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View Full Version : Smooth Steppers are finally available in UK !



rnr107
20-05-2012, 09:43 AM
Hi all,
Just wanted to let you all know that it is now possible to buy the Smooth stepper (USB and Ethernet) directly from the UK !
I found the add on eBay, it only shows the USB version, but I call the guy (Hugh) and he said he could provide the Ethernet version as well.
All in stock now...
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Smooth-Stepper-Motion-Control-Board-/261027432042?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3cc672866a


Laurent

John S
20-05-2012, 11:27 AM
Well I hope the ethernet version is better than the USB version, I know of many that have not come up to spec.

Syil.UK
20-05-2012, 03:14 PM
Hi all,
Just wanted to let you all know that it is now possible to buy the Smooth stepper (USB and Ethernet) directly from the UK !
I found the add on eBay, it only shows the USB version, but I call the guy (Hugh) and he said he could provide the Ethernet version as well.
All in stock now...
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Smooth-Stepper-Motion-Control-Board-/261027432042?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3cc672866a


Laurent

thank you for the plug Laurent.
We've trialled both boards -USB and Ethernet versions - on one of our Syil X7+ cnc mills and the difference it made was impressive. Motor control was considerably improved and with a greater degree of accuracy noticed. The motor even ran more quietly. We are installing a USB SmoothStepper in one of our customer's Syil X7+ mills as part of the commissioning of this machine and we're hoping to get feedback from this and other installations. Early days, but looking good.
btw, the price is a little cheaper outside of eBay!
Hugh
Syil.UK

JAZZCNC
20-05-2012, 03:45 PM
btw, the price is a little cheaper outside of eBay!
Hugh
Syil.UK

Sorry just don't get Why would folks buy from you when can buy direct and save money.?
What advantage or incentive can you offer when you have virtually no experience of using the product.? You have no practical experience of the SS issues's like noise or power insecurity's and all the fixs are out there to be had on forums so your not offering any value from technical backup.?

I've been using a SS's for over 3yrs and they are pritty much built proof regards hardware reliabilty so warranty or returns shoudlnt be an Issue. . . . Can't see the value in buying from you unless I had money to burn.!!

Edit: To make my point regards over priced I can buy the USB version from Peter Homann in Australia for £105 +del and the Ethernet version for £124. Peter has extensive experience with the SS and setting it upcorrectly, infact it's worth checking out his technical docs you may learn something.!!

Jonathan
20-05-2012, 06:51 PM
Apparently the ethernet version is indeed far superior to USB in that it does not suffer from the grounding issues. However unless you have servos and the speed of the parallel port isn't enough for you, there is little to no point buying a smoothstepper (and even if you do have servos linuxCNC is superior because of closed loop control using the parallel port, but I won't go into that). I don't see the point of spending lots of money on an expensive board to patch up the shortcomings of an expensive program, when you can use a free alternative without the issues in the first place.


The main advantage of LinuxCNC over Mach3 using a parallel port is it runs on a real time kernel. This ensures that the pulse output from the parallel port has priority over everything else on the computer, so you don't get the timing inaccuracies inherent to Mach3 from Windows interrupting. With LinuxCNC if the computer appears to 'freeze' the machine will still run happily, since it's prioritised over everything including the mouse/keyboard. No matter how much you disable things in Windows, remove programs or whatever fundamentally Mach3 is not real time so timing errors will exist. The external motion control boards, such as the smoothstepper, can achieve 'smoother' performance and higher speed because they operate in real time. But LinuxCNC does that for free...


'But I'm not a computer geek and it takes twenty thousand years to set up' I hear you cry! It really doesn't - the installation and setup process which apparently is such a huge barrier to many, is quicker, easier and more intuitive than windows/mach3. Owning a CNC machine makes you a geek to start with so it's too late for that anyway. In fact, the interface eliminates many human errors - I see countless problems from people setting the wrong value for steps/mm, whereas in linuxcnc, each pulley has its own textbox, meaning that you never have to do any fiddly arithmetic manually. Another example is the constant velocity mode - in Mach3 constant velocity mode is some arbitary value you can't control, whereas in LinuxCNC, you can precisely control the extent. I'm pretty sure that alone would make a bigger difference than Mach/SS. Those are just two examples of why LinuxCNC is widely accepted to be a lot more customisable and flexible than any Mach3 based controller.

'But I've used mach3 all my life and I'm used to it' - So you're considering paying hundreds of pounds just so you don't have to get used to something new, which has many advantages anyway? That doesn't make sense to me, and it seems very archaic.


Another crucial disadvantage of Mach3, or rather windows is its inability to perform on low end computers - with some ebay sniping (gixen.com), it's possible to put together a low latency computer for less than £50, whereas with windows, if you want to get anywhere, you have to use a relatively expensive computer. With linuxCNC, the actual output quality of your machine is limited by the parallel port driver, whereas with windows, its more often limited by the software overhead. If you look at the actual performance benchmarks, you'll see that the top end computers are far from expensive: http://wiki.linuxcnc.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?Latency-Test.

LinuxCNC also boasts superior stability. Windows is known for its tendency to crash for no good reason on mid to low end computers and with mach3 that leaves you in a very tight spot. With LinuxCNC if the computer appears to 'freeze' the machine will still run happily, since it's prioritised over everything including the mouse/keyboard. If there is a timing error it will display a message, so you know something's wrong. No matter how much you disable things in Windows, remove programs or whatever fundamentally Mach3 is not real time so timing errors will exist. The external motion control boards, such as the smoothstepper, can achieve 'smoother' performance and higher speed because they operate in real time. But LinuxCNC does that for free...

The final reason I believe LinuxCNC is far superior is because it's free. By that I don't mean that I don't have to pay for it - I mean the community which developed it has one objective which is making an effective controller. Look at what features come into play when a product is developed properly with the correct objective in mind - full support for helical arcs (allowing threadmilling), rigid tapping and threading with an 'encoder' (1ppr is not an encoder, it's an insult to technology), conditional gcode and many more. As soon as you have to pay for a license, that goes out of the window and the manufacturer's objective of making a decent machine controller becomes secondary to making money and I believe that to be a very important difference. Mach3 already has a large userbase, so there's currently little incentive for Art to make any major improvements as people will still buy it regardless.


And that's why I believe smoothstepper to be a waste of money which would be much better put towards materials for making chips. Don't forget, if you have problems, that's precisely what this forum is for.

John S
20-05-2012, 08:21 PM
With due respect Jonathan most people get on with Mach because they can use windows, note I said use.
Once you are into the realms of Linux you now have another operating system to understand, note I said understand and not use.

Not everyone coming into CNC and using CNC is a geek, for many it's just a tool to get something done that's more important.

The biggest problem with geeks is they don't know they are geeks.

Jonathan
20-05-2012, 09:16 PM
In my opinion most people get on with Mach, because Mach invests in marketing and publicity, and most people have never heard or seen of anything different.

There's nothing to understand about Ubuntu, you'll struggle to actually name any differences that aren't aesthetic. Sure, things are moved around a bit, but that's skin deep. If you said something like Arch Linux, Fedora, or some other obscure distro, fair enough. Ubuntu is a simple point and click just like Windows.

That doesn't even matter. You don't need to understand linux. As soon as you've clicked the icon to load LinuxCNC you're essentially out of linux and using a program with an interface not much different to any windows program.

I get the impression you had a bad experience with it and didn't like it, fair enough. All I'm suggesting is people TRY it before shelling out hundreds of pounds on additional hardware which shouldn't be necessary.


The biggest problem with geeks is they don't know they are geeks.

