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  1. #1
    Hi everyone, I am a toolmaker and have some experience in using cnc machines, but have decided to build a small cnc mill for fun really.
    I'm not getting any younger and I like the idea that a machine can do some of the work while I just push a mouse around... lol.

    My question to you guys is should I set the machine up using mach3 or would it be better to use mach4, as I am just starting which would you go for.
    I will probably be producing fairly simple components for use in model steam engines and the like and I think mach3 can and would do everything I need, but I don't want to have to learn something new a year down the road if I meet limitations with mach3.

    So there you go people, answers on a postcard please and stay safe,

    Steve

  2. #2
    Not Mach3. Not developed for many years. Unfixed bugs. You have to pay for Mach3 and Windows.

    LinuxCNC - free. You can use the money saved to buy a hardware step generator / interface cards (Mesa)

    Centroid

    PlanetCNC

    Others

  3. #3
    Not Mach4, it's wank and is "developed" by the numpties who buggered the last 3 releases of Mach3!
    Linux CNC has inadequate support and disorganised development by non-machinists and shambolic hobby machinists - if you want to learn to set up linux and configure and use something which will still need a PC fill yer boots.
    Centroid still requires a Windows PC so you have to pay for it and Windows!
    You think that's too expensive? You're not a Model Engineer are you? :D

  4. In all honesty, you need to consider what controller you'd like to use.
    The parallel port is largely dead (for Mach, anything newer than Win7, or any 64bit OS, it just won't work), so I'd be considering an external motion controller.

    If all you want to do is run 3 axes and a spindle, then there are lots of options.
    If you want to run 4 axes, and other functionality like a tool changer, then it does reduce options.

    In terms of Mach, Mach 3 is probably still the most widely. It is no longer developed, but there is still a quite large community supporting it, and I doubt it's going to disappear any time soon.
    Mach 4, I do think has improved greatly, but there doesn't seem to be that much community support for it.

    If all you want is a basic 3 axes mill, options to consider are Centroid Acorn (beware of the limitations of the free software), CNCDrive (either UC or AXBB interfaces) and their own UCCNC software, PlanetCNC, or LinuxCNC.
    There are also the plethora of other external controllers that rely on Mach3/4, like Pokeys, PMDX, and the cheaper CS-Labs controller.

    If you want to run a more complicated machine, then you need to look at more expensive/complicated options, like CS-Labs (they do have their own software, but I've not heard a good review of it yet...), Dynomotion KFlop, LinuxCNC with suitable Mesa Card(s), and lots of other options which I can't think of just now.
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

  5. #5
    I Used mach3 and found it ok but not reliable
    Used it on multiple PCís and the same on them all.
    I turned to linuxcnc and have never looked back. Itís rock solid and logical to use
    Setup is challenging compared to mach but itís not as bad as itís made out to be and there is help out there on here and the linuxcnc forum
    Plus itís free and with a couple of parallel ports at a fiver each and a freebie PC you can do a lot for very very little money outlay

    Paul


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Mach3 is an aging dinosaur and Mach4 is full of bugs so best avoided.

    The other suggestions are ok but come with their own little traits, like Linux CNC having a steep learning curve for anything more than basic usage. The centroid acorn is a good choice but like been said watch out for the hidden gotchas with the software if you want ATC etc. Cslabs controllers are good but their own software is rubbish and they don't support mach3 anymore only mach4 and that's crap.

    My choice without hesitation would be UCCNC and either AXBB-E or UC300ETH motion controller. I've recently changed from years of using Mach3 and fitting various controllers to machines I build, inc Cslabs and I can tell you with complete confidence that UCCNC now knocks the spots of Mach3/4 and is rock-solid stable.

    The Motion controllers are of good quality and work well, the only gripe I have is that the motor outputs are not differential, but other than that they are well made and supported. The AXBB-E in particular is a very neat and capable little controller.
    CNC Drive is very good with support and obviously because they make the software it's fully supported and any bugs fixed quickly.

