1. #1
    I wonder if I could tap the collective wisdom here on how I should migrate from Mach 3 please? I've been using M3 for about 8 years now generally successfully, using an old Dell Optiplex computer running XP and driving through the parallel port. I have 3 worries: the machine is old and might crash any time and XP computers with PP are rare and also old; I've written quite a few macros and a new turning offset screen but that isn't finished yet, so there will be some legacy pain; Mach 3 documentation is DIRE and the software seems to be a patch kluge. As I'm about to upgrade my old Win 7 laptop to a new Win10 one I have an option to dedicated the old machine to CNC. So I'm thinking about both software and hardware options and very interested in others' experiences.

    My options seem to be
    1 Switch to a motion controller – this seems to be a given – preferably one that has a parallel port output so it can just plug in to my BoBs on lathe and mill. UC100 looks interesting.

    and…

    2 Mach 3 - but pretty unsupported now and poorly documented and will motion controller plugin support continue? Might be a way in though.

    3 Mach 4 – but why did they choose Lua as a scripting language rather than for example Python? Is the user base big enough for it to survive?

    4 UCCNC

    5 PlanetCNC

    6 Linux CNC – not sure if this supports motion controllers and anyway has a reputation for difficulty in setting up

    7 A dedicated controller – but that may not give me the flexibility I need for example to run my offset setting scripts.


    Any war stories or advice from others who have travelled this route would be most welcome!

    T.I.A.

    John.

  2. #2
    If I were you I'd dismiss the UC100 and would go for the UC400ETH. The only advantage of using UC100 is that it is a "plug-an-play" solution and the motion controller is boxed, ready for immediate use. With the UC100 you will need an external power supply for the motion controller, and a PC with a free Ethernet port, but it has many advantages over the UC100.

    Regardless of which, you have the option to buy a cheap desktop with parallel port and 32 bits Windows 7, which is the last version with parallel port support. Basically, this is the cheapest solution. If you decide to buy a motion controller from CNC Drive then you should buy a UCCNC license as well. It does not cost a lot extra, so you can take a risk with it. If you don't like it you can always use Mach3 with the CNC Drive motion controller. UCCNC works with almost any PC, and since it is using an external motion controller, it works under XP, W7, W10 32 and 64 bit OS. You can also download an evaluation version, which has all the functions except motion, so you can test and see if you like it.

    Of course, Linux is always there, free of charge, but that option depends on how computer minded you are, I don't think it is as simple as UCCNC, but you can use it 100% free of charge if you are using the parallel port.

    Personally I went from Mach3 and UC300USB to UCCNC and UC300ETH and never really looked back, except that today I'd buy the UC400ETH instead. In any case, you have to look at your own way of using Mach3, all G-code dialects are a bit different, so the decision depends on how familiar you are with programming, and how critical the machine is for you. Some functions which Mach3 has are not supported by UCCNC, some functions may need some different approach and so on. I believe that is the same with Linux as well. In other words, it is simplest and cheapest to continue using Mach3 if it works for you, because it just needs a new PC, which you would need to buy regardless of the alternatives if you think it is near it's end of life.

  3. #3
    What do your Offset Setting Scripts do for you and could you do the same in a usable fashion from CAM?
    If you can offload your variability to CAM go for a stand alone controller, it seems daft to spend a few hundred pounds and still be dependent on a PC.
    YMMV
    You think that's too expensive? You're not a Model Engineer are you? :D

  4. #4
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 4 Hours Ago Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 2,073. Received thanks 232 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    Is this for a lathe?
    (I'm going by the fact you mention turning offsets...)

    If it is, then you have to be aware not everything supports turn, and even those that do, may require some changes (I.e. not all support single slot indexing for threading).



    Regardless of the option taken, there is going to be some amount of pain. Keeping an old 32pit PC may be the path of least effort.
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

  5. #5
    Chaz's Avatar
    Lives in Ickenham, West London, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 12 Hours Ago Has been a member for 5-6 years. Has a total post count of 1,172. Received thanks 84 times, giving thanks to others 54 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnHaine View Post
    I wonder if I could tap the collective wisdom here on how I should migrate from Mach 3 please? I've been using M3 for about 8 years now generally successfully, using an old Dell Optiplex computer running XP and driving through the parallel port. I have 3 worries: the machine is old and might crash any time and XP computers with PP are rare and also old; I've written quite a few macros and a new turning offset screen but that isn't finished yet, so there will be some legacy pain; Mach 3 documentation is DIRE and the software seems to be a patch kluge. As I'm about to upgrade my old Win 7 laptop to a new Win10 one I have an option to dedicated the old machine to CNC. So I'm thinking about both software and hardware options and very interested in others' experiences.

