OpenGlow Control Board for Glowforge CNC Lasers

What is it?

In a nutshell: The OpenGlow Control Board project is an effort to create Open Source hardware and software to control Glowforge’s Basic and Pro model CNC lasers.

Hardware Goals:

  • Drop in replacement: The first version of the OpenGlow control board will be pin-for-pin compatible with the factory control board, allowing for easy installation and use.
  • Expand current capabilities: With the addition of Bluetooth and flexible I/O ports, the OpenGlow board will allow the easy addition of many desired features like limit switches and rotary axis attachments.
  • Upgradeable processor: The board utilizes a Boundary Devices System-On-Module board as its processing core. This allows the end-user to select from a range of processor and memory options to suit their individual needs.
  • Open Hardware: The final board design will be released under a non-commercial Creative Commons license, allowing users the ability to modify the hardware as they wish.

Software Goals:

  • Open and Free: Fully Open Sourced software, from boot to burn. Private, free from restrictions and not tethered to or reliant on any cloud services.

How far along is it?

The project is in its very early alpha phase. The first prototype has been built and is undergoing operational testing and development.

The prototype hardware is based on Freescale’s iMX6 ARM Cortex-A9 processor series deployed on a Boundary Devices Nitrogen6X SOM-v2, and utilizes Trinamic TMC2130-LA stepper drivers for the X and Y axis.

Check the postings in this forum for status updates, and details of the development process.

(It is a prototype, so forgive the extraneous wires and assorted bush fixes…)


This is fantastic Scott, will be watching this avidly.
From your other posts it seems opening the machine up to do the replacement is not for neophytes though

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It will certainly be easier than a DIY tube replacement - and (unlike the replacement tube) I’ll include very detailed instructions. :smiley:


Will the OpenGlow Control Board allow to switch between the GFUI cloud based UI & a local stand-alone software system? I ask because I’m inclined to use the stand-alone software (I used to run 3.5kw CNC metal lasers…), but I know my wife has grown comfortable with the official GFUI.

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The first 2 prototype versions work with the official web UI.

I had started working on a G-Code interpreter for the 2nd version that would be compatible with grbl, so it would work with anything that speaks grbl.

The 3rd version I have been working on (though I haven’t had much time in the last few months to make much progress) may not be compatible with the GFUI. The reason is I am looking at using a Raspberry Pi compute module with dedicated hardware step generators. This is a major departure from the way the GF works, so it may be difficult to get compatibility with the original UI.