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Mach3 and UC100
« on: December 30, 2018, 01:30:02 PM »
I have an older Xylotex 4 axis controller board on my milling machine.  It has LPT DB25 port I used with my older notebook which bit the dust (the notebook).  My newer notebook has USB ports and Jeff at Xylotex recommended UC100 or the smoothstepper to go from LPT DB25 to USB port.  I am wanting to use the UC100 with Mach3.  Are there any known problems with external pulse generation?

Thank you in advance,  Ray
Re: Mach3 and UC100
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2018, 02:03:45 PM »
the UC100 has a good reputation.

Be aware that there are swags of Chinese knock-offs on Amazon and Ebay. If you want a UC100 get one from CNCDrive or their nominated
distributor. The knock-off is not a patch on the real thing....DON'T GET RIPPED.

The PMDX-411 and the 57CNCdb25 from PMDX and PoKeys respectively are very similar devices and every bit as good.

Note that all three of these devices hook up to USB and have one DB25 port as output, useful but restrictive if you want/need more IO.

The USB SmoothStepper by Warp9  has the equivalent of two ports worth of output. One port you can hook direct to your existing BoB but you would
require a second BoB to take advantage of the second port.

Note that the USB connected SmoothStepper is considered an old model, probably in its sunset years. The current and developing model is the Ehternet
SmoothStepper. The Ethernet connection is way faster and suffers from less jitter and is very much more immune to electrical noise.

If you want an external motion controller I would recommend Ethernet connected. Nearly all the good 'MachReady' manufacturers have gone to Ethernet.
It gives you an increased range of devices to chose from including the Ethernet SmoothStepper, the UC300, the 57CNC for instance.
If you buy cheap Chinese you can expect problems......a couple of hours reading on the forum will tell you that Chinese stuff seldom works the way
its meant to and they wont help you to get it going. If its really important to save money....take up knitting!

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach3 and UC100
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2018, 02:39:15 PM »
I planned on getting the UC100 from cnc4pc.  I appreciate your reply and the good information you gave.  The ethernet connection with UC300 sounds interesting also.  I also plan on using an optical isolator board for protection.  I will look at CNC Drive to.
Re: Mach3 and UC100
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2018, 04:05:04 PM »
CNCDrive is the Hungarian company that manufactures the UC100, UC300 and UC400, amongst other products.
CNC4PC is their US distributor so you'll get the genuine example from them.

CNCDrive is the owner/developer of UCCNC software, a direct competitor to Mach. Not withstanding the competing software
all the UC********* products have given great service to the Mach3 community and since CNCDrive has released its Mach4 plugin is
now giving service to the Mach4 community as well.

Part of the reason I drew attention to Ethernet connected devices is that all the examples I listed are Mach4 capable. That is to say
the manufacturer has invested the effort to produce a Mach4 plugin for their board. Any manufacturer who is willing to make that
investment in time and energy to write and debug a Mach4 plugin deserves credit for doing so.

No matter which way you cut it Mach3 is in its sunset years. All development has ceased five years ago, thus any bugs it has now it
will always have because no one is going to try to fix them. Recently there was hiccup where Windows Updates for Windows 7 caused
Mach's parallel port to fail. In the first instance the only way to avoid it was to wind back the updates and keep the PC off the net.
Then a registry patch was released. But note that the patch was developed by Mach Motion....not NFS. Mach Motion clearly must have
the Mach3 source code and the personel with the expertise to develop the patch. They were kind enough to share it with the wider Mach3
community despite NOT being Mach Motion customers.

There was no indication that NFS were concerned enough by the problem to devote any effort to fixing the WinUpdate issue. Had Mach Motion
not shared their patch it may well be that the problem would still exist. Indeed recently the Forum search and re-direct functions are faulty
and despite repeated and widespread complaints they have done nothing....not even responded to emails about the issue. I don't know whats
gone wrong inside NFS but their customer service has taken a BIG dive! It rather suggests that if left to NFS the WinUpdate problem would not
have been addressed.

