Circuit board construction
As the RepRap project evolved, RepRappers came up with a number of electronics sets. Gladly, all electronics commonly in use are equal enough to be interchangeable. They all run an AVR ATmega processor as CPU, they all can drive bipolar stepper motors all provide at least 1/8 microstepping and they all run the same firmwares ( = controller software ).
Also, all electronics sets fit to all RepRap models. Even the Prusa with it's five stepper motors requires only four stepper motor drivers.
So the choice is tough and mostly depends on your personal preferences. Here's an overview:
|Board||Speed (MHz)||Microstepping||Extruders||Heated bed support||Available for DIY|
|Generation 6 Electronics||16||1/8||1||Limited||limited (SMD)|
|Generation 7 Electronics||16 or 20||1/16||1||Up to 15 amps||board & soldering|
|RAMPS||16||1/16||1 or 2||Up to 11 amps||soldering|
|Sanguinololu||16||1/16||1||Up to 11 amps||soldering|
Generation 6 Electronics is more or less an industry product which claims to be plug-and-play. While plug-and-play can obviously work for one specific machine setup only - in this case the Mendel offered by the same vendor, of course - it gets you started with other machines as well.
RAMPS is a good choice if you already own an Arduino. Because RAMPS delivers just the RepRap specific part in form of a stackable board.
Sanguinololu is the most compact one. As industry fabricated board space is costly, it's not the most flexible one, but affordable.
Generation 7 Electronics is the most replicatable one. It's ideal for do-it-yourself-ers and modders, but can also be purchased as kits.
Price comparisons require some attention, as some kits have the parts for barely running the ATmega only, other kits also include the required heatsinks and the connectors required for assembling the cables. All of them require customizing the firmware, so there's no plug-and-play.
For the success of your new RepRap it doesn't matter which one to get here, as long as you get one. On how to set each of them up, see their own wiki pages.
If that still doesn't satisfy you, or if you want to be even more advanced, there's a page dedicated to Alternative Electronics.
Also, RepRappers are happy to give advice and to discuss questions in the forums or in the IRC channel (link see in the left column).
Have you joined the secret cabal yet? reprap-dev: the friendly but technical and technical but friendly mailing list.
All of us official developers hide in an an open mailing list called reprap-dev.
If you're reading this, then you are definitely an official developer!
- Testing RepRap Electronics - details of how to test each board