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Topics - mp2008

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SmoothStepper USB / Problems with CNC Router Machine, Is SS my Problem?
« on: October 15, 2014, 08:16:45 AM »
My CNC router machine has worked great with the USB smoothstepper for a couple of years now.  The other day, after running a carving on the CNC I went to set up the machine for another carving and couldn't move the machine.  When trying to jog it to zero it just makes a whining noise when trying to go down on Y and right on X.  It will try to go up on Y but not right and will do the same for X.  It wont make a noise or even try to go up and down on the Z axis.  I have checked the machine to make sure there are no loose wires or anything hanging it up.  I am trying to troubleshoot the machine but figure the best place to start besides the obvious would be the smoothstepper.  The machine and computer was never turned off between the two carvings so what ever happened, happened while waiting for me to set the machine up for the next carving.  Currently on the Smoothstepper, the blue and green lights are lit solid, the red "Init." light is blinking constantly.  Any thoughts on if the SS is my problem or any ways to troubleshoot it to find out if it is?  Thanks for any thoughts. Mike

General Mach Discussion / Need help with Basic 3-Axis Router CNC.
« on: October 21, 2013, 09:25:40 AM »
Hello everyone, My name is Mike and I'll start off by telling you my situation.  When I was first hired to run this CNC router it didn't even run and I had no experience on one, just knew a bit about electronics and computers.  It was purchased off ebay from a company going out of business and came with incomplete software, etc.  Before I came along someone else got the machine almost to working condition but Mach3 would not move the machine.  It turned out the XML file and Mach 3 needed some minor tweaking and was achieved thanks to people like you on this forum.    Since then I also added a smoothstepper.  The person I had fix the XML file said there was a lot of extra junk code in the XML file and it would take weeks to take it all out and said the machine should run right but with thrown together software and a iffy XML file who knows. 

Since then the machine has carved hundreds of carvings but not without it's mistakes.  Most the time the problem will be the Y-axis lags and shifts the carving in the middle of a carving up or down.  After troubleshooting, just by looking at the machine it looked like one of the screws for the Y-axis was spinning faster than the other side.  But that was just to the naked eye.  After attempting another carving it did the same thing, bumped the carving up a half an inch.  I did some more troubleshooting and tried rotating one of the screws by hand, it would not turn one way but would VERY easily the other way untill it got ahead of the other screw, which showed that the machine was ahead/behind on one side and cocked at an angle.  I did measurements from the machine to the motors on both sides of the machine and the machine was ahead .25 inch on one side.  Seeing how days before this troubleshooting I cleaned and adjusted the whole machine so that it was straight, level, and all measurements were perfect, it seems to me one side/screw of the Y-axis is spinning faster/slower than the other. 

As far as what would cause this I could only guess...  I know it has been messing up a little more lately so could a motor be going out?  Any way to adjust and calibrate each particular motor using Mach 3?  Any help would be appreciated. 


I've been researching and trying different bits for the waterline finish pass and the pencil finish pass and can't get quite the quality I want.  I'm sick of spending time and money and would appreciate some help.  At the moment for about a 15in.x10in. carving I use a 1/4 in. Straight 2 flute bit for roughing, 1/8 in. round tip bit for x and y finish pass & waterline finish pass, and a V shaped bit with about a 1/32 in. wide tip for pencil finish.  The V shaped gives the carving nice detail but leaves noticeable grooves and dots throughout the carving. 

Anyone have any advice on bit selection?


-Wood: 1in. thick Pine
-Toolpathing software: Meshcam
-Carving size: 10"x12"x.65"
-Bit: .125" ball nosed single flute
-Stepover: .09 in roughing and .03" during finish pass(I'd like to do somewhere around .01(or anywhere 7-10% of bit width) or so to minimize tool marks but I need to be able to go faster before that's an option)
-Depth per pass during roughing: .2" (can i do deeper passes?)
-Feedrate: 50in./min (trying to fix problems to go faster at the moment :-\ )
-Spindle Speed: 11000 rpm (I imagine this is too fast for the slow feedrate I'm doing but not quiet sure, especially in pine)

I figured I'd post my first real attempt at a really nice carving and I do wish it would have turned out a little better.  Choosing pine as my wood wasn't really a good choice and I didn't quite get the detail on the eagle like I wanted. I did use the same bit throughout the whole carving cause that's one thing I haven't tackled yet is tool changes and using different bits for roughing, finishing, and pencil finish passes.  Would really appreciate any advice or suggestions on improvement! Enjoy ;D


