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Messages - Steve Stallings

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391
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Windows 10 and Mach4
« on: February 16, 2016, 01:52:19 PM »
A more detailed set of recommendations for computers to support Mach4 can be found
at the bottom of this web page:

http://www.pmdx.com/Mach4Hobby


392
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach 4 V2 Windows 10
« on: February 15, 2016, 10:45:10 AM »
Most industrial systems that run on Windows based PCs are supplied as
complete systems that include the host computer, and a known version
of Windows. The computer is configured so that updates do not happen
without the vendor initiating them and if the user updates software
without permission, the warranty is void. This is because it is impossible
to assure correct operation of components and software that you have
no knowledge of or control over.

Mach4 is not, except for a few vendors like MachMotion, usually sold
with a computer and operating system as part of the system. This
means that it is up to the user to avoid unwanted updates or other
changes that may disrupt operation.

Windows 10 Pro is supposed to allow you to set it so that updates do
not happen automatically. I have been recommending this to people
who want to run Windows 10, but must admit that I have not personally
confirmed that it prevents updates.

Also, I strongly recommend that once a machine is configured and running
correctly, a complete backup of the software be created and kept in a
safe place.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

393
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach4 Printer Port Discussions
« on: February 06, 2016, 01:38:25 PM »
The PMDX-411 will work fine with your Gecko servo drivers because the interface
is step and direction just like a stepper motor driver. We tend not to mention
servo drivers because many people associate them with +/- 10 volt analog
interfaces and our products do not support that.

The PMDX-411 only works with Mach4.

If you would prefer to stay with the Mach3 software that you already own,
then have a look at this product:

http://www.automationtechnologiesinc.com/products-page/breakout-boards/usb-motion-controller

Regards,
Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

394
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: PMDX expansion I/O survey
« on: January 31, 2016, 03:53:29 PM »
Responses mixed with quotes below:

>>My personal feeling coming from the PLC world is solid state outputs
to 24vdc sinking or sourcing

Solid state outputs are going to be available. The choice that we are
left with is to also offer a relay version.

The solid state outputs will be capable of operating as sourcing or sinking,
with an interface voltage range from 5 volts DC to 25 volts DC.

Another choice is how important it is to choose sourcing/sinking for a bank of
outputs, or to allow individual selection. The latter requires more connectors.

>>Can you make the inputs volt range from 5-30 or so, to cover a 24v system?

As stated above, the sourcing and sinking outputs will have a normal operating
range of as low as 5 volts and high as 24 volts nominal.

>>I personally like this one (relays) the best, it give the MOST flexibility.

We will try to offer relays as an optional configuration.

>>Can't you just run a an opto-isolator IC chip for each block of 8,
>>and have those IC's in a IC socket so if you blow one, you can just
>>order a replacement chip that the user can just swap it out.

The reasonably priced driver chips that can handle both sink or source up to
24 volts come in surface mount packages. Also, sockets introduce reliability
and cost issues.

>>I think you should have isolation on both the input and output side.

That is a given.

>>Opto22 is EXPENSIVE and not a lot of bang for the buck.

Support for Opto 22 would likely be a different board. We expect it to be used
mainly for retrofits where the Opto 22 racks and modules are already in the machine.

>>PLEASE offer an "Adapter" or "Mounting" system in where we can mount
>>Your smart bob, and your other products on to a DIN rail system!

DIN rail trays will be offered for the expansion board as well as for the PMDX-426
that it is designed to work with.

>>Trying to create a pendant or more complex IO has been a challenge.

The board being considered is for industrial I/O and is probably not a good fit for
a human interface device like a pendant. If an off the self pendant is not acceptable
to you, then a device like the PoKeys model 57 would offer more (non-isolated) I/O
for the price. Pendants should not need isolation and 24 volt capability. Mach4 can
readily run a mixture of devices and plugins at the same time, so long as only one
of them provides axis motion outputs.

>>I'm leaning towards a sink/source output board with inductive load protections on board.

We are hoping to use a driver that can handle up to 50 milliJoules of kick back
energy internally and may add external clamp diodes if we can be sure that they
do not otherwise degrade the performance.

>>.... to avoid confusion about usage...

The expansion board that we are discussing is a slave device to a PMDX-426 or
other PMDX controller board. It does not talk directly to the host computer.

>>.... on being all things to all people...

We are not expecting much in the way of sales volume for a product like this and
trying to cover all bases will just make it more expensive and less likely to sell.
Our goal is to provide a good basic set of features and let people with special
needs pursue add-ons from more specialized vendors.

>>.... why 24 I/O points...

Because that is a popular size interface chip to the serial bus used to talk to
the processor on the card hosting the expander board. If more I/O is needed, it
will be possible to use multiple expansion boards.


The feedback that we have received is much appreciated.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com


395
Promote and discuss your product / PMDX-424 SmartBOB-IsoUSB now shipping
« on: January 28, 2016, 10:00:32 PM »
The new PMDX-424 SmartBOB-IsoUSB motion controller for Mach4 is now shipping.

