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Topics - MosaicDave

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Hi all--

I'm having problems with jogging that I can't quite understand, so here I am.

I've had the following system, working mostly okay, for several years:

    -- A vanilla desktop PC running Windows XP SP3, with 4GB of memory.
    -- Mach3, Version R3.043.062
    -- Ethernet SmoothStepper
    -- ESS plugin version ESS-M3-170328-u4-f1-H
    -- Gecko G540

I've had occasional problems with inexplicable errors within Mach3, and have tried unsuccessfully to diagnose these through the Mach3 and Warp9 forums.  Recently I've decided that I suspect the PC's Ethernet port as being somehow a little flaky and intermittent, so I have opted to replace the machine with something better.

So, we bought a new computer.  It's a bare-bones Shuttle box; we've put a 4 GHz i3 processor in it, 8 GB of memory, a 250GB SSD, and Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.  Over the past couple of days we've assembled and initialized this machine, installed Mach3 and the SmoothStepper driver, and installed the same profile as we had been using on the XP machine.  By the way the XP machine is still here for reference, and running mostly fine as before.

Now, I had expected that, once we got the W7 machine running with the same Mach3 profile as the XP machine, that it would behave the same way.  And mostly it does.  But, something's different, and I can't figure out what's wrong.

With the W7 machine, I can load a G-code program and run it, and everything behaves just as it would have on the XP machine.

But, jogging is somehow not right.

We've always used the keyboard numeric keypad arrow keys for jogging.  With the XP machine, pressing just the arrow keys by themselves, the machine will jog at a reduced speed; I think I have this set to 5% of maximum from within the little flyout window that pops in from the right when you press "Tab".  Pressing Shift + arrow keys, the machine will jog at full maximum speed.  And, when pressing control + arrow keys, the machine will jog in 0.001" increments - again an increment that I defined in the "Tab" popup window.

Now on the W7 machine, I remind, we're using the exact same Mach3 profile.  But jogging isn't working the same:  Pressing just the arrow keys by themselves, the machine seems to do nothing; no motion at all.  Pressing Shift + arrow keys, the machine will jog at what seems like the 5% reduced speed.  And when pressing Control + arrow keys, the machine will move in 0.001" increments, same as it should.

Okay so my question: Can anyone explain this situation to me?  It seems clear to me, that there must be some Mach3 parameters that are not stored in the profile, but rather somewhere else.  But I can't figure out where.  And, I can't figure out where to configure the behavior, when pressing the arrow keys with and without the Control and Shift modifiers.

Any help, I would greatly appreciate!


-- Perplexed in Pennsylvania (a.k.a. Dave)

Mach4 General Discussion / G-Code for Mach4 vs. Mach3
« on: July 12, 2018, 10:43:34 PM »
Hi All--

I'm in the process of transitioning (or trying to) from Mach3 to Mach4.

My CAM package (CamBam) has a postprocessor for Mach3 built in, but none for Mach4.

Is Mach4's interpretation of G-Code identical to that of Mach3?  So that my current CamBam Mach3 postprocessor will generate code that will run under Mach4 without issues?

Or would you all recommend that I use the Fanuc postprocessor (which CamBam also has) instead?



Mach4 General Discussion / Mach 4 to Windows 7 : Debug Report Crash
« on: July 11, 2018, 02:12:24 PM »
I am transitioning to Mach 4 using Windows 7 SSD 3.16GHZ 4GB memory, and I am getting this debugging report. I have tried to suppress and follow through with the report, but the Mach 4 Demo freezes and will not continue loading. The computer I am running it on does not have an internet connection.

Thank You

Hi All--

So I have a Taig mill operated by Mach3, including an Ethernet SmoothStepper & Gecko G540 as part of the setup.  I've gotten the system to be very reliable, and mostly everything works totally fine without glitches or malfunctions.

However, something really weird happens occasionally; it happened again just now, and it went more or less like this:

I had my program loaded and my piece of material stock clamped down ready to cut.  And I was jogging the mill around, in the process of setting up the origin of my coordinate system just before clicking "Run".

So I was doing things like: Shift + Numeric Keypad Keys to jog X, Y, and Z at 100% of full speed; Numeric Keypad Keys without Shift to jog at the reduced speed (which I have set up at 10%); Control + Numeric Keypad Keys to jog in individual steps (which I have set up to be about 0.001" per step).  Normally this all works fine and totally as expected.

But then sometimes it happens, as just happened again: suddenly the machine just takes off jogging in some direction at the reduced speed, even while I'm not pressing any of the Numeric Keypad / Jog keys.  Usually when I see this start to happen, I press the emergency stop, and then recover from that.  Today was more annoying, since the cutter was just above my stock surface, and the machine decided to head straight down, burying the endmill into aluminum.

I'm not sure if this is some weird malfunction, or some feature that I'm activating by mistakenly pressing some certain combination of keys of which I'm not aware.  I've read about there being a continuous jogging mode that you can activate by, for example, first pressing shift, then holding down a jog key and then releasing shift, but trying that doesn't replicate the annoying behavior.  I've not been able to discern clearly what's going on by reading the manual, either; there are some aspects of jogging that are still confusing to me at this point.

Anyway, any thoughts or insights or direction here?

Thanks very much--


Mach4 General Discussion / Taig Mill: Mach3 --> Mach4
« on: May 18, 2018, 05:36:02 PM »
I have a setup consisting of:

-- Taig mill;
-- 166 oz-in stepper motors;
-- Gecko G540;
-- 48V motor power;
-- Ethernet SmoothStepper;
-- Mach3; and
-- Windows XP/SP3.