So let me get this straight: you own an engineering firm, to which you devote a lot of your time, you take the time to make an active presence on this and many other forums, but just because the things you deal with are made of metal and not silicon, you don't consider yourself a geek?

motoxy
20-05-2012, 09:43 PM
Just out of curiosity are there many linuxcnc users out there? I always wanted to be a greek, warm sunny weather no taxes and retire at 25 and lots of poverty.:joker:
Bruce

John S
20-05-2012, 09:48 PM
There has been a recent thread over on the Yahoo forum DIY-CNC where a guy called Dan Maulch, well respected builder of CNC systems has been having problems getting a Gecko 540 to work with Linuxcnc. Also on the same forum of two of the Linuxcnc development team who also can't get this thing to work right.

What chance does the unwashed have, all three of these guys are more savvy than most of the people on here for starters.

Another point brought up is why if it's so good and successful it looks like a basic experiment as regards the screens.
Our Mach screens have everything, MDI, tool offsets, probe, 4th axis etc and large buttons for touch screens all on one screen, users do not need to move away from this screen.
You can easily zero any axis and jog away if you break a tool, change it and reset offsets and do a run from here.

Don't like our screens?, use someone elses or alter your own.

LinuxCNC screens are very lacking and even the developers are not prepared to make changes.

Mr Rolls and Mr Royce owned an engineering firm but I wouldn't class them as geeks would you ? They did the same as I do, put bolts into holes and wires into terminals we don't need to know how it all works.

JAZZCNC
20-05-2012, 09:49 PM
However unless you have servos and the speed of the parallel port isn't enough for you, there is little to no point buying a smoothstepper

So you know this from your extensive usage of the SS.?



Mach3 already has a large userbase, so there's currently little incentive for Art to make any major improvements as people will still buy it regardless.

Jonathan this kind of disrespect really annoys me.!!!

First for the things Mach does then it's dirt cheap, yes I agree it's far from perfect but for 95% of people it works with no problems.

Second without Mach or Art fennerty's contribution then DIY CNC would still be in the stone age or not exist at all.!! . . . Little Known is the fact Emc owe's much to Art and his knowledge of the PP and indeed use's some of his code.

Art no longer own's the company but still he contrbutes and resolves many folks problems with Mach thru the Yahoo and Artsoft forum (which more often than not are user errors anyway) . . . How many Company's do you know that you can get to deal 1 to 1 with the lead software engineer for free, often designing and building custom solutions if it's a genuine Mach issue.!
Same goes today with the current owner Brain, he too goes out of his way to help resolve any issues or bugs so please before you shoot your mouth trashing a program who's made DIY CNC both affordable and more importantly possible at least have some respect and not trash a genuine persons rep just because your a tight arse GEEK.!!

Edit: Oh and just for the record and I'm sure John S will back me up on this because like me has frequented the Yahoo forums for many years. . . . There must have been hundreds done exactly what you have done and jumped to EMC but the vast majority return and never go back.!!!

John S
20-05-2012, 09:52 PM
Just out of curiosity are there many linuxcnc users out there? I always wanted to be a greek, warm sunny weather no taxes and retire at 25 and lots of poverty.:joker:
Bruce


You don't need Linuxcnc, you need a Kebab shop.

JAZZCNC
20-05-2012, 10:10 PM
I always wanted to be a greek, warm sunny weather no taxes and retire at 25 and lots of poverty.:joker:
Bruce

Your a Bit stuffed for the minimum retirement age bruce but the rest's Coming to a place near you soon .!! . . .This countrys FUBARD.!!

motoxy
20-05-2012, 10:18 PM
What do you mean, I am only 23 just had a hard life thats all. Opps thats nursey coming...night all

Jonathan
21-05-2012, 01:58 AM
So you know this from your extensive usage of the SS.?

As you would say:


Presumption is the mother of all F:U.!! . . . SO NOW. . How the F~@K do you know what I've done or not done with my machine.? Or any other machine for that matter.:exclaim: . . . . . reading a few old post's don't make you Physic Sally.

I know this from some research and my common sense. I don't need to have climbed Mt. Everest to know it's really really cold, because that's obvious.


Jonathan this kind of disrespect really annoys me.!!!

I don't see how I've said anything disrespectful. If Art didn't care about money he wouldn't be charging for it. There's nothing wrong with charging for your work, I never said there was.

Price is relative. Something can only be expensive in the context of something else. Compared to it's nearest competitor, Mach3 is expensive and does fewer things.


without Mach or Art fennerty's contribution then DIY CNC would still be in the stone age or not exist at all

I wouldn't be so sure. Clearly Art has done a great job, but who are we to say someone else wouldn't have done it if he had not?


Little Known is the fact Emc owe's much to Art and his knowledge of the PP and indeed use's some of his code.

They fundamentally have very different architectures so I think that's highly unlikely, could you please provide a reference?

Anyway instead of calling me names perhaps you'd like to point out what I've said that's not true? I never said Art did anything wrong, you're putting words in my mouth. I simply said they have little incentive to improve. If they choose to improve regardless out of the kindness then kudos to them.

Being tight is the only way I can even hope to own a workshop before my 30th birthday. Between being tight and not having a workshop... well I know which one I'm picking.

Could you please not accuse me of things I've not done? I happily admit to being a geek (at least I'm not in denial), but I have most certainly not 'trashed' anyones 'rep'. I would prefer it if you picked fault with what I said instead of who or what I am.


There has been a recent thread over on the Yahoo forum DIY-CNC where a guy called Dan Maulch, well respected builder of CNC systems has been having problems getting a Gecko 540 to work with Linuxcnc. Also on the same forum of two of the Linuxcnc development team who also can't get this thing to work right.

There will always be people having problems - I can list lots of people struggling with Mach3 (with or without smooth-stepper), just because he's having problems and he has a reputation, that's not to say LnuxCNC is bad, at all. You can't use a small number of isolated examples to try to discredit an entire program - the reason people can't help him is likely a hardware rather than a software problem


Another point brought up is why if it's so good and successful it looks like a basic experiment as regards the screens.Our Mach screens have everything, MDI, tool offsets, probe, 4th axis etc and large buttons for touch screens all on one screen, users do not need to move away from this screen.
You can easily zero any axis and jog away if you break a tool, change it and reset offsets and do a run from here.

Don't like our screens?, use someone elses or alter your own.

I don't know how long its been since you've tried linuxCNC, but it has MDI and 4th axis as standard. There's other 'screens' available, the screen for LinuxCNC is fully customisable ... so anyone can make the buttons large if they wish. Linuxcnc has all the functionality you mentioned. Bear in mind, there is a huge library of user contributed content for LinuxCNC and it supports a much wider variety of machines.

m_c
21-05-2012, 12:36 PM
As you would say:
Anyway instead of calling me names perhaps you'd like to point out what I've said that's not true? I never said Art did anything wrong, you're putting words in my mouth. I simply said they have little incentive to improve. If they choose to improve regardless out of the kindness then kudos to them.
erm..Mach 4 is under (very) active development, and Mach 3 has been continually tweeked.

I don't know how long its been since you've tried linuxCNC, but it has MDI and 4th axis as standard. There's other 'screens' available, the screen for LinuxCNC is fully customisable ... so anyone can make the buttons large if they wish. Linuxcnc has all the functionality you mentioned. Bear in mind, there is a huge library of user contributed content for LinuxCNC and it supports a much wider variety of machines.
Still can't handle anything without a parallel port though ;)
And that is becoming a major issue. Yes you can trawl ebay and pick up something old that may work for cheap, or pay lots of money for an industrial spec motherboard with a PP and build up your own computer, then go through installing an unfamiliar OS followed by a software program in an unfamiliar enviroment.
Or you can pick up a common as muck familiar windows machine, plug in a SS (or similar), and install the required software in a familiar enviroment.

