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Topics - jallitt

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General Mach Discussion / Mach3 vs NC-studio
« on: November 07, 2011, 12:32:52 AM »
seems like a lot of routers out of China come with NC-studio which uses a PCI card to control the machines via a 15 pin cable.

I just picked up a used 1200x1200 machine with the aforementioned NC-studio and got it running and did a test cut with the last tool path I ran on a smaller mach3 controlled 500x300 machine and it was quite disappointing - lots of dwell marks and odd lines in the surface - admittedly this was a 1/72 scale model plane part which isn't what the machine was designed for but I figured it should be able to do a bit better.

So I wired a Mach compatible breakout board to  some ribbon cable hooked up to a 15 pin D connector (so I didn't need to modify anything in the machine), set up and tuned the motors (7000mm/min rapids which is pretty good and maybe a bit fast) and re-ran the part. It's basically identical to the part made on my smaller machine.

Here's a comparison pic -

Mach/smoothstepper 500x300 machine on the left, Mach on the 1200x1200 machine in the middle, NC-studio on the 1200x1200 machine on the right.

The results speak for themselves and I'll be permanently wiring in the mach breakout board...

SmoothStepper USB / Feed hold and SS
« on: June 13, 2009, 06:20:36 PM »
Was running a job yesterday and decided to swap a tool halfway through (for a sharper one) and hit feed hold, machine stops as expected. I jogged clear of the part, changed the tool and hit the auto tool zero button and nothing happened. Tried jogging and mach seemed very sluggish. I ended up hitting reset and rewind to be able to rezero the tool and had to start the job from the beginning.

I've also noticed that the "preparational move" dialog doesn't come up after you've jogged during a feed hold.

I'll run some tests a bit later (machine is busy right now)  but can anyone confirm that the SS doesn't respond to script generated motion commands during a feed hold?

Is is possible to hook up a bit of VB to M5 to send me an email letting me know mach has finished?

I can think about 6 ways to make a linux machine send me an email -  but windows and VB are a mystery...

General Mach Discussion / Mach3 on iPhone
« on: February 06, 2009, 07:41:18 PM »

Actually it's just VNC lite but it means I can check where my job is at from anywhere within wireless range. I tried remote desktop but I hate the way you have to keep logging in when you get back to the machine running mach...

General Mach Discussion / feedrate override and G00's
« on: June 29, 2008, 11:19:24 PM »
I was cutting some steel for the first time on my X3 yesterday and decided it could go a bit faster than my conservatively set feedrate so I used the feedrate override (to 160%) and immediately lost position on Z when it hit a G00 which means it was trying to move faster than the "tuned" speed. Is FRO supposed to keep the feedrate under the tuned speed?

General Mach Discussion / separate spindle start and stop outputs?
« on: June 05, 2008, 01:21:41 AM »
As a temporary measure I want to connect relays across the spindle start and stop buttons of a Sieg super X3 mill (which I just put a cncfusion ballscrew kit on). There are other options for controlling the SX3 spindle but none as simple as patching 4 wires onto the front keypad which will get me up and running immediately.

This means a momentary output to start and a different momentary output to stop. Is there a simple way I can trigger a 0.2 second output on an M3 and a different 0.2 second output on M5?


General Mach Discussion / MaxNC and mach3
« on: March 14, 2008, 10:34:04 PM »
This isn't really a question - just thinking out loud.

Just picked up an old MaxNC OL controller, a win95 PC  :(  with MaxNC loaded and 3 steppers. This is going to be my budget lathe controller but the last thing I need is another PC so I'm hoping to get it working with Mach3 and share the PC I have on my router.

Plugged everything into the win95 PC and all three axii jog (albeit slowly) just to make sure it's all working.

Plugged it into an XP PC to test with mach3, set MaxNC-10 wave mode and the motors twitch but don't spin. I'm guessing I need to check the motor phases are wired exactly right. MaxNC seems to let you wire up the motors anyway you want, then has a sequence checker program so you can cycle through all the possible combinations until the motors turn smoothly.

I also grabbed the MAXNC pinout diagram from the FTP site so I'll put a scope on the LPT port to triple check the 12 output phases are in the right places.



