Carbide Motion as an app on ios/iPad

I am new to CNC.
My new Shapeoko 4 XXL is up and running, and now I am working on the full setup around.
I need a sender, a dedicated computer only for that.
I tough, Is CM existing as an app? To use an iPad as a dedicated sender. Apparently not! But is it in the plan?
The iPad(and associated) is little, has a screen, and resist pretty well to the dust.

Thank you for your answer.


Hello Küppers,

I’m not sure about plans for an iPadOS version of Carbide Motion. Current efforts seem to be getting it to work on a Raspberry Pi.

Your current options are a cheap windows tablet (<£200), and old laptop (mac or pc), or a raspberry pi. The specs required for CM are quite low, so you might be able to find something suitable for less than the price of an iPad.

I don’t think an iPad will ever work standalone as a g-code sender, as it can’t connect to the serial connection of the machine.

But you could make it work with cncjs running on a cheap Raspberry Pi (setup instructions).


No, there is no version of Carbide Motion (or Create) for the iPad — my understanding is USB host has only recently become an option, and that getting the app approved would require sending in one of each of our machines to Apple for testing purposes.

The alternatives are:

  • an inexpensive (or expensive) Windows tablet — the usual suspects are RCA Cambio and Fusion 5 or Surface 3 or Surface Go — for the latter the higher-specced units seem more acceptable to folks
  • running headless w/ a Mac Mini or Intel Compute Stick or similar running Carbide Motion and connecting using VNC or some other control software — this would allow using a phone or tablet for control
  • using a RaspberryPi

(note that this also could be set up headless and allow one to use a tablet for control)

I’ve seen this written somewhere else on this forum too.

You do not need to send samples of your equipment to get the app approved by Apple.

We’ve had apps approved that had special requirements that was not available to Apple during the approval process.

Also I doubt that every company that makes some device that connects via bluetooth, ie. electric wheels, sun lamps etc. are sending hardware to Apple. Apple would be drowning in devices if that was the case.

So please don’t let that stop you from making an iOS version of carbide motion :wink:

1 Like

Does anyone make a motion control app for apple products? If they do, it’s not popping up in Google.

I don’t think so. I’ve been looking also. Also I can’t find any documentation that confirms that it is possible to develop for iOS using usb host mode - which would be needed to plug the SO directly to the iPad.

1 Like

Apple use to make the MFi process a complete and total pain to be any kind of part of. Despite any licensing issues with Apple for that, the Carbide3d team would have to serve to the whim of Apple which could inhibit innovation. At least, that was the case when I stopped dealing with Apple years ago, just wasn’t worth the trouble of doing a niche thing (for that ecosystem) and hoping the reviewer looking at your next update didn’t trash you.

Now if the C3d guys had something like an OctoPi setup that threw a web interface for running your jobs, then you could use any web enabled device to control it.

Open source is so much better :grin:

1 Like

We did something along those lines for Carbide Motion 4 — it had a hybrid architecture where a back-end controlled the machine directly, and the visible machine interface was an HTML app — it was problematic in various ways and we changed to what I’d describe as a monolithic app for CM5.

Would you mind shedding a light on what problems having a backend/frontend solution caused? I’m not questioning the decision, but interested as a software developer…

I wasn’t going to push it, but if another engineer person is also interested in details might as well :wink:

An HTML app might provide a latency issue I would think. You would need more responsiveness with a moving cutter vs a printer with layers.

I was just pondering if a fork of OctoPrint could be used, but you would need to improve the resiliency and latency of the UI…

It’s only the “visible machine interface” that was web-based. As long as you’re on a local network, a round trip between mouse and screen should still be faster than human perception.

Remember that these days there are services like Stadia that allow you to play games in a browser, using a GPU located several hundred kilometres away.

1 Like

Just bought a used 3 XXL and came here looking for an iOS solution as well. Disappointed it’s not available. I don’t know diddly about software programming, but I guess it’s not possible??

1 Like

With just an iOS device, a cable, and a Shapeoko it is not technically possible mainly because currently there is no iOS API to access a serial port over USB (which is what is required here).

There are many potential solutions, some that would even look like a hardware add-on, that could provide an environment where an iOS port would be a simple task. Something like a WI-FI-enabled single-board-computer plugged into the USB port, running a headless version of Carbide Motion, would do as a start. (edit: this does not exist right now)


Though it requires a bluetooth dongle to be plugged in to the computer running the machine I know Stepcraft has an iOS app that allows the machine to be controlled through it.

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.