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SmoothStepper USB / USB to Ethernet adapter for ESS Smoothstepper?
« on: December 02, 2014, 01:58:43 PM »
Would an USB to Ethernet adapter work? Many new laptops don't have built-in ethernet ports, so I'm wondering if a USB to ethernet adapter would work. This still manages to avoid the grounding, noise issues right? Otherwise I could use a USB smoothstepper, but it has a reputation of being less reliable.


Thanks for all the input guys,
I've played with motor tuning (now set very conservatively) and other software settings, but I think the issue was/is hardware. I got a new breakout board, powered from a separate 5V usb port (and 5V jumper enabled on smoothstepper). So I have one USB port going to the smoothstepper as signal, another USB port providing 5V power (all from the control PC). So far it seems to have resolved the problem. I've only done very limited testing, but it seems to no longer have a massive loss of position after a few moves. I'll update if anything else comes up.

Hi Hood,

Thanks, for replying.
I have unshielded ethernet cables for step/direction, and realize that this could be a source of interference. I'm using the twisted pair of wires, one as signal, one as ground for each of my step/direction signals. I do have some shielded cable that I will try to test with. Should I ground the cable shield to the breakout board or to the drive side or does that not matter?

Also I'm using a really really old CNC4PC C10 breakout board. I think I got it sometime in 2005 or something, so it's a very early version. My machine has been sitting around most of the time since then, half-finished and only partially tested. Have there been problems with early versions of this board? I had some issues with lost position even when I used the parallel port at a low frequency. I also ordered a new breakout board to test or use wiith other projects.

Another question: do I need to power the breakout board with +5V? It seems to run with just the power from the parallel port, and I'm not running any relays or more power-hungry things from it (just step/direction/enable). Could I be creating a ground loop by powering the breakout board with a 5V power supply, which has a different ground from the 5V of the PC side? Sorry, my understanding is kind of vague. I've read a lot but not quite digested it all.


Hi all,

My system:
I'm using Smoothstepper USB to a breakout board with step/direction servo drives. The machine is using ballscrews and linear bearings, no backlash compensation, very little friction/sticking in axis movement.

The problem:
I've been struggling with a mysterious loss of position with my machine. It is extremely bad such that I'll run some G-code for 20 seconds then send it back home, only to find it off of zero by an inch. It seems to only happen mostly to one axis, although sometimes I can readily see both X and Y positions off. Also, if I feed rate override to a lower speed (like 10%), it seems to exacerbate the problem, or at least make it more obvious. It's strange because I can run a lot of code at high speed (feedrate override 200%) and be off by less than if I ran the same code at a low speed (feedrate override 10%).

My troubleshooting:
I've swapped drives, swapped signal cables, fiddled with Mach3 settings, all without a good result. I think I may be on to something, though. Last night I tried disconnecting all the signal cables (enable, step, direction, GND) from every axis except one. With only one axis wired up, it seems that the problem goes away. However, once I connect another axis to the breakout board, the problem resurfaces. It doesn't matter if the drive is disabled in Mach, just the fact that the other axis is wired to the breakout board seems to induce the position loss.

Any ideas of the cause?

Many thanks!

My E-stop is setup as a hotkey. I've tried changing the E-stop pin but it doesn't seem to help. I changed Pin2-9 to output but that doesn't seem to help either. My cables are plugged into Port1 on the smoothstepper, step ports and enable ports are set to Port1 in Mach3... that's correct right?

The LED flashes when Mach3 is running with SS plug-in.

I've attached both. Thanks!

Yes I selected the Smoothstepper plug-in on start up of Mach3.

Do you know which versions are compatible? I'm using Mach3 R3.042.032 (released Nov9), smoothstepper USBDriver2.04.16.zip and Plug-in Beta2_v015ogx2.m3p (released Nov7). The problem I'm having now is two of my drives do not enable, the third one enables but does not move. I didn't change anything to the working XML.


Hi all,

This forum seems pretty quiet...

I've been trying to set up my Smoothstepper. My software is all up to date. I'm using Mach3 R3.042.032 (released Nov9), smoothstepper USBDriver2.04.16.zip and Plug-in Beta2_v015ogx2.m3p (released Nov7). I have a good XML file that works perfectly with the parallel port. However, when I try the same XML with Smoothstepper, my X and Z drives to not enable while my Y drive enables but does not move. Any idea where to start with the troubleshooting?


Hood, thanks for the suggestion to reinstall Mach. I uninstalled, deleted any leftover files in C:\Mach3\ and reinstalled. Along with the newest Mach and driver versions, the problem seems to have gone away. Now I can focus on actually getting the Smoothstepper to work... it doesn't do anything with the same exact XML that works perfectly with the printer port. Not sure where to go from here... I'll post in the Smoothstepper forum.

Thanks again


Thanks for your help. I've tried making new XML files, still getting the same problem. It's weird.

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