3020 China mill ?s and issues.

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Naiveambition

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I bought a little mill of eBay with the intent of learning cnc before I retrofit my current mill. It is a cheap China 1610 , or 3020, by model numbers sold on eBay. Seller posted new in box , which translates to no instructions , no cd, no nothing, so I'm hoping someone can help.
it runs on woodpecker 2.8 board and grbl . All the internet instructions are very vauge, or in Chinese .
What do I need to make this run is my first?
I can't seem to find a simple answer

Or would it just be better to swap out this setup and move to the setup I plan on using later which is fusion360, Mach 3 to run this mill.
I can keep the motors but what else would I need , Power supply, breakout board, etc...
This is my first foray into cnc so any guidance is greatly appreciated.
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RM-MN

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Fusion 360 is a CAD/CAM package and can let you design a project, then export that project as a set of gcode instructions. Take that set of instructions and use something like Universal Gcode Sender or bCNC to send the instructions to the controller on the mini-mill which interprets the instructions and sends the results to the stepper motors and perhaps the spindle to create the project in some hard material.

When you use the CAM part of Fusion 360 it lets you export the gcode in different "flavors" for whichever controller you choose to use, like Centroid or GRBL or Mach 3.

The mini-mill connects to your computer with a USB cable, the one that would have connected to a printer a few years back. Plug in the power supply and the computer and the mill is ready to operate. bCNC included a couple example gcode files so you can try it out.
 

Naiveambition

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Ahh ..... Such a relief..... Thank you for your answer. I searched for hrs to find this info. Granted I'm a newbie so I dont know which ?s to ask yet . I am " Looking forward to hindsight "
In the end I would like to stay with fusion, since I'm somewhat familiar with it , also the knowledge will transfer to the big mill.
But am I correct in thinking that if I switch out just the controller (pc board) to a Mach 3 board. I'm ok?
the board pre requisites the program that I'm able to use,-- correct? Like arduino, woodpecker, Mach 3 etc...
 

awake

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As best I understand, it would not be a matter of just switching out one board to get Mach 3; you would also have to include separate stepper drivers, and perhaps also a breakout board or some such. (Let me hasten to say that I am not a Mach 3 user, so I may be getting this wrong - just based on what I have read.)

The current control board has all of the bits included on the board - admittedly, not anything high end, but sufficient for the relatively small stepper motors on the 3020.

The current control board understands the GRBL dialect of gcode. Your 3d CAM software should be able to generate this dialect. As noted above, you can use UGS or bCNC to send the gcode to the controller. These will also let you access the GRBL settings to do any fine-tuning (e.g., the number of steps per unit for each axis).
 

Cogsy

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I certainly could be wrong but I think that machine connects to the computer with a parallel port rather than a USB, especially if using Mach3. This can be a problem with computers less than (maybe?) 10 years old because they removed that port quite a while ago. There are work arounds if that's the case though.
 

awake

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I certainly could be wrong but I think that machine connects to the computer with a parallel port rather than a USB, especially if using Mach3. This can be a problem with computers less than (maybe?) 10 years old because they removed that port quite a while ago. There are work arounds if that's the case though.
Cogsy, I am not sure if I have understood your post correctly. At the risk of repeating things you or others already know, here's a summary of what I think are the options under discussion. Note the caveat - what I think, but anyone, please don't hesitate to correct me!

Here's what I think is being discussed as the 3020 style mill (probably better described as a mini CNC router): L&Z CNC Router Engraver-3020 Wood Milling Machine, Mac OS/Windows Supported, 3 Axis XYZ Carve, with USB Flash Drive(instruction and software) - - Amazon.com (this is just the first one that came up - there are a zillion variations). These all seem to be built around an Arduino Uno or equivalent, running GRBL. To the best of my knowledge, these are all accessed by USB, not by parallel port. It is also important to note that the computer connected to this machine only serves to send gcode; all of the real-time motion control is handled by GRBL on the Arduino. Here is the flow:

PC - Windows, Mac, Linux - generates the gcode using CAM software, sends the gcode to the Arduino via USB
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Arduino, running the GRBL software, which accepts gcode and generates real-time motion control; sends / receives digital i/o to control the stepper motors, limit switches, etc.
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Stepper controller board (usually a single "shield" that plugs directly to the Arduino, or may be connected via cables; contains 3 or more A4988 or DVR8825 stepper drivers, either directly on the board or as "Polulo" style plug in modules; allows up to ~1.5 amps per stepper motor - typically best for NEMA 17 motors. Alternately, it may allow connection to TB6600 or other external stepper drivers, allowing ~4 amps per stepper, suitable for many NEMA 23 motors.
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CNC machine - stepper motors, switches, etc.

