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Author Topic: printer port vs controller card ?  (Read 7957 times)

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Offline bubba

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printer port vs controller card ?
« on: July 10, 2008, 04:26:17 AM »
Which is giving the smoothest and most reliable operation, printer port or controller card?

Thanks,
Bubba

Offline Hood

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Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2008, 07:47:05 AM »
Depends and no difinitive answer. Some people the parallel port will be enough but for others cards like the SmoothStepper is not only nice to have but actually essential.
 Hood

Offline jimpinder

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Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008, 11:50:56 AM »
I find that LPY1 is more than adequate for my machine - although my requirements are relatively modest. I want to control spindle speed, which takes up two inputs (Ihave two spindles) and three outputs M3 M4 and my PWM. I want to control coolant, which takes up one more output, and I have three homing/positional switches. I might add a forth axis (rotary table)

My problem is that if I wanted anything else, the the LPT1 port cannot provide it.

I think therefore, if I was starting again from scratch, and had a modest budget, the the smooth stepper would be my choice a) for ease of connection - USB is the way ahead - and 2) it has more input and output capacity than I would think I would ever need - and 3)from what I understand it produces it's own stepper driver signals and therefore takes pressure off the computer, allowing it to do the computing - or allowing me to use a more modest computer - saving me some cash in the long term.
Not me driving the engine - I'm better looking.

Offline bubba

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Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2008, 01:34:23 PM »
Thanks for the response guys. I would still like to hear some more responses.
I have been using the galil card with a software called wingcnc for about 7 years
with very good results. But the software is very basic (no offsets g54 etc.)
And I could not see how a milling software would not run as good with out that $1000.00 +
controller card.

Which card seems to be the preferred and why?

I appreciate your feedback. I am setting up a second bridgeport series1 cnc machine, and this time
I really do not want to go thru 2 or 3 controller/ software before I am happy.

Thanks,
Bubba
Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2008, 01:53:11 PM »
Bubba-

Having watched some hardware solutions that looked good on paper come and then go, I now take a pretty conservative approach.

At this point the broadest and most stable performance with Mach is still the PP solution. The SmoothStepper is looking pretty good, but there is still some functionality it doesn't support, so I'd call it in "Alpha" form at this point, close to being in "Beta" when it will have implemented all the functionality of the PP Mach version.

If you are building your machine now, I would definitely go with the PP solution. I use a SoundLogic breakout board with mine and it has worked well, but there are other breakout boards that also give good results.

The good news about the SmoothStepper is that is appears to be pretty easy to move to it from a PP machine, and if it gets to the point where it is really rock solid and is in wide use by the Mach user base, including the Mach developers, then I'll move to it also.

Paul T.

Offline bubba

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Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2008, 02:08:32 PM »
Thanks Paul,

What type of machine are you running now on the pp ? (i assume this means printer port)
Do you have any knowledge of the G100?

I am like you very conservative about buying and trying new control/ software. Since 1997 I have
probably thru away $20,000 buying machines, controllers, and software which sounded real good on
paper and turned out to be junk in manufacturing.

Thanks,
Joe

Offline Hood

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Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2008, 05:15:18 PM »
I would say the SS is a bit more than Alpha but thats just my opinion. It still has some issues and things that are not available yet but I have been using it on my mill for over 6 months now and its working well. The problems are that if you dont use breakout boards between your hardware and the SS you may suffer from noise which can trigger limits etc. This can be cured by attaching capacitors between the pins on the inputs to the SS and its 0V pins. Greg is working on digital filtering so hopefully that will not be needed shortly. If you are using a breakout board then the noise issue should not be a problem.
 I also have a large lathe which at the moment is still using the parallel port (actually two PP) I have a SS waiting to put onto the lathe as soon as the Spindle Sync is completed and it will then allow me to get the full potential out of my lathe. At the moment I am limited to 3.5M/min as the parallel port cant put out a fast enough pulse rate for my setup (2000 line encoders) but this will be all in the past when I put the SS on it as I could if I was brave enough boost the rapid speed to 20M/min. The other main things that are not implemented yet on the SS are Backlash and Softlimits. I have tested a Beta plugin for the softlimits and its working reasonably well but just not totally perfect.

 I think I would shy away from the G100, not had one myself but from what I hear they will not be any more development in the firmware of them and there are a lot of issues. Whether this is correct or not I cant say 100% but would advise you to do quite a bit of research before you get one.

Hood

Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2008, 05:16:02 PM »
Joe-

I run Mach with a PP on a stripped down XP machine dedicated to Mach only. Its worked well for several years now on my BP sized mill. Its a little under the recommended min now at 667Mhz (it wasn't when I first set it up) but so far that hasn't been an issue, but I'm not running the latest release which apparently is a little more CPU hungry than earlier versions, I'm running a 3.02 version and also I run at the default 25khz kernal rate.

I would stay away from the G100, it looked promising when first introduced but it has a fundamental design bottleneck that limits performance for 3D machining and anything else that requires fast G code execution. I also don't think it acheived a large enough critical mass of users that the support for it will continue much longer, at least not at the priority level given to the PP Mach version.

Paul T.
Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2008, 05:23:02 PM »
I would say the SS is a bit more than Alpha but thats just my opinion.

Hood, I agree with that (and was attempting to say the same thing in my post), the SS guys have clearly done a lot of hard work and are making good progress and it appears shortly they will be at Beta, ie all PP equivalent functions implemented but further testing needed.

I poked at the SS design a little bit a while ago regarding both 3D performance and absolute real time response (both important to good performance with Mach) and I liked the answers that came back, so it appears that a lot of thought went into the SS design. I'm hoping it both meets the design goals and gets heavily adopted by Mach users, if both those things happen it should have good long term success and I'll be popping for one also.

Paul T.

Offline bubba

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Re: printer port vs controller card ?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2008, 07:03:14 PM »
Thanks Guys,

Much to learn before I take the next step it looks like.

I talked to Marris from Gecko today, and he told me with steppers unless I need to go faster than 300ipm (which I would never do on a Bridgeport)
that the G100 is not going to do anything that the printer port will not do. I would use a breakout board for sure. I do not want to have any noise
issues.

Are you guys happy with the performance of using the printer port?  ( no lost steps, smooth motor function)
I have been using a g210 Gecko on my 4th axis for years, and have been happy.

I just recently started using a g210 on my Z axis. I had a Ahha board go bad, and as they are not around any more I decide to try a G210.
I am absolutely amazed of the performance! With the Ahha I was never able to reliably have more than 80ipm rapids on the Z without stalling.
With the Gecko I tested up to 190ipm before getting stalls frequently.
I ended up setting the rapids back to 100ipm for now.

Since the software I currently run wingcnc is a vectoring software all of my rapids were limited to the 80ipm before, this is a huge performance gain for me.

I want to switch to mach3, I am just trying to do my homework before I make the leap.

Thank you so much for your input !
Joe