    The combo of Software and hardware just works straight out the box without any fuss or messing around which isn't always the case with some setups.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to JAZZCNC For This Useful Post:

    BDH

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by depronman View Post
    I Used mach3 and found it ok but not reliable
    Used it on multiple PC’s and the same on them all.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I had Mach3 running on 3 different PC for around 5 years with absolute reliability, you obviously made the same mistake on each PC you tried! ;-)
    The chap who bought my old CNC Mill is now using Mach3 with an external motion controller, he's very happy with it. :D
    You think that's too expensive? You're not a Model Engineer are you? :D

  9. #8
    Donít get me wrong it worked and I could make 1 or 2 or sometimes 10 or more of the same component one after each other then for no apparent reason it would lock up and stop on a certain line of gcode
    You could stop the gcode and star it from the point of failure or from the beginning then it would lock out on a different line of code
    Restart mach3 which meant rehiring then lathe and run the same gcode and it would be ok for a number of runs or maybe fail on the first run
    Totally random
    I moved to linuxcnc and never had any such failures. Same pc same lathe and control electronics just linuxcnc instead of mach3
    This caused me so much frustration over the years

    Paul


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by magicniner View Post
    I had Mach3 running on 3 different PC for around 5 years with absolute reliability, you obviously made the same mistake on each PC you tried! ;-)
    The chap who bought my old CNC Mill is now using Mach3 with an external motion controller, he's very happy with it. :D
    Quote Originally Posted by depronman View Post
    Donít get me wrong it worked and I could make 1 or 2 or sometimes 10 or more of the same component one after each other then for no apparent reason it would lock up and stop on a certain line of gcode
    You could stop the gcode and star it from the point of failure or from the beginning then it would lock out on a different line of code
    Restart mach3 which meant rehiring then lathe and run the same gcode and it would be ok for a number of runs or maybe fail on the first run
    Totally random
    I moved to linuxcnc and never had any such failures. Same pc same lathe and control electronics just linuxcnc instead of mach3
    This caused me so much frustration over the years

    Paul


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    You are both comparing apples with oranges.!!

    Mach3 was and is known to be very flaky on the lathe side, for a Mill it's much more stable, but it still and always has done some weird shit for no apparent reason this is a known thing with mach3. Art used to try and nip these things in the bud ASAP but more often than not he fixed one thing and broke three more things, however since brian has taken over nothing got fixed and new hidden bugs have surfaced that will never be fixed. This is one of the reasons why I've stopped using mach3 and moved to UCCNC, it knocks the spots off Mach3 and is rock-solid stable.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

  11. #10
    Thanks for all the replies and information, i kinda get the idea mach 3/4 is dead and we have all moved on . . lol
    I have had a look at all of the suggestions made and i think i will be going down the UCCNC route, but i do have a some questions regarding this
    I have the mill setup with drives in place, my control box is built and wired up with a ECG breakout board linked to 3 DM860A micro stepper drivers and all this works with the supplied pennant.
    Part of the package I brought was a copy of Mach3 Which i have installed onto my windows XP computer, and mach3 seems to drive it all ok so i know everything works but i cannot get the limit switches and or the estop to work - that is to say when i have them connected Mach3 tells me i am on a limit switch and or the e-stop, when i look in diagnostics screen i dont have any yellow leds lit, i have tried wiring them both ways round No and Nc and neither seems to work, now some times i can hit the reset and mach3 seems ok with all the limit switches connected and will play ball for several minutes before bing the reset starts to flash and it is saying im on a limit switch, it is partly the fact that this is random that i suspect the possibilty of a software fault, but it could be other things any suggestions - wow that was long winded but back to the questions about UCCNC will this work with my current setup i.e windows XP 32 bit, my breakout board and microstepper drivers, it seems to me that the motion controller effectively replaces the parallel port is this the case, or is there more to buy?

    hope this all makes some sort of sense, i can post some pictures of my setup so far when i can figure out how too

    Steve

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