By contrast, the Mach3 type approach dates back to the days when cheap and standardized prepackaged microcontrollers such as the Arduino were not available, and instead a PC was used as the real-time motion controller. To get digital i/o from the PC, the then-ubiquitous parallel port was the most convenient option. Thus, the hardware was set up accordingly:

PC - Windows - runs the CAM program to generate the gcode, translates the gcode into real-time motion control, sends / receives the digital i/o via the parallel port to control the stepper motors, limit switches, etc.
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Breakout board - buffers and divides the parallel port signals into separate connectors for each stepper motor.
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Three or more TB6600 or Gecko or other stepper motor drivers
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CNC machine - stepper motors, switches, etc.

You could change the PC above to a Linux box and run LinuxCNC - I think otherwise the components / flow are similar.

With the dearth of parallel ports, there is the need for either an additional interface between the PC and the breakout board (to convert ethernet or USB to "parallel port"), or a upgraded breakout board that has the USB/ethernet-to-parallel built in.

Note the oddity: even now, when you search for Mach3 hardware, the majority of what you find will STILL talk about a parallel breakout board, even when USB or ethernet are built in.

Another variation is that you can get the Arduino and the stepper drivers combined in one compact board. One way or another, the Arduino/GRBL approach, especially for a smaller machine that can run on NEMA 17 motors, will have much more compact electronics.

Again, let me hasten to say that the above represents my semi-informed understanding, but I stand more than ready to be corrected!
 

Cogsy

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Again, let me hasten to say that the above represents my semi-informed understanding, but I stand more than ready to be corrected!
Many things may have changed since I last looked at this type of machine (and hopefully it has made the switch to USB). I know they used to be parallel port only so when I saw the topic yesterday I did a quick google and looked up the ChinaCNCzone site. It wasn't totally clear from the website but under the technical specs they listed "Communication interface: through parallel connection with computer". This could be a bad translation or a leftover from the old days, or it could mean this unit is still operating through a parallel port - I don't know which.

Edit to add: I should have looked a bit further down at the technical specs - it lists computer connection as "on board parallel port" and software environment as Windows XP. Surely the machine has been updated since then and this is just old specs.

 
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awake

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Huh, that's really interesting - everything on that site seems to be running Mach 3, which would indeed involve a parallel port somewhere in the mix. All of the other 3020 style that I have seen - on eBay for example - always use Arduino/GRBL. I've never seen an Arduino using a parallel port interface, though I suppose it could be wired up that way - but it would be pointless, since the Arduino can communicate over the USB.

It always amuses me that Mach 3 and others continue to work within the confines of the parallel port, even now when that interface has been obsolete for a decade or more. At the time, it made perfect sense, though admittedly it was a kludge, to use the parallel port. It just so happened that, when IBM made the design for the PC, they used the 8255 i/o chip to implement the IEEE 1284 parallel port specification - and the 8255 has 24 individually programmable bidirectional i/o pins. This chip also allowed IBM to implement all of the "optional" pins in the specification, more or less wiring up the entire connector - which was far more than was required for basic printing (and far more than many parallel port printers ever implemented, and far more than the parallel ports on other competing personal computers of the time). But with all of those extra bits, and the ability to individually program each, one could monkey-wrench the parallel port into a custom configuration to drive all sorts of devices for which it was not originally designed - scanners, for example. At the time, it was orders of magnitude faster to use a jiggered parallel port than any RS232 serial i/o.

Then came USB, and serial i/o began to outpace parallel i/o. It is counter intuitive - surely more parallel lines of i/o should be faster than just one pair of i/o lines? But as I understand it, the key is the electrical interference that begins to develop as the signals move faster and faster; in a parallel port, all of those parallel lines were acting as one big antennae, and you had to hold the speed down to avoid crosstalk. Meanwhile shielded twisted pair, especially one using differential signalling, is much less susceptible to crosstalk and can ramp up to hundreds of Mb/s, or more.
 

stanstocker

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Greetings

There are USB interfaces that work with Mach3 e.g. smoothstepper. Mach4 is really all about USB or ethernet to specific step generation devices. The step generation device may incorporate a breakout function or may simply provide a parallel port sort of output to plug into your G540, PMDX 340, or other driver electronics. Mach3 is officially unsupported, Mach4 does have an optional parallel port driver, but I have never used it or spoken to anyone who has. If you have a machine with a parallel port and really want to use it I'd suggest going with linuxcnc if the unsupported Mach3 isn't to your taste. Actually I'd suggest getting on with things in an up to date manner, you're going to have well over a thousand USD wrapped up in just a small CNC machine and minimal tools, why people choke on $110 to $150 in the lowest cost step generation hardware that works so much better than the old parallel port stuff ever did is hard to figure out. You can save a lot of money converting your own machines, you can build your own controllers, you can use open source software, and you will still be spending serious money by the time you are cutting metal.

