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Tanky_Turk
29-01-2014, 04:56 PM
Hi all, just joined the forum and have a question, apologies if I am asking in the wrong forum.

I built a CNC a couple of years ago but had to dismantle it due to moving to a smaller flat but now want to build a smaller one. As I am limited in space and don't have a Windows/Linux PC any more, I use an iMac, I was wondering if there is a way to run the CNC without connecting it to a PC.

I can generate the G-Code on my iMac running WinXP in Vbox or on my old Vista laptop but neither has an LPT port.

I have a TB6560AHQ (12-36V, 1.5-3.5A) driver board and 3 Nema 23 stepper motors.

Thanks in advance.

EddyCurrent
29-01-2014, 11:47 PM
This type of thing ?

CNC lathes Handle 2011 DSP Pendant CNC Motion control system Controller Handle | eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CNC-lathes-Handle-2011-DSP-Pendant-CNC-Motion-control-system-Controller-Handle-/190681787617?pt=UK_BOI_Industrial_Automation_Contr ol_ET&hash=item2c65852ce1)

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 10:27 AM
You can use the Planet CNC MK2 controller with an SD card addon to run the gcode without needing it connected to a computer.
Alternatively, as it connects with USB you can use it with the Mac running Windows virtualised as well. Comes with it's own software which is quite good but not quite got the versatility of Mach or LinuxCNC just yet.

Planet CNC (http://www.planet-cnc.com/index.php?page=hardware)
I've just picked up two of those from Zapp Automation. A bit overkill for what I need personally but I can always make use of them as things progress.

Obviously it'd mean buying a new controller though.

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 01:21 PM
This type of thing ?

CNC lathes Handle 2011 DSP Pendant CNC Motion control system Controller Handle | eBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CNC-lathes-Handle-2011-DSP-Pendant-CNC-Motion-control-system-Controller-Handle-/190681787617?pt=UK_BOI_Industrial_Automation_Contr ol_ET&hash=item2c65852ce1)

Thanks for the reply, that's a bit expensive for occasional hobby use but at least now I know there are things that I can use. I'll see if I can find anything cheaper.

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 01:37 PM
You can use the Planet CNC MK2 controller with an SD card addon to run the gcode without needing it connected to a computer.
Alternatively, as it connects with USB you can use it with the Mac running Windows virtualised as well. Comes with it's own software which is quite good but not quite got the versatility of Mach or LinuxCNC just yet.

Planet CNC (http://www.planet-cnc.com/index.php?page=hardware)
I've just picked up two of those from Zapp Automation. A bit overkill for what I need personally but I can always make use of them as things progress.

Obviously it'd mean buying a new controller though.

Thanks for your reply Roadrunna, I'll head over there later and have a good read.

If you don't6 mind me asking, how much did you pay for the boards?

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 01:50 PM
190 + VAT each from Zapp. That comes with the software licence as well so if you factor in what should/would have been paid for a Mach licence it's not too bad.

The software is quite nice and it's still under further development with new features that look quite promising.
I like the idea that it's shifted on from the whole parallel port requirement and there's a load of inputs/outputs that can be used with the board. One of the other benefits of course is with the SD card addon it can be a stand alone machine. Great for production run kind of stuff or computer in the house, machine in the garage/shed etc.

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 02:26 PM
Mach3 costs 190 quid on it's own so the card and software for the same price sounds good. Mind you, I used LinuxCNC, which I think is excellent as a freeware. Also, as it's only a hobby, I'm not sure if I can justify paying out that much money. I'll definitely keep it in mind though, might be something to go for in the future.

I hope it's ok to post a link here but just wanted to show the sort of things that I use the CNC for and also want to use it for engraving on copper and brass. At the moment I etch the copper and brass but want to get away from all the harmful "acid" stuff. Some of my etchings are on that link as well as the first CNC I built.



TankyTurk's Hobbies.: Some of the things I made with the CNC. (http://tanky-turk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/some-of-things-i-made-with-cnc.html)

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 02:40 PM
If you can live with running it from the Mac and not having it standalone then they do also have cheaper lower spec boards. There's the MK1 which is 4 axis for 69 euros + 69 euros for the software.

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 02:54 PM
I can't use it with the Mac, they will be in different rooms.

What I was thinking of was doing the drawings and generating the G-code on XP running on the Mac in Vbox and saving the G-code on SD or USB stick and then some sort of board that sent the code to the CNC independent from a PC.

Do I need their software to use these boards?

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 03:03 PM
I think so, You'd need to ask on their site to be certain.

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 03:30 PM
Cheers mate, will have a good read later and contact them.

JAZZCNC
30-01-2014, 06:56 PM
Why not Just buy a cheap PC for 50 and be done with it.? . . . More flexible than dedicated controller.!

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 07:03 PM
I was hoping to save space which I am a bit short of in a small flat but might have to revert to that. The prices I have seen so far for controllers are far more than I can justify.

Reading about GRBL and Arduino UNO at the moment but haven't checked prices yet. I'm not even sure if it's what I want or not, just started reading about it.

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 08:08 PM
Have a look around for something like a Dell Optiplex GX260 SFF or any other small form factor machines. The Dells tend to go for between 40-60 and have the full parallel port capabilities. I normally use them as they're quite neat compact units. One of mine sits in the cupboard on the boxford lathe, another will be going inside the 260VMC.

Just make sure they come with the power brick as well ;)

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 08:26 PM
Looks like I am going to have to use a PC after all, everything else seems to be too expensive.

Do you know if Ubuntu (LinuxCNC) will run on that?

What a "power brick"?

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 09:21 PM
Yep, Linux runs fine on mine. The power brick is the external power supply. They have a specific plug to go in the unit rather than the standard kettle lead. They're small form factor partly because the PSU is external.

Tanky_Turk
30-01-2014, 09:59 PM
Were there two versions of the Optiplex GX260 SFF? all the ones I'd seen had PSU built in, will keep that in mind if I find one though, just in case.

I've got an old Dell server but not sure if LinuxCNC will run on it, only has 512MB RAM and 16MB video card but that thing is almost as loud as a dremel. LOL

Roadrunna
30-01-2014, 10:05 PM
Doh. Ignore that spent too long working with the 260's the name gets stuck in my head lol.

GX745 USFF or 755 etc. The one with the laptop style cd tray. :)