GRBL 1.1 Update

Posted on Oct 20, 2016 by Rob

As many of you know, our machines are based on the fantastic GRBL machine controller, which is open source and available for everyone to play with and review. For the past couple of years, we’ve stayed with the same version because it was stable and because the newer releases didn’t add much that we needed.

The two features that we’ve been privately begging for, feed rate overrides and the ability to kill a move and flush the motion buffer, have finally made it into version 1.1.

We’ve been testing those features for a few weeks and making changes to Carbide Motion to support them and we can say without reservation that it’s an awesome upgrade.

Feed rate overrides let you change the cutting speed of the machine int he middle of a cut, in real time. It’s been the #1 feature that we’ve missed having in the machine.

The ability to kill a move and flush the motion buffer is something we’d been asking for to provide better jogging performance. Users who’ve been with us from the beginning know that we’ve been tweaking our jogging code to try and make it better (sometimes unsuccessfully). We’re hoping that this feature will finally get us where we want to be.

Unfortunately, there were some changes to the GRBL protocol that make 1.1 function poorly with our existing Carbide Motion so we had a decision to make, add a bunch of hacks to Carbide Motion to support both versions or mandate GRBL 1.1 once we release a compatible Carbide Motion. We chose the latter to make sure that we keep our code as maintainable as possible.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Finish updating Carbide Motion for GRBL 1.1
  2. Release the new firmware and Carbide Motion with instructions to manually refresh the firmware. This release will happen on the blog and only be for brave users.
  3. We’ll release a firmware update tool that will update all Carbide 3D machines to the latest GRBL without any of the normal complexity.
  4. We’ll encourage all of the normal users to upgrade.

We’re shooting to get #1 and #2 done in the next few weeks and get feedback before pushing it out wider.

It’s important to make it clear that this update will work on all Carbide 3D machines, even the original Kickstarter machines.

More than anything, congrats and thanks to Sonny Jeon for keeping the GRBL project moving forward and making it perform better and better all the time. GRBL is a project that we’re proud to support.

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