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Messages - Clive McCarthy

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General Mach Discussion / Re: erratic pulse train fix?
« on: June 11, 2013, 12:18:17 AM »
I have the system working.

I switched XP from ACPI to "Standard PC" and the pulse stability was good when I used the test utility. I set the BIOS to disable ACPI too. I also found that the BIOS offered EPP and ECP modes for the parallel port, plus a mode called EPP + ECP. The latter does the trick to get bidirectionality, though I think EPP alone is supposed to do this.

MACH3 still shows occasional deviations from a steady pulse stream and the "charge pump" fault detector on the G540 trips. I have switched that facility off.

The machine now runs with a smooth jog and I'm currently exercising it with 100,000 random G00 vectors in a 48" x 48" x 6" volume.

Incidentally, the board has a crappy Via/S3 graphics processor but I doubt that it is causing any of my problems.

General Mach Discussion / Re: erratic pulse train fix?
« on: June 10, 2013, 09:28:47 AM »

If the on-board graphics is a problem then there is almost no board that doesn't have this. I'd have to find a VERY, VERY old board -- most machines have an Intel chipset with basic graphics. I have used this board with an AGP graphics card but I'm guessing this might only make things worse. It is possible to disable the on-board graphics in the BIOS of this board.

I'm going to disable the networking, power saving, etc. to see if these processes are stealing cycles and messing with the interrupt latency.

General Mach Discussion / Re: erratic pulse train fix?
« on: June 10, 2013, 08:49:12 AM »
Thanks for your inputs.

I'm quite dismayed to discover how sensitive MACH3 is to the type of computer system. I was hoping to just assemble a PC from junk parts in my store room -- which I have done. The motherboard is an old Foxconn 400 series with a very inexpensive AMD Athlon processor -- it's about ten years old. I cased the thing up, slapped a copy of XP on a 40GB HDD and fired the thing up.

I shall follow some of the suggestions in http://www.machsupport.com/downloads/XP_Optimization.txt to see if I can shut down any other drivers, processes etc.

Your comments so far, suggest that Dell is both good and that Dell is bad! Hmm. I have an old Dell box which I might be able to resurrect.

General Mach Discussion / erratic pulse train fix?
« on: June 10, 2013, 03:17:26 AM »
I have MACH3 hooked up to a Gecko 540 but the power and fault (charge pump) lights both rapidly flash and the steppers vibrate. I suspect the timing pulses are erratic.

I've read the MACH3 manual entry that describes running the DriverTest program:

You can ignore all the boxes with the exception of the Pulses Per Second. It should be fairly steady
around your chosen kernel pulse frequency (25,000 Hz, 35,000 Hz, etc.). Your pulse rate may vary,
however, even quite wildly. This is because Mach3 uses the Windows clock to calibrate its pulse timer
and, over a short time scale, the Windows clock can be affected by other processes loading the com-
puter. So you may actually be using an “unreliable” clock (the Windows one) to check Mach3 and so
get the false impression that Mach3's timer is unsteady.

DriverTest evaluates the pulse stream and displays a Pulse Rating below the Timer Variations graph.
In Figure 2-4, the pulse rating is Excellent. If your system has more variation, the pulse rating may be
good, fair, or poor. If you see a screen similar to Figure 2-4, with only small spikes on the Timer Vari-
ations graph, a steady number of pulses per second, and a good or excellent rating, everything is work-
ing well. Close the DriverTest program and proceed to Section 2.3 describing Mach3 Profiles, below.
If you have problems with the installation, refer to Section 2.4, Installation Problems.

But section 2.4 doesn't explain what to do if the pulse rate is poor. How bad does it have to be? The DriverTest shows me results that sometimes say "Excellent" but at other times "Too Slow" or "Too fast". Is this the normal variation simply caused by the Windows clock measuring approach? I have a 1.6GHz Athlon processor on an old motherboard. The parallel port is fine. I've set the Bios to EPP for bidirectional signals etc. I have a 'fresh' installation of XP and nothing else running. What should I do? Switch to another junky computer? Is there a list of computers that have been tested with MACH3? Is there a list of BAD computers?

What set of computers are used by ArtSoft for their regression tests?

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