View Full Version : What computers do I need

11-12-2012, 06:45 AM
I am sorry if this sounds like a silly question? I hope too buy my first CNC Machine soon,I am a complete learner, What I would like to know is ,do I have to buy2 Computers ,One for the Mach Programme? and a separate Computer to run my Design Software,either Artcam or Vetric ? If I need 2 Computers ,could someone provide me with a very simple schematic drawing of how I set everything up,How do I transfer Files from sayvArtcam Computer to Mach3 Computer? This is probably a very naive question on my part, but hand to heart ,I just do not honestly know. I would greatly appreciate any help given.

Yours Kindly Paul

Web Goblin
11-12-2012, 07:44 AM
I am sure someone else will come along and add more to this but here goes for starters.
Where are you going to do your drawing work and where is your machine? I have one computer in the workshop which only runs the machine software and cad stuff for quick alteration of drawings while in the workshop. I mainly do all my cad work in the house where its nice and warm.
If you go for two computers it is easy enough to network them together. I had tried this via wifi but could not get a decent signal out to the workshop so I ran in a hard link and connected it to my network router in the house. All of the computers have access to my network storage drive where I keep all my cad files so after I finish them on cad I can easily access them from the cnc machine computer.
Basically this comes down to where do you want to do your cad work, in the house or in the workshop? Also if you cant get a network in place if you go down the two computers route you can always transfer the files via a usb stick, not as easy as a network but it works all the same.

11-12-2012, 08:28 AM
I will have CNC Machine in Workshop in shed, I have an IMac in my home ,where I would like to do the files from either Artcam or Aspire, I probably will go for Networking two Computers through my Router,One for Mach,and other Computer for Cad Files.If by chance one had to use USB Stick, will it have to be of a certain Spec,Memory Wise etc


Web Goblin
11-12-2012, 08:53 AM
So seperate computer in the shed for the cnc machine. Strip it of all useless software that it doesnt need. All you really need is a basic windows install, ie for a bit of surfing while in the shed, and your cnc control software and possibly another copy of your cad/cam software for some editing at the machine.
Any decent memory stick should do the job. I like Kingston usb sticks, a bit more expensive than some but they work well.
The cnc files are not usually very large so a standard 1GB stick will easily be large enough. Cabled network would be the way to go though.

11-12-2012, 09:08 AM
Could you clarify something for me please, I am picking up from various Forums,that its better just to have Mach3 on a computer by itself,with no other Software? but I take it ,you do it, and everything is running ok?


Web Goblin
11-12-2012, 09:49 AM
I dont use Mach3. I use USBCNC and it runs fine. Apart from a basic windows install, internet explorer, some cad programs and Norton Internet security it runs ok.
But I dont do anything else with the pc when running the cnc machine. I dont want to take the risk of scrapping a job by doing something else while the machine is running.

11-12-2012, 12:13 PM
Thing with Mach3 is it uses very deep level control of the operating system to generate timing for controlling the machine.

If anything tugs the operating systems sleeve whilst it is running Mach3 , it could miss a ferw steps and scrap the work your cutting.

Just need a very basic old computer with a paralell port to run Mach3.

Mad Professor
11-12-2012, 12:47 PM
For my Workshop / Mach3 computer, I am using a very small and low powered computer that I built, and that is based on the ASUS E35M1-I DELUXE (http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/AMD_CPU_on_Board/E35M1I_DELUXE/) motherboard, 4GB Memory, Crucial M4 64GB SSD, Running Windows 7-64bit, Mach3, CamBam, DropBox.
But I am using the ESS (Ethernet Smooth Stepper), and not a paralell port.

I had no end of problems with paralell ports, and thats why I ended up going over to the ESS.

Don't get me worng about using paralell ports, most pepole are still using paralell ports and have no problems, I was just unlucky that the 3 old computers I had, gave me nothing but problems.

All the main Cad/Cam work is done on my main home pc.

11-12-2012, 04:24 PM
Your going to have problems if your not that great with computers, Don't think there is a mac version of mach3 so if you want to run mach3 you will need a windows operating system. What version doesn't matter as long as it's 32 bit (if you want to use parallel port) Mach3 doesn't like 64 bit systems unless you are using something like a smooth stepper. That's probably why mad professor had problems before getting the smooth stepper.
If your using a mac to do your artwork unless you know how to convert mac files to windows then that's going to cause a problem don't know what other software is available to drive the router but mach3 might not be a good choice in your case. You might be able to run bootcamp or something similar on your mac but I'm not a big fan of emulators myself.

11-12-2012, 05:07 PM
I've setup quite a few computers with mach3 that are running mills, routers and lathes, and i always say to the owner of the machine this.

DO NOT use the computer for anything else other than running the machine.

DO NOT put a virus protector on the computer

DO NOT use a wireless keyboard and mouse

DO NOT connect to the internet

It's running a machine that has the capability to cut materials that are harder than you. So if you're near the machine and a program decides to activate the parallel port, the machine will not stop if your hands are in the way.

11-12-2012, 05:08 PM
I use a 70 XP machine for my controller in the workshop ( I use NCStudio for the controller) ,, connected to my my design computer (workgroup) in my bedroom via those new fangled network over ring main. Works a treat I just have a share on one of them that both computers can see.

11-12-2012, 05:14 PM
To add to my earlier post, a Pentium 4 machine would be ideal for running Mach3

11-12-2012, 05:52 PM
100% backup what i2i says and will add that Mach3 main program works fine with 64bit it's the Parallel port driver that doesn't and CAN NOT be used on 64bit PC's and why folks use Smooth stepper or some other motion control device.

Any memory stick works fine with Mach3 but what you should do to be safe, esp with very long G-code files is copy them onto the hard drive before loading into Mach3. When you load a G-code file into Mach it buffers the code and if very long pulls from the loading device and Memory sticks can be picky and sometimes not fast enough to respond which can cause Mach problems.!

The biggest problem most folks have with Mach comes from the PC's parallel port and not the actual PC or it's Spec. In fact often the newer and more powerful the PC the higher chances are you'll have issue's.? This comes from the fact most modern PC's have low power 3V parallel ports fitted.

So like i2i suggests P4 machines or PC's of that era often work great.
If like my self and Mad Prof you use a external motion controller like the smooth stepper then lots of issues are eliminated with some nice fringe bennifits. The best being you can use any PC equipped with either USB or ethernet from really low spec laptops to all singing all dancing 64bit rocket ships and get much much smoother and often faster performance than you can from the PP.!!