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Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« on: July 05, 2018, 12:11:31 AM »
Hello everyone

Looking to upgrade to Mach 4 and would like to get a better I/0 card
What is the best I/O card out there, I would like lots of inputs and outputs for future features etc...


Thanks
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2018, 03:59:25 AM »
Hi,

http://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php/topic,37410.msg255891.html#msg255891


Three companies do a USB to single parallel port device, the UC100 by CNCdrive, the PMDX411 by PMDX and the 57CNCdb25 by PoKeys. All are good and economical and the
companies support their devices well but they only have one port ie 12 outputs and 5 inputs. Suitable for the simplest machines only. Beware places like EBay and Amazon, they sell
Chinese knockoff UC100's. Buy genuine or don't buy!

The PMDX-424 is a two port device with 34 IO's. Has lathe threading but not backlash comp nor THC. Superb quality and backup. No BoB required,
all IO is 'conditioned ' on board and has its own on board power supply. 100kHz output pulse rate max.

The Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS) is a three port device with 51 IO's. Has backlash comp, THC and lathe threading are being developed but not here yet. Great backup
and quality. BoBs are recommended to buffer the IO's, simple bidirectional C10's at $23.00 each are adequate. Note the USB Smoothstepper from the same company is
Mach3 only. 4MHz output pulse rate max.

The 57CNC has 57 IO's, several of which are capable of analogue input, which makes them flexible. To my knowledge they do lathe threading but not THC. Has a board level
programming feature which adds flexibility if you are prepared to learn to program it. The same company do the 57E and the 57U, Ethernet and USB connected respectively
which operate at a slower pulse rate and with reduced number of axes. They are fully expanded in the 57CNC and is preferred over its cheaper 57E and 57U siblings. Good
quality and support. 125kHz output pulse rate max.

The UC300 has five ports with 85 IO's. Good quality and support. Relative newcomer to Mach4 and has no backlash comp, THC or lathe threading. CNCDrive have not, to my
knowledge, committed to developing any of them. I understand BoBs are recommended to buffer IO's. Good value device with swags of IO. 400kHz output pulse rate max.

The HiCon is a high quality high priced board. Some of the features like THC you have to pay an extra activation fee, likewise for IO expansion and close loop extensions activation fees apply.
Despite the high price many owners report complete satisfaction. Backlash comp, THC and lathe threading are all supported, to be read in conjunction with the note regarding activation fees.
2 MHz output pulse rate max.

Galill is professional quality gear, expect to spend in excess of $2000. Extensive board level programming ability, IO expansion and pulse rates up to 22MHz, you could Gcode a radio station!!!
If you can afford one of these...would you get me one too!

CSLabs have a Mach4 plugin but its buggy. Worse CSLabs have slipped in their once enviable reputation for support and are slow to fix faults. Given the price being sort hard to recommend.

XHC has some Mach4 ready devices, but I've heard of one person only who has had any success with them. AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2018, 10:14:26 AM »
Sorry, but you have overstated the PMDX-424's number of I/O signals.
These signals do not try to mimic parallel port mapping, you just assign
them in the plug-in configuration by name.

It provides 4 axis step and direction, with a slaved 5th motor if desired.

There are 3 logic level outputs, plus one relay.

There are 8 isolated general purpose inputs.

There is an isolated E-Stop and fault input.

There are 3 non-isolated inputs that can function as an encoder with
Index, or as just general purpose inputs, typically panel buttons.

For more info, see:  http://www.pmdx.com/PMDX-424

Cheers, Steve
Steve Stallings
www.PMDX.com
For PMDX product support, please use PMDX forum or direct email for quickest response. We do not use this forum as our primary product support site.
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2018, 02:41:32 PM »
Hi Steve,
thanks for the correction.

Apologies to OP overstating the number of inputs. There is certainly more inputs than a basic one port device, although not as many as I thought.
PMDX have a reputation for producing quality and eminently practical gear. This board would easily accommodate most machines unless it had a big
remote control panel requiring lots of inputs.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2018, 10:33:06 PM »
I been looking at all the choices they all look pretty good
The HiCON Integra - 6-Axis looks very nice but it looks like you have to pay to unlock some of it features, i think that is a money grab the board fully unlocked will cost over 3000$
I know them guys work hard and takes lost of time to developed a board like that

The PoKeys57CNC looks pretty good, looks like you can do all kinds of things with it, lots of add on do dad's pretty cool but that one looks complicated

The PMDX-422 looks pretty good too, looks pretty easy to setup and it got a few add on boards etc..

The SmoothStepper looks like a good bang for your buck

I think i am going to get a PMDX-422 or a PoKeys57CNC not sure yet.

Also is Mach 4 that much better then Mach 3 ??

Thanks

   
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2018, 12:20:18 AM »
Hi,

Quote
Also is Mach 4 that much better then Mach 3 ??
In one sense they are very similar...they both control CNC machines to makes parts.
If you wish to cutomise your machine thats where Mach4 shines.

