Hi everyone! I'm new to arduino and I found myself in a project that is challenging to me. The project is converting a mill into a 5 axis cnc and controlling all 5 steppers using arduino. I did some research online and watched a few tutorials and I believe I understand how to control 3 steppers using grbl. A friend is sending me an arduino uno with a CNC shield (not grbl but grbl compatiple) and 4 stepper controllers. The CNC shield has 4 spots for controllers labeled X, Y, Z, A. So I assume with that shield I can control 4 axis. ( Normal X Y Z and the rotational A axis). The setup has to be able to understand g code of course and I assume it will need to control all steppers simultaneously. Also, in the future I plan on installing optical sensors on the stepper shafts to monitor the position, making it a closed loop system. Meaning that if a stepper misses a step the sensor will pick it up and make sure all the steps are completed. So I need my setup to have the capability to do that. Now I have a few questions.
How would I wire a fifth stepper? Also what other hardware would I need? And is this even possible using arduino uno? A friend (not a reliable one) mentioned that I can "stack" the shields giving me the ability to control 8 steppers.
What software or code do I need for arduino to understand g code for 5 axis? I heard that grbl can only control/understand only 3 steppers. And I also heard that it can only control one stepper at a time. If that is the case, is there something else I can use?
I'm having trouble finding a good 5 axis CAM software for generating toolpath and g code. I would love one that works with solidworks... Anything in mind?
How would I go about connecting my optical sensors to ensure that the steppers complete every step? I was also thinking of a few other sensors to slow down the operation if the mill bit encounters too much resistance. Any Ideas on how I would wire them and program them?
And finally I need to install limit switches to make sure the CNC doesn't move out of the set limits. How would I wire those?
I'm sorry for the long post but I was thinking I should get as much answered in one shot. Thanks in advance!! P.S Im thinking of doing a full writeup tutorial on this project if anyone is interested and if it is successful.