I picked up a second-hand chinese CNC router/engraver a couple of months ago. Cast iron frame, 500x300mm working area, german ballscrews, no software and a manual in chinese... Finally got it all working (after much trial and error) but wasn't happy with the quality of cutting I was getting from the onboard RS232/HPGL controller. If I didn't have a Roland MDX 20 I might have accepted the 5mm/sec feedfate I needed to get a clean finish but the little roland machine makes really nice renshape parts at 15mm/sec (assuming I don't go too deep and stall the spindle). The "new" chinese machine seemed like it should be able to do better and faster. After pulling the covers off and doing some research it seemed like a fairly simple project to convert it to run under Mach3 - and it was.

I used the existing XY motors, drives, optointerrupter home switches and power supply. Z axis was driven directly from the controller board so I needed a driver (from http://www.oceancontrols.com.au) and I also bought a new motor for Z.  Breakout board was also from ocean controls. Local electronics supplier Jaycar had a parallel port 8 way relay board kitset so I'm using that to control the spindle and to cut off power from the steppers. Added a second parallel port to an old PC and got the router cutting last weekend. I also managed to get the breakout board and relay board mounted inside the machine. I still need to tidy up the wiring but it's all working. Solid 3 meter per minute in XY and about half that in Z (the spindle motor is pretty heavy so unless I can find a way to spring load or counterweight it that's about as fast as it's going to go). I also hooked up a touchplate made from 1/16" thick printed circuit board, a contour shuttlexpress and, the PC used to run a security camera and it has a video capture card, so I mounted an IR camera so I can remotely monitor the job - can't really see what's going on but at least I can tell when it's finished cutting a pass.

Ran some test cuts (to compare to a part I made on the Roland) and it's running pretty smooth. Also, since I could rough much more aggressively and cut without worrying about stalling the spindle I got the part cut in 2 passes in about an hour rather than 4 passes in 6 hours. I have another test I want to run which will really tell me if it's working reliably since the toolpath has thousands of rapids and z lifts.

There are some pics of the machine here:


Now I keep looking at my Seig C6 lathe and thinking about retrofitting it :) If I can find some really cheap stepper drivers it might almost be worth converting the Roland to run with Mach3 (and since I have an aftermarket 4th axis for it I could run simultaneous 4 axis)

General Mach Discussion / Restart after feed hold?
« on: March 02, 2008, 02:14:12 AM »
So... I just got all 3 axis connected and running on my Mach3 converted 500mm x 300mm router. Trying some test cuts now. I have a question about feed hold.

Say want to pause a job to inspect the workpiece or to vacuum out the renshape cuttings, or just to stop it from cutting all night. It'd be nice if this happened:

  goto safe z
  stop spindle
  goto predefined position (to make room for vacuum cleaner)

then when I want to restart

  goto previous XY
  start spindle
  resume cutting

Is there any way I can make the feed-hold button automatically do this (and possibly add a resume button to bypass the preparational move dialog you get when cycle-starting)

I guess I've got used to the way my old Roland MDX-20 behaves. If you lift the safety cover it'll stop the spindle and goto safe Z, then you can press the "view" button and it'll goto home (which is x=200 y=150 so you can see what's been happening), pressing view again sends it to 0,0,0 and putting the safety cover back on resumes cutting from wherever it stopped.

PS Test cut 1 succeeded (a back panel for the router with 2x parallel port holes to mount the breakout board and a relay board). Test cut 2 (coarse roughing of renshape) failed due to catastrophic double sided tape failure...
PPS default soft limit zone of 1 is a bit small for metric units :)



General Mach Discussion / opto interrupter wiring?
« on: February 23, 2008, 01:46:15 AM »
I'm using Mach3 to bypass the onboard RS232 controller in a chinese router. I hoping to use the existing opto interrupter home switches (as well as the XY drivers, XY steppers etc). The breakout board I have has 10k pullup resistors on the inputs which are wired straight to the port pins.

If I wire up one of the opto interrupters like this:

I can see it working in Mach. But that seems way too simple. Am I going to fry anything if I run it like this?



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