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Parker controller 6x and mach4
« on: June 12, 2019, 08:12:43 AM »
I’m converting mill to cnc and have a Parker 6X 8 axis controller and would like to use mach4 as software. Can this be done? I’m not sure how to go about this or where to look. Sorry if this is a stupid question. Thanks
Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 02:56:00 PM »
Hi,
if I understand correctly your Parker controller is an Ethercat master. I presume therefore that the servo drives are Ethercat
slaves enacting a 'distributed motion control' solution.

Would you post some more identifying information about it?

Neither Mach4, or Mach3 which preceded it are capable of Ethercat (realtime) communication.

I believe the Hicon Integra motion control board can be activated to be Ethercat capable. You could use Mach4 to drive the
Hicon which in turn forms Ethercat communications with your existing Parker controller

Another alternative is if the existing servo drive are step/direction capable in addition of Ethercat (highly probable) then
you could remove the Parker 6X and replace it with a regular step/direction motion controller like an Ethernet SmoothStepper.

Yet another alternative is LinuxCNC. Because LinuxCNC is based on a realtime Linux platform it can do Ethercat comms
directly.

Craig
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Offline Chaoticone

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Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 03:11:22 PM »
Mach4 can be an Ethercat master.  :)
;D If you could see the things I have in my head, you would be laughing too. ;D

My guard dog is not what you need to worry about!
Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2019, 03:36:19 AM »
Hi,

Quote
Mach4 can be an Ethercat master.

That may be so but Mach4 cannot support realtime Ethernet communications. The Hicon can do realtime Ethernet
comms and is used by Mach4 as the buffer.

Craig
My wife left with my best friend...
     and I miss him!
Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2019, 03:48:59 AM »
Hi,

https://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php?topic=35057.0

Had this discussion a while back and Smurph advised me that a Windows PC cannot directly be an Ethercat Master
because of the lack of realtime determinism, its not that Mach4 is not capable but rather that it can't do realtime comms.

Craig
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Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 09:58:21 AM »
You might want to ask Smurph about this again. A lot can change in 2 years.
;D If you could see the things I have in my head, you would be laughing too. ;D

My guard dog is not what you need to worry about!
Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2019, 03:05:42 PM »
Hi,

Quote
Windows does NOT have what it takes to ever be a real-time system.  It will never be "real-time enough" to get the job done.  It has a hard time even calculating what a millisecond of time is.  Forget microsecond and nanoseconds.  All of the systems that use Windows for real-time are not really using Windows at all but are rather using another operating system hidden behind the scenes.  It is very much the case where two machines running, one real-time and the other Windows, on the same hardware.  There are multiple ways to do this, but the common idea is that Windows doesn't do the real-time processing, ever.  It just looks like it does. 

That seems fairly definitive.......its the Windows PC that is the limitation. It is no more a realtime system now than two years
ago.

It is possible to layer on a realtime core, Interval Zero is one such solution. A couple of years ago it was going to cost $16,000USD
just to buy the software tools alone, that's still no license to use and sell it. Even if the price has come down by half over two
years I'm still not interested.

If I was that desperate to use Ethercat I would use a Hicon. I have suggested to Warp9 that they consider Ethercat as a development
goal....and I suspect that they were already thinking along those lines, only time will tell.

As far as OP is concerned his Parker controller is mismatched to Mach4. Mach4 is natively a centralized step/direction
CNC solution, it could be made to do Ethercat but at the cost of complexity.

My advice to him would be to look closely at the servo drives, if they can be step/direction driven then ditch the Parker 6X
and use an ESS ($190 plus BoB). Most servo drives which are Ethercat capable are also step/direction capable. I have
encountered drives that are Ethercat only, but the overwhelming majority retain step/direction capability. That suggests
a high probability that he could ditch the 6X in favor of an ESS, or other step/direction controller.

Craig
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Offline smurph

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Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2019, 01:12:38 PM »
We now have a solution that uses Interval Zero RTX64 and the KingStar EtherCAT master.  We have it running on a Matsuura MC500 at the shop and it is pretty sweet.  :)  Interval Zero wrote the plugin for Mach 4 and they did a really good job. 

Mach runs on Windows (just like normal) and the KingStar EtherCAT master runs in the RTX64 RTOS.  So the above quote still holds true. 

I must say that I'm very impressed with RTX64.  I was able to install it on my development machine and I instantly had a hard real time environment in which to play.  The point being, you don't have to start from scratch and load some OS and then load Windows on top.  It is pretty much just like installing any other program on an existing Windows PC. 

One thing I would say is if your were thinking about a RTX64/KingStar solution, don't skimp on the PC on which to run it.  The CPUs with integrated video are not good real time candidates for any RTOS.  Interval Zero can spec out a decent PC for the job. 

MachMotion also has an EtherCAT master solution as well.  And, of course, the aforementioned future VitalSystems EtherCAT master.

So Mach 4 is certainly positioned for use in the EtherCAT world.  But I would not expect that EtherCAT is going to be the most popular option for a hobby machine.  It is very much an industrial solution. 

Back to the OP's question about the parker controller.  Parker would have to get with us at Mach to get a developer key and then develop a plugin for Mach 4 like Interval Zero did.

Steve
Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2019, 01:43:32 PM »
Hi Smurph,
what is the cost of RTX64 RTOS?

It was prohibitively expensive for hobby use as of a couple of years ago.

Craig
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Re: Parker controller 6x and mach4
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2019, 02:01:30 PM »
I'm not sure exactly what the pricing is at this point.  Not my cup of tea, so to speak, as I'm a programmer and HATE anything and everything marketing.  LOL  I just know that it won't be "prohibitive".  While it is primarily an industrial solution, I think it will certainly be within reach of hobbyist that want a high end machine.  When you purchase the EtherCAT master (KingStar), you also get the RTX64 runtime (that KingStar run upon) and the Mach 4 plugin.

I have heard that the product launch will be coming VERY soon.  So we will all know shortly. 

Leadshine has some EtherCAT stepper drivers that are nicely priced.  Automation Technology has them on their site:  https://www.automationtechnologiesinc.com/products-page/ethercat-stepper-driver/

Steve