T-Bone Cape for DIY 3D printing with BeagleBone

T-Bone Cape is a board to make the BeagleBone a perfect CNC application controller, for DIY 3D Printing, Milling or other applications.
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6 Team Members

What is it

The T-Bone is intended as an open platform for 3D printing and similar CNC applications like laser cutters, or milling machines. It's based on open source projects (like BeagleBoard, Arduino, Reprap) and will be also released as open source once finished.

The T-Bone will come pre-programmed for Reprap Mendel 3D Printer. Best known in the Prusa Mendel or Prusa i3 variant. The Software will include low level drivers, the printer application and a high level Web Interface for control. Just connect your steppers, heaters and sensors, configure the software and you are ready to print.

To join highest performance with flexibility and easy programming, we use a very powerful concept: Hard- and software abstraction layers! User interface, configuration, G-Code interpreter, and path planner are running on the BeagleBone. This makes it easy to use existing open source software components, using the existing toolchain on the Linux operating systems of the BeagleBone. Real-time communication with the BeagleBone is handled by a small microcontroller, placed on the T-Bone. The microcontroller is fully compatible with the Arduino toolchain, so everybody can easily modify it. Complex acceleration and velocity calculations for the stepper motors are done by dedicated motion controllers. These are dedicated hardware components, developed to get the maximum performance out of a given stepper motor without putting any workload to the host system.

The low level drivers for the motion controllers and realtime applications are written with the Arduino IDE in C. The higher level applications for G-Code analysis, motion control and web interface are written in Python. There are no special hardware drivers involved. Most of the hardware can be used on the built in Arduino or BeagleBone Black. All software will be released as open source software on github.

Here are the main features of the basic board:

  • 5 stepper motor driver (run syncronized, 3 x up to 4 A, 2 x up to 1.5 A)
  • 10 inputs for end switches (two for each axis)
  • Support for switch-less step detection (http://youtu.be/kB22GvtcAO8).
  • 3 inputs for incremental encoders (3 axis supporting closed loop control)
  • 3 inputs for thermistors
  • 1-wire interface for digital temp and other sensors
  • 2 high power outputs (for extruder and heatbed, up to 12 A)
  • 1 mid power output (for fans, LEDs, ..., also expandable)
  • Power supply for BeagleBone (5 V, 1.2A)
  • Input voltage 12 - 24 V
  • Board is stackable to control several T-Bones with one BegaleBone

For more detailed description of the hardware features see here (to be continued...).

But that's not all. We are planning to create some additional expansion boards with special features. Here are some of the feature we are planning:

  • Support for rotary axis like driller, miller, ...
  • Support for laser cutters
  • External touch panel display
  • Support for other hardware plattforms

And you can do even more! The software is easily adaptable to most CNC applications. If you want to connect your CNC mill you do not have to develop it from ground up, just adapt the printing logic a bit.

What we need

Our funding goal has a simple reason: Produce a first batch boards for reasonable cost. If we can achieve the 20,000 € (roundabout 200 boards) the economies-of-scale is our friend, earnings cover expenses (production cost, tax, fees, shipment).

If we achieve more than the basic goal, we are able to spend some money to realize additional features. And we will use 10% of the additional profit to support other open source crowdfunding projects.

Stretch Goals

  • 22,500 €, Filet Mignon: Hereby we enable the StallGuard function for sensorless end stop detection. The motor can sense a mechanical end stop without physical switches (see a short demo at http://youtu.be/kB22GvtcAO8).  now part of the basic goal!
  • 25,000 €, Rib-Eye: Encoder feedback for three axis (x,y extruder). With encoder feedback a motor can be used in closed-loop-operation.
  • 30,000 €, Porterhouse: Need more than one T-Bone for your application? We can make the board stackable. So there are no limits of motors or extrudes to control. now part of the basic goal!
  • 40,000 €, Sirloin: Applications like drilling or milling machines using a fast rotating motor. With these stackable extension board so-called BLDC motors can be easily controlled in speed to get the optimum result.
  • 50,000 €, Tenderloin: Optical distance sensors make calibration easy and more precise. This specially useful for deltaprinters.

What is the plan

We had and have a very ambitious time schedule. But we are pretty sure that we can keep it.

What was:

  • November 2013: First concept for the project.
  • December 2014: Breadboard prototype finished.   
  • January 2014: First assembled PCB
  • February 2014: Final BOM. Crazy idea for the board shape
  • March 2014: Start of crowdfunding. The Prusa i3 makes its first steps
  • April 2014: Everyone is busy with the crowdfunding campaign.
What will be:

  • Mai 2014: T-Bone successful funded. Release of the OSHW. 
  • June/July 2014: Production of the boards.
  • August 2014: Shipping of the boards
The time schedule for the software release needs to be revised as we need some time to add the additional features. But a basic version will properly released during May. The final version will be released latest when we ship the boards.

The perks that are not related to the technical implementation are properly shipped like primary scheduled.

