Machsupport Forum

Mach Discussion => Mach4 General Discussion => Topic started by: $cott on May 25, 2015, 12:33:13 PM

Title: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: $cott on May 25, 2015, 12:33:13 PM
I am looking for a  controller that i can get good support on ... at least someone I can call on land line for sure!
1. Can anyone tell me whats the deal with what are referred to as smooth stepper controllers like Warp9 or TinyG ... is there any benefit to these types of controllers?
2. Can a Tiny G controller work with Mach3, Mach4?
2. Is there much difference between Warp9 ... PMDX and Vital Systems controllers.

FYI i tried buying a Chinese made XHC 6 axis controller but i can not get any support with my drive issues.

Thanks  Scott
Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: Steve Stallings on May 25, 2015, 01:29:34 PM
The SmoothStepper is an intelligent pulse engine for use with Mach software.
The USB version talks USB to the host and creates 2 simulated parallel ports.
The Ethernet version talks Ethernet to the host and creates 3 simulated
parallel ports. The simulated parallel ports are intended to be connected to
standard parallel port breakout boards.  Both SmoothSteppers are well supported
under Mach3. The Ethernet version also has a Beta version plug-in for Mach4.
Support is mainly via their forum or the Machsupport forums and Yahoo groups.

The Tiny G is a different kind of creature. It consumes G code directly and
to my knowledge there are no Mach plug-ins planned.

Vital Systems has been deeply involved in Mach4 development and their
stuff is thoroughly tested with Mach4. Their Integra is an Ethernet pulse
engine with integrated breakout board functions. Both Mach3 and Mach4
plug-ins are available. Support is by mainly by email, but they do provide
a telephone number for answering basic questions. According to their
web site - "comprehensive hands-on support via phone, skype, or remote
login will require a service fee".

PMDX is currently offering the PMDX-410, PMDX-411, and PMDX-422 low
cost Mach4 compatible boards. All of these boards are USB interfaced.
The PMDX-422 emulates one parallel port (+3 extra inputs) and includes
a built in breakout board. The PMDX-410 and PMDX-411 are intended to
work with your existing parallel port based breakout board. Support is
via the PMDX provided forums, the Machsupport forums, Mach Yahoo groups,
and by telephone. We will provide detailed telephone support, but expect
you to do your part by providing emailed manuals for your motor drivers, etc.
and by creating your best attempt at a wiring diagram which we will review
for you.

PMDX is currently working on a full featured Ethernet based Mach4 pulse
engine with built in breakout board functions. Planned delivery will be later
this year. Target pricing will be similar to a PMDX-126 plus a SmoothStepper.

Steve Stallings
Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: $cott on May 26, 2015, 01:00:20 PM

Thank you ... you being a manufacture of such devices I want to commend you on our comments ... as my grandmother would say "If you cant say anything nice don't say anything at all!  Thank you for the information you provided it was very good of you and shows the ethics of you and your company.

My application is to build a automated machine to assist in building lights we design and manufacture so speed and decent accuracy are important to me.  Question ... does the smooth stepper type controller provide the best option for speed and torque on a steeper motor?  I have watch a few videos on YouTube and seen presented differences.  Is Warp 9 the only company who offers this type of controller currently or are there other manufactures?

Currently I am trending toward a Warp9 Ethernet Smooth Stepper with a Leadshine MX4660 4 axis DSP digital stepper drives ... Your comments to this type of approach would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: Steve Stallings on May 26, 2015, 10:17:45 PM
The SmoothStepper does an excellent job of providing a pulse stream that
allows the motors to attain their best speed and torque.

I cannot comment on overall performance with the MX4660 because I would
also need to know more about your motors and your machine. The MX4660
is likely a good solution for a medium size and power machine.

In the Mach3 world there are lots of pulse engine type controllers available.
Some, as you have discovered, have poor documentation and support.

Besides the SmoothStepper, you may find the Integra from Vital Systems
and the CS/MIO series from CS Lab worthy of consideration.
Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: dude1 on May 27, 2015, 12:58:18 AM
PMDX are good products to be nice to your self Steve

what I would say about them all is they are future proofing your machine as if you have PP now it will cost $100 to a $1000 + computer to get your machine back up and running if you computer dies and you wont a new computer.

and if you decide to add more functions to a machine all you need is a io card or another bob simple as that. there are enough people around that will help with get one of said boards working
Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: Screwie Louie on May 27, 2015, 04:14:07 AM
Second that...PMDX support is second to none and first class. It is not often that you just pick up the phone, call, and actually talk to the owner! Who, by the way will spend time with you on the phone and answer your questions until you feel comfortable in taking the next step.

Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: $cott on May 27, 2015, 12:30:36 PM
Steve ...   I am finding it seems one needs to educate them selves thoroughly before buying this CNC gear.  Oh well at lest i am learning while wasting a several dollars!  FYI i look forward to seeing your new pulsed/MACH4/Ethernet based board in the coming months ... i will be one of your first customers!  Comment about your design ... with the MX-4660 4 axis (expandable to 6 axis) driver system it comes with a breakout board built into it ... is there any though to making a version of your new controller with just the port outputs so i can connect directly to the Leadshine board via a ribbon cable (sorry being a bit selfish)? Anyway I am pretty good at LED power supply's but I am a stepper drive idiot so take my suggestion with my knowledge base into consideration.

Anyway back to my system

I will be using 4 Chinese ACT-Motor 23HS2430B to run this machine, they are 425 oz 3A 112mm ... FYI i will be gluing, testing and putting lens on lights, we do 20,000 unit builds at a time so i need speed!  I need speed in X,Y,A and both speed and as much power as possible in my Z axis to snap a polycarbonate lens to a heat sink.  Again not knowing the proper application for selecting motors these are what i purchased to date.

My plan is to use MACH4 and to customize it with some basic scripting to flip and read some inputs and outputs to run a few air actuated devises and a vacuum pump.  I for one have never heard of Lua, but from what i read this language it the cats in the gaming world and for scripting.  I hope at my age this old dog can learn it. I sure hope there is some individuals on this form who can give me some direction.

I have a few other questions which i would sure like some one with experience to educate me.

Q1. I notice the wires on these steppers are very small and the peak currents are fairly sized.  Should I keep the wire from the stepper very short and connect to it using shielded say 18 gauge 4 conductor wire to the drivers?

Q2 How much is does noise play havoc with these systems? Does one need to add some input capacitance on the output of the supplies?

Q3 Are there much issues with ground loops in these systems?

Q4 Are there any best practices for connecting the various power supplies grounds.

anyway hope i am not out of line for asking so many questions


Title: Re: Whats the deal with Smooth Steppers Controllers
Post by: TimGS on May 27, 2015, 05:06:00 PM
You might also look into good power supplies and stepper motor drivers.

Gecko Drivers in my mind are the best but are pricey.  I have both gecko and quality drivers out of China.

Checkout the video in the middle of the page....

...This is what can happen if you have good drivers and a poorly sized power supply.  You can get the floor shaking.

As far as controllers go...
Both Steve "PMDX" and "Warp9" and CNC4PC have been good to me. :D

If Steve gets his price point down; I might be able to afford him on my next build ;)