View Full Version : Newbie CNC Computer Hardware Quest

01-11-2015, 07:01 PM
Hello .. I'm new to this forum .. and nearly as new to CNC

I've just acquired a 3040 Mill and I'm planning the computer hardware I will need to drive it whilst I make the PCB's using Circuit Wizard & Mach3 that I need for my new hobby - Electronics.

The desktop in my workshop is a Genie Mini running Win 7 64 bit, no issues but no parallel port.

I'm looking at another machine which is 3.6 Gb; 4Mb RAM 32 bit in an industrial SS case which has big advantage that it could be bolted to the underside of my workbench -space is very much at a premium - and operated from my existing desk using a 2 port KVM switch.

My concerns .. .. 1. New machine has been formatted and loaded with Win XP SP1 .. .. does the Microsoft withdrawal of support for Win XP mean that it will not download upgrades - SP2 etc ??
2. If I re-format and load with Win 7 Pro .. .. will that recognise the parallel port OK

As I seem to be going tound in circles, any other suggestions that don't involve a cliff edge or the fast lane of the M1 would be appreciated :sneakiness:


Lee Roberts
01-11-2015, 08:09 PM
Hi S,

Welcome to the forum and great first post!

I'm not sure re: XP and SP2, what I would say though is that mach3 should run quite happily on a machine with a fresh install of XP, if you dont plan to put the machine online, I would suggest you shouldn't need SP2, the security fix's it introduces and so on. You may need to download the odd software drive for things like the sound card but that's as easy as going to the motherboard manufacturer website and looking for the said drivers.

I'm confident Windows 7 would install and support the parallel port but again if it didn't, see my reply above for a solution to obtaining the drivers.

If it was me i would turn the machine on, check the parallel port is enabled in the bios then boot into windows and see where you stand with windows update, though win7 is a much better operating system in my opinion, so actually I would just install that to be honest.

I would be even more confident about getting proper driver support from the operating system to start with then as well.

Mach3 actually installs it's own parallel port driver when you first install it, so I think your going to be just fine, so at this point, i would say just pick an OS and go for it.

Letting us know how you get on of course :)


01-11-2015, 08:57 PM
I, for one, celebrate the fact that Microshaft have stopped buggering about with XP. My CNC machine runs on a PC which does not have anything it can do without (Networking, Games etc) I have a PP card and the whole thing is fast to start up and stable.

01-11-2015, 09:51 PM

Thank you for the advice .. .. you have actually confirmed my conclusions.. .. .. but inexperience and such of variety of conflicting information on the net makes a judgement all the more difficult to achieve.

I intend to purchase the industrial cased machine and format and load it with Win 7; load it with Mach 3 and Circuit Wizard and also a small program I've seen called Auto-Leveller which, if it's half as good as I think will serve me well milling PCB's.

Finally, Thank You for your welcome to the Forum, I have a steep learning curve to do with milling, but nevertheless, I look forward to gradually becoming an active and supportive member .. ..

Thank you again


02-11-2015, 01:28 PM
Win7 32bit works fine with PP and Mach3.
NOTE it must be 32bit OS for Mach3 parallel port driver to work, the program Mach3 will work fine on 64bit but the PP driver won't work so don't try.

Also not a good idea to run CNC via KVM switch or any other device that gets between PC and CNC machine. Timings are critical with CNC and esp with the PP so these devices can and do cause problems. Best avoided so keep the CNC PC separate and ideally free from any outside sources ie: Tinternet

02-11-2015, 02:21 PM
Hi Jazz

Yes, thank you for that .. ..

I had discovered the problem with 64 bit Win 7 and Mach3 .. ..I've got 32 bit to load on.

The KVM switch is only between the monitor and both computers and I understood only switches the VGA received by the monitor from one PC to the other. Main reason for this is space is a premium so only one monitor needed. The CNC Controller will be connected directly to the parallel port of the computer with nothing to interfere with that.

Ah, I think I see confusion .. I'm not explaining myself too well ! No change there then ..

My plan ..

1. Computer on my desk 64 bit; 4 Gb RAM Win 7, internet; .. loaded with circuit creating software which generates Gcode. Gcode will be stored on 1 Tb discrete MDD.
2. Computer on workbench, in SS industrial cabinet, 32 bit; 4 Gb RAM Win 7 loaded with Mach3 and Autoleveller, no other software, internet available for software update but normally disabled; Gcode imported from MDD to Mach3 for implemetation.
3. KVM VGA switch used to select screen view from one or other computer.

Please do let me know if you think I'm up the cut in a punt !



Clive S
02-11-2015, 05:24 PM
That's all fine:thumsup: