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Kendrick57
17-02-2015, 07:10 PM
hi
I am just starting with my first cnc machine, I have bought a mach3 licence and also have cad/cam software. my problem is getting mach3 to talk to my computer. I decided to go down the route of a usb to parallel converter so I contacted star tech with the use I wanted to put the converter to, I also suggested a model in their range, after a while talking to their technical department the sales person said the tech team recommended for use with a cnc machine the Star Tech ICUSB2321284.
has anyone else had any experience with this converter and so could advise me.


kendrick

Ger21
17-02-2015, 08:44 PM
There are NO USB to parallel port converters that will work with Mach3.

You have two options.
1) Add a PCI parallel port.
2) add a USB or ethernet motion controller, like the UC100 or Smoothstepper.

magicniner
17-02-2015, 11:07 PM
I decided to go down the route of a usb to parallel converter

There isn't a USB to Parallel converter which allows Mach3 to have control of the timing of the output state of the individual pins, to quote Eric Morecambe you get "All the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order" ;-)

- Nick

Kendrick57
18-02-2015, 11:09 AM
Hi
Its for use with a laptop with no built in parallel port running windows 7 I Have worked out how to make a power setting with NO power saveing features at all.
if as you all say a usb to parallel converter will not work then could I use one of those PCMCIA parallel port cards?
kendrick

njhussey
18-02-2015, 11:45 AM
Why not buy a second hand dediacted PC off fleabay, they're only about 50 for a base unit?

Kendrick57
18-02-2015, 12:26 PM
I've just been investigating a diferent route a dedicated usb to parallel port adapter designed for use with Cnc machines the UC100 at a little under 100 not the cheapes but can easily move from computer to computer.
kendrick

Neale
18-02-2015, 04:59 PM
That's not just a usb-parallel converter, that's a motion controller in its own right. I've no experience of them but in general terms an external motion controller like this, in conjunction with Mach3, can solve a lot of timing and parallel port issues, particularly if you are using a laptop with its more problematic timing characteristics.

It might not be the cheapest usb-parallel converter but it's pretty cheap for a motion controller.

paulus.v
18-02-2015, 05:13 PM
I've just been investigating a diferent route a dedicated usb to parallel port adapter designed for use with Cnc machines the UC100 at a little under 100 not the cheapes but can easily move from computer to computer.
kendrick
Going with the UC300 you will have a lot more inputs and outputs than one parallel port plus some analog ones, which means you will need a cheap BOB with only optocouplers and screw terminals.

Ger21
18-02-2015, 05:15 PM
A friend of mine with a UC100 actually switched from Mach3 to their UCCNC software, and found that it performed better than Mach3. It's 1/3 the price as well. The downside is that it's new, and right now doesn't have as many features as Mach3 does.

Kendrick57
18-02-2015, 08:00 PM
A friend of mine with a UC100 actually switched from Mach3 to their UCCNC software, and found that it performed better than Mach3. It's 1/3 the price as well. The downside is that it's new, and right now doesn't have as many features as Mach3 does.
as far as the UC300 is concerned that would require a major modification of the cnc's controller box not somthing I want to do with this machine, the UC100 is to a major degree plug and play.
I already have the Mach3 license I did not think that UCCNC was compatable with the 6040 China machine I bought, before jazz and the rest of those out there that hate the chineese cnc range of machines sorry it's a fait accompli I am only interested in constructive comments on questions asked not my choice of machine.
kendrick

njhussey
18-02-2015, 08:15 PM
It's not the CNC machine that the software talks to, it's the BOB/controller...this then sends pulses to the machine's steppers to move the spindle to the desired positions.

The Chinese machines serve a purpose and if you accept and work within their limitations then I think that they're great as you're then a member of the CNC world....

Kendrick57
18-02-2015, 11:28 PM
That is the way I look at it if I waited until I had enough money to by a realy good machine I would never have enough, I set an amount I could afford put an O.N.O on it and went looking that was what I found. It is not the best but it ticks all of my boxes.
kendrick

Neale
18-02-2015, 11:58 PM
The issue, Kendrick, is that often when you don't have too much knowledge about the subject (but are willing to learn!) then it's easy to ask the wrong question. In your case, you possibly started out with the wrong question, about a USB to parallel converter. In the context of a CNC router and Mach3, this really doesn't make a lot of sense but it might not be obvious why not. If you say, "I have this Chinese router that has a BOB that needs to plug into a parallel port, and I have a laptop with Mach3 but no parallel port so how do I make the two ends meet?" then that puts it into a better context, and you are more likely to get a useful answer. The correct answer to your original question was, in effect, "You can't get there from here", but actually there are some good solutions to the actual problem.

