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Messages - smurph

521
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach 4 Bug Reports
« on: July 02, 2014, 11:56:02 AM »
We are not programming any differently than we have in the past.  The computers that you guys are buying are changing.  We cannot help that the manufacturers are putting this stuff in them. 

It quickly becomes something that is out of our control.  If a user loads a file that creates a tool path that is larger than what the dedicated memory his video subsystem has, then there is GOING to be a performance issue.  I think it is absolutely horrid that my 7 year old clunker of a computer can run a large file better than the bran new hot off the shelf computer.  It's ridiculous!  What WAS normal for a computer is now not so normal. 

Mach 4 is not programmed for a defined specification other than OS >= XP and we we would like something that has at least OpenGL 1.5 capabilities to run the tool path.  If it doesn't, we simply switch to the older, yet slower, method of rendering the tool path.  The problem comes in where the video device says that it can do OpenGL > 1.5 but does it poorly.  We have no way of knowing this.  Mach 4 does take more memory though and that is a product of being different that Mach 3 (new GUI with more controls, etc...).

We have done a lot of things inside the software to allow it to run on older systems.  For example, you can change the screen refresh rates to better match the capabilities of older hardware.  But the one thing we cannot do is account for the fact that Mach 4 does require more memory.

So let me assure you guys that we are not intentionally doing anything to hold a spec other than what I described.  We are just programming the way we always have.  And we are finding some of this stuff out for the first time.  And not just with Mach 4.  I installed Mach 3 on a new computer that runs an Ethernet Galil.  Imagine my surprise when it would not run a smooth part that the old computer that it replaced had no problem with!!!  The crappy little RealTek on-board Ethernet would not stream data to the Galil reliably!  It had huge receive capabilities but chump for send.  A whopping 64K TX buffers vs. the 2048 that the old computer with the on-board Intel Pro-100 Ethernet had.  Was I pissed?  Yes.  But not at Mach 3.  I was pissed that the new computer was not nearly as capable as the old one.  Lesson learned.  New means new.  New does not mean good.

So "Modern" doesn't mean squat, IMHO.  I bought a "modern" plastic float and valve assembly for one of my toilets they other day that is simply awful as compared to the brass one that was in it.

Like I said, most of these new consumer grade computers are designed for the average person that wants to get on-line, surf the internet, do the face book thing, maybe a few forums here and there, and do some email.  And they do that well.  Because it is their target market.  We simply cannot help that they don't do Mach 3 and 4 well.  We are not the ones putting the hardware in those computers.  So please don't shoot the messenger.

Can you still buy a computer that works well?  Yes.  But you have to look for them.  So now you have to look at the specs other than the processor.  I bought a new notebook about a year ago.  (It's not so new any more).  I knew I was going to be doing some CAD work on it so I looked at the video chip sets that the various models came with.  The base model T420 came with the Intel GMA4500 (popular because it is cheap).  But for only $20.00 more, I could get that same model T420 with the ATI dedicated graphics chip set.  I went with the the ATI and have been pleased. 

What I find truly shameful is that it is just about impossible for a normal end user to buy something good without becoming an absolute computer nerd!  I knew what to look for because I knew what to look for based on past experience.  I used to be a corporate IT manager in a past life.  It was my business to look at these things and make sure that I didn't end up purchasing 300 plus computers that would not get the job done.  But even I was caught with the crappy Ethernet on my machine with the Galil.  It won't happen a second time though.

Meanwhile, we will be working on ways to deal with the issues in software as well.  If the computer says that it will do OpenGL 3.0 but does it poorly, we might have to put in a switch in the config somewhere that toggles the use of the newer OpenGL features off manually.  We will do what we can. 

Graham, try running on your old XP machine.  And let me know what the results are.  As for your current Mach 4 computer, I'm suspecting that the only way to resolve your issue is with that "manual" switch I was talking about.  :(  Unless we can figure a way to get the video card manufacturer and switch it automatically.  But the problem is more severe than that.  Because SOME computers with GMA4500 chip sets work ok.  I think it has to do with how they are implemented on the hardware. 

Steve

522
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach 4 Bug Reports
« on: July 02, 2014, 12:21:57 AM »
I should say graphic device.  The stuff I'm talking about is the "on-board" integrated GPU that has to use the CPU to move video data and use system RAM as video memory.  In stark contrast to a GPU with dedicated DRAM2/3/4 memory for video, on-board or otherwise.  A lot of the newer PCs are built to a price point.  Also, some integrated Ethernet devices are all bunk too.  They will stream data down to the PC fine but they have very little, if any, ability to stream data from the PC.  What you get is a PC that will surf the web really well but suffers doing other tasks.  Which is fine for most people's computer needs these days. 

