Just wanted to let you all know that it is now possible to buy the Smooth stepper (USB and Ethernet) directly from the UK !
I found the add on eBay, it only shows the USB version, but I call the guy (Hugh) and he said he could provide the Ethernet version as well.
All in stock now...
Well I hope the ethernet version is better than the USB version, I know of many that have not come up to spec.John S -
We've trialled both boards -USB and Ethernet versions - on one of our Syil X7+ cnc mills and the difference it made was impressive. Motor control was considerably improved and with a greater degree of accuracy noticed. The motor even ran more quietly. We are installing a USB SmoothStepper in one of our customer's Syil X7+ mills as part of the commissioning of this machine and we're hoping to get feedback from this and other installations. Early days, but looking good.
btw, the price is a little cheaper outside of eBay!
What advantage or incentive can you offer when you have virtually no experience of using the product.? You have no practical experience of the SS issues's like noise or power insecurity's and all the fixs are out there to be had on forums so your not offering any value from technical backup.?
I've been using a SS's for over 3yrs and they are pritty much built proof regards hardware reliabilty so warranty or returns shoudlnt be an Issue. . . . Can't see the value in buying from you unless I had money to burn.!!
Edit: To make my point regards over priced I can buy the USB version from Peter Homann in Australia for £105 +del and the Ethernet version for £124. Peter has extensive experience with the SS and setting it upcorrectly, infact it's worth checking out his technical docs you may learn something.!!
Last edited by JAZZCNC; 20-05-2012 at 01:53 PM.
Apparently the ethernet version is indeed far superior to USB in that it does not suffer from the grounding issues. However unless you have servos and the speed of the parallel port isn't enough for you, there is little to no point buying a smoothstepper (and even if you do have servos linuxCNC is superior because of closed loop control using the parallel port, but I won't go into that). I don't see the point of spending lots of money on an expensive board to patch up the shortcomings of an expensive program, when you can use a free alternative without the issues in the first place.
The main advantage of LinuxCNC over Mach3 using a parallel port is it runs on a real time kernel. This ensures that the pulse output from the parallel port has priority over everything else on the computer, so you don't get the timing inaccuracies inherent to Mach3 from Windows interrupting. With LinuxCNC if the computer appears to 'freeze' the machine will still run happily, since it's prioritised over everything including the mouse/keyboard. No matter how much you disable things in Windows, remove programs or whatever fundamentally Mach3 is not real time so timing errors will exist. The external motion control boards, such as the smoothstepper, can achieve 'smoother' performance and higher speed because they operate in real time. But LinuxCNC does that for free...
'But I'm not a computer geek and it takes twenty thousand years to set up' I hear you cry! It really doesn't - the installation and setup process which apparently is such a huge barrier to many, is quicker, easier and more intuitive than windows/mach3. Owning a CNC machine makes you a geek to start with so it's too late for that anyway. In fact, the interface eliminates many human errors - I see countless problems from people setting the wrong value for steps/mm, whereas in linuxcnc, each pulley has its own textbox, meaning that you never have to do any fiddly arithmetic manually. Another example is the constant velocity mode - in Mach3 constant velocity mode is some arbitary value you can't control, whereas in LinuxCNC, you can precisely control the extent. I'm pretty sure that alone would make a bigger difference than Mach/SS. Those are just two examples of why LinuxCNC is widely accepted to be a lot more customisable and flexible than any Mach3 based controller.
'But I've used mach3 all my life and I'm used to it' - So you're considering paying hundreds of pounds just so you don't have to get used to something new, which has many advantages anyway? That doesn't make sense to me, and it seems very archaic.
Another crucial disadvantage of Mach3, or rather windows is its inability to perform on low end computers - with some ebay sniping (gixen.com), it's possible to put together a low latency computer for less than £50, whereas with windows, if you want to get anywhere, you have to use a relatively expensive computer. With linuxCNC, the actual output quality of your machine is limited by the parallel port driver, whereas with windows, its more often limited by the software overhead. If you look at the actual performance benchmarks, you'll see that the top end computers are far from expensive: http://wiki.linuxcnc.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?Latency-Test.
LinuxCNC also boasts superior stability. Windows is known for its tendency to crash for no good reason on mid to low end computers and with mach3 that leaves you in a very tight spot. With LinuxCNC if the computer appears to 'freeze' the machine will still run happily, since it's prioritised over everything including the mouse/keyboard. If there is a timing error it will display a message, so you know something's wrong. No matter how much you disable things in Windows, remove programs or whatever fundamentally Mach3 is not real time so timing errors will exist. The external motion control boards, such as the smoothstepper, can achieve 'smoother' performance and higher speed because they operate in real time. But LinuxCNC does that for free...