Now for most users, are they going to go with the more familiar, or less familiar option?


On a side note, I've got a lot of respect for Art, as he is probably one of the, if not, the largest contributors to the development of the DIY CNC scene.
Mach revolutionised DIY CNC machines, as it removed the need for dedicated controllers, and meant users could use a 'normal' computer that most would be familiar with to do things that without Mach, most would of found impossible to do. That is what made Mach so successful, and is what many others are trying to achieve. I'll admit Mach3 has stagnated a bit and has inherent issues, and even Brian has made comments to that effect, but Mach 4 is on it's way. Completely ground up rewrite/structure, and Art is even writing a completely new PP driver addressing several of the issues of the last one.
Yes, somebody else may of came up with something, but I'd doubt DIY CNC would be where it is today, if it hadn't been for Art's innovation.

rnr107
21-05-2012, 03:58 PM
Guys ! It was just information.... not the start of a comparison/ WAR? between Mach and CNCLinux .... :-)

What makes the EES attractive to me is the Ethernet port rather than Parallel port for 2 reasons:
1- My workshop is tiny (ask i2i is been there) therefor no space for a full size desktop... So I could use a mini PC, these do not come with Parallel ports...
2- The maximum length a parallel port cable can be is something like 3m before trouble... I would like to keep the PC away from the machine. CAT6 cable (Ethernet) give up to 100m.

Now if I could use CNCLinux with that, that would be the cherry on the top of the cake!

L.

NB70
21-05-2012, 06:52 PM
Guys ! It was just information.... not the start of a comparison/ WAR? between Mach and CNCLinux .... :-)

What makes the EES attractive to me is the Ethernet port rather than Parallel port for 2 reasons:
1- My workshop is tiny (ask i2i is been there) therefor no space for a full size desktop... So I could use a mini PC, these do not come with Parallel ports...
2- The maximum length a parallel port cable can be is something like 3m before trouble... I would like to keep the PC away from the machine. CAT6 cable (Ethernet) give up to 100m.

Now if I could use CNCLinux with that, that would be the cherry on the top of the cake!

L.

The Intel Atom mini-ATX systems are supposed to work well with LinuxCNC - although I haven't tried one:

Link: Intel Atom (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0041RSC94/ref=asc_df_B0041RSC947969259?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&tag=googlecouk06-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22206&creativeASIN=B0041RSC94)

I have to admit once I started with LinuxCNC (EMC2 as it was then) I got hooked on linux and now I use it for everything. It is missing user-friendly DIY CAM programs though - so I still run Vectric Cut2D and 3D on linux via Wine.

Nathan (a geek!)

Jonathan
21-05-2012, 07:55 PM
erm..Mach 4 is under (very) active development, and Mach 3 has been continually tweeked(sic).


I'm sure Mach 4 will be a huge improvement on Mach 3, but I don't see how it's possible for Art to deal with the issues that Windows has. Fair enough, he's a good developer, but he's limited by the platform he's working on and that's a huge factor that's well beyond his control. I might be the world's best Aerospace engineer, but if I'm only given playdough to work with, then no matter how much effort I go to, it's impossible for me to make a good plane.



Still can't handle anything without a parallel port though ;)
This issue has been done to death: It's not a case of "can't" it's a case of "doesn't want to" - LinuxCNC revolves around a very versatile and well developed core which runs on a computer. As soon as you use something other than the parallel port, to maintain realtime you need to decode the GCode outside the computer, essentially you need to outsource the controller to an outside box. You will never be able to have as good a controller running on a microcontroller/FPGA than on a computer (some industrial controllers do it, but check out the cost) and that's why linuxCNC developers insist on keeping the controller within the computer. The decision is there with good reason and I agree with it.



Now for most users, are they going to go with the more familiar, or less familiar option?
You've missed out a lot of rather critical factors there, so that's a bit of a misleading question. Let's compare the two options properly? For arguments sake I'm going to assume you already have a computer and that we've bought a low latency PCI Parallel port card for it because they're £6 from eBay.


Mach/SS:
Pros: Familiar, DIY standard.
Cons: Doesn't support some obscure machines/extras.
Cost: Windows >£50, Mach3 >£50, Smoothstepper about £150, Total:>£250
What you have to lose if you want to switch to the alternative: A few hours of your time, >£250.


LinuxCNC:
Pros: Supports everything. Runs well on old computers. Extremely customizable.
Cons: Unfamiliar software environment. Doesn't support things without a Parallel port.
Cost: N/A
What you have to lose if you want to switch to the alternative: A few hours of your time.


Now if the 'unfamiliar software environment' is so scary to 'most users' that they're not willing to even try it before spending hundreds of pounds, then my advice to them is firstly to educate themselves (that's what the forums are for) and secondly to deal with that irrational fear of the unknown.


Little Known is the fact Emc owe's much to Art and his knowledge of the PP and indeed use's some of his code.
I did some more research and found the following things: EMC was first developed by NIST in 1993 and released 'around 2000' while Artsoft went into business in 2001. The only links I found indicate that Mach borrowed from EMC and not the other way around (people love to jump to conclusions, I *AM NOT* saying there's anything wrong with this). If anyone has more info please do let me know:
"This software[Mach] is derived from the EMC software from NIST and expands on the good features of EMC."
http://www.pmdx.com/Resources
"Yes, and we could also convert EMC into Mach. That's what Art Fenerty did some years ago, we mostly wished him well, but we had specific and we feel QUITE valid reasons for staying with the real-time servo model."
http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.linux.distributions.emc.devel/2006


So I could use a mini PC, these do not come with Parallel ports...
They most certainly do, there are plenty with parallel ports. Even if there weren't you would be able build one cheaply as I suggested above. If you want some guarantee of good performance then get one of the good ones from the list I posted earlier. The intel Atoms are popular and have good latency.


I would like to keep the PC away from the machine
You have a number of options:
1) TRY a shielded 10m parallel cable, it may well work with no problems and it's not particularly expensive from eBay.
2) Extend your stepper cables, they can be extended as much as you need although the cable is about £1.20 per meter per motor.
3) Get a wireless mouse and keyboard and extend the monitor into another room, unless you literally don't have space for the PC in which case disregard this option


Jonathan I find it very Sad that you've gone to all the trouble of traweling thru old posts
I've not trawled through anything. I remember most things that are said to me, particularly insults so I did one google search. The post which your reply referred started with "As far as I'm aware", no assumptions, just a hypothesis, yet you chose to reply in an extremely aggressive way anyway. It's perfectly in context.


With the Know-it-all arrogance that comes with youth
So you're basically trying to take the moral high ground by saying I'm wrong because I'm young? Or because you think I'm not allowed to have an opinion until I've seen the smoothstepper in action? I disagree: you might not believe in theory and prediction but I do. If you don't trust your logical deduction and common sense when predicting things, fair enough. Don't try to stop me voicing mine (or do, I honestly don't care). You might want to have a read of this page as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem


so they call it a day cut there loses never to return going back to the potting shed
And nothing of value was lost. I would much prefer quality over quantity in the community. If they choose to give up without even asking a question or two on the forums, then I'm not lowering my standards to their level just so they grace the community with their presence. I'm there to provide support to anyone who asks for it, and my conscience is clear. In my opinion, if you have a problem with being a geek, DIY CNC isn't the right hobby for you. If anything I think the fact that LinuxCNC is free attracts newbies because they don't have to commit to buying a mach license to try all but the simplest code, like in this thread for example:
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/archive/index.php/t-46797.html

Apparently people are under the impression I have a problem with Art or Artsoft. If my previous posts gave that impression, then it wasn't intentional. I'm sure Art is a great guy and he's done a lot for the community. I never disputed that.

