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  1. #1
    Hi guy's,

    I've been on this project for a while now and its getting to the point where I'm sick of it sitting in the corner gathering dust, when I could be making loads of swarf with it and possibly earning a few quid at the same time.

    I bought a Bridgeport MDI series 1 about 2 years ago, the iron was really good and apart from a dodgy servo, mechanically and electrically it was great, bargain price too! I bought with the intention of retrofitting to modern controls so I'd end up with a machine I could easily fire up and either run a quick conversational type program or load a complex cam outputted G code file. Since then I've had a few hurdles to overcome, but I've ended up with a machine that has CNC Drive Dugong type servo drives, original DC servomotors with new encoders and a custom built power supply. I've tested all of this up with a cheapo parallel port breakout board and mach3 just to try out the movements. All servo's tuned and working great individually, however, run a bit of a simple circle program and there is some weird stuff going on... It seems that when say the x axis is doing a movement then another axis starts to move, all axis pause momentarily then the desired movement is carried out. To watch it cutting fresh air, its hardly noticeable, but if i were to try and cut some material then I'd end up with a lot of problems. Also, I've tried out the MPG function (if you can call it that) in mach3 and its less than useless, I really wouldn't trust it to work with in a production environment.

    So, my dilemma is this: do I opt for something like an ethernet smooth stepper and put up with mach3 until mach4 is properly developed and all features available? Or do I go with something like an Eding cnc package? I've heard good things about Eding, but the boards that I consider affordable don't offer as many inputs and outputs as I'd like. Mach3 is a pile of crap, I know this because I use it every day on my plasma cutter. I've just about got used to its "moments", but wouldn't build a machine on this platform, especially based around the parallel port!

    I've spent probably 6 months debating which system to go for, Ideally I don't want to spend too much over 200, but I'd also like to have a machine I can use without thinking about it for another 6 months!

    Any words of wisdom?

  2. #2
    Mach3 is a pile of crap, I know this because I use it every day on my plasma cutter.
    I don't think it's quite fair to blame Mach3 especially when using a plasma and a PP. But have you seen this http://www.pmdx.com/PMDX-410 you could also try Linuxcnc with a mesa card. ..Clive

  3. #3
    I don't think it's quite fair to blame Mach3 especially when using a plasma and a PP.
    Yes a little unfair, I was having a rant. I have tried mach3 a few times on different machines and have just fallen out of love for it, I'm looking for something a bit better. Don't get me wrong, I've made thousands of parts with mach and thats really brilliant, but I think I want something a bit more bullet proof for my mill.

    have you seen this http://www.pmdx.com/PMDX-410
    I have seen the pmdx mach4 stuff, but I'm not sure if I've got enough confidence in mach4 yet, I need someone to convince me that its ready and stable enough. Obviously, its on on the hobby version release of the software, I'm hoping to use my mill in a small scale commercial environment where down time would be costly.

    you could also try Linuxcnc with a mesa card
    I do really like the idea of the linux route, the mesa cards are also really cheap for what you get :) Each time I convince myself to go for Linux I get put off by fact that I might have to spend ages messing around getting the thing up and running... I've messed with computers quite a bit and am confident I could get a system up and running, but how much learning have I got to do to get to that stage?

    Hmm decisions decisions......

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by drumsticksplinter View Post
    I do really like the idea of the linux route, the mesa cards are also really cheap for what you get :) [...] I've messed with computers quite a bit and am confident I could get a system up and running, but how much learning have I got to do to get to that stage?
    Then go for it, you'll be fine.
    Old router build log here. New router build log here. Lathe build log here.
    Electric motorbike project here.

  5. #5
    The question to ask is if you would like to have CAM capability on the same PC running your motion control. If so then stick with Mach3 and a motion controller. Mach3 becomes a joy to use when you are confident that you machine is not losing steps and communication.

    This is mine before I had converted the quill too:

    Last edited by komatias; 23-03-2015 at 12:19 PM.
    https://emvioeng.com
    Machine tools and 3D printing supplies. Expanding constantly.

