Can all the software for the mill be split up?

Discussion in 'Software and Programming' started by richtes, Aug 8, 2014.

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  1. Aug 8, 2014 #1

    richtes

    richtes

    richtes

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    So far have a Taig CNC mill with the Ethernet link. Installed FreeCad on my laptop I use in the house. Can Mach 3 go on the laptop or should I dust off an old Dell and put it next to the mill downstairs?

    Everything on the same wired network.

    Thought could use the old monitor with the Dell but I could plug that into the laptop just as easily. The laptop is an I5 while the Dell several years older and was cheap.

    Will put Linux in the Dell just to try it.

    Thanks for any advise,
    Rich
     
  2. Aug 8, 2014 #2

    SixSixSevenSeven

    SixSixSevenSeven

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    Most of my knowledge in this field comes from watching people build up their 3d printers although the concepts are much the same. I am not lucky enough to own a manual mill or lathe let alone CNC and dont have a 3d printer either. From what I've seen though, its advised to keep a dedicated machine where possible. I know a guy that tried to run his 3d printer from his main PC. Noticed that whenever he opened new pages in chrome the slight CPU hit that brings was enough to throw off the timing of the 3d print software which in turn caused the machine to stall slightly. Also ran into issues with the main PC going to sleep and that of course buggering up his prints. He's since switched to having a dedicated machine running the printer with sleep and hibernation completely disabled and no other applications running.
     
  3. Aug 9, 2014 #3

    RonGinger

    RonGinger

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    Mach3 has always advised running on a desktop PC, not a laptop. Laptops do to many strange things in the hardware, like slow down the clock when it senses temperature rise. These things can screw up machs timing.

    However, if you use one of the external motion boards, the smoothstepper is most common, then laptops are OK.

    It seems that most of us have a PC in the shop to run the machine that is kept to a bare machine- dont load any extra software and dont hook it to internet. Then we have a PC on our desk for all the design work and use a usb memory stick to carry files to the shop machine.
     
  4. Aug 9, 2014 #4

    Wizard69

    Wizard69

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    Dust off the desktop.
    even networking can screw up timing on really old hardware.
    sounds like the ideal Dell.

    Given enough disk space you should be able to set up the Dell to dual boot.

    You might want to consider third party CNC controllers. There are two common approaches here. One uses Mach to aid in generating the code to be sent to the micro controller. The other approach puts a straight up G-code interpreter on a micro controller. The PC then uses a program to "send" the G-Code to the micro controller board.

    There are several projects out there producing G-code interpreters for micro controller. They are getting better every day, though not perfect. The 3D printer craze is driving some of this development. What is neat is that you can get a CNC controller for about $20 (Arduino's and the like) with modest performance. The performance just gets better with newer controller chips. It is now possible to get ARM M4 based controller very cheap though I've yet to see a port to this chip.

    Someplace above the cost of the Microcontroller bonds you can find ARM based boards setup to run Linux. An example here would be BeagleBoard. This type of hardware has just recently been shown to be Able to run LinuxCNC.

    I only mention these alternative boards due to the fact that the old PC's are rather big and occupy a lot of room in the shop. The Microcontroller boards though can be stuffed into and enclosure with the rest of your electronics and effectively save a lot of space. Depending upon which route you take a PC to do the sending job may be required. Even here the software is evolving fast as you can us an SD card with some of these solutions for complete stand alone operation.

    The bad parts are that the micro controller cards can be slow, they usually only support three axis, and they are focused on the common G-Code commands. We are not talking a full blown LinuxCNC solution here. So in the end it depends upon your needs.

    About that slowness! The right Arduino, running GRBL, can output steps at about 30 KHz. From that value you can determine if the solution is fast enough for your machine. If you look at other solutions you can get higher step rates as faster hardware does exists and different interpreters obviously perform differently.

    To put it plainly I haven't seen progress like this in low end CNC controls in my lifetime. The last few years have been very productive at getting viable interpreters on low end hardware.
     
  5. Aug 9, 2014 #5

    richtes

    richtes

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    Thanks all. It's has the smooth stepper. I'll see if I can find a better dedicated PC but would rather spend the money on a rotary table.

    Going to print the manuals next week at work. Picking up an old steel desk off CL today to sit it all on.

    Rich
     
  6. Aug 9, 2014 #6

    RonGinger

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    I have found good PCs at my town dump. I have also purchased them from university and state surplus centers. these places can be a gold mine- look for 'surplus sale', or 'property disposal center' on state and university web sites. But you shuold not have to pay over about $100 for a good enough PC.
     
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