View Full Version : ROLAND CAMM-2 PNC-2300A Conversion?

22-10-2016, 11:14 AM
Morning All,

I've been thinking as it will be a little bit longer till I can get my proper CNC built that I would pose the question about my little ROLAND CAMM-2 PNC-2300A as some of you may know it runs some Roland proprietary based software called Dr Engrave which to be honest I find a pain to get to to what I want it to do as you can't set anything properly (or I'm too dense to do it right)

I'm wondering as I've seen older post about people converting these to run better be it by replacing the EPROM or the controller board itself, if anyone could recommend any changes or mods I could look into for it?

I did debate a GRBL conversion and still have the board for that, but I stopped when I realised I may have issues controlling the spindle (correct me if I'm wrong).

But any help suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.



Robin Hewitt
22-10-2016, 09:40 PM
I hacked a CAMM-3, not hugely difficult because I had the circuit diagram and I was able to disassemble the Z80 code in the EPROM's.

Other people simply hacked into the stepper drivers and wired in MACH-3 losing access to all the pretty little bells and whistles.

The stepper software broke the motion down in to a series of straight lines and it was really neat. I ripped it off shamelessly. When you add accelerations and decelerations the following lines can affect what you do in the current line. Their trick made that easy. I had great fun writing an emergency Pause Restart but I become boring.

If you are not a total geek Mach-3 is the way to go :anonymous:

24-10-2016, 02:32 PM
Am I missing something or is it really as easy as just rewiring in something like this Mach3 controller board like the one in the link?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5-Axis-MACH3-CNC-Breakout-Board-Interface-for-Stepper-Motor-Driver/121924104910?_trksid=p2047675.c100009.m1982&_trkparms=aid%3D888007%26algo%3DDISC.MBE%26ao%3D1% 26asc%3D39809%26meid%3Df8d020bade8a45ddad8d21ab6cf 3ba41%26pid%3D100009%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26sd%3D322 283133685


Robin Hewitt
24-10-2016, 05:44 PM
There you go using the e word and the j word.

Both e and j depend on how savvy you are :eagerness:

24-10-2016, 05:59 PM
I have no issue with the wiring or electrical side of this so savvy in that respect(to a point lol), I just wondered if it was as simple as replacing the controller side and rewiring up to it or have I missed something vital?

As all the other parts motors, psu, etc.. are still there

John S
24-10-2016, 06:14 PM
The hard bit is isolating the step and direction signals on the bpard for the inbuilt drivers.
If you can do this then yes it is easy.

24-10-2016, 06:19 PM
Forgive my lack of correct wording on this, but are you referring to the 2 wire pairs on the stepper motors or do you mean wiring on the controller board that I pick up?

John S
24-10-2016, 07:46 PM
On the breakout board for a 3 axis machine you will have 6 outputs X, Y, and Z, step and direction.

You will need to find out where these 6 wires need to go on the internal Roland board so that the board can power the steppers.

Failing that you will have to throw the Roland board away and fit three new stepper drivers that you have a wiring diagram for. Then wire the logic side to the breakout board and the output side to the existing steppers.

In the long run this may be easier as you then have known and replaceable components instead of a very old Roland board that could crap out at any moment.

Chances are the Roland board is either full step or half step at best. New drivers will give you micro-stepping to get a smoother drive.

24-10-2016, 11:15 PM
So in theory, if I wired directly from the steppers to say a grbl board that would be all it needed as that has the stepper drivers and also the grbl firmware on the arduino, then just control the spindle with a relay or similar?

John S
24-10-2016, 11:26 PM
No idea I'm not into garbled boards and arduino's

24-10-2016, 11:34 PM
Fair enough lol, so if I went for a mach3 board with stepper drivers and then removed the standard control board and wired straight to the mach board which I'm assuming is the same principle?

25-10-2016, 01:01 AM
However, any kind of board with inbuilt drivers will usually not be ideal. Certainly the older TB based boards were pretty unreliable, however I suspect given this application you won't be pushing the stepper driver chips that hard, so it shouldn't be a problem. Most problems seemed to occur when people were trying to push the boards to the voltage/current limits.
GRBL with suitable stepper drivers would work, but you'd need to see if it will do what you need it to. Although I've looked at GRBL, it was only a quick look a while ago, so I have no idea of it's current capabilities.

