Linuxcnc to Mach3

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HMEM Supporting Member
May 3, 2011
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Saw a Boxford 125 tcl on the old internet and couldn't resist. As its going to be a while before i get my home build lathe up and running. Thought i would get the boxford to run some bits off till i do.

The 125 has all it's boxford circuits in it and is running on Linuxcnc. There is nothing wrong with Linux, I just dont know how to use it and not prepared to learn another cnc controller just for one machine. So i set about transferring it all over to mach3. managed to get the axis working and the tool changer. spindle turns when told to but only CW. For some reason i cant get it going CCW. It works when running under Linux but not with mach.

with in Linux the is some software that comes with it that you use to setup a profile when you first get your cnc running. it asks you things like..."what is the step pin for X" "what is the dir pin for X". It does this for all function, X,Z tool changer. later on you can go back to this program and select "modify existing profile" you can then see these setting's. problem is, if you modify this file, Linux cant read it any more. was going to use this to find out what the pins are set to. so i could put them into mach.

i did however find another function of linux that would display all these settings in like a VB editor. this is how i got the pin numbers. There is also a .HAL file that you can read as a text file.

(this is getting long)

For the motor the only thing i could find was step pin14, CW pin16, CCW1. mach3 is asking for a DIRpin.
I mach3 i have set the spindle step14 port 1, dir1 port2 (you have to do the port 2 thing as it needs something in the dir) in the spindle control CW m3 output#1, CCW m4 output#2. In the output tab output#1 is 16, output#2 is 1.

there is a cnc4pc C11 BOB in there. this board is controlling the relays for the motor contact switches. the 0-8v is coming from a C6 board. Under linux it was running through a printer port. its now running a USB Smooth stepper.

my other option would be to rip out all boxford boards and replace them with modern stuff. this would cost 200 quid. reluctant to do this as i know it works as is.

any help with this would be great.
Well Linux itself isn’t hard to learn. Admittedly LinuxCNC is a bit more involved and thus has a longer learning curve. It is however better supported than Mach 3 these days.

Given that you want to run Mach there are ways to get possible solutions, here are some suggestions:

If you have documentation on the spindle drive you should be able to find the direction line. Take that and trace it back to the I/O board where hopefully you can derive the port number.

Your switch to Smooth Steeper has me wondering if there is a defined port for spindle direction on that board. If so hook up the direction line to that board.

You might have an electronics problem possibly needing a pull up.

You mentioned not being able to open a config file. The first thing here is to look for a backup file that might be stored on the disk or documentation files. You should try opening the file in VIM/GVIM (a-text editor) to see if you can get useful info that way. The idea here is to try to recover your data or find a different version of that data. I’m not sure why you oh are having issues opening this file but there may be a way to extract some info.
Wow, so you had a perfectly good, functional machine running LinuxCNC and ripped out the controller so that you don't have to "learn Linux". Interesting. So now you have to rewire and reconfigure it all over again.

Is it too late to revert to how it was or have you now corrupted the installation?
Wizard..... thanks for your post.

forgot all about this thread. your the first in over a month to answer. went over to another forum.
well its all up and running. turns out it was the stupidest thing ever that you would say "should of checked that first" but it was so obvious no one thought of it.

printer cable comes out of the lathe to the printer port on the linux pc. all works.
take printer cable to SS - SS USB to Mach. CCW spindle dont work. every thing else does.
spend weeks looking into it.
for no reason i looked a the brand new ribbon cable coming out of the SS that connects to the printer cable.
"that cover looks a bit loose, i'll fix that...... whats that wire hanging off...... and it goes to pin one!!!!!!"
well you can guess what i said next.

there was no ripping of anything out. I added an SS and setup mach with the same ports and pins Linux had be set to.
if it hadn't been for that wire being loose it would of been all up and running with in the hour.

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