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Messages - Whacko

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General Mach Discussion / Guilty as charged
« on: October 30, 2008, 03:22:40 PM »
Sorry all, I haven't been attending, have some other fish in the kettle. Just curious though, has anyone ported the Mach3 I/O to a gen purpose PCI I/O card?
I have noticed lately just how bad the realtime interupts can be via parallel ports, especially with a high demand GUI, for instance a large toolpath display area.

Whacko for realtime

General Mach Discussion / Re: Max distance parallel printer cable
« on: October 30, 2008, 03:13:44 PM »
Howdy Fernando, yep, I've been busy with another project for some time now. How long do you want to go? There is a few options, depends on budget and your electronic ability to build a board. You can go fibre optic, for which there are standard available modules, but they come at a price and you have to keep in consideration whether these optic cables will be in movement. The cheaper option is to go differential with RS458. It will mean that you have to double the conductor quantity, i.e if you have 17 pins to extend, you will need a 34 core cable, but the size of the conductor is small. With this option you can exceed 1000 meters distance. The cable must be twisted pair, but do not have to be individually screened. The devices that you can use as a driver is cheap, one of them is the SP490 from Sipex, but there is many other manufacturers. I use the sipex IC's as I haven't had a failure yet, and they have a high speed capability.

So which way do you wanna go? Optic, or differential?


General Mach Discussion / Re: We need Linux port
« on: June 16, 2008, 01:20:06 PM »
Irvs, J. they say different strokes for different folks. I can't speak for the originators of this software, but my opinion is that there is a place for all. Mach3 is a windows based app, to port it to python or other dev platform is no small task. Why don't you head over to linuxCNC.org and you will have a similar product. Mach3 has plug in dev. using the common object model, which is already generous. The small fee to pay for Windows OS is really nothing compared to what you can do with it. In fact, Microsoft support is by far superior and the wealth of information and tools available at MSDN is a dream to any software developer. In case you wondered, I have been programming in various OS environments since 1978, and I am not as such a fan of any OS or dev platform. What matters is the short time us humans live and how much we would like to achieve in that time. It's all about time, money and productivity.

Whacko for real!

General Mach Discussion / Re: general problems with mach3
« on: May 21, 2008, 05:52:13 PM »
If Mach3 don't crash, I doubt that it's the PC. There is many reasons why you could have these problems. Can you be more specific on the hardware you use, such as motor specs, drivers, which breakout board etc.?


General Mach Discussion / Re: Wire cutting
« on: May 21, 2008, 05:44:39 PM »
Thanks Scott,

I'll hav a look at the screens and let you know. I was more inclined to do the basic nc path with Mach3 and have a dsPIC plugin take care of the PID. But it'll be a first for me and it's just a sideline for kicks. But if it seems that I can go commercial I will let you know. The demand for wire cutting has decreased a lot since the introduction of waterjet, which is much faster than wirecutting, but waterjet is out of reach of many small engineering shops. We have the facility to manufacture the sparkgen, we have lots of toys. We can do transformers, pcb's hardware manufacturing etc. I do firmware development for embedded applications so we can pretty much cook up any custom plc pid incorporated. Excuse the short form, a bad habit of mine. I did play around with the com object model using the sdk. But time is a major enemy and I certainly have too many pokers in the fire. So I haven't been constructive as far as the plugin dev is concerned. But I am impressed by what Art has achieved and obviously all the other contributors.


General Mach Discussion / Re: Wire cutting
« on: May 21, 2008, 03:51:24 PM »
Hi Scott, did you control the wire spool with Mach3 as well? I want to build a small cutter as a sideline. Did the retro work well?


Hi Scott,
Firstly, can you verify which model plasma from Hypertherm you intend to interface? I'm assuming it's the Hydefinition HPR260, but let me know if this isn't correct.
The plasma systems operate in a wide range of speeds where from 200 mm even up to 20 meter per minute effective cutting is possible and rapid speed of 50 meter is desirable. Thus increasing the resolution has practical limits. We do not really experience "jerking" as such, but have some cv related problems. With Arc volt height control and Hydefinition cutting applications it is more evident than on the single gas systems like the Powermax range. Remember that if you have set the Arc voltage to acquire a cutting height, the speed is very important, and too slow a speed can cause the torch to maintain an incorrect height and even cause expensive damage. The Hydefinition plasma systems implement an advanced feature to reduce/increase the current proportional to the speed for better corner and small radius cutting, and more transparency to the CNC as to machine state and error codes as well as pressure management for piercing and post flow. The automatic console allows for macro's which will set parameters automatic for different materials. I am not 100% sure of what you require but I will give you the info as you need it. It is possible with Mach3 to communicate with the HPR.

