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Offline Sage

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Mach 4 and parallel port
« on: November 06, 2017, 10:57:00 PM »
I posted the following in the parallel port discussion topic with no response.

Does anyone have the parallel port working with Mach4. Specifically with the charge pump activated? I'd be interested in comparing configurations.
I have been in contact (for several months) with NFS support and they have confirmed that (as I observed) the charge pump signal from Darwin initially comes up and then fails just after Mach4 startup. It requires a toggle of the enable / disable screen button to get it going again. This would not be a big problem except that when if fails the DRO's still change but the axis' do not move because the lack of charge pump signal has disabled the drives. So then the disable/enable trick has to be done and a re-calibrate is required.
 In my latest exchange with support they have indicated that they have no (financial) interest in working further to correct the issue and suggest I purchase a motion controller instead. Fair enough I guess but it makes me wonder why they continue to sell the parallel port plug-in (Darwin) when it has this bug. Then it makes me wonder - if they have sold more than the one I have - what have others done to make it work. Maybe I've missed something.
 So, Is the parallel port finally dead?

Sage
Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 12:44:06 AM »
Hi,
is there any reason that you want a charge pump? The charge pump idea has just about gone the way of the dinosaurs in Mach3 let alone Mach4.

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

Offline dude1

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Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 03:42:46 AM »
The person who did that plug in said the parallel port is dead, it should work with the charge pump off.
it's off limited actions anyway it's only useful for a 3 axis machine I used it for about 6 months then got a pokeys on Arts remediation.
Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 04:16:58 AM »
Hi,
I believe Art has expressed that he has no intention to add some of the features that have become standard fare...THC and lathe threading.
Arts intent is clear, the parallel port is in its last iteration.

Do yourself a favour and get an external motion controller. As dude1 has mentioned the PoKeys 57CNC has a good reputation as does the PMDX-424 and Warp9's ESS.
CNCDrive have just released a Mach4 plugin for their UC300 which if it proves to be as successful as its Mach3 version will be good. Vital Systems has long enjoyed
a full featured Mach4 ready controller and CSLabs have just released aMach4 plugin. Both manufacture really nice gear but at quite a premium compared to the first
four I mentioned.

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

Offline dude1

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Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 04:37:59 AM »
The pokeys as far as I know are the closest to being up to date within days of a M4 update
Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2017, 04:59:25 AM »
Hi,
just having a Mach4 plugin doesn't guarantee that it will work. Pokeys, PMDX, Warp9 and Vital Systems have the most mature Mach4 plugins. CSLabs
and CNCDrives have only just been released. I have seen some threads that indicated that CSLabs had some minor bugs which, given their stated intent, to
hold back on a Mach4 plugin release until all bugs had been worked out must be very annoying.

Even a mature Mach4 plugin can have issues, Warp9s ESS plugin has lathe threading code but won't synchronise at the start of the thread, a fatal flaw. So just
because a company has experience in releasing working Mach4 ready plugins does not make them immune from faults.

At this stage all of the manufacturers have a well established and good reputation in the Mach market with existing Mach3 products and are producing very
creditable Mach4 products. What happens when our Chinese friends start producing their versions remains to be seen, if their Mach3 products are anything to
go by then probably not too flash!

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

Offline dude1

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Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2017, 05:04:24 AM »
Yer very true

Offline Sage

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Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 07:13:09 AM »
Thanks for all the comments on why I should or shouldn't switch to a motion controller but my original question was whether anyone has the parallel port working WITH the charge pump. So I'd rather stay on topic. But to answer your comments:
 The charge pump is an important safety feature. If the software goes into the weeds - in theory - the charge pump signal should also fail and will shut down the drive.
We all know how flakey Mach4 (and even Mach3) has been throughout development so I figured it was probably a good safety feature to keep. Besides that I was always switching back and forth between Mach3 and Mach4 to test it for NFS because I have an older XP machine. It was a simple software switch to test, identify problems and then get back to work. No hardware changes required. I was hoping NFS would stand behind the product that I paid extra for and at least fix the bug. I guess not. I'm not expecting them to do any further development on it.
Darwin works fine on my mill other than this problem.The charge pump works. It's just that it comes up and then fails after program startup.
Joeaverage: You mention that the Smooth stepper works in Mach4 - the USB version???. I didn't think so. I have one of those. Brand new - on the shelf - never used - never needed. As far as I'm aware it's a dead product and was a waste of money on my part. But I don't keep up to date on their work so maybe I stand corrected - let me know.
So back to the question. Does anyone have the parallel port working in Mach4 WITH the charge pump. Maybe I missed something in the (very) convoluted configuration.



« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 07:23:23 AM by Sage »
Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2017, 12:30:25 PM »
Hi,
rubbish, I've been using Mach3 for three years and Mach4 for another year and I've never had a crash where the machine lost it because the PC went wild.
I've had plenty of crashes and in every case I've done something wrong. I've also had a few where the PC stops or is temporarily overloaded which can
break tools but I've never had a machine run away like that.

A charge pump is a bit like the airlines offering you a lifejacket as a safety measure, as if you're ever likely to survive getting off the thing in the first place!

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach 4 and parallel port
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2017, 12:41:50 PM »
Hi,
AFAIK the USB Smoothstepper does not have a complete Mach4 plugin, the Ethernet version does. The plan is that the ESS plugin will be finished before
serious work begins on the USB plugin. Backlash Beta has just been released (last week). Much of the code is written for lathe threading and THC but is not
yet working, next several months is my guess.

Warp9 are talking an API for the smoothstepper which would be a quantum leap forward but is some time away. The Mach4 plugins completion is their stated
priority.

One last question about the charge pump....have you ever had the charge pump shut down and prevent an immanent runaway?

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