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Author Topic: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr  (Read 4045 times)

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Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« on: January 06, 2017, 08:29:56 PM »
So if I wanted to switch to Mach4 Hobby, I know that I need a software license and a something like a Gecko g540.  I have a windows XP machine and an Ox CNC router.  Also I know I have to convert my motor wiring to 9 pin Din connectors. What else would I need to purchase in order to get started. 

The windows xp machine is pretty minumal....2gb memory, 80gb HD, and a parallel port.  It would be dedicated to this software. 

Do I need anything else to get this setup and working?  As a retireee, I need to know what I am up against financially before I start a project. I am expecting a layout of about $500 for the license and the controller board.  Anything else I should be aware of?
Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2017, 12:18:36 AM »
Hi crchisholm,
I have recently switched to Mach4 after using Mach3 and Parallel Port for a few years. Welcome aboard.

As you've no doubt read Mach4 is fairly new and quite a step up in terms of potential than Mach3. Mach3 is very good and has
a strong following and will do for many years. Amongst the attractions of Mach3 is that it works well with a parallel port, in fact
the parallel port you might say is native to Mach3 and its free... The parallel port (PP) can be a bit cussed depending on your
computer and as a consequence a lot of users have migrated to an 'external motion controller' from about $100 and up.
Most controllers will also require a breakout board (BOB) with cheap Chinese examples for $20 and American/European ones for
$50 and more. A BOB is an amplifier/buffer to protect your computer and give you a convenient place to hook things up to. While
not strictly required they are a good idea.

Mach4 can be run with a PP but requires an extra licence $25. I haven't tried it but instead went to an external motion controller.
External motion controllers are more or less native to Mach4. The software plugin required for Mach4 is new so the choice of
manufacturers is somewhat limited. There are three manufacturers whom have excellent products and established reputations
who have Mach4 ready controllers for as little as $50 to $300. There are more expensive units as well with industrial capacity but
will make mincemeat of your budget.

In the first instance you don't need to spend anything. You can download Mach3 and Mach4 and experiment to your hearts content.
As to which choice...if you like tried and trued but somewhat buggy and in its sunset years Mach3 is good. If you want something
new and developing with potential to burn Mach4 is good.

As to whether you go PP or external controller...PP is cheap/free but can be quirky... external controllers modest priced but smooth
motion.

Sounds like you have almost made up your mind about a Geko driver, while there are (much) cheaper choices Geko has set the standard
that other have to measure up to.

Please don't take the following as a must but rather just the choices I made:
Mach4                             $200
Ethernet SmoothStepper    $180
Homan Designs BOB          $40
VistaCNC pendant              $160
I use rather specialised Vexta drivers for 5 phase steppers, nice but not cheap, don't go there unless you see the need.

Look thru some of the videos on the Artsoft site and Ytube and post your questions.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2017, 04:37:18 PM »
So looking at your configuration, I guess the Smoothstepper replaces the g540.  It seems to be eithernet only, is that correct.  This would probably not work for me as I do not have any wired network access in the shop.  It's only wifi.  Is there a version of that board that would work with parallel port or some other local wired connection?

I am unclear on the purpose of the BOB.  The stepper drivers are in the Smoothstepper, right?

Is the VistaCNC pendent  a necessary ingredient to this setup or just a convenience that I could get later?I

I do recognize you are not suggesting I do exactly what you are doing, but I just want to understand it in case there are elements to this that seem appropriate to me.

Also you elected to use an "external motion cotroller"  Wouldn't you always need some sort of motion controller (like the g540) or am I missing something. If youi had elected to use the parallel port, exactly what would that look like?

Also, please forgive my typing.....new (to me) lap top and a really strange key configuration.
I know I am showing just how little  I know...and that's am accurate picture
 

thank you for your response and information.


charlie

Offline dude1

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Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2017, 05:34:48 PM »
crchisholm you can use the ESS with your G540. the G540 is your bob and stepper driver The ESS just needs a Ethernet connection directly to your machine control computer.

There are other options you can use depending on your budget Pokeys is another option they have 2 products you can use with the G540, UCCNC is another option they have 5 options there are about 6 different company that make a external controller that you can use with the G540.

Offline DazTheGas

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Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 05:45:27 PM »
When I moved to mach4 from using the grbl stuff I only had to purchase the ESS at £180, Cheap n cheerful BOB for about £20 and 4 drivers at £22 each and mach4, I too have an ox and if you have the normal ox with nema23`s then thats all you should need to get you started,then add from there, well psu will come in handy too.

