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Author Topic: Linear Joystick and Mach3  (Read 3218 times)

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Offline GeorgeRace

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Linear Joystick and Mach3
« on: May 23, 2011, 05:07:19 PM »
This probably has been discussed before, but I want to share my latest  experience with the group.

I have been using Mach3 for several years.  I have always used the keyboard arrow keys to jog my CNC machine, changing the jog speed when necessary to mill a straight edge or just do a slow cut.  The cost of buying a commercial pendant has been prohibitive for me so I started looking around to see what I might be able to come up with to simply jog the X and Y axis with a variable speed.  After doing a lot of reading here and other places I decided that a simple linear joystick would be ll that I needed to do the job.

As linear joysticks are just not available anywhere anymore, I turned to ebay.  There I found quite a few advertised as linear, being back from the days of the 386-486 computer with the old style DB15 connector that was common years back for connecting a game controller to the computer.  I ordered a simple two axis control with 2 control switches.  Including shipping it was about $15.00!

Well today it arrived, and look's just like new, even in the original box with the operating manual.  I use a Dell GX280 for my CNC system and of course being that new, no longer comes with a DB15 joystick connector.  That function was taken over years ago by digital joysticks into USB ports.  In my pile of old computers I had one that had a Sound Blaster PCI128 card just waiting to be removed.  Back then, typically all sound cards came with a "Game Port" which was a DB15 connector.

I slipped it into the Dell, installed the drivers from an old CD, went to the configuration file and calibrated the joystick.

Next I downloaded the joystick plugin from the ArtSoft web site.  I installed it, started Mach3, turned on the plugin and immediately had a working joystick, controlling my X and Y axis movement.  It is great to be able to jog from so slow you cant even see it move to about one half of the full speed of the machine, all from the joystick.

Now I can stand and manually control my milling of small parts without needing the keyboard in hand.  I still need to use the keyboard to jog the Z axis to a new level at the end of a "Manual" pass, but that is currently a minor inconvenience.  Now, if I can just figure out how to program my two  joystick buttons to jog my Z axis up and down, I will have all I need in the palm of my hand.

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