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Topics - JohnHaine

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Morning all.  I've used my Mach3 Novamill conversion for a decade in mm mode with no problems.  I've written button scripts for tool height setting and edge finding which work well.  Now though I'm about to do some PCB isolation engraving and the tool chain I use (Fritzing+Flatcam) works in inches (as most PCB footprints are on a 0.1" grid).  Slightly to my surprise issuing a G20 command in the MDI sets the machine seamlessly to inch mode and from an air cut it looks like the machine correctly follows the profile. 

My question is about how macros that hard code things like tool setter height written for metric will behave if I try to use them in inch mode?  My setting button is 38.44mm high, and the Auto Tool Zero button script finds the button top then lifts the tool to 50mm - both numbers are hard coded in the script.  I assume that if the script is executed in imperial mode it will try to lift the tool to 50 inches which is impossible on this machine!  So I'll have to touch off the tool manually on the PCB surface. 

Is there an accessible parameter in Mach3 which could tell a macro which mode the machine is in, which a modified script could read and adjust its parameters accordingly please?

General Mach Discussion / DIY stepper-servo
« on: April 28, 2023, 01:53:31 AM »
I've recently seen a new type of stepper driver board that has a solid-state rotary encoder chip fitted.  The boards fit on the back of a stepper which has to have a shaft extension, on to which is fitted a small magnet.  These encoder chips (from Broadcom for example) can have extraordinary resolution and accuracy at low price.  See for example here:


The result is a stepper-servo drive in effect, though you have to do your own "system integration".

Does anyone have experience with these please?

General Mach Discussion / 3D probe
« on: November 10, 2022, 12:34:48 PM »
Hi all, the 3D probe shown in the attached photo is being sold on the web by several vendors, ranging from AliExpress through eBay to CNC system sellers.  It looks quite nice, having only a 6mm shank and being quite short so good for machines with limited daylight.

Does anyone have any experience with these they could share please?

General Mach Discussion / iPad as touch screen
« on: April 21, 2022, 06:51:23 AM »
As I'm now using Win10 to run Mach3 with external motion controllers I'm wondering about using a touch screen (as mentioned in another thread).  My son told me of a couple of iPad/PC apps that can make an iPad operate as an extension screen for the PC, and as I have an old iPad lurking somewhere this looks interesting.  However the solutions aren't free so before I tried one out I just wondered if anyone else had tried this and if it worked please?  An example is


General Mach Discussion / Mach 3 / Win 10 / touch screen
« on: April 13, 2022, 08:13:43 AM »
Just seeking a bit of advice - I recently upgraded my Mach 3 installation to a Win10 mini-PC with UC100 motion controllers and wireless combo keyboard rather than mouse.  Though it saves space and wires on the bench I find that "pressing buttons" on the screen using the trackpad is less than optimum.  Anyway, phones and tablets have got me used to touch screens and I'd like to change the monitor (which is looking old anyway) to one that supports touch screen operation. 

Is this a just matter of adding the appropriate DLLs etc to the OS and the hardware, or do I need to change anything in the Mach installation or use a different screen set please?  And what would be the minimum size monitor to get?

All advice and suggestions gratefully received!

VB and the development of wizards / Quick threads
« on: February 04, 2022, 12:18:45 PM »
I've downloaded this wizard and have been reading the documentation, but I find it slightly confusing.  Just to be clear, when it says that "clockwise spindle rotation will cut a right-hand thread", is this clockwise as seen from the left hand side of the headstock, which I think is the convention for lathes?  This of course is CCW as seen by the operator standing in front of the machine.

Thanks, John.

General Mach Discussion / Wireless Xbox controller / Win10 / Mach 3
« on: January 18, 2022, 09:24:51 AM »
I know that other people have asked about this but I wondered what the latest status is please.

I'm in the process of upgrading to WIN10 on a mini PC with UC100 motion controllers.  It has mainly gone very smoothly and I'm nearly at the stage of connecting to the machines again but I've hit a snag trying to reconnect to my XBox wireless controller.  The "receiver" box connects to the PC OK; and the PC sees the actual controller when that is paired.  However though I have pasted the newly downloaded plugin into the Plugins folder, when I launch Mach3 it gives a "defective plugin, ignored" error message.

The controller was working perfectly in the previous XP installation, with both parallel port and the UC100s, so I'm stumped.  Is there a recommended solution please?


General Mach Discussion / Mach 3 upgrade path - UC100 + WIN10
« on: January 10, 2022, 12:00:10 PM »
I'm in the process of planning an upgrade of my CNC systems, prompted by fitting a VFD & 3 phase motor to my Myford which involves moving it and therefore having to disconnect all the CNC cables.  At the moment I have a venerable Dell Win XP desktop tucked under another bench with parallel port drive going through a 2-way switch to the lathe drivers or mill.  I've had the computer for more than 10 years, and I think it probably deserves a quiet retirement before its hard disk crashes! 

To simplify the cabling and as a first step to replacing the computer I'm planning to use a UC100 motion controller on the lathe, leaving the mill using the parallel port.  So 2 M3 profiles, one (lathe) with the UC100 plugin, the other (mill) using the parallel port, staying with Mach3.

So my first question please: can one operate a Mach3 installation in this way?  (Clearly I won't expect both profiles to run concurrently.)

The next step would be to move to a new PC, one of those little mini-PCs with an SSD; and also move to Win10.  That would also involve a second UC100  for the mill and some hardware switchery on the USB connection (as I gather that the UC100 plugin can't cope with two UC100s being connected at the same time).  What's the current position on using Mach3 with WIN10 please?

All suggestions and experiences gratefully received!


Share Your GCode / Wizard for milling a knurl using A-axis
« on: September 13, 2021, 10:58:53 AM »
In case it could be useful I attach a little "wizard" I wrote in Python to generate the g code for cylindrical diamond knurling.  It uses a 90 degree engraving cutter, zig-zagging round the material to form the knurl.  The main point to note is that the number of "diamonds" round the work should be prime, and the length is defined in terms of the number of diamonds longitudinally.  Also attach photos of the results and example g code.

I know it isn't an embedded wizard but I thought writing in VB for Mach3 is wasted effort these days and something more portable in a modern language would be better. 

General Mach Discussion / Mach 3: Programmatic change to config
« on: March 19, 2021, 12:17:47 PM »
This is maybe a strange question, but I'm wanting to write a macro to add to a screen that will allow me to make repeated measurements on the probed position on executing a G31 - basically I am interested in the variance of the sensed position, or how accurate the probe is.  This is partly to evaluate probes, but more because what I'm actually wanting to do is evaluate the precision of photointerrupters sensing a vane.  At the moment my Mach 3 is set up to trigger on a negative going (i.e. grounded) signal when the probe touches which is fine for the photointerrupter when looking at one edge, but they also display hysteresis so I'd also like to look at the other sense, when the vane moves out of the gap and the signal goes positive.  What I'd really like to do is change the sensing polarity of the digitise signal from within the macro.  Can anyone advise if this is possible please?


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