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Messages - generatorlabs

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I think I found a solution.
I pulled up my plasma torch setup for this machine and opening the same gcode files renders good preview images. I went back to the milling profile and bad previews. That led me to believe something was corrupt in my XML file. I thought I had a backup but as I was searching I found the automatic backups that Mach makes. I grabbed one of those from a few months back and surprise, it works.

I am running Version Mach 3 version R3.043.022 on a Win7 box.
My setup has always functioned correctly.
I have not used it in over a year.
Today I fired it up to do a simple cutting job and found that when I load the G-Code the image it is going to process looks nothing like it does in CamBam or SheetCam.
I thought my current file had some bad parameters in it BUT then I opened old G-Code project files and they looked just as bad.
I know the older G-Code files were good and were used on previous jobs.
The images seem to resemble stairs. Very strange.

The Win7 PC is dedicated to running Mach3. It has not been turned on since I last used the mill so nothing could have changed in the PC.

Any suggestions?

General Mach Discussion / Unwanted Router Starts...Kinda scary!
« on: November 16, 2010, 08:37:43 PM »
My cnc board is an inexpensive china import from ebay. For the most part it performs well but there is one thing that is a little alarming. The router will turn on and off during PC boot. The router is connected to a solid state relay. That SSR is fed a trigger signal through a small relay on the CNC control board. The small relay is permanently wired to PIN 17 (Output#1 in Mach) of the parallel port.

When I first power up the PC the router is OFF. Right after POST I hear the small relay click on and then the router spins up. As soon as I get to the windows XP login screen the router shuts off. From that point forward it will only come on when commanded.

This router has scared me more than once and I dread to think what would have happened if I had my hand in the area of the router when I began to boot the PC.

Any ideas? Thank in advance.

I am glad you had good luck with that Asus build.

On a side note I notice many folks talking about running at 100K. I am assuming this is the kernal speed. I am running at 35k. To be honest I don't know the advantages of running any higher or lower. Could someone let me know what happens if I bump it up? Do you need a monster processor to run at 100K? What are the advantages?

Well I have concluded that the Dell printer port is real crap. I decided to take the computer in my study and swap it with the Dell. I will now use it as my controller. That PC is built around another Asus motherboard. Without having to do any optimization that machine runs my steppers flawlessly. This is not an endorsement for Asus but lets face it this will be the third Asus machine I have moved Mach to and they always run right. Sorry Dell but you lost my future business.

Thank you to all for your input but I think I got this problem solved now.

Yeah ACPI is not enabled. This was very evident when I went to shut the PC down and now it gives me the message "It Is Now Safe To Turn Off Your Machine". When I did the previous frresh install of XP Home without disabling ACPI it would shut down all the way.

This is best way that I can describe the sound. Imaging a stepper making attempting to make a full step but at the last few microseconds of its travel I try to reverse direction. Almost like that saying "take two steps forward and one step back". When the motors are crawling they appear to work but do not make that sweet low pitch whining noise. If you ramp the speed up to even midrange there is no nice whining but some serious stuttering. This is not even half the rated speed of a stepper. On my other computer with the exact same settings the motors purr along like little kittens. On the Dell it sounds like a bunch of bulldogs fighting.

I do not use the onboard video. It is disabled and I have a beefy ATI AGP card in there.

So my alternatives are getting a new PCI Parallel Port? Is there a USB solution that will work? Any recommended, known foolproof PCI cards that I should be looking for?

As a longshot is there any driver chip on that main board that I could desolder and install a better one or is that functionality built into the southbridge chipset?

Thanks for the help.

I did the opto procedure with another fresh install of windows Xp home and the Dell PC acted exactly the same. The motors sound very bad, almost as though they are straining. The max speed cannot be set above a crawl of the motors crash and buzz in one spot. It almost sounds like the direction pins are not remaining on long enough or the pulses are too short. I tried setting the pulse duration to 5 and no change. Is the Dell Precision parallel port compatible?

General Mach Discussion / Switched out my PC and now Mach3 is unhappy
« on: August 13, 2010, 10:46:02 PM »
I had a very old computer running my Mach setup. It had an Asus based motherboard. Someone donated a fairly decent looking Dell to me that had much more horsepower than my old Asus. It is a Dell Dimension 4600. I did a fresh install of XP on it then immediately installed Mach3. After setting up the pins/motors I get the most horrible noise from my steppers when moving any axis. The motors are stuttering and binding. I plugged my rig back into the Asus based machine and it works well. I even copied the setup XML file from the Asus to the Dell to make sure all the settings were valid. I checked BIOS and set port to EPP. Now I have run out of ideas and need some guidance please. Anyone out there experience this phenomenon on a Dell Precision?


Thank you for the heads up on SheetCam. It seems like a very intuitive program and the price ain't too bad either.

I did download the demo version of it and began my learning process. May I ask you two things about the relationship that SheetCam and Mach share?

I am going to be flat out honest. I have not a clue what a post processor is. I have made it by in the past with CamBam and no real need to use any special processors. I notice the various processors that Sheetcam is delivered with. I of course chose the Mach3 Plasma processor for now. I don't  know what it does or if I chose the correct one. Could you give a brief idea of what it does?

This next problem may or may not be related to the above. I was attempting to do a simple heart shape cut out in steel as a test. When I load the tap file generated by sheetcam it runs very very badly. Almost like a stop motion film. There is no fluidity. In CamBam I use exact stop for these type of objects and the curves come out beautiful and exact. In CamBam if I used constant velocity the curves and fonts would sometimes be off. So now I am totally confused. What options should I use between sheetcam and Mach to get normal operation? I do remember reading about the I/J settings in Mach but it worked in the past with CamBam so now I don't know what to do. Thanks for your time.

I have been using Mach3 for about one year now with great success. Mach3 is a great program and represents a good value.

Now I want to broaden my horizon a little. I am in possession of a brand new plasma cutter. It does not have a CNC interface but it does have trigger inputs that I could use with any controller. Here is my confusion. I am assuming a Torch Height Controller is necessary to get the initial spark started. My plasma cutter has a pilot arc starter so I could ignite without touching the cutting surface. My torch has a detachable guide to keep the nozzle a consistent distance from the cutting surface. Couldn't I just build a holder for my torch and set my z axis to the required height and just leave it there? Do I still need a THC? How do I get Mach3 to pause for ignition before moving the x and y axis'?

And the last part of my question which I don't think is a function of Mach3. Say I was cutting a 3" circle in thin steel stock. It only seems logical to me that the cutter not ignite on the perimeter of the circle but rather somewhere inside or outside of the circle to provide a really smooth cut transition. Could somebody tell me if this is an accurate statement and what this type of manipulation is called? Is it some type of offset? How do I implement it in say CamBam etc?

Sorry if any of this is too noob sounding. All help is greatly appreciated.

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