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Author Topic: Usb/parallel  (Read 14684 times)

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« on: January 06, 2019, 04:41:04 AM »
I wish to build a mill but the parallel port usb question confuses me. I have a pc with win 7 and a laptop with win 10, neither has a parallel port. Do I purchase a control board for usb and will this work with mach3 and 4 as well. As yet I have purchased no parts but I do have fusion 360 already
Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019, 05:38:48 AM »
a parallel port runs on Windows 7 32bit and earlier OS's only and only desktop PCs at that.

Any 64 bit OS will require an external motion controller, some are USB connected, some are Ethernet connected.
Ethernet connected is preferred, much lower latency and the connection is much more resistant to electrical noise.

If you have Fusion 360 then the PC on which it runs must be 64 bit as Fusion won't un on 32 bit machines. If it was your intention to
run Mach on the same PC then you require an external motion controller.

There are three very similar (good) USB input/DB25 output motion controllers, the UC100 (CNCDrive), the PMDX-411 (PMDX) and the 57CNCdb25 (PoKeys).
They have the equivalent of one ports worth of inputs/outputs, OK for simple machines but a bit restrictive if you want more features. All around $120.

Note that the UC100 is very popular so there are hundreds of Chinese knock-offs on Amazon and EBay. DONT GO THERE, they are not nearly as good as the real thing.
Buy genuine from CNCDrive or their nominated distributor.

If you want more inputs and outputs then there are a few economical multi-port devices like the UC300 (CNCDrive), The Ethernet SmoothStepper (Warp9 TD),
the 57CNC (PoKeys). These devices cost a bit more, around $150-$200 and the UC300 and the SmoothStepper require a breakout board as well, probably allow
as much as another $150 for a good breakout board. The good news is that these boards all have over 50 inputs and outputs, enough for you to expand.

You will note that I have not mentioned any Chinese made stuff......they kick you off here if you swear and Chinese made CNC electronics make me swear!
If you want to buy cheap then have a go but you will find that the Chinese manufacturers won't help you to get it to work and a lot of the regular contributors
on the forum will ignore your pleas for help as well.....we're heartily sick of trying to get cheap Chinese stuff to work.

At this time there are five mainstream manufacturers of Mach4 ready boards including the UC300, the Smoothstepper and the 57CNC. Thus one of those devices would
do Mach3 OR Mach4. Note that because Mach4 is fairly new and emerging the controllers have varying levels of real-time function support. Thus if you need something
like lathe threading or THC then you should do some research before you buy.

There is one Chinese manufacturer who claims to have a Mach4 controller, XHC. Its quite a nicely designed and built device but the Mach4 plugin is buggy as hell.
If some one tries to sell you one walk run away!

Tell us a bit more about what you want your machine to do and what sort of budget you have to do it and maybe we can pick a reasonable solution.


'I enjoy sex at 73.....I live at 71 so its not too far to walk.'
Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2019, 11:55:13 AM »
Hi Craig
Thanks for your quick response.
I'm in England by the way with regard to my purchasing options. It would only be used for light milling for model making 3 axis no particular intention to mill alloy or steel , just wood plastic depron balsa etc.
Do I take it the your suggesting Mach 3 with a  non Chinese controller with Ethernet into the laptop using 64 bit.
Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2019, 12:40:05 PM »
Sorry for dumb question but I've just had a look at cnc4you who appears to be the uk distributor. Is the UC 100 just some kind of parallel to usb convertor? Can you not buy a controller that has usb or Ethernet output already built in.

Offline ger21

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Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2019, 12:56:32 PM »
Is the UC 100 just some kind of parallel to usb convertor?

No, the UC100 is a USB controller with a parallel port interface.

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Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2019, 01:28:02 PM »

I'm in England by the way

You poor, poor sick little puppy! My heart bleeds....LOL

I live in New Zealand so when it comes time to get hard to find parts from around the world...trust me I know.

CNC4PC is CNCDrive's distributor and so you can be confident of getting the real thing. The UC100 has a short USB cable which plugs into your PC
and a DB25 parallel port plug as an output. You might think of it as a USB to Parallel converter, but its not, its way to clever to just be called a converter.
Inside it is an FPGA and it is way WAY clever, none the less it does perform like a converter.

For a simple machine such as you have in mind a UC100 would be adequate. A UC100 has 12 outputs and 5 inputs.
Inputs are very constricted. You need one input for an EStop and you'll certainly want one for a probe, so you now only have three
left for limits, homes and anything else you require. It can be done, after all that was what many of us did when we had only the parallel port.

A couple of years ago I bought an Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS), and that has 51 inputs and outputs, enough to shake a stick at! For the extra few dollars/pounds/
Euros/sheckels I would go for a more capable device than a UC100. CNC4PC will be able to supply a UC300 for instance. If I'm not mistaken PoKeys is a UK company.
The ESS is US made.

With a UC300 or an ESS you would require a breakout board/boards. Gerry recommends CNCRoom products as good quality at around $150. There are much cheaper
breakout boards that perform perfectly adequately also. Note that the UC300 and the ESS are Ethernet connected and is preferred over USB.

There are two brands that are worth mentioning on the basis of industrial quality.

