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Author Topic: Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.  (Read 256 times)

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Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.
« on: June 27, 2021, 03:38:30 PM »
I have a DIY plasma cutter and I want to upgrade it's control system.

Are there any recommendations on what would be the best machine control board. I'll be using Mach 3, a torch height controller, DM542T stepper drivers, touch-off height control on the Z and dual steppers on the X axis.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Tom
Re: Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2021, 06:55:03 AM »
Hi,
plasma creates a lot of noise, electrically speaking, and therefore you should settle for no less than an Ethernet connected
motion controller, USB is just too noise prone.

Any decent plasma table must have good THC and all the best tables have sophisticated anti-dive strategies as well.
The majority of the cheap Chinese made controllers DO NOT support realtime THC let alone any anti-dive algorithms.

That leaves the mainly US and European made controllers. The one I am most familiar with is the Ethernet SmoothStepper by
Warp9 TD. It supports realtime THC with a THC controller like a Proma, but has very modest anti-dive functions when partnered
with Mach3.

With Mach4 however and the TMC THC controller you will have high bandwidth THC AND sophisticated anti-dive algorithms.

If you don't want or can't afford a hardware THC controller like a Proma or a TMC Mach4 has a script based THC function with
a pretty respectable 10-20Hz bandwidth, so still not a patch on a realtime THC controller, but its still a step in the right direction.
Mach3 cannot offer the processing speed to do what Mach4 does.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2021, 10:07:05 AM »
Hi Craig,

I really appreciate the help. I've heard good things about the Smooth Stepper board and I'm leaning in that direction. Of course that leads to more questions.

Do you have any recommendations on what break out board would be best suited to this controller? I will be using a Proma 150 and DM542T drivers.

Is there any preference of USB or Ethernet to interface the Smooth Stepper?

It looks like the board is available with either a ribbon cable or screw terminal interface. My preference would be the screw terminals; any down side to that?

Again, thanks for the help.

Tom
Re: Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2021, 03:50:14 PM »
Hi,

Quote
Is there any preference of USB or Ethernet to interface the Smooth Stepper?

Ethernet most certainly, aside from the fact that the USB connected SmoothStepper is no longer manufactured.

Quote
Do you have any recommendations on what break out board would be best suited to this controller?

Many are opting for the three port MB3 from CNCRoom. Its not cheap, but a good balance of input/outputs and well made.
Another alternative is either one, two or even three C10's at $23.00 each. They are single port bi-directional BoBs. You will be
required to add a little circuitry if you want opt-isolators or relays for instance, cheap but flexible.

Quote
I will be using a Proma 150 and DM542T drivers.

The Proma is suitable for use with Mach3 but a poor choice for Mach4, and you really REALLY want the THC and anti-dive that
a TMC and Mach4 give. All development on Mach3 ceased six-seven years ago....don't saddle yourself with an out-of-date software system.

Quote
It looks like the board is available with either a ribbon cable or screw terminal interface

The ESS has ribbon cable output ports only, they connect to one or more breakout boards. Its not recommended to hook direct
to the ESS, always via a BoB which will typically have screw terminals.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2021, 12:21:47 PM »
Hi Craig,

I've decided to go with the ethernet Smooth Stepper along with the C25 BOB. It seemed like the easiest solution and easiest to connect.

The last question I have is your comment about Mach 4 being a poor choice for the Proma but still suggesting I switch to Mach 4. Is the anti-dive feature worth the Proma issue?

Again, thanks for the help.

Tom
Re: Need a recommendation for control board for plasma cutter.
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2021, 07:55:06 PM »
Hi,
the TMC unit is recommended with Mach4 and the ESS. The Proma unit does not have any anti-dive algorithms
whereas the TMC unit does.

The TMC unit has a Mach4 plugin which means it has software running on the PC which includes anti-dive. The Proma on the
other hand as no such plugin. They both have THC_UP and THC_Down signals as they need to be realtime but that is where the similarity
ends. The ESS THC support was designed and optimised for use with the TMC unit. It will still work with the Promas  THC_UP and THC_DOWN
signals but you'll miss on ALL the anti-dive.

Anti-dive is what separates hobbyists tables from the real thing.......you need to decide what sort of table you want.

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