25-10-2016, 11:56 AM
To be honest it's not going to be doing hard work its mainly going to be a bit of engraving and some pcb work mainly with the odd bit of thin cutting, so I would guess its not going to have a hard life in that respect. It's mainly to overcome the fact that 'dr engrave' while being great for the early 90's is a bit useless now and well I want to keep the machine going and this seemed a good plan.

GRBL would be good as I have a board, but I really don't know as both will do the job and it's really going to be for my hobby builds so nothing too critical as such.

25-10-2016, 12:23 PM
I've just seen a diagram that has cleared this all up for me in respect of controller and driver boards, sorry all was being a bit dense

Lee Roberts
25-10-2016, 12:44 PM
Hey if you dont know, you dont know!

At least now you do know and can help the next man when he comes along needing help :).

Good luck with the conversion, dont forget to do a build log so we can see your progress and success.

25-10-2016, 01:13 PM
On the subject of integrated Break-Out and Driver boards, if you buy one integrated lump that does everything then the whole thing may be scrap in the event that one part of it fails, if you use separates then you can swap out one bad part in the event of failure, swapping over to fault find if required,

- Nick

Robin Hewitt
25-10-2016, 01:40 PM
IIRC on the CAMM3 the stepper inputs were from a Z80 PIO so a printer port is already massive overkill and a break out board would be borderline ridiculous :encouragement:

25-10-2016, 02:56 PM
IIRC on the CAMM3 the stepper inputs were from a Z80 PIO so a printer port is already massive overkill and a break out board would be borderline ridiculous :encouragement:

A printer port provides those without electronics experience a very simple and quite cheap way to produce the required signals to run stepper drivers with a cheap ex-corporate PC, LinuxCNC/Mach3 and Linux or the OS specified on the PC's OEM license sticker.
A printer port provides those with electronics experience a very simple, quite cheap and very quick way to produce the required signals to run stepper drivers with a cheap ex-corporate PC, LinuxCNC/Mach3 and Linux or the OS specified on the PC's OEM license sticker.
Given that a BOB's primary function is to protect the computer and parallel port from an external electrical device I'm not really seeing what would be in the least bit ridiculous about what is simply good electronic practice.
Unlike some "lighter solutions" LinuxCNC/Mach3 support fairly standard and complete G-Code flavours allowing utilisation of a wide range of CAM solutions without worrying too much about what is/isn't supported.

- Nick

John S
25-10-2016, 04:05 PM
Good post Nick.

For every electrical wizz kid there are 10 that aren't.

25-10-2016, 10:15 PM
Good point Nick, the GRBL one I have the drivers are replaceable but I know where you are coming from in the serviceability aspect as replacing the lot could be expensive.

John S
25-10-2016, 11:47 PM
Dear Mr Chime.

This is the cheapest way you will get.
First off find a PC running XP that has a parallel port, install Mach 3.

Then buy a breakout board like the one you linked to but this one is far cheaper.


Then buy 4 of these/


You only need 3 but buying a 4th means you never have to wait if it breaks down.

So for a total of a SH computer, and 21.14 you will have everything to convert your machine if you use the existing steppers and power supply out of the Roland.

Both these Ebay links are from the same seller BTW

26-10-2016, 03:35 PM
Thanks John, I think that is going to be the way forward on it as everything else is already on the machine.

I think some bits will be trial and error but lets see where it goes.

Thanks for the help


27-10-2016, 11:01 AM
Although it is the simplest option you aren't strictly limited to Windows XP, I'm currently running Mach3 on an HP dc7800 pc on Windows 7 without issues, I had to add aftermarket sound and video cards as the on board chipsets were not supported under Windows 7,

- Nick

30-10-2016, 09:29 PM
Looks like fate has taken control of this guys and after a failed firmware update the Roland board is not booting.....oh well mach3 it is :)