Of course, you might get some ribbing about some aspects of what you've said. Unfortunately, to get any sense out of these forums you have to take the rough with the smooth, or at least have a skin like a rhinoceros, but you will get some really useful feedback and suggestions if you pick through what is said. Just don't insist on getting your exact question answered, because with the best will in the world, sometimes it's just not the right question! As for Chinese machines - I have no experience of them, except that I'm sure that they won't do quite all that the advertising claims. But then, what does? I'm sure that used within its capabilities, it will be able to do a good job for you. I run a home-built router built from MDF. Frankly, it's crap, but it does work and as long as I am careful about what I am trying to do, it does a useful job. Your machine is probably a lot better than mine. It's also taught me that I need something better, which is what I am building at the moment, but we all come to this game from different directions, with different needs, and, frankly, different budgets. Good luck to you, carry on asking questions, listen carefully to the answers and think about whether or not you asked the right question, and if you need to, ask why someone said or recommended what they did.

Have fun!

Kendrick57
19-02-2015, 01:28 AM
Thanks for the advice you're absolutely right I started this thread from a position of just about compleat ignorance.
my knowlege has increased a lot but still has a way to go.
I expected there to be both positive and negative comments, in life I have to find the good ideas from the bad why should here be any diferent.
As for using a laptop and having problems withthe power saveing features I think I've switched them all off the laptop was switched on at 12 at 4 it was still going strong no screensaver no switch of no nothing it was still going at full power. I will still have to prove it with the Cnc but things are looking good.
will post again whe I have tried the uc100.
kendrick

Neale
19-02-2015, 09:14 AM
Unfortunately, while what you have done on the laptop is good and probably necessary if you want to use a laptop at all, the power management and similar features are sometimes a bit more subtle than that. Particularly with the types of processor chip used in laptops, power management is critical to getting good battery life, along with things like CPU temperature management because small cases mean poorer cooling, smaller fans, etc. This means that every so often, it is possible for the CPU to temporarily suspend normal operation while it is doing various internal system management and monitoring tasks, and then carry on as if nothing had happened. We are talking about tiny fractions of a second here, and nothing that you would notice as a user if you were doing normal laptop things - browsing, word processing, watching videos, or whatever. The issue with CNC operation is that the motion control software - Mach3 in your case - has to issue a stream of pulses out of the parallel port at very precise intervals. These intervals are also down in the tiny fractions of a second level. For example, a typical pulse rate for Mach3 might be 20KHz, twenty thousand pulse per second, which means a pulse every 50 microseconds. If the CPU says every so often, "Hang on a bit, I'm busy" for, say, a couple of hundred microseconds, a normal user wouldn't notice, but you've just lost 3 or 4 pulses, and that means jerky motion on the router and loss of position - the machine is now not where Mach3 expects it to be. That's why LinuxCNC, a common alternative to Mach3, comes with a test programme to measure this kind of internal system delay (not sure if Mach3 has an equivalent - it might). You don't get this kind of thing to anything like the same extent with desktop systems, which is why Mach3 say that they do not support their product on laptops. Even desktop machines vary, and the results aren't even linked directly to CPU or clock speed as even a fast system might have poor internal system timing performance. So, what I'm saying is that while what you've done is good, and the machine won't go to sleep or whatever while you're using it, the underlying problems are beyond your or anyone's control. This is also why a USB-parallel converter doesn't help as it destroys the pulse timing in the conversion process. They might be fine for undemanding devices like printers, but not real-time use for CNC machine control.

Good news, though, is that is why people use external motion controllers like the UC100. You still use Mach3 to do the user-level machine control, but it delegates all the background pulse generation and time-critical functions to the external device which is designed and built to ensure that you get a good clean well-timed pulse train. I think when I looked at it, the UC100 spec said that it could run at up to 100KHz which is 4-5 times faster than a typical PC could manage. It's also faster than you actually need in practical circumstances, but it does mean clean, well-timed, and guaranteed pulse delivery.

Be interesting to see how it works for you.

paulus.v
19-02-2015, 11:05 AM
I am controlling my CNC with Mach3 on an old IBM Thinkpad laptop (Pentium 1.8 GHz, 512 MB RAM) with a parallel port.

I made a fresh Windows XP install skipping the ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) install by holding F5 (select standard pc) or simply F7 during install, when at the bottom of the screen is asking to press F6 if you have raid devices. This way there will be no APM/ACPI installed. APM/ACPI is responsible for reducing the parallel port clock speed to reduce power consumption, and there is no other way to disable this function.

Without the APM/ACPI the laptop runs at full power but there is no cooling problem because the cooling system relies on temerature sensors not software. There is no battery monitor, windows does not know/inform you if you are running on AC or battery or the battery level, but who cares as long as the laptop is always plugged in. The only downside, very annoying at the beginning (now I'm used to it), is that the system is not shutting down automatically. You get a message "It is now safe to turn off your computer" and need to press the power button for two seconds to cut the power.