I was working with a guy today on a similar issue.  Same Intel GMA4500 integrated GPU with a really nice I3 processor.  A "modern" computer as compared to my old clunker.  He could load a fairly large Gcode file and run well with it.  But then he loaded a Solid Cam high speed tool path that consisted of 38,000 lines and the CPU went from 2-3% to 25% and the user interface got clunky.  Why?  Because the CPU was having to shuffle data in the system RAM to the video card because the tool path got larger than it's 128 MB dedicated memory buffer.  Now, contrast that to my 7 year old PC with ATI video cards with real dedicated memory where I loaded a 138,211 line G code file and ran like butter with 1-2% CPU load.  His computer's got 5 time the CPU power I do but it performed much worse!

So be wary of the computers you purchase if you intend to do anything other than web surfing, word processing, and email.  Computers are a lot like cars.  And these new ones have fire breathing CPUs (engines) in them for sure.  But if the rest of the components don't match up (bad exhaust or intake), then there will be a bottle neck.

Steve

523
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach 4 Bug Reports
« on: July 01, 2014, 09:32:28 PM »
Graham,

It looks like you are suffering from shared memory video card syndrome.  :(  Do this for me...  open task manager and see what your computer uses, memory wise, while idling.  No programs loaded.  And let me know what it is.  

Here is what I think is happening:  You have a 64 bit OS that is attempting to run on 3 Gig of memory.  If it idles at 2 Gig (not uncommon) that leaves only less than a Gig of memory to run a program AND process video.  It may simply not have enough memory to do the job.  So something gets culled.  

It could also be a driver issue as well.  Check and see if there is an updated video driver from Intel.

Shared memory video cards are always a compromise.  But that is what they seem to be putting in computers these days.  I bet if you look at your Windows Experience Index that the video is what is keeping you at a 3.3 WEI.

Steve

524
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Re: Mach 4 and Galil
« on: June 30, 2014, 06:54:00 PM »
If you are running an Ethernet controller, then no Galil software is required and you use the regular Galil plugin (not Galil-st).  Smart Term can be installed and it will co-exists fine.  Only use Galil-st plugin if you are running an older bus based controller.

Steve

525
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Re: Mach 4 and Galil
« on: June 30, 2014, 06:35:35 PM »
Mach 3 runs fine for me.  Once I got it all setup and quit messing with it, the combo is very stable.  Mach 4 has smoother motion and eventually will have more features.  For instance, Mach 4 has a version that has Fanuc Custom Macro B where Mach 3 will never have that.  But if you want a machine running now or yesterday, then Mach 3 is what I would use.  Simply because the Galil plugin for Mach 4 is still in development.

Steve

526
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Re: Mach 4 and Galil
« on: June 30, 2014, 05:39:55 PM »
The output from Mach to external controllers is the same be it Mach 3 or Mach 4.  It is not pulse and direction.  It is position over time, or just PT for short.  Mach 4 will add velocity to that output as well (PVT).  But plain old PT matches up well with Galil's Linear Interpolation mode and it is perfect for Contour mode.  The newer Galils have PVT mode as well.

The parallel port is operating the same way.  It gets the PT values from Mach and then makes the signals to the pins to provide pulse and direction.  But the internal method of motion planning is really the same.

Steve

527
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach 4 Bug Reports
« on: June 30, 2014, 05:28:36 PM »
Graham,

As far as the tool path not showing in the other window, it may be a video card or driver issue.  We only use 1 vertex buffer to display ALL tool paths.  If it not displaying in all tool paths, it is probably something to to with your video card's OpenGL implementation.

Let me know your machine specs.  video card manufacturer, memory, OS, etc...

Blanks lines and single block:  Right now, each line is a line regardless of if it contains G code or otherwise.  I will try and see if I can make it loop through the blank lines.

Also, when asking about a previous post, if you would quote it that would be awesome.  It will help make sure I'm actually answering the right question.

Steve

528
Mach4 General Discussion / Re: Mach4 - COM Object
« on: June 30, 2014, 05:18:44 PM »
It is not LUA based.  However, one could use LUA.  It is basically a library that implements the regular C API via IPC.  So to make a remote application, all one needs to do is link with the MachIPC lib instead of the MachAPI lib.  The function calls are identical.  In fact, the mcLuaEditor is using it.  That is how it calls Mach API functions when debugging LUA scripts.  When the scripts are run in the context of Mach, they are using the direct API.

Steve

529
Galil / Re: Help with general inputs
« on: June 19, 2014, 12:05:47 AM »
The pin assignments are in the Galil plugin doc pdf that can be downloaded from the Mach website.

Steve

530
The basic controller is OK.  Not the best.  A 41x3 or 40x0 are preferred.  But the  SDM-20640 & SDM-20242 ICMs on that 2183 are not good for external amps.  I would continue looking.  And I would also consider using a controller other than a Galil if you have step/dir amps.  Like Ethernet Smooth Stepper or HiCON. 

Unless you have analog command amps, using the Galil is just plain not needed.  It is like buying a dump truck to carry a few bags of groceries from the local store.  Hugely more expensive and not worth the effort.

Steve