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Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« on: October 28, 2014, 04:30:14 AM »
Hi Everyone,

Recently got a new CNC machine (one of those Chinese Routers) Have it set up, running Gcode. I am using Mach3 and UC100 USB for the connection.  It's generally smooth and fast, but seems to have random connection problems when running code?  I am getting 'UC100 Connection lost', sometimes 2 or 3 times per code run.  CNC comp is a decent WinXP laptop which I have been previously using to run my CNC hotwire (also with Mach3 / UC100).  I have been checking the threads for similar problems, but most people seem to have other issues just getting the machines to run.  This one can run code perfectly, but will randomly lose connection.  Any ideas?

Offline derek

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Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 06:15:35 AM »
I have 2 UC-100s and 2 UC-300s. They are all on standard motherboards and I've never had that problem. My guess is the laptop is probably turning off power to the usb to save energy. There are settings in the device manager to keep the power on at all times to the USB bus

Derek
Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 06:39:30 AM »
Hi Derek,

Will give it a shot.  I don't think I ever had this problem with my CNC hotwire, but I rarely ran a toolpath more than 10mins or so, and I was usually standing nearby, fiddling with the comp.  I have turned off that USB power management and will let you know how it goes!

-Sean
Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 07:49:04 AM »
Well, that was short lived optimism.

Changed the USB power management settings, rebooted everything, and got a UC100 disconnection 2 mins into running a toolpath.  I've attached a picture of my machine, as its one of those Chinese routers a lot of people have problems with. There seems to be zero regularity to the problem so I'm not sure if it's computer related. The frustrating aspet of this is I have another CNC comp with parallel port (so I can skip UC100), but with identical Mach3 settings, the machine is jerky and missing steps.

Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2014, 01:40:48 AM »
It may be the USB cable. In another forum, the problem of frequently losing connection with the computer was found to be external noise from overhead light fixture, and a high quality USB cable with double shielding was the solution. They had a video that showed the action with two types of cable, and switching the light fixture on and off.
Also, many have found that the Ethernet connection to be far more reliable than the USB, in the controllers that make both types, like the Smooth Stepper.
Noise problems can be very elusive, but have been one of the most frequent problems on the Mach3 forum.

John
Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2014, 03:04:33 AM »
Hi John,

I did a quick experiment to test the noise hypothesis. 

Current Setup:

USB cable to UC100, parallel cable to CNC controller.  The UC 100 was about 1m away from the box, and I would get random disconnections, but sometimes would be ok for 20-30mins of mill time.

Experimental Setup:

USB cable to UC100, UC100 plugged directly into the CNC controller box.  This resulted in instant disconnection when the spindle was turned on! 

So I think it's pretty clear there's a noise problem, and now I can go about fixing it:

-moving UC100 far away from the CNC controller.
-adding a shielded USB cable.
-replacing power supply for controller.

The last item is a bit of a pain, but the machine should run better with a SMPS instead of the giant step-down coil that's in there right now.  Would also radically reduce noise.

-Sean

Offline derek

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Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2014, 06:30:10 AM »
Keep in mind if you have that kind of noise it's not the fault of the UC-100. So moving it is just a kludge. That kind of noise will affect the rest of the electronics in small ways. You should be able to plug the UC-100 into the BOB and run a decent USB cable to the computer without issues. I have 2 setups like that and no issues. I would use the UC-100 at this point as a "canary in a coal mine" and get the noise under control.

Just my 2 cents.

Derek
Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2014, 04:44:51 PM »
Here is a detailed look at how to ground electronics, by Randy at Texas Microcircuits. Although it is for a Plasma table, the principles apply to all electronics.
http://www.texasmicrocircuits.com/RF_info.html

John
Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2014, 04:28:51 AM »
Just thought I'd chime in again with the fix (as suggested!) was the Cable.  Swapped out the USB for a double shielded USB cable with ferrite bead.  Haven't had a single disconnection since!
Re: Mach3 / UC100 Connection lost?
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2014, 04:02:44 PM »
Hi Snfrwly:

Always nice to hear a suggestion helped, and problem solved. Thanks for posting.

John