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Topics - Jennifer

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I've spent the last couple of months learning CNC methodology with the help of a small (14"x14") router and an ok CAD/CAM package (V-Carve Pro). The application i am working towards is performing repeatable inlay on stringed musical instruments. I am at the point where i am about to purchase the CNC machine that i will actually use for production. The benchtop machine i am using is a good little router, it is perfect for carving,cuts really smoothly, but is a tad too "sloppy" for highly detailed inlay, I can only hold about .007" over a foot, my X and Y axis are belt driven off stepper motors and i suspect the belts may be the culprit.

An example of my art is creating "tree of life" type inlays on fretboards, personalized head plates as well as the standard embellishments found on stringed instruments.

My dilemma is this: i do not know which type of machine is best for my application, a better built CNC router with all three axis using "ball screws" or a full blown milling machine with a CNC conversion applied?

I like the bang for the buck one gets with a router with regard to addressable size, but also am impressed with the much higher degree of accuracy obtained with a milling machine equipped with a high-speed spindle.

Any opinions about this would be greatly appreciated. I've pasted a couple links below to the machines. I am also welcome for other suggestions, perhaps you have a good used machine or know of one? I am looking to purchase within about the next week.

I am considering the "Vortech" router, the "CNC masters" Jr. and the Microkenitics Mills

Thanks in advance for taking the time to add you two cents,

General Mach Discussion / HELP! - breakout board diagnosis help needed
« on: November 13, 2010, 03:40:02 PM »
Hi There,

I have been going nuts trying to diagnose an issue with a - C35 - QUICK SETUP BREAKOUT BOARD - I can get Mach 3 to work just fine without the breakout simply by wiring my three controllers (X,Y,Z) directly to the parallel port. but when i use them in conjunction with the breakout board i get BUBKIS! i have tried both ways jumpering SCHP to both the On and Off configurations and enabling it in Mach3 on pin 17. Either way i do not get signal to the controllers. in fact zilch from the controllers. when i use the controllers direct via parallel port the three axis "lock up" and are ready for input from Mach3, when i use the breakout they move freely, nothing seemed to be coming from the controllers.

i have supplied the breakout with +5V clean DC, with up to 4amps if needed. the board's "power" led lights as well as the "output status" led if SCHP is disabled or of enabled and signal is present on pin 17. I have replaced the RJ45's cables that connect the board to the controllers and rang them thru with a VOM so i have eliminated bad cabling.

Could it just be a bad board? where do i look next? is there some definitive test for a breakout board? what is the meaning of life? HELP!!!!



This is a post I found on another site called “do it yourself christmas.com”.

I thought this may be useful to other “newbies” like me for figuring out if their parallel port is functioning physically and programmatically. Pretty neat considering the only hardware tool required is a VOM capable of reading +5V DC.

You will require the following software:

--Parallel port monitor-- (or use “parmon” that tweakie so graciously turned me on to from: http://www.geekhideout.com/parmon.shtml)

 this will require a logon to the forum if you choose to follow the instructions 100%


--Dll for Vixen Software--


--Vixen itself--:


--here is a nice Parallel port diagram--


finally here is the procedure:

Step one:
Download the parallel port monitor program (PPM). Unzip and extract the .exe file.
Open the port monitor program and familiarize yourself with it. The most important feature of this program at this point is the ability to manually turn on the first 7 pins (pinout 2 - 8) by clicking on the first port and manually changing the 0's and 1's. 1 means its on, 0 means its off.

Now, take your Cat5 cable, and strip the wires at both ends. at this point, it does not matter what pattern you use, only that you know what wire is in what port. You can use the following chart if you like

Orange Pin 24
Orange/White Pin 2
Blue Pin 3
Blue/White Pin 4
Green Pin 5
Green/White Pin 6
Brown Pin 7
Brown/White Pin 8

Now, using the PPM, change the value of the parallel port to 11111111.

With this done, it is time to get out the multimeter. Check each of the wires on pins 2-8 for voltage. Ground to the orange wire, hot to the numbered wires. you should get approx 4.5v on each wire. If this works, then your PP is working properly. If not, make certain of your pinouts. You may have them upside down, in which case you need to redo them all and test again.
(sorry I dont have the experience and knowledge to determine problems with non-functioning parallel ports, if you cannot get your port to read with the wires and the PPM, I cant help you.) you could use the LED method I have read about, but this way is a lot cheaper and easier.

Now we have figured out that our PP is working, its time for Vixen.

Download the Vixen program. Open the folder, and find the folder named Output. Open the Output folder and look for a file named BasicParallel.dll. If that file is not in your folder, then download it (link above) and place it in the Output folder.

Now open up vixen and set up a profile.

Create a name (test?) and say ok. Now on the bottom of the setup page is a button named Output plugins. Find the Basic Parallel plugin and add it. now click on the BP on the right side. Set the channels and click on the plugin setup and verify you have the proper port selected. Then click ok, then done, then add your channels and finish creating the profile.

now create a new Vixen standard sequence. no need to add a song, but you can if you like. I created a 30 second blank sequence.

Now, you can create a pattern that will turn on each pin in turn for about 5 seconds each. (I only have 6 channels) Once you have finished that, resize your window so that you can have the PPM visible outside of Vixen. Then run your sequence. You should see each light in the PPM turn on in time with the sequence in Vixen.

If your PP is working, and you set up vixen properly, then you should be set and ready to go at this point. All you need to do now is verify your pinout and run the wires to your setup.

I hope this will be of use to other’s like me having so much fun setting up your first CNC project.


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