With respect to the above paragraph - You can run linuxcnc with a parallel port, but most folks seem to go with the MESA cards eventually. It's increasingly hard to find PCs with real parallel ports, and the virtualized parallel ports either do poorly on timing or just don't work art all for motion control. If you have a machine with PCI slots you can plug in a parallel card if you insist. At least you can TRY linuxcnc without having to buy step generation hardware in some cases.

Unfortunately the step generation hardware that works with Mach4 does not work with Linuxcnc and vice versa, so you need to commit to a given path even before you can actually run the stuff in your own shop. Each package has good and bad aspects, I've used both, like both, whichever I use at some point I wonder if I should be using the other one :cool: Mach4 has a lot of wizards for conversational work. LinuxCNC does not. The Tormach proprietary PathPilot version of linuxcnc adds many similar wizards, but they have not released their screen set for general use. It's been beaten to death, the license allows this, not wanting this to turn into a open source licensing / religion war thread.

I've been using the PMDX step hardware with Mach4, one of the USB dongles with a PMDX340 to drive a 4 axis Sherline mill (excellent and reliable), one of the breakout style USB boards to run 5.7 amp stepper drivers for my G0704 (almost ready to actually use...) Many machine issues with that one, several blown super cheap chinese 6600 based drivers, but finally reliable and consistent motion is mine! The Sherline setup using the Sherline stepper mounts and PMDX electronics is bombproof, it just works. Disclosure: Steve Stallings, PMDX owner / head wonk is a friend and fellow original CAMS member. I pay full price, I'm not a compensated shill.

Many of the Chinese "Controller Software Included" devices include bootleg Mach3 disks, either with a pirate activation code or with no activation code at all. Mach4 is tied to a specific machine, you generate the PC ID string after installing the software, then go online to generate the activation key. For hobby folks they allow some multiple of keys, I think 5 or more. Commercial folks are naturally expected to purchase a license per machine.

The driver boxes provided with the 3020/3040/6040 style routers I've seen and been inside of have either parallel port inputs or one of the somewhat cryptic embedded CNC controllers that seem oddly designed to someone familiar with more conventional CNC controllers. Some will find this an understatement, but to be fair, it seems quite a few folks have made these machines work to some level of satisfaction. The good news is that the ones I've seen have normal stepper drivers and an OK power supply, so replacing the controller with a breakout board or step generator/breakout board device is completely within reason.

The arduino boards running grbl come in several flavors. Some are all in one with the lower current Polulu style drivers on board. Others use a driver shield/hat/cape/for goodness sake, it's a daughterboard!, often based on the original RAMPS design. The RAMPS boards can be modified readily to connect to a parallel input device to handle higher current applications. Some vendors have their own grbl driver boards with higher current capability. OpenBuilds Black Box and the Shapeoko driver are two that come to mind as reliable devices. Pardon the rant on daughterboards, there are days that the need to be different just to be different or cute gets under my crotchety old fart skin.

Be aware, the official grbl does not support fourth axis, many of the "four axis" grbl hardware offerings are actually one axis configured to drive two steppers for gantry type machines that drive both sides of the gantry. There is at least one fork or grbl that is said to support four axis, it looks legit from the youtube videos but I have never used it so can't comment further. I do like grbl, it works well for many folks, you can use the openbuilds or carbide host side software if you prefer, there are alternatives to the basic G code sender of old. A lot of openbuilds and Shapeoko folks use it everyday with complete satisfaction. If it works for you don't let a few old guys who rant about it not being a "real" machine controller get you down.

Cheers,
Stan
 

Naiveambition

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Greetings, Just to clear up some ?s, My particular machine, is woodpecker, with USB. After the initial post I found a sd card in the box. And while it did add drivers and such, any help is non existent. Also it downloads for driver updates at20$ a month The needed info is scattered among web posters who seem to work it out eventually.
So I have candle but all it will do is turn the motor on, No jog, now it will do nothing or very slow.
Candle came up in German , machine is in Chinese,, have arduino, candle , universal g code sender,, and nothing will move or do anything. So we are done I'm at my wits end.
So I will be looking into just revamping the electronics to something with English directions and some type of FULL walk through
suggestions needed.
 

