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  1. #1
    well after looking into converting the solid mill/drill into a cnc and finding it might just be a bit to much for me until Iíve got some experience under my belt I went of to eBay to see what I could get for my limited budget. And I managed to win this for £840

    Iím quite chuffed about my by however I see quite a few problems Iím planning to change with your chaps advice after I get it up and running. The only problem is this is my first ever experience with cnc so I havenít got a clue what i'm doing. Iím good with AutoCAD 06 and inventor 5 so I would love to be able to work with them formats and dxf's but have no idea on this cnc software
    Itís came with something called pc-nc 03 and Iíve done a search and didnít come up with anything on the forum and after reading the instruction book im now lost it appears to be some really old DOS type software and looks horrid to use.
    So I was wondering if you could please steer me in the right direction. I havenít tried using it with his software yet as he sent a link by email
    This one
    but im not into these sharing sites as I donít understand them for one and donít want to get a virus. So I havenít even tried clicking it yet.
    I was wondering if it would be worth while skipping that software and going for something else. Iíve seen a few you tube vids for mach 3 and it looks great nice clear lay out and looked quite impressive even for a beginner like me.
    The other option a friend at works has got something called solid works that he draws up in and tells me that it has a cam fairciltity but I havenít any experience with this only Autodesk cad but if I did go done that route it wouldnít cost me anything
    So Iím just unsure what to do next.
    What would your chapís surrgest for a novice like myself?
    Also my laptop that I run my vinyl plotter/cutter of is a DELL inspiron 1300 and only has USB out puts I got around this with my plotter with a conversation cable converting it to 9 pin serial with a little disk that sorted it for me. Would this work for the plotter as that has a big and little serial ports that come with it or is this going to be a dead end as I canít afford a laptop yet as Ií spent up after buying the cnc or will it be ok to buy another conversation cable


  2. Jase,

    Congrats on your new toy. Attached is the pc-nc stuff, downloaded and checked out... there is precious little info in there but:
    1/ Its DOS and only DOS :( last bux fix was 2005!
    2/ It requires a parallel port NOT a serial port (I suspect the small D-type on the box is for a pendant or similar) and a USB->Parallel wont work reliably (anyway see #1 above... USB and DOS dont mix) Your plotter is serial and very low-speed communications by comparison becuase it takes HPGL commands (which are roughly analogous to g-code, but the plotter internal computer does all the hard work)
    3/ pc-nc is just a G-code interpreter... so I see no reason why MACH3 wouldnt work with this...

    However MACH3 will require a proper parallel port... there's no getting round that in a cost-effective manner... you need a reasonable Windows PC to run MACH3. ALternatively you could run LINUX/EMC2 on a very low spec PC - a Pentium3 or 4 with 512Mb RAM will do and you can pick them up on eBay very cheaply...
    Attached Files Attached Files

  3. #3
    thanks irving im going to go away and have a look at it and have a chat with my freind Phil "he helps me no end with things technical like this"
    1 may have the words parallel and serial mixed up im unsure which is which
    on the subject of the computer this is it's statrs

    microsoft windows xp
    version 2002
    servive pack 3

    intel(r) celeron(r)m
    processor 1.40ghz
    1.40ghz, 1.24 gb of ram
    physical address extension

    the reason im posting it is they is a slot on the side with a blank bit a plastic in which im thinking might be a place where one of those converter cards goes into to make it old school printer port or am i barking up the wrong tree?

    also when i draw in autodesk and save as dfx would that go into mach3 then that translates to this horrid DOS stuff

    i do eccept im over my head but would love to get up and running and learning with it and as you can see im trying to get out of spending on a new latop thats why i've ran that buy you above to see if this can be converted
    Last edited by j4son; 28-01-2010 at 12:24 PM.

  4. Jase,

    MACH3 doesnt like laptops but can be persuaded to work on one... its usually a case of turning off the power management functions and some other configuration items. Google the web on this, there's lots of info and there's some threads on the subject here and on CNCZone. I don't know enough about MACH3 (I use EMC2 on Linux) but I suspect the laptop might be a little underpowered, maybe someone else can comment.

    You will need a parallel port installed in the machine. A Cardbus adaptor (thats the slot you refer to) is a possible approach and easily obtained on eBay relatively cheaply. I have never tried this but I see no reason why it shouldnt work.

    The basic process is:
    1/ CAD design tool -> vector file (dxf)
    2/ Translate the vector info into G-Code file (CamBam or other DXF->G-Code). This is where you define tool sizes, feed rates, etc.
    3/ Edit G-Code file if need be
    4/ Interpret G-Code file to drive steppers; e.g. MACH3 (windows), EMC2 (Linux), PC-NC (DOS), etc. - the good ones do simulation to allow you to detect problems before turning stock into scrap so you have the chance to go back to Step 3

    There are lots of ways to do the above - again search on the threads here to see how others do it...

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to irving2008 For This Useful Post:

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by irving2008 View Post
    2/ Translate the vector info into G-Code file (CamBam or other DXF->G-Code). This is where you define tool sizes, feed rates, etc.
    3/ Edit G-Code file if need be
    4/ Interpret G-Code file to drive steppers; e.g. MACH3 (windows), EMC2 (Linux), PC-NC (DOS), etc. -
    does this mean i could ditch the horrid DOS all together and use mach to talk to the plotter direct

    also if anyone else here that has had similar problem or ideas for me to get around this cheaply or know of a nice package that would do what i want or if solid works will do this for me please do jump in you thought and opinions will be very appreciated

  7. When you say plotter Jase, do you mean your existing plotter or the new CNC router? I am assuming you mean the latter.

    The only purpose for the software provided (PC-NC) , as far as I can make out, is to interpret G-codes and send the required step information to the stepper controllers (in the box presumably). It does support HPGL too so argualbly can take output files direct from design programs, although how you deal with toolpaths etc I have no idea.

    MACH3 will replace this for G-Codes (it doesnt support HPGL AFAIK). There is a Windows version of PCNC called WinPCNC although it is not clear if it is exactly the same (and it appears to be 149euro, although there are economy and light versions).

    The only tricky thing for using MACH3 instead of PCNC will be identifying the pinout requirements on the controller box, i.e. which pin is X-Direction, X-Step, etc. This should be documented somewhere... the rest is just tuning and testing...

  8. The Following User Says Thank You to irving2008 For This Useful Post:

  9. #7
    this is realy helpful i'm reading the manual now for the pc-nc and see what i come up with

  10. #8
    does anyone know what the little back box is that the cables go to between the driver and the steppers see pictures below

  11. #9
    Is this a step4 router ?

    John S -

  12. #10
    yes it appears where talking of the same
    Quote Originally Posted by John S View Post
    about as intuitive as the co pilots seat in a V1 doodlebug.
    type of machine i didnt know it was one of those said machines, but after doing a search on the step4 router in the above post i'de found your post on the very similar machine and with the same problems you encounted.
    problem is now ive paid a got it here infront of me, and before i start ripping it to peices and addressing the many mechanical flaws it has.
    i just have next to no knoledge on the software/driver/elctrics on it.
    this is were i need help what would you advise. preferably not on the lines 14lb sledge hammer

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