DazTheGas
Theres always time for a choccy biccy
Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 08:44:00 PM »
Ok, so right now, I have a 24v p/s and a 48v for the spindle, so I should be good on the psu.  Does the ESS need to be part of a network, or can I use a null modem cable (cross over cable) to hook directly to the computer?   So it would be something like this....

Win xp computer Mach X   <------(cross over)-----> ESS <-----> BOB w/drivers <=====> motors

As I stated earlier, I have no wired network in the shop, so I use wifi for any connectivity.
Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2017, 09:04:04 PM »
After doing a bit more research on the BOB, I think maybe the diagram above misses the mark completely.  Sorry.  I don't know why I am having so much trouble getting this.   Right now, chilipeppr is working, but I really think I would be better off making the switch if I can understand this better.
Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2017, 09:57:49 PM »
Hi crchisholm,

Quote
Does the ESS need to be part of a network, or can I use a null modem cable (cross over cable) to hook directly to the computer?  

You don't need a network, in fact better off without it. The ESS, or alternate board of your choice, plugs into the Ethernet port of
your computer. The manufacturer recommends that the wifi be disabled, you want your computer to concentrate on Mach4, nothing
else. Neither do you require a crossover cable.

I am unfamiliar with the Geko540 but from other posts it sounds like it doesn't need a BOB. A BOB is just an amplifier/buffer, it doesn't
add any real functionality, but it is a convenient place to hook up limits switches and the likes.

Quote
The stepper drivers are in the Smoothstepper, right?

No, the drivers are in the 540.

Quote
Is the VistaCNC pendent  a necessary ingredient to this setup or just a convenience that I could get later?

No it is not necessary but useful to have.

Quote
If you had elected to use the parallel port, exactly what would that look like?

A printer port cable would plug in to the BOB and the drivers, switches and similar would hook to the BOB.
The ESS is a natural fit for a BOB or BOBs. It has three 26 pin sockets which plug by ribbon cable to a BOB.
As I had two BOBs already that's what I did, additionally I have three separate drives, one for each axis and the
BOB allowed me to 'direct' the required signals to each one.

Daz-The-Gaz is right, there are six manufacturers of Mach4 ready controllers, three of them have high end products
which don't suit your budget.

Of the 'value' makers are Warp9 with the ESS, PMDX has two Mach4 ready boards and PoKeys which also has two
Mach4 ready boards. All three are good value and are highly regarded.

The PMDX boards, at least to my knowledge are USB boards with higher latency and have the equivalent of one
'ports' worth of connections. They enjoy flexible power supply arrangements and have buffered/opto isolated outputs
and probably don't require a BOB. The company enjoy an excellent reputation for support.

The ESS is Ethernet connected, ie fast, a definite plus and has three 'ports' worth of connections. They don't have
analogue inputs like their competitors and as I said above a natural fit with a BOB. Their technical backup from
personal experience is superb.

I have recently had the opportunity to read the PoKeys tech literature of both their Mach4 ready boards. Both are
Ethernet connected have even more IO than the ESS, have analogue inputs, multiple MPG inputs and can communicate
via MODBUS. Neither seem to require a BOB. The 57CNC has extra plugs and terminals than its cheaper sibling the 57E.
They are very cost competitive and flexible. I have no personal knowledge of their support practices but feel if it had
been lacking reports would be on the forum.

The UC series of controllers are to my knowledge Mach3 only at this time. They have a wide user base which attests
to their value and functionality.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!

Offline dude1

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Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2017, 10:01:39 PM »
ITs computer to motion devices  ether by USB, Ethernet or parallel port connection to the computer.

the motion devices can be the bob (breakout board) and motion device (look up Gecko G540 it's a all in one) and or a stepper driver or just a motion devices that connects to a bob.

It's all down to your budget and how much you want the motion devices to do.

A G540 is a good option to start with it's got good backup and support, It's all you will needed.

A ESS and a bob and stepper drivers is fine like what daz or joe has

I have the same as joe on one machine it has G214v gecko drivers. it works fine

on another I have A G540 what I had working with the parallel port on mach3 and 4 it was fine, then I got a Pokeys 57cnc and connected the G540 to it, it's a good machine so I spend the money to keep it like that.

Have a read of the info here http://www.geckodrive.com/support/step-motor-basics.html, there is some good info there and here as well http://warp9td.com/index.php/gettingstarted
Re: Switching to Mach4 hobby from chilipeppr
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2017, 05:43:23 PM »
Hi crchisholm,
just read thru the manual for the G540, great device.

The simplest and cheapest alternative is:
Mach3 and PP to the G540.

The next option is:
Mach4 and Darwin PP to the G540- extra $50 because of the required licences.

Thereafter would require an external motion controller but because of the G540 you would not require a BOB.

Any and all of those options would get you started.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!