View Full Version : Boxford 160 cnc convert to mach3, Info needed.
26-10-2014, 03:12 PM
Hi, I Have just bought a Boxford 160 cnc lathe , no atc so its a simple 2-axis machine. It has a built in pc motherboard and uses boxford v4.3 software to control the machine, all works fine in manual and in program, however I would like to use mach3 as this is what I am used to when using my cnc milling machine combined with cad, I have noticed that the machine is connected to the pc motherboard via serial link, therefore would it work if I plug the machine into my other computer via serial link and set up mach3 to suit? I am a newbe in this field, I have very good engineering knowledge and limited electronics skills. I have read other discussions converting bbc run boxfords to mach3 where opto isolators were added to protect the pc but if mine is already running off a pc what difference will it make if I just connect it to a different pc?? Please help, the old software is sooooo long winded!
Unless you want to write a Mach plugin that can communicate over serial, then you'll need to change/modify at least some of the electronics. You can either bypass the existing controller (i.e. whatever takes the serial input and converts it to step signals) and connect upto a suitable breakout board (you don't need to, but a BOB makes life far easier than trying to wire directly to a parallel port), or do a complete retrofit with new stepper drives and breakout board.
It all depends on how much money you're willing to spend, and what drives are already fitted. New drives will give better performance, as the original stepper drives will most likely be very primative compared with modern drives, however it all depends on if the extra performance is worth it for you.
It also depends on if you want to go with a parallel port, or go for an external motion controller.
28-10-2014, 06:09 PM
Hi,thanks for your response,I'm quite happy with the performance of the machine so maybe the first option adding a bob and bypassing the controller is the best option for now. Would you know what bob I would need and where I could find the info for installing it etc? Any help is much appreciated.
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Take a pick!
There are lots of options, but the biggest thing will be are you going to stick with a Parallel Port, or go for USB/Ethernet with an external motion controller. If you go the latter, then you have to ensure it's got lathe functions, as not all motion controllers support things like threading.
To give you an idea of options/price ranges, it varies from cheap BOBs on ebay that will connect to a parallel port, to full blown motion controllers/BOBs like those from CS-Labs or Dynomotion.
Personally I use Dynomotion KFlops with a mix of Kanalogs, KSteps and Konnect expansion boards, however I can justify the expense, as my machines are making money reguarly. Also with the IO being 24V, it eliminates issues with interference causing false signals that you can experience with poor wiring when using 5V IO, as per most more hobby grade controllers.
For more hobby use, personally I'd recommend an Ethernet SmoothStepper (USB one works perfectly for over 99% of people, however I don't think it's worth the risk of being in that sub 1% in order to save a few pounds), combined with a suitable PMDX BOB. PMDX produce some of the best BOBs, and have quite a few options depending on what you need to connect.
As for wiring it in, if you can't find any guides/build logs here or over on cnczone, then I'm afraid you'll need to either figure it out yourself, or find somebody who can do it for you.
It would probably be worth taking some good photos of the existing boards and posting them up here, as others may recognise them and be able to help.
01-11-2014, 12:45 PM
Hi,I havnt replied sooner as i have been reading up on the pmdx boards and studying wiring tutorials on youtube etc, I have a much better understanding of what i need to do.I think i should go for the ethernet smoothstepper combined with a pmdx, i think the one i need is http://pmdx.com/PMDX-122 ,as for the smoothstepper, do they all do the same job or are some better than others? I think once i have these parts i will post a new thread like you say including pictures of the current setup,hopefully someone will recognise it and then maybe work out what needs to stay and what should go.I havent begun to think about he spindle yet,that area is still a blank! I have read that i may need another board?
There are only two genuine smoothsteppers, the original USB SS and the newer Ethernet SS, both produced by Warp9TD.
Anything else that happens to mention smoothstepper in the name (i.e. quite a few ebay listings), is not a smoothstepper. I think PMDX are official resellers, so if you go for a PMDX BOB, it'll most likely be worthwhile getting the SS from them at the same time, to reduce the number of customs handling fees you'll need to pay.
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