John S
21-05-2012, 08:47 PM
Just spoke to Art on the phone today.
I pointed him to this thread.

Oh how we chucked and rolled all over the floor with mirth.

BTW he's been retired from Artsoft for 3 years now, sold out to Brian Barker and Scott Nichols.
If you had gone to the Midlands show three years ago they were all there. They let wheelchairs in so they should be OK with prams.

m_c
21-05-2012, 09:32 PM
Jonathan, you're naive, and very stereotypically geeky with being unable to comprehend how the average user thinks, plus you need to stop making assumptions about the original posters requirements/decisions.


If you ask your average user to install a new program on windows, the majority would manage it with minimal hassle, as the process is familiar.
Now ask them to install a completely new OS, and install a new program on it. Most will fall at the first hurdle. Some will battle on and manage it, but lots will just give up, or not even try.
You might think that you can 'educate' them, but most won't try. For those who want 'educated' kudos to you for doing it.

However, Mach allows those who don't want to deal with learning a new OS to get a functioning machine, and without any expense. Remember Mach without a license isn't that handicapped.
Mach also has proper support. If you have a problem, you can actually email or phone somebody for help, not just rely on a community for help, and that is very valuable to people.

I'll admit I've not looked at EMC/LinuxCNC for a while, but I'd doubt the support community is as large as the combined Mach Support forum, and Yahoo Group.



You've missed out a lot of rather critical factors there, so that's a bit of a misleading question. Let's compare the two options properly? For arguments sake I'm going to assume you already have a computer and that we've bought a low latency PCI Parallel port card for it because they're £6 from eBay.


Mach/SS:
Pros: Familiar, DIY standard.
Cons: Doesn't support some obscure machines/extras.
Cost: Windows >£50, Mach3 >£50, Smoothstepper about £150, Total:>£250
What you have to lose if you want to switch to the alternative: A few hours of your time, >£250.
Sorry to be pedantic, but if you're wanting to compare Mach to LinuxCNC, you won't be needing a SS ;-)
Plus what's the chances of any computer not coming with Windows?




Now to give a real example. I'm needing a way to program some ATmega chips.
Now I could be a tight arse, and build a programmer using one of the Arduinos I've got kicking around or buy a cheap programmer clone, then spend time getting it to work doing what I need it to, relying on lesser used programs and internet support for any issues, or I can spend the extra £30-40 on a genuine programmer, which will work out the box in a better supported program, and comes with access to proper support from the manufacturer should anything go wrong.

I've got to have this project done for the middle of next month, while doing a full time job, managing the timing for a 6 hour race this weekend, providing timing for two evening races the next week, and helping to build a race course for a major european race the middle of next month. Now what one is the better option?

ckas
21-05-2012, 10:00 PM
Hi there,
just stumbled upon this thread and thought maybe I could share some typical thoughts...

I own a gecko 540 driven cnc Taig with a trunnion table, and one of these handy Shuttle Pro wheels.
A while ago I also tried out LinuxCNC (which is still installed parallel) but I got first stuck with installing this Shuttle Pro and secondly if you want to run a trunnion table you need to code some kinematic stuff, which both would be quite a problem. So I ended up using Mach3 again.

But if anybody could point me a link to a working trunnion table kinematic file, I really would appreciate it.
....and I think this is pretty typical...used to windows for so many years, you mostly just have to install some drivers, and its done.

just my thoughts

Jonathan
22-05-2012, 12:26 AM
Just spoke to Art on the phone today.
I'm glad to hear it. I'd love to hear his thoughts on the subject.


"Sorry to be pedantic, but if you're wanting to compare Mach to LinuxCNC, you won't be needing a SS ;)
Sorry to be pedantic, but this thread started with a post about SS so that's what I'm comparing. Here's a modified version of the list for Mach alone:

Mach:
Pros: Familiar, DIY Standard.
Cons: Doesn't support some obscure machines/extras.
Cost: Windows >£50, Mach3 >£50
What you have to lose if you want to switch to the alternative: A few hours of your time, >£100.


you need to stop making assumptions about the original posters requirements/decisions.
What assumptions have I wrongly made?


Plus what's the chances of any computer not coming with Windows?
Mach3 runs on windows 2000 and windows XP. Both are in steady decline with windows vista, 7 and 8 being forced out by Microsoft. It takes 20 minutes to make a bootable pendrive and 30 minutes to install linuxCNC, even on slower computers. I refuse to believe that this should make any sort of difference. The computer gives you clear and simple instructions on what to do, I apologise for not understanding how this poses a problem for so many people. Ubuntu is made to be incredibly user friendly and simple (it's marketed at Apple users amongst others).


Now to give a real example. I'm needing a way to program some ATmega chips.
I'm glad you brought this up. A friend of mine wanted to get into PIC programming just last week. I recommended he buy a PicKit2 clone from ebay. It is digitally identical to Microchip's pickit2 and costs half as much. It interfaces with MPLAB IDE just like a genuine one would do and has freeware firmware updates to interface with Arduinos, that you can download and install easily. I'd pick that over a genuine programmer any day and yes, I do own a genuine PicKit2 for comparison.


I own a gecko 540 driven cnc Taig with a trunnion table.......and I think this is pretty typical...
I wouldn't say a trunnion table is typical for us! I'm sorry I would have a look for a suitable file for you, I'd be surprised if one doesn't exist by now but I don't have the time because I have exams. If you're still interested I'll have a look afterwards. Have you tried asking on the forums for some help on modifying an existing one?

John S
22-05-2012, 01:00 AM
I'm glad to hear it. I'd love to hear his thoughts on the subject.


Sorry, over the years I have worked closely with Art and I am still doing so on three different fronts, one is Gearotic which I can mention, the other two are still under wraps. We speak most weeks and I have nothing but complete respect for this guy and what he has done for the CNC comunity virtually single handed. He has made CNC affordable and workable for many people who would not have had this opertunity any other way.
LinuxCNC isn't exactly on everyones lips, in fact the vast majority involved in CNC have never heard of it.

Because of support I know know exactly how many Sieg machines have been sold and to what countries. It's an impressive number given that Russia has installed one in virtually every school not to mention all the other countries. All running on Mach with little or no support given that windows is the most popular program out there and someone somewhere will sort windows problems out.
This also doesn't cover home builds which has got to be in the tens of thousands and the clones like Novacon, How Mau and Syil that were all copied from Sieg in the early days.

Why isn't Linux CNC up there with these numbers?

Jonathan
22-05-2012, 01:38 AM
Because of support I know know exactly how many Sieg machines have been sold and to what countries. It's an impressive number given that Russia has installed one in virtually every school not to mention all the other countries. All running on Mach with little or no support given that windows is the most popular program out there and someone somewhere will sort windows problems out.

I'll refer you to my friend who was born in Russia, lived and went to school in Russia for half his life is talking to me on Skype had this to say:


Didn't have one in the school I went to, and never heard of one being in a school. Seeing as funding in Russian state schools is incredibly tight and corrupt, I find your claim difficult to believe. Googling "Sieg ЧПУ в школах" (meaning Sieg CNC in schools) doesn't bring up any relevant results. If anything, briefly looking over the list of linuxCNC developers, I couldn't help but notice a lot of Russian names.



Why isn't Linux CNC up there with these numbers?
The reason is the same reason computing is dominated by Windows, and iPhones are popular: Profitable organisations can afford marketing. But don't worry, all that is changing. Furthermore, this is an argumentum ad populum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum).


LinuxCNC isn't exactly on everyones lips, in fact the vast majority involved in CNC have never heard of it.

That's precisely why I've gone to the trouble of making as many replies as I have. I don't think it gets the credit it deserves.

