motor Alarm 5 or 24V

#DescriptionFunction
X-AXISX-Axis Closed Loop Encoder Alarm Signal Input
Closed loop stepper and servo motors send a signal to the specific port when a malfunction is detected in the motor driver.
Y-AXISY-Axis Closed Loop Encoder Alarm Signal Input
Z-AXISZ-Axis Closed Loop Encoder Alarm Signal Input
A-AXISA-Axis Closed Loop Encoder Alarm Signal Input
B-AXISB-Axis Closed Loop Encoder Alarm Signal Input
CLONEClone-Axis Closed Loop Encoder Alarm Signal Input

Some Closed Loop motors and Servo systems have alarm outputs that send signals to a controller when an alarm state has been triggered. The E5X MCS utilizes this alarm signal to stop a program or arrest the motion of the machine, preventing damage to the system or workpiece.

NOTE:
To wire the alarm outputs from the alarm source, an external pull-down resistor must be used.

  • For 5V systems, use a 2K resistor to pull down the  5V line.
  • For 24V systems, use a 10K resistor to pull down the 24V line.
Click to expand

Wiring Sequence:
Wiring the alarm signals involves wiring the positive(+) Alarm pins on the E5X MCS board to the negative(-) Alarm pins on the stepper motor driver or servo. The resistor must be wired between the E5X MCS positive(+)  and GND.  Furthermore, the E5X MCS negative(-) Alarm pins must be connected to GND. The stepper motor alarm positive(+) pin must be wired to 5/24V power. 

E5X MCS Axis –Resistor
E5X MCS Axis +GND
Stepper Driver +24V
Stepper Driver –E5X MCS Axis +

5.0 Digital Inputs

Click to expand

5.1 Door/Start/Hold/Estop Buttons

[3] Digital

The E5X MCS has 5 assigned CNC-specific digital inputs. The digital inputs are 3.3V and opto-isolated. A momentary button interface is used with these inputs with a 3.3V trigger activating the relevant input when the button is closed. 

Normally Open buttons are used for the Digital Inputs. 

#DescriptionFunction
DOORDoor Open/Shut SensorDoor alarm for safety enclosures.
PROBETouch Probe SensorZ axis or XYZ axis probing input.
STStartProgram Cycle Start Button input.
HDHoldProgram Pause/Hold button input
ESEstopEmergency Stop input.
GGroundCommon Ground.
E5X 4.1 digital inputs
Click to expand

Note: ST, HD and ES share a GND pin, while DOOR and PROBE have a dedicated GND pin.

Start

The “START” (ST) button is a normally open momentary button that pulls the SIG pin low when the button is pressed. This starts any G-code program currently loaded in the ioSender software.

For a 2-pin button, wire the GND pin from the E5X MCS to the first pin on the button and wire the SIG pin from the E5X MCS to the second pin on the button. 

Please consult the datasheet of the button for wiring instructions.

[26] Hold and E-Stop Status:

The HOLD and ESTOP status LEDs show the status of the Feed Hold and Estop inputs when active or inactive. A button array can be connected to these inputs. 

#DescriptionIndication
HOLDHold Status IndicatorWhen the HOLD button is pressed, this LED indicator will glow yellow.
STOPE-Stop Status IndicatorWhen the E-Stop is activated, this LED indicator will glow yellow.

Hold

The “HOLD” (HD) button is a normally open momentary button that pulls the SIG pin low when pressed. This temporarily pauses the machine function until the “START” button is pressed.

For a 2-pin button, wire the GND pin from the E5X MCS to the first pin on the button and wire the SIG pin from the E5X MCS to the second pin on the button. 

Please consult the datasheet of the button for wiring instructions.

 

E-Stop

The “E-Stop” (ES) button is a Normally Open button that halts any running G-Code program and all motor function in both CNC and manual control mode.

For a 2-pin button, wire the GND pin from the E5X MCS to the first pin on the button and wire the SIG pin from the E5X MCS to the second pin on the button. 

Please consult the datasheet of the button for wiring instructions.

[19] Door and Probe

The E5X MCS has inputs for using a probing tool and a door sensor. The types of probes supported are standard 2-wire touch probes and XYZ probes. The PROBE led illuminates when an end mill makes contact with the probe during the probing process.

The door sensor input is used when a machine is placed in an enclosure equipped with a door switch to prevent a user from interacting with the machine while it is in operation. The DOOR led illuminates when the door sensor switch is activated by opening the enclosure door and ceases the machine’s operation. 

#DescriptionIndication
PROBEProbe Status IndicatorWhen the end mill makes contact with the probe, this LED indicator will glow yellow.
DOORDoor Status IndicatorWhen the machine enclosure door has been opened, this LED indicator will glow yellow.

Door

The “Door” (DOOR) switch is a normally open switch attached to an enclosure door. When the switch is activated by opening the enclosure door, the controller arrests the motion of the machine until the door is closed and the “Start” (ST) button has been pressed. Generally, mechanical limit switches are used as door sensors.

The switch’s normally open (NO) pin should be wired to the “DOOR” SIG pin of the E5X MCS, and the common (COM) pin should be wired to the “GND”  pin of the E5X MCS.