What you get

We are offering a broad selection of different perks. We offer different version of the T-Bone itself. The bare PCB (Rare), the board with all SMD parts assembled and THT parts attached (Medium), or the fully assembed board (Well Done).

And we decided to add another option, the T-Bone Deluxe! This perk will include T-Bone and a BeagleBone Black Rev C together. We will pre-install our software on the BeagleBone. Only printer specific settings are necessary to make it work. Et voilà. Bon apetit!

Brand new: The T-Bone BBQ. It is a set of SMT breakout boards for THT-mounting of SMD-parts. All pins of the SMD chips are connected to pins of a 0.1” header. Contains following footprints:

•   2 x 16-SSOP
•   1 x 28-SO
•   1 x 28-QFN 5x5
•   1 x 32-QFN 4x4
•   1 x 32-QFN 5x5
•   1 x 32-QFN 7x7
•   1 x 36-QFN
•   1 x 40L-QFN
•   1 x 48-QFN 7x7
•   1 x 48-TQFP

The T-Bone BBQ:

What's the idea behind

First of all we just like to create some great hardware with fast and flexible software. But that's not all. Our aim is to create the most powerful system for open source motion control application. We belief in crowdfunding, open source development, and the maker movement as one of the most exciting things in the internet with potential to make a big change. To say it with Neil Young: We all can get T-Bone!

How you can help us further

Money is important for the realization, but it's even a small bit of all. To make real great hard- and software, we would need your ideas. Any features we haven't covered yet? And if you have question, just ask. About the technology, but also why we think crowd funding and open source is such a great thing. Let's start discussion and share our ideas, because that's what the internet about!

Who we are

We are a team of open source enthusiasts from Germany, located in Hamburg St. Pauli. We have profound knowledge of motion control applications, hard- and software development. 

The aim of the project is to be open source. We use open source hardware and software for the development. And all results of our project are open source. Also the projects funding should be open source. Therefore we would start a crowdfunding project.


  • Andreas: Former life as electronic engineer. In transformation to become a Powerpoint industrial engineer. The project is part of his master thesis about democratizing innovation. He is responsible for everything not covered by anybody else. And the philosophical foundation.
  • Jonas: Electrical Engineer and wannabe tinkerer. Transformation to powerpoint engineer successfully accomplished. Hopes, that he will be able to order a controller board for his ShapeOko2. Contributes weired ideas, tbonoid board-shapes and panel optimization for tBonoid shapes in completely unselfish test series on TRINAMICs Weber Grill.
  • Lars: In the final stage of his studies of Electrical Engineering and designs the T-Bone electronics. always interrupted by the great ideas of the marketing guy just like in real life. The hardware design is part of his bachelor thesis.
  • Marcus: Computer Scientist. Developed web applications far too long. Now working on the boundary of software, hardware, Internet of Things and fun. Cofounder of Hamburgs tinker drinkup ‘Palo Altona’. Founder of Interactive Matter. Adding software, agile methods and silly ideas to the project.

In the news

Several journals and blogs reviewed our project. Here a selection of the most populars:



DIY 3D Printing

heise online





Find This Campaign On
raised by 232 people in 1 month
103% funded
No time left
€20,000 EUR goal
Fixed Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on May 1, 2014
Select a Perk
  • €1EUR
    Be a Streak of the Meat

    Every piece counts to become big and strong. Big thank you for everyone who contributes. You are the best!

    3 claimed
  • €5EUR
    T-Bone Sticker

    Get a sticker of the famous T-Bone logo (shipping worldwide included).

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €7EUR
    Inside the Bones

    Get a private thank you mail with some background stories and individual comments from the team members.

    0 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €10EUR
    T-Bone BBQ

    The BBQ is a set of SMT breakout boards for THT-mounting of SMD-parts. All pins of the SMD chips are connected to pins of a 0.1” header. Various fottprints (for details see project description). Shipping worldwide included.

    7 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • €15EUR
    T-Bone Rare (Early Bird)

    Early bird special of the bare T-Bone cape PCB without any components (shipping worldwide included).

    6 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • €25EUR
    T-Bone Rare

    Bare T-Bone cape PCB without any components (shipping worldwide included).

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • €25EUR
    T-Bone T-Shirt

    Get a t-shirt with the famous T-Bone logo (shipping to US or EU included. If outside this reagions please add 10 €).

    2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014

    T-Bone Medium (Early Bird)

    Early bird special of the T-Bone cape with all SMD components already assembled (shipping to US or EU included. If outside this regions please add 10 €).

    20 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2014
  • €89EUR
    T-Bone Medium

    T-Bone cape with SMD parts assembled, THT parts enclosed but unassembled (shipping to US or EU included. If outside this regions please add 10 €).

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2014

    T-Bone Well-Done (Early Bird)

    Fully assembed T-Bone cape, ready-to-run (shipping to US or EU included. If outside this reagions please add 10 €).

    20 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2014
  • €99EUR
    T-Bone Well-Done

    Fully assembled T-Bone cape, ready-to-run (shipping to US or EU included. If outside this regions please add 10 €).

    127 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2014
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