JAZZCNC
22-05-2012, 02:00 AM
I'll refer you to my friend who was born in Russia, lived and went to school in Russia for half his life is talking to me on Skype had this to say:

There you go again with the disrespect basicly calling respectable bloke a liar.!! . . . . Grow up Lad and have some respect.:thumbdown:

m_c
22-05-2012, 02:05 AM
When has Mach ever been marketed?

In the time I've been looking at CNC, I can not remember any marketing for it. All I remember is it being recommended by lots of people, and it being the accepted standard, as until fairly recently, nothing else came close in terms of flexibility/ease of use/price.
You've got to remember that until a few years ago, linux itself needed a fair bit of knowlodge to get a somewhat easy to use setup.

JAZZCNC
22-05-2012, 02:26 AM
Anyway with the mention of Russia and to get slightly back on track with the OP's thread.!
I've been intouch with Alexey of Purelogic in Russia about trying there Ethernet controller and also there drives and I'm going to be having some sent shortly.

So when I have them and given it a good thrashing I'll post my findings and based on my 3+yrs of actually using the USB SS I'll give a honest report of how it compares for the few hundred thousand Mach users that are still left or interested.??

John S
22-05-2012, 02:46 AM
That's precisely why I've gone to the trouble of making as many replies as I have. I don't think it gets the credit it deserves.

Jonathan,
grow up, you have only been using it for three weeks, not even long enough to grow a decent beard.

Jonathan
22-05-2012, 02:51 AM
Anyway with the mention of Russia and to get slightly back on track with the OP's thread.!
I've been intouch with Alexey of Purelogic in Russia about trying there Ethernet controller and also there drives and I'm going to be having some sent shortly.
...
I'll give a honest report of how it compares for the few hundred thousand Mach users that are still left or interested.??

That will be interesting. If I have the opportunity to do a direct comparison I shall.


When has Mach ever been marketed?

I apologise for not making myself clear. Mach hasn't been marketed, but Windows most certainly has. Most people aren't aware of linux TO be aware of linuxCNC.


There you go again with the disrespect basicly calling respectable bloke a liar.!! . . . . Grow up Lad and have some respect.

No he's really not, you're putting words in his mouth.


I wasn't saying he is lying:If you'd ever been to a Russian school, and knew for example that they were literally all built the same, and had numbers instead of names, you'd understand how ridiculous it would be for them to have CNC machines. It would be the equivalent of having an multi million pound NMR machine in a school chemistry lab. A few select private schools maybe (and good for them), most schools, certainly not.

John S
22-05-2012, 03:17 AM
So the trip over to Russia to sort out support with the Russian guys was a figment of my imagination ?

Mad Professor
22-05-2012, 10:00 AM
I have tried to keep out of this for as long as possible, But I feel I must say something.

I am all for heated debates, but this is a public forum, and I must say that this topic does not look good for the forum/site, and in fact if this was my forum I would be dam right ashamed of topics like this.

If heated debates are going to get like this more and more, maybe it might be an idea for a "Heated Debate Section" within the forums.

But while on the subject of Mach3 / LinuxCNC (EMC), I can only say I have had nothing but problems with both OS while trying to run via printer port, I know lots of pepole have no problem, but I have tried 4x motherboards with onboard printer port, 1x motherboard without printerport (pci card), and a laptop with printer port, and all of them I get missed sets.

Due to all the problems I have had it was a case of buy an Ethernet SmoothStepper or just give up with my cnc.

In the end I have brought the Ethernet SmoothStepper from Warp9TD for a grand total of £150.22 plus what ever import fees I get hit with.
I also brought my own copy of Mach3 costing £111.78

I have said my bit.

Best Regards.

blackburn mark
22-05-2012, 11:45 AM
I have tried to keep out of this for as long as possible.

Me to... the tone of this thread has decended into the bizarre??

watching you "old boys" resort to childish slander to slate someone for being childish is trippy as fook !

i cant help feeling that some think that being young makes you fair game for a good slating ?

using slander is for the lack of something more interesting or intelegent to say and smacks of mindless one upmanship
poor show :(

Jonathan
22-05-2012, 02:02 PM
I have grown tired of having to quote posts which pretend I've said something completely different to what I have actually written, hence from now on they will be simply ignored (believe me, I tried). Pull your head out of the sand, and read what I've written, instead of what you WANT me to have written.

For all those folks to whom support is a big barrier, I found this last night:

LinuxCNC IRC Chatroom (http://www.linuxcnc.org/index.php/component/mospjirc/index.php)

Just click connect (there is a security warning for me, it should be safe to ignore it) and it puts you in a decently populated IRC chatroom with people who are working with linuxCNC. This support is instant, voices your question to at least 10 people who have had experience with the program and means you should get answers quickly. I don't see how support can get any better than this.


I can only say I have had nothing but problems with both OS

At least you tried both, the vast majority of Mach/SS customers don't. Either program can be a bit picky about what works better and what works worse, because a high performance computer isn't necessarily a low latency parallel port computer. I personally would have tried making an optimised computer from the list, but I recognise not all people can/want do that, especially after having had an abnormal amount of trouble with the parallel port. I hope with time you upgrade to a machine that can fully utilise the performance overhead that the smoothstepper offers.


i cant help feeling that some think that being young makes you fair game for a good slating ?

The thing is, I've been accused of discouraging people from joining the DIY CNC community, but how is anyone who isn't over the age of 20 going to feel when reading this thread? Name calling is minor.

Sent from my iPram with my HTC Pacifier X.

JAZZCNC
22-05-2012, 06:44 PM
Me to... the tone of this thread has descended into the bizarre??

watching you "old boys" resort to childish slander to slate someone for being childish is trippy as fook !

Yes not our greatest achievements must admit and not proud..:shame:




i cant help feeling that some think that being young makes you fair game for a good slating ?

Not true and if it had been John S or your self or anyone who I believed where being disrespectful to a great guy and product then I'd have done the same.
(I would have also taken the piss has it's my nature. . . good or bad thats me tuff shit.!!)

Now I'm sure I'll get the brunt of the blame here again because I shot my mouth first as usual.!!

But I'm sorry I won't stand by and see anyone, Young or Old, get away with what I believe to be Disrespect towards a guy who's done more for the DIY CNC than anyone person without standing up and telling them so.
Unfortunately has usual it's coming from the youth who seem to have no respect.!! Even more Unfortunate is that has usual it's the one who sits high up on his horse and condescends down to the lowly plebs how it should be done and what to buy or not to buy other wise where all stupid spindrifts with too much bloody money.!

It also annoys me when people slate a product without any experience other than what they read and again I'd jump on anyone young or old if I thought they where steering people away from a product that I had over 3yrs personal experience.
This becomes even more annoying when I see it from someone who has quite a large amount of credibility and can sway or steer peoples decisions.

The reason I get this so pissed off is not just because it annoys me!! But I see and deal with absolutely loads of folks who get ripped off or miss informed then waste money buying wrong stuff they don't need.

Jonathan has a position on this forum that influences vulnerable new starters decisions who often have a "stiffy"for CNC and money burning hole in the pocket.
These new starters don't always speak up they sit back read a few threads then dive straight in head first.!!

Know I did try to point this out to Jonathan in this thread and have done on other occasions but this is the reply and view he seems to have.!!


And nothing of value was lost. I would much prefer quality over quantity in the community. If they choose to give up without even asking a question or two on the forums, then I'm not lowering my standards to their level just so they grace the community with their presence.

Not really the done thing in my view and even more importantly not the view a Moderator should have.!!

