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Messages - furiog

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General Mach Discussion / Z axis values changing, stepper not moving
« on: January 05, 2014, 10:50:10 PM »
Hi all,

I'm back with another problem! I've managed to get hold of a PC that doesn't make my steppers clunk and things are mostly going ok.

The major problem now appears to be the z axis stepper skipping steps. It's now happened 7 times in random spots while running the same Gcode and I've been getting weird side effects in Mach3 afterwards. For 3 of the attempts, I immediately hit the RESET button and jogged the z-axis. However, jogging doesn't work... the Z coordinates are changing on the main Mach screen but the stepper doesn't move. For the other 4 times, the jog button works but my auto zeroing tool doesn't. The failing Gcode in the auto-zero tool is G31 Z-3 F20. In addition to that, G0 and G1 don't move the steppers either. In all cases, the Z coordinates change in the Mach3 GUI.

From reading through this forum, I think the coordinates in Mach3 are called DRO? I'm not sure if that's correct because I don't know what DRO even stands for.

If it's at all helpful, I'm getting strange scratching/screeching noises from any stepper motor plugged into the controller board's Z axis. I'm using a Gecko 540 and I'm in contact with those guys seeing if it's something worth investigating. In the mean time, I was thinking of re-configuring my cnc to use a different physical stepper controller for the Z axis but wasn't sure if it's possible. My machine has 2 steppers for the long X axis setup in slave mode with the stepper controller labelled A being the slave controller. I can easily disconnect that second X axis ballscrew/stepper (A axis) from the Y axis and only drive the X axis using the one stepper (the driving ballscrew wouldn't be centred though, it's to the left of the machine). I would then use the stepper controller labelled A as the new Z axis. This would eliminate the Z axis controller and I could test the same Gcode and see what happens. I'm just not 100% sure how to do it.

Thanks for reading, hopefully someone can make sense of it all.

The motherboard is a MSI P43 Neo. I'm not quite sure on the history of the computer unfortunately. I'll try the things you guys have mentioned.

You're right Rich, I really didn't know how to explain the noise.

To throw a spanner in the works... I got hold of an older PC... it's a 2.4GHz single core PC (compared to the 3.0GHz Xore 2 I've been using) and there's no clunking! It's definitely the newer PC.

Hi geh,

I probably should've worded it better. I understand the clunking noise is normal at start up, but that clunking noise is constant during normal operation which I'm pretty sure is the reason for my machine's random screw ups.

I downloaded a G540.xml a while back which I'm using but I've also tried the two I found on site this morning. The clunking noise is there for all 3 config files (completely unmodified as well).

I've attached the one I've mainly been testing with.


Hi all,
I've just put together my own CNC machine ad still working through a bunch of issues. The biggest one at the moment is clunking of the steppers. By clunking, I mean the sound they make when you power your PC up while the steppers are powered and connected through the driver. To keep things simple, I have run all tests with nothing connected to the stepper motor shafts.

Here's my setup: Gecko 540 driver, Mach3, Windows XP, Intel 3.0gHz, 2GB RAM, nVidia 9500GT, on-board parallel port, USB keyboard/mouse. No wireless/bluetooth cards, no other peripherals.

Here's a list of things I've tried:
  • Fresh Windows XP install with only Mach3 installed
  • Windows switched to Standard PC mode.
  • BIOS parallel port settings changed to Bi-directional, EPP and ECP.
  • Sherline 1/2 step mode enabled and disabled
  • Stepper motor velocity, acceleration set to really low (10 and 10)
  • step pulse/dir pulse set to 1/1. 2/2. 3/3, 4/4, 5/5
  • I kept the steppers spinning while I unplugged the USB cables... there were more clunks at the time they were disconnected but the clunks were still happening after disconnecting.

I have yet to narrow down the timing of the clunks. From my experience though, the faster they spin, the more frequent the clunks. Also, each stepper clunks at different times when they're all running together... however when I slave two together their clunks are in sync.

I'm going crazy trying to figure out how to solve this problem. My next steps are to try Windows Vista, then try Windows 7 and lastly, find an old PC with parallel port and put Windows XP on it.

Does anyone have any other things I can try? I really want it working on the current PC because it's quite beefy and I plan to use it for my garage PC as well as my controller box. Is it worth trying it on Vista or will that be a waste of time?

Thanks for your help.

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