Buildbotics vs Masso Controller (solved, answer in another faq)

Hey Auntjemimma, hey all,

the ‘Stiffy’ 3rd rail and the Z-20 ‘heavy’ slider are available as normal accessories on the Onefinity Shop’s Accessories page. I don’t know if it can be taken into account later if you buy them now and want the Elite Upgrade Kit later, should they be part of the upgrade (Edit: it can).

However I doubt that these will do that much improvement to your machine. It may even bring new problems like the “spindle drop on estop and poweroff” issue (Edit: For the Elite Series, Onefinity now offers a Z stepper motor with electromagnetic brake for solving this issue). And Onefinity themselves question that a ‘stiffy 3rd rail’ is necessary on any machine.

It is the switch to a CNC controller like the Masso that will make a big difference in many respects, it brings you things that are expected on more professional machines. Long-requested but not possible on buildbotics is

  • adjust feed rate on the fly, or
  • resume program after powerdown which is only possible with workarounds on buildbotics, or
  • jump to a specific g-code line in the program which the buildbotics cannot do.
  • built-in tool setter functionality (would need special script on buildbotics)
  • built-in automatic tool change functionality (would need special script on buildbotics)
    Also the Masso is
  • much more versatile with the
    • use of different types of probes and
    • different ways to probe a workpiece.

But you also have to know that the vast majority of all cnc machines in the world uses open-loop stepper motors like used on the Original/X-50/PRO Series, and what people expect from closed-loop stepper motors like used in the Elite Series does not apply in many cases. Open-loop steppers are very reliable if they are correctly dimensionated, and as was explained in other threads, the Elite closed-loop steppers will not prevent that you loose steps in certain conditions – it will just be able to signal it to the controller that there was an error. But the workpiece will usually be lost and/or the bit broken the same way as with open-loop steppers.

On the other hand,

What the Elite’s Masso G3 cannot do or does not have

in comparison to the Buildbotics Controller and the buildbotics-derived Onefinity Controller, is:

  • Run the User Interface from any web browser that can reach the buildbotics-derived Onefinity controller over the network, be it locally from your LAN or wireless LAN (WLAN), or even from the WAN (= the whole world via internet, if you have a port open in your router’s DMZ and/or run a VPN)

  • Control VFDs with Modbus protocol via RS-485 serial communications line (simple two-wire balanced connection) (Masso G3 only supports VFD control via programmable VFD input terminals for run/stop and a 0–10 V analog voltage wire for spindle speed)

  • See and edit the firmware’s source code, fix bugs yourself, exactly know what hardware is inside the box: Buildbotics’ and Onefinity’s firmware and hardware are Free and Open Source (see onefinity-firmware and bbctrl-firmware for the firmware, onefinity-pcb and bbctrl-pcb for the Open Hardware), – whereas Masso is proprietary, no chance to fix bugs yourself

  • Directly connect a USB webcam to see what the machine does and see it from remote User Interface

  • If connected from remote, the 3D toolpath simulation is displayed while the program runs:

    Image: The 3D toolpath simulation is displayed if the Onefinity Controller is opened in a web browser on a remote computer.

  • Use a USB Gamepad as Joystick to quickly move the axes, moving all axes at same time is supported

  • Buy and use Satoer’s CNC Remote control panel (made by @satoer and available at

  • Log in via ssh and hack the machine

What is really nice to have on the Onefinity Elite Series is photoelectric hardware limit sensors on the axes instead of unreliable Stall Homing, but you can Retrofit Hardware Limit Sensors also easily to the buildbotics-derived Onefinity controller, as shown in many posts in this forum (search for ‘inductive proximity’), as the buildbotics controller is able to use them if you connect them to the 25-pin I/O port, to get rid of unreliable stall homing.

But the basic things that you want the CNC machine to do will still be done perfectly by the buildbotics-derived Onefinity controller. It was ensured by the inventor of the controller that it was only released after it was developed to a complete CNC Machine Controller according to the G-code standard. Its inventor wrote the 3D toolpath simulation before, so had to implement any g-code you would expect to appear in a g-code program. You can give the buildbotics-derived controller nearly any g-code and it will run it very well and like expected.