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Author Topic: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3  (Read 8451 times)

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Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« on: April 19, 2018, 05:35:52 PM »
I've been using Mach3 for over 10 years on a plasma table and have had absolutely no issues. I'm using XP on an old Dell Dimension 8300, but am concerned that it will fail. I want to get a backup computer, but the older ones with a Parallel and serial port are getting difficult to find without mechanical problems like leaking capacitors. I'm confused as to what to look for ! I read that Win7 has issues with Mach3, and WinXP is not compatible with new computers. What is the newest computer I should be looking for and which operating system? Linux? Also, how well do the parallel/serial adapter cards work on newer systems? Thanks for any help
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2018, 06:13:43 PM »
Hi,
if you wish to continue to use a parallel port then you have to use Windows7 32 bit or earlier.
You can still get mother boards with a parallel port ans you can also fit a PCI or PCIe card.

If you wish to use a laptop or any 64 bit Windows OS then you have to use an external motion
controller like a SmoothStepper or a UC100. There are no 'adapters' which work, they have to be
proper external motion controllers.m The Chinese make swags of cheap ones if you want to take the risk.

Mach is a Windows application, Linux wont work.

https://www.mini-itx.com/store/~D2550HN

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2018, 12:21:09 AM »
Hi,
an external motion controller, a good one, like an Ethernet SmoothStepper or a UC300 are in the
region $180-$200 then you can use just about any PC you like.

Check out this little sucker...$209 for Windows 10, 64bit, 4G RAM, 64G Flash and a built in Arduino and about
4 inches square!

https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1585.html

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2018, 01:49:32 PM »
Thanks Craig;
I didn't realize that Mach3 was windows only. That answers a lot of questions for me. The only reason I want to use a parallel port is because the CNC controller I'm using from CandCNC requires it. Eventually when it fails, I will do away with parallel ports all together. The system that CandCNC sells now comes with a PC running Linux. I just found out that they are not using Mach3 anymore on their systems, and you've answered why.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer.
Dan
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2018, 03:11:08 PM »
Hi,
LinuxCNC has a lot to recommend itself, its free and open source. Linux has realtime extensions which means that you don't require extra realtime
hardware as is required for Windows which is not realtime. The downside is that you need to be very very computer savvy to take advantage of it.
If you are not able to do that then you ill have to buy that expertise from someone like CandCNC and be locked in to their supply channel.

Mach3 is what it is, its fairly straight forward to do most things. Modifying it to do something special or modifying a screen is possible but not easy.
Mach4 is very much more flexible and can be modified any many different ways. The downside is that even simple installations will require some
customization and so you MUST be prepard to learn how to do it. Its not easy to start with and pisses a lot of people off, they expect that Mach4 will
be nearly 'plug and play' like Mach3 and its not.

If I'm not mistaken the your existing CandCNC controller has a parallel port input. Many of the readily available external motion controllers including
the UC100, UC300 and Ethernet SmoothStepper present their outputs as a parallel port which could in turn be fed into your existing CandCNC board.
Thereafter you can use just about any PC you want to run Mach3. You could expect to pay $120-$250 for a good external controller, I have deliberately
left the Chinese made ones off the list.

Craig

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2018, 06:10:24 AM »
You can get 32 bit Win7 computers on Amazon for pretty cheap.  I think mine came from Recircuit.
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2018, 08:34:39 AM »
One thing to note about Windows 7 and the parallel port: recent security updates have caused an issue where opening Mach3 or attempting to run the DriverTest will cause a reboot. Make sure that if you plan on using that operating system (or already do) you use it in an offline setting and/or disable automatic updates to avoid this.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 09:55:56 AM by bryannab »
Newfangled Solutions Helpdesk: http://support.machsupport.com
YouTube Support Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/MachSupportOfficial
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2018, 02:04:09 AM »
Hi,
engraversoflight is correct, refurbed XP or Win7 PC's are the cheapest way forward, no additional equipment required.

An external motion controller solution is a future looking solution. With the extra bit of hardware, the controller board itself, then just about any PC can be used
instead of the increasingly rare parallel port equipped PC's Additionally extra software loaded onto the PC is very much less inclined to upset Mach as is likely
with a Win7/XP 32bit PC and parallel port.

External motion controllers have hardware timers and produce very accurate and repeatable pulse streams which result in smoother motion. When I got my
ESS I was able to increase the max axis speeds and accelerations by one third without losing steps and the steppers run no hotter, maybe even a little cooler.

I had, prior to getting an ESS, resisted the arguments that suggested they were a better solution than a parallel port. I've changed my mind since using one. Of all
the pieces of hardware I've bought for my mill the ESS has proven to be the best value item....improvement per dollar spent.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2018, 06:33:48 PM »
Hi,
realized that's actually a lie, the best thing I ever bought was three Honeywell Roller Plunger microswitches for home switches at $60NZD or about $45USD. The ESS is next though....

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Which computer / operating system is best with Mach3
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2018, 07:18:11 AM »
@joeaverage/craig:

Are you serious when you say you see smoother motion out of your steppers when you use an external motion controller?

If so, what is the best one, and what are the best computer specs to use with one?  I am always looking to increase the quality (and speed) of my CNCs/V-Carving.

Thanks