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Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« on: March 19, 2019, 01:56:48 PM »
Working with a xyz table we purchased from Cncrouterparts that has a SmoothStepper as the brains and uses Mach3 to control the table.
Is there a way to remotely start the table from a input into the unit and when completed give a output that could be used remotely to know that cycle is complete, move the completed item out of the way and then we will be designing a feed type table to feed new product into place and once in place then start the xyz table?
In other words, we will the xyz table and automatically feed something into position and the start the xyz table and once the part is completed then give a remote output that could be used to signal the control system that part is complete now move it out of the way and move a new item in position on the xyz table.
Thanks
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 03:59:48 PM »
Hi,
what you have described is certainly possible in Mach4, I've upgraded from Mach3 2-1/2 years ago.

I'm sure it would be possible in Mach3 as well.......almost anything you can do in one you can do in the other.
Mach4s strength is the ease and flexibility with which it can be customized. The scripting language of Mach3 is
less flexible and so would require a greater effort to program as you wish but possible.

If indeed you have a SmoothStepper (Ethernet SmoothStepper by Warp9TD) then you could run Mach4 if you wish.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2019, 06:27:00 PM »
Thanks. This unit was purchased from Cncrouterparts and it is a very well designed and built unit with great instructions and documentation. Have no background in Gcode but was able to assemble and hook the Electronic kit and components up and follow the very well written instructions to get it to actually run.  Have been able to create a file of a image and run it on the machine. At the moment just working to get as familiar with this and Mach3 and using the plugin Lazycam to create the Gcode files from DXF files and experiment.  Actually nervous about  making a whole of changes since not very familiar with it and have actually left everything set up as it came from the builder. 
If i downloaded Mach4 and connected to it the same as we are with Mach3 and tried to get everything setup as similiar as possible to Mach3 such as Configurations etc. could you possible share what kind of problems we might run into?
Thanks
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2019, 07:31:17 PM »
Hi,
I think there are a number of issues that you need to consider.....and probably the choice between Mach3 or Mach4 is
less important than others.

The first thing that occurs to me is that you want to be able to load your machine and then to all intents and purposes
walk away from it while its working. I don't know how much CNC machining you have done but that sounds like a disaster
waiting to happen.

There is a reason that production companies employ CNC operators to run their machines......they need looking after.
Things like tool wear....the tool goes blunt....it overloads and breaks. The machine can't tell, that's the operators job.
A piece of material shifts in a vice, the machine cant tell and it carries on machining...crash.  Mach3 (or Mach4
or LinuxCNC or UCCNC.....) has a moment and your steppers lose steps, the machine can't tell and it carries on
machining....crash.

I could go on listing examples but the bottom line is that a CNC machine needs supervision. Very expensive production
machines with equally expensive dedicated hardware controllers like Fanuc and Seimens ($20,000 plus) run reliably
enough that an experienced operator might monitor several machines but still each machine needs supervision.

I would recommend that if you have a good quality machine which has been well integrated with a Mach3 controller
then I would stick with it for some time. Make some parts, gain some lots of experience. Once you have that
experience you will also know whether further automation of starting/stopping/loading material is realistic or not.

As far as the debate between Mach3 and Mach4.....both are Gcode interpreters and trajectory planners, so they both read
nearly identical Gcode and cut nearly identical toolpaths. There is little to pick and choose between them.
The real strength of Mach4 is its ability and flexibility to be customized. You are not ready yet to customize your machine
and therefore see no reason to break up what you have got.

Further down the track when you do, if your experience concludes that automation is desirable and realistic, then consider
the change to Mach4. If indeed your controller is based on an Ethernet SmoothStepper then you could change to Mach4
without any hardware changes or rewiring.

Changing from Mach3 to Mach4 can be quite challenging. No doubt if you do some reading on the forum you will find
comments along the lines 'Mach4 is complicated to set up', and there is a certain amount of truth to that. All that flexibility
that I have mentioned comes at a cost of complexity. Many recent converts or those upgrading from Mach3 seem to be of
the opinion that the software should operate this way......and another believes it should operate that way.....and all seem to
believe that it should operate perfectly with no setup involved. That is not the case. Fortunately there is now an increasing
body of knowledge on the forum and, say, the Warp9 website to assist.