I recently bought a new desktop to replace the old one that ran Mach 3 for my CNC machine.  Because the new one doesn't have parallel ports I also bought a SmoothStepper to convert to USB and to also take some load of the computer.  When I was using the older computer without the SS, I couldn't go above about 50 in/min without having it dive to deep or mess the carving up(this is the reason I decided to replace the computer and get a SS).  So I got a new desktop and hooked up the SS and everything is running great, just the way it was before if not more smoothly, Except when I tried to cut a drawing out at more that 50 in/min(bumped it up to 70), it still messed up and ruined the carving partway through.  I just don't know why I can't go higher than 50 in/min.  I know its not in the process of generating the code with Meshcam(which I do on a separate $2000 desktop) cause it works with the same carving at lower feed rates.  To me it seems like something can't keep up?  I don't know, any suggestions or advice?

I'm looking at upgrading my computer that runs Mach 3.  Its too old, runs off the old ddr, and barely meets the min. specs. and I can't go past 50 in/min as my feedrate or it will mess up.  I have a $2000 Desktop that I'm using for CAD/CAM but won't put it near the wood shop so I want another computer to run Mach 3.  I currently have a Laptop that just meets the min. specs.(80GB, 2.3 Ghz 1Mb, 528 RAM) for Mach 3 but I've heard not to use laptops. I also purchased a SmoothStepper to switch from Parallel Ports to USB and I know they take a lot of the load of the computer so I'm not sure if that would make a laptop a option.  Then of Course I could just go ahead and buy another, newer Desktop to run Mach 3.  Tell me what you guys think or what you would do if you were in my situation?  Thanks.


G-Code, CAD, and CAM discussions / Choosing a CAM Software!?
« on: February 14, 2012, 10:19:32 AM »
I'm to the point to where I need to purchase a CAM program but I'm having troubles deciding.  I've read a few threads about choosing one but haven't gotten the answers I want.  If you guys could help me choose, it'd be appreciated.  There are a few things I'd like to know about any CAM(preferably RhinoCAM, Vectric's Cut 3D, and MeshCAM unless something else comes up).
1. How good is the toolpathing and how does it compare to others?
2. Made for the hobbyist level, small business level, or any other level?
3. User friendly(easy to pick up on or very complicated)?
4. Speed>as far as generating the toolpathing and G-code?
5. Compatibility with files types and software?
6. Worth the Cost?
7. Anything else you may want to add?

Thanks for the help!

G-Code, CAD, and CAM discussions / Meshcam Help!
« on: February 11, 2012, 09:53:06 PM »
The computer I have Mach 3 on is really slow and is in 32-bit.  When I go to generate the toolpath for a STL file in Meshcam on the same computer, it takes a half hour+ to generate all the code.  I'd like to change or upgrade the computer all together but my CNC controller uses printer ports and was told I couldn't?   My question is:  Can I use a faster, 64-bit computer for my CAD/CAM programs and save the g-code as a .nc or .txt and transfer on usb thumb drive to mach 3 on the 32-bit slow computer?  or Can I upgrade my computer altogether to a faster 64-bit and use adapters to USB? 

General Mach Discussion / Newbie needs help!
« on: February 10, 2012, 12:20:51 AM »
Hello all!  I was going to introduce my self in the Intro. thread but I had a few questions as well so I figured I'd start a new one.

My names Mike, I am from Michigan, work construction, and enjoy the outdoors.  I was put in front of a CNC machine bought off ebay that didn't fully work and told to figure it out.  Well, like many, I've never dealt with a CNC machine or heard of mach3(which was already installed).  The person he had working on it before said they had to mix the XML files from two different versions of mach 3 to get the machine working at all.  That raised my eyebrows from the start.  Well I went with that persons revised XML for mach3 and after some tweaking in Mach 3 have got it to make code for DFX files using Sheetcam and STL files using Meshcam and then carve using mach 3 without too much problem except two that I can think of right now.

1.)  I need to calibrate my Machine with Mach3, so I go to steps per and as I adjust I get up to 25000 for my Y and can't go any higher, which is a problem because for every 10 inches it only goes 7.7 in. so I'm stuck on where to go from here?  Idk if something else can be adjusted or if its in the xml or if its the machine.  I just hate that for every image I want cut out I have to plan on it being 77 percent smaller than what it says it will be.  Any help or suggestions?

2.)  Every time I load my G-code from sheetcam or meshcam, the image will be VERY small on the table display on Mach3's screen but it will cut out the images big(77 % of what I tell it be).  Any help here?

Thanks for any help in advance, I will be on here often for help now and hopefully eventually helping other people.

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