programming / cailbrating the foamcube controller

When you first hook up your arduino-based 5-axis foamcube controller, you may want to adjust some settings like steps-per-millimeter , 3 or 5 axis mode and other choices for first time use. Adjustments are easy ; the controller can be calibrated or programmed in a couple of different ways :

Adjust settings through the LCD display

Most of the basic settings can be adjusted using the rotary encoder knob on your controller. Simply push the controller button , turn to the correct menu-option and press the button again. While this option is fine for basic settings you can also use our direct programming mode for more finesse and control

Adjust settings through a serial monitor

While your controller has an LCD screen, it also communicates through a computer screen with help of a so-called “serial monitor” . While on the serial monitor enter command (type on your keyboard) “M100” and hit enter. This shows you a help screen and explains all your direct programming options. People that have used GRBL and similar controllers may be familiar with this way of programming.

Things you can programm directly :

  • 3 or 5 axis mode
  • default speed setting
  • X-axis steps per unit (millimeters , degrees , apples , parsecs or whatever you prefer )
  • Y-axis steps p/u
  • U-axis steps p/u
  • V-axis steps p/u
  • A-axis steps p/u (on foamcube usually the rotation platform / steps per degree)

Typical direct progamming is done using a combination of a programming code and a value. For instance , to change the steps per mm. on the X-axis (code “$101” ) to 160 steps we enter :  $101 *160

Values are set in whole numbers preceeded by a star symbol ‘*’ .

****** SET UP MENU ******************
to change variables : type ‘$’ and a number, then SPACE then followed by ‘*’ and number”

$100 set steps per mm for the x-axis e.g. $100 *160 || Integers 1-255 only
$101 set steps per mm for the y-axis e.g. $100 *160 || Integers 1-255 only
$102 set steps per mm for the u-axis e.g. $100 *160 || Integers 1-255 only
$103 set steps per mm for the v-axis e.g. $100 *160 || Integers 1-255 only
$104 set steps per mm for the a-axis e.g. $100 *160 || Integers 1-255 only

Foamcube safety sheet & quick start guide

Foamcube safety sheet

Foamcube d.i.y. Kits are distributed by :
Bijbibi / Fablab013
Groenstraat 139 Hal 553
5021 LL Tilburg
the Netherlands
+31 6 373 402 83

online manual :

With Foamcube comes your own personal online drive. It contains important documents, settings, manuals and instructions. Please take time to familiarize yourself with these documents first.

your personal online drive :


Do it yourself kit & limitations

Please note that all Foam-cube kits are delivered as a collection of loose parts that need to be assembled by the end-user into a usable machine. Although efforts were made to make these products as safe and easy as possible, the distributor can not make any guarantees towards the final product regarding safety or compliance to local rules that may apply in your country or region.

Before you build your machine you should be aware of any regulations that may apply to you when implementing such a machine in a private or (semi)public setting. Note that as the constructor of the machine you take on sole responsibility for safety and compliance and indemnify the distributor against any claims or damages.


Potential safety hazards you may encounter

  • Foam cutting machines like Foamcube have electrical parts that may overheat, melt or catch fire. Never leave your machine unattended when it is plugged in.
  • Foamcube uses a hotwire to cut foam. Wire temperatures can run as high a 1000 degrees celsius ! hotwires, when touched, may cause severe and painful 3rd degree burns.
  • Hotwires can easily ignite other sources and start fires.
  • When cutting material with hotwires you may generate noxious or poisonous fumes. Take proper precautions.



  NEVER connect or disconnect electrical connections when your Foamcube is powered on, plugged into mains, or connected to the USB port.

This WILL destroy the stepper drivers inside your controller.

Welcome to your online drive for Foamcube support. In this google drive folder you will find various documents that will help you get the most out of your Foamcube CNC hotwire foam cutter.

Installing software

As of Jan. 2018 all Foamcubes will be powered by Arduino microprocessors. The software is already pre-loaded onto your arduino controller. To install upgrades or newer versions of the controller software you can use the “XLOADER” software to upload a new “HEX” file into your controller. Both xloader and the HEX files can be found in your online drive in the “software” folder.

HEX files are pre-compiled software packages that can be uploaded to your controller without hassle or difficult settings. Foamcube HEX files all have names with the build-date in them so it’s easy to find newer software for your Foamcube controller.  Name formatting for HEX files : YEAR-MONTH-foamcube…….hex (e.g. 2018-01-foamcube.hex)


building your foamcube

If you have not yet started assembly of your cube you can find a standard online assembly manual here :  Please see the “assembly” menus on the top of the page. Note that your cube may look different so use the guides loosely as Foamcube is always under development to improve user experience.

Need more help ?

While most people have no problems building and running their cube we understand if you have more questions. Please post general questions in our forum and we will do our best to get you an answer within 24 hours :

Demo files

In your online drive you can find a folder called “demo files”. It contains some .DXF and gcode files to get you started quickly.

Simple 2D  shapes

Flame : load the .dxf file into the usbcnc software and cut it out of a small sheet of foam.

3D shape out of a 2D file

candle 2 : cut it out of a small piece of foam. Then turn 90 degrees and cut it again.

3D shape

candle 1 : cut it out of a sheet that is at minimum 10 cm thick. after it was cut, turn it 90 degrees and load “candle 2”. Now cut candle 2 through candle 1 to get a 3-armed candelabra.


Load bal72.txt as a gcode file. Set rotation platform to 5 degrees. Start the cut and see the bal take shape in 72 cuts. (This is probably the most inefficient way to create a shape like this. Using ping-pong mode in our online gcode builder will be far more efficient.)

online gcode builder – ROTATIONCUTS

Once you are familiar with all the options and settings on your Foamcube you may want to play with our online gcode manipulator a bit. It helps you transform simple 2D outlines into 3D shapes. The gcode it generates can be loaded into usbcnc directly. Don’t be fooled by it’s simplistic appearance. When you put in more complex shapes, you get very complex 3D shapes as results. Experiment !

you can find the online gcode builder at :