Naiveambition

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Well I don't know how it happened but was able to skip candle altogether and re downloaded universal g code sender with a YouTube walkthru and lo and behold it actually moves or jogs manually now.
Why this was so complicated using candle and arduino, is beyond me, I tried for hrs. UGS took less than 10 min total. So now off to learn ugs tutorial. Every axis moves but can't find the button for spindle to turn on. Ironically it was reversed using candle, spindle worked, but no jog.
 

Leonardo

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Hi Naiveambition,
I can understand your frustration very well and would like to help you more closely although I do not know the woodpecker board.
As the saying goes in Spanish "cada maestrillo tiene su librillo" what would be translated to something like "every master has his own trick"... :)
Anyway, I think that it would be possible to put your machine to work as it is, but we will need to look at every detail to check that it is everything OK.

Your board has embedded GRBL what is a GCode interpreter so forget Match software for now because they need different boards.
How many volts are you supplying to the woodpecker board?
Could you show us the grbl setups?

Do not worry about having a button to turn on/off the spindle because this is done by the program when it is needed by a Gcode command (M3/M5).

As for the GCode parser, I tried some of them and found that Grbl Panel is the best one, at least for my taste. You can download it from here:

Once all the setting will be correct you will be able to send a GCode program to your machine to do something but, at this point, you will also need to check that the CAM software you are using has installed a post-processor suitable for GRBL, other way you may have a lot of errors along the process.

To display the grbl setup you must send a $$ command to the board.
 

tomnohr

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I have the same machine. it is ok for wood but to weak for metal. but it is a nice machine to learn about cnc.

You can use the cam software in fusion360 to generate Gcode.

 

Naiveambition

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Hey gentlemen, sorry I haven't got back sooner, Anyways the foray into cnc is not going good by any measure. This process is fighting me every step of the way. The farthest I've made it is the the machine will move to start program then it drops off line with the spindle left running. With no way to shut it off or reconnect . The program becomes useless and unplug the power source to stop it.
Maybe I was being naive, but my thinking was after the gcode from fusion, place the file in ugs, set your zero then play. Well.... no
Like I stated I am not a computer guy by any means, I view computers, phones, tablets, to be the one thing you can buy that you never have full control over. Updates changes etc. well I may as well as sit on nails.
Not like buying a car for example and the manufacturer says
hey, ' we have a new carburetor for your car, and guess what'
we will sneak in and change it for you , and until "we get it right" we will be under your hood almost daily, But remember your settings cause we will change em. But for most part it worked just fine till they changed it.
Then I think maybe it's me coming from manual machining where I start with placement from a zero point and go. Reversing the process seems to me seems overly complicated when the view from the machine should be the same as the program . I spent 20 minutes trying to set the correct axis on a part Zero should always be first and build out whatever way you need from zero, I have such a hard time understanding why programs don't think like this
And while it may be a wish, but somewhere in the computer with buttons that number the stars lies my problem , we shall see
 

tomnohr

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HI. I used easel to learn the machine. it is a online drawing/carving program. That should woork good with your machine and not so difficult to use. You make the drawing. and just press carve when yiu want to start the machine. you have to use usb to the pc. Inventables | Easel | Free CNC Software

Skjermbilde.JPG
 

RM-MN

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Maybe I was being naive, but my thinking was after the gcode from fusion, place the file in ugs, set your zero then play. Well.... no
There are limitations in gcode senders. Try the same file in bCNC and see if that makes a difference.
 

awake

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One other thought - the symptoms you describe make me wonder if you're getting some cross-talk that is confusing the controller. See if you can shield and or separate your cables.
 

Naiveambition

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Ok new route Again..... so tried inventables and easel. And no again. While I am not directing any of this on forum members, since I greatly appreciate your help, This is what I mean by nothing works out of the box . So candle, nothing but able to turn on/off spindle,,, ugs I think I've made my point, easel, is catered to machines that are not my size or machine and doesn't give a option this small, just 3018 which is twice my size. And without these machine setups you can't progress, Won't connect to the board then I need to download 3-4 programs,
This is a far cry from just download, enter coordinates, zero , hit start
This is really eating me up. I am so close to to dumping it all in the trash. 10-15 hrs worth of programs ,YouTube, this, that and am still no further than I was when I opened the box!!!!!
 

awake

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Where are you located? Maybe someone is close enough to drop by (with appropriate pandemic precautions) - maybe a fresh eye will spot something.

Before you decide to toss it in the trash, feel free to send it to me. I will debug it and get it back to you. Mind you, it may take me a few years, but sooner or later, I promise, I will get it back to you ... :)
 

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