Upgrade Z Table with stepper but keep manual control

I’m upgrading from an AC motor on the z axis to a stepper motor so that I can control the height in software. I currently have an up an down button on the side of the machine whist is useful. Any ideas how I can keep the physical control after the upgrade?
I thought of using the ‘Switch module’ in smoothieware.
Are there spare pins on the laserboard that can be used for this? What are others doing? Is there an easier way?

Following on from above, what pins are available on the board? I guess the x,y,z max end stops could be used?
Is there a schematic available?

Joe, using the Graphic LCD Control Panel is a good way to manually control your laser. You can jog the motors around with it quite easily. This is probably the most popular and easiest method of controlling movement outside of using a computer.

I’d also recommend checking out our Knowledge Base article on setting up a Z table:

After the basics are all working, it might be possible to set up basic jog-some-set-amount buttons using the switch construct in the stock config file, no firmware changes. You’d just have to be really careful never to press those buttons during a job.

Hi Pete,
I have tried using the LCD but i found it to be really awkward for jogging.

I think that there are 3 ways to get this to work.

  1. The switch module but that has the problems that you said above. Is there a way to disable the module if the machine is being controlled over serial?
  2. Make a pendant, connect to the hardware serial port and send jog commands to the laserboard. Again you would have to be able to disable jog commands when being controlled by the USB serial
  3. Map shortcut keys to a wireless keypad and control through the pc. I am using light burn which does not have key bindings for jog commands

Any ideas?

Hi Joe,

For 1. it’s a no. That will not work.

For 2. this is a bit of uncharted territory. You’d need to do some testing to see what might work. Obviously you’ll want to keep safety (of your laser) in mind.

For 3. it should be possible to jog directly from LightBurn using a dedicated numpad, this is something you can look into, and is the solution we would suggest pursuing. Here’s a post that may help:

(Note that in the testing I did the numpad worked in Windows but not macOS. Again, you’ll need to test things.)

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