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Author Topic: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again  (Read 3241 times)

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Offline Preso

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Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« on: January 25, 2017, 07:35:40 AM »
Hi,
I have had to upgrade my PC again after a frustrating attempt to get a Windows 7, 32 bit OS with a PCI parallel port card working consistently. I did get it to run Mach3 successfully after a lot of tinkering with port addresses and drivers so I am used to the process to get Mach3 communicating with my machine controller. Unfortunately, that PC developed some terminal motherboard problems which required me to press into service a PC that I built for my daughter. It has a clean install of Win 7 32 bit and it is around four years old. My problem is that I swapped out the PCI parallel port from the old PC to the new one and so far it has refused to communicate successfully with Mach3. I have tried all the usual fixes including running the driver test utility, changing the settings in Ports and Pins, multiple reboots, uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers for both Mach3 and the Parallel Port card. I could get the driver test to show a green "system stable" for one or two seconds but it then reverts back to "pulsing too fast". If I reboot the PC and go straight to Mach3 I can get the steppers to run for just a second or two and then nothing. Alternatively I can get the coolant to switch on and off a half a dozen times or so and then again nothing. It is almost as if something breaks the connection after a few tries. I can get the Estop on my pendant to halt the Mach3 communication at any time so there is some communication going on. I have also tried setting the Ports and Pins at every frequency and then trying the driver test. At some frequency's I get nothing (pulsing too fast), at others I get a yellow bar and at some I get a green bar for a short time and then nothing.
I suspected that the Parallel port adaptor I had was somehow not compatible with the motherboard that was in the new PC so I bought a much more expensive Sunix PCI parallel port card and installed that today. I installed the drivers that came with the card and checked that they installed OK but it displays pretty much the same symptoms as the el-cheapo card that I had running in my previous PC.
I am running out of ideas and I am now pleading for any advice from any guru's out there who may have an answer.
I guess I am specifically asking if it is possible for a particular make of motherboard to be incompatible with Mach3. The one that I have is a Gigabyte GA 970A-D3.
I have attached screenshots of two separate driver tests that I ran, one at 35khz and one at 100khz. Neither confirmed that the Parallel port was communicating successfully.
Please help!
Regards,
Preso

Offline Tweakie.CNC

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2017, 10:04:22 AM »
There have been quite a few here who have had problems with Win7 and Mach3. Although it perhaps sounds stupid the best solution seems to be WinXP.

Tweakie.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.

Offline Preso

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2017, 06:26:51 PM »
I still have the PC which runs Win XP but it is very slow to boot up. I keep it as a backup because it has a parallel port on the Motherboard. One of the reasons I wanted to upgrade is because I thought I would be able to install Autodesk Fusion360 and use that to do all my solid modelling and toolpath generation. When I got the new PC (Windows 7 32 bit) it had a really good graphics card, plenty of storage and a fast-ish processor. Imagine my disdain when Autodesk reported that it required 64 bit Windows to run. So now Mach3 and Fusion360 are mutually exclusive! I am also getting a bit tired of buying new OS's every time I change from one computer to another. It seems a bit pointless to downgrade my OS on a quite fast and modern computer just so it will run Mach3.
I am still wondering if there is something I am overlooking on this latest PC. Why would the driver test fail after a few seconds?

Offline ger21

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2017, 09:46:03 PM »
The simplest fix is to buy a UC100 and ditch the parallel port. You can then run Mach3 on a 64 bit OS.
Gerry

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Offline Preso

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2017, 10:41:09 PM »
OK. Thanks for that. I didn't know such a gadget existed. I am guessing that I just plug this into my machine controller and run a USB cable back to the PC? If that is all it takes then I will most likely get one. 80 Euro is a lot cheaper than having to shell out for a new PC, or a new motherboard and OS, or a smooth stepper and all the bits and bobs that go with it.
I'd be interested to hear more about this.
Regards,
Preso :D
Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2017, 11:18:35 PM »
Hi,
some years ago my old XP machine was so unreliable I bought an Atom based single board computer wih PP and installed
Window 7 Embedded. I chose the Embedded version of the OS because I could leave big chunks of stuff out at my
choice rather than everything MS insists I have. It has worked a treat. The upshot is tho that PP runs fine under
Windows 7 depending on the particular motherboard. Have a look at the board in this forum 'Mach3 under Vista',
some good tips there for making your PC behave.

I have recently upgraded to Mach4 and a SmoothStepper external motion controller using the same PC. I certainly
support Ger's comments about an external controller, I should have done it a while ago whether I upgraded to Mach4
or not. Once you get one setup much smoother and stable motion. The chances are you will get one sooner or later,
I recommend sooner.

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

Offline Preso

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2017, 06:34:45 PM »
Well, I decided to purchase a UC100. My machine controller works fine. It is just the parallel port interface that gives me the irits. I did look into purchasing a smoothstepper but I would be replacing my entire machine controller with it's power supply, 4 axis cards and all the hardware that it came with just to overcome the communication issue. For better or for worse I entered the CNC hobby by purchasing a Promica Smart Controller and Sieg X3 conversion kit. Promica have since gone out of business so I am left with a legacy system and no support. I don't know where to start delving into the guts of the Promica controller so for now I will just keep it and hope that the UC100 solves my problem.
I will post an update if an when I reach Nirvana!

Offline ger21

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2017, 08:00:16 PM »
The Smoothstepper does the exact same as the UC100. The main difference is that is has 3 ports of inputs and outputs vs one with the UC100.
You could have simply replaced the parallel port with the Smoothstepper just like you're doing with the UC100.
But if you only need a single port, then the UC100 will work fine, and imo, it's better supported.
Gerry

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Offline Preso

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2017, 06:00:58 AM »
Well, my UC100 arrived and I went through the installation process as per the instructions on the website. Initially I had no luck getting the machine controller to work as I expected. I could get movement from one axis. This seemed to be random. If I started Mach3 I might get the Z axis to move but not the X or Y. If I rebooted the computer and tried again I might be able to get X but nothing else. Curiously, the E stop would always work as would the coolant relay. I was getting both LED's working on the face of the UC100 but everything else seemed to be screwed up. I gave up and the next day I went through the installation process again and at last Mach3 seemed to be behaving like it's old self. Today I started to run some serious G-Code for the first time and despite some strange glitches (like the Mach3 screen minimising randomly) I was able to run accurate G-Code. I took a break during which time the PC went into sleep mode and when I woke it up Mach3 reported that it had lost connection with the UC100. I could not find any way to re-establish the connection so I shut down Mach3 and restarted it. Everything seemed to be going OK but now I was back to the issue of only being able to run one axis. The Z axis was moving with the MPG but the X and Y axes did nothing although the DRO's on Mach3 counted up and down as if the steppers were actually moving. Are there any guru's out there who might be able to give me a heads up on what I am doing wrong? I did drag out my old Windows XP computer and hook it up (using the parallel port) and my machine controller worked fine so I am pretty confident it is not a machine controller issue. The computer I am using with the UC100 is a relatively new windows 7 machine running 64 bit software and I did a clean install so I don't think I have PC issues. Maybe someone has seen this before?
Regards,
Preso

Offline ger21

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Re: Parallel port woes, again. Help wanted, again
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2017, 06:40:09 AM »
Mach3 should not be randomly minimizing, so something is wrong there.

You need to setup your PC to not go into sleep mode, and you also need to configure the USB ports to not go into sleep mode.
Gerry

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