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Author Topic: Can Mach4 Controll a LinuxCNC Controller  (Read 299 times)

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Can Mach4 Controll a LinuxCNC Controller
« on: November 26, 2022, 02:59:07 PM »
I have a jd2 CNC Plasma table and not really a fan of the Mad GUI V3, Well  they use 2 computers one is a Users Pc while the other is a Single Board Computer SOC with Linux Debian & Motion that uses quite a bit of packages like ethercat, LinuxCNC,Machinekit all built into one, The Nuk or Users computer remotes to the Single board computer machinekit & linuxCNC to function. I would like to know if Mach4 is able to overcome these barriers while controlling my table? www.jd2.com is the manufactures of my table.
Re: Can Mach4 Controll a LinuxCNC Controller
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2022, 03:01:21 PM »
Re: Can Mach4 Controll a LinuxCNC Controller
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2022, 04:19:36 PM »
firstly this post belongs on the Mach4 General Discussion Board, no doubt Tweakie will shift it in due course.

The short answer is that I do not believe Mach4 would adequately control a LinuxCNC motion controller.

To expand the answer: Mach4 is principally Gcode interpreter and trajectory planner. Its output is packets of numerical data consisting of multiple 32 bit integers with each integer
representing the machine position of an axis. The data packet therefore describes the controlled point of the machine. These data packets are issued in 1ms time slices.
The data packets are delivered to a motion buffer, commonly 100ms to 200ms length.

The motion controller now has a stream of data describing the controlled point and its job to is generate accurately timed Step and Direction pulses to the motor drivers.
Note that the motion controller must have the hardware resources to generate simultaneous pulse streams at up to many hundreds of kiloHertz. Typically the hardware is
an FPGA or a microcontroller, and often both.

The motion controller manufacturer writes a software plugin that translates the raw Mach4 numeric output to a format to match the motion control hardware. In addition the plugin
will provide set-up firmware for the FPGA/uP.

I am not familiar enough with LinuxCNC motion controllers to be definitive, but guess that they operate in broadly a similar manner. The critical point is that such motion control boards
do not have a Mach4 plugin.

I can only guess that it would be possible to write a plugin for Mach4 to be able to communicate with LinuxCNC hardware, I'm guessing Mesa boards. If you sign a Non Disclosure Agreement with
NFS (the manufacturer of Mach4) then you would get the 'inside gen' on how Mach4 works and the tools to write a compliant plugin. Usually that is done by the manufacturer of the hardware
because they are intimately familiar with the hardware. In your case you would have to reverse engineer the Mesa hardware so you could write a plugin.

All of that is possible.....but the investment in time and effort would be huge.

If you wish to have Mach4 run your plasma table there are some choices which would be very much easier than writing your own plugin. The Ethernet SmoothStepper (Warp9TD) and the
Warprunner THC control board are a cost effective solution for example.

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