1. #1
    Can i use 1 computer to control 2 machines with mack3, i have a lathe & mill that im terning into CNC and don't really want 2 computers advice appreciated

  2. #2
    Yes you can, but you wont be able to run both machines at the same time - not without some clever Gcode. Would be a fun project to try that actually...

    Anyway, if it's one machine at a time then you could use the same stepper drivers and just plug the motors from the lathe/mill in depending on which you're going to use. That also saves you a lot of money in stepper drivers!

    Alernatively you can plug all 5 drivers (assuming 3 axis mill and 2 axis lathe) in to the computer and easily set mach3 to use the correct ones depending on if you have it in lathe or mill mode. There's lots of ways of doing it - you could have a physical switch to switch between motors or drivers.

  3. #3
    Brilliantine never acerd to me any of that thanks

  4. #4
    djc's Avatar
    Location unknown. Last Activity: 07-06-2011 Has been a member for 7-8 years. Has a total post count of 12.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    ...you won't be able to run both machines at the same time - not without some clever Gcode.
    Wouldn't need to be too clever. Keep X, Y, Z for the mill and use A & B for the lathe as X & Z.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    Anyway, if it's one machine at a time then you could use the same stepper drivers and just plug the motors from the lathe/mill in depending on which you're going to use. That also saves you a lot of money in stepper drivers!
    So long as the settings at stepper driver level (usually microsteps and current) are the same for each machine. You don't want to be twiddling DIP switches every time you change over.

    Also, at some point or other, I guarantee you will try to unplug a motor while it is still powered up. This is a VERY BAD THING. What's the additional cost of duplication? One power supply and two drivers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    Alternatively you can plug all 5 drivers (assuming 3 axis mill and 2 axis lathe) in to the computer and easily set mach3 to use the correct ones depending on if you have it in lathe or mill mode. There's lots of ways of doing it - you could have a physical switch to switch between motors or drivers.
    In Mach, you just have two profiles - one called lathe.xml the other mill.xml and choose the appropriate one in Mach loader or put shortcuts to each on the desktop. If you were really smart, you could install a second parallel port and use LPT1 for the lathe and LPT2 for the mill.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by djc View Post
    Wouldn't need to be too clever. Keep X, Y, Z for the mill and use A & B for the lathe as X & Z.
    Yes, obviously. You would still have to interleave the two programs to make them both run at the same time. This isn't so easy since to get it to run smoothly you need to take into account how long each line takes. It does depend on how the G-code is generated.

    Quote Originally Posted by djc View Post
    So long as the settings at stepper driver level (usually microsteps and current) are the same for each machine. You don't want to be twiddling DIP switches every time you change over.
    Yes I did assume that. Looking at the machines Mr Holmes has I think they probably could be the same. Even if it means getting slightly bigger motors than neccecary for one machine you may well still save overall.

    Quote Originally Posted by djc View Post
    Also, at some point or other, I guarantee you will try to unplug a motor while it is still powered up. This is a VERY BAD THING.
    I don't see why you would be any more likely to do that with this setup.

    Quote Originally Posted by djc View Post
    What's the additional cost of duplication? One power supply and two drivers.
    Yes, quite a lot. You're talking 60 each for good drivers, and a fair bit for the power supply too. Very easy to share the power supply - DPDT switch with center off. Or even a relay for added safety.

    Quote Originally Posted by djc View Post
    In Mach, you just have two profiles - one called lathe.xml the other mill.xml and choose the appropriate one in Mach loader or put shortcuts to each on the desktop.
    That's exactly what I did.

    Quote Originally Posted by djc View Post
    If you were really smart, you could install a second parallel port and use LPT1 for the lathe and LPT2 for the mill.
    Unless you actually run out of I/O there's not a lot of point. Since inputs for limit switches and Estop inputs on both machines can be shared, and only 5 (maybe 6) steppers between them then there will be enough inputs.

    Yet another way of doing it, which becomes especially profitable when you need more than 6 drivers or want to run lots of things is to use one output of the parallel port as a 'select' input. When that's high it connects the outputs to one set of drivers (or whatever), and when it's low it connects to the others. Very simple logic circuit to do that.

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