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Messages - mrprecise44

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My background in CNC machine shop operations is heavily CNC Milling. Plasma cutting is actually a different Industry field, and often not even done in the close proximity to precision mills and lathes due to the abrasive dust created. However, a large user base of Plasma machines are driven by Mach3.
I now have the task of getting a Plasma machine operational for another shop, and am in a steep learning curve
I have been reading comments and questions in the forum regarding setting up a DTHC for a Plasma machine by entering the search header.
Since Plasma machines, and THC iin particular is totally unrelated to Mill or Lathe questions a Plasma specific section would be very helpful, keeping the history of questions and answers in one place.



Hi Carl:

Draftsight is a free CAD software program for 2D work, with many video tutorials available online. It is produced by the makers of Solid Works, and is an entry into 3D CAD. The only requirement is to register your name and location. It will output DXF format files, which can be turned into G-Code by any CAM program. DraftSight is a full professional level CAD program produced by one of the premier engineering software companies in the world.

I use CamBam for creating G-Code from Draftsight. CamBam has a free-use period of 40 program uses, after which a license must be purchased. CamBam is very powerful, and has an excellent user forum to answer any question you may ask. There are no limitations in the free trial period.

Also, do not overlook the two semi-CAD/CAM programs available from Artsoft, at the top of the forum page. They will run from within Mach3, and are great for many simple kinds of shapes and general CNC machining problems using a clear menu driven interface. I think they should be in every MACH3 users inventory.


General Mach Discussion / Re: Arduino or Pokeys
« on: February 17, 2014, 02:37:31 PM »
Hi Dresda:
If you are asking "is Pokeys and the Arduino the same thing?", the answer is no.

The Arduino is a basic micro-controller using the Atmel family of micro-chips, designed to run a variant of the "C" programming language, with about 12 digital I/O pins, some of them capable of PWM (Pulse Width Modulation), and 5 analog input pins. It is a  do-it-yourself black-box device, and a great tool for learning a lot about basic electronics.

The Pokeys family of devices are dedicated micro-controllers written in a compiled computer code, which is not accessible to the user. The devices have 53 I/O pins that have specifically designed functions to communicate with the Mach3 program, using a built-in library of all the Mach3 OEM codes. The firmware is upgradeable from the Pokeys web site. They have 2 very detailed operation manuals explaining all the Pokeys functions.

There is also a Pokeys section in this Mach3 forum.


PoKeys / Re: Setup Edge finder with pokeys
« on: January 31, 2014, 06:06:40 PM »
Why use Pokeys?  Just need to use the probe input on your Board.

It was my understanding that the OP is using a Pokeys board for control and I/O.


PoKeys / Re: PoKeys and charge pumps
« on: January 29, 2014, 03:11:18 PM »
Hello Mac:

The "Safety Charge Pump" is a device for reading a 5Khz signal produced by Mach3, and activating a relay. You cannot see this signal with a voltmeter.

The Mach3 program generates the 5Khz. signal when it is in active control. The charge pump board reads this signal, and then activates a relay, which in turn supplies +5v. to the "enable" pin on the machine driver amplifiers.

The reason for the charge pump is to prevent unwanted machine activity before Mach3 is active/in control. If power is sent to the hardware i.e., drivers, spindle etc., before Mach3 is in control or even ON for that matter, the machine axis motors, or the spindle could become energized and create a dangerous situation.

You can buy a standalone charge pump board from "CNC4PC". They have a diagram how to wire it properly. Many BOB's have a charge pump already built in, and utilize the signal without a separate board.

The 5Khz. signal is output on the Pokeys board on pin #53. Run a wire from pin 53, to the input terminal of the Charge Pump. The charge pump board has an input for +5v. and GND from your 5v. Power supply. The board has a relay, with one N.C. terminal, one Common, and on N.O. terminal. Wire +5v. from the Power supply to the Com. terminal, and a wire from the N.O. terminal to your "Enable pin" on the drivers. When the Charge pump gets the 5Khz. signal from the Pokeys pin #53, the relay will go active, and send +5v. from the N.O. output pin, to the Enable pins of the drivers.

Do not draw any power from the Pokeys board for the +5v., only from the Power supply; attempting to draw power from a Pokeys output pin will damage the device. The Pokeys board is not designed to supply DC power from the output pins.

