By: Brian Schmalz of Schmalz Haus
The EiBotBoard was originally designed for the Eggbot project (www.egg-bot.com). It is a small
(2.2" x 2.2") two channel stepper motor driver board with USB
microcontroller. It is based on the UBW board and supports
all of the commands that the UBW does (for the most part), plus
several extra, like stepper motor commands and RC servo output
The idea with this board is to have a simple way to control two
stepper motors from a PC over a USB connection. This is accomplished
by two microstepping chopper stepper motor drivers and a small
Microchip PIC microcontroller that has USB support. When you plug
the EBB into a PC (Windows, Mac or Linux), it will show up as a
serial port. You can easily type commands to it using a
terminal emulator, or write your own application to send commands
for moving the stepper motors. The Eggbot project has also developed
a fantastic Inkscape extension that allows Inkscape to output
(print) directly to the EBB.
The main command that gets sent to the EBB tells it to move the
motors. This command (the "SM" command) will cause the motors to
move in a straight line between two points on a plane. To make
curved lines, just break the curve up into small straight line
segments. Each movement is executed in a controllable amount of
time, so you can control exactly how fast each move executes. The
EBB does not understand G-code.
Different board version have different features as the requirements
changed. This board has been evolving for almost a year and a half,
with 5 versions designed and built. As it turns out, it takes awhile
to get it right I guess!
The board was originally called EggBotBoard, for (hopefully) obvious
reasons. As of hardware version 1.4, the name changed to EiBotBoard.
As it turns out, this little board is good at doing WAY more than
just plotting on eggs, so we didn't want to limit the scope of the
board to just EggBots. Why Ei? Well, Ei is the German word for Egg,
and we could keep the same acronym. Clever, no?
Version 1.1 on left - (first version to go with EggBots in 2009)
and Version 2.0 on right, in white, sold by Evil Mad Science
(Yours may also be red rather than white.)
This page is a documentation page for the EBB project. It includes
design files, firmware versions, and source code for the EBB as well
as documentation on the commands that the EBB supports.
For information on the EggBot kit by EMSL, please see their
page. Note that you can buy just the white EBB v2.0
You send commands to the EiBotBoard over USB, using either a custom
application on the PC side (Like the Inkscape plugin that was
written for EggBot) or a terminal emulator like TeraTerm, or your
own program using a language like Liberty Basic or Processing. The
commands are all simple ASCII and are all human readable. (And
All of the commands are documented on the EBB Commands page.
The EiBotBoard hardware consists of a PIC18F46J50 microcontroller
and two Allegro A4983 stepper drivers, along with some voltage
regulators and USB connection hardware. It takes 6-24V DC power
input via the barrel jack connector. This directly powers the motor
driver chips, and is then regulated down to 5V to supply power to
the RC servos, and down to 3.3V to power the microcontroller. A
current adjustment potentiometer allows you to set the maximum
current allowed to the motors anywhere from 46mA to 1.25A per phase.
Two push buttons allow for resetting the board and entering into
bootloader mode (to update the firmware over USB). The EggBot kit
also uses the PRG button to allow the user to pause plotting.
Several LEDs indicate 3.3V power, stepper direction, and USB
connection status. Screw terminals allow for the connection of many
types of stepper motors, but they must either be four-wire motors or
6, 7 or 8 wire motors wired in bi-polar mode since the A4983s are
bi-polar driver chips. A header along the edge of the board allows
many extra I/O pins to be accessed for other uses in the future, and
there are eight 3-pin connectors for RC servos or other digital I/O.
The current hardware version of the EBB is v2.1, and is being
manufactured by EMSL and SparkFun. You can order one here (EMSL)
or here (SparkFun).
EBB Version 2.1 Files (Currently shipping version):
EBB Version 2.2 Files (New version - not in production yet):
The EiBotBoard Firmware supports all of the standard UBW commands,
as well as several extra commands that are useful for plotting 2D
images using stepper motors. These are all detailed on the EBB
Commands page. The EBB comes standard with a USB bootloader (HID
based so no drivers are necessary for bootloader mode) which allows
for unlimited updating of the firmware using only a USB connection.
The standard EBB firmware enumerates as a CDC device (i.e. virtual
serial port) so any PC can interface with the EBB using any
Version v2.0.1 is currently being shipped on all EBB. You may want
to update to a more recent version if you need some of the new
features. (See the Release Notes
EiBotBoard Firmware Version 2.0.2 Pre-built HEX Files:
EiBotBoard Firmware Latest Version Source:
EiBotBoard Firmware Version 2.2.4 (latest version) Pre-built HEX
Please see the Firmware Build
Instructions on information about how to build this code base
using the free Microchip toolchain.
The two LEDs on the EBB communicate different states of the
firmware. You can use the LED blinking pattern to figure out what's
going on (sometimes).
|EBB enumerated and
communicating with PC over USB
|EBB not enumerated with PC
|USB HID Bootloader mode
Older Versions of Hardware and Software
There have been a number of versions of EBB hardware and software
(firmware). Please see this page
describing the various versions. Only the latest version of each is
documented on this main page.
EBB Firmware Driver for Windows (XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7
The following zip file contains just the EBB driver INF file. This
INF file must be used the first time the EBB is plugged into a
Windows computer. It tells Windows what driver to use with the
board, and it contains unique strings that identify the board as an
EiBotBoard from SchmalzHaus.
This INF file will work for all versions of EBB Firmware. However,
any version of EBB Firmware 1.8.2 and
above MUST use this custom version of the INF file, not the
generic one that comes from Microchip.
If you don't want to mess with a raw INF file, here is a simple
installer created by Microchip to install the EBB driver on any
Windows system. There are two ways you can download it - as a zip
file or directly as an executable.
NOTE: This installer REQUIRED the .NET runtime framework v3.5 (v4
does not work for some reason). Most Windows machines have this
already. If you get an error when trying to run the installer, you
can download .Net 3.5 from here : http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=22
If you ever build your own EBB, or if you need to re-program a part
from scratch, you'll need the bootloader images. Please see the EiBotBoard Bootloader information page
for hex files and more.
Updating Your Firmware
You'll need a Windows PC (XP, Vista and Windows 7 supported, I
believe), a USB cable, a power supply for your EBB (for boards
earlier than v1.3), the latest version of .Net (if you get an error
while bootloading, updating your version of the .Net runtime may be
the cause) a HEX file from above that you want to program into your
EBB, and this program.
If you want to update your firmware and you're on Mac OS or Linux
(or Windows too) you can follow the instructions here
to use a command line tool to perform the update.
- Power on your EBB with the power supply, and connect the USB
cable to your PC
- Press and hold the PRG button while pressing and releasing the
RST button, then release the PRG button
- Run the HIDBootloader.exe
- You should see it says "Device attached."
- Click Open Hex File, and select the HEX file you want to
- Click Program/Verify
- When programming is complete, click Reset Device
- When the Inkscape extension finds your EBB, it will tell you
the firmware version number, so you can verify that the new
version is detected properly
Questions? E-mail me at