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Mach 3 hardware drivers
« on: October 10, 2008, 06:53:36 AM »
Good afternoon all,

I have just registered with this forum as I am looking for a software system to drive my small CNC router/mill project that I have been working on.  It is a 3 axis gantry mill, which has a cutting area about the size of an A4 bit of paper, and around 100mm travel in z.  I currently have the mechanicals complete, and the Stepper drives all wired up, and I am about ready to build a breakout board and get the software side of things configured.

I have been recommended Mach 3, and looking at the website it seems like it will do everything I am looking for.

I do have a slight issue though, and that is that I only have access to a fairly low powered laptop (Dell Latitude D505 with a 1.5GHz Celeron M Processor).  I know it is not recommended to run the Mach 3 driver on a laptop, but I was wondering if anyone has had any success doing so?

The other option that I have just seen on here, is the ability to use an external hardware driver.  I have had a quick look over the "SmoothStepper" USB interface, and I was wondering if there are any other products out there that would do a similar job.  I quite like the idea of having an interface that allows some buffering, and is not entirely dependant on having a good spec desktop computer, and can work using a laptop or similar?

I'm off to do a LOT of reading of this forum now, and see what I can find out.  If anyone has any links to threads that might be useful to read, or has any advice, I would love to hear it!  Apologies for the "newbie" questions :)

Cheers
Andy

Offline Hood

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Re: Mach 3 hardware drivers
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2008, 07:27:43 AM »
Turning off all power options on a laptop may let you use it, there are lots of people using Laptops with no problem. There is only one way to find out ;)
 If you load Mach and then after the restart go to the Mach3 folder and double click on the drivertest.exe that will give you your first indication whether Mach is happy or not. You can also try the optimisation steps which may help.
 The SmoothStepper should let you run from a Laptop but as with anything in life there areĀ  no guarantees.

But as I said you may have no issues at all with the laptop :)

Hood

« Last Edit: October 10, 2008, 07:29:16 AM by Hood »
Re: Mach 3 hardware drivers
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2008, 04:41:38 PM »
Hi Hood,

I've ended up ordering a pair of SmoothSteppers :)  I did try the drivertest.exe on my laptop, and the pulse speeds were all over the place, very inconsistent.  Despite upgrading the processor to a 2Ghz Pentium M, and disabling all the power saving features, it was still very inconsistent.

From what I have read, the SmoothStepper should sort out all the issues with running the parallel port comms on a laptop.  Fingers crossed the wait list goes down a quickly!

Cheers
Andy

Offline Hood

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Re: Mach 3 hardware drivers
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2008, 05:19:14 PM »
Hopefully the SS will sort you out, it should do and I dont think I have heard of anyone yet that cant run from a laptop with the SS.
Let us know how you get on :)
Hood
Re: Mach 3 hardware drivers
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2008, 05:28:12 PM »
Will do :)

I'm sure there will be more questions from me, especially when it comes to optimising the setup for my machine :)

Cheers
Andy

Offline Hood

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Re: Mach 3 hardware drivers
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2008, 06:04:49 PM »
Well  someone here should know the answer to almost any question you have, there are very few that go unanswerd or unresolved :)

Hood

Offline RICH

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Re: Mach 3 hardware drivers
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2008, 06:13:04 PM »
Andy,
I run Mach on a old 400mhz / 512 k NEC Versa laptop with PP and works fine ( slow PC but it works).
The Dell Optiplex GX520 tower with oboard graphics will not work unless the SS ( Smooth Stepper ) is used.
The Dell Latitude with all the "junk" ie anitvirus etc will run using the SS ( just tested it for kicks / highly recommend a dedicated PC).
Like Hood said, never know until you try it! LOL
RICH