I have been having some strange, infrequent but frustrating errors within Mach3 that I just haven't been able to figure out, and I'm considering migrating to Mach4 instead, to see if that may just work in my case.

Has anyone made this same migration from Mach3 to Mach4 with a similar setup?  I would deeply appreciate any impressions or recommendations with this process, and/or a working and debugged profile if you've gone one.

Thanks for any advice;



A year or two ago, I outfitted my Taig Mill for CNC with a controller box kit from Jeff Birt / Soigeneris.  Including the parts inside the Soigeneris box, my setup consists of:

-- A vanilla desktop PC running Windows XP SP3, with 4GB of memory.
-- Mach3, Version R3.043.062
-- Ethernet SmoothStepper
-- ESS plugin version ESS-M3-170328-u4-f1-H
-- Gecko G540

For reference, I attach my .xml file:


I have been using this system for prototyping and small volume manufacturing of small plastic parts, and mostly it has been working great.  The learning curve was a little steep, but after getting over initial difficulties the system is very usable and reliable... mostly.

My problem is that, _infrequently_, I am seeing the following kinds of failures and issues:

A} While running a program, the popup message window, "The Smooth Stepper has failed to communicate properly for an extended amount of time......"

B} While running a program, the popup message window, "The SmoothStepper's watchdog timer has expired........"

C} Occasionally the setup will get into a state, where responses to "jog" keyboard presses become profoundly delayed - many seconds; perhaps even 10-20 seconds. Meaning I might push "up arrow" to jog the Z-axis up, but the mill at first doesn't do anything; no movement for several seconds, and then, suddenly and unpredictably, it completes the jog motion.  Obviously this state is quite dangerous.

D) Error upon starting Mach3, "The ESS did not respond to the wakeup message", despite waiting at least 12-15 seconds to start Mach3, after turning on the {ESS + G540} box.  (I think, this seems never to occur if I count at least 20 seconds after turning on the SmoothStepper, before starting Mach3.)

Now, what's odd is, when these symptoms will tend to occur.  Back when I first built up the CNC setup, symptoms {A} and {B} would fairly predictably occur any time I ran a program of more than about five minutes in duration.  Such that it was impossible to make anything of any complexity.  I went reading on Warp9's FAQs, and found some documents or pages talking about Windows and Mach3 optimizations, and made many, many changes; more than I can recall right now.  But, things like setting various buffer sizes and frequencies within Mach3; eliminating or turning off various windows components and services; setting up Mach3 to run at a higher than normal priority, etc.  This seemed at the time to more or less fix symptoms {A} and {B}, and for a time I thought I had a reliable system, able to run long and complex programs repeatedly without issues, etc.

But then somewhere along the line, it seems like something got a little worse more recently:

Right now, when I start the system up to use it, often it will run just fine; I can start the system up for the day, make a bunch of all different kinds of things, jog all around and run programs, without any issues.

But other times, shortly after I start the system, or maybe after it's been running a few minutes, I will see some combination of {A}, {B}, and/or {C}.  The mill will just sort of be stuck in a confused state, where it will be unreliable (and dangerous due to {C}).  Usually, it seems, that just shutting everything down completely, and then starting everything back up, will fix everything for a while; and I won't see any more of these issues for the rest of the day, and even for several days or a week.

But then, once again, (maybe) especially if the system has been sitting unused for a week or two, it will get "stuck" in this annoying state again, with A/B/C happening.  And again, usually it seems that a complete shutdown will fix everything for a while.

I keep playing around, uninstalling and removing various things, trying to figure out what the problem is.  I've completely removed and/or disabled all wireless networking cards / drivers / software; removed the video card and drivers so it's running just the vanilla motherboard chipset video; uninstalled and/or disabled most normal software, etc.  I've gone searching around within any settings for any software I can think of, to make sure there isn't some driver or component somewhere that's trying to auto-update over the Internet (which isn't availble to the machine).

I do have Adobe Acrobat still installed on the machine, as well as Firefox, just to be able to read PDFs and look at web pages.  Right now there's no network access; I just take files over to the machine on a thumbdrive when I need to.

One other thing I keep thinking about, is that I am using a Logitech wireless keyboard and wireless mouse with this machine.  I've had suspicions at times, that when the batteries in these start to go, that somehow it seems to make the symptoms worse.  But then again, there have been times when all batteries have been fresh, and still the symptoms would happen, so I've convinced myself that it isn't really that.  I've tried running with a wired mouse instead without seeing any difference.  I don't have a wired keyboard, but have started to think about getting one.

So, here are my questions:

1) Is this state of affairs, just kind of "normal"?  Is it reasonable to expect that Windows XP, with Mach3 and a SmoothStepper, should be able to operate reliably without errors, once everything is configured right?  Or, on the other hand, is the truth simply that Windows was never designed to be a true machine controller, and this sort of crap is just something I will need to learn to accept?

2) I wonder about getting rid of XP entirely, and migrating this machine over to Windows 7.  Is there any reason to think that this may be beneficial; than XP may be part of my problem?

3) I keep thinking about the factor, that "problems" seem most likely to happen, when the machine has been idle for a long time, and that the machine just seems to somehow need to have it's little temper tantrum, after which it will be good for several days or a week or two.  Similar to my experience with my ten-year-old.

Okay, well that's all I can think to say for now; any ideas???

Thanks much for any feedback;


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