My company is called Multicon and I'm the sole owner. I had a British partner some years ago, but he left the company and went back to the UK.


General Mach Discussion / Wire cutting
« on: May 20, 2008, 02:48:12 PM »
Has anybody used Mach3 for CNC wirecutting? Or spark eroding?

Whacko sparking here. :)

Hi Scott, which plasma machine model would you like to fit to your machine? There is a difference between the Powermax range and the high end systems like the Hydef, the HSD, the HT2000 etc. You might want to take a look at the website www.hypertherm.com. there is a wealth of information as to the models and their capabilities. The Powermax machines is straight forward, you need a contact to start the plasma, and there is a contact available for arc transfer. If you configure Mach3 for plasma and you have the THC enabled (Torch on input pin enabled), Mach3 will wait for the arc transfer signal before the controller will move. It also stops if the arc transfer signal is lost, due to off plate etc. Integration with the Powermax's is easy.

I have attached 3 files, they are pages from the HPR manual on system integration. They describe the input and output requirements and the one page is the interface. The interface is accessed via a 37pin D type connector on the inside of the machine. The page describe the interface options.

If you would have a look at the pages, we can discuss what you need to know if some items isn't clear.

Fernando, it might be best to consider a LCD display for the controller. All the cables supplied from Hypertherm is screened, and if you follow the rules you won't have a problem. As far as stability is concerned, I am speaking from my own experience, and it is possible that I might be doing something wrong.
The interpolation from Mach3 is not as smooth as realtime generic controllers. The reason for this is not so much Mach3, as for Win XP which is a multitasking OS. The Mach3 pulse engine cannot force realtime, so the times in interupt is inconsistent. This is been my finding on Intel Celeron, Intel P4 @3.2 GHZ, AMD Athlon 64 @ 3.2 GHZ and Intel Dual processor @ 2 GHZ. All these systems tested had in excess of 2 GByte ram. We tested various chipset motherboards, from Intel to foxconn etc. and the result is the same. Linear interpolation in angular movement is not 100% on blended velocity either, which definitely shows in the end result. The COMMAND THC from Hypertherm is very much a stand alone unit with it's own pendant control and will integrate with Mach3. It is of high quality and has various modes of plate sensing. Using the THC from Hypertherm will thus have less dependency on the Mach3 interface and will release resources. It also integrates the ARC VOLT HEIGHT control with the HPR130/260 and other mechanised Hypertherm plasma systems so the system integrator do not need to be concerned about High Voltages and HF interference. But obviously comes at a price. I don't think the Campbell or Cullins height controls have been used to control the height on HPR systems although I stand to be corrected.
As far as our own control, we use it on the HPR and other systems, but it integrates with our own CNC system and have not been developed as a stand alone system. It would be possible to do so in the future.
The RS422 serial communication you see on the interface .pdf page could be a real headache interfacing to Mach3. This is one of the areas we are have a major problem with the Mach3 interface. You cannot implement a modbus serial link, so you have to use the native serial port facility in Mach3. This is unstable at present, and it seems there could be a bug in Mach3. The Mach3 controller looses control over the serial port and crashes, it is an inter-mittend fault and we are currently working on maybe a plug in or a background process to overcome this.
For any plasma application, the highest acceleration parameter is always the best, because during acceleration and deceleration the arc height must be disabled and the CV speed is compromised, changing the cut quality and the kerf.
I cannot speak for the Campbell or the Cullins height controls, as I have not encountered any of them or evaluated/compared them. I have heard good reports of them being used on the Powermax range but have not heard or seen them being used on HPR systems.

So lets move on from here.

Fernando, you can use the manual console for cutting and piercing on the fly. The automatic console allows for macros, but to tie into Mach3 you will need a translater. We fit Mechanised systems from the Powermax range to the Max200, HT2000, HPR260 to our own system developed with a custom DOS controller. This was developed some years ago by myself in assembler (MASM6.11) and is dedicated to the application realtime. But we have development ongoing with Mach3, and have two machines running the Mach3 control. But there is a few problems with stability as far as WinXP and Mach3 and what we plan to do with the control. We fit the THC Command from Hypertherm if the customer chooses, or we have our own height control which features Arcvolt, initial and pierce height etc. at a much lower price.

The problems you will face is related to machine stability, real smooth interpolation is required, or you will see it in the cut quality, and then offcourse there is the HV/HF noise problems as well as a massive emf that will destroy CRT monitors if it is placed too close to current cables or the main Power source. But it is possible to use Mach3 with the HPR260.

If you need some technical information on the interface etc. I will help you.


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