On a personal note and in no way saying this am I trying to justify my childish name calling.!!
Jonathan himself was also a large cause of the continuing bickering by being unnecessarily argumentative and basically accusing both me and John S of being liars in this thread. This is also not the first time he's done this to me and even had to send a copy of Paypal invoice on one occasion to prove I'm no liar.
Now I don't know if he does this to provoke or just that he has the people skills of a Nat and can never be wrong.? It does seem to me that if not his belief or conforms to his opinion then where all liars and idiots until proven innocent.?? . . . . . Before I let it slip by . . . this time it got my heckles up.!

To the OP and anyone offended (Other than Jonathan) then I apologise for the childish behaviour.! (Also promise to have less :beer:)

This will be the last I post here.!!
If anyones interested I will have the Russion Ethernet controller soon and will post a thread with my findings compared to SS, please feel free to come and take the piss without fear of the dummy going out the pram. . :emmersed:

Jonathan
22-05-2012, 08:36 PM
accusing both me and John S of being liars in this thread

You must have accused me of that about 5 times now. If person A is misinformed and says something that's not 100% accurate, and person B disagrees and corrects them, that IS NOT to say that person B is calling person A a liar. That is a misleading oversimplification.

I'm only typing this reply because for the first time in this thread I'm slightly offended about the context in which you mentioned PayPal. I asked for clarification and you sent an invoice ONLY because I wanted some precise figures to try to work out linearmotionbearing2008's pricing scheme. NOT because I didn't trust you. That invoice allowed me to confirm that his pricing varied from customer to customer which was confusing me to start with. There is a big difference between curiosity and mistrust.

I think my stance on not dumbing down DIY CNC to attract users is reasonable. A good community offers support, to people who ask. If they don't even ask that's their problem. I think people should think for themselves instead of just relying on being spoonfed.

Time and time again you seem to mention experience. So what, because I've never owned a mini and never owned a ferrari, I'm not allowed to say the ferrari is faster?

If your stance is that you're not allowed to predict how well somethign will work before you've owned it, then there's no point designing things before you make them. You also seem to be literally the only person on the forum who's in denial about the laws of physics. Funnily enough, they seem to work for everybody else.

You can reason about which designs are better and which designs are worse, because they all obey these laws. I might not have owned a smoothstepper but I know enough about it to support all the claims I've made.

John S
22-05-2012, 08:45 PM
If anyones interested I will have the Russion Ethernet controller soon and will post a thread with my findings compared to SS, please feel free to come and take the piss without fear of the dummy going out the pram. . :emmersed:

It'll be crap.................

JAZZCNC
22-05-2012, 08:59 PM
It'll be crap.................

Grumpy Old Ba'#?rd. . . . . . . Now come join me back in the naughty corner.!

John S
22-05-2012, 10:56 PM
Has anyone other than me spotted the irony of the whole thread from where Linux CNC got mentioned ?

Jonathan who is a very helpful guy, sometimes too helpful in that he offers advise on things he's never dealt with had a problem with Mach 3 about 3 weeks ago.
tried to fix it then abandoned ship over to LinuxCNC and like converts the world over, ex-smokers, ex-alcoholics etc is now a fully paid up member of the dark side [TM] ©

Why if he's so knowledgeable and helpful for others did he not sort out why Mach wouldn't work in his case ? Is it because he can't ?

Jonathan, as regards the Russian schools machines, you spoke to one person, probably who left school years ago and is one person out of what Wikipedia tells me the total population is one hundred and forty one million, seven hundred and fifty thousand that's 141,750,000 in figures unless some Natasha has managed to squeeze a few extra out.

Next time PLEASE let me know all this advanced information so i don't have to spend 3 days freezing my last knacker off [ lent the other one to jazz ] and supping vodka [ which I hate ] from 45 gallon drums.

blackburn mark
22-05-2012, 11:46 PM
Now come join me back in the naughty corner.!

six lashes each n you can come out!... unless your a yourkshireman!... twelve lashes and one suck on a peice of coal for your supper :)

JAZZCNC
23-05-2012, 12:14 AM
six lashes each n you can come out!... unless your a yourkshireman!... twelve lashes and one suck on a peice of coal for your supper :)

Easy pezzie.!!. . . I do twelve lash's just to wake me up on a morning.! . . .The sucking of Coal will be the hard bit mate.? . . Won't find much round here even thou there's millions of tons bloody stuff sat right under neath my very feet.!

Jonathan
23-05-2012, 12:55 AM
3 weeks ago
It's been a fair bit longer if you insist on bringing it up and I've been aware of the advantages of linuxCNC for years. I just waited to see if it was actually as difficult to use as people claimed, so I was better informed before promoting it, and it turned out to be just fine. If you think I was magically converted 3 weeks ago, you are wrong. For what it's worth, my machine has now done over 100 hours cutting since switching to linuxCNC and since the start achieved higher feed-rates then I ever got with mach3. They were high enough before, but it shows the system is more stable.


Why if he's so knowledgeable and helpful for others did he not sort out why Mach wouldn't work in his case ? Is it because he can't ?
I estimated that installing linuxCNC would be faster than continuing lengthy diagnostics on my machine and I had wanted to try it for a long time anyway, so I went for it. Mach3 worked for me for the most part so there was no reason to change.
As usual, this has nothing to do with my original point.


141,750,000
Unlike the vast majority of those 142M, my friend has been in a Russian school in the past 15 years, in central Moscow, which has better funded schools than most of the country. There are around 60,000 schools in Russia (confirmed in numerous places on google), so I take 'the vast majority' to mean you've sold >30,000 CNC machines? Anyway, it would appear that you're under the impression that I'm calling you a liar. I'll say it again: I'm not, I think it's likely that you're exaggerating and if you confirm that 30,000 Sieg CNC machines have been sold to Russia, then I'll happily put my hands up and admit my suspicions were wrong. Anyway, even if you sold twenty trillion billion cnc machines to every country in the world, and they ALL ran MACH, that would still be an argumentum ad populum.
Having been linked to a few Russian forums it seems that LinuxCNC has a far bigger presence there and is actually more popular on the biggest Russian forum I could find: http://www.cnc-club.ru/forum/index.php (http://www.chipmaker.ru/forum/31/)


supping vodka [ which I hate ] from 45 gallon drums.
No wonder you consider having big buttons an advantage...:very_drunk:

John S
23-05-2012, 01:20 AM
Whatever................

Lee Roberts
24-05-2012, 10:14 PM
I have tried to keep out of this for as long as possible, But I feel I must say something.

I am all for heated debates, but this is a public forum, and I must say that this topic does not look good for the forum/site, and in fact if this was my forum I would be dam right ashamed of topics like this.

I share your frustrations.


If heated debates are going to get like this more and more, maybe it might be an idea for a "Heated Debate Section" within the forums.

Sorry if anything said has offended anyone, I have recently been absent from following the forums in my usual religious fashion due to my mother in law passing away two weeks ago yesterday, Iíve had a significant role to play in giving my support and obviously getting over her death myself, we have been very close and played big roles in each otherís lives over recent years, so itís been quite a hard two weeks for me/us and whatís going on in the forum hasnít been on my mind if Iím honest.

If there is any threads needing my attention please send me a PM with the details so I can take a look and I will do my best.

I have cleaned this thread up best I can with what Iíve got to work with, I am happy for people to have discussions and debates and even correct each other when wrong. However we all know how to talk to each other in a courteous way and how to put our points across without directly attacking each other.

History repeating its self...

Snore...zzzz....snooze...

I remind you of the rules you all agreed to when you applied for an account:


By agreeing to these rules, you warrant that you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws.


The owners of MYCNCUK reserve the right to remove, edit, move or close any content item for any reason.



