Universal Controller

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HintLightbulb.png Hint: The Universal Controller is a LCD-screen equipped controller that is capable of controlling 3D printers, CNC machines, welders, filament makers, automated machines, or any other applications where a microcontroller runs different actuators, sensors, or power elements. It is a platform consisting of RAMPS, LCD screen, power supply, power outlet, and power handling SSRs, and can be connected to external stepper drivers, solenoid valves, or other power elements. Equipped with an Arduino Mega, it can be used to control just about anything that requires a 100 kHz or lower control signal. See 2019 work on this at OSE Design Manual - Universal Machine Controller

About the Universal Controller - Design and Uses

The Universal Controller consists of a 3D printed mounting panel, which holds all the components. This panel is printed with a 90 degree bend, and is straightened with a heat gun as shown in 4D Printing. The main components for the D3D Pro 3D printer are 5:

  1. GFCI - safety device, which shuts off the circuit if any short is detected.
  2. 24V power supply - provides power to stepper motors and electronics
  3. RAMPS control board - the brain of the controller
  4. LCD display - allows for controlling the machine with an SD card, without using a wire computer connection
  5. Solid State Relay - switches power to the heatbed.

Then, a 5V wall wort powers the RAMPS control board. A plug connected to the GFCI feeds the heat bed and power supply.

See below for all the connection details, observing that the earliest Universal Controller was built in 2019, and the current version has only a small change. We replaced the small 5v regulator circuit with a 5V wall wort to allow for a simpler build - where a standard USB cable is used to feed power into the Arduino Mega board of the RAMPS controller. Note also that the controller runs at 24V - so a small modification on the RAMPS board must be made as shown at RAMPS on 24V.

The controller is Universal because it can control a stepper motor of any size - by using external stepper drivers instead of the on-board RAMPS drivers. To use external drivers, remove the on-baord drivers, and connect the Step, Direction, and Enable signals (3 wires) to the external drivers. This allows for a simple, robust solution for motor drive with a controller that is deployed using common, off-the-shelf parts - at the lowest cost possible. Because the Universal Controller has all components accessible - it can be serviced in minutes by diagnosing and replacing parts as needed. This allows for lifetime design, with minimal down time.

With External Stepper Drivers


As used in the CNC Torch Table v19.10:

Used in OSE Machines

Working Doc



See D3D v19.06 for complete machine.

See more at 3D Printer Control Panel

Framev1902.pngPowersupply v1904.pngRAMPS14 v1904.pngStepperdriver v1904.pngSsr v1904.pngSmartcontroller v1904.pngGfci v1904.pngControlpanel v1904.pngControlpanel+frame v1904.pngControlpanel+panel v1904.pngControlpanelproper v1904.pngControlpanelwithmounts v1904.pngWirecover v1904.pngPanelonly v1904.pngBentpanel v1904.pngHeatbed wirelock.pngFinalcontrolpanel.pngOntrolpanelseated.png D3DPlugInner.png D3DPlugCover.png



Video - from June 2019 STEAM Camp

  • Connect Power Cord to the GFCI on the Control Panel - [6]

Converting RAMPS to 24V


See 4D Printing:

From 2019 STEAM Camp - Video by Adrian Sinclair


October 2019

July 2019

June 2019