Zuccherino is the name of the CandyFab control electronics platform.
The platform is designed to be a low-cost, scalable, and extremely versatile open-source motion control platform and is in fact also suitable for many other applications besides CandyFab.
The Zuccherino platform is a series of small semi-independent microcontroller-based circuit boards, produced in several different flavors. Each type of Zuccherino board is dedicated to a single control function and sports the necessary hardware to carry out that single task. For example, the "Zuccherino Stepper Board" is dedicated to controlling a single stepper motor.
In a working setup there is exactly one Zuccherino Master Board (that serves as the computer interface) and any number of additional Zuccherino boards of other flavors. For example, a minimal CandyFab setup might use five Zuccherino boards: One Master Board, three Zuccherino Stepper Boards to control the three cartesian axes, and one Zuccherino Relay Board that controls the heater.
While typical CandyFab machines may use as few as 3-6 Zuccherino boards, the platform is designed to accommodate extra degrees of freedom for (amongst other things) additional features like automatic sugar loading devices. Without hardware modifications, the Zuccherino platform can (in principle) support over 100 independent controller boards driven by a single master board, however it is likely that the practical limit is much lower.
The boards have some features in common: Each is approximately index card sized and runs on 5 V input with screw-terminal inputs. Each also has an ATmega168 processor with 16 MHz crystal, status LEDs, an AVR-ISP interface and a connector for a USB-TTL cable. Motor driver boards may take external 12 V DC input power.
- Zuccherino Master Board, or just "Zuccherino"
- This board serves as the interface between your computer (laptop or desktop) and the chain of Zuccherino platform boards. It includes a number of LEDs and an audio indicator. The master board is a bridge between the computer all of the other boards in the setup through its serial interface, and passes along commands to the individual controller boards. It will also, in turn, check each other board to make sure that it's happy, and turn off the heater if system-threatening faults are encountered on any board.
- Zuccherino Servo Board
- Controls an industrial (quadrature-encoded) brushed DC servo motor. The controller element is an A3959 H-bridge.
- Current spec: able to control a 12V, 3A motor.
- Zuccherino Relay Board
- Controls a single digital relay to control (for example) an air pump or the heating element of the CandyFab fuser. Future versions may incorporate closed-loop temperature control. The firmware is designed to shut off the heating element unless it receives a continuous train of signals from the Master Board telling it that the entire system is still working properly.
- Version 1.0 is based on the Sharp S101S02 solid-state relay (1.5 A, 120 VAC).
- Version 2.0b is based on the Sharp PR39MF22NSZF (0.9 A, 240 VAC zero-crossing).
- Version 3.0 (planned) will implement closed-loop temperature control from a platinum RTD.
- Zuccherino Stepper Board
- Early versions were based on the L298. A bipolar driver that can control most types of small stepping motors that require drive of less than 2 A. Future versions may fork into a lower power and higher power version.
- Version 3.0 (Planned) will be based on the L6228 dual H-bridge.
- Zuccherino Hobby Servo board
- Designed to control several (perhaps as many as 8 or 16) RC hobby servo motors with precise timing.
- Additional Zuccherino platform boards
- May be designed and added as the need or demand arises.
Zuccherino boards are designed to be easily reprogrammed through either the Arduino programming environment (requires a USB-TTL cable) or through AVR-GCC and the GNU AVR toolchain (requires a AVR-ISP programmer).
Open source design
Zuccherino boards are designed with open-source tools such as the gEDA suite, and programmed with open source tools such as the Arduino IDE. Both the hardware and software designed will be fully released under at least one open source license.
All Zuccherino platform circuit boards are currently (as of May 2009) in closed beta testing. A larger beta program is planned for summer 2009. Zuccherino-- both hardware and software-- will be fully released as an open-source platform once a stable version is available. Separate and bundle kits for all of the existing Zuccherino platform boards will be made available for sale in the second half of 2009 at evilmadscience.com.
The name Zuccherino comes from the italian word meaning "sugar cube" (in the idiomatic sense). The name is meant to be suggestive of both the modular nature of the CandyFab control electronics platform, and the fact that it works with sugar. It is also reminiscent of the name Arduino and those of its clones, including Freeduino, Boarduino and Sanguino, without abuse of the Italian language.
The domain name zuccherino.org has been reserved for future use by the CandyFab Project; it currently links to this page.