I think the most important thing is to have a computer dedicated to control the CNC. With a fresh windows installed, any graphics enhancements disabled, and only the CNC control software installed (Mach3 or other).

This way I get excellent results even at 100 KHz with the Mach3 timer variations test software on my old IBM Thinkpad laptop.

Neale
19-02-2015, 11:38 AM
That's pretty good performance, and way beyond what I get running LinuxCNC on a newly-built PC, even with its "real-time" modified kernel (which even has cpu temperature monitoring code removed). I have Mach3 demo version ready to run on a dual-boot disk on that machine although I haven't tried that one yet. That's Windows 7, though, and I'm not sure what difference that might make in practice.

Kendrick57
19-02-2015, 12:14 PM
From what I read in the manual and from what has been said on this thread by using the uc100 you take the timing problem out of the equation the uc100 deals with timing all the computer does is stream locations to the uc100 and that sends them out in a timed fashion so as not to confuse the Cnc. Have I got the it just about worked out.
kendrick

Neale
19-02-2015, 03:09 PM
Close enough! Mach3 sends a stream of commands to the UC100, which stores them locally and turns them into pulse streams as required. Because it holds about a second's worth of commands in its local buffer store (according to the spec on the web site) unless the PC is really busy and can't update the buffer for more than a second (which is unlikely if it's not doing anything else) nothing gets lost. Strictly speaking, the PC does not just send "location" data to the UC100 as it will also send things like spindle speed control, coolant on/off, etc, commands as well and the UC100 then generates the appropriate output signals on its parallel port. The UC100 will also send things like limit switch operation signals back to Mach3, I suspect, but for all practical purposes you don't have to worry about the details - Mach3 and the UC100 sort it out between them.

Kendrick57
19-02-2015, 03:48 PM
Well it's arrived I set it up followed all the instructions still nothing works

paulus.v
19-02-2015, 04:28 PM
Well it's arrived I set it up followed all the instructions still nothing works
Have you set the port number in Mach3 Ports and Pins configuration? I remember when I first tried to get Mach3 working I forgot to set the port and by default it is 0.

Kendrick57
19-02-2015, 04:37 PM
Is there a setup guide to interface mach3 to the uc100

paulus.v
19-02-2015, 04:47 PM
Is there a setup guide to interface mach3 to the uc100
It you followed the UC100 setup guide (http://cncdrive.com/MC/UC100%20datasheet/UC100%20users%20guide.pdf) and have both leds lighting continuous, then the rest is to configure mach3 to communicate with your machine, setup ports and pins, motor tuning, etc. Probably your cnc came with a mach3 profile file which you need to load.

Kendrick57
19-02-2015, 11:24 PM
I've done it almost.
i can move the spindle when I remember to set the jog buton on the only things left are to set home points and get the spindle to spin under computer control.
kendrick

Kendrick57
20-02-2015, 04:59 PM
I am watching videos on how to find limits and home points,so by the end of that I should have that one covered.
spindle controll is my final setting up problem. The black box that came with the Cnc has a spindle speed control pad on it, is this enough or do I have to have the spindle speed computer controlled?
kendrick

EddyCurrent
20-02-2015, 08:56 PM
The black box that came with the Cnc has a spindle speed control pad on it, is this enough or do I have to have the spindle speed computer controlled?
kendrick

There's nothing wrong with manual speed control on a machine that size. Do you know if it's got the hardware to make speed controllable from software ?

JAZZCNC
20-02-2015, 11:33 PM
before jazz and the rest of those out there that hate the chineese cnc range of machines sorry it's a fait accompli I am only interested in constructive comments on questions asked not my choice of machine.

How Rude.!!!. . . Did I say a word about the pile of shite.?

The UC100 is ok but it's still USB based and therefore will at some time have same power dropout issues lots of USB based devices encounter. Esp with a Laptop.!

For spindle control thru software you'll need speed control board or BOB that has one built into it. If Chinese machine came with the cheap Nasty DC spindle then chances are it won't have this and speed will be controlled directly from the DC speed controller with a Pot.
If spindle is AC and controlled with VFD then you may have BOB with PWM output so can control speed using this.

Kendrick57
21-02-2015, 10:23 AM
How Rude.!!!. . . Did I say a word about the pile of shite.?

The UC100 is ok but it's still USB based and therefore will at some time have same power dropout issues lots of USB based devices encounter. Esp with a Laptop.!

