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Author Topic: Newbie Question about Mach 3 to 4  (Read 776 times)

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Offline reuelt

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Re: Newbie Question about Mach 3 to 4
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2019, 01:34:28 AM »
Documented/USER Proven  SUMMARY

                              MACH4      MACH4            MACH4               MACH4
                              Plasma THC   Threading  Backlash Comp           Laser
UC300ETH(CNCDRIVE)  NO           NO                YES                 YES
57CNC   (Pokeys)      YES             YES                YES                 YES
PMDX-424                 NO           YES                 NO                 YES
ESS (Warp9)         YES (BETA)   YES                 YES                 YES
Hicon Integra (VITAL)    YES      YES                 YES                 YES

Please correct any mistakes...
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 01:39:08 AM by reuelt »
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Re: Newbie Question about Mach 3 to 4
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2019, 02:06:40 AM »
Hi Kevin,
when you think about it the controller is likely to be the one component of your machine which is never replaced
and it pays therefore to select a capable and quality unit because you will have it for years.

Over a period of time it is likely that you will change steppers for lower inductance units, thinking I wish I'd known
about inductance from the start. Just as possible that you'll end up with Gecko or some other high quality, high voltage
stepper drivers and matching toroidal transformer power supply.

You may find yourself ditching steppers altogether for servos.

You may find that while you started out with Mach3 that later you want the flexibility and the new functionality of
Mach4. Its likely to that the 'leftover junker' PC that you are using will get replaced, maybe more than once.

In short there may be little or nothing left of your original machine after five years as you modify and upgrade as experience
and budget allow.

What is likely to remain the same is the external controller. If you choose wisely the manufacturer will be releasing
firmware updates to match Mach's (Mach4 is still coming up with new stuff) increasing functionality.

The good news is that any of the manufacturers that I have listed ALL produce quality boards and each has a well
founded reputation for supporting their products in service. Just because they are all good quality does not mean they
are all the same. For instance the UC*** series by CNCDrive do have both Mach3 and Mach4 plugins they are not
fully featured as some of their competitors, particularly their Mach4 plugin has only basic realtime supports without
backlash comp, lathe threading and THC.

If you follow any of my posts you will find that I'm very scathing of XHC, especially their claim to having a functional
Mach4 plugin. If my comments appear overly vehement and bordering on Chinese bashing please accept my apologies.
The shame of it is that the XHC boards appear to be good quality but they have not and will not invest the time and the
energy to develop robust and Mach compliant firmware. They also have a bad reputation for support, if you encounter
a problem for which you want their help you will discover that they might as well be on another planet.

I notice Reuel has posted a list of supported realtime features of various Mach4 controllers, and well done Reuel.
The manufacturers seem somewhat reluctant to publish exactly what their device does and does not do. I believe
Reuel has it correct.

If I were to construct the table I would include another column for Spindle PID. Additionally it would be qualified
by either 'single pulse per rev' vs 'encoder input'. To my knowledge the ESS has both, the PMDX has single pulse
capability, the Hicon can be  activated (at a cost) to do it. To my knowledge neither the 57CNC or UC300 do not have it.
Spindle PID is very useful for threading ops.

I would have yet another column for Onboard Programming. PoKeys has the ability to program simple functions
on the controller board without Mach's oversight and therefore generate custom realtime functions. The Hicon
also has this ability but again a cost applies. The PMDX and UC300 don't have it, nor does the ESS although
Andy (Warp9) has expressed a development goal of an onboard API.

My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Newbie Question about Mach 3 to 4
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2019, 12:05:37 AM »
Thanks Craig, Reuelt. Much appreciated.