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  1. I am considering a control system overhaul.

    The PC which controls my CNC machine has been having boot up issues over the past week or so. It dates from around 2008 and was pretty old then. A while ago I had overheating problems (my fault on the CPU install) which I then fixed, but recently it won't get started into winXP (the background and some icons appear but that is it) and often trips back around to rebooting. Sometimes I get a blue screen full of lots of text and it lists out the n4_disp.dll which is the graphics driver. I can't see how the file became corrupted as it is not online and is just used to load gcode from a memory stick. As they are pretty cheap I've just dropped a replacement NVidia FX5200 graphics card (used, but working) into the PC but it still has the same problem. I could try a windows repair disc in case it really is a corrupted file, but I am wondering if this is an opportunity. Even more so as my Wife seems vaguely supportive!

    Given the age of the machine, the fact I'm using the parallel port into a cheap / free BoB, and have various work-arounds in the control cabinet to prevent false trips, I think it is time for an overhaul.

    So skipping past USB and onto Ethernet has led me to Cs-labs or UCCNC. UCCNC is winning at the moment but there is a lot of information to gather up to make an informed choice, especially for the breakout boards. I have been skim reading manuals and forums to get up to speed. The single UCSB looks too small, and the UCBB is much better and not much more money and has more connections. Even better there is an offer from CNCdrive at the moment for opt 1:

    opt1:
    UC300ETH + UCBB + UCCNC software for £170 (offer until 31st Aug 2021)

    opt2:
    UC300ETH + UB1 + UCCNC software for £289 [ note that UB1 is made by a 3rd party, although all reports say they work well together ]

    So it comes down to UCBB Vs UB1. I like the compact form of the UB1 and the screwless terminals, and may pay a bit of a premium for that, but is there any other functional difference ? I'm thinking in/outs, speed control etc. ?

    Thanks
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by routercnc View Post
    So skipping past USB and onto Ethernet has led me to Cs-labs or UCCNC. UCCNC is winning at the moment but there is a lot of information to gather up to make an informed choice, especially for the breakout boards.
    No brainer in terms of which Software is the better, UCCNC wins hands down compared to the Cslabs options. In terms of electronics and neatness then Cslabs takes some beating as its quality, that said the UC300 and UCBB are very well made also and certainly up to the task just not quite as refined or neat as Cslabs.


    Quote Originally Posted by routercnc View Post
    I have been skim reading manuals and forums to get up to speed. The single UCSB looks too small, and the UCBB is much better and not much more money and has more connections. Even better there is an offer from CNCdrive at the moment for opt 1:

    opt1:
    UC300ETH + UCBB + UCCNC software for £170 (offer until 31st Aug 2021)

    opt2:
    UC300ETH + UB1 + UCCNC software for £289 [ note that UB1 is made by a 3rd party, although all reports say they work well together ]
    Careful here because you need to factor in UK VAT and postage. You will get charged VAT and a fee from the shipping agent which I believe CncDrive uses FedEx now as the shipping agent they used before no longer delivers to Uk since we left the EU.

    Quote Originally Posted by routercnc View Post
    So it comes down to UCBB Vs UB1. I like the compact form of the UB1 and the screwless terminals, and may pay a bit of a premium for that, but is there any other functional difference ? I'm thinking in/outs, speed control etc. ?
    I'm probably one of the few that can answer this with any certainty because I use both setups.!
    The UB1 is the better board for a few reasons BUT not the connectors which in my opinion actually spoil the board as they are small and not very nice to use.

    The UB1 wins because it's neater with no messing around with ribbon cables, etc.
    Another reason is that it provides a protected 0-10V Analog Output which the UCBB doesn't have. If you need 0-10V then you have to take it directly from the UC300 pins.!!
    Also, It only needs a 24Vdc PSU, not 5v and 24Vdc PSU's. The UC300 needs 5V and feeds the UCBB with 5V thru pin 26 of the IDC cable. This is a little crazy to me because the UCBB needs 24Vdc and actually generates a 5Vdc which makes it available on some of its terminals so why not feed the UC300 and do away with a 5Vdc PSU.? Which is exactly what the UB1 does.!

    The UCBB is a nice well made board but it's not as clean n tidy as the UB1 and you have the other factors mentioned. That said I do use them both and keep the UCBB in stock, which I don't the UB1, but this is mostly down to cost. The UB1 features are nice but £100+ saving with no real loss of features can't be ignored.!

    You won't be disappointed with either.

    However, If you don't need loads of I/O then I'd give the AXBB-E a good look over because they are a fantastic neat little package, I fit these to nearly every machine I build these days except machines with ATC, etc that require lots of I/O.
    In performance terms, it's exactly the same motion controller as the UC300, just with fewer ports. It also has a 0-10V analog output, unlike the UCBB.

    Also, If you don't want to buy direct from Cncdrive then I have both in stock and can provide the license file for UCCNC.
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 27-08-2021 at 10:44 PM.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

    Email: [email protected]

    Web site: www.jazzcnc.co.uk

  3. Thank you Dean, that was very helpful.


    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    Careful hear because you need to factor in UK VAT and postage. You will get charged VAT and a fee from the shipping agent which I believe CncDrive uses FedEx now as the shipping agent they used before no longer delivers to Uk since we left the EU.
    Ah yes, good to know !