The Hicon Integra by Vital Systems (US) is a very capable controller both Mach3 AND Mach4 and superbly built. It can be activated for analogue servos, THC etc.
The entry price for the Hicon Intergra is $600 USD.

The CSMIO by CSLabs (Poland) also has an excellent reputation for build quality and is very capable with Mach3. Their Mach4 plugin is buggy...it does work
but for the money paid its not really up to snuff. The company used to have an excellent reputation for after sales support but there has been disturbing rumours
that that has changed and they are not nearly as responsive as they used to be. Excellent build quality for about 600 Euro.

I personally would not consider CSMIO partly because of price but mostly because of their lack of support/enthusiasm for Mach4. For you being in the UK
may well find them a better fit.

You may find the thought of laying out some serious dough for a controller and/or a breakout board a steep step to take. If you choose wisely you will
use that controller for many years, even as ALL the rest of the machine gets upgraded and replaced, the same controller will still be churning away.
The controller is the heart of the machine, be prepared to spend a bit of time researching the features offered by each and be prepared to pay for
quality. You'll pay double if you try to buy on the cheap.....a few hours reading on the forum will convince you that those who buy cheap seldom have
a smooth experience.

'I enjoy sex at 73.....I live at 71 so its not too far to walk.'
Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2019, 03:11:46 PM »
Craig many thanks for your efforts to enlighten me, cnc4you comes up as the uk distributor on the cncdrive website, it seems a very steep learning curve, ignoring far eastern copies and pirate Mach software is the first obvious step but that puts the price up and I've only just begun to get my head around what fusion 360 can do.
Now that have a starting point can you point me in the direction of a schematic starting with say an ethernet equiped laptop win 10 64 bit running Mach 3/4 through the controller/drivers/steppers to make sure I've got my head round this as every forum topic seems to have a zillion hits and I'd be dead and buried before I read half of them. I've never seen a forum with so many replies to any question raised
Bob from good old Blighty
Re: Usb/parallel
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2019, 05:54:25 PM »
you are starting to narrow down the choices.

You need to decide whether you go Mach3 or Mach4. For simple machines there is little to pick and choose between the two. For a new build
machine mach4 makes sense.

All development ceased on Mach3 over five years ago. Any bugs it has, and it does have them, will not be fixed. That is not to say that Mach does not
work or that it doesn't have a huge user base, it does. A while back Microsoft updates screwed with a lot of Mach3 users installations. A patch has been
formulated but there may well come a time when no patch is forthcoming. There is no cheap upgrade path from Mach3 to Mach4. It does not make sense
to me to buy Mach3 for $175 only to face having to buy Mach4 for $200 a year or two down the track.

There is a wide selection of controller/breakout hardware, including Chinese stuff that works with Mach3, and the prices reflect that competition.
The better US and European brands not so much.

If you are inclined to go with Mach4 then not all controllers are equal. The real-time support features are not all the same. I have attached a pic
of what I believe is the current situation with regards the recognized brands with respect to Mach4 functionality.
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS IS ONLY MY OWN BEST KNOWLEDGE!!! I do not have manufacturers guarantees or anything like it, please don't quote me
and do confirm your selection with the manufacturer.

You see that the ESS and UC300 require a breakout board and I would recommend one for the 57CNC. A breakout board provides some measure of protection
for the controller which is the reason I recommend it for the 57CNC.

CNCRoom do nice breakout boards for both the UC300 and the ESS, in fact they do combos, ESS+MB2 OR UC300+UB1. The breakout boards themselves
are about $150.

There are cheaper alternatives. I use the MB02 (I know, confusing between CNCRoom and Homann Designs boards!) by Homann Designs in Austrailia.
They are about $40USD each, I have two. Note they don't have dedicated relays or a PWM to ananlogue converter, I added those myself.
Even cheaper is the C10 from CNC4PC at $23 each, there again you probably will want two. The C10 does not have dedicated relays or an D to A converter

My forte is electronics and so I made whatever specialized circuits I required rather than buy a solution from CNCRoom. If you cansolder stuff together
you too could take advantage of the cheaper boards, if not then go for the CNCRoom boards.

As I posted earlier much of the other machine hardware steppers, drivers etc may well be replaced or upgraded throughout the life of the machine. A good controller
and breakout board will last the life of the machine. It makes economic sense to get a good quality controller/ breakout board. Given the long service life the
controller/breakout board is actually one of the cheapest parts of the machine....it just comes as a bit of a shock at the beginning!

'I enjoy sex at 73.....I live at 71 so its not too far to walk.'
CNC 6040 CNC USB set up
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2019, 12:43:04 PM »
Hello all,

Newbie to the forum here.

Bought a 6040 1.5W spindle (yes, made in China) with USB connection.  Of course, the seller neither included any assembly instructions nor system set up instructions.  Fortunately after days of searching the web, i was able to have the unit "ON".  Here are my 2 biggest challenges:

1.  All system configuration literatures are written for "parallel" port set ups when they talk about pins 1 to 17.  I need to set up configs with USB connection, and
2.  No matter what I tried (changing d0032 to 1, or vice versa), the spindle will not "spin".  All step motors operate normally.

Any words of wisdom and tips would be greatly appreciated!