Please consult the datasheet of the mechanical limit switch for wiring instructions.

Probe

The E5X MCS supports both generic 2-wire Z-Axis probes and 2-wire XYZ-Axis probes. The wiring sequence is identical for both types of probes. 

The “Probe” is a normally open device that is used to zero out the work coordinates before machining starts. The GND pin of the E5X MCS connects to the alligator clip wire of the Probe and the SIG pin of the E5X MCS connects to the Probe plate wire.

5.2 Digital Inputs 5V

[8] Digital Inputs 5V

The E5X MCS has four auxiliary digital inputs that are 5V tolerant with a Schmitt trigger buffer. These can be used for future controller expansion and add-ons like sensors and switches. The firmware will need to be modified from stock to accommodate any custom additions via these pins.

 

#DescriptionFunction
D100Digital Input 00
5V Digital Input Port.
D101Digital Input 01
D102Digital Input 02
D103Digital Input 03
Schmitt Trigger Buffer
Click to expand

The above image depicts a wiring guide of a digital input with a switch. Similar wiring can be implemented for all digital inputs.

[2] Reset

The Reset button is a momentary button that soft resets the controller. This button is tied to the Emergency Stop switch input logic.

#DescriptionFunction
RESETE5X MCS soft resetResets the controller.

6.0 Digital Outputs

Click to expand

[20,21] Outputs

6 outputs can be used for controlling devices such as relays and solenoids. Of the 6 outputs, 3 of these are dedicated to Dust extraction, Mist and Flood coolant functions while the other 3 are auxiliary outputs noted by AUX00, AUX01 and AUX02 can be used for other functions specified by the user. When any of these outputs are activated, the led indicator will glow to show that the specified output is in use. 

     

 

#DescriptionIndication
DustDust Extraction On/Off Status Indicator
When output is activated, the LED indicator will glow yellow.
MistMist Coolant On/Off Status Indicator
FloodCoolant On/Off Status Indicator
AUX02Auxiliary 02 Output On/Off Status Indicator
AUX01Auxiliary 01 Output On/Off Status Indicator
AUX00Auxiliary 00 Output On/Off Status Indicator

[7] Digital 24V

The Dust extraction, Mist and Flood Coolant outputs are activated by conventional G-code commands. The other 3 are auxiliary outputs noted by AUX00, AUX01 and AUX02 can be used for other functions such as activating devices and require the use of grblHAL’s extended M-code support.

#DescriptionFunction
AUX00Auxiliary Output 00
Auxilary Digital outputs for 24V relays of solenoids.
AUX01Auxiliary Output 01
AUX02Auxiliary Output 02
FLOODCoolant Relay Output24V Flood Coolant Output.
MISTMist Coolant On/Off Signal24V Mist Coolant Output.
DUSTDust Extraction (Vacuum) On/Off Signal24V Dust Extraction Output.

The 24V digital outputs are opto-isolated and output 24V 0.5A when activated in software via G-Code or through the G-Code sender. These outputs must be connected to either a Mechanical, Solid State Relay (SSR) or solenoids. The mechanical, SSR relay or solenoid input power requirements must not exceed 24V 0.5A. All digital outputs including auxiliary outputs are active high and their behaviour can be changed in the software to suit your requirements. 

NOTE: AUX00, AUX01 and AUX02 can be activated using additional M-codes (see below). The post-processor being used to generate G-code will need to be modified if the user wishes to use these outputs.

E5X MCS Relay Module
GND GND input pin
SIG Signal input pin

Click to expand

#

Description

M-code

Function

AUX00

Auxiliary Output 00

M64 PO = ON

M65 PO = OFF

Auxiliary Digital outputs for 24V relays or solenoids

AUX01

Auxiliary Output 01

M64 P1 = ON

M65 P1 = OFF

AUX02

Auxiliary Output 02

M64 P2 = ON

M65 P2 = OFF

FLOOD

Coolant Relay Output

M8 = ON

M9=OFF

Flood Coolant Output

MIST

Mist Coolant On/Off Signal

M7 = ON

M9 = OFF

Mist Coolant Output

DUST

Dust Extraction (Vacuum) On/Off Signal

M3 = ON

M5 = OFF

Dust Extraction Output

The GND pin from the E5X MCS controller must connect to the GND pin of the mechanical relay. Likewise, the SIG pin from E5X MCS controller connects to the signal input pin of the relay.

7.0 Limit Switch Inputs

Click to expand

Two types of limit switch indicators are present on the E5X MCS; the first set of orange LED indicators display whether the limit switch is in an open state (not activated) and the second set of yellow indicators display whether the limit switch is in a closed state (activated). Mechanical and Inductive switches operating either in a Normally Open or Normally Closed configuration are supported by the E5X MCS. The limit switch logic supported is 24V.

#DescriptionIndication
XX-Axis Limit Switch Status Indicator
When the limit switch is activated, the yellow “CLOSED” LED indicator will activate otherwise the orange “OPEN” LED indicator will remain on.
YY-Axis Limit Switch Status Indicator
ZZ-Axis Limit Switch Status Indicator
AA-Axis Limit Switch Status Indicator
B