You know what I expect from you people, do me a favour and play the game or I will just take the ball away. Iím getting tired of this now and I donít want to read you being objectionable to each other and nor do others, you know who you are and it needs to stop. Applications for an account are free of course; however membership is granted and is just as easily revoked, regardless of the outcome and punitive measures will be taken against persistent offenders and it will not be up for discussion like it has previously.

Good evening gentlemen !

ptjw7uk
25-05-2012, 10:00 AM
Thank you Lee for making a very pertinate point.
I for one only look on here for information and as such is not interested in point scoring if I was i would only have to look in any newspaper!
Lets keep the machining information flowing after all thats what the forum is for!
peter

boldford
09-07-2012, 11:00 PM
And after reading this whole thread I'm none the wiser whether to go for LinuxCNC or Mach.

rnr107
10-07-2012, 01:44 AM
And after reading this whole thread I'm none the wiser whether to go for LinuxCNC or Mach.

Note that I started the thread to tell people about the availability of the Smoothstepper motor board in UK !
Nothing to do with a fight between Pro-Mach vs Pro-Linux...

But, life goes on mate ! :very_drunk:

JAZZCNC
10-07-2012, 01:52 AM
And after reading this whole thread I'm none the wiser whether to go for LinuxCNC or Mach.

Tell you what then put up a thread poll asking whether Mach or Linux user and see who has the largest user base.?

CNC folks don't tend to use things that don't work has it's none productive and very frustrating. Every software has it's problems and issues or special area's where it shines but the real difference and where it counts is when you do have an issue how quick you can get info or fix for the problem.? . . . The user base will reflect this.!!

Jonathan
10-07-2012, 07:19 AM
Tell you what then put up a thread poll asking whether Mach or Linux user and see who has the largest user base.?

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, just because something is more popular doesn't necessarily mean it is the best (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum). Plus, although it is clear that Mach3 is the most popular in England, I don't think you'll find that's the case in some countries.


And after reading this whole thread I'm none the wiser whether to go for LinuxCNC or Mach.

That wasn't the purpose of this thread, but from your previous posts it seems you already use LinuxCNC, so I suggest trying both and see which you like best / which works best. I can't really add any more to the debate than I did in the first couple of posts on the topic.

boldford
10-07-2012, 09:32 AM
As a newby I'm just getting to grips with this whole CNC thing.
I think readers here fall into two broad camps. There are those with an IT exposure that want to get into carving real materials and those that manipulate material manually and want to bring in the benefits of NC.

From what I've read to date and my general experience of other M$ based PC S/W I am of the perception that Mach is a slick application which works straight out of the box for most people. Understandably, Art brought success to his application by designing it to run on the World's most popular OS. Unfortunately the M$ OS being closed source means he's pretty much stuck with it, as is, warts and all. Modern PCs are so fast that they can usually mask the inherent non-real time weaknesses of the OS. I'm sure SS is capable of overcoming those timing weaknesses - at the price ($$$ or £££) of throwing more processing power at the job.

On the other hand LinuxCNC sets out to be more flexible, and certainly more precise in the timing domain even with low end processors (P4 or earlier), but to me it seems to be less than friendly to the non-IT geek by failing to be as easy to set up as it could be after the great promise shown during install from an ISO CD. For LinuxCNC to become more popular I would appeal to those within the LinuxCNC fraternity to consider my comments if they intend to port it to 12.04LTS along with a substantial re-write of the manual.

That's just my two-penny-worth; but what do I know?

bobc
10-07-2012, 03:44 PM
I use Windows and Linux, I have no philosophical preference. I try to use whatever application has the best price/performance/ease of use, sometimes that means running on Windows sometimes Linux. Perhaps easier for me having multiple boxes, if you have a single box and need to choose that makes it more difficult.

I am sure there is no "right answer" here, it depends on your budget of both time and money, but logically try linuxCNC first because it is free, and then try Mach.

JAZZCNC
10-07-2012, 08:57 PM
As I mentioned earlier in the thread, just because something is more popular doesn't necessarily mean it is the best (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum). Plus, although it is clear that Mach3 is the most popular in England, I don't think you'll find that's the case in some countries.

Yes and I don't disagree in some respects and certainly wasn't saying Mach3 was better than linux cnc.!! Each has it's own set of skills and weakness's.!!. . BUT we do live in UK and tend to work within the English speaking domains like Cnczone etc so this does become important.! Very important to some people who haven't got IT skills and don't want to learn Geek.!!
They need good sources of information and help from friendly more experienced users, I know the result of such a poll. . . But it will show to others just how wide the user base for each software really is.!! . . . This can then be used has a guide to help them decide if this holds any value to them.?

Ger21
12-07-2012, 04:27 AM
Just read through this, and wanted to point out some unfair comments.



The main advantage of LinuxCNC over Mach3 using a parallel port is it runs on a real time kernel. This ensures that the pulse output from the parallel port has priority over everything else on the computer, so you don't get the timing inaccuracies inherent to Mach3 from Windows interrupting. With LinuxCNC if the computer appears to 'freeze' the machine will still run happily, since it's prioritised over everything including the mouse/keyboard. No matter how much you disable things in Windows, remove programs or whatever fundamentally Mach3 is not real time so timing errors will exist.

99.9% of issues with Windows "interrupting" Mach3 are power saving features, which can easily be disabled in most cases. Often they can be disabled from the bios, and may not be Windows issues at all.


No matter how much you disable things in Windows, remove programs or whatever fundamentally Mach3 is not real time so timing errors will exist.

Mach3 actually controls Windows to a certain extent, to provide accurate timing. And because it's a buffered system, "real time" is not really an issue. Sure, it may prevent you from doing some things that Linux can do, but there are no timing errors as you claim.




'But I'm not a computer geek and it takes twenty thousand years to set up' I hear you cry! It really doesn't - the installation and setup process which apparently is such a huge barrier to many, is quicker, easier and more intuitive than windows/mach3. Owning a CNC machine makes you a geek to start with so it's too late for that anyway. In fact, the interface eliminates many human errors - I see countless problems from people setting the wrong value for steps/mm, whereas in linuxcnc, each pulley has its own textbox, meaning that you never have to do any fiddly arithmetic manually.

If you want to play that game, Mach3 will automatically set your steps/unit without entering anything but a measured distance. You don't even need to know what components your machine uses.




Another crucial disadvantage of Mach3, or rather windows is its inability to perform on low end computers - with some ebay sniping (gixen.com), it's possible to put together a low latency computer for less than £50, whereas with windows, if you want to get anywhere, you have to use a relatively expensive computer.

When Mach3 was originally developed (Mach3, not Mach1 or Mach2), 1.5Ghz PC's were state of the art. I run Mach3 on a $20 1Ghz PC with 512MB of RAM, and it runs great. I can buy PC's on Ebay all day long that will run Mach3 just fine for $50-$75. Including Windows XP




LinuxCNC also boasts superior stability. Windows is known for its tendency to crash for no good reason on mid to low end computers ...................................

Really??? Maybe if your running Windows 95. From Windows 2K on, Windows is extremely stable, and will usually only crash for two reasons. Faulty hardware (usually memory), or bad software (very rare). I haven't seen Windows crash in well over 10 years.



Look at what features come into play when a product is developed properly with the correct objective in mind - full support for helical arcs (allowing threadmilling).................................... ..............

MAch3 can do helical arcs and threadmilling too.


Mach3 runs on windows 2000 and windows XP. Both are in steady decline with windows vista, 7 and 8 being forced out by Microsoft.

Mach3 runs on Vista and Windows 7 as well as 2K and XP. It can't use the parallel port with Windows 8, though.


Ubuntu is made to be incredibly user friendly and simple (it's marketed at Apple users amongst others).

Apple users use whatever Apple feeds them. I can't see many apple users switching to Linux.

bobc
12-07-2012, 09:42 AM
In a desperate attempt to steer the thread back on topic, does any here use Smoothstepper board, and if so what do they think of them?