  6. #6
    If Mach is not working for you then it's not Mach's fault because it's Proven by 10,000's of users rangeing from plotters to very large powerful mills and lathes that it work perfectly well when correctly setup and left unattended for hours on end..!! . . . . Like Hoods Spidery beast.

    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 23-03-2015 at 04:55 PM.

  7. #7
    I am a lover of linuxcnc. Using either the printer port or other external interface cards - Rock solid. Any bugs that are found are fixed pretty darn fast. Pair Linuxcnc with mesa hardware (very inexpensive) and you have an industrial grade control.

    Current released version change log
    http://wiki.linuxcnc.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?Released_2.6.X

    Next release version change log (you can test it now if you want) 2 exciting additions - support for mesa Ethernet connected interface boards and the new trajectory planner. (unknown at the time that it was funded by tormach and given back to the community) - Tormach used linuxcnc for their new control.
    http://wiki.linuxcnc.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?Released_2.7.X

    I have used mesa hardware in my systems and have found it to 'just work'. The owner is also very active in the linuxcnc community.

    Linux isn't as scary as others would like you to believe. You do not have to be a 'programmer' to use linuxcnc. Between linucnc's HAL layer and its integrated ladder logic - pretty much anything is possible without writing a line of code. (although you can if you want to.. There is a C like language that allows you to write realtime components for your system - not to mention you have access to the source code) most people only scratch the surface.

    sam

  8. #8
    Welcome to the forum Sam I use Linux on my mill and lathe and Mach3 on the router The one problem I can see with Linux when using slaved axis (joints) with a router is the homing Linuxcnc as of this time has never got this sorted yet.
    .
    So we can throw all the Linux questions your way ..Clive

  9. #9
    Yes - I can field questions or at least point you in the right direction.

    Ugh - Slaved axis.. I have not had a machine that has used slaved axis. I know there are atleast 5 different ways to set it up. Strictly hal, gantry kins, other ways I can't think of.. It is doable but the setup hasn't really been standardized. Plus I know there is some development work that hopes to standardize the setup. (not to mention the joint/axis work also.)

    Looks like you asked here :)
    http://www.linuxcnc.org/index.php/en...ate-slave-axis

    Like was mentioned there are a couple of gantry configs in linuxcnc to check out.
    some other examples..
    http://wiki.linuxcnc.org/cgi-bin/wik...yPlasmaMachine
    https://www.google.com/search?q=slav...utf-8&oe=utf-8
    http://linuxcnc.org/index.php/englis...gantry-machine

    random google search
    https://www.google.com/search?q=slav...oming+linuxcnc

    Like I say - many people do it - it just seems like eveyone does it their own way.. I hope there is a better standard in the future..

    sam





    Quote Originally Posted by Clive S View Post
    Welcome to the forum Sam I use Linux on my mill and lathe and Mach3 on the router The one problem I can see with Linux when using slaved axis (joints) with a router is the homing Linuxcnc as of this time has never got this sorted yet.
    .
    So we can throw all the Linux questions your way ..Clive

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    If Mach is not working for you then it's not Mach's fault because it's Proven by 10,000's of users rangeing from plotters to very large powerful mills and lathes that it work perfectly well when correctly setup and left unattended for hours on end..!! . . . . Like Hoods Spidery beast.

    I know that mach 3 has a large following and many people use it successfully all day everyday including myself. However, in my experience you can get mach to work quite well very quickly, but I don't have a great deal of faith in it in an industrial environment, probably because it was never intended for that purpose, hence the promise of a mach 4 industrial version. I like the look of mach 4, but don't believe its quite ready yet.

    Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing machines using mach such as Hood's and many others and I'm almost tempted to get hold of a smooth stepper and jump right in, but in the back of my mind I know I'll be disappointed. Has anyone got any experience of an MPG that works well in mach 3? when I've tested it it was horrendous to use and wouldn't trust it at all!

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