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Help Request.
« on: August 22, 2018, 04:20:12 PM »
Dear All. First time on here as am seeking some help, support and services with my CNC activity. Some 4 years ago I purchased a complete CNC package from Marchant Dice, Devon. During these last 4 years if there has been issues with operation or technical or service then they have provided support!
They don't seem to be available of late and have no support in place.
I run Vetric design software, Mach 3, with a stand alone PC (XP with parallel ports!) in the workshop and as mentioned a Marchant Dice manufactured controller and CNC  bed with Kress router.
I am a small joinery operation and use the set up to manufacture house signs and cut joints for furniture, Kitchens, make templates for routing, this kind of thing.
It has proved to be invaluable and is a welcome asset to my operation.
I am not hugely advanced in computers or programming etc and see the CNC as a tool to solve complicated joinery issues.
Without support I require some services and advice for:

The the set up is due a service. (A reset of the Tramming amongst other tasks.)

Periodically the PC docent start up. The fix is to take out one of the PCB connections, talk to it nicely and put it back!!!! Odd I know but it works. (I would not be adversed to upgrading the PC side of my set up and run a later version of MACH on a more current operating system, in so doing do away with the parasol ports. But have not found someone to discuss this through objectively with. I like Mach 3 therefore am of a mind I would like later versions from these. I find it intuitive and user friendly versus another software pitched to me by Marchant Dice. Better the devil you know perhaps!)
I have done some cursory searching of the net to find an onward solution or service provider near me in Gloucestershire, UK.

Lastly. And a more immediate issue. This morning had a minor bump with a piece and the Kress stopped. Nothing I could do could get back up, swapped it out for the spare and this didn't seem to get up and running. Can someone please advise on this.

Sorry for longwinded opener to the Forum, and thanks in advance for any comments.
Regards Pete. ;D
Re: Help Request.
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2018, 05:39:35 PM »
the latest version of Mach3 is .062, a bit weird because there is a .066 version as well.
If you have a look under the Help Tab/About you will see the version you are running.
The chances are that its fairly similar to what you what you have because all development
on Mach3 ceased five years ago in favour of Mach4.

I use Mach4 and like it. Its a very different program and a lot of Mach3 users hate....tough...
Mach4 is what it is. If you really like Mach3 stick with it but note it will eventually go obsolete.

If you want to avoid a parallel port you will require an external motion controller like a SmoothStepper
or a UC300. There are plenty of cheap Chinese ones but they often don't work well and you won't get
much help with them. If you want one of those ....good luck. A US or European made one range
from about $120 upwards with a SmoothStepper ( ESS by Warp9 Tech Design) about $190US, and upwards.
Such a device (external motion controller) will allow you to use just about any PC you want including
laptops and 64 bit Windows OS's like Windows 10.

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Help Request.
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2018, 02:16:39 AM »
Many thanks for your response. A much appreciated summary of options going forwards. I am happy to make the jump to Mach4 and invest in new hardware / soft ware etc.... Is there a 'Go too' supplier in  the Uk for this. As would happily get involved, take some training etc....
Regards pete
Re: Help Request.
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2018, 06:58:41 AM »
I live on the opposite side of the globe, I don't know a good UK supplier.

If you are serious about updating you need to decide on an external motion controller, that will determine future development options.

All I know about your machine is that it has a parallel port. Does it have one or two? If it has one then you have 12 outputs and 5 inputs.
If you want/need more you will require a controller with more IO than the equivalent of one port.

Lets assume that you have one port and that is all you require. There are three devices that would be of interest to you, the UC100, the PMDX-411
and the 57CNCd25. All three are good and are very similar to one another. They connect to your PC by USB and have a DB25 socket as output mimicing
one parallel port. You might call them a USB to parallel converter but they have an FPGA inside them which makes them way WAY too clever to be
a converter, they are genuine external motion controllers.
These can be had for about $100 to $120. Beware the Chinese are making UC100 rip-offs and selling them cheap on EBay and Amazon, they don't
work like the real thing. Buy direct from the manufacturer or their nominated distributor or you will get ripped-off every time.

If you want more IO then you need to look at:
https://warp9td.com/  The ESS is the model of choice

These three devices have plugins for both Mach3 and Mach4. The UC300, the ESS and the 57CNC have 85, 51 and 57 inputs/output respectively. The UC300
and the 57CNC have some analogue inputs as well for extra flexibility.
http://www.pmdx.com/PMDX-424  Is a good two equiv port (31 inputs/outputs) offering by PMDX but is Mach4 only.

Warp9 Tech Design and PMDX are US companies, CNCDrive is Hungarian and I think PoKeys is UK based.

Thre are a couple of other choices, Vital SyStems (US) HiCon and CSLabs (Poland) CSMIO but they are expensive and I wouldn't recommend the CSMIO for Mach4.
The HiCon is about $600US but very VERY capable, price not withstanding, it is worthy of consideration.

I haven't bothered with any of the cheap Chinese, or even the not so cheap Chinese stuff.

My recommendation is to do some research on these units, decide on one. You could still run your existing copy of Mach3 even on your original PC. Those
could be updated later at your convenience. You will love the wide range of PC's and OS's that will now be very effective PC platforms for Mach. If you choose
from those I've mentioned you could update to Mach4 at a later date.

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Help Request.
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2018, 01:52:59 PM »
Good Evening Craig.
Thanks you so much for taking the time to respond so comprehensively.
I will take some time and study through all the links you have sent.
Much appreciated.
Regards Pete