On a technical note, the Smoothstepper board appears to use a Xilinx FPGA to do the crunching, and I guess an FTDI USB chip, is that right?

Ger21
12-07-2012, 04:08 PM
I don't use one, but there are a tremendous amount of Smoothstepper users at CNC Zone. And most everyone who uses seems to love it.
Yes, I believe it's an FTDI USB chip, as the FTDI driver is on the Smoothstepper site.

The general consensus seems to be that the ethernet SS is the only way to go these days. The USB version has always suffered from noise issues. Some have no problems with it, but a lot of people do. The ESS is said to be pretty much immune to noise.

bobc
12-07-2012, 04:27 PM
Thanks, that is interesting. We tried to put in USB to one of our products at work (a motor drive for a vacuum pump), and it failed as soon as the motor started! With improved filtering we can get past that, but we still have trouble with EMC tests. The problem is that the USB falls over, and doesn't recover, which for industrial control is not acceptable.

I think in low noise/office type environments USB is fine, when you get too near heavy kit it is just not up to the job. People's experience seems to match what we have found.

Ethernet does seem like a much better alternative, it's cheap, robust and widely supported.

Ger21
12-07-2012, 04:36 PM
The problem is that the USB falls over, and doesn't recover


That sounds just like what happens. When the Smoothstepper lost the connection, it required Mach3 to be closed and restarted to re-establish the connection.

m_c
12-07-2012, 05:09 PM
I've got a USB SS, however it's on a Connect lathe and is hardly pushed.

I've not had any issues with the USB dropping out, however some people do and struggle to fix it.

JAZZCNC
12-07-2012, 08:34 PM
Yes I have 2 x USB SS and now the Russian Ethernet version (Thou I'm not saying anything on that yet has I've not done testing so please don't ask.)

I have used the SS for 3yrs and it's been great. To get the best immunity from noise causing hanging it needs running from an external 5v supply not the 5V from USB. Other than doing that I've not had any trouble from noise or crashing.

I use it on an old 1ghz celeron Acer laptop without any problems at all.

It made an instant differnce to the machine giving slightly higher speeds and better acceleration with much smoother motion. I have never in all the time using it lost so much has a single step, this is partly down to my running a safe tuning setup but also from the SS being capable of far more than I throw at it.

The way I use Mach is to setup different tuning profiles geared to jog specific types.! IE: for Woods/MDF etc I tune for slightly higher feeds. Aluminium I tune for torque and Mid Accelaration and for 3D/V carving work I tune for high accelration then load what ever profile I feel best for the job.

3D and V/carving are very demanding on the PP because of the high pulse rate needed for accelaration and if your going to have any trouble often it's here where it shows in missed steps or droping/lifting Z axis etc.? . . . .The SS lets allows me high Accelration without worrying about missed steps.

I fully recommend the SS but If buying today I would buy the ESS because it's pretty much immune to the noise issue's that the SS can have in some enviroments (Thou I think thats often the users Electrics bad implimentation more than the SS fault.?)

Jonathan
12-07-2012, 09:25 PM
99.9% of issues with Windows "interrupting" Mach3 are power saving features
No, the majority of processor time not devoted to mach3 goes towards keeping the other >30 processes (mostly unnecessary) and many other threads ticking over with background processes. This is obvious. 99.9% is a completely fabricated figure which doesn't reflect reality at all. Additionally just look at the idle CPU useage for a windows machine and then for a Linux machine: even when doing nothing on a high end machine, windows will struggle to flatline at 0, while linux won't.


but there are no timing errors as you claim.
There are always​ timing errors, both on Linux and on Windows, the difference being they're lower on Linux. Here's another post on the subject that isn't mine:


EMC does run in a realtime kernal so all its I/O is realtime. Mach runs in a Buffered system, once the buffer runs there is little to no interaction to the pulse stream.


Mach3 will automatically set your steps/unit without entering anything but a measured distance.
I've been over this recently. This introduces a systematic error which limits the accuracy of the machine to the accuracy of what you used to measure that distance. That wizard is best used for something else entirely.


From Windows 2K on, Windows is extremely stable
Windows ME was released after windows 2k, and is very widely accepted to be exceptionally unstable, therefore your statement is wrong.


I haven't seen Windows crash in well over 10 years.
Either you don't use windows very often, or you are extremely lucky. Anyway, apparently you are under the impression that stability equates to lack of crashing. I regret to inform you that this isn't the case. Linux is simpler, lighter, and bugs get fixed a lot quicker. It stands to reason that it's more stable. If Ubuntu does appear to crash whilst running the machine, then due to the real time kernel the machine will more than likely continue running and thus not loose position.


Mach3 runs on Vista and Windows 7 as well as 2K and XP
Fair enough, perhaps I should have said "runs optimally" - Vista and 7 are both considerably heavier than XP (Vista is an absolute joke anyway).


MAch3 can do helical arcs and threadmilling too.
My apologies, Mach can do helical arcs (and therefore threadmilling without interpolating), I was misinformed.

I have not said that Mach wont work, or will definitely introduce errors, it's just inherently more likely to than LinuxCNC, hence I advise trying both.

Ger21
13-07-2012, 12:46 AM
Now I can see how this thread went where it did. Let me make a few points, and then you can have the last word, which I'm sure you will.


No, the majority of processor time not devoted to mach3 goes towards keeping the other >30 processes (mostly unnecessary) and many other threads ticking over with background processes. This is obvious. 99.9% is a completely fabricated figure which doesn't reflect reality at all. Additionally just look at the idle CPU usage for a windows machine and then for a Linux machine: even when doing nothing on a high end machine, windows will struggle to flatline at 0, while linux won't.
None of this backs up your point about Windows interrupting Mach3, which it just doesn't do. If it did, Mach3 wouldn't be usable. There are a few well known applications that can wreak havoc with Mach3, and those are well documented (Quicktime is one). But those are not the fault of Windows.


Windows ME was released after windows 2k, and is very widely accepted to be exceptionally unstable, therefore your statement is wrong.

Windows ME?? :joker:

I think that response pretty much sums up where your coming from.


Either you don't use windows very often, or you are extremely lucky.

I spend about 18 hours a day most days at a Windows PC. I have 7 at home, and use 2 at work. They are 100% stable, with the exception of Firefox being so bloated it can't run on a PC with 2Gigs of RAM at times.


Anyway, apparently you are under the impression that stability equates to lack of crashing.

And I said that where?

You said, Windows is known for its tendency to crash for no good reason.

I said that no, it doesn't crash.

Mach3 works fine, plain and simple. It doesn't work on all PC's, though, but neither does LinuxCNC. The Smoothstepper allows you to use a PC that might not normally work with Mach3. Back on topic.

(Sorry, guys)

John S
13-07-2012, 12:52 AM
No need to apologise Gerry, most of us are on the same page.

Reminds me of a sign my brother used to have hanging in his dealership.

"Employ a teenager whist they still know it all "

JAZZCNC
13-07-2012, 01:18 AM
Reminds me of a sign my brother used to have hanging in his dealership.

"Employ a teenager whist they still know it all "

Well thats him bolloxed then because I belive he's just turned 20 or about too.??

Anyway I'm just annoyed I didn't put money on the fact he'd argue back with someone of Gerry's experience. . .Infact I'd put good money on he'd argue with Art if he posted.!!!

John S
13-07-2012, 01:30 AM
Well thats him bolloxed then because I belive he's just turned 20 or about too.??



Doesn't mean anything, i have a grand daughter who's 9 going on 35, some people go the other way!!

Ger21
13-07-2012, 01:53 AM
Double post