Improving Open Source Motion Control With Arduino


Automated motion control is a common requirement in both industrial and academic settings, in applications that require scanning, path following or repetitive motion. In the case of microscopy, a sample is often scanned over the objective to increase the effective field of view without sacrificing resolution. This project aims to develop an existing open source motor controller, the FergBoard (see Fig. 2), by making it more powerful and easier to use. Working with two partner organisations, WaterScope and OpenIOLabs, we aim to produce a revision of the FergBoard that satisfies the requirements of many common precision motion control applications faced in research, and make the resulting design openly available for purchase as an assembled system, as well as making the design files freely available. By establishing a route to distribution, we hope that the technical barriers to participation often associated with open source hardware will be reduced, enabling the FergBoard to have greater impact within the community.

The Team

Fergus Riche (Cambridge University Engineering Department. Email: will contribute skills and experience in prototyping custom microscopy instrumentation. As the developer of one of the original devices on which this proposal is based, the arduino-based motor controller board (the FergBoard), he is well placed to continue its development.

Dr. Alexandre Kabla (Cambridge University Engineering Department. Email: will act in a supervisory role and help steer the project. With considerable experience in the development of open source scientific instrumentation, Dr. Kabla will be able to offer guidance during the continued development of the FergBoard.

In addition to the core team, we will be collaborating with a number of partners. These include Dr. Richard Bowman, the developer of the 3D printed OpenFlexure microscope for which the original FergBoard was initially created and co-founder of WaterScope, an organisation that uses the FergBoard in conjunction with the OpenFlexure microscope to enable automated scanning of water samples to test for the presence of pathogens. We will also be working with Dr. Ward Hills, the CEO of OpenIOLabs, with whom we are aiming to clarify the requirements for future revisions of the FergBoard to be a useful piece of instrumentation and to establish a route to distribution alongside the OpenIO series of products.

Project Outcomes

Project Report

Project report and documentation on Github


Project Proposal

Original proposal and application

Project Resources

Hardware Schematics

Bill of Materials

Software Code