Mach4 is still being developed whereas Mach3 is not, eventually Mach3 will probably no longer work with current PC's
on OS's. You may have noted that various MS updates have given Mach3 users some grief recently, it hasn't stopped
Mach3 but it may do one day.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2018, 04:59:18 AM »
Hi,

Quote
i think that is a money grab the board fully unlocked will cost over 3000$
I think you are deliberately choosing the worst case scenario to make a criticism. Yes you could choose to activate everything and spend $3000 but why would you?

For instance if you want THC because you are building a plasma table then you will pay the activation fee. Who cares then about all the other stuff....you don't need it so
wouldn't buy it.

Probably the most confusing part of the activation components relates to closed loop operation. Certain servos, older ones particularly require the motion controller to close the loop.
Very few motion controllers can do this, much less do it well. If you require a motion controller to close a loop then PAY UP, you can have the HiCon for $300-$500 extra activation
fees or you can have the Gallil for an extra $2000. If you think they are profiteering.....'tough titty!' you don't want to pay... then don't have it.... or go to Linux CNC and try that!

As it turns out the need for the controller to close the loop is rapidly diminishing. Modern AC servos and their matching drives close the loop WITHOUT the controller having to do so
and usually much better than a general purpose controller in any event, and are steadily falling in price. The only time hobbyists require a controller with closed loop activation
is when they are trying to reuse older servos and drives on existing machines and trying to avoid the expense of replacing them with AC servos. Given the complexity and extra
costs of a controller loop closure verses the decreasing cost of AC servos (which are far more flexible and easier to achieve results which are difficult if not impossible with the old
method) closed loop activated motion controllers like the HiCon are losing their appeal. Don't get me wrong the HiCon is still a great open loop controller its just that its
increasingly unnecessary to pay the extra for the closed loop option.

All of the devices I've listed and the ones you have looked are very good and all with the exception of the PMDX-424 have both a Mach3 AND a Mach4 plugin
so you could use either. You will be happy with any of them.

I chose the ESS, in part because I seemed to understand it a bit better coming from a Mach3/parallel port background. I already had the two BoBs
I needed and it was  within my budget. I was less clear about the facilities of the 57CNC but have since realized it is a flexible device and a worthy competitor. At the time the
UC300 Mach4 plugin was not yet available.

One interesting point is that Mach4 allows only one motion controller to be active. In my case its the ESS. If I ever run out of IO or wish to take advantage of the
analogue inputs of the PoKeys 57 series I can do that too. I can load the 57CNC plugin but I don't HAVE to declare it a motion controller. it would instead become
another IO board. Clearly you couldn't expect realtime data sharing between the ESS (primary motion controller) and the 57CNC (auxiliary data input board) but you'd have
swags of IO and for probably less than a PLC of similar capacity. Indeed PoKeys owe their origins to data acquisition and data communication before they were exploited
as CNC controllers and they make superb data handlers.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2018, 10:46:38 PM »
Hi,

Quote
Also is Mach 4 that much better then Mach 3 ??
In one sense they are very similar...they both control CNC machines to makes parts.
If you wish to cutomise your machine thats where Mach4 shines.

Mach4 is still being developed whereas Mach3 is not, eventually Mach3 will probably no longer work with current PC's
on OS's. You may have noted that various MS updates have given Mach3 users some grief recently, it hasn't stopped
Mach3 but it may do one day.

Craig

I got a couple old windows xp machines to run mach 3 it run grate
I will probably get a copy of mach 4
I was planing on using 2 monitors i have one with the DRO etc.. and i have a touch screen i would use for all the buttons etc..
i guess Mach 4 would be better for that

Thanks
Re: Best Mach 4 I/O Borad ?????
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2018, 11:15:50 PM »
Hi,
I use a little dual core Atom single board PC with on chip graphics, way less than recommended for Mach4 but it runs fine.

Just about any PC will run Mach4, it will require an Ethernet port or a decent USB port depending on how your controller is hooked up.
I have heard of Mach4 running on XP, I use Win7 32bit on my machine but have used Win8 on my laptop as well. Not a lot to pick
and choose, they all work well, probably Win10 is the pick of the bunch.

The screen editing features of Mach4 truly set it apart, both from Mach3 but other Widows OS CNC software solutions as well.
To be honest I wouldn't get too hung up on modifying the screen sets which ship with Mach4, they are perfectly adequate as they are,
at least until you get some serious use and machining time under your belt.

It is not strictly required to learn to use Lua and the internal workings of Mach4 to set up a machine but many new users end up doing so
anyway. It is a real battle to start with but it gets better and in fact becomes quite a fun challenge. Its then you realize that the flexibility
and power of Mach4 far FAR exceed Mach3 even though you might be tempted to tear your hair out trying to get there!

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