Help me pick my next controller - Ruida vs Trocen

I have till the end of the week to make a decision. I’m replacing the legacy controller on my Boss 1620 and picking a controller specifically to be compatible with Lightburn. I’m planning to use ethernet to connect it to my wifi router, so I can send files wirelessly from one of several workstations. Other than setting up jobs, adjusting focus, jogging the head, and start/pause/stopping the job, I have never used my control pad to adjust power settings or anything else, so minimal local features are fine by me. I have some questions and requirements listed here:

  • If I get a controller with a 4th stepper output, can Lightburn use this for rotary work so that I don’t have to disconnect my y-axis every time?

  • It must be able to turn on/off the air assist and blower

  • Will either one of these give me the ability to have a multilayer job adjust or offset the focus between layers? For example, setting a base focus from the machine when setting up the job, then having the program defocus / offset for single line engraving, then go back to “0” to cut out the part? This was be a huge bonus. Is this possible under any control/software circumstances?

  • I want the best possible support for LightBurn features.

It seems like my best options are Ruida RDC6442G/S or Trocen AWC708C. I am new to LightBurn, but have 7 years of CNC and Laser operating experience. The old software/hardware workflow for the laser has always been terrible, so I’m looking forward to moving to LightBurn. Which one do you guys think is best for my application?

I’d go with Ruida. Better Lightburn support for sure.

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Ruida was the first controller LightBurn supported and provides the fullest set of supported features at this point. My personal choice, FWIW, Ruida.

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  • Ruida will not let you use the 4th axis for a rotary (although they have custom firmware for Thunder Laser that does this, and I’ve heard it’s available for the 6445G controller). Trocen will let you use the 4th axis for rotary.

  • TopWisdom controllers do not have a command to move the Z during a job (but Ruida does)

  • Both will control an air assist valve

  • Both will work over WiFi (though that’s not recommended, as they use UDP, not TCP, so packets are not guaranteed to arrive - wired is much more robust)

  • Trocen controllers do not currently let you edit rotary settings or specify the type of origin to use (absolute, current position, user origin). I’ve been pushing them to change that and they pretty much have it done now.

  • If you connect a simple selector switch to the ‘Enable’ pin on two motor drivers, one connected to the rotary and one connected to your Y axis, you can flip a single switch to toggle between the rotary and the Y axis. No changing the connection plugs required, and this lets you use different motor current and micro-step settings for each.

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If I’m connected over WiFi, can I send the file to the machine and run it from the controller, or does it have to drip-feed it? Would this take care of the UPD packet reliability issue?

Blockquote If you connect a simple selector switch to the ‘Enable’ pin on two motor drivers, one connected to the rotary and one connected to your Y axis, you can flip a single switch to toggle between the rotary and the Y axis. No changing the connection plugs required, and this lets you use different motor current and micro-step settings for each.

Hmm. Does that mean we could use one of the Generic Outputs on the cut layer to enable the rotary? If so, could that be a global (per file) setting that would let you chose whether a job was 2D or rotary? Feature request? :wink:

Clever idea, use an output to switch a relay. Though having to get under the hood to place and setup the rotary as well as plug it in, a manual switch is just as easy and reduces the chance of error.

I haven’t been able to tell if the generic outputs actually work yet, though in theory that could do it. I wouldn’t recommend it - if they happen per layer, the first traversal move might happen before that output gets set, which could completely screw up the job.

Sending a job to the controller then running it is more reliable, but only because:

  1. The controller is only doing one thing at a time instead of two
  2. If the transfer fails, you’ll know it before you start the job, and can retry, instead of ruining your material

It doesn’t really do much for making the transfer part more reliable - that’s down to your network, how many competing signals in your area, etc.

I haven’t been able to tell if the generic outputs actually work yet, though in theory that could do it.

Conversely, could IN1 be used as part of a Y/Rotary switch/relay to tell LB that a rotary is attached and logically flip the rotary enable slider in LB?

The ‘switch’ in LightBurn doesn’t change anything about the behavior of LightBurn itself - the act of toggling it alters a setting in the controller. I can’t get too tricky with things like this or it won’t work for everyone else.

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