For details see: http://www.pmdx.com/PMDX-424

This new controller builds on the SmartBOB feature set by adding:

Galvanic electrical isolation of the USB interface to avoid ground loops and
improve noise immunity.

Number of general purpose inputs increased to 8, and they are now
opto-isolated.

There is an on board universal power system that accepts 100 to 240 VAC
mains input power, or the alternate version which accepts 12 to 36 volts
DC power. Both versions can power NPN proximity sensors.

Support added for gantry style machines with 5 motors running 4 axes
including future support for gantry squaring.

There is support the PMDX-407 Spindle Controller, motherboards including
the PMDX-133/PMDX-134 and similar future products, and support for the
PMDX-179 external status panel.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

396
Mach4 General Discussion / PMDX expansion I/O survey
« on: January 23, 2016, 05:07:54 PM »
PMDX is in the process of designing an I/O expansion board
to work with our SmartBOB series controllers for Mach4. We
would like to know what mix of features makes the most sense.

If we set the number of I/O points as 24, how many should
be inputs and how many should be outputs? These would be
fully conditioned signals, so doing both on the same pin
is not practical cost wise.

We are expecting to have inputs that are more or less universal.
They would work with contact closures, 5 volt logic signals,
and sinking (NPN) or sourcing (PNP) sensors.

The output signals will be more dedicated in nature. The types
under consideration are:

1) Electronic sinking only and rated for 5 VDC to 25 VDC with
   a current rating of 500 milliAmperes.

2) Electronic sourcing only and rated for 5 VDC to 25 VDC with
   a current rating of 250 milliAmperes.

3) Electronic with selectable sinking (NPN) or sourcing (PNP)
   that work with 5 to 25 volts DC with a current rating of
   250 milliAmperes.

4) Relay outputs with normally open contacts rated at 5 amperes.

5) Relay outputs with SPDT contacts rated at 5 amperes.

6) Light duty Solid State Relay outputs rated for 100 mA AC or DC.

7) Medium duty Solid State Relay outputs rated for 2 amperes AC only.

The output styles above are listed more or less in order of increasing
cost to implement. In general, outputs are more expensive than inputs.

How important are signals that are isolated from each other as well
as from the controller? This will require two terminals per signal and
will therefore increase costs. Are signals that are isolated from each
other more important for outputs than for inputs?

Would it be better to keep this I/O expander simple and offer a different one
that is an adapter to connect to Opto22 style module racks to accommodate
more diverse needs?

Comments on other considerations not mentioned above are also welcome.

Your feedback and the reasoning for it will be appreciated.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

PS - The snow here is NOT delightful. Over 21" and still coming!

397
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Adding external push buttons
« on: January 23, 2016, 10:21:10 AM »
OEMtriggers are called Signal Scripts in Mach4.

See section 3.2.4 of the Mach4 Scripting Manual.

See:  http://www.pmdx.com/Downloads_Mach4/Mach4_Documentation/Mach4%20Scripting%20Manual.pdf

or: http://www.machsupport.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Mach4%20Scripting%20Manual.pdf

This section of the manual gives an example of a physical Cycle Start button implementation.


398
For once things are progressing faster than expected.

As soon as I can whip together a Quick Start Guide we can start selling
the PMDX-424, probably by the end of next week.

We will have a PMDX-424 running at the Cabin Fever show.

399
PMDX will be at the Cabin Fever EXPO on January 15, 16, and 17 in
Lebanon, PA. For show details see: http://www.cabinfeverexpo.com/

We will be showing our new mid-range SmartBOB-IsoUSB controller/breakout
board for Mach4. We expect to start selling it in early Febuary.

The long rumored PMDX-426 with Ethernet and lots of other goodies has
not been abandoned. It is just going to take even longer to get the
firmware and plug-in completed. An assembled prototype board will be
on display, but not running.

There will also be a test concept unit for a small pendant for Mach4.
This is a very early prototype and a lot remains to be done before we
decide if it will become a regular product.

Meanwhile, here is a link to the new PMDX-424 on our web page:

http://www.pmdx.com/PMDX-424

It has a lot to offer and represents our next logical step in controllers.

There is galvanic electrical isolation of the USB interface to avoid
ground loops and improve noise immunity.

There are 8 opto-isolated general purpose inputs.

There is an on board universal power system that accepts 100 to 240 VAC
mains input power, or the alternate version which accepts 12 to 36 volts
DC power. Both versions can power NPN proximity sensors.

It has support for gantry style machines with 5 motors running 4 axes
including future support for gantry squaring.

It has one relay and additional logic level I/O for 3 more outputs and
for an encoder input.

There is support the PMDX-407 Spindle Controller, motherboards including
the PMDX-133/PMDX-134 and similar future products, the PMDX-179 external
status panel, and future motherboards for easier connection of input sensors.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you at the show.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

400
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach 4 V2 Windows 10
« on: December 29, 2015, 03:36:01 PM »
Not trying to throw fuel on the fire but....

PMDX has customers who are successfully running Mach4 with Windows 10 Home on
both laptops and on a SurfacePro tablet.

Due to the auto-update issues, we still recommend Windows 10 Pro over Home.


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