While I may be pretty critical of NFS with regards to its support for Mach3 users that is certainly NOT THE CASE for Mach4.....there have been a succession
of powerful developments over the two years I've been using Mach4. My personal opinion is that Mach4 is already light-years ahead of Mach3. Not all,
in fact probably not many agree with me! Part of that is due to the fact that the external motion controllers that are pretty much mandatory with Mach4
are lagging in supported features, things like backlash compensation, lathe threading and THC. The Hicon Integra (the most expensive) motion board by
Vital Systems is by far and away the most developed of the Mach4 motion boards with both lathe threading and THC for instance. The ESS (Ethernet SmoothStepper)
is probably second placed with fairly recent releases of backlash compensation and lathe threading. There are rumours that NFS is going to release a THC screen
that would allow manufacturers like Warp9 an easier approach to supporting THC.

The message here is that the true functionality of Mach4 is in part the control software, Mach4, but ALSO the realtime support offered by the motion controller.
Mach4 is really pretty complete, its the realtime motion controller support which is lagging somewhat. It not fair to blame NFS for that lag.
CNCDrive is a relative newcomer to Mach4, its Mach4 plugin is about 18 months old and of all the Mach4 controllers least developed realtime
support features. Given that CNCDrive is more focused on their on UCCNC software it may be a long while if ever that the UC********* Mach4 plugins
ever get comprehensive realtime support. Thus any of the UC********* products are unsuitable for me, not because of quality or after sales support,
but rather the lack of realtime support features.

All in all I would have to recommend Mach4 because of its flexibility to address new and interesting machine control problems well in advance of Mach3.
I am developing ideas for a bore welder. It welds up the inside of a hole/bore so that it can be re-machined. All of the machines on the market have a rotating
MIG welding head that moves axially as it rotates. My concept is to have the weld head rotate per normal but can coordinate radial moves in addition
to the normal axial moves. This would allow the machine a marked increase in the range of bore sizes for which it would work and allow a programmable
means of determining weld deposition both axially AND radially. This is exactly the sort of thing that mach4 EXCELLS at!

Sorry for my rant.....as you can tell I am a rabid supporter of Mach4 and that NFS is certainly 100% behind the Mach4 effort while is very tepid about
Mach3 and apparently fixing the forum issues.

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach3 and UC100
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2018, 05:24:39 PM »
Hey Craig I am with you that Mach4 is better than Mach3.  I have trial versions of both.  I only used the Mach4 a couple of times.  I built little steam engines and used Mach3 to cut out the connecting rods from 1/8th inch thick aluminum and a few other goodies..
Re: Mach3 and UC100
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2018, 05:48:46 PM »
for simple milling and lathes operations there is little difference between Mach3 and Mach4. Given the extra cost of the motion controller and the
$25 difference between Mach3 and Mach4 most people claim that Mach4 is no advantage. Within the perspective of simple operations on
typical hobby mills and lathes I have to agree. Also given that Mach4 uses Lua and is a modular software program there is a steep learning curve to
customize Mach4 so the appetite for Mach4 goes from only moderate to very weak indeed.....'who wants to be a computer programmer just to do CNC?'.
There again I have to respect other opinions and even agree when it comes to simple machines and simple operations.

Where I do disagree with the 'Mach3 is the be all and end all' brigade is when it comes to solving more complex machine operations. I suggest you follow
the thread by cbrydtopper on the Mach4 board about the grinding machines he has developed with Mach4, its an excellent example where a committed
individual can develop his own world class solutions using the flexibility inherent in Mach4.

As far as your original question:
Are there any known problems with external pulse generation?

I recommend:
1) Don't buy Chinese junk
2) Buy genuine, there are a lot of rip-offs out there
3) Buy a controller which has both Mach3 AND Mach4 plugins so you can be flexible
4) Ethernet is preferred over USB
5) Don't buy Chinese junk (again ::))

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