Free Control Boards!

First, a quick progress update:

There are two remaining systems to bring up: the head, and the cameras.

The head is going to require an extensive amount of reverse engineering, or (probably much easier) writing new firmware from scratch.

The cameras should be easy, but I have an oopsie in the board design that is not easy to work around, so I’m waiting on board rev 2 to tackle that.

So… I’ve reached the point where I’m now doing the design work for hardware version 2. This will correct oopsies in the first design, and make some improvements.

I plan to have the design work done and in the hands of the board house by the end of this month, with final board testing completed by the end of June.

At which time, in an effort to get some more people involved in this project, I will be giving away 6 completed control boards to people who are interested in contributing.

It won’t be completely free, as I will not be providing the NIt6D_SOM_v2. You’ll need to get one of those yourself (about US$130).

If you’re interested, let me know, and I’ll throw your name in the hat.


Congrats on your progress to date!

Does use of the board require any modifications that would invalidate the warranty? I’m very interested, but am currently on my third Glowforge Pro after two warranty replacements and wouldn’t want to put my warranty at risk.

The board is designed as a “drop-in-replacement” that is pin-for-pin compatible and does not require any modifications.

That being said, there are potential warranty issues. Federal Law in the US prohibits manufacturers from automatically refusing to honor your warranty when you install aftermarket parts. But, if they can prove that your use of that aftermarket part caused the problem, then they can refuse to pay to repair that specific damage.

However, it is unlikely this board will cause any damage to your Glowforge. In fact, this board has more protective features than the stock part.

There is also an alternative. If you still want to experiment with the hardware and help develop firmware/software, you don’t need to install the board. You could connect it to a power source (3.3 VDC), and use it in a stand alone capacity. In fact, that’s how I worked with it for the first month or so. There are obvious limitations to what you can do in that scenario, but it would give you time to get comfortable with the board and refine your development environment while your warranty ticks away…

I would happily help… but that would require an actual Glowforge - alas all i have recieved thus far is nearly 3 years of Dan’s “sorrys”.


Our warranties are all heading downhill - it’s valid from the first shipment so the risk is pretty small I’d guess that we’d be impacting them. Some of us might be out already right? Aren’t Basics a year warranty now for founding buyers? The first production units went out about this time last year so I think their warranties are shot now.

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I’m interested, but put me low on the priority list. My Python is fairly limited but I’ve been meaning to learn more… my skills are more around sysadmin-type work, so perhaps building/updating an OS distribution, gluing together various parts with some code, putting together a basic web interface, etc. My warranty will be up in September.

What’s the process for replacing the board? Getting in there looks to be a fairly involved process that could throw off the alignment.

I’ll put together a quick how-to. It’s actually pretty easy, and I don’t see any concern for alignment issues.

I haven’t tried yet, but it may be possible to change out the boards without removing the right side top cover. If so, then there would be zero possibility of affecting the alignment.

The project as a whole encompasses a wide array of disciplines, and any and all help will be extremely valuable and appreciated.


I’m getting close to pulling the trigger on ordering a GlowForge. If I do, I would be open to picking up a board and testing with you. If I do, you could put me low on the priority list as well.

Similar to pdobrien, I have some Python background in mostly API/backend work. I also have a 3D printer on site and basic CAD skills if we need to get creative. Small home hobby shop, but I’d like to try and help in any way I can.

Quick question: Is this testing limited to a particular version of the GF (e.g. Pro model)?

The control board from the factory is the same in all units, so this board should work in all models. I say should, because I have a Basic and do not have access to test it in a Pro.

There is some debate about what the exact difference is between the models. But from the hardware control perspective, the only difference appears to be that the Pro models have a Peltier cooler and the Basic/Plus models do not. The cooler is controlled by a single I/O line and monitored by a single temp input - both of which are present on the test board.

Other than that, everything else seems to be the same.

One other note: The air filter is controlled by an IR serial port. I didn’t buy an air filter, and none of them are out in the wild yet, so there is little information available about controlling them. There isn’t a separate driver for it in the code they released (it is controlled by the Glowforge daemon that they haven’t released). The OpenGlow does drive the IR serial port, but I have no idea how to control the air filter with it - yet.


I have a Glowforge Pro which arrived at the tail end of 2017, which means that my warranty will expire in mid-2019. Given that I have already had to replace my machine twice, I intend to protect the remainder of my warranty.

That said, if I can help in any way by testing the board or related software without voiding my warranty, I would be happy to do so.

I would be in if you need help with user interface work. I have 30 years experience in creating human interface and human interaction user experience. Either way I would like to help out when you get to that stage.

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I thought the actual tube was different?

From what Glowforge has said, yes it is a different tube. Though, the specific differences (or, lack thereof) have not yet been independently confirmed.

Re-reading my post now, I realize it may be easy to interpret it differently than I intended.

This highly edited version would be closer to what I meant to convey:

Lately, I’ve had a pretty narrow focus as I’ve been elbow deep in the design of the replacement control board, and I frequently forget there is more to the device than just the electronics. :slight_smile:

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Differences Between Pro and Basic Tubes

A post was merged into an existing topic: Differences Between Pro and Basic Tubes

I’m at the point where this project could really benefit from some more developers, so let’s get this going.

Currently, I have the latest prototype board/software working to the point where you can use it with the GFUI, and it is primed for development of alternate/offline control software.

There are a few key areas that I need to test/refine before I can send off a final version to a board house (notably, camera functionality and focal lens homing), but the the current board blanks I have are more than adequate for development purposes.

Making it work with your Glowforge is currently very easy. You’ll need to console into your existing control board to grab your system’s login credentials, remove and replace the control and head boards (it’s a lot simpler than it sounds and takes about 5-10 minutes). You’ll flash in the new bootloader onto your SOM (super easy, I’ll put up instructions), and console into the new board to add your login credentials and wifi info to the config. After that, it will boot and work with the GFUI.

Development from there is similar to any other embedded system, and I’m happy to help get you started.

So, if you are a developer (hardware/software) and you want a free (as in beer) prototype control/head board to tinker with, speak up*.

*These do cost me a considerable amount in parts each, so please be someone who plans to contribute development effort.


I love the idea, the progress, basically everything!
I’d be more than happy to participate :slight_smile:

Sign me up.

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I’d be willing to develop if you still have boards.

Let me know, thanks.

I would be willing to help. 30+yrs of h/w & s/w experience. Recently retired and bored.

I’ve got 5 3D printers, GF, DIY CNC Router and lots of other shop equipment.

I would also be willing to pay for board(s) to cover your cost and some fractional portion of your R&D efforts.

I believe it is really important that this project keep moving forward. One day it may payoff.

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