    My options seem to be
    1 Switch to a motion controller – this seems to be a given – preferably one that has a parallel port output so it can just plug in to my BoBs on lathe and mill. UC100 looks interesting.

    and…

    2 Mach 3 - but pretty unsupported now and poorly documented and will motion controller plugin support continue? Might be a way in though.

    3 Mach 4 – but why did they choose Lua as a scripting language rather than for example Python? Is the user base big enough for it to survive?

    4 UCCNC

    5 PlanetCNC

    6 Linux CNC – not sure if this supports motion controllers and anyway has a reputation for difficulty in setting up

    7 A dedicated controller – but that may not give me the flexibility I need for example to run my offset setting scripts.


    Any war stories or advice from others who have travelled this route would be most welcome!

    T.I.A.

    John.
    Acorn Centroid?

  6. #6
    you can get refurbished PC's that have XP on them with very good specs for £30 off of ebay, the sellers where really good as well as they replace any that have a fault within 60 days (they service every pc before selling) even so with your currant pc you say "it is near its end of its life" in what respect it could be a simple fix such as cleaning out all the dust inside the case to allow the fans to work better.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the replies and advice chaps. Seems to me that since I want turning, UCCNC is out. For Acorn you have to buy the controller and the software. Planet CNC looks quite attractive as it does turning as well as milling. My offset macros automatically calibrate turning tools and populate the tool table, so can't do that in CAM. LinuxCNC has a limited choice of motion controllers. I want to get better pulsing performance anyway so a motion controller looks a good option. I really don't want to keep buying replacement XP PCs especially if it perpetuates the Mach3 limitations. Anyway I'm tired of puzzling out the c**p documentation. So a bit further forward, useful information, thanks!

  8. #8
    I agree, you shouldn't carry on with XP, both W7 and W10 are better but if you want to carry on using Mach3 with parallel ports then you are limited to W7 32 bits, but if you want a better PC and a motion controller then you can also use W10 64 bits. All of the UC motion controllers can be used with Mach3, you don't need UCCNC if it is not working for you.

  9. #9
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 4 Hours Ago Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 2,073. Received thanks 232 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    Turn does limit choice, as it's a relatively small slice of the CNC market, compared to mills/routers/plasma cutters etc which all operate in a very similar way.

    I'm pretty sure the UC motion controllers (or it might be Pokeys - I can remember a discussion over on the Yahoo Mach group a while back about multislot threading...), and the PMDX controllers support turn, but you'd have to use some flavour of Mach.
    CS-Labs supports turn, but you have to use their fully featured controllers, along with an MPG module for threading IIRC, and again you're limited to Mach at the present time.
    Smoothsteppers also support turn, but again are Mach only.
    Dynomotion KFlop would give you the option of Mach3 or KMotionCNC (it's free), which is what I personally use, but it would be reliant on you adding an encoder for threading. I originally ran with a KFlop and Mach3, as KMotionCNC at the time didn't have much support for turn, but after yet another Mach3 glitch, I moved to KMotionCNC a few years ago, and it's been flawless (more than which can be said about the operator..).

    Then you're into standalone controllers.

    It really depends on how much you're willing to spend, and how much re-wiring you're willing to do.
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

Similar Threads

  1. Mach 3 Help
    By RichardR in forum Artsoft Mach
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-08-2016, 11:21 AM
  2. RFQ: Triac / Mach 3 help
    By suesi34e in forum Projects, Jobs & Requests
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-08-2013, 12:59 PM
  3. NCStudio or Mach 3 or something else?
    By Fivetide in forum Machine Control Software
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 01-09-2012, 04:41 PM
  4. mach 3 help
    By 1albobs in forum Artsoft Mach
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 27-02-2012, 02:34 PM
  5. MACH 2008
    By Lee Roberts in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-10-2007, 08:48 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •