Author Topic: Is Mach4 really Hobby Material?  (Read 7592 times)

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Offline django013

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Re: Is Mach4 really Hobby Material?
« Reply #120 on: January 27, 2018, 12:20:26 AM »
Thank you Steve, for your extended reply!

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And Galil offers no support for used controllers.
good to know! Thanks. I appreciate support.
As I already wrote: DSPMC seems to fulfill all my requirements. It looks easier to use and is smarter to my budget ;)
So most probably it will be my upgrade path. I already have an ESS, but I consider feed override so important, that I'm not sure, whether to start with ESS or sell it and go for DSPMC from start on.

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IF you are willing to learn about it and IF you can/want to afford it.
The first is no question. Learning is my main hobby :)
... but the second is.

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Multiple pass threading starts each thread pass on the index pulse on the encoder or the pulse per rev input.
Ok, that sounds to me like there is an external signal sampled for threading synchronization.
I agree, that a threading pass is atomic and does not need to be recalculated.
The point is, I don't see a way to synchronize after return between two passes.
But hey - I you made it, it is good to know :)

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There are real-time extensions for Windows.  The problem is that all of them cost big bucks.
one more reason for mach4linux to arise :)

Reinhard

Offline jonas60526

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Re: Is Mach4 really Hobby Material?
« Reply #121 on: January 27, 2018, 12:42:22 AM »
This dialog has gotten focused on some fairly technical capabilities. Going back to the original question, I think its a great program that is hampered by a lack of good documentation and access to a good set of examples. I have a basic DIY 3 axis machine. I had no trouble getting my system running with the ESS controller. Things only got complicated when I wanted to customize things for my unique system.  I am willing to learn some LUA to add some features. When I try to get into it though I quickly get lost in the layers of things I need to know that are independant of each other. Some of the layers I see are: Mach4 partitioning of functionality, Mach4 APIs,  LUA, wx.widgets and 3rd party addons. Each has some level of documentation, but nothing tying them together.  The Mach 4 layer especially would really benefit from more info given its complex API structure. When taken as a whole, even a pro would probably struggle for awhile in this environment. I have persisted and have modified my screen, and added some macros, but I still don't understand a lot and in some cases don't know where to find the info I need.

Docs are hard work and become a hugh anchor as you change things, but are needed if your target market includes hobbiests. There are some interesting examples on ways to do this out there. Arduino is one. When the docs get confusing, I can look at a multitude of examples to understand usage. Arduino has a larger user base, but NFS can help by making it easier to find code withouut browsing the forum and finding something useful on page 11 of a thread. Fusion 360 has weak documentation, but lots of tutorials that band aid this deficiency.

Offline django013

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Re: Is Mach4 really Hobby Material?
« Reply #122 on: January 27, 2018, 01:10:05 AM »
Hi,

to understand mach4 programming it is helpful, if you already know multithread programming.
If you never had to deal with multiple threads, there's a nightmare of pitfalls you can't be aware off.
But that's not an issue for artsoft!

After reading the provided pdfs, I took the core-api-docs and startet to read it as a book. That helped a lot. Even if I can't remember any prototype, I have an idea, what's there and so I find the function very quick.

Then to understand the big picture, it helped me, read the screen.xml - extracted from the screen set. At first look most of it looks very strange. But if you try to get into it, you get a feeling for the big picture. You realize the power of mach4, its advanced archtecture and much more.

More documentation would be fine - but we don't live in a perfect world.

... and if you ever get stuck and trapped - that's the point to come here and ask for help.
That way worked for me and it will be fine for others too :)

Cheers Reinhard

Offline joeaverage

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Re: Is Mach4 really Hobby Material?
« Reply #123 on: January 27, 2018, 03:45:59 AM »
Hi,
better documentation would be great. I have some sympathy for NFS it that there is a huge investment in time and resources to generate good documenation.
Simply put they don't have the resources to do it, they need to concentrate on those development issues that result in sales, particularly OEM sales.

Having said that, NFS has also been guilty of not even annotating the documents that they do have with issues that arise and are bought to thier attention.
I have one example where in the end I opened a support ticket to resolve a question, NFS duly got back to me and answered the question and could have annotated
the API.chm very simply but did not do so. Sure enough a few months later I was answering the same question for someone else on the forum.

I think Reinhard has a similar example where he put in an effort but no-one from NFS bothered to incorperate that contribution into the 'database'.

Eventually NFS are going to have to document their program....taking advantage of those tidbits of analysis/insight/experience developed by users seems useful.

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

Offline joeaverage

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Re: Is Mach4 really Hobby Material?
« Reply #124 on: January 27, 2018, 04:24:45 PM »
Hi Reinhard,

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I already have an ESS, but I consider feed override so important, that I'm not sure, whether to start with ESS or sell it and go for DSPMC from start on.

Mach4 with the ESS controller has feedrate override and as far as I can tell by standing at the machine operating it seems to be instantaneous.

If there is anything that the ESS lacks is analogue inputs. PoKeys do a good job and PMDX also have a couple of analogue input channels. Of course Galil
do them as well but at a cost as do Vital Systems.

Vital Systems boards offer closed loop operation, if you pay the extra, but if I understand it reads an encoder and produces a high resolution analogue voltage
to drive a DC amplifier which in turn drives a DC servo. DC servos are perfectly capable but pretty old school by now....additionally have you seen how expensive
they've become? Bang for your buck go for AC servos, the loop is closed by the drive, and usually by the same manufacturer with very VERY good results, better
than I could program a PID loop anyway. If you accept as I do that the drive/AC servo loop do as good or better job than any controller then you have paid
a premium for closed loop feedback which is not really required.

A worthwhile feature offered by Galil, Vital Systems and Pokeys is the ability to micro program the controller. You pay extra to have Vital Systems boards do it.
The advantage is that you can use that fine grained programming ability to close control loops OTHER than motor loops. Galil have lead the field in this regard
for many years.

Warp9 have a plan to release an API for the ESS. To be honest I can't see that it will happen quickly but it would add some of the ability of the above. It doesn't seem
likely that it  will ever match Galil for this style of programming.

If you already have an ESS I would carry on with it. The ESS plugin lacks at this time THC and lathe threading but are being worked on.
Those extra features including closed loop servo control and microprogramming on a Vital Systems board are going to cost $1500 or more.

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The first is no question. Learning is my main hobby Smiley
... but the second is.

The ESS will provide plenty of learning opportunities!

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