The final reason I believe LinuxCNC is far superior is because it's free. By that I don't mean that I don't have to pay for it - I mean the community which developed it has one objective which is making an effective controller. Look at what features come into play when a product is developed properly with the correct objective in mind - full support for helical arcs (allowing threadmilling), rigid tapping and threading with an 'encoder' (1ppr is not an encoder, it's an insult to technology), conditional gcode and many more. As soon as you have to pay for a license, that goes out of the window and the manufacturer's objective of making a decent machine controller becomes secondary to making money and I believe that to be a very important difference. Mach3 already has a large userbase, so there's currently little incentive for Art to make any major improvements as people will still buy it regardless.
And that's why I believe smoothstepper to be a waste of money which would be much better put towards materials for making chips. Don't forget, if you have problems, that's precisely what this forum is for.
The Following User Says Thank You to Jonathan For This Useful Post:
With due respect Jonathan most people get on with Mach because they can use windows, note I said use.
Once you are into the realms of Linux you now have another operating system to understand, note I said understand and not use.
Not everyone coming into CNC and using CNC is a geek, for many it's just a tool to get something done that's more important.
The biggest problem with geeks is they don't know they are geeks.John S -
In my opinion most people get on with Mach, because Mach invests in marketing and publicity, and most people have never heard or seen of anything different.
There's nothing to understand about Ubuntu, you'll struggle to actually name any differences that aren't aesthetic. Sure, things are moved around a bit, but that's skin deep. If you said something like Arch Linux, Fedora, or some other obscure distro, fair enough. Ubuntu is a simple point and click just like Windows.
That doesn't even matter. You don't need to understand linux. As soon as you've clicked the icon to load LinuxCNC you're essentially out of linux and using a program with an interface not much different to any windows program.
I get the impression you had a bad experience with it and didn't like it, fair enough. All I'm suggesting is people TRY it before shelling out hundreds of pounds on additional hardware which shouldn't be necessary.
Last edited by Jonathan; 20-05-2012 at 07:28 PM.
Just out of curiosity are there many linuxcnc users out there? I always wanted to be a greek, warm sunny weather no taxes and retire at 25 and lots of poverty.
BruceThe more I know, I know, I know the less. (John Owen)
There has been a recent thread over on the Yahoo forum DIY-CNC where a guy called Dan Maulch, well respected builder of CNC systems has been having problems getting a Gecko 540 to work with Linuxcnc. Also on the same forum of two of the Linuxcnc development team who also can't get this thing to work right.
What chance does the unwashed have, all three of these guys are more savvy than most of the people on here for starters.
Another point brought up is why if it's so good and successful it looks like a basic experiment as regards the screens.
Our Mach screens have everything, MDI, tool offsets, probe, 4th axis etc and large buttons for touch screens all on one screen, users do not need to move away from this screen.
You can easily zero any axis and jog away if you break a tool, change it and reset offsets and do a run from here.
Don't like our screens?, use someone elses or alter your own.
LinuxCNC screens are very lacking and even the developers are not prepared to make changes.
Mr Rolls and Mr Royce owned an engineering firm but I wouldn't class them as geeks would you ? They did the same as I do, put bolts into holes and wires into terminals we don't need to know how it all works.John S -
First for the things Mach does then it's dirt cheap, yes I agree it's far from perfect but for 95% of people it works with no problems.
Second without Mach or Art fennerty's contribution then DIY CNC would still be in the stone age or not exist at all.!! . . . Little Known is the fact Emc owe's much to Art and his knowledge of the PP and indeed use's some of his code.
Art no longer own's the company but still he contrbutes and resolves many folks problems with Mach thru the Yahoo and Artsoft forum (which more often than not are user errors anyway) . . . How many Company's do you know that you can get to deal 1 to 1 with the lead software engineer for free, often designing and building custom solutions if it's a genuine Mach issue.!
Same goes today with the current owner Brain, he too goes out of his way to help resolve any issues or bugs so please before you shoot your mouth trashing a program who's made DIY CNC both affordable and more importantly possible at least have some respect and not trash a genuine persons rep just because your a tight arse GEEK.!!
Edit: Oh and just for the record and I'm sure John S will back me up on this because like me has frequented the Yahoo forums for many years. . . . There must have been hundreds done exactly what you have done and jumped to EMC but the vast majority return and never go back.!!!
Last edited by JAZZCNC; 20-05-2012 at 08:03 PM.
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