You can put a ring around spending a week or more pulling your hair out but once over that hump it is much easier,
even a pleasure.

Thereafter there is still the challenge of learning Lua, the Mach4 scripting language. As it turns out Lua itself is pretty simple
but you need to combine that with understanding the underlying control structure and API of Mach4. I'm not going to say
its easy but its far from impossible. Once you have that under your belt then Mach4 is limited by your imagination only.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2019, 08:55:37 AM »
Thanks, yes my experience with CNC milling is actually 0, but have some Design techs that run our Haas machines working on this as well and agree that we still have a lot of learning to do with mach3 so as you suggested, will stay with that but always having to think down the road since we are a R&D department.
Without going into a lot of detail we actually will not be moving a end mill installed in a spindle, we are working at using the x,y,z and taking images we create with imaging software and then convert it to Z code and using the machine do move the x,y,z axis in the exact path of the shape of the image and instead of a spindle or router device we have a large nozzle mounted on the tip that is applying what I will refer to as a gasket type material in the shape of the end product we produced.  So far, our testing has been great but now to the point where we are asking questions such as how could the machine be started remotely and then is it possible to get a output from the machine when it is done with the image, if so could we then automatically remove the product and move in place the next item etc. 
Hope you understand that due to a lot of restrictions can not go into a lot detail of exactly what the end product is.
At the moment also looking at since the Cncrouter unit we purchased with the Ethernet smoot stepper control board was preconfigured to accept a external AC inverter that can also be purchased as kit to control a spindle but instead of a spindle control the output of a very large floor mounted extrusion machine.
Your advise has been very helpful and I am sure we will have a lot of questions as we continue, but since it is a R&D as you know we are always asked to try and prove a concept with as little money as possible and then if it is proved then move to full machine manufucturers, integrators,, etc. 
Thanks
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2019, 01:13:42 PM »
Hi,

Quote
So far, our testing has been great but now to the point where we are asking questions such as how could the machine be started remotely and then is it possible to get a output from the machine when it is done with the image, if so could we then automatically remove the product and move in place the next item etc. 

The answer is yes, it can be done. You will have to learn to program Mach3 in VB. I myself found VB and Mach3
very frustrating and elected to upgrade to Mach4 an Lua.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2019, 01:16:34 PM »
Thanks. Could you share where you would write the VB code
Thanks
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2019, 01:51:13 PM »
Hi,
the script editor is Operator/VB Script Editor per attached.

You will have to run it as a macro pump to continuously sample your remote input.
You might alternately use a 'Brain', ladder logic programming. Mach3 programming is not my forte.

I could do this with less than a dozen lines of code in Mach4 Signal Library table, no PLC script required.

Craig

« Last Edit: March 20, 2019, 01:59:56 PM by joeaverage »
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2019, 03:02:40 PM »
Thanks a lot.
Re: Mach3 with SmoothStepper Hardware Remote Start and Stop
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2019, 07:53:03 PM »
Not sure if this should be new topic but asking it here since a little detail about what i trying to do is explained in previous post.
We have a image file we created in Solid Works that is created as one continous line. The file we saved as a DXF file and then converted it with Slic3r and also with Lazycam from Mach3.
When we run the file on the Machine we have with Ethernet Smooth stepper as the main controls it will create the image. What we are doing for testing is a permanent marker mounted on the end of Z axis.
We select to Optimize it in Lazycam before we loaded it into Mach3 to run on the machine and it will create the image exactly as it appears but a couple of times the Z axis lifts up and the gantry will move a different section of the image if you follow it on the screen in Mach3 and continue even though we created the image as one continous line.
I hope this is making sense.
The problem this will create with the finished machine is that just as it lifts the permanent marker and moves it to a different section of the image as it is being created with a extruder nozzle mounted on the end extruding out a melted gasket type material it will mess up the actual product we are working to produce.
Now here is the dumb question- how to convert it to the Gcode file without the lifting and jumping to a different section even though the original file was created as one continous line if a effort to prevent what we are seeing. 
Thanks