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Topics - Tweakie.CNC

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General Mach Discussion / G31 command.
« on: May 14, 2012, 03:48:10 AM »
Hi Guys,

I would be most interested to hear of others experiences using the G31 command.

I have been using it for some years now and with the exception of having to liberally add the ‘While isMoving() / Wend’ statements to the scripts (following a Mach revision some time ago) it has worked perfectly and without any other issues.

Does it sometimes go cranky and what is the suspected reason??

Your comments would be much appreciated.


My existing ‘touch plate’ has served me well over the years but as this relies on electrical contact between the ‘tool’ and the ‘plate’ it was just not possible to use it with the diamond and ceramic tipped tools I now have occasion to use.

Something a bit more sophisticated was required and an active, ‘probe type’, low profile, tool height setter seemed to be on the cards.

This is my first prototype and as luck would have it, works just as intended.

If others are interested, I would be pleased to post full constructional details of the project (together with the GCode files) once it has been fully tested and I am certain there are no hidden or unforeseen snags.


Tangent Corner / Everyone is a winner.
« on: April 13, 2012, 03:14:37 AM »
Hi Guys,

Friday the 13th has not been unlucky for me – I have just received an email to say that I have won the Nigerian Lottery.  ;D


General Mach Discussion / Run From Here problem.
« on: March 26, 2012, 03:35:05 AM »
I have used 'Run From Here' before with Mach R3.034.056 without problems but not with such a long program as this one.

I stopped the machine last night - I used Feedhold at the end of this line then Stop then Goto Zero so the machine was zeroed for the re-start. This morning, I selected line number 216354 then 'Run From Here' - Mach only advances to line 147254 then triggers Reset without any message in the Status Bar. If I was to restart at this point in the code the Z depth should be -1.113 but the ‘Run From Here’ resets it to -1.4384 (too deep for that line).

Any ideas folks ??


Tangent Corner / First Snow of 2012.
« on: February 05, 2012, 03:40:14 AM »
Well first snowfall of 2012 last night with around 300mm here in the South East of England.

I just had to do it (mental age of 10)  ;D ;D


Tangent Corner / Traditions and Local Customs.
« on: January 17, 2012, 03:25:44 AM »
Funny how traditions and local customs develop over time.

The area surrounding where I work is divided by a river and it is fairly easy to tell which side of the river young men come from.
As a meeting acknowledgment, those from the north say “Yo” and those from the south say “Woop”.
At local dances it is quite common for there to be some rivalry and when the inevitable scuffles break out it quickly divides into the “Wooper’s” versus the “Yoyo’s”.

I have just found this fascinating behaviour because it is not related to the usual things that divide a community like ethnic origin, religion, etc and wonder if this same sort of thing happens in other parts of the country or the world for that matter - division by a road or rail-road track perhaps ??


General Mach Discussion / .stl and 3D relief's.
« on: January 14, 2012, 08:27:07 AM »
Hi Guys,

For those interested in free 3D reliefs, stl files and 3D machining a 'must visit' is the Hungarian website  http://hobbycncart.com/  Their Download section contains the largest selection of free to download relief’s I think I have ever seen in any one place. The site has a support forum, the members are almost all Mach3 users and the quality of the work they produce and show is just excellent. Well worth a visit.


General Mach Discussion / Getting Disillusioned with Mach3.
« on: January 12, 2012, 08:16:05 AM »
Hi Guys,

After all these years as an extremely satisfied (and I mean ‘really satisfied’) user I am starting to get disillusioned with Mach3 (and the speculative, guesswork, statements that version 4 will fix all the problems really does not help).

Mach was just fine ‘yesterday’ but we, as well as our machines, all move on – more complexity, more sophistication, more function, faster operation etc etc and in my case also more laser.
It appears to me that recent revisions have catered for those that shout the loudest and have not really been for the good of all. The changes that have occurred to the way CB is treated was bit of a shock at first but the addition of “While IsMoving() … Wend” between every CB statement now seems to prevent tool breakage on the ‘auto tool zero’ routine at least.

My main gripe, at the moment, is with M11P1/M10P1and the E1P0/E1P1 commands which would switch an output coincident with axis movement in more or less exactly the same way as the Z Axis can move during any X and Y Axis movements when included on the same line of GCode. Now they just don’t work !! Why ??

Believe it or not, laser usage is going to grow in popularity and if Mach keeps moving backwards by ignoring the, perhaps unique, requirements of laser users it will get left behind in this important area of CNC. I get more than a dozen emails a week about using a laser with a CNC machine and many relating to using Mach3 with a laser and whilst I am learning fast I am still far from being an expert (perhaps I never will get there).

The LPT Parallel Port is dying in its availability so I have tried the Smooth Stepper controller and Mach (without benefit as far as laser is concerned) and am now looking toward external motion controllers which use other software (a sad day for me).

My requirements, as a laser user, are pretty basic – I just need to switch an output on when an axis moves and switch an output off when an axis stops – without any delay. Is this too much to ask ??  The E1P0/E1P1 commands that Art included (for laser use) used to do exactly this so why does it no longer work ??. Why has it been changed ??. Will it be fixed ??.

Questions that will never be resolved, or will they ??


G-Code, CAD, and CAM discussions / Halftone.
« on: January 07, 2012, 07:21:14 AM »
This is really a spin-off from Impact Engraving and my delving into half-tone techniques.
A pair of interesting little free programs I have stumbled across are ‘Reactor’ and ‘Halftoner’ written by Jason Dorie (Mach user). These are just so incredibly simple to use and yet produce some most unusual results. With the output in .jpg format from Reactor this can be converted to either a GCode toolpath or dot drill with VcarvePro or similar whilst Halftoner will output a Mach compatable GCode or a .dxf as you chose.

This styled engraving of, the now departed, Amy was made with Reactor as an outline toolpath but equally could have been done as a V groove.




This was created in acrylic from GCode produced with 'DotG' using an impact magnet. The image size is 105mm square and comprises of over 90,000 dots from over 270,000 lines of GCode and took just 2 ½ hours to complete at just over 9 dots per second. (for those that are old enough to remember - it makes a sound not unlike the ASR33 Teletype   :) ).
Like all things, practice and experience is required to get the perfect final result and it is evident here that my original image had just a little too much brightness and as a result some detail has been lost. Still practice makes perfect or at least I hope it does.  :D

Whilst Mach already has the Impact / Laser plugin, which relies on the LPT parallel port and the Mach engine for it’s timing DotG creates a ‘stand alone’ GCode and can therefore be used with USB and external motion controllers. Each has it’s own strong and weak points and I don’t think there is any direct comparison but it is always nice to have alternatives.


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