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Recommended PC Configuration
« on: March 05, 2006, 07:10:02 PM »
I had been having problems running Mach3Turn on a 3GHz HP P4 machine.  Under Art's guidance, I finally switched the kernal speed down from 45000 to 25000, and that solved the remaining problems, though had to lower Z acceleration to do reliable threading.  At 25000, the tool changer is too sluggish, even at maximum speed, so it seems I really need different hardware. 

Unfortunately, that machine somehow fried when I inserted some USB memory (USB power surge, hub power limit exceeded), and it then refused to boot.  (Currently in for repair.)  I switched over to the kids' machine, and even at 25000, had to really cut Z acceleration to the point I can clearly hear it speeding up and down, or risk losing Z motion.   

The previous machine should have been enough, but apparently wasn't.  The current machine isn't enough, but there are no doubt background processes that I should kill, but I don't want to completely disable the kids' software. 

The question is: what is a PC configuration (by brand, model number, etc.) that can run Mach3 at 45000 with utter reliability?  I would buy a new machine if I knew it would work.  I would prefer something small on a MicroATX motherboard if possible, but the main thing is reliability.  I'd prefer staying away from HP, Compaq, and Dell and all of the desktop junk and unnecessary processes that come with their machines. 


Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2006, 07:57:05 PM »
A couple of suggestions. Create a new account in XP and call that account CNC. When you boot up it will ask you what account you want to open into. The kids account or the CNC account. You can set the CNC account to do a minimal startup to maximise the use for your cnc machine.

Option two. Do two instals of XP on your computer, and have the choice at startup what one opens. This is similar to the first suggestion, except this option offers a FULLY setup XP dedicated to Mach and CNC work. I would pick this option however it takes more work to set it up.

In www.machsupport you will find a button that shows you how to setup your computer for optimized preformance. See "OPTIMIZE"
« Last Edit: March 05, 2006, 07:58:38 PM by ynneb »
Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2006, 09:44:31 PM »
Thanks for the advice.  Using the kids' machine is a temporary workaround to cover the few days before I get my previous machine back from repair, so it's probably not worth the time to set it up well. 

I'm aware of the Optimization Guide, and did most of the optimizations on the original XP Home machine which is being repaired.  I'm frankly surprised that 3 GHz doesn't appear sufficient to support the 45000 kernal speed.  In any case, once I get the other machine back, which should be in a few days, I'll very carefully and thoroughly follow the optimization guide.  The whole purpose of that machine is to run Mach3. 

Shouldn't my original machine be able to run at 45000? 


Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2006, 09:58:19 PM »
I know you asked for a specific computer model to run mach on.
I know from experience that the results are very different from  computer to computer.
I use a 1 GHz computer for Mach and it runs perfectlly well on this computer at 45000 Kernal speed, and yet on my better computer it runs at a crawl.

From my readings its a bit of pot luck.

There are any variables that effect the computer performance with Mach. I have seen conflicting suggestions about what is best.  Some swear by certain video cards, and CPU chips. I just dont know.

One question though, do you really need the 45000 speed. Many CNC  machines couldnt run that fast anyway.
You must have really high count servos and high gear ratio if your lathe cant run that fast.

The other alternative is buy a G-Rex. This will allow you to run mach on a crap computer and still drive your machine at more speed than you will ever need.
Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2006, 10:25:12 PM »
No, I don't need 45000, but the DriverTest.exe didn't indicate any problems at 45000, though there apparently were.  It was more of a rhetorical question.

25000 gave me a sluggish tool changer ... but overall I was quite happy with it because everything finally started working properly.  35000 probably would be perfect. 

The reason for asking for a specific computer model is exactly as you have indicated: there appears great variability. 

If the G-Rex was ready today, I'd pick one up immediately! 

Anyway, I'm cranky and frustrated since I was trying to get something into production this weekend that's already three weeks late. 


Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2006, 10:37:10 PM »
:) My cranky:) I know how you feel at times.

The computer I use is a Compaq Desk Pro EN 1ghz processor.

Its an old computer, cost me 100 bucks. See if you can find one.

Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2006, 02:35:32 AM »
I'm working on a version of Windows XP embedded to run ONLY Mach software.  It will have no shell, no explorer, just Mach.  Total footprint right now is 168 meg.  I will be running this on a Micro ITX board running at 1.3Ghz, 256 meg ram and a 512 meg CF card for it's hard drive.  No fans... No moving parts.

The biggest issue I see with using your multitasking PC for machine control is that multitasking word.  Really and truely, this needs to be more of a dedicated PC.  I know it's tempting to be jamming out with some MP3's or watching your favorite movie while making a neat little widget, but don't expect to get 100% performance from the controller.

I'll be providing more details as I get the testing out of the way.
Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2006, 10:05:29 AM »
I'm very interested in what you're working on.  The only applications that I have running with Mach3 are an editor when needed to modify a program, and file browsers for the source (on USB memory) and destination directories when transferring files.  None of these should run while Mach3 is running a program.  About the only thing that might be nice would be [wireless] home network access for file transfer, but I'm currently using USB memory for this. 
Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2006, 09:46:16 PM »
I'm running a $450 compaq (celeron 2.8 512 mem) from fry's with no problems
i took it out of the box and hooked it up
the mach III software reports 65000
Your new computer might have hyper threading which could be a problem
Re: Recommended PC Configuration
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2006, 12:40:55 AM »
The new computer did have hyper threading, but it still failed when I disabled this in the BIOS. 

I received a new(er) computer which seems to work fine, but I haven't fully tested yet.