    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    However, If you don't need loads of I/O then I'd give the AXBB-E a good look over because they are a fantastic neat little package, I fit these to nearly every machine I build these days except machines with ATC, etc that require lots of I/O.
    In performance terms, it's exactly the same motion controller as the UC300, just with fewer ports. It also has a 0-10V analog output, unlike the UCBB.
    I did look at the AXBB briefly but didn't go into the detail. Looks interesting. I need 5 axis control (2X, 1Y, 2Z) and this offers 4 by default. It says another 2 can use configurable I/O pins to make 6 in total. I'm trying to work out if I lose too much by doing this and am going through the manual.

    Aside from the steppers the other inputs/outputs on my CNC machine are:

    2off prox for homing X axis both sides
    1off prox for homing Y axis
    1off prox for homing Z axis

    1off limit prox on X axis
    1off limit prox on Y axis
    (no limits on Z)

    2 estop switches

    Probe input

    Pendant controller, but I don't really use it so not a big deal if it can't be used

    In/out not required:
    I have a direct manual start/stop switch and pot for the VFD control mounted on the main cabinet panel, direct to the VFD. I don't really go for software/BoB control for these but that is my personal choice and so is not really needed on the BoB.

    Also no plan for ATC any time soon so that is not required for I/O


    AXBB-E also appears to have an additional connector for something like the UCSB to give more in/out, but I would like to see if the above requirements can be met without it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    Also, If you don't want to buy direct from Cncdrive then I have both in stock and can provide the license file for UCCNC.
    OK, good to know. I need to check the above, then will email for all in price. Thanks
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  4. #4
    Regarding the connectors on the UB1, I use wire ferrules for 20 gauge wire that are .059" diameter, and they are a tight, but perfect fit. Not sure what the equivalent size would be for you guys over there.
    Gerry
    ______________________________________________
    UCCNC 2022 Screenset

    Mach3 2010 Screenset

    JointCAM - CAM for Woodworking Joints

  5. Ok thanks Gerry. If I go UB1 route I'll bear that in mind.

    For the AXBB-E - reading around a bit and my concerns about how to drive 5 axes appear to be justified. The manual suggests the additional axes (anything more than 4) can use the spare I/O channels. But these are isolated outputs which can't drive step/dir ( I believe).

    This means I would need to add a ribbon cable connector to the front of the unit, and adding an expansion board such as UCSB or UCBB to a second board to get access to the other non-isolated outputs for the 5th axis. I think this means I am no better off than using the UC300ETH + UCBB in terms of space and general layout.

    Does anyone have a different experience of getting more than 4 axes out of the AXBB as otherwise it looks like a great little unit ?

    There is the naughty approach of pairing up step/dir to the 2 Zaxis drivers, but of course I would never do that . . .
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  6. #6
    I can't see why the isolated outputs of the AXBB-E cannot drive step and direction inputs. These are normally optocouplers much like the input of an SSR as shown on page 22 of the manual. If you use a 5V supply then no resistor should be required.
    An optimist says the glass is half full, a pessimist says the glass is half empty, an engineer says you're using the wrong sized glass.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Kitwn View Post
    I can't see why the isolated outputs of the AXBB-E cannot drive step and direction inputs. These are normally optocouplers much like the input of an SSR as shown on page 22 of the manual. If you use a 5V supply then no resistor should be required.
    Thank you Kitwin. OK they were probably not supplying 5V to the isolated outputs so it was not working for them. Looks like that option is back on again. Iím away from the PC so when I get back Iíll look at that page and get it clear in my mind.

    On a general note how are other people provisioning for when multiple supplies are required such as lots of 24V or lots of 5V. My method has always been a single cable from the BOB then once into the conduit solder on additional cables to supply each device. Seems like there must be a neater way. I may go for terminal blocks and link them together with a clip in bus bar (Dinkle supply some nice purpose made DIN terminals which can be linked). I guess space on the BOB means they never supply repeated 24V or 5V outputs ?
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  8. #8
    Regarding AXBB-E. People over on cnczone haven't been able to add 5th or 6th axis straight onto the additional IO fitted to the board. They are mainly all designed for switching. The way to do it is via port#3 with an additional UCSB or other bob.

    I have the UC300eth with a UCBB. This setup limits you to 16 out and 18 in through 2 ports. You need an extra IDC16 cable and a terminal block for use of analoge port. Or you can plug directly with dupont cabling/connectors.
    I prefer to use seperate components because if 1 fails it's cheaper to replace.

    UB1 uses 3 ports + the analoge as standard giving more IO over the UCBB.
    For the other 2 ports (4+5) there is the UD1 daughterboard. My view is that if something fails it will be a large cost to replace it again.

  9. OK thank you Daz. That was my concern. Having read all the manuals, lots of searching and the comments here it is all making sense, so thanks to all the comments so far it has really helped. Each of the options has pros and cons and I'm trying to get together the neatest overall solution. More to think about . . .
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dazp1976 View Post
    Regarding AXBB-E. People over on cnczone haven't been able to add 5th or 6th axis straight onto the additional IO fitted to the board. They are mainly all designed for switching. The way to do it is via port#3 with an additional UCSB or other bob.
    That's because it's not designed to do that so why they are trying is beyond me, don't they think if it could then CncDrive would promote that it as 5 or 6 Axis onboard.? Only port 3 provides the extra I/O needed and they clearly state that only 8 pins are wired for Step/Dir on the board in the manual.

    To me, the AXBB-E is perfect if you have a machine that only requires the standard I/O it offers but with the added bonus that if at a future time you need a little more then you have the option to add-on.
    If you know you need lots of I/O from the start then go with the UC300 + BOB option.

    Also, another plus for the UB1 which can't believe I forgot mention was the fact it offers differential outputs which can be a BIG deal for some setups, esp if using Servos.!
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

    Email: [email protected]

    Web site: www.jazzcnc.co.uk

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