When Mach3 is "ON" or active, the Charge pump will turn on the relay, and also show a red LED on as a visible indicator. Likewise, when you shut-down Mach3, the Charge pump relay will drop out, and the drivers will become inactivated.


Hello Bo:

I think this is a Pokeys assignment problem, and nothing to do with Mach3.

Pokeys has a vast I/O capability. I looked at that area of the drop-down menu, and it looks like all the relative items are for an MPG.
If you change that particular matrix button assigned to 307, to none, and move over one column to the I/O column. Next scroll down to the function, Input Jog X+, and see if that particular matrix key works as Jog for the X+ direction.

Do one key at a time, and test the result.

Also, further Pokeys questions should post in that section, as it will be seen by the Pokeys staff.   


PoKeys / Re: Setup Edge finder with pokeys
« on: January 28, 2014, 03:38:18 PM »
Hello Tom:
The probe function is used perhaps more often for 2D edge finding, and part/tooling placement. A probe is an "edge-finder" and not specifically for 3D work, although it can do that.

One of the problems with probing a part for dimensions, is the diameter of the probe tip not being in a 90 degree alignment to the surface relative to the motion of the probing motion. In the case of the Crafty-CNC wizard, the probing action determines the slope of the surface by comparing two points and then correcting the angle of the machine axis travel to be 90 degrees to the surface, and then using the look-up table to calculate the actual point of contact. Every probed point is compared with the previous point to constantly re-calculate the slope of the object surface. This is a quantum step forward in the method of probing when digitizing a shape.

Another method of "edge-finding" is to use a Laser probe, and watch for the beam of light when it illuminates the material edge.
This kind of edge finding is totally manual, and has no way of becoming automated.
Such an edge-finder is sold by http://www.littlemachineshop.com, but it is as costly as a probe, and only does one thing. It also, is not as accurate as using a probe.

My final point is to mention the Mach3 screen set, "2010 by Ger." This screen set has built-in tool setting routines, using the G31 Mach3 probe function and custom scripts written specifically for the task. This is a handy feature when you don't have fixed toolholders, and must change tools in the spindle collett. Although the screen set was developed for routers, it is very usable for milling, and is elegantly clean and simple. Look in the Mach Screens section of the forum. I use it on my mill, and appreciate it's simplicity, and visually clean look.


PoKeys / Re: Setup Edge finder with pokeys
« on: January 27, 2014, 05:24:21 PM »
Hello Tom:

A recent addition to Mach3 functionality is the "Probe-It Mach3 Wizard", produced by CraftyCNC.
see:  www.craftycnc.com

The cost for license is very reasonable, and the functionality is the best I have seen. The author has devised a method for creating an automatic  offset table, that will correct for the probe offset differences when probing at different angles to a plane, using a ring. He has videos on the site demo the machine probing around an object, and producing a true dxf file automatically.

The Wizard has all the typical probe setting functions, i.e., finding a corner, center of slot, etc.

The probe function is supported in the Pokeys drop-down menu when setting the pin I/O. The Pokeys will do every Mach3 function DRO there is.


Hello Wilde:

Most external CNC controllers with the ability to drive analog amps cost at minimum around $1000.00, or much more. In addition, you will probably have to upgrade the encoders, add a 24v power supply for the controller, a 17" LCD monitor, miscellaneous custom built cables and connectors, and re-build the control panel, or make a new one, plus a good PC. However, when you are finished, you will have a very capable system, with nearly unlimited memory, and a large user base of members available for advice and help.

The improvement in the CNC electronics and control since your mill was built is one of the main reasons to do a retrofit, as most of the older iron was well built, and solid. Also, with a newer controller, adding a 4th. axis is easily done, as they all drive 6 or more axis.   

The dspmc by Vital Systems is an excellent external controller, and is the one I used to retrofit an older CNC mill several years ago. There are others, and all of them are capable systems, with many users on the Mach3 forum. 


General Mach Discussion / Re: worm gear cad design
« on: December 29, 2013, 03:48:07 PM »
What matters is the method, or principle in the reasoning. Easy to make a mistake writing examples, in an online format. Sounds like you have gotten into some of the problems of Cam machining, and/or multi-axis prototypes. It's good exercise for the brain. The other side is, most people don't have a clue what your' talking about.


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