For spindle control thru software you'll need speed control board or BOB that has one built into it. If Chinese machine came with the cheap Nasty DC spindle then chances are it won't have this and speed will be controlled directly from the DC speed controller with a Pot.
If spindle is AC and controlled with VFD then you may have BOB with PWM output so can control speed using this.
Sorry jazz I'm new and before I joined I looked at a few threads in which you always popped up with scathing comments about the Chinese shite as you put it. I know it's not the best but it will do what I want it to do I was on a limited budget.
as for the laptop I went through the power features and disabled them all, the flow of data will probably still be interrupted every so often but the UC100 should cope with that.
the reason for the uc100 as apposed to the various other methods out there is ease of fitting and not wanting to open up the control box.
looks like the spindle is a cheap and nasty DC one but should be a lot better than those on the 3040, I'll live with the spindle being under manual control, if the speed can never be controlled but there is a pin to switch the motor on and off I'll see if I can make up a relay circuit to control the start stop of the spindle.
I have at least got a pot and herz digital readout on the control box I'll learn.
just got a set of diamond shaped cutting bits for the Cnc came from China so there is no knowing the quality, anyone know where I can get better quality bits must be diamond cut 2mm or a bit less I'm cutting carbon fiber up to 5 mm thick.

kendrick

JAZZCNC
21-02-2015, 11:34 AM
Sorry jazz I'm new and before I joined I looked at a few threads in which you always popped up with scathing comments about the Chinese shite as you put it.

It's ok no offense taken my skin is a little thicker than that.! My Scathing of the machines are based on experience repairing or helping others repair them so it's very valid IMO. BUT if you had looked hard enough you'd seen I've also said many times they are great learning tools just don't expect the world from them as they are not strong enough and component quality is poor so they wear quickly.

Regards the UC100 and USB drop outs then it will still happen from time to time as it's power based issue with USB and the UC100 draws it's power from USB so the data buffers won't make any difference. This happens on other USB based Motion control devices but most allow power to be drawn from an external source and it's avoided.
Often people don't know it's the USB causing the problem and just blame Mach3.!

GEOFFREY
21-02-2015, 11:38 AM
Kendrick, I do not think your spindle is DC, changing the frequency on your vfd will change the spindle speed, so it must be a 3 phase spindle motor. Remember what I told you last night, spindle speed is pairs of poles x frequency,
ie vfd frequency say 400hz (cycles per second) x 60 (seconds to minutes) = 24k RPM. This is a little higher than the actual speed due to slip, but is near enough for what you need. Ihope that makes sense. G.

JAZZCNC
21-02-2015, 12:42 PM
Kendrick, I do not think your spindle is DC,

Easy to check Kendrick just take the connector off the spindle and if it as 2 wires it's DC, 3 wires it will be VFD/3phase like Geoffrey says. Looking at your other post I agree with Geoffrey it looks like VFD control panel.

Kendrick57
21-02-2015, 01:09 PM
Fr the power problems with the usb what about a powered hub then the usb power is not coming from the laptop.
The spindle has 4 pins coming off it more than I would expect from DC maybe brushless with a backemf sensor wire.
kendrick

EddyCurrent
21-02-2015, 01:34 PM
Fr the power problems with the usb what about a powered hub then the usb power is not coming from the laptop.
The spindle has 4 pins coming off it more than I would expect from DC maybe brushless with a backemf sensor wire.
kendrick

See in this other thread; http://www.mycncuk.com/threads/8457-Chineese-6040-problems?p=67150#post67150 too many threads for same thing.

GEOFFREY
21-02-2015, 02:31 PM
Fr the power problems with the usb what about a powered hub then the usb power is not coming from the laptop.
The spindle has 4 pins coming off it more than I would expect from DC maybe brushless with a backemf sensor wire.
kendrick

Kendrick, you DO NOT have a DC spindle. G.

Kendrick57
21-02-2015, 02:34 PM
Your Correct no point having 2 threads open for the same Cnc. This threads problems have now been sorted, can any future comments be passed to a more generalised thread about any problems I have with the 6040. Go to
http://www.mycncuk.com/threads/8457-Chineese-6040-problems?p=67115#post67115
kendrick

Clive S
21-02-2015, 05:07 PM
Fr the power problems with the usb what about a powered hub then the usb power is not coming from the laptop.
The spindle has 4 pins coming off it more than I would expect from DC maybe brushless with a backemf sensor wire.
kendrickthe 4th pin will be earth or not even connected ..Clive

alextory
07-10-2015, 03:40 PM
I have a UC300 which I've used with Mach3 and was better than just the parallel port on the PC. I now use it with UCCNC and it's another big step up from using it with Mach3. UCCNC and UC300 are designed for each other, with Mach3 you're relying on a third party plugin sitting between Mach3 and the hardware. UC300 is a good option if like me you want to add more sensors like probes and FR override control. The other advantage is you can move beyond WinXP/7 on your controller PC which when you also use it for running Vectric software is a huge advantage. Running mine on a Win10 machine and it's as happy as Larry.