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Offline simpson36

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #70 on: April 29, 2014, 10:18:47 AM »
I UNDERSTAND your points BUT (;-)

Why would you want to leave ALL those LPTers stranded in the desert. All their hardware is going to work as long as thier PCs still functions(not dead) and they can still find parts to fix the PCs. AND they are still the CORE of Mach users.

I am NOT saying not to move on as everyone else in the modern world HAS moved to a motion control card.

(;-) TP

I agree with you 100%.

Were I in the business of selling motion control boards, I might see this as a marketing opportunity to provide an inexpensive product that would be a solution for the LPT issue and also provide a seamless upgrade path to my flagship motion control product.

Taking the idea a step further, if such a product couple be produced for say US$50, it could be bundled with MACH4 with a $50 off coupon or a trade-in privilege to move to the full motion control product.




« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 10:24:00 AM by simpson36 »
Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #71 on: April 29, 2014, 10:27:02 AM »
simpson36,

It is not a simple question of using a port address that Windows does not
normally treat as a printer port. The newer versions of Windows, especially
the 64 bit versions, control ALL access to ports and memory. The only way
to get data to a device is to ask Windows to do it for you. Unfortunately
Windows wants either certified device drivers, or devices that mimic the
standard printer, USB, or Ethernet that consumers use. Note that Windows
will allow you to write to a "printer" but not to the pins of a printer port.
The difference is how it gets done. Windows will deliver all the data, just
not with the timing that you are hoping to achieve. For this reason a
printer port under Windows 64 bit or any USB "printer" device will not
provide reliable timing for the step pulses used for CNC control.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

On the topic of 'to be or not to be'  LPT port, has anyone considered targeting an address configurable LPT card?

Let's say an LPT card costs about 10 bucks. This is not going to impact any rational decision to purchase MACH4. Most new computers don't have LPT ports anyway, so purchasing an add-in card is pretty much a given.

Would it be possible to have MACH4 talk to the UART on an LPT card thru a specific address which is not recognized (and blocked) by the OS. i.e. just use the hardware on an LPT card as an 'interface' between MACH4 and existing LPT based systems. If the OS does not see the UART functioning as an LPT, theoretically it would not interfere. Many moons ago I was trying different LPT cards and several did not register with Windows as LPT ports. They had drivers that emulated the LPT and passed the data stream to the hardware on the card. Absent that driver, the OS pretty much ignored the card.

Alternately, a USB device to simply mimic the simple on/off behavior of the handful of LPT pins would not be complicated or expensive to produce. MACH4 could then just send words to the device to be decoded into the pin array that matches the LPT layout.

There are a  lot of ways to skin this cat, but the overall idea would be to have an alternative to a full motion control solution (Kflop, Smoothstepper, etc) at a low cost that would simply mimic an LPT port. If outside the OS, the valid arguments about Microsoft unexpectedly mucking things up would be eliminated.

Just thinking out loud . . .  


Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com
For PMDX product support, please use PMDX forum or direct email for quickest response. We do not use this forum as our primary product support site.

Offline Jeff_Birt

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #72 on: April 29, 2014, 11:17:52 AM »
Nothing stops you from continuing to use Mach3 with a parallel port. When you need to move on to a new PC you will likely be out of luck. Brian has already said they are working with Art to get a parallel port plug-in, so what are you guys whining about?
Happy machining , Jeff Birt
 

Offline simpson36

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #73 on: April 29, 2014, 01:49:11 PM »
simpson36,

It is not a simple question of using a port address that Windows does not
normally treat as a printer port. The newer versions of Windows, especially
the 64 bit versions, control ALL access to ports and memory. The only way
to get data to a device is to ask Windows to do it for you. Unfortunately
Windows wants either certified device drivers, or devices that mimic the
standard printer, USB, or Ethernet that consumers use. Note that Windows
will allow you to write to a "printer" but not to the pins of a printer port.
The difference is how it gets done. Windows will deliver all the data, just
not with the timing that you are hoping to achieve. For this reason a
printer port under Windows 64 bit or any USB "printer" device will not
provide reliable timing for the step pulses used for CNC control.

Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com

I get it that Windows will not allow you to write to LPT pins, however, my thought was that if windows did NOT know it there were pins or that it was an LPT. Talking directly the UART thru a driver *seems* to me like it would not be significantly different from talking to a DSS or a DAC or any other LSIC and there are lots and lots of those kind of special purpose cards that do all sorts of stuff that Windows would not have traps for.

Development goes on for the Smoothstepper and now (as of this thread) the Kflop so apparently a special purpose device can be reached thru USB and Ethernet ports with current 64 bit versions of Windows. My question, in a nutshell, was why could not those same methods be used for a much simpler card that only generates the a matrix of on/off for the pin array by decoding a simple pre-defined command set? Toggling the physical pin array would be done on the other side of the driver from Windows and outside of memory space, so why would Windows interfere?

Timing, of course is another issue altogether. Windows does allow the priority to be set on each process, and the top setting is 'real time', but in my experience, that does not actually get full time attention for any process, even with multiple processors and the affinity set to an otherwise unused processor.

It seems I have not considered the larger problem of timing, yet there must be some solution as the Smoothstepper and Kflop do work. I wish I knew more about the issue. It looks like an interesting challenge. 

Offline simpson36

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #74 on: April 29, 2014, 02:06:01 PM »
Nothing stops you from continuing to use Mach3 with a parallel port. When you need to move on to a new PC you will likely be out of luck. Brian has already said they are working with Art to get a parallel port plug-in, so what are you guys whining about?

First of all, Jeff, 'we' if I may be presumptuous, are not whining with selfish motive. We are whining at the behest of the unfortunate huddled masses who, unlike ourselves, do not enjoy the benefits of third party motion control. It is a noble cause . .  and a thankless one . .  but somebody has to speak up for the unblessed among us.  :P

Secondly, the question has evolved past doing an LPT driver and speaking for myself only, I was addressing the comment of being at Microsoft's mercy and the desire to have some 'control of our destiny'. Circumventing the guard dogs in the OS would accomplish that . . if it is doable.

Greg and Tom come to mind as people with the skill set to make a 'Smoothstepper-Lite' or 'Baby K-flop'.  Had I the skill set, I would be doing it instead of simply whining about it. Alas, I do not. However, I am good at whining, and therefor the best option is to throw some seeds to those who have the talent and see if anything grows.  ;)

Offline Dan13

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #75 on: April 29, 2014, 02:21:17 PM »
Hey guys, why not open a separate thread for the LPT topic and discuss this there. Why cluttering this thread which was supposed to be for Mach4 comments...

Dan

Offline Jeff_Birt

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #76 on: April 29, 2014, 04:29:10 PM »
If Mach3 were a video game then the parallel port (driver) would be its gaming system. The parallel port (driver) is like the Atari 2600, a ground breaker, and one of the best inventions of all time. Over the years there have also been other system you could play Mach3 on: Galil, DSPMC, SmoothStepper, NCPod, PoKeys, etc. All of these alternative systems offered their own advantages and disadvantages but they all offered an advantage over the old parallel port gaming system.

Now the brand new game everyone has been waiting for is coming out, Mach4! Mach 4 is faster, has better graphics, is more power and more user configurable. Just a better game all the way around. Since Mach4 is new it is designed to take advantage of more modern gaming systems and the guys with the old parallel port gaming systems are feeling left out. The game developers at Mach said they are doing everything in their power to provide a interface to let owners of the old parallel port gaming systems play Mach 4. But, the guys with the parallel port gaming systems are still not happy. Even though there are a raft of alternative gaming systems in every price range that will play Mach4 they are still not happy.

Yes it sucks when technology moves on and leaves you in the dust. My CD player won't play my old records and my DVD player won't play VHS tapes. So, I can choose to take advantage of the newer, better technology or sit around mumbling to myself about how great vinyl really was....
Happy machining , Jeff Birt
 

Offline RICH

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #77 on: April 30, 2014, 08:42:04 AM »
Nothing can stand still, it either moves forward or withers and dies since this is just a rule of nature.
That said, accept nature's rule.
--------------------------------------------------------------

A lot of folks will stay with Mach 3 for a long time until absolutely forced to deal with the inevitable.
If Mach3 does what they want it to do for them they may not upgrade. They see new computer,
new Mach, new controller board, new software, new printer, new scanner, new + new +new = $
in the big picture, and face it, one just gets tired of  the "change" since value recieved is not justified in their big picture at their operating level. So I think that is truely what is in the thought cloud above
folks heads.

---------------------------------------

A lot of time has been spent on Mach4.
I just hope that whatever external motion devices that will be available are cost effective, work first time around ( ie; that it does not mean you purchase something, then need to update, and update, takes years for it to do what is required and spending money on it it along the way.

So take your time motion device folks to compliment Mach4.

----------------------------------------------

Just my penny FWIW............, ;)

RICH



Offline BR549

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #78 on: April 30, 2014, 11:31:54 AM »
For the Record I just HOPE that when Mach4 hits the market that ALL primary CNC calls and controls are Complete and ready to sling chips. Things like G68 , G31, all Canned cycles working,etc

COntrols such as Run From Here, Reverse RUN,etc

AND we are not left to our own to have to try and create such things in LUA.

LUA is NOT simple to the average person from my experience (non programmer). YES I think it is great that MACH4 still allows for one to create something SPECIAL and that will open up a SPECIAL function market$$  for clever programmers but all the NORMAL modern CNC based controls should be up and running and working correctly.

(;-) TP

Offline BR549

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Re: Comments about Mach4 in Demo
« Reply #79 on: April 30, 2014, 03:44:46 PM »
HIYA Brian , looking at the fixture and tool tables I see that we can now use the keyboard to move around in the values windows to do updates to the values which is VERY GOOD  BUT I do not see a way to EXIT out with a mouse.

Also reviewing the G98/99 calls I see we can now GOTO a sequence line.  Can I assume the the sequence number is the LINE # ??

Can we expect conditional in the near future to make that useful.

Also the calls are not consistant.

M98 Pxx Qxx Lxx      Where Q calls the GOTO line #

M99 Pxx                Where P calls the goto Line #

Would it not be more